Twain in Vain

We're glad we don't have it rough like underground-comic-book schlub Harvey Pekar, with his two divorces and bout with cancer, but as he says in the autobiographical film American Splendor, "Hey, man, every day's a brand-new deal, right? Just keep on working and something's bound to turn up." Harvey seems to be waiting for Godot's other shoe to drop. What he craves most is company, and he jumps at Joyce (Hope Davis), who shows an interest in him – plus, she sleeps with him. Life becomes a roller coaster of fame versus obscurity as he turns himself into David Letterman's pet for a couple of years. By the late 1980s, Pekar is branded the blue-collar Mark Twain, and his hilarious, noncommittal commentary, which is interspersed throughout the film, gives that seemingly chuckleheaded comparison some validity. Written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the 2003 film helped to launch the astonishing Paul Giamatti into the arms of M. Night Shyamalan (Lady in the Water) and whoever the fuck directed Fred Claus, but don't hold it against Harvey. Pekar’s stoic pathos is uplifting, and you start to believe that he just might make it after all.
Mon., Jan. 14, 7 p.m., 2008
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Leslie Barton
Contact: Leslie Barton