Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Bakshi Review: Heavy Traffic (1973)
Plot: The adventures of 24 year old virgin living with his warring parents. He meets all sorts of pimps, pushers, mafiosos, and other assorted colorful characters along the way.
Virtues: This film has a very personal, if fragmented, story. Some will say that it's about Ralph Bakshi's life in the city. I am going to say it's probably based off of many people's experiences, but I digress. There are very funny and poignant scenes, one scene involving Michael's mother Ida reminiscing about her lost youth. Along with that, there are wonderful pieces of character animation, like the animation of Snowflake. Every perverse thought that crosses his mind is simultaneously shown on his face and body language. It is a blatantly honest film about life in the city, complete with gays and mafia men. It doesn't hide anything (every person has a dark side). No film of recent time has had this kind of naked honesty. perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay this film is that it is unashamedly animated. What I mean by that is the film takes advantage of what can only be done in animation. It uses caricature and surreal imagery to show a character's state of mind. It caricatures life , not emulate it. I liken this to a James Gillray etching ints grotesque honesty. It's too bad not many other films have followed his example.
Vices: The fragmented often leaves one very confused on where the film is actually going. It takes several viewings to understand the actions and plot. There is also the annoying philosophical references to pinball and arcade games that make no sense. It's like Bakshi is trying to convey his thoughts, but really doesn't know how. The violence in this film almost tops Fritz the Cat. In a crazy psychedelic sequence, you can see Ida chopping off her husband's manhood (all three of them). Then, there are the times when Ida's breast falls out of her nightgown, and we really don't need to see that.
Best scene: Any scene with Angie and Ida combined in it. They are both hilarious and kind of scary when these two whackjobs go at it. I particularly like the scene when Ida tries to kill Angie by putting his head in their gas oven. These two play off so well together. It's like Al and Peg Bundy but to another level.
Overall Grade: 8.5 out of 10
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