Derik Badman's Journal

2020-12-02 08:51

Back to work today after almost a week off, many days in which I feel like I did little but play video games and do a bunch of minor chores. I did check a few movies off my watch list, but did not get a ton of reading done. I also wrote a review I had pitched to The Comics Journal.

Since HBO has all the Miyazaki films available I had added a few to my watch list, and last night I watched Porco Ross which I have not seen before. It's a between the wars story about seaplane pilots in the Adriatic, starring a pilot who is somehow (never explained) been cursed to look a pig man. It's a strange conceit, that they don't give an origin for, and in the end only ambiguously allude to him being cured of it. Like many Miyazaki films it has a plucky girl heroine, in this case a genius plane engineer. The whole thing is a little goofy, occasionally funny, sometimes melancholy. Beautiful animation, of course, sometimes I just get distracted from following the story to just look at the animation qua animation, thinking about the layering of cels, what is a static image, what is getting animated, and how it is done to convey movement and time passing and the like. I've been rather hit and miss on re/watching anime in the recent past, but I think I'll rewatch a few more of these Studio Ghibli ones (probably Totoro or Nausicaa next).

Took a break from Kathy Acker and Josep Pla to start Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White which somehow got on my to read list awhile back and then I realized we had a copy on the shelves in the dining room. I know I read The Moonstone years ago but have little memory of it. This one is less mystery (so far) and more gothic. Formally, it's a collection of explicitly narrated sections, framed as a record collected by one of the characters of a series of events. At first this seemed rather modern to me, before I recalled how much this idea of the novel as made up of a existing written texts with specific narrators was a hallmark of many early novels (I'm thinking Pamela, Robinson Crusoe, doesn't Don Quixote even have a conceit about it, at least in the second book?). So far it is suffused with drama and tension, with a light gothic element (though any aspect of the supernatural is quickly squashed). Collins is skillful in making you think something bad is going to happen without really knowing what it is going to be. You know the narrators collected the record for some reason, but it is not at all clear what the real event is that triggered it all, unlike in say a murder mystery where it is of course the murder that triggers the narration. Anyway, I am enjoying it, though finding it occasionally too wordy/overwritten, but that is the style.