44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: Crumb [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Crumb is an awe-inspiring film when weighed against some of the more acclaimed "thought-provoking" films I've seen recently: it probes into SO much that is significant (the nature of art, the nature of madness, the nature of sexuality and sexual perversion, the nature of American society, the implications of American history of the last 50 years or so -- the list goes on); but, in part because it's a documentary, all of this rich material is just *there*--it isn't being shoved in your face and manipulated for effect in the fashion of more popular "thought-provoking" films. The film is honest and unflinching; it doesn't glorify Crumb, nor does it denigrate him--(we hear from great appreciators of his work as well as severe critics, and neither side is emphasized or made to seem more valid than the other)--it simply explores him, and his very bizarre family, for what he/they are, while subtley setting everything that we learn against the backdrop of American society as a whole during the last century.
In terms of being a documentary for those curious about Crumb and his work, it doesn't shortchange you in any way that I can see. We get to spend plenty of time with Crumb himself, of course; we also get to spend a good amount of time hearing from his wife, and ex-wife, his mother and two brothers, his friends and an associate or two, and, as I mentioned, several critics, each with their own take on Crumb's work. We also get to *see* a lot of Crumb's work by way of numerous well-edited, well-placed montages, as well as artwork by his brothers, who are themselves exceptionally talented. We learn a great deal about Crumb's youth, attitude, hang-ups, perversions, artistic status, and anxieties.
This alone would be great, but what pushes the film even further up the ladder is the clever but straightforward, unembellished way the movie forces us to take the information we receive--all the aforementioned perversions, anxieties, etc.--and *relate* it back to the society from whence it came. This theme, this connection, is not belabored, but it is tangibly there, and it is very true that while Crumb and his family are the subjects of the film, they are also serving as complex vehicles for much broader, more universal themes and questions. But all of this is done without a trace of pretention.
As if this wasn't enough, the soundtrack is absolutely A++, culled from Crumb's own collection of old records. It is well-chosen and well-used, enhancing the atmosphere and drily emotive moments of the film, but w/o being the slightest bit intrusive.
I liked this film the first time I saw it a couple years back, but seeing it again recently just really floored me. Truly a fantastic and greatly underappreciated movie. The Academy's failure to offer it any recognition says a great deal about their thematic agenda. But who cares about the Academy anyhow? I highly recommend Crumb. Even if you know nothing about him, and your interest suffers for that--I guarantee you'll still find this worth your while. Powerful without trying, touching without being sentimental or manipulative, disturbing without celebrating the fact, and profound without being pretentious. Genuinely superb.
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Initial post: Mar 26, 2011 2:22:32 PM PDT
Stephen T. Webb says:
Can you imagine what Robert's record collection would go for on eBay? There are probably classic 78's that are long out of print! He's probably sitting on a gold mind!
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