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Michael Chabon

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Cavalier & K.

Another happy fanboy moment this morning (See, I don’t only go gaga for character actors and Youtube starlets): While setting up shop for the final day here, I happened to notice author Michael Chabon (Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union) taking a quick peek into the confines of our bloggerverse. (He’s set to sign books at The Tattered Cover, the very quality bookstore next door, in a bit.)

At any rate, Chabon seemed like a very friendly fellow, and he entertained my sudden barrage of fanboy film adaptation questions without complaint. (We didn’t get to talk comics, alas, but then again I didn’t want to eat up all of his exploring time.) Regarding Kavalier & Klay, Chabon said that there’s no real truth to the Jude Law-Ben Stiller rumors that were circulating awhile back, and that the Stephen Daldry-directed version Chabon himself spoke of a few years ago, like the Sydney Pollack attempt before that, is now sadly moldering away in Development Hell. As for Yiddish, Chabon — who seemed really delighted that the Coens have grabbed the project — said they were writing it now (so, in other words, A Serious Man will definitely come first.) No word on casting yet, although I’m willing to bet dollars-to-donuts Frances McDormand is on the short list for Bina.

In any case, Chabon seemed like great people, and it was a real kick to chat him up for a few minutes. (And, unlike a lot of the recognizable folks who’ve come through lately, there was no entourage of “boundary mavens” to negotiate with.)

Union Now!…or maybe later.

Busy, busy…The brothers Coen develop Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union as their next project after Burn after Reading and A Serious Man. “Chabon sets up a contemporary scenario where Jewish settlers are about to be displaced by U.S. government’s plans to turn the frozen locale of Sitka, Alaska, over to Alaskan natives. Against this backdrop is a noir-style murder mystery in which a rogue cop investigates the killing of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy who might be the messiah.” Now that sounds like Coen territory.

E for Escapist.

“Quick answers (as of this date): Golem: yes. Antarctica: yes. Gay love story: yes. Ruins of World’s Fair: no. Long Island: no. Orson Welles: no. Salvador Dali: yes. Loving reference to Betty and Veronica: no. Stan Lee: no.” Author Michael Chabon blogs in to say, among other things, that Natalie Portman is likely Rosa in the forthcoming film version of Kavalier & Klay, to be directed by Stephen Daldry.

Feet of Klay?

Two intriguing links from today’s Cliopatria: First, Inside Higher Ed‘s Scott Lemee surveys the hubbub surrounding an apparent Holocaust-related hoax perpetrated by Kavalier & Klay author Michael Chabon. And, elsewhere, What’s the Matter With Kansas author Thomas Frank tries to figure out what’s the matter with liberals, and concludes we play far too easily into the “out-of-touch elitist” stereotype.

Excelsior.

Here he comes, watch out bud. He’s got genetically engineered blood…and a frozen run of bad luck like you read about. After a series of underwhelming summer films so far, Spiderman 2 is a happy surprise, and a distinct improvement on the decent original (#6). After an up-and-down first outing, both Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire (as well as the gaggle of writers on board, among them Michael Chabon) have clearly settled into the rhythm of Peter Parker’s struggle-filled existence, and the result is the most enjoyable and faithful comic book adaptation this side of X2.

Besides the renewed sense of confidence on display, Spidey 2 is already four tentacles up on its predecessor thanks to both Alfred Molina and the production design of Doc Ock. While Willem Defoe seemed like a great idea for the Goblin, he came off way too hammy in the final product, and that stupid mask eliminated most of his strengths as an actor anyway. Here, however, Otto Octavius is realized to perfection, and as such every fight between Ock and Spidey (particularly the sequence at the bank) carries the visceral thrill of seeing a comic book come to life. (Plus, nobody does evil demented appendages quite like Sam Raimi.) And, if that wasn’t grist enough for the fanboy mill, J.K. Simmons gets to chew the scenery unabashedly again as J. Jonah Jameson, and there’s plenty of nods to the webslinger’s considerable rogues’ gallery, including GG II, the Lizard, and — digging real deep in the well — the Man-Wolf.

Problems? Sure, there’s a few. Kirsten Dunst still screams Gwen Stacy, but makes for a rather implausible MJ. (Y’all webheads out there know what I mean.) As my brother pointed out, Spidey should be quicker with the quip…it’s half of his battle strategy and most of his charm. Most of the saving-the-train sequence, from Tobey’s uber-clenched look to the Passion of the Spider ending, was just plain goofy (and why fashion this elevated train sequence anyway? Spidey lives in NYC, not Gotham City or Metropolis, and the writers should’ve stuck to the real Big Apple.) And perhaps some of the longer heartfelt speeches (Aunt May’s in particular) were overdone. All in all, though, Spidey 2 is a rollicking success, one that gives me hope that Marvel’s movie run may not be over quite yet. Now how we’re doing with FF…?

Wonder Daemons.

Pullman has looked around at this broken universe of ours, in its naturalistic tatters, and has indicated, like Satan pointing to the place on which Pandemonium will rise, the site of our truest contemporary narratives of the Fall: in the lives, in the bodies and souls, of our children.” Michael Chabon belatedly reviews the His Dark Materials trilogy for the NY Review of Books.

DC Down, Marvel Up.

While Superman continues to languish over at Warner Brothers, Sony gets Michael Chabon to punch up the script for The Amazing Spiderman. Since so much of Spidey’s appeal is his internal monologue, Chabon sounds like a great choice.

The Escapist Gutted.

Corona reviews the Kavalier and Klay script by Michael Chabon, and finds it sorely lacking compared to the book. [Spoilers].

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