Monday, January 5, 2009

Alex's Short Post About...Well, You'll See

A couple of things about today's post before I get into it. First, yes, this is another review, and yes, I know you all know I hate writing reviews. But, since I've actually had some free time to read and watch things that have been piling up on my desk...and floor...and, well, everywhere...I feel like I should be writing reviews.

So, there.

Second, I'd like to point out that this is a review about a film directed by writer Neil Gaiman, of whom I am a big fan. That said, I think I need to warn everyone that any review I write about Gaiman's work should probably be taken with a grain of salt, as I tend to really dig everything he's ever worked on.

That said, another important caveat: Sandman does not apply to the above theory, though, as everyone who has ever read it would agree with me on how great it is.

And, now, finally, on to my review. One of the cooler Christmas gifts I got this year was a DVD entitled Neil Gaiman's A Short Film About John Bolton. Now, I'd known for a while that this movie was out there, but since I really didn't know much about it other than the facts that Gaiman was involved and that John Bolton drew some comics, I really wasn't too intent on finding the movie.

But, as I unwrapped it and read the back cover, I knew this film would be right up my alley. And I still didn't care about the movie. You see, besides the actual film, this DVD contains several extra features that Gaiman fans will want to check out, the highlight of which being an hour-long recording of a benefit performance Gaiman put on in October 2000 entitled Live at the Aladdin. Here Gaiman reads selected works that he's written, and there are interviews with collaborators and fans.

The disc also contains a Making Of documentary, a commentary track, and a handful of other fun bits. The extras are great, and for Gaiman die-hards, they alone make this DVD a must-buy. So, on to the movie itself--A Short Film About John Bolton.

Short is the right word, as this feature clocks in at only 27 minutes. Yep, I said 27 minutes. But, Gaiman fans will immediately recognize that the film unfolds much like a Gaiman short story, and as such, is quite a bit of fun to watch.

Now, the only real background you need to know before viewing is that John Bolton is a comics and fantasy artist, known for his depictions of female vampires and the like.

The film is a "mockumentary," as it follows a journalist and his crew in their attempts to interview the elusive and aloof artist, John Bolton. The film opens on the first night of a gallery exhibition showcasing Bolton's work and we meet the artist, his art dealer, and the television film crew sent to interview him.

We hear patrons of the show discussing Bolton's work, and explaining why the sensual, dreamy, creepy, and sometimes disturbing imagery he paints either excites or repulses them. When Bolton (well, the actor portraying him) comes on screen, we are introduced to a spectacularly strange and awkward man with nervous tendencies and not even a little bit of social decorum.

The basic premise of the movie stems out of the journalist's question to Bolton of where the artist finds his inspiration.

The answer to that question and what follows is weird, and funny, and other things, too, but it's one of those films where giving away any plot points at all really does spoil the overall experience of watching it.

Instead, I'll say this. If you are a Neil Gaiman fan, do yourself a favor and go out and buy this DVD. If you are a fan of his short fiction and his storytelling sensibilites, then you'll certainly enjoy the film, but I guarantee that you'll flip over the extras.

Well, that's it for today. More reviews as the week goes on.

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