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Film Review Of ‘Funny Pages’

The actor who has become a filmmaker Owen Kline (“ The Squid and the Whale ”) created his first feature film, about a teenage caricaturist aspirant, in the sidebar of the Directors’ Fortnight.

The cinematic equivalent of a dark and hilarious morbid graphic novel, Funny Pages, which will be presented in the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, marks a first without compromise feature for Squid and The Whale Star that has become Owen Kline.

Produced by A24 and the Safdie brothers, this comedy of the New Jersey set very well, carries the brand of the grungy and bitterly funny films of the latter, with a casting of coastal characters and unforgettable faces that you rarely see on the big filter. But he also channels the work of artists like Robert Crumb, Daniel Clowes and Peter Bagge, telling the weaknesses of the real life of a young budding designer who is much better to caricature the world around him than to meet.

There is a lot of a pre-numerical atmosphere of the late 90s or early, which was filmed on 16 mm by Safdie Regular Sean Price Williams (credited with cinematography with Hunter Zimny), and which recalls other films of Graphic or adapted inspiration like Terry Zwigoff by Crumb and Art School Confidential, as well as Paul Giamatti with American Splendor.

Even more, the buffoonery of his 17-year-old anti-hero, Robert (Daniel Zolghadri, eighth year), who leaves his comfortable accommodation to try to do so like a hungry designer in the intestines of Trenton, N.J., recall the reminder The French comic book artist and occasional director Riad Sattouf, the Dark Beaushes, who was a success in Cannes in 2009. This very budget effort should also find some love on the Croisette, and I hope Will not be Kline’s Kline last attempt at the helm.

Humor here is darker than the film Sattouf, featuring a range of quirks, monsters and geeks that Robert crosses during his scary quest to become a successful comic strip artist. The first we meet is Mr. Katano (Stephen Adly Guirgis), his teacher and mentor of art from high school, in a long sequence where the latter ends up pretending to be a naked model to prove a point on the drawing of the life. The incident is a bit of Robert, and when Mr. Katano tries to catch him later to apologize and offer him a return home, he is killed in a car accident.

If you don’t laugh while watching these opening scenes, then the gloomy humor of funny pages is probably not for you. If you do, then there is much more to savor while Robert decides to leave school and go out alone, moving in a warm basement and bubbling in Trenton, where its owner, Barry (Michael Townsend Wright) , is located all day inside inside an apartment that has never received direct sunlight.

Like Crumb or Clowes, Kline has an attentive eye for such characters and such details, and her film is filled with moments that are distinguished in their rudeness – moments that Robert portrays in his own cartoons, giving the whole a Rather meta-meta sensation: funny pages is, in substance, a film of underground comic strips on an underground comic strip artist who lives life on the fringes, then capture alive in pencil and ink.

The talents of Robert won him a job working for a public defender (Marcia Debonis), where he crosses the paths with Wallace (Matthew Maher), a former colorist (or colored separator, to be exact) who was accused of having attacked a pharmacist. Wallace is the kind of guy who would make you cross the opposite sidewalk if he approached, and yet because he used to work for the coveted image comics – the fans will know it as the label in small groups founded by stars like Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee and Rob Liefield – Robert tries to make him his next mentor, begging private drawing lessons and supports his madness.

Kline treats their relationship for richer laughter, especially in a scene where Wallace convinces his protégé to visit the pharmacy where he committed assault. You wonder why Robert, who seems so ingenious and clever, would support all this, and the answer comes when he returns home and we see how distant he is from his own mom (Maria Dizzia) and Papa (Josh Pais), As well as a childhood friend, Miles (Miles Emanuel), who also wants to draw comics. Robert is clearly spoiled, but he also desperately needs a figurehead. In his heart, Funny Pages concerns less the evolution of the young caricaturist – when we meet Robert, his talents already seem completely trained – than his search for someone to guide him through life.

These feelings are channeled through a story that has the loose feeling of many American indie – Safdie’s collaborator, Ronald Bronstein, the cult film Frownland seems to be another influence – and yet the gross humor brand of Kline distinguishes it from others . While browsing 85 minutes, his film is short and soft-man, with jokes that reveal a side of humanity, and the center of New Jersey, which can make us laugh and cring our teeth. Like Robert, Kline has a real gift for the portrait, and that is what makes this portrait sad and disjointed by the artist as a young cartoonist and yet strangely familiar.