Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Main Character

     Cartoonist Brian McLachlan, in his upcoming Draw Out the Story: Ten Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics, offers a story tip to his young readership.  Under the heading "Who's the main character?" he discusses a story involving an underdog sports team.  "Which team member is the main character?" he asks.  "The one who has the most at stake!"
     A simple observation that underpins the entire history of storytelling.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

     The latest cinematic resurrection of The Lone Ranger is bloated beyond any degree of tolerance, but does have something worthwhile to offer.  The climactic twenty minutes is an extended train chase that begins with an echo of a grandly old-fashioned kind of heroism: the villains are escaping, a cry for help goes up, things look desperate and he appears, on his rearing white horse, bursting into action.  As the William Tell Overture swells, the tongue-in-cheek tone and subversive treatment of a somewhat creaky legend is completely done away with and the masked man is given his due.
     In an era when cinematic superheroes become increasingly dark, it is a little bit awe-inspiring to be reminded just what heroes are for and that they can still come charging out of the past to save the day just in time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Number 29 Returns

      After being sent down to the minors to work on his swing, Ike Davis returned to the Mets roster last Friday.  Since then, he has proven himself a more disciplined and focused batter, consistently getting onto base and frequently driving runs in.  He's yet to blow one out of the park, but his increased comfort and ease at the plate inspire confidence.  It's a pleasure to see him back in the thick of things.
      A shout out is also due to Josh Satin, the Mets' new number 13, who was called in to replace Ike during his absence.  Satin's performance has been nothing short of sterling, with a twelve-game hitting streak and a .362 batting average.  Though Ike Davis has returned, Satin remains in the roster and is being given opportunities to show off his impressive skills.  Here's hoping the both players have a long, bright future with the team.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ode to a Friend

     Superman: the Movie is the template and high-water mark for the modern superhero movie, for its (mostly) serious treatment of story, its epic scale, its concentration on character and, primarily, for the performance of its star Christopher Reeve.  Reeve said that he based his interpretation of Superman on a particular line of dialog which has him answer Lois Lane's "Who are you?" with the simple reply, "A Friend."  Reeve's Superman was warm and kind and filled with heart, as if he were all of humanity's best friend, and his interpretation reshaped this American archetype forever.
     The subtlety and power of Reeve's performance is never on better display than in a scene where, after feeling an extraordinary connection with Lois during their fly-over of Metropolis, Clark Kent arrives at her apartment and decides he will tell her the truth of his identity.  He removes his glasses, his posture straightens, his chest expands, his chin sets, his voice drops several octaves and right before your eyes, a sniveling boob becomes a demigod.  More than any other moment in any Superman (or superhero) movie, this encapsulates the power of the man and his secret burden and turns the demigod into an accessible human being.
     Since Superman, the prime candidate for this legacy of humanity in superheroism is Chris Evans, who played the title role in the surprisingly great Captain America.  After all, power balanced with humanity is the American ideal upon which the superhero was founded.
     On that fitting note, have a happy 4th of July.