Friday, July 26, 2013

Super-Review #5

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Edward Albee)
Martha and George are a middle-aged couple embroiled in the life of the local university, where George is a history professor and Martha's father is the president. After a faculty party one night, Martha invites Nick, the young new biology professor, and his wife, Honey, to their apartment in order to get to know them better. What ensues is three acts of vicious interplay between Martha and George, some of the most biting, needling dialogue I've ever read. This play is a horrifying portrait of middle-aged marriage in failure, but that doesn't make it unreadable. Just the opposite--I was in it for the long haul, waiting for the big fireworks finale that signaled their self-destruction. I know Gone Girl came out 60 years later, but I read Flynn's psychological thriller first and that's what it reminded of--despicable characters evoking sympathy and compassion unexpectedly from readers while we watch their lives burn. Seriously, George and Martha are a nightmare couple.
My rating: 5/5

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Bryan Lee O'Malley)
I saw the movie before I read this book, which only covers maybe the first 25 minutes of the film. I'm pleasantly surprised by how closely the movie resembles the source material, and despite it not having the same level of freshness, it's nonetheless enjoyable to see Scott Pilgrim's journey to defeat Ramona's seven evil exes begin. The pictures are an enjoyable mixture of traditional cartoon and manga style and the video game homages are always a delight.
My rating: 4/5

The Children's Hour (Lillian Hellman)
Our setting is a school run by two women, friends since college. When they punish Mary, one of the students, for faking a heart attack, she runs to her grandma and tells her about how the two women are lesbians. It's an interesting, certainly sad story once everything plays out, but it never reaches the emotional height I was preparing myself for. Mary is perhaps the best character, incredibly devilish and controlling, but her disappearance from the second half weakens the whole structure--no one is quite as interesting as the awful little girl, and I missed her in the third act.
My rating: 4/5

Once Upon a Time Machine
The idea for this graphic novel hodgepodge is to retell fairy tales through the lens of speculative/science fiction. Of course, I love fairy tales, so I couldn't pass up such an opportunity. The collection is mixed--some of the retellings are very well done, but others are less so. The variety of art styles is refreshing, as are the inclusion of tales from Eastern traditions with which I was not familiar. But I think the collection could have endured some trimming to remove some of the less-well-crafted stories (especially where there are two or three different retellings of the same tale).
My rating: 4/5

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