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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 12 (Review/Retrospective)

The Spirit Archives, Vol. 12 marks Will Eisner’s return to the strip. To be fair, the writer and artist had returned for the last two entries in the previous volume, but this is the first book entirely composed of Eisner’s post-war Spirit stories. While I don’t think Eisner had quite found his groove yet – the best was still yet to come – it’s amazing how dynamic the comic feels after reading the non-Eisner material. It’s easy enough to point to the Eisner-esque tropes and tricks, the techniques and the plot devices and the philosophy that faded from the strip in has absence, but there’s also something much less tangible here. There’s certain energy, a je ne sais que, that had been absent for the previous couple of years, returning in force.

Eisner is back. And, in a way, so is The Spirit.

It’s like he was never gone…

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Non-Review Review: Room 237

Room 237 is an ode to cinema. Not just Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, mind you, despite the fact that fact that Kubrick’s horror film is the focus of the film’s talking heads (or disembodied voices) discussion. No, Room 237 is a celebratory tribute to every discussion and dissection of popular film, no matter how plausible or implausible, no matter whether conducted in print, on-line or in the pub with friends. Director Rodney Ascher’s documentary is as interested in the personal lives of its subjects – where they came from, with regards to the film – as it is with their views on the film itself.

In case you can’t tell, I was very taken with it.

Cut it there, Jack!

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The Sopranos: Denial, Anger, Acceptance (Review)

Denial, Anger, Acceptance marks the first episode of The Sopranos not written by creator David Chase. In the United Kingdom, it’s traditional for a particular writer (or writers) to write every episode of a given series, to the point where you are quite likely to find a television show credited “by” a particular person. In the United States, due to longer seasons and various other concerns, such an approach isn’t feasible. (There are exceptions, such as Aaron Sorkin’s tenure on The West Wing, where he contributed eight-one scripts in the show’s first four seasons.) However, The Sopranos remains associated with its creator, David Chase, so it’s interesting to look at Denial, Anger, Acceptance as the first episode written by a writer other than Chase, in this case Mark Saraceni.

Sticking his neck out...

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Non-Review Review: Shutter Island

I’ll talk a bit about my more tempered analysis of the film in a moment, but I think it’s only really fair to open with my gut reaction – those few words that escaped my mouth as I turned to my girl friend as the credits started to roll.

“I want to see this again.”

Is your mind the scene of the crime?

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Is The Shining About Native Americans?

You know how interested I am in quirky interpretations of the deeper meanings of popular culture – like the discussion over whether Anton Chigurh of No Country For Old Men is actually an angel or whether this year’s Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries was actually about the recession. So it should come as no surprise that when I read about how The Shining by Stanley Kubrick is supposedly about the genocide of the Native Americans, I was more than a little intrigued.

Even the baking powder is in on it…

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Tommy Tiernan and the Art of Self-Censorship…

Ah, an Irish comedian has said something stupid and distasteful that has garnered massive media attention. Whodda thunk? This time quintessential Navan man Tommy Tiernan chose to make an ill-considered joke about efficiency and the Holocaust at Electric Picnic. Yep. As you can imagine – this being the country that now has an anti-blasphemy law – everyone has jumped all over it, and they’re right to. In fairness, most commentaries have been fairly reasoned, but I still roll my eyes when people talk about how we should have laws to stop these sorts of things. Yes, he shouldn’t have said what he said. But he should be able to.

Up to his neck in it...

Up to his neck in it...

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Non-Review Review: The Reader

The first of the big Oscar nominees to be released on DVD/Blu Ray in Ireland, it’s little surprise that Dad came home with The Reader this weekend.

I like to think I’m an open-minded sort of guy. I can watch controversial films without blinking. I can even stomach the occassional political diatribe and acknowledge its well-crafted artistry (I enjoyed Lions for Lambs despite its hamfistedness). Yet The Reader just irks me. Perhaps it’s the way the film tries so hard to pass itself off as a ‘big idea’ film (and evidentally succeeded, securing a Best Picture nod). Perhaps it’s the way that it acts like it has got guts, asking tough questions when all it does is dance around them and undermine them with shameless Oscar-baiting (let’s look at german post-war guilt – but let’s make the subject of this examination an illiterate, uglied-up, pedophilic Kate Winslet).

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