Shaun Tan Wins Book of the Year at Angoulême

This just in: Australian Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, published last year in several languages, amongst them in French as Là où vont nos pères, was awarded the Book of the Year award at Angoulême. Here’s the full list of the Essential Selection, along with other selected awards:

Rutu Modan — Exit wounds
Pascal Rabaté & David Prudhomme — Marie en plastique
Cyril Pedrosa — Trois ombres
Jean Regnaud & Emile Bravo — Ma Maman est en Amerique, elle a rencontre Buffalo Bill
Pierre Dragon & Frederik Peeters — RG

Discovery of the Year
Isabelle Pralong — L’Elephant

Fanzine Prize
Turkey #16

Heritage Prize
Tove Jansson: Moomin

Youth Prize
Philippe Buchet & Jean-David Morvan — Sillage vol. 10: Retour de flammes

Prize of the Public
Catel & José-Louis Bocquet — Kiki de montparnasse

Well, that’s that. Seems like a strong enough selection, even if it is definitely a less interesting list than last year’s, but that was also exceptional.

The French “Comics Mafia” and other Follies

As always when Angoulême rolls around, discontents in the French comics community rise to the surface. A perennial issue is the relationship between artists and critics. In an ill-informed and ill-advised article in this week’s issue of French weekly Le Point, the journalist Romain Brethes sets up Joann Sfar, Marjane Satrapi and the other usual suspects of comics success as a kind of ‘comics mafia’ — an inner circle of “Godfathers of the Ninth Art”, that exchange favours by appearing in each other’s comics and on each other’s labels, just like American rappers do. I guess it was only a question of time before France got its own “King Maus,” its own comics camarilla.

Heath Ledger RIP

The actor Heath Ledger was found dead in New York earlier today, possibly by his own hand. Sad news. In addition to being too young to go, he was a great talent. His performance as a passionate man lost the closet in Brokeback Mountain (pictured) was what made that film great rather than good. And I’m looking forward to seeing him as both Bob Dylan and the Joker, so sue me. Rest in peace.

Old Men in a New Car

The Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men is finally out here in the UK. Although I enjoyed it, and would rate it amongst the best of their films, I still have something of a hard time understanding the insane hype it’s been getting from critics everywhere. It’s nothing new in their oeuvre, and hardly represents a significant development for them beyond its toning down of their usual cinematic playfulness.

Faithfully adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, the Coens evidently found in him a kindred spirit. The film is basically a less showy reworking of earlier works such as Blood Simple (1984), Miller’s Crossing (1990) and Fargo (1996). As if the filmmakers decided, once and for all, to get what they wanted to achieve with those movies exactly right.

Angoulême 2008

We here at the Bunker are rather depressed that none of us will be going to Angoulême (Jan. 24-27) this year. In addition to always being worth the visit, we’re going to miss all of our Angoulême friends — the great people we unfortunately only meet there, once a year. Please be assured that we will miss you, and have a great festival.

A Blazing Baroque

There Will Be Blood directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, and out now, is a great piece of baroque cinema. Sharing more than a passing semblance with Erich von Stroheim’s monumental Greed (1924), this is high Hollywood classicism brought through the wringer of idiosyncratic, but grand ambition. As Manohla Dargis points out in her somewhat hyperbolic but nevertheless excellent review, the filmmaker here finds what his earlier efforts have lacked, a great theme. The overwrought ostentatiousness of Boogie Nights (1997) or Magnolia (1999) is turned into an asset in this quintessentially American fable of soul-destroying enterprise, in that it consolidates the archetypical nature of the narrative.

Hype: Blodbryllup på DIN NYE VEN!

Frem til starten af februar vil man kunne se sort/hvide sider fra Blodbryllup og et kort bidrag til Johan Krarups Son Of A Horse-antologi på kunstcaféen “DIN NYE VEN”, lige en spytklat oppe af gaden fra Fantask, i Sct. Peders Stræde 34.

Hvis ikke man er i nærheden af København, men alligevel gerne vil se nærmere på hvad der holder mig væk fra Tegneserierne, kan man følge udviklingen af min afgangsfilm fra Den Danske Filmskole her:

Accents of Persepolis

Finally got to see Persepolis. It is better, even, than it had to be. Very faithful to the comic — I was amazed at how well it manages to encompass pretty much the whole story as told in the comic without seeming rushed, all the while adding its own accents to the proceedings. While close to the comic, the film applies a slightly different, more refined aesthetic to the story. Applying to the settings as it does lushly applied grey tones and moments of iconic symbology, such as the scene where the Shah’s army violently suppresses the demonstration at the beginning of the film, it is at least one step removed from the effective if somewhat crude minimalism of the comic. A more emphatic and emotional, not to mention quite gorgeous, presentation of the material.