I guess I'm all about magazines this week:

*Very little time to write, I’m sorry to say. I’m pretty sure by now that I’m just going to wind up ordering that new Comics Journal straight from Fantagraphics; my options otherwise continue to dwindle. And then the day afterwards I’m sure my local Borders will have copies flooding out of the doors in a special ‘All Comics Journal’ megasale with a free copy given to everyone who orders a spinach-stuffed pretzel, but hey. That’s the ol’ story of life.

During my search I did wind up buying the new issue of “Paste”, some bimonthly music and culture magazine that’s having a special film issue, with cover art by Eric Chase Anderson, brother of the noted director Wes Anderson and cover artist for two out of three of the director Anderson’s films. My purchasing the magazine was frankly a case of bribery: for six dollars I get the publication itself, plus a 23-track cd of various artists (Minnie Driver? Hooray!) AND a 4-hour dvd of short films and music videos and trailers and things. Now that‘s how to rope ‘em in!

The content of the magazine itself, at least in its 'Special Film Issue' function, is somewhat like a more pretentious “Entertainment Weekly”, with the front of the book loaded with short ‘news’ bits on things like The Donnas expressing their love for Target or Neko Case plugging her new live album. Further in we’ve got some standard-issue feature interviews with REM and Tom Waits, the usual mix of mild background info and chat about future projects. As you can no doubt tell, there’s a whole lot of music focus, but the reviews section in the back also seems to cover books, including (COMICS CONNECTION AHOY - THE COMICS WEBLOG UPDATE PAGE WOULD NEVER LIE) a glowing 4-and-one-half out of five star review of “Blankets”, the book that just keeps on winning. Clearly the review is geared toward the world's most comics-savvy audience:

“…if the idea of crying while reading a comic book doesn’t appeal to you, I’d recommend you leave this one alone.”

Comics: Not Just For Kids, And Now With Added Emotion!!!

It’s an earnest, enthusiastic review though, and I haven't really gotten to the meat of the magazine’s (many) album critiques, which usually form the basis of my interest in these magazines anyway. There’s certainly no way I’d be sticking with “Entertainment Weekly” without upstanding souls like Owen Gleiberman around; the content of the reviews is somehow enough to balance out the usually unmitigated fluff of the first half.

As for the 'Special Film Issue' content in “Paste” (about 36 out of 148 pages, plus the dvd which admittedly might be a lot more stuff that it initially seems) there’s a decent profile of Wes Anderson, which seems to acknowledge the same potential for a backlash that I’m sensing from several quarters. A lot of the advance word that I’ve managed to triangulate indicates that “The Life Aquatic” might be a step down from Anderson’s last two films, while retaining much of the same style, a situation which will leave Anderson quite open to criticism that his style is getting ‘tired’ or that he’s losing relevance. He’s never been a blockbuster director but he usually retains a large measure of critical praise, along with a certain devout fan base (which I suppose I belong to; I’ve never seen “Bottle Rocket” but I liked the other two films). But the article seems to suggest (and its not alone) that many fans and critics are starting to feel that Anderson is becoming stuck in a rut, that he’s stopped developing and that he’s only spinning the wheels of his unique style. “The Life Aquatic” is one of my most anticipated films of the moment, and I can’t wait to decide for myself, but it’s fun to try and gauge the atmosphere surrounding the film (and readings may well prove to be inaccurate, I fully admit)…