Get local news delivered straight to your phone
We can't make City Paper without you
Terry Zwigoff’s documentary Crumb has laughs aplenty, but its overall tone is melancholy—and a particularly American sort of melancholy at that. Interviewing underground comix legend Robert and his brothers, Zwigoff allows them to dissect their own weird selves down to the very core, in the process getting at the sadness of the successful fellow who sees the skull behind the smile, the sadness of the madman who knows he’s far gone, and the sadness of the madman who doesn’t. This perspective gets a great boost from the film’s soundtrack, a collage of 24 rags, blues, stomps, and struts. A few are itchy remasterings of original recordings, but most are by San Francisco-based pianist David Boeddinghaus and guitarist Craig Ventresco. Like Zwigoff and Crumb, who play together in the latter’s Cheap Suit Serenaders band, Boeddinghaus and Ventresco are inveterate old-time music enthusiasts. They can cakewalk across the ceiling and down the street without breaking a sweat or lay down a sweet veil of pensive reserve, and this collection shows the breadth and depth of their skills, especially when sandwiched among originals; the duo’s modern renditions lack only the authenticating pop and crackle of carnauba-wax surface noise.