Heavy Traffic [Blu-ray]
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Michael, a young artist who lives with his neurotic mother and two-timing father, escapes the absurd and often ugly side of life on New York's tough streets by satirizing its rich yet wacky characters in wildly entertaining cartoons. From the gruff homeless and wisecracking prostitutes to gun-toting gangsters and corrupt cops, Michael's world becomes an outlandish kaleidoscope of shocking images and horrifying events that are either a testament of his wild imagination or a reminder of the strangeness of reality.
Heavy Traffic is writer-director Ralph Bakshi's follow-up to Fritz the Cat, so if you're looking for a little something to watch with the kids, you might want to search elsewhere. It's an odd little movie, one that seems to both condemn and celebrate depravity at the same time. The hero is Michael, an artist who still lives with his battling parents. Michael is far too sensitive for the cruel city, though he sure seems to draw an awful lot of pictures of it. Michael hooks up with cool bartender Carole and the two of them set off to... well, they plan to do something. More engaging than the story are Bakshi's visual techniques, which include blending animated and live-action sequences and layering old film clips into cartoon backgrounds. Though interesting as a piece of animation, Heavy Traffic is difficult to recommend. There is a running thread of misogyny that makes the film off-putting, to say the least. Yes, all of the characters are unpleasant and yes, most of the violence is over-the-top enough to make a case for it being comic. It is the constant, casual misogyny that's unsettling--at one point Michael backhands Carole across the face and everyone, including Carole, seems to be fine with that. Keep an ear out for Jamie Farr and watch it for the animation, not the plot. --Ali Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Well anyway, Heavy Traffic is a film which begins, ends, and occasionally combines with live-action, explores the often surreal fantasies of a young New York cartoonist named Michael Corleone, using pinball imagery as a metaphor for inner-city life.
In the film, New York has a diseased, rotten, tough and violent atmosphere. Michael's Italian father, Angelo "Angie" Corleone, is a struggling mafioso who frequently cheats on Michael's Jewish mother, Ida. The couple constantly bickers and try to kill each other. Michael ambles through a catalog of freaks, greasers, and dopers.
Unemployed, he dabbles with cartoons, artistically feeding off the grubbiness of his environment. He regularly hangs out at a local bar where he gets free drinks from the female black bartender, Carole, in exchange for the sketches from the somewhat annoying Shorty, Carole's violent,legless barfly devotee. One of the regular customers at the bar, Snowflake, a nymphomaniac transvestite, who gets beat up by a tough drunk who has only just realized that Snowflake is a man in drag and not a beautiful woman. Shorty throws the drunk out and the bar's white manager abusively confronts Carole over this and she quits.Read more ›
The film isn't just a social statement though, it also has a lot of creativity behind that. It opens with the live action version of our main character Michael playing pinball. Michael is a cartoonist, and as he asks questions to himself he slowly dives into his world...a world similar to the one he lives in now, but a caricature of themselves. Michael deals with his crazy mother, corrupt father, a relationship with a girl, and trying to get a job - a hard task as his ideas involve events such as God getting shot in the face with a shotgun.
If you were offended or put off by the brashness of "Fritz the Cat" then you should give Heavy Traffic a try. The nudity and sex is still there, but on a toned down scale. The social satire and goofy humor is still there, and that just makes it all the more a good film.
Bakshi considered this one of the top three best films he did (next to Fritz and Streetfight). It is deservedly so.
In any event, Heavy Traffic is a more satisfying movie than Fritz the Cat, with which it probably has more in common than any other Bakshi movie. Sure you can always pick holes in Ralph Bakshi's films, but what about the strong points: his gorgeous use of dialogue. The actors sound completely uncoached and spontaneous. I've always thought the dialogue in Bakshi's films up to Wizards was masterful. I could listen to it with the picture turned off.
Heavy Traffic is probably autobiographical in part. At least, if it isn't, Ralph sure went out of his way to make it seem that way. Protagonist is a young cartoonist...
The supporting cast are almost all low-life of one sort or another; losers, psycopaths, bigots, masochistic transvestites, dysfunctional parents, alcoholics, amputees, or a combination of the above. And for the most part they're repellant and irresistable at the same time.
You might have noticed I haven't mentioned the plot. Don't worry about it. The plot isn't the thing. Just immerse yourself in Bakshi's mise-en-scene; the characterisations, the dialogue, the backgrounds, the music, the underlying dirtiness and violence - you've got to just absorp the thing as a whole.
BTW this film has, in my opinion, the most terrifying moment-of-death scene of any movie I've ever seen (also one of the longest, unless you count 'Jacob's Ladder', which is nothing _but_ a moment of death scene.)
Well anyway, I think it's a great adult animated movie.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A Story of a young Italian man who gets hocked up with a black girl. His father does not like it and try's to separate them.Published 21 months ago by David Snow
First of all, let me say that I'm a lifetime fan of Ralph Bakshi's work and I think that Heavy Traffic is one of his masterpiece. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2013 by Francis Ouellet
First I must say that this is one of my favorite films of all time - I was a little worried that it would be the r rated version, but luckily like the dvd it is the fully... Read morePublished on July 30 2013 by Mike Babins
once again Bakshi creates a very very cool looking movie. His animation style and the way he mixes it with real life work very well together and i love how it always feels like... Read morePublished on March 6 2012 by Sorpse
This product is great!! Your prompt contacts as well as fast shipping and low price rocked my socks for the holidays! Thanks again!!!!!Published on Dec 31 2010 by Den416905
i started liking this movie, i thought the pinball metaphor and wild characters and lifes a cartoon shiz could have worked out, if it werent for the fact that bakshi is thinly... Read morePublished on May 7 2004
A schizophrenic journey through the dark urban world. Michael, A young writer, comes from a dysfunctional household and uses his cartoons as an outlet. Read morePublished on March 26 2004 by h'Droponix
In anticipation of the upcoming DVD release of Bakshi's Wizards, I ordered several of his other films on DVD. Of the ones I ordered, this is the only one I've never seen. Read morePublished on March 20 2004 by M. R. ZOGLIO
This part-live action, part-animated movie from 1973 seemed to get rave reviews, and I was up late one night, so I decided to check it out. Read morePublished on March 10 2004 by Anthony Rupert