American - The Bill Hicks Story
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Growing up in Texas, Bill Hicks first started performing comedy at the age of 15. He soon became a regular in Houston’s comedy circuit, before moving to LA and embarking on a touring schedule, playing up to 300 shows a yea, all in a country where he was largely unknown.
In 1990, Hicks performed in the United Kingdom for the first time, and became an instant star, finding fame and notoriety which had escaped him in the US and it was just as Hicks seemed on the verge of a commercial breakthrough in America, that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died on February 24, 1994 at just 32.
Using never-before-seen animation techniques we hear Bill’s story, for the first time, through the people who knew him best, his family and friends, showing a timeless legacy left that’s as fresh and relevant today as it was when he wrote it.
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For anybody only vaguely aware of Bill's comedy status and also for those over familiar,this film is probably going to fall between two stools. It is story heavy with disappointingly little in terms of Hick's actual appearances; the dropping of a star is actually because of this. Good extras, but a lost opportunity to present tons of unreleased footage. As a big Hicks fan, I'll watch it over and over....then listen to Arizona Bay or Rant in E minor where the real genius lay.
This docu-film-biog is superb. I was lucky enough to see it at one of the few cinemas showing it in england, and as soon as it was out on dvd I had to own a copy. This edition is wonderful; I haven't gone through all the extras yet, but the rare clips are excellent, and the extended interviews are truly heartwarming.
Bill was an incredible comedian and this film truly does him justice. The style of animation fits and the use of his music throughout, as well as music that he loved and was inspired by, really ties it all together. It may sound soppy, but seeing the family footage of him playing with his nieces and nephews is rather adorable.
And that's what is wonderful about this film; it shows you behind-the-scenes-Bill, and that's what we all want to see in this sort of film. There's no bulking out with big chunks of stand-up from previous releases, like you get in some docu-biogs. Instead, you're treated to a mixture of rare old clips (usually filmed by his brother, Steve), interviews with family, friends and colleagues, many many old photos and some fabulous music.
He played from his heart, godsdammit.
The doc. really goes into what motivated him and how his upbringing brought about the character we think we know so well. Covering his early years of being a great stand-up progressing into what he developed in to, the very best.
The Blu-Ray is rammed with extra's. Over 5-hours worth. Additional interview footage, unseen clips and following the cinema tour with the Hicks family.
A stunning movie. Worth every penny.
In many ways its fantastic, the animated cut scenes, the clips, its same old hicks.
But where it falls down for me is the lack of personal insight into Hicks family life (issues with his father, his last few days whne he was refusing to speak, his relationships). There is literally none of this included. Perhaps it a running time issue, or wasnt the artistic focus but its never touched on at all.
However as a represenation of his stand up career its fascinating.
I would reccoemnd this to start and then read 'Agent of Evolution' By Kevin Booth for extra insight into this truly iconic and fearless man.
This film provides a unique and intimate look at one of the most important social philosophers of the 20th Century. Drawn together by the family and friends who survived him, and using an visual technique of animating old photos to bring his early years and career to life, 'American...' delves beyond the comedy to the humanity and truth underlying it all.
Featuring highlights of some of his greatest performances, it serves as a fantastic introduction to Bill Hicks for those who've yet to discover him, while offering dedicated fans a deeper insight into the man and his life.
'American: the Bill Hicks Story' will more than likely make you laugh. There's a good chance it'll make you cry. It will DEFINITELY make you THINK.
If you already know and love Bill Hicks, then you need to see this film. If you've never heard of him before in your life, then you need to see this film even more urgently.