Watching

September 18, 2008

Via Coilhouse, I learned of the Alan Moore interview posted today at the LA Times. Every time he emerges from his hermitlike existence across the sea is cause for celebration, and I’ve been waiting for him to get in some commentary about the “Watchmen” adaptation. He does not disappoint:

Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it’s been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come.

I remain excited for the film, though I am keeping my expectations low.

Back to Coilhouse, this put into words that nagging feeling that’s been bothering me, too, lately:

We’ve entered an era ruled by scavengers. We are starving for substance. Obviously, we can’t look to Hollywood to nourish us. Still, the platform of narrative movie making has its own profound and distinctive magic. Here’s hoping that somehow…more and more storytellers standing beyond the gates of the sausage factory will be goaded, either by hunger or the pure urgency of inspiration, into making their own moving pictures.

The Jim Henson exhibit at the Smithsonian right now made me sad for all sorts of reasons: nostalgic longing for childhood, disappointment with the scope of the exhibit, its ban on photography, and the reminder that Henson’s death was probably one of the first I ever really noticed as a kid. What the exhibit did really well was remind you that Henson was more than just the Muppets and Fraggle rock, and that his movies got even more out there than “Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.” There’s a running video showing chunks of his 1965 filmTimepiece,” which epitomizes everything great about experimental film and manages to contain some spark that still forces audiences 45 years later to sit and watch it. And walking through that basement room in the Smithsonian, everyone stops to watch.

Going through that exhibit–from the Muppets, past the early TV commercials, over to the “Dark Crystal,” and out again through some kids playing with “Sesame Street” characters–made me marvel that he was so freaking brilliant and somehow managed to do it all: the commercial creator (literally: his early TV spots were for Wilkins Coffee) who found massive success but never, ever stopped experimenting and telling out-there stories. Who does that now? Does anyone? Do they get to keep doing it for very long? Or does it all just end up like Spike Jonze and his “Where the Wild Things Are” adaptation: watered down, fought over, delayed, containing only a spark of its potential awesomeness.

Meredith Yayanos over at Coilhouse is right: We’re starving for substance, and so far none of the magic new tools of the wondrous Web of ours have managed to deliver. I’m mildly disappointed in the world right now, though perhaps I should treat it all like the “Watchmen” movie: lowered expectations and pleasant surprise when it finally manages to come out OK.

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