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American Splendor (Widescreen)

Hope Davis^Paul Giamatti , Robert Pulcini^Shari Springer-berman    DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
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American Splendor (DVD)


. Formant une équipe de documentaristes solide (leur premier film, Off The Menu, fut considéré par USA Today comme un des 10 meilleurs films de 1998), Shari Springer Berman et Robert Pulcini, font exploser les limites traditionnelles du documentaire avec leur 4ème film, American Splendor : la vie privée, évocation audacieuse de la vie et de l’oeuvre d’Harvey Pekar, un auteur américain de comics.

Sur le papier, Harvey Pekar est un être détestable. Documentaliste dans un hôpital, il relate son histoire et celles de ses proches dans des bandes dessinées underground. Misanthrope, geignard, grincheux, il a tout d’une version cynique d’un Droopy de banlieue de Cleveland. Pourtant Harvey Pekar est aussi un être drôle, incisif et très attachant.

Racontant son histoire en voix-off, Pekar est alors interprété à l’écran par Paul Giamatti (Storytelling, L’homme sur la lune) dans une version fictionnalisée de la vie de l’homme. Si le mélange réalité-fiction est déjà savoureux, les cinéastes lui ajoutent de façon très inventive une illustration des bandes dessinées même de Pekar, et voilà que le dessin intervient dans l’image pour donner au film une texture riche, ambitieuse et originale. Sans jamais être confus, très drôle, le film apporte également une réflexion sur la création tout à fait pertinente et a été récompensé du prix de la critique internationale, du prix de la société nationale des critiques américains, des critiques réunis à Toronto et du grand prix du festival Sundance en 2003. – Helen Faradji.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a wonderful life June 26 2004
Disgruntled file clerk and social misfit Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti) lucks into a degree of fame, if not fortune, when underground comics legend Robert Crumb (James Urbaniak) collaborates with him on a comic about his life. Pekar lives in a state of existential misery, desperately lonely and angry about his outsider status. His comics, though, make him a kind of hero to average suffering folks and even bring him a little family by the end of the film (his wife, Joyce Brabner, is wonderfully played by Hope Davis). We are left with the sense that life never has and never will be smooth sailing for Pekar, but the struggle has its own worth and nobility and, in the end, will bring you more than mere surrender ever will. This may be a rather sweet, conventional message for a film that aims to be so subversive and counter-cultural, but it is reassuring all the same.
Writer/directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini employ a mix of animation, documentary and bio-pic conventions to relate their story, with varying degrees of success. Showing excerpts of Harvey's actual appearances on the David Letterman Show instead of recreating them with actors is a stroke of genius and I appreciated the unapologetic, direct way these sequences were handled: we see Paul Giamatti waiting in the wings, followed by a cut to the real Harvey walking out onto the stage. At other times, such as having the real Harvey comment on the actor chosen to play him, it seems somewhat contrived and echoes a complaint that he makes during the film of having been co-opted by the system.
All in all, a very entertaining, interesting film with wonderful performances. PS: I can't end my review without mentioning Judah Friedlander's wonderfully quirky, hilarious, and touching performance as uber-nerd Toby Radloff. Certain key characters also appear as themselves during the film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a superhero.............just some guy. June 22 2004
Check this out. This is mostly a biopic about underground comic book creator, Harvey Pekar, but there are some documentary elements thrown in as well. The REAL Harvey Pekar narrates this fantastic film even criticizing the filmmakers for picking a guy (Paul Giamatti) that he claims looks nothing like him. There are times throughout the movie where we're treated to the real Harvey, his wife, and friends in an interview format. Harvey Pekar eventually made it all the way to David Letterman in the '80s. Instead of recreating the scene on film, the filmmakers instead used the actual footage from the show.
We all love Harvey. It's kind of hard not to. He's just some guy trying to live his life while wading through all the BS and stupidity that surrounds him. He gets so sick of it that he finally puts it down in the form of a comic book. The rest is history. Absoulutely one of the best films of 2003. Check it out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is Harvey Pekar? June 19 2004
I never heard of Harvey Pekar or "American Splendor" before this movie, even though I've been a regular at a well-stocked comic book shop for a decade. But, now, I find Pekar to be a fellow traveller.
"American Splendor" tells you right up front, this isn't a happy, feel good, fantasy movie. It's a tale of a really homely, depressing, sloppy, and all-around dysfunctional dude working a dead-end job as a file clerk at a VA hospital. He's as about as faceless as you can get. He makes a timely friendship with budding underground comic artist Robert Crumb (who I HAD heard of), and publishes a comic based on his own life, and it becomes an underground hit.
