I've also been reading a manga series called "Death Note". It took me a while to warm to manga as a medium. For some reason it just doesn't seem as good as an American style comic book... maybe because they're generally more serious and make some attempt to be dramatic and realistic, while still being goony beyond belief. Anyway, "Death Note" was entirely worth waiting for - the plot is simple enough; a teenaged boy find the notebook of a death god. Any person whose name is written in the notebook will die; added details also become true. It starts as a meditation on ethics (a very SHORT meditiation - the kid racks up a ferocious death toll almost immediately) and turns into a cat-and-mouse game between the owner of the death note and the mysterious, anonymous detective who is trying to catch him. At each turn the tension ratchets up, and the plots twists more than an orgy full of Chinese contortionists. I only got the first four volumes, but I just ordered the final 8, despite it being kind of spendy - the story is tight with nary a panel wasted. It's morally and ethically twisty, the characters are fascinatingly weird - and even the death gods are kind of fascinating.
Lastly, and definitely best - I saw "Stardust". This is the best movie I've seen since "Fellowship of the Rings" It was superb, and nearly perfect. The story is incredibly tight - the tension is non-stop even when there's no action on screen. All the seriousness is leavened with genuinely funny comedic notes that cleanse the palate, like cheese between flights of wine. The effects are magnificent without being obtrusive - they evoke wonder without descending into crass spectacle. The characters are loveable and endearing; and the actors all do a fine turn in breathing life into their quirky, charming, and sometimes scary parts. Robert DeNiro, in particular, comes on screen in what seems like a phone-it-in performance as a sky pirate (and by the way - SKY PIRATES!) but quickly it is revealed that his blase is entirely in keeping with his character. What follows is a performance that demonstrates again that DeNiro is capable of very nuanced performances with note-perfect comedic timing. Clare Danes is literally luminous, and Michelle Pfeiffer embraces her aging screen-siren status in a way that is ferocious, frightening, and the perfect metaphor for how Hollywood treats actresses of a certain age. But above all, the script is a soaring, dancing, glistening sonata of perfect timing, excellent pace, engaging characters and not a scrap of excess material. And it's all wrapped up in an ending that is fairy tale perfect without being cliched or hackneyed. "Stardust" is Princess Bride for the 21st Century; with all the romance, charm, action and laughs, spiced up by modern effects. About halfway through I thought, "If they don't fuck this up, It'll be in my top ten favorites, for sure." They didn't and in fact - went on to such a perfect performance that it's easily top five. Maybe top three. I can't recommend this movie highly enough - and I strongly suggest you see it with someone who you plan to kiss, afterwards.