ON DVD with CALHOUN07: Heavy Traffic review
At the suggestion of Nightwing, here's my first attempt at a review of a DVD I just watched yesterday. If this kind of thing prooves to be popular on these boards, MODs, perhaps we could have a board opened up for reviews??? Just a thought.
To start, my DVD reviews won't focus on picture quality and sound. I know that is a staple of alot of DVD reviews but I am not a movie student nor do I condemn a good movie because the original source material shows signs of flaws on the digital format. I just want to talk about the movie and that's it. And bonus features, if there are any.
HEAVY TRAFFIC, for the uninitiated, is Ralph Bakshi's animated movie follow up to Fritz the Cat. Fritz the Cat was a popular undergound comic by Robert Crumb but Robert Crumb felt very ill towards that movie and to this day disowns it in every sense of the word. Dead set against a sequel of any kind, Robert Crumb killed off his popular character in quite a violent manner. (A sequel did get made, but not by Bakshi, and certainly not with Crumb's blessings.)
Watching Heavy Traffic, I get the feeling that Ralph Bakshi was trying to cash in on the success of Fritz the Cat. Don't get me wrong, the movie is innovative and parts of it are quite original, but the character designs are obviously lifted from Crumb's comics. There are sequences that are remarkably Crumbesque, including one animated sequence where a woman transforms into a giant breast and attacks a man.
In addition to characters looking as if they were stolen from a Robert Crumb comic book, the main characters, especially the men and the father in the movie, look like Charles Crumb's designs. Charles Crumb is Robert Crumb's brother who never rose to the prominence of Robert, and actually became quite useless to society in the end. But his early drawings and even his latter drawings, sans the wrinkle effects that permeated his style before he quit drawing, are seen as an influence in many more of the character designs in this movie. (Charle's comics can be seen both in the movie CRUMB and in the book, CRUMB FAMILY COMICS.)
It's not hard to understand why this is. After all, this movie is about Michael, an aspiring underground cartoonist who longs to get out the slums he is condemned to live in with his Italian father and his Jewish mother, and any underground cartoonist today must pay homage to Robert Crumb (so it could be argued that the style in this movie is a homage to Crumb, but it is a tragedy that Crumb's name doesn't appear in the credits). Michael's home life is quite disfunctional and he has to deal with his father's mob dealings and adultery and he also has to deal with his mother's murderous psychosis and delusions. Often he is torn, forced to take sides with both parents at the same time. This dividing force in his home drives him to the streets, where he looks for a way to rid himself of his virginity at the age of 22. As a result, he meets up with Carol, a hip and independent barkeeper. Together, they scheme of a way to try to get Michael's drawings sold and to get out of the gutter of their existence. In the end, their efforts turn on them, but I won't give any spoilers of the end if you haven't seen it!
This movie really left me with a mixed feeling of fascination and disgust. I am really disgusted at the obvious ripping off of Crumb's drawings (both brothers!) and I can fully understand better why Robert Crumb has such a loathing towards not only animation today but also towards Hollywood and all that mess. And I perhaps understand a little more why he left America for France.
On the other side of the coin, this movie looks fantastic. Aside from the Crumb rips in style, Bakshi does put his own twist on the designs of the movie. While this doesn't totally redeem the movie, the way he blends animation and live action are innovative, even by today's standards. Some of it looks so good it's hard to belive this is a movie from 1973.
There are no bonus features on this release, aside from a movie trailer, but I never consider those "bonus" material. Those are on virtually every DVD release.
Overall, I recommend this movie for the innovation and creativity, but take it with a grain of salt because of the lifting from Crumb's work. Six out of ten stars.
I'll try being nicer if you try being smarter.
“If I had to live my life over again, I would treat women worse. The women who I treated nice always turned around and treated me bad and the women who treated me bad didn’t deserve to be treated nice anyway.”