The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

RESPLENDENT
harvey is a tortured soul
The big big Sundance movie mania is wrapping up this weekend (just in time to jet over to the Super Bowl!), and us reg'lar folk can look forward to seeing some of the films featured there in a few months (or more). And just so we can easily tell which films were the good ones, all the various awards were presented yesterday in this quiet mountain town.

It's with a mixture of joy and dread that I see American Splendor, the long-talked-about Harvey Pekar biopic, getting so many accolades. The joy comes from getting to see a film version of Harvey's whacked-out world, that is apparently getting plenty of praise from plenty of sources. There's little doubt that I'll catch this flick when (or if, although it's pretty likely) it'll roll through the Tampa Bay area at some point in 2003, almost regardless of what I hear or read.

The dread? These kinds of projects often end up being a mess. I can't get over the feeling that this should have been a documentary instead of a fictionalized story. Although in theory I like the idea of blending animation and other fantasy elements together, there's a real risk of those things coming off as hokey and gimmicky. And I have to admit, even though it's an unfair comparison, that in my mind, I'll automatically draw parallels with the R. Crumb documentary, Crumb (which was great, by the way).

You'll see from Harvey's IMDb bio that he had a falling out with David Letterman. I keep hoping that they'll kiss and make up, and Dave will have Harvey on his show again. But maybe it's for the best that that never happen; Dave's current show is probably not the best fit for someone like Harvey. And even so many years later, I'd imagine Harvey would like to disassociate himself from the Letterman connection, which brought him plenty of unwanted attention.