Daniel Clowes

Shia Career

A few days ago, cinema lost a celebrated actor when Shia LaBeouf announced his retirement from public life. Ostensibly, that includes acting performances (except for the private kind), meaning that decades of unrealized work will live on only in our hearts and imaginations. Presumably, his final performance will come in David Ayer’s forthcoming war picture with Brad Pitt and no on-set shower. If it gets a release this year, it’ll be alongside a penetrating performance for Lars von Trier’s two-part Nymphomaniac, making 2014 the final year of LaBeouf’s cinematic career. The curious element to the plagiarizing episode that has caused LaBeouf to throw his arms up in the air (and then skywrite in it) is that there’s an engine driving the absurdity. A kind of legitimacy. The mockery and derision prove that, at some level, we take LaBeouf seriously as a performer. Or at least his potential. Otherwise — and with anyone we don’t think of as genuine– this public stunt wouldn’t even register. At most it would be a day’s diversion, not stretching, seemingly endlessly, into the foreseeable future. So the question is when we started taking the little kid from Even Stevens seriously.

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When I first read on Empire that Alexander Payne was looking at a project called Wilson for his next film, I thought to myself that finally, finally somebody was going to take a long overdue deeper look at the always obscured, wisdom filled neighbor from Home Improvement. But then I read a little further and realized that’s not what this project is going to be at all. I was disappointed. But then I read a little further and realized that what this project is could be even better. “Wilson” is a graphic novel created by Daniel Clowes, who film fans will probably recognize as being the guy who wrote “Ghost World,” another comic that went on to become a Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi-starring feature film. That film was much loved, so much so that the Clowes and Terry Zwigoff penned screenplay was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar at The Academy Awards that year. Seeing as Clowes is once again working on the adaptation for this project, and Ghost World had a dry, biting sense of humor that seems to fit very well with Payne’s sensibilities, it looks like this could be a project to watch.

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