Robert Williams Mr. Bitchin' (2013)

 |  Documentary, Biography  |  2013 (USA)
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Explores the remarkable art and life of painter extraordinaire Robert Williams an American underground legend, examining the territory between pop culture and fine art, and measuring the ... See full summary »


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Explores the remarkable art and life of painter extraordinaire Robert Williams an American underground legend, examining the territory between pop culture and fine art, and measuring the multiple meanings of "success" - financial, artistic, popular and critical. Written by Anonymous

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Doc Chronicles the Career of the Iconoclast Artist
2 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary, directed by Mary C. Reese, chronicles the career of the iconoclast artist Robert Williams. It traces his involvement in the psychedelic and protest worlds of the 1960's, his artistic work in the Hot Rod culture (being a Hot Rod enthusiast himself), especially working for Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, and becoming a prominent illustrator for Zap Comics, along with R. Crumb.

We learn from the beginning of the film that Williams lives by his own "drumbeat", and has always thrived on being anti-establishment in his life and work. We get some snippets from his difficult early life, but he makes it plain with the interviewer that he's not going to reveal anything too personal. I was interested enough to look on Wiki and find out more details of his very checkered youth.

His artwork is not my personal "cup of tea" but his incredible artistic talents are unquestioned in my mind, with his paintings and cartoons being extremely original, stark, colorful, and erotic, while filled with amazing detail. I also am a fan of his sarcastic anti-establishment themes, often based on historical events.

The film will later delve into Williams' founding of Juxtapoz Magazine in 1994, which now has the highest circulation of any art magazine and has helped innumerable Underground artists gain recognition. Also, his artwork for the cover of the Guns N' Roses' album "Appetite for Destruction", which drew loud protests from women's rights groups for being misogynistic, and forced Geffen Records to place it inside the album eventually.

Just to mention, there is plenty of very raw language throughout the movie, with Williams himself having no qualms about using it. There's also plenty of depictions of voluptuous, naked women and sexual references in a lot of his artwork, for those that are sensitive to that.

I also wanted to say that the viewer is privy to a most chilling disclosure of Deborah Harry, of Blondie, who is a collector of Williams' art, that one early morning after a gig, in NYC, she was offered and accepted a lift from a man. She quickly instinctively realized something was terrible wrong and managed to narrowly escape, finding out later that the man was the serial killer Ted Bundy.

All in all, I found I learned quite a lot in this interesting documentary, and I personally feel we need people like Williams in this world to give counter-culture a voice amidst the powers-that-be.

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