Five Movies for National Comic Book Day

So according to my Twitter Feed (proof , if proof were needed, that The Fast Picture Show is tech-savvy and down with the kids), its #NationalComicBookDay. At the minute it seems like the entire Hollywood film industry is being propped up by movie adaptations of superhero comics, but there are of course some excellent comic books (or graphic novels as they are called to make readers feel grown up) which have been turned into good films. If you are sick to death of colourful, lycra-clad, indestructible super-beings knocking the shit out of each other, give these a go instead.

Persepolis (Satrapi & Paronnaud, 2008) is a French-Iranian production based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical comic book about her childhood in pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. Primarily presented in B&W, it is simply animated to mimic the source material, but the richness and intelligence of the marvellous coming-of-age story shines through in a funny, moving and honest film. A gem.

After years of body-horror features, David Cronenberg went (almost) mainstream with the crime thriller A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005). Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner, it stars Viggo Mortensen as a man trying to escape his violent past, only for events to pull him back in. It's a gripping affair, with some shocking moments and great performances, plus it manages to deliver the sexiest 69 scene you'll see outside of the porn industry.

Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2013) is a bit crazy, but that's not a bad thing. Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige (Lob, Rochette & Legrand), it envisages a frozen, post-apocalyptic Earth where the only human survivors live on a train endlessly circling the globe at high speed. The poor passengers live in squalor in the back carriages, whilst the rich live in luxury near the front. But revolution is in the air.... Starring a great cast (Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt et al), this is certainly a bit uneven, but it's probably the most enjoyable post-apocalyptic, darkly funny Korean-French-American-Czech dystopian sci-fi action film and class satire set on a train I've ever seen. Plus I'm struggling to remember the last film I watched in which the hero admitted to eating a baby. A BABY!

You should approach When the Wind Blows (Jimmy Murakami, 1986) with caution. Just because it's based on a comic book by Raymond 'The Snowman' Briggs doesn't mean it's all magic and Walking in the Air. Instead, this is a devastatingly bleak depiction of an elderly couple in the English countryside attempting to continue with their normal life even as it becomes clear that a global nuclear war has broken out. Things do not end happily. File it alongside Watership Down in the list of films well-meaning parents showed their children because they thought it was a gentle cartoon.

Finally, we have Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988), based on the director's own comic book series and a genuine contender for the greatest animated movie ever made. Set in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, the story focuses on a biker gang who get involved with a military conspiracy and mysterious mutant children. That summary does scant justice to the dense and somewhat confusing narrative, but regardless of the storytelling, this remains an astonishingly beautiful film to look at, even by today's high animation standards. To create the endlessly inventive visuals, over 327 colours were used, 50 of which were specifically created for the film. As the first true anime to break out of Japan to a wider audience, this was the gateway film to the weird and wonderful world of manga for many Westerners and has gathered a huge cult following in the process. Rumours about a live-action version surface regularly, but whoever tackles it will have the job cut out to beat the original. Breathtaking stuff.

Now, if only someone would make a film out of this classic:

No comments:

Post a Comment