- - Monday, November 8, 2010

Keeps up with Jones

“Berkeley Breathed spent years saying in interviews that no one would want to buy an omnibus collection of his rude, rash and much-loved 1980s newspaper comic “Bloom County.” So how … did editor Scott Dunbier finally talk Breathed into allowing IDW to publish the five-volume ‘Bloom County: The Complete Library’? ‘By getting Scott to agree to do it himself.’ wrote Breathed in an e-mail. …

“For newspaper-comics fans of a certain age, Breathed was sort of the Chuck Jones of the funny pages — a storyteller with ridiculously sharp comic timing who worked with a cast of talking animals and screwed-up humans. He could make you laugh with tiny facial expressions and anarchic bits of slapstick, much of the latter involving a diseased cat. Drawn in feverish, last-minute all-nighters, the strip was so reckless and awesomely crass that finding it on the same page as ‘Marmaduke’ and ‘Garfield’ almost felt like getting away with something.”

Mike Russell, writing on “The AICN Q&A: Berkeley Breathed,” on Nov. 4 at Ain’t It Cool News


“Many recent documentary films also denote a generational shift in both style and subject matter away from the political and outward-looking, towards the emotional and solipsistic. One could argue that ‘Catfish’ … is one such film. It is a documentary for — and about — the Facebook generation and it was made possible, says co-director Henry Joost, ‘by technology that is available to anyone. …

“‘Catfish’ chronicles the odd relationship between a young, hip and handsome New York photographer, Nev Schulman, and Abby, an 8-year-old who initially sends him an unsolicited painting of one of his published photographs. … It all seems too good to be true and it is, though in ways that are surprising and, at times, affecting. …

“‘Catfish’ is essentially a film about narcissism and self-delusion in the social networking age. There is a sting in this particular tale. … Depending on where you are coming from, however, this unlikely twist is either redemptive or exploitative. You may come away, as I did, feeling both charmed and manipulated, wondering if real life could ever be as unreal as this. Are we seeing a film that unfolded alongside the events it portrays, or a retouched version of the same. And, more pertinently, how retouched?”

Sean O’Hagan, writing on “Camera, laptop, action: the new golden age of documentary,” on Nov. 7 at the Observer

Oprah radicalism

“Decades after the cultural moment when black American theater was thriving, the movie ‘For Colored Girls’ — Tyler Perry’s ‘serious’ film of Ntozake Shange’s 1974 ‘choreo-poem’ — feels like a throwback. It doesn’t revive the post-Civil Rights, black militant spirit of aggressive entitlement felt by radicalized (urban intellectual) black women who needed to talk back to that part of the world — including Eldridge Cleaver’s ‘Soul on Ice’ chauvinism — that would hold them down.

“Instead, Perry’s lugubrious film adaptation resembles pre-enlightenment. It is all too literally a ‘weepie.’ Perry’s weakness for the lowest common denominator transforms both anger and affirmation into sludge, not great poetic cinema like Spielberg’s ‘The Color Purple,’ Jonathan Demme’s ‘Beloved’ or Rodrigo Garcias’ ‘Mother and Child.’ Supposedly set in contemporary New York City, ‘For Colored Girls,’ the story of nine intergenerational women whose lives intersect, actually occurs in conceptual art territory — Coincidenceville. The litany of miseries portrays common oppression, always at the hands of deceitful men or an unseen Patriarchy.

Armond White, writing on “For Oprah Winfrey Fans Who’ve Considered Victimhood When Too Many Coincidences Are Enough,” on Nov. 5 at New York Press

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