Tuesday, December 05, 2006

300 Carnies

Even though I really enjoyed last years Sin city movie, I thought I'd sort of burnt out on the work of Frank Miller. The last couple of comics of his I'd read -while visually stunning- had failed to resonate with me. So, while I was interested in reading 300, I was also a little hesitant.

I was happy to discover that once Miller's usual terse, hyper-masculine dialogue was removed from its usual pulp novel and film noir trappings, and placed into another time period, it suddenly became interesting again.

The plot of the graphic novel is pretty straight forward: A group of 300 Spartan's versus the "1000 Nations of the Persian Empire." Guess who wins! It's based on historical fact, but with Miller taking some pretty sizable, yet stunning visual liberties.

The thing I'm probably more excited about though is the movie adaptation that is in the works. From what I've seen in the trailer, its going to be an impressive near panel-by-panel recreation of the book, on par with what Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez did with Sin City

Check out some more comic-to-movie comparisons here.

"Our arrows will blot out the sun."
"Then we'll fight in the shade."

My wife and I finished the second (and last) season of Carnivale the other night too. And I'm happy to say that it was one of those series that actually improved with each additional episode and season. Sadly, there won't be any more seasons beyond this one though.

After watching the first season, I had been entranced by the idea of a show following a circus traveling across the dust bowl of 1930's America. It fits in with my whole growing fascination with the first part of the 20th Century. And, anything with Carnies in it will generally keep me amused longer than it probably should.

But, I was a little less impressed with the actual story. Too often, I thought it was attempting to go for the subtle creepiness of, say, Twin Peaks. But, instead it often ended up with the clumsy, faux-creepiness that populates your average Stephen King mini-series. Still, the interesting characters, great concept and often striking cinematography made me check out the second season.

I'm glad we did. The second season quickly picks up the leisurely pace of the first season. And continues to pile on the ideas until the whole thing reaches an edge of your seat climax and "final battle."

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately (depending on your mood), the series finishes with one of the greatest and more frustrating anti-endings since Twin Peaks itself. I really wish there would be a season three.

Finally, we continued our Wong Kar Wai movie series with Chungking Express.

I have to admit that its somewhat fragmented storyline (or, rather, storylines) didn't win me over as quickly as 2046 or In the Mood For Love, but as more time passes, I find myself thinking more fondly about it. In addition, while the cinematography is rougher than his later films, there are still plenty of moments that sneak up on you and will linger in your head long after you've sent the DVD back to Netflix.

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