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American SplendorAmerican Splendor

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Harvey Pekar, Hope Davis, James Urbaniak, Judah Freilander and Toby Radloff
Written by: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Directed by: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Paul Giamatti Interview
Shari & Robert Tell Us About "Getting it Made"Order DVD



Bluntly speaking? American Splendor is brilliantly unique, superbly acted and deliciously deceptive in its simplicity. It manages to smoothly be part documentary, part pop culture expose, part dark comedy and part drama all while maintaining its integrity as a film. It's a creative masterpiece quite frankly. I hope all aspiring film makers watch and take notes.

Regular Joe and Clevlandite Harvey Pekar was immortalized in a comic book called 'American Splendor'. Actually the 'America Splendor' comic was more of an anti-comic book since it prided itself on a grand lack of super heroes, pompanstance or inhuman powers. It was simply (yet sublimely geniusly) just about scribbled observations a lower middle-class schmoe living his life sent off to illustrators.

But what made it so special was Pekar's intelligence and his ability to keep his interpretations blunt, often self-deprecating, and always honestly realistic in portraying the beauty within the mundane (and sometimes it was just stupid too). With his unique beatnikish style combined with friend cartoonists like Robert Crumb ('Fritz The Cat' & 'Mr. Natural') illustrating the man and his words, Pekar became something of a reluctant cantankerous cult hero.

The film, like the comic book, is also unique. There are three versions of Pekar in the film; we get the real life Harvey Pekar helping narrate sections ala documentary and showing beneath the snarls lies a decent - dare I say - nice guy. Then we get a few cartooned interpretations of the man in pop-out animation sequences that bleed in and out of the script. And finally, intertwined into all this there's fantabulous talent extravaganza Paul Giamatti with an uncanny portrayal of Harvey for the screenplay version.

Harvey's deadpan sense of humor and the inner volitile angst that often bubbles over in abrupt awkward proclamations on life is positively personified in Giamatti's stellar subtly comedic performance. And the chemistry between Giamatti and the screen version of Pekar wife and business partner Joyce Brabner, played by always-a-thespian-treat Hope Davis is so wonderful you'd swear there's ancient Egyptian soul swapping serums involved...

The whole cast is incredible. James Urbaniak shows up as Crumb and oozes creepy, looking like a love child of Conan O'Brien and say...Crispin Glover? And Judah Freilander nails the "film" version of Pekar's quirky friend Toby Radloff. Radloff himself also shows up to chat in the docmentary segments. Real talents playing real people. Marvelous. It's the medium of film working for its manipulators in the finest sense.

Snack recommendation: A kosher turkey frank and a shasta coke.


Here's a delightful collection of Mr. Pekar's observations...
American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar


DVD Features:
 
  • Audio Commentary with Directors and Cast
    Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
  • Rated: Not for sale to persons under age 18.
  • Featurette: Sundance Channe's "Anatomy of a Scene"
  • Music Only Track : American Splendor Song
  • Special "My Movie Year" 6 page Comic Insert That Appeared in "Entertainment Weekly"
  • DVD ROM Features including Screen Saver
  • Easter Eggs
  • Widescreen anamorphic format

 

 



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