August 25, 2004

Ghost World

There are two kinds of comic book movies - one is the straight-ahead, action-adventure film that takes its protagonist straight from the four-color tomes of our day. Stuff like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Batman Begins, etc...

Then there are comic book films that take graphic novels as their source material, and attempt to do something unique with them. Ghost World, based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, is one of those movies. Admittedly, I haven't read the graphic novel, but this movie has done what few have - actually made me want to see out the source material.

The film concerns two teenagers just out of high school: Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansenn). Enid is cynical enough to see through the gradual mall-ization (and general interpersonal BS), and keeps a cold, critical eye on life. Rebecca is the same way, only a little bit more practical. Gradually, they float around, following strange people, until they spot a personal ad from a rather interesting gentleman (Steve Buscemi)...and then, the movie moves forward.

Admittedly, this is not a perfect movie...but these are not perfect people. This is not a typical, sunny, Hollywood "teen" movie, but a reflection on the connections we make, the connections we don't make, and the connections we seem to find on accident. (Oh, sure, it's "about" the mall-ization of America, according to Clowes, and it's "about" two teenage girls). It's slow at a few points, has a few Syd Field-esque screenplay moments (i.e., you see the cliche coming), and OK, note to Terry Zwigoff: We know you did a film about Robert Crumb. Did you have to use the Crumb in-jokes? However, David Cross' "appearance" at a record collector's shindig is priceless.

[Also, there is a brilliant use of an old India film clip at the beginning - you have to appreciate that. Although the film sometimes threatens to wallow in its own quirkiness, it never crosses that line]

Admittedly, I've been ruminating over my own life - lost connections, lost opportunities, and the friendships that I have right now. Right now, my mind keeps coming back to this movie - it's definitely not Saturday afternoon throwaway fare, but one that you will probably want to watch more than once.

No comments: