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What happens when a filmmaker (a term that I use here loosely) who never writes scripts gets bored with his so-called suspense movie and suddenly decides to make a superhero picture? Why, you get Ray Dennis Steckler's "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo!" A film known not only for being misnamed (It was supposed to be called "Rat Pfink AND Boo Boo," but the guy who did the graphics screwed it up), but also for being one of those "so bad it's kinda good" movies, this feature hits and misses in so many terrible ways, it's hysterical. Too bad MST3K never got their hands on this one. It's hilariously awful!
This film is a real conundrum; it's an absolutely superior documentary about a controversial and markedly uncomfortable subject. Zwigoff does a fantastic job with this film, and utilizes a practically-unheard-of intimacy with its subject (that of famous/ infamous underground comic artist Robert Crumb, whose meticulous artwork is often simultaneously lauded and hated) to create a documentary like no other. However, it is problematic to recommend this movie on a wide scale due to the rather scandalous nature of both Crumb (and especially his bizarre family) and his collected works, which is rife with callipygian women, misogyny, racism, and fetishistic depictions many claim are tantamount to pornography. But however you feel about his artwork, you are certainly likely to gain some insight as to why Crumb developed his talent in the manner that he did, i.e. as a coping mechanism for dealing with his highly unusual familial situation (and unusual it truly is). If Crumb's work disturbs and/ or angers you to a high degree, you may wish to stay clear of this film. Otherwise, if you'd like to see an expert documentarian practice at the height of his craft about a subject for which it is almost impossible not to have strong feelings, and/ or are curious as to what could possibly make this profoundly unique artist tick, then do yourself a favor and check this movie out.
This film, which in many ways comes off as "Kick Ass" on steroids, has many things going for it, but it also has just as many counting against it. One thing is sure; "Super" is a postmodern superhero film (and it is up to the viewer to determine if this has become old hat yet or not), but any other attempt to place this movie into nearly any other type of genre is likely to cause frustration, both for the critic and (more importantly) for the audience, who is apt to find this narrative less than entertaining because of it. While this movie seems satisfied to call itself a comedy, it is this very categorization that becomes so problematic. It could be a comedy, but it is too serious. It could be a drama, but it is too farcical. It could be poignant, yet it is too whimsical. It could be a commentary, but it is too sarcastic. This is a film in search of an identity, and while that can be viewed as a cinematic strength in many cases, for this movie, it is unfortunately the story's effect on the audience that suffers the most from this ambiguity. All is not lost, however, as many of the actors involved turn in exceptional performances; Wilson is quite good, as is Bacon and Tyler, but it is Page that steals the show, forming a character that is at once obsessive, sexy, creepy, frightening, funny, and has all the malevolent cleverish of a hyperactive stalker with a severe pop-culture bent. It's a very different role for her, and she performs it brilliantly. Additionally, though this film may have a difficult time trying to express itself, it does indeed have something important (and interesting) to say. It's just a question of whether or not the audience will take the trouble to find it. If you enjoyed "Kick Ass" but thought it should have been revved up a notch, then by all means check out "Super." Otherwise, this film is a somewhat dubious recommendation.
Not at all what one would expect from a Kevin Smith film, yet that was of course the point of this project from the start. There is some argument over whether or not this is a true "horror" film (for the record, I think it is), as there is apparently nothing supernatural going on here. However, though it might be better classified as a suspenseful action picture, it is definitively horrific (though by the classic terror/ horror dichotomy, it would be more "terror" than "horror," since the former term is generally reserved for something that has the potential to actually happen in the real world, and the latter for something that is too fantastic to ever be real). Fans of Smith's traditional pushing-the-envelope comedies may be disappointed here, as this film is radically different in both narrative tone and in visual style (disproving the director's own assertion that he is not a very visual filmmaker, as the stark cinematography and editing are both strongly contrastive from and more interesting than anything Smith has ever done in the past). The movie is rather short (whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of conjecture), and at times seems almost unfinished, yet it moves at a decent pace for its narrative to remain engaging without being drawn out, and has enough twists and turns to keep its audience's attention. What truly stands out the most here are the performances; many of the film's principals deliver extraordinary portrayals (most notably Leo, Goodman, Root, Bishé, and Parks, whose Fred Phelps-inspired Abin Cooper is one of the scariest movie villains to come along in many years), and it is these superior characterizations that make this film work. Few things in life are more destructive than blind belief, and Smith's film demonstrates with remarkable clarity just why this is. Recommended.
If you're a fan of science fiction films and/ or time travel, and you think you've seen it all, check out this French film, known both for being cleverly made up almost entirely of still photographs and for being the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's "12 Monkeys." It's absolutely worth seeking out this short film; while its unique mise-en-scene takes a bit getting used to, it works contextually with the film's post-apocalyptic story elements, which were very much ahead of their time. Even if the movie's visual style doesn't interest you, it provides an intriguing narrative comparison to "12 Monkeys" for fans of that film; moreover, it doesn't matter in which order you watch these two masterpieces of dystopian post-apocalyptic time travel, as knowing what happens in one film will not ruin one's enjoyment of the other. On the contrary, viewing one will most certainly enhance the viewing experience of the other. Highly recommended, especially for science fiction fans, time travel fans, French new wave mavens and/ or seekers of films with unique cinematography, or Gilliam fans.