What I Enjoyed, September 2017

September saw a pretty big shift for me from focusing on film to graphic novels. I’m still interested in film, but creating stories through comics feels a lot more attainable on a daily basis than making films with a cast and crew beyond just myself. I’m going to write more about this shift in the near future. With that shift came a bit less time watching film and a lot more time drawing.

Here’s what I enjoyed last month.

Films

Inland Empire

Inland Empre - Laura Dern Film Still.png

At last, I finally saw the one Lynch film I’ve been most excited to see in recent years. I’m blown away by Inland Empire. My gut reaction was that this is Lynch’s magnum opus. I’m still in a mental haze from this film, which is a good sign. 

Inland Empire and Eraserhead bookend Lynch’s filmography wonderfully. Inland Empire is a return to the absurd but with 30 years of experience. 

The digital video on film looks stellar. The lighting, often minimal, and camera movement makes Inland Empire feel real and relatable, yet it’s all such a dream. The editing makes a lot of the scenes work, especially the hallway cuts. 

Laura Dern is a force. This is my favorite performance of her that I’ve seen. 

My big takeaway from Inland Empire, which Lynch regularly drives home, is that cinema need not be bound by traditional narrative. There’s more to explore and experience than following along with the plot from A to Z. And that means a lot to me to understand. What makes it work for Lynch is that his ideas and aesthetic are so compelling and absolute. It takes a lot of talent and imagination to make it work.

Having the chance to see all of Lynch’s films in theaters this summer has been an absolute joy and privilege. I’m as big of a fan as I was going in, and I’ve loved thinking about all of his films and seeing the changes from film to film.

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin III Castle of Cagliostro Watercolor
A watercolor painting I did of a beautifully quiet scene in The Castle of Cagliostro.

Seeing this the second time around in a theater has me convinced it’s one of the greats. Within the structure of a simple story and existing characters, Miyazaki and co. made an animated feature with incredible action, mystery, and beautiful animation. The music is spot on. The characters all mesh together wonderfully.

The Castle of Cagliostro is often overlooked when it comes to Miyazaki’s films, but it is one of the best. There’s nothing quite like the ambition of a first time director, and it really shows in this film.

I managed to forget most of the plot since I first saw it, and the ending blew me away again this time. It’s unexpected and quite something.

Books

I fell off of the Infinite Jest horse, and I’m not sure if I have the strength to get back on anytime soon. With my shift to focusing on drawing comics, I spent most of September reading through a technical book on drawing manga.

Manga in Theory and Practice by Hirohiko Araki

Manga in Theory and Practice Cover.jpg

The author of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure lays out his approach to creating manga, and it’s full of useful gems for those interested in telling stories. While his advice might be a little too geared toward shonen (teenage boy) series, it’s still quite useful. Araki breaks down his process into character development, setting, art, theme, and story. He then ties is all together with examples from his own work. I’d like to go into more depth about what I’ve learned from it in the future.

One-Punch Man Volume 12

I’ve been keeping up with One-Punch Man since it first released in the West, and it continues to be a great exploration of superhero comics. I don’t have much to say other than that I’m still enjoying the series.

TV Shows

Twin Peaks: The Return

Twin Peaks The Return - Phillip Jeffries

The third season of Twin Peaks came to end, and it was not at all what I was expecting. I enjoyed that my expectations were defied, and I thought the ending was fitting (there was never a chance of it being buttoned up, right?). Though I can understand why some folks would be frustrated with the ending.

I really do miss watching new episodes every week. It became this wonderful ritual of tuning in on Sunday, always wondering throughout the week what would happen next.

I was initially planning to write out my thoughts on the third season and finale in detail, but I decided to instead let it all sit in my subconscious. I’d like to revisit the first two series, Fire Walk with Me, and the return once the third season releases digitally.

Game of Thrones Season 7

I’d imagine Game of Thrones has been talked about to death, but here’s my quick thoughts on Season 7:

While there wasn’t enough quiet time with character development, I still enjoyed the season. It was cool to see the various plot lines and characters begin to come together in some major ways. Season 8 is set up pretty well to be something spectacular. I’m feeling ready for the show to come to an end.

What’s Coming Up in October

October so far has been a lot of drawing, but I’ve also been reading some comics and manga. I’m looking forward to seeing Blade Runner 2049. I’ve also been playing a little bit of Stardew Valley and Monster Hunter Generations, which have been fun. October should be a low-key and focused month on my personal projects, but I’m sure I’ll still find time to enjoy some things.

Author: Brett Chalupa

day: software developer, night: comic artist & writer

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