Rainer's Review of American Splendor
No matter what others might say - I categorize American Splendor as a documentary. A documentary with many fictionalized live-action scenes.
What I found most interesting about the way American Splendor is narrated, is the fact, that the documentary part was aware of the fictious scenes and analyzed and discussed them. Harvey Pekar himself serves as the narrator for his story and you get the idea what the rest of the film will be when he states right at the beginning that the character played by Paul Giamatti is not really Harvey Pekar but an actor playing the Harvey Pekar character from the comics (whether this is the real Harvey Pekar or not is open for discussion).
I had no idea who Harvey Pekar was before I've seen the film. I guess in the US he's some kind of minor celebrity but on the other side of the pond we've never heard of him. Nonetheless, I've heard of Robert Crumb, but only because of Terry Zwigoff's documentary which is somewhat the predecessor of this film (haven't seen Crumb though, which means I can't exactly judge on that subject).
Some little thoughts: Impressive how similar Giamatti and Pekar look; Giamatti is such a great actor, it's so depressing to only merely see him in leading roles; I would really want to get one of his comics - looks quite interesting although I won't check out his entire body of work.
Major thought: American Splendor is a stylistic triumph! Not only that I haven't seen another movie that has even come close to the comic style of the film (ok, maybe the Scott Pilgrim flick...) but the blend of comic footage and live-action is just as perfectly balanced as the blend of documentary and fiction.
Berman and Pulcini did a fine job with this film, and now, almost a decade later, it's a pity to realize that they couldn't expand on their success.
Quirky, dirty and stylish.