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'Ghost World' (****)

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Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 10:00 pm

It's the big-budget adaptations of popular comic books that get all the press and audience attention ("Spider-Man," "X-Men," "The Fantastic Four," ad infinitum), but some of the most amazing screen adaptations are actually finding their origins in the world of graphic novels.

2005 saw "Sin City" and "A History of Violence," both of which helped set a new standard for the genre, but before last year my favorite interpretation of a comic - graphic novel or otherwise - was 2001's "Ghost World," Terry Zwigoff's penetrating deconstruction of the classic "coming of age" story. It didn't garner much attention when originally released, but it deserves to be seen by anyone with an interest in the modern counterculture and an appreciation for tricky page-to-screen transformations, or anyone who simply loves carefully observed studies of original and interesting characters - in other words, everyone.

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