Thursday, December 20, 2007
Bakshi Review: American Pop (1981)
Plot: The story of four generations of a Russian-Jewish family and their legacy of Music. Taking place from the 1890's to the 1980's, it sets the characters against the changing popular culture of America, starting with vaudeville and ending with the punk movement.
Virtues: A masterfully artistic art. There are background paintings by Barry Jackson and Louise Zingarelli that are absolutely beautiful. It has a Edward Hopper feel to it, very reminiscent of the Ashcan School of Painting. In one scene, where Pete is selling cocaine to people, Barry Jackson (I assume) did some backgrounds that satirized the punk movement. Besides the art, it has a fantastic story behind. There is a sense of tragedy of how the first three generations are so close to fame, but are tragically struck down in their prime. Zalmie (first generation) has his vocal chords sot out by biplanes. Benny (second generation) is killed by a German in WWII. Tony (third generation) is strung out after the sixties due to the death of his group's lead singer (a mixture of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin) who is also his lover. At the end, there is a sense of fulfillment when Pete (fourth generation) becomes famous.
Vices: Like The Lord of the Rings, the use of rotoscope in American Pop really limits the emotional performance of the characters. I would have preferred it if they had used the more cartoony/expressionistic art of Barry Jackson or Louise Zingarelli, like the art used in the opening credits. Actually, I would have liked to have seen Mort Drucker-like character design. It would have added more appeal and life into the characters.
Best Scene: The scene where Pete shows off his songs to the record producers. He plays them "Night Moves" by Bob Seger and then it gets really trippy.
Grade: 8.0 out of 10
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