...actually a post about several wonderful things seen this Thanksgiving weekend.
Wednesday night, Cath and I finally saw the recent film about self-publishing comics writer Harvey Pekar, who chronicles his low-rent life experiences in his book American Splendor -- also the title of the film, starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar. Fanatical comics people though we are, I think we'd been afraid this might be rather depressing fare; boy were we wrong, and pleasantly surprised. A funny, sad, touching exploration of (usually) unnoticed life, the way art can give one purpose and meaning, and so much else. Highly recommended.
Thursday, we saw the British 2003 EV version of Peter Pan -- which I almost called a "remake," only it isn't, in that nobody has ever filmed the J.M. Barrie stories in anything like their original form. This is one of the most beautiful, and haunting, films I have ever seen, magical in the best sense. I suspect what killed it in theatres was its very substance: it wasn't the holiday frippery some might have hoped for, and that the audience that would have loved it erroneously assumed it to be. Visually stunning, superbly performed -- not only by the professionals (particularly the guy who plays Malfoy's father in the HP films, brilliantly cast here as both Wendy's father and Captain Hook!), but by the non-actor kids: not a fakey-sweet performance in the bunch, and all of 'em bright enough to handle quite intricate literary dialogue. Just excellent stuff, we thought.
And finally, Friday night, we re-watched the first five episodes of the anime Wolf's Rain (hence the title of this post) -- which as good as it is on Cartoon Network, is infinitely better in its full version (Japanese with subtitles, out on DVD). I first saw these fansubbed at the UCLA Anime Club, and was delighted when Bandai decided to release them here. Whatever Yoko Kanno gets paid for music isn't nearly enough, as always, and the artwork is just spectacular...but it's Nobumoto's writing that deserves most of the credit.
Nobumoto Keiko (usually rendered "Keiko Nobumoto" in the west, of course, to clarify which is her family and given name) originally trained as a nurse, and did hospital work until she got technical jobs in anime; her first script work was for Macross Plus, which we haven't seen as yet. She came into her own writing for the incomparable Cowboy Bebop, then went on to script a wonderful, quirky feature called Tokyo Godfathers, another must-see: the holiday-special shortcuts (way too much convenient coincidence) detract little from the moving story of three oddball street people who try to find a home for an abandoned infant.
Nobumoto's next project (after scripting the film version of Cowboy Bebop, also perfectly wonderful) was Wolf's Rain, which she created (with "Bones," an anime consortium -- mainly or entirely of women, I believe?) and largely scripted. We've seen maybe half? of the thirty episodes, and have just loved 'em thus far.
I don't throw the word "genius" around lightly, but Nobumoto's growing body of work clearly deserves it. This woman writes stuff that sneaks right past your reason into your guts; I can't think of a writer who manages to bring me so consistently to tears.
In short, lightning doesn't strike this often by accident.
Anyway, all very highly recommended. :)
93 93/93 -- AJ
P.S. What about last night? Well, since you ask, we saw Samurai Spy from IFC's "Samurai Saturdays." Incomprehensible, but enjoyable, particularly for the martial artist in the family (Cath, of course, trained in both actual and film fighting). Not, alas, in the same class as the previous three nights' entertainment...though very little is, right? ;)