Review: ‘Bob Spit’ takes its inspiration and attitude from the cartoonist Angeli
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For the irreverent Brazilian stop-motion animation feature “Bob Spit — We Do Not Like People,” director Cesar Cabral profiles prominent cartoonist Angeli (voicing himself via interviews with the filmmaking team), merging his ruminations on artistic creation with a dystopian realm where his most famous characters exist parched for his attention.
Stubbornly reclusive, the creator undergoes a philosophical crisis as he attempts to renounce his early, much edgier comic strips to attain the image of maturity, of a creative evolution. Inside Angeli’s now deserted brain, his once preferred brainchild and in turn his alter ego, Bob Spit (Milhem Cortaz), an antisocial, ogre-like old punk sporting green-hued skin, a pointy mohawk, a leather jacket and sunglasses, embarks on a hallucinatory voyage to prevent Angeli from drawing his final panel.
Rebellious even from an aesthetic standpoint given its comically grotesque figures, the adult-oriented film embraces violence, sex and the counterculture idiosyncrasies of the storyteller it honors and questions. Talking-head interviews, also animated, fold in supplementary accounts from those who know him intimately.
Also relevant is how infrequently this style of animation gets crafted in Latin America due to the significant cost involved in the painstaking process of fabricating and animating physical puppets in real spaces made to scale with intricate production design. On all fronts, “Bob Spit” is a welcome rarity in a medium suited but seldom used for the subversive in feature form with this world-class quality of technique and design.
Cabral’s decidedly unruly interpretation of Angeli’s universe goes down like a wacky cocktail of hilariously introspective vignettes adorned with phallocentric crude language, full-frontal male nudity and rabid clones of superstar Elton John in his signature shiny getups, which embody Bob Spit and Angeli’s increasingly less committed repulsion for pop music. With the years, their hardline views on mainstream tunes and art have thawed.
Short on biographical details to help contextualize the artist, including the importance of Angeli’s defiant work during Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1970s, the project can seem a tad insular in a “made for locals only” manner. Luckily, even without valuable details on the man’s history and personal relationships, “Bob Spit” mostly charms as a zany portrait of a person coming to terms with the multitudes contained within himself.
‘Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People’
In Portuguese with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Starts Dec. 15, Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood
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