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Ghost World (R)
Official Site
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russell Smith
Written by: Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes
Cast: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Ileana Douglas, Steve Buscemi, Bob Balaban, Terri Garr

Rating: out of 5

In the family portrait of page-to-screen translations, films made from comic books have always been the embarrassing cousin that's making faces in the background. Irritating and very much out of place, they stick out like proverbial sore thumbs, making you wonder time and again why anyone would try to make these two mediums merge in the first place. Oh sure, there have been some good ones. The first BATMAN was good, as were BLADE and SUPERMAN. But for every one of those that come out, we also have to put up with a TANK GIRL and a JUDGE DREDD. And don't even get me started on BARB WIRE. Having seen all of these movies at one point or another in my life, I am still baffled as to where they went wrong. It's not like there's something inherently unfilmable about comics. It just seems to be a case of a director or, more likely, a studio not getting the source material from the get-go. How else to do you explain the subsequent "kiddie-facation" of THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES?

However, all the rules have changes because finally, some folks have made the definitive comic-to-film translation. GHOST WORLD, the comic, is the story of two girls, Enid and Rebecca, who live their lives in a perpetual smirk. Everything is phony and pathetic to them, for they hold themselves up to be the only ones in their town who really know what life is all about. A far cry from the typical sword and sorcery of your normal comics, GHOST WORLD plays out like an independent film. Lots of dialogue; lots of emotion. Fittingly, GHOST WORLD-the-movie is essentially the same thing. Oh sure, there are some differences, but being as how the movie was co-scripted by the comic's creator, I think we can let any minor changes slide.

I will say right now that, barring any feats of cinematic genius on the horizon, this will probably be my favorite movie of the year. Everything about it is as close to perfect as you can get. The performances are top notch all around, but particularly those of Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi. Birch proves herself to be one of the best teen actors in the business, perfectly capturing Enid's desperate need to be different from everything she sees around her. It's an aching performance and one hopes she will be remembered for it in the award-giving season. And speaking of awards, will somebody please give Steve Buscemi an Oscar? Jesus, this guy has been turning in quality performances for years now and with his latest in GHOST WORLD, he raises the bar yet again. This is his best acting job ever and if he doesn't get something… well then, this is truly an unjust and cruel world.

I'm sitting here staring at the screen, trying desperately to think of more ways to tell you how fantastic this movie is, but sadly, anything I say will fall short. Folks, readers, fellow film appreciators… go see this. Right now, get out of your chair and run, don't walk, to the local art house and give all your money to this film. It's independent cinema at its best and its best is better than just about anything you're going to find right now. Ladies and gentleman, I give you GHOST WORLD; the movie to beat this year.

— Clint Davis

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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