You watch him develop a relationship and marriage with Joyce, a comic shop owner who writes to him for an issue she missed. The chapters on their first date and marriage were a trip, describing her ability to self-diagnosis all her ailments and political food allergies.
Having not known about the individual before the movie, I can't speak to the accuracy to real life or the comic, but you can believe I'll be looking for "American Splendor" at my next trip to my local graphic novel distributor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid "Splendor" June 14 2004
This movie is wonderful. It manages to be both stylistically daring and genuinely touching. Harvey Pekar is such a fantastic protagonist because he's so heartbreakingly ordinary. Lonely, overwhelmed, unlucky in love and stuck in a dead-end job, Harvey decides to turn his humdrum life into a comic book, and ends up becoming a cultural icon that ordinary people everywhere can relate to. His romance and marriage to Joyce is one of the most touching and heartwarming screen romances I've seen in a long time. And when Harvey inadvertently becomes a television celebrity by becoming a regular on the David Letterman Show, he quickly finds himself disgusted by the whole charade and sabotages it (the scene with Pekar having a disturbing on-air argument with Letterman is one of the most intense scenes in the film). The film brilliantly combines the fictionalized story of Harvey, portrayed by actors, with real footage of the people being portrayed, as well as animation inspired by the comic book. In the process, the ordinary people portrayed become fascinating, hilarious and endearing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars comic book entrepreneur scores American Dream June 6 2004
By A Customer
I found this film to be most interesting in its scenes of the Rust Belt and how an unprepossessing person in a dead-end job can become unexpectedly successful, by exploiting the art of the seemingly mundane elements of life for profit. This is a film biography and tries to be a comedy, despite the fact that the protagonist is not what would call a very entertaining figure. We find out quite a bit about Harvey Pekar: how he started collecting records at age 15, his dishwashing and supermarket shopping habits,his medical problems, his business agreement with famous illustrator R. Crumb (he provides the ideas and Crumb does the illustrations), and particularly his relationships with his co-workers. The scenes in which Harvey's co-worker describes his taste in rock music as "trash" and the several scenes with the self-proclaimed "nerd" coworkier are comical, as are some of the scenes with his wife, who comes across often as a semi-comical figure. But more important is the mutually nurturing nature of their relationship which is played out in some detail, from her first letter to him (this is after the release of the first few issues of "American Splendor"), to their first meeting at the train station, to their first date, to their precipitous decision to marry, to Harvey's appearances on national t.v., to his successful bout with cancer & their decision to adopt a child. She is certainly a flawed character with apparently some idiosyncracies herself; one of her "talents" is to be able immediately to psychoanalyze his friends. From the footage of his appearance on the David Letterman show, the real Pekar appears as a somewhat gruff character. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do...
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Read more
Published 18 months ago by F. Marra
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly unique, and fun, combination of dramatization and documentary.
The true story of Harvey Pekar, a misanthropic file clerk and comic
book fan, who met Robert Crumb, and had the brilliant idea to turn his
everyday trials and... Read more
Published on June 14 2012 by K. Gordon
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul Giamatti is pure Gold....
Although I never read any of Harvey Pekar's comic books, I did see some of his appearances on David Letterman. I was surprised to see a whole movie made about his life. Read more
Published on April 25 2012 by Bobo
3.0 out of 5 stars The ordinary masquerading as extraordinary
This movie about working class clerk and amateur comics-creator Harvey Pekar's life is funny but also sadly depressing. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2011 by S Svendsen
3.0 out of 5 stars The Great American Movie?
Dont get me wrong, I've always like the Pekar comics and it's interesting in that respect, it's the story of him and a remake of some of his best works. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Sam
4.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary life is Pretty Complex Stuff
I didn't know that an ordinary life can be beautiful or mesmerizing until I saw this film. Harvey Pekar, an ungroomed file clerk in a VA hospital with two divorces under his belt,... Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by V. Nunez
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb indie film of underground comic hero
This amazing movie is justly one of the best movies of 2003. I suspect its appeal is generational; for people who are not familiar with Robert Crumb's work, some of the film will... Read more
Published on June 5 2004 by M. Veiluva
5.0 out of 5 stars I have 2 words: PAUL GIAMATTI
I'd seen Paul Giamatti around before, mostly in stinkers like "Big Fat Liar", he never gets the roles or attention he deserves. Read more
Published on May 24 2004 by Liolania
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