Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb, Maxon Crumb, Robert Hughes
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Genres: Indie & Art House, Educational, Documentary
David Lynch (Blue Velvet) presents one of the most critically acclaimed films ever made. A hilarious and mysterious journey through artistic genius and sexual obsession, CRUMB is a wild ride through the mind of Robert Crum... more »
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Perfectly Goddamn Delightful
Mike Stone | 08/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to believe that if you are off-put by Crumb's art (the headless women with monstrous thighs; the caricatures of blacks as wild jungle-dwellers), or find his frank admissions of "perverse" sexual attractions uncomfortable, or find yourself with a wardrobe full of San Francisco 49er memorabilia, then you will be put off by Crumb's character as well.I'm not. He's fascinating.Director Terry Zwigoff gets a lot of mileage out of Crumb's reactions to situations. Whether it's the confused and perplexed look he gets from watching the parade of shallow consumers he sees on the streets, or his half-sincere/half-uncomfortable bursts of laughter following bizarre tales from his youth, Crumb's expressive face says more than his mouth ever could. This, combined with his wonderfully laid-back voice (at once sarcastic and self-deprecating and tinged with regret) makes me wonder why it's taken so long for this man to get some camera time. Self-imposed exile, I suppose. He's definitely a star.The opening sequence over the credits is the lone contrived moment in an otherwise truthful film. It begins by showing a series of porcelain sculptures modeled on Crumb's most recognizable characters, followed by a shadowy shot of Robert, sitting in a near-fetal position, listening to one of his many old time blues records. It is the only moment in the film that feels fake, and threatens to ruin the film's credibility right from the starting gate. Thankfully, director Zwigoff has a perfect game the rest of the way.And there is only one moment that puts objectivity aside and allows for a bit of commentary on the part of the filmmakers. It concerns an interview with Deirdre English, a former editor of the magazine 'Mother Jones'. She gives her opinion (along with shown examples) of Crumb's supposed racism. Zwigoff precedes this with footage of Crumb complaining that the only people who found these comics offensive were white liberals, e.g. Ms. English herself. Otherwise, Zwigoff uses an even hand in his portrayals.Other than the legacy Crumb will leave with his innovative work, the film focuses heavily on his family life (or lives).What the heck was in the water at the Crumb house? Besides Robert and his well-known proclivities, his lesser known siblings have serious problems of their own. Older brother Charles, still living at home with his overbearing mother at the time the film was shot, admits to a severe reliance on tranquilizers, and baths biannually. Younger brother Maxon (whose role in the Crumb boys' childhood comics company was "supply boy"), lives alone in a dive hotel and spends his days cleansing his colon with a long strip of cloth while sitting on a bed of nails (two sisters declined to be interviewed). Upon seeing the devastating dysfunction of the apples that fell from the Crumb family tree, one begins to wonder not how odd Robert turned out, but rather how normal. It's the film's most startling revelation.Some of the most touching moments are those of Crumb with his own kids. Young daughter Sophie, the only woman Crumb's ever loved, receives her fathers gentle affection willingly. Son Jesse sports the costume of the hippies that Crumb so despised (long hair and dirty beard), but his artistic talent more than makes up for this transgression in his father's eyes. One moment has the two men competing in a contest to best reproduce a photo of an ugly insane woman. Contrast the unsettling subject matter of the photo, with Robert's sincere artistic advice to his son on how to draw out its interesting elements, and you get a wonderful scene of iconoclastic domesticity."Crumb", the film, like Crumb, the artist, manages to combine humour and tragic sadness in a cohesive whole. It is at once repellent and mesmerizing, encompassing nearly every aspect of humanity. From the perverse to the pleasant, it all seems somewhat, well, Natural. A truly astonishing feat from a truly astonishing documentary film."
Mike Stone | 06/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Original not widescreen
Felix the Black Cat | Madison, WI USA | 05/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I won't go into how brilliant this film is, as many other people have done that already, but I wanted to make a bit of a correction...
This was a low-budget film that was never shot in widescreen, so, if a DVD of this movie was released in widescreen, THAT would be the "ripoff," since they'd have to crop part of the film to make it widescreen. True, when you play this DVD, a screen comes up saying that the film "has been modified to fit your screen," or something like that, but I suspect what that's referring to is the fact that the original aspect ratio was 1.37:1 (according to the IMDb site), the standard non-widescreen ratio for film, which means it was trimmed VERY slightly to fit the 1.33:1 aspect ratio of a standard TV screen. This is standard practice, and, since the difference is so slight, almost nothing is lost.
I just waned to reassure people who might be put off by the fact that this DVD is not widescreen that the ORIGINAL wasn't widescreen, either, so this is NOT a ripoff..."
Keep on Truckin'...
M. Casarino | Wilmington, DE United States | 05/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Crumb" is the sad and funny documentary of a damaged man who happened to find a beautiful and reasonably lucrative outlet for his peccadilloes. It's also the brutal portrait of two men - Robert's brothers - who were not so lucky."Crumb" offers amazing access to R. Crumb and his family, but the man himself remains an enigma - an entertaining and fascinating enigma, but an enigma nonetheless. Still, Zwigoff's probing camera gets behind the man and his art, his fans and detractors, and delivers a wonderful portrait of the man and a great appreciation of his work - even his most off-putting, misogynistic work.But it's when Zwigoff talks to Robert's family that we see the true effects of a horrible, and horror-filled, childhood. Both of his brothers are intelligent and considerably talented, but they were unable to find a healthy outlet to escape a tyrannical father (his abuse is only hinted at in the movie), and their stories are deeply affecting - and difficult to watch.So "Crumb" is either life-affirming or terribly depressing. I vote for the first option, which is why I'm the proud owner of the DVD. You wont find a much better documentary, or a more powerful drama, than "Crumb.""