Greetings friends and neighbours! I hope that everyone has been staying weird and wonderful over the last week. And if the week has been lacking in high-quality weirdness, don’t worry: I come bearing a cornucopia of delights! Well, they delighted me, anyhow. Let’s get into it!
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No joke: Dirty Dancing is a much better movie than I thought it was. To be fair, the first time I watched Dirty Dancing when I was ten years old, and let me just say that it is not a great movie for a ten year old boy who isn’t able to grasp the text of the movie, let alone the subtext. A movie about a young woman’s coming of age in the early 1960s, rejection of white upper class societal values, reproductive issues, and also Patrick Swayze in tight high-waisted pants? All that was very much wasted on a pre-pubescent Devin. However, after watching it for the second time twenty-eight years later (shudder), I was surprised by how effective and affecting a movie it is. Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze have undeniable chemistry — and if the stories of how they thoroughly disliked each other offscreen are true, that’s an even more impressive feat. I not only bought into their love story, but their individual stories of growth and change as well. Of course, to me the real star of the movie has always been Jerry Orbach, who can do more with a look than most actors can do with a whole monologue. It’s cheesy, sure, and there are a couple of moments that had me groaning, but overall Dirty Dancing is a really good movie. I can’t believe I just wrote that, but it’s true.
Liz Prince’s Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed? is a quick read and corny as all get out, and I laughed more reading it than any comic in recent memory. The book is a collection of autobiographical comics about her first real relationship, with rough unfinished art that lend the short vignettes a dog-eared, earnest appeal. More than anything, her comics are perfect examples of how to do humour in comics, with the pacing of the dialogue and cartooned facial expressions perfect examples of comic timing. Prince’s strips are cheesy and sappy, full of jokes about smooching and romantic puns and also fart jokes, but I found them endearing because of her unashamed and honest approach to the material. It’s a breeze to read, easily devoured in one sitting, but I think it works better in short bursts, five or six pages at a time, to really savour just how clever and skilled a cartoonist Price really is.
I am two episodes into the crime series Cardinal and so far it hasn’t missed a beat. Based on Giles Blunt’s critically acclaimed mystery novel Forty Words For Sorrow, Cardinal features many of the tropes of the traditional “prestige” crime series, but with an authentically small town Canadian aesthetic . Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer, The Killing) plays John Cardinal, a disgraced police officer with a brilliant mind and a collection of secrets, who is brought back to the homicide after a body is discovered that is linked to a case he worked years ago. He’s set up with a new partner, Lise Delorme, who is played by Karine Vanasse, late of one of my favourite TV melodramas Revenge. The two of them work the case together, neither of them really trusting the other, but learning to work together as the series unfolds at a deliberate pace. I have been a fan of Delorme for years and love that she is able to sink her teeth into this meaty role, one that deepens in the second episode (named after her character). And Billy Campbell is terrific, adding a nuance to what could have been simply another gruff detective stereotype, and with a stunningly good Canadian accent to boot. Cardinal isn’t just about character and plot, though; the cinematography is vitally important, with a sense of space and timing that grounds the viewer, pulling them into the scene. Cardinal is unassuming but powerful and off to a great start, and I’m excited to see where the last four episodes take me.
The first issue of Lit Brick is a humorous comics retelling of the Ancient Greek stories Lysistrata and Sappho, with most pages laid out a four panel grid with literary commentary beneath. I breezed through it, chuckling at each of the jokes and ending up thoroughly pleased with my $0.99 purchase on Comixology. On a whim, I went to the internet to look up a little more about Lit Brick, and I discovered an entire website full of years’ worth of Lit Brick webcomics, plus more digital comics issues from creator John S. Troutman, including an eight issue series entitled The Gospel of Carol: The Unknown Story of the Daughter of God that tells the story of Jesus’ forgotten identical twin. Troutman combines irreverent humour, literary references, and solid cartooning in a way that sucks me right in, and I can’t wait to dive in and experience more of it.
Peacecraft is a new YouTube show with an incredibly silly premise — can Polygon’s Senior Editorial Video Producer and sweet baby brother Griffin McElroy survive a playthrough of World of Warcraft without murdering anything? The first episode establishes the rules and introduces the viewer to Raandyy, gnomish assassin and struggling herbalist who occasionally wears pants. To me it’s just an excuse for Griffin to riff and joke on all the ridiculousness of the game in general and his Amazing Race-esque mission in particular, and at one point I laughed so hard I hurt my throat. Yeah, it’s silly. But sometimes silliness for its own sake is worth its weight in Silverleaf.
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That’s going to wrap things up this week, folks. Until next time, embrace the strange and silly things around you. It’s worked out pretty well for me this week; maybe it can do good things for you too. I’ll see you in seven days.