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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Crumb [Blu-ray]

 

(Terry Zwigoff, 1995)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Superior Pictures

Video: Criterion Collection - Spine # 533

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:00:32.266

Disc Size: 48,729,047,835 bytes

Feature Size: 36,016,164,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.21 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 10th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1.78

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• 2010 audio commentary with Zwigoff
2006 audio commentary with Zwigoff and critic Roger Ebert
• More than fifty minutes of unused footage (14 segments)
• Stills gallery (30 images)
• 28-page booklet featuring an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum and artwork by Charles, Jesse, Maxon, and Robert Crumb and an 8-page 'Famous Artist Talent Test' leaflet by Charles Crumb

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 film is an intimate documentary portrait of the underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art. Zwigoff candidly and colorfully delves into the details of Crumb’s incredible career and life, including his family of reclusive eccentrics, some of the most remarkable people you’ll ever see on-screen. At once a profound biographical portrait, a riotous examination of a man’s controversial art, and a devastating look at a troubled family, Crumb is a genuine American original.

 

 

The Film:

Chronicling the life and times of a certain Robert Crumb, comix artist (and his strange menagerie of friends, family and ex-girlfriends), Crumb the film is a blistering portrait of a man devoured by inner demons. Best known for his Fritz The Cat and Keep On Truckin' cartoons, Crumb played a pioneering role in the genesis of underground comix. Friend and director Terry Zwigoff followed the artist around for six years making this film and the reactions he elicits from the participants gradually strip away the layers that have been erected around a warped yet fascinating mind.

Crumb, the youngest of three brothers, grew up as a geeky teenager who felt that the opposite sex were an unattainable goal. However, through his drawing he was able to fulfil his unrealised fantasies, paradoxically leading to a string of girlfriends - many of whom he captured as characters on the page, but not, in the end, release the demons of his childhood.

For an artist whose work has often been criticised for being degrading and demeaning of women, a closer look reveals more about the man (particularly how Crumb portrays himself on the page). The film allows us into his world and lets him tell his own story. The typical Crumb male is shown cringing in awe at the dominant female, a reflection of Crumb's own perceptions.

Excerpt from Edinburgh U Film Society (Neil Chue Hong) review located HERE

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

Criterion's usual penchant for an authentic-to-source film-to-Blu-ray appears intact. Terry Zwigoff's bio/documentary, consistent for the most part but there are some various visual sources, has bright colors, heavy grain and looks far more film-like than either of the, reportedly poor, previous Sony DVDs (1999 and 2006 Special Edition). However, I don't know that it is a film that benefits extensively from the move to 1080P. Although saying that, it is true that much of the comic art and facial close-ups can look... surprisingly impressive in the higher resolution. Crumb is not a viewing experience that one will recall for its striking appearance but the Criterion HD does support the 'rustic' feel of the film's content. It is dual-layered with a very high video bitrate and colors seem brighter and truer than SD could relate. Skin tones seem warm and contrast exhibits healthy black levels. One must surely feel that this Blu-ray exports the most honest original representation of this amusing, thought-provoking and, sometimes, painful portrait (conversations with brother Charles are particularly impacting).

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Criterion have rendered a lossless Linear PCM track at 1152 kbps. There is nothing remarkable about the exclusively dialogue driven audio but it is nonetheless perfect - without technical flaw of any kind. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.

 

 

Extras :

We have two commentaries - a new one with Zwigoff from this year and a second - already available on the Sony SE DVD from 2006 with Zwigoff and critic Roger Ebert. Ebert tries to do some gentle probing with questions and the director does impart some anecdotal production information. It is very low-key but has interesting moments. In the new commentary Zwigoff admits reluctance and again relates similar information. I think I preferred the one with Ebert but both may have value to fans of the film. The, more than, 50-minutes of unused footage (divided into 14 segments) is a decent companion to Crumb where those craving more will find it in a less polished format. There is some further information imparted here - and I enjoyed some bits more than others. There is also a stills gallery (30 images) and a 28-page booklet featuring an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum and artwork by Charles, Jesse, Maxon, and Robert Crumb. Also included is an 8-page 'Famous Artist Talent Test' leaflet by Charles Crumb - fans will get their moneys worth from this newsprint addition.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Crumb is an honest and non-judgmental portrait of a true, uncompromised, character. Robert Crumb is an artist in the classic sense - he explores the chemistry of his own desires, fetishes and the view of a world, in his eyes, that's gone 'bad'. He is a fascinating bundle of psychological imagination and unbridled sexual bents. As opposed to accepting the insanities of modern culture - he has created, and basically lives in, his own. It's a great movie - although I don't see extensive benefit from it being released on Blu-ray, but I doubt we're going to see it looking any better. It's hard to say if the improved appearance will cause you to bond more closely with the unique characters in the documentary - but it is quite possible. It's one of those films that you feel deserves a bigger audience and the Blu-ray edition will, undoubtedly, do just that! An odd choice by Criterion - but an excellent one. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

July 26th, 2010

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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