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I really don't know what to make of this film. When you first start watching Crumb, you wonder why anyone would ever want to watch something this odd, but after about twenty minutes you realize that you couldn't stop watching it if you wanted to - and you don't want to. The world of Robert Crumb, a pioneer in the world of underground comics, is as disturbing as it is fascinating - and that is exactly what Crumb is, a documentary about the life of this man and his family. It gives you a disarmingly honest look inside the man's mind, and I'm not sure anyone can really describe what we discover. In all honesty, I had never heard of Robert Crumb nor seen any of his work (although Fritz the Cat does ring a bell) before - that work is eye-opening to say the least, and you get to see a lot of it during the documentary. Much of it is misogynistic and arguably racist, so I'm sure Crumb fans and anti-fans alike will be most interested in this artist's direct insight into his work. Crumb is a compulsive artist who draws almost constantly, and one gets the sense that it is the only thing keeping him from crossing a line into madness.

This is a really strange man, basically a recluse who never seems comfortable with himself or anyone else - it's quite amazing he would allow a film crew in to follow him around for such a significant amount of time. He's not shy about discussing any part of his life or his work, however, taking us all the way back to his childhood. The man's artistic talents, even as a child, are undoubtedly extraordinary and certainly unique in terms of the exaggerated way he tends to draw things, especially people. Critics on both sides discuss the demeaning, borderline sadistic manner in which he has depicted women at different times in his career, and Crumb readily admits that he has some inward hostility toward women (although he has married twice and is the father of two children). On some issues, though, particularly when it comes to charges of racism, he tends to dance around the questions, passing some of the criticism off as an effect of his drug use in the 1960s.

The most poignant aspect of the film, however, is the story of Crumb's family. In many ways, this is a descent into mental illness - and it's poignantly tragic. Crumb and his siblings obviously grew up in a dysfunctional family with a particularly puritan, abusive father. His two sisters chose not to be interviewed for this film, but we do meet brothers Charles and Maxon along with Crumb's mother. Charles still lives at home, never leaves the house, and has been dependent on medications for many years (his problems apparently include depression, suicidal tendencies, and homicidal thoughts), while Maxon (who has a record of molesting women) seems to be far too disturbed to live on his own as he does. The interviews with Crumb and his brothers are the centerpiece of this documentary, if you ask me, and it's just a terribly sad thing to watch.

Just as Crumb's comics are what they are, Crumb is who he is, as seems clear from the details of this documentary. In some ways, he is incomprehensible and rather repulsive, yet you can't really dismiss or dislike him too much just because he's so darn fascinating and different from the rest of mankind. I think those with an interest in psychology will actually get more out of this film than most of Crumb's fans and critics.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 September 2011
The art of this unusual man entered my life when I was about 13, when my dad unknowingly bought me a copy of Head Comix. With its mix of psychedelics and graphic sex, it was an instant hit with all of my friends and as we entered adolescence, we got the whole lot of underground comics. The writing and images were of such high quality that we spent many many hours pouring over them as if they were literature.

This documentary convinced me that indeed they represent great art. The most important character in this is of course Crumb himself, with his immediate and wider family as well as his cultural milieu. It was absolutely fascinating to see the strains of mental illness in his family, from his amphetamine-addicted mother and volatile brutish father to his unfortunate brothers. It is not just the stereotype of "outsider as artistic observer", but a much deeper and shockingly open glimpse into Crumb's makeup as a bitter outcast in a yuppified society, with the strangest sexual obsessions. He likes big women and has bizarre tastes, which go straight into his art; he despises mainstream consumerism and even the American dream of making it big. He also lived out his fantasies and many of his ex's are in the film. Fortunately, while often sad, the family is full of humor, ironic self-awareness, and fun. It is a very rounded portrait.

On another level, there is a lot about his method of working and creating. This was perhaps the most interesting to me, as you witness, in the most unpretentious fashion, a great artist pursuing his craft and own direction. I loved to hear how he just free associates and doesn't care what it means, how he constantly draws, how he instructs his son to "cheat" for the right effect, how he critiques images in minute detail, where he gets his source material. The background on his training - he wrote comics as a kid under the direction of his older brother and didn't go to art school - is also fascinating.

Finally, with art critic Robert Hughes and some feminist journalists, you get a serious discussion of the art's worth. I agree that Crumb is like a modern-day Breugel or (perhaps better) Daumier: he exemplifies a certain kind of angst and rebellion, displaying his obsessions with undeniably great talent. Then there are those who think he is subversive and indulges in pornography, perhaps even a danger to society. It is serious food for thought.

