Thursday, July 23, 2009

American Splendor Indeed

Harvey Pekar, in his own voice, says about lonliness that "sometimes laying in bed alone you feel the presence like an amputee feels a missing limb." Depressing, but an apt description that I think everyone can relate to at some point in our lives. Pekar, the cult comic-book writer and artist, is featured in AMERICAN SPLENDOR, a movie on his life. Part documentary with, part movie, animation, and the actors even watch a play within the movie (which I assume started the idea of doing this movie). I came to this film without much knowledge of Mr. Pekar and his work. I've seen it, but it's one area I didn't get around too yet. I found the film very entertaining, and Giamatti's portrayal of Pekar works very well. I was very impressed by his performance. You can judge for yourself as Pekar and his wife, Joyce, actually do appear in the film together. This isn't Seinfeld, where it's a comedy about everyday life about nothing... but it does give you the ups and downs that we all experience. A quirky guy that has written and drawn about his own life, had the comics published, and now here's a movie about his life. Pekar's friend, Toby Radloff, also made it onto MTV for bits about being a Cleveland nerd. I enjoyed it - both seeing the actors and the actual people they portrayed. This film came out in 2003, but seeing it again I wanted to pass along its an interesting look at creativity and banality, which always goes hand in hand. I don't care who you are.

At one point Pekar and his wife (the real versions :-) exhange words that gives us a peek at their lives:

Harvey: "That's me, gloom and doom."

Joyce: "That's funny, I thought I married a humorous man."

Harvey: "Well, I sure fooled you."

'Nuff said.


I finally got a chance to look at TAKEN, the surprise hit film starring Liam Neeson. This film caught my attention because it was co-written (and produced ) by Luc Besson. You know, the Besson that brought us The Fifth Element, The Transporter, The Professional, La Femme Nikita, I mean the man knows how to take us on a ride. The film begins quietly enough and then when the Neeson-train-leaves-the-action-station this film flies like a bat outta hell. Neesons daughter, who he sees mostly at a distance from a divorce, is given permission to tour Europe with a girl friend. This is mostly against dads wishes, but with permission from the now well-to-do mother and stepfather. They get to Paris, they're targeted, and kidnapped. She and her friend are 17. Hello!?

Thus begins the part where you need to just have fun with the film and go with the no-holds-barred action that is non-stop until the films end. Neeson, apparantly an ex-CIA kind of character, has a bag of tricks to take out anyone dumb enough to mess with his daughter. Although a bit older, he's convincing enough to take out the baddies in practically every scene. Oh, yeah, he gets some scratches and dents, but the man is unstoppable.

And so is this movie.

If you're like me, and you like action films where you need to leave your brain at the ticket booth, (Strathems CRANK comes to mind too), before entering the theatre, then youre gonna have a great time with this film.

Dave Hinchberger