December 7th, 2003



'Brazil' -- this is of course a great movie ... but it's a singularly creepy thing to watch post 9/11 -- the Security State, which rang as Orwellian back in 1985, looks very Ashcroftian today. And I don't think I'm alone in finding any movie featuring exploding building to have an unfortunate resonance these days.

'American Splendor' -- finally, this came to the University's Bijou theatre. This is as quirky and ambitious in its own way as 'Brazil' -- the storytelling blends dramatic scenes, footage of Pekar and friends, animation, and even a scene where the actors watch the people they're portraying interact. I think Paul Giamatti's performance is close to perfect; he mimics Pekar to some extent, but beyond that he makes an inner life available to the audience. The best decision in the film is to heavily synopsize the 'cancer year'; Giamatti gives you a lot in a few short minutes of the despair and vulnerability the cancer engenders, but then the film cuts away to a soliloquy by Pekar about the other people in the Cleveland phone book named Harvey Pekar, which is absolutely brilliant.