REcommended with the greatest enthusiasm. This is documentary at its very very best.
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on 27 June 2003
This Film is a documentary,that would be up there with the greats!.
From the outset,the viewer is taken on a facinating journey
into "Crumbland". Whether your a fan of comic strips or not,
the film makes for compelling viewing.
I personally, had never heard of Robert Crumb until I had watched
this film, but I sure do now!!.
If you like themes of "Downbeat America" you will love this.
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VINE VOICEon 3 July 2004
That's no exaggeration. You do not have to be a fan of Robert Crumbs work or of the comic book medium at all to appreciate the disturbing honesty of this film. The Crumb family - Robert, Charles and Maxon, as well as their mother - allow Zwigoff total access to their lives and pasts, creating a mezmerising portrait of a profoundly disfunctional family whose members found sanctuary in drawing comics together. Robert of course went on to be the most famous, but both Charles and Maxon are (or in Charles's case,were) artists of the highest calibre (as well as being two of the most bizarre human beings ever captured on film). The soundtrack, made up of selected tracks from Robert and Zwigoff's personal collection of blues and ragtime 78s is a wonderful bonus. Tracks that may otherwise have disappeared into obscurity have been lovingly restored and serve as a perfect foil for the numeous montages of R. Crumb's unique talent. I absolutely love this movie and can't imagine why anyone else wouldn't.
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on 11 December 2001
A big Crumb fan, I had to see this movie. After a short while, though, the movie steps away from merely providing an insight into the man and his life, but builds on a narrative about Crumbs family and highly complex situation. His brother Charles for example, is facinating and ultimately tragic- like seemingly everyone in Crumbs life, Charles clearly had similar gifts to his brother but could not develop them. R's account of Charles attempts to do this as part of drawing course, (no surprise that Charles submitted a VERY surreal piece of work), is very funny, but very sad. On the face of it, Crumb and his folks seem dysfunctional, but you can so easily relate to them, and through that process he more than justifies his unusual take on life, especially his art and views on Corporate America. Insight and understanding are what you are looking for in a biographical piece like this, and Terry Zwigoff gives us it all- a wonderful film, I love it. PS- The soundtrack featuring R's to-die-for blues and ragtime collection is just amazing. One 78 played in it's entirity over a montage of R's drawings is just too beautiful- you'll know it when you hear it...
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on 28 March 2016
Crumb is a look into the dysfunctional world of the Crumb family, with an emphasis on Robert. As the two sisters declined to be interviwed for the documentary we only get to meet brothers Max, Charles and Robert. Who have extraordinary artistic talents. As if to balance this out, they each also have disturbing tendancies and a very dark view of the modern world.

Charles, who rarely leaves the house, and lives with his mother, sadly committed suicide after this film was completed, but spoke of two previous attempts on his own life during his interview. He concentrated on pencil and crayon artwork in his younger years, but lacked self-motivation to get back into artwork.

Max, a self-confessed woman molestor(!!!) had many phsychiatric issues of his own.

Robert, the most famous of the three brothers is a prolific pen-and-ink artist capable of truly outstanding work, underpinned by deep feelings of suppression and sexual hangups, which manifest themselves within his artwork.

It's a well made film, which makes for dark viewing at times and left me feeling somewhat 'grubby' for watching it.

Crumb fans will appreciate the artwork, together with Robert's unbending will to not 'sell-out' to commercialism, by giving out autographs or allowing more of his work to be animated. The thought of a 'Mr Natural' movie disgusted him.

If you are looking for no-nonsense honest look at a comic book artist at his best, I can think of no finer work.
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on 4 July 2010
This is an excellent and candid look into the world of comic book artist Robert Crumb which centers more on the life of both Crumb and his family that his actual work as a comic artist. The highlight of the documentary for me was Crumb's brother Charles, a manic depressive still living with his mother who is also a talented artist and comes across as a dry witted, humourous man and genuinely likeable man. If you enjoy documentaries then is a must see.
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on 25 April 2016
Fast delivery! And great documentary! An inspiring insight into crumbs life at the time including a massive body of artworks and process.
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on 7 January 2012
I had never heard of this movie but when amazon recommended it I bought it on a whim. Crumb is definitely worth watching if you enjoy movies that are off the beaten path. Highly amusing and, although at times slightly troubling, a fascinating film!
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on 11 January 2017
Liked by gift recipient
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