A Bullet Train, Bertolucci, the Before trilogy, and Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
It's a very busy Friday Free-For-All
It’s Friday, August 19th, and here’s where we are…
I think two newsletters a week is about all I can realistically manage, so last week’s Bond Declassified managed to throw off the rhythm for last Friday’s Free-For-All. But this week, we’re back on track with the Hip Pocket and this one.
Two a week plus the ‘80s newsletter is all I can publish right now, but for good reasons. I am trying to build a larger business, working on books and the upcoming podcast, and still working in television, and I have to give some of my energy to each of those things every single week. Right now, there’s one thing in the earliest stages of not even being a tentative kind of thing… more like a conversation about the idea of there even being a thing… but it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever even considered. While I sometimes feel like I’m barely in this business at this point, there are moments when I am inspired to once again dream as big as I’ve ever dreamed, and it can be thrilling and energizing.
I’m glad that creative passion has been rekindled, too, because in terms of the things I’m watching right now, there’s lots of stuff out there but I’m not feeling wildly passionate about much of it.
There are a few things, sure. I spent most of one afternoon and evening this week absolutely drunk on a screening of Moonage Daydream, for example. But in general, I’m feeling numb to a lot of what I’m watching and reading. I’m honestly not sure what the problem is. I can’t tell if it’s me or if it’s the way things are being released. I watch as much as I ever have if not more, but maybe that’s the problem. You can only stand in front of a fire hose for so long before you stop feeling hydrated and you start drowning.
Part of the problem with the pace of all of this is the way you barely get to digest anything. One of the reasons the stuff you fell in love with when you were young is the stuff you love the most is because you could soak in stuff at that age. You would watch something over and over until you had internalized it. It didn’t feel like you were bombarded by new chapters of things. Anticipation was part of the experience. Three years between Star Wars films made them feel like events every time. Now everything’s happening all of the time, and there’s always something else just around the corner, and nothing ever goes away, so even the things I enjoy barely register.
If anticipation is the key, then I should be absolutely losing my mind over The Sandman, but after seeing the first six episodes twice, I’m really wrestling with my overall reaction.
There is a part of me that suspects there is no way to truly win when you’re adapting something that has been as important to as many people for as long as Sandman has. I started reading that comic when I was 18 years old, and it not only changed the way I felt about comics as an art form, it changed the way I felt about art and storytelling in general. Any adaptation of The Sandman is competing with decades of my own imagination, and that’s brutally unfair to this particular version.
Again… I don’t want to write about it in depth until I’ve seen the whole thing, but it has me thinking about comic adaptations in general. There are so many of them now, covering such a wide range of material, and it’s so hard to pinpoint what it is that makes the good ones work. It’s not necessarily adherence to the source material, either. I don’t think that’s the number one priority. I think the act of adaptation requires knowing what to keep and what to change and why, and the best adaptations are made with intent behind every one of those choices. My girlfriend has never read a single issue of Neil Gaiman’s book and has zero attachment to the overall genre. If I think she might like something, I’ll show it to her, and a lot of times, her reaction is so pure that it gives me a chance to take a step back and really see the thing with fresh eyes. After I watched the first six episodes, I showed them to her, and so far, she seems engrossed in the world and the characters and struck by the overall visual beauty of the show. I think episode five was darker than most of what I’ll typically show her, but then episode six is such a remarkable tonal shift back in the other direction that I don’t think the show’s scared her off yet.
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