Graphically Novel (and a bonus rant for the weekend)

The trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World made its debut online yesterday and I think the movie looks pretty damn cool. It’s directed by Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright, stars Michael Cera of Arrested Development and Superbad fame and has been getting great buzz at preview screenings around the UK. It’s also based on a graphic novel, a medium which seems to be yielding high creative returns lately, from last year’s The Dark Knight to the upcoming Sundance hit Kick-Ass and now this.

With all these great adaptations coming out, I’ve been getting the feeling lately that I should be reading more graphic novels. I’m a firm believer in the book usually being better than the film; I still haven’t seen Adaptation because I have yet to read the novel and I rushed to finish The Road last year prior to the release of the film. I also read Watchmen last year; it was on a par with many novels I’ve read, so perhaps I should be applying the same standards I have for film adaptations of books to film adaptations of graphic novels, that is, read it before you see it.

I suspect, however, that reading more graphic novels would require (or bring about) a substantial lifestyle change. I would have to start wearing more black, for one thing, when we all know that greys are in this winter. I’d also have to start spending a lot of money on imported reading materials, whereas I plan to be spending my money on World Cup tickets and eating in nice restaurants.

All in all, I suspect that “reading more graphic novels” is best assigned to the category of “stuff  I have always intended to do but in all likelihood will never get around to doing”, a list that currently includes cliché’s such as “studying a foreign language” and “learning to play guitar”. At least, then, my desire to read more graphic novels is giving me something original to put off doing, although I could maybe temper that by adding “read more graphic novels and finally finish reading anything by Dostoevsky”.

In movie news more relevant to local film-goers, Oscar champion The Hurt Locker is opening this weekend. It’s ludicrous that the film has taken so long to be released here and, were it not for its award season triumph, I doubt it would have been released at all.

It is tempting to blame Ster Kinekor for this. After all, Ster Kinerkor is basically terrible. Their facilities are terrible, their staff and service is terrible, their concessions are terribly overpriced and the selection of movies that they offer is terrible. Their so-called “art” cinema is mostly devoted to Opera, middle-brow fare that exists to make middle-aged suburban couples feel smug and the occasional worthwhile foreign film. Meanwhile, movies like the In the Loop (probably the funniest movie I’ve seen in five years) and Let the Right One In (which I can’t even find on DVD here) are completely ignored. I left The Hurt Locker off that list because its lack of screen-time is not actually Ster Kinekor’s fault. It hardly got any distribution in the US either, but still, any excuse for a rant.

Fortunately there does seem to be an independent cinema movement growing in Johannesburg, such as The Bioscope at Arts on Main and Sunday Kino at Co-op. Hopefully this movement catches on, because there are a lot of good movies out there that we’re missing out on (and, as a note to any future indie cinema organisers, none of them are What the Bleep Do We Know).

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