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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 11 (Review/Retrospective)

I have to admit that I feel a bit guilty for glossing over the World War II era of The Spirit. The era tends to get ignored because Will Eisner effectively handed over control of the strip to a variety of writers and artists while serving in the Armed Forces. The talent involved professionals like Jack Cole and Lou Fine, so it’s hardly as if it was neglected. Still, without Eisner’s passion driving the strip, it seemed to lose its way slightly. The aesthetic shifted even further the longer Eisner was away. Fans skipping from the first collection of post-Eisner work (The Spirit Archives, Vol. 5) to the work included here will see a radical change in style. While there was still a strong influence from Eisner, the comic simply didn’t look right. However, the differences extended deeper as well. On some primal level, The Spirit of the World War II era didn’t really feel right either.

Hounded by the Spirit of Will Eisner…

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Non-Review Review: Lawless

Lawless is, like director John Hillcoat’s other films, the story of people shaped (or mirrored) by their harsh and unforgiving surroundings. A prohibition crime thriller, Lawless feels more like the story of local people fighting fiercely to resist the taming influence of more “civilised” outsiders who believe themselves inherently superior to the “dumb hicks” who have made this terrain livable. “It is not the violence that sets men apart, it’s the distance they’re willing to go,” Forrest Bondurant tells his brother at one point in the film, and Lawless seems to respect its lead characters for refusing to feign civility and to at least acknowledge the innate violence of their existence. It’s thoughtful, powerful stuff. Not without its flaws, it’s still an interesting exploration of man’s capacity for violence.

Sadly, though undoubtedly quite sage, this Forrest never once suggests that “life is like a box of chocolates…”

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Non-Review Review: Clue

Clue is an interesting movie. It’s an obviously flawed one, but it’s also conducted with such impressive energy and a cheeky sense of fun that it’s quite easy to overlook some of the structural problem, and rather glaring plot holes. It’s an affectionate parody of those classic “whodunnit” mysteries, stories like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, featuring a small cast trapped together, investigating a murder. Based on the game Clue (or Cluedo to us Europeans), it’s the first movie based on a boardgame, and I can’t help but feel that it’s still the best.

The usual suspects...

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The “Meta” Mystery Approach…

I’ve always been fascinated by mysteries in fiction. That said, I will concede I’ve never really been particularly good at picking up on the hints within the work itself designed to point towards a particular perpetrator. I haven’t necessarily got the skills to pick up on what tiny little detail mentioned in dialogue or the tiniest little action that supports a particular conclusion – it’s just not how my mind works. Instead, perhaps as a direct result of watching far too many movies, I find it more relevent to look at factors outside the fictional world where the mystery is set in order to reach a conclusion – I’m more likely to identify the culprit by reference to the film itself than the clues on hand.

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