FEATURES : COLUMNS : REVIEWS : NEWS : FILM & TV : FORUMS : UGO

ABOUT




New Doc Ock Hits Spider-Man
Have you seen the new Doctor Octopus, designed by fan-favorite artist Humberto Ramos? Click to dig the Doc.
Marvel Hires New Publisher
Following such rumors, Marvel today announced that Bill Jemas has been replaced as Publisher. Now read who took his job.
CrossGen's Solus #7
CrossGen thinks you'll love George Pérez's new issue of Solus. And to prove it, here's a five-page preview.
Marvel Searches For She-Hulk
Writer Geoff Johns and artist Scott Kolins reunite for Marvel's Avengers as they search for She-Hulk.
Virtex Returns For Digital Webbing
A comic about a cybernetic cowboy that hunts outlaws riding dinosaurs? Where do we sign up? Read on and find out.
Marvel's Mutants Gains New Penciler
Marvel's New Mutants has a new artist onboard, and we've got a five-page preview. See if he's got the chops.
Image Rocks Out With Shangri-La
Are you ready to rock and roll? Image is, with their upcoming graphic novel Shangri-La. Read the details here.
Marvel Teams Up For A Good Cause
Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk team up for charity in a special December one-shot. Read all about it.
Davis' Marquis Returns In December
Guy Davis' sin-slayer is back in The Marquis: Intermezzo, coming from Oni Press. Read all about it.
Marvel Unveils '04 FF Plans
Marvel plans three Fantastic Four series for 2004, and we've got the details and preview art. Check this out.
2F2F DVD Contest
The hit street racing film 2 Fast 2 Furious is driving to DVD players near you. Win a free copy from Slush and Universal.
 








Movie Review:
American Splendor
By Matt Singer

08.28.03


“American Splendor” is an excellent comic book, and American Splendor is an amazing movie. If you’re not familiar with the source material, Cleveland schlub and file clerk Harvey Pekar writes an anthology book about the complexities of his everyday life. The film adapts the comic, and therefore Harvey’s life, into a two hour journey that, like the comic, like life, is sometimes funny, and sometimes sad, but always, always, real. Though it is not a documentary, it may very well be, and for whatever liberties it might have taken (and I don’t know of many) it creates these people for you.

Pekar plays himself, popping up throughout as a narrator, and even occasionally as an on-screen commentator, discussing the action we’ve seen. In the fictionalized scenes, Harvey (it seems so much more natural to call him Harvey - everyone in his comic book calls him that) is played by Paul Giamatti, previously best known for his small but unforgettable roles in films like Private Parts and The Negotiator. Giamatti’s gives an uncanny performance, while he is a dead ringer for Harvey’s mannerisms, voice, and trademark head-tilt and stoop, he never seems to be impersonating his subject; rather, it’s almost like Harvey had an out-of-body experience inside poor Paul Giamatti. The performers who assume the identities of Harvey’s third wife Joyce (Hope Davis), and buddies Robert Crumb (James Urbaniak) and Killer Nerd star Toby Radloff (Judah Friedlander) are equally impressive.


Article continued below advertisement


Like the John Lennon song, Harvey is a working class hero. We first see him as a child, at the end of a line of Halloween trick or treaters. There’s Superman, Batman, Green Lantern... and Harvey Pekar, dressed as himself. And he really is heroic in his own quiet way; while holding down a dead-end government job for twenty-five years, he created one of the most important independent comic books of all time, found true love, even tackled cancer (One subject the movie doesn’t have time for; Harvey’s immigrant father, whose 7 day a week job working the family market is a big reason for Harvey’s own career path). As a neurotic Jew myself, it’s easy to identify with his fears and his dreams. For someone who has accomplished a lot, he remains eternally pessimistic, though in the film he tends to come off as a lovable curmudgeon more often than not.

First-time film directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini draw on their roots as documentarians to blend the fictional material with interviews with the real Harvey and Joyce. Since “Splendor” is itself self-referential, the movie’s own circular structure plays perfectly into the tone of Harvey’s life and work. But Berman and Pulcini also capture what makes Harvey’s comics so great; the unbelievable attention to detail, to otherwise pointless minutia that can sometimes become absolutely fascinating: in no other movie could something so small as a pencil tip breaking be laugh out loud hilarious. But that’s because no other movie would show such a thing because the movies are idealized worlds where pencils never break and no one goes to the bathroom. Well, Harvey’s a real person, his pencils break, he goes to the bathroom, he has a sagging, flabby body. After so many movies that reach for escape - even plenty of good ones - a film that shows you specific reality from one point of view is like getting a bucket of water in the face while you’re sleeping.

You don’t need to have read “American Splendor” to enjoy the film, nor will knowledge of Harvey’s work spoil it either. You may find, however, that one viewing won’t be enough, and you’ll want to reread the “Splendor” you already own and go out and buy some more. This is art at its best: exciting, daring, genre-bending. This is something splendid. Harvey probably can’t see it, but that’s why we love him.

 

 
E-Mail Author  |  Archive  |  Tell A Friend

 

 



 
Sword of Dracula
Slush launches our Halloween countdown with the first in a series of spooky reviews. First up? New series, Sword of Dracula.
John Byrne's IMO
This week John points out that fans cannot read the minds of creators, although you wouldn't know that by listening to some of them.
The Dead Zone
Flesh-eating zombies battle the last remaining police officer in Image's new series, The Walking Dead. We review the first issue.
Steve Niles Interview
Slush interviews Steve Niles, the acclaimed writer of 30 Days of Night, who tells us about the relaunch of Fused.
A Spidery Preview
Have you seen the new Doctor Octopus, designed by fan-favorite artist Humberto Ramos? Click to dig the Doc.
Kill Bill Review
Slush reviews the first installment of Quentin Tarantino's kung fu slasher masterpiece, Kill Bill.
Viper Interview
Slush takes a look at new publisher Viper Comics, and interviews the guys behind two of its hottest books.
Peanuts Collected
Cartoon fans rejoice. Fantagraphics is reprinting the entire collection of Charles Schulz' Peanuts. Read on for details.


CHANNELS:  Features | Columns | Reviews | News | Film & TV | Forums | Slushfactory.com

Copyright © 2003 Slush Factory Entertainment (E-mail)
All Rights Reserved : No portion of Slush may be reprinted in any form without prior consent