REVIEW: Pulp Fiction Art DVD
Just released this week is this DVD documentary "Pulp Fiction Art: Cheap Thrills & Painted Nightmares". We got an advance copy, so here's our review of the film.
Pulp magazines were a mid 20th century newsstand staple. These exciting anthologies of western yarns, science fiction, and murder mysteries not only launched the careers of many writers, but also served as the canvas for the many painters that created the covers.
Because there were so many pulp magazine titles, the publications relied heavily on the attractive qualities of the cover art. Bold imagery in lurid and murderous colors drew the reader's eye, and hopefully the dimes out of his pocket. The covers featured a woman in peril, a mustache twirling villain, cruel implements of torture - often all at once!
The covers weren't valued as art, the work was considered as disposable as the cheap pulp magazine themselves. Looking at them now, there are many tremendous examples of pop art that have sadly been lost. This documentary introduces us to several of the most famous artists and collectors who have saved some great examples of the art form from permanent obscurity.
The documentary covers a lot of ground, but at under 60 minutes feels more like a tease for a much longer project. Nor are there any extras on the disc which is a little disappointing. There's a nice sense of pace overall, but I was left with the feeling that there are still a lot of areas left to explore.
There were also some weird occasional glitches (probably DVD compressions errors) in the image - there were only a handful, but when the focus of the documentary is on compelling imagery I feel like the visual quality is really important.
Overall, it's a good documentary offering a glimpse into a world of art that hasn't been explored much before. The film has won a number of awards and is a pretty polished presentation. I wish that the few irritating compression glitches had been fixed, but as an indy film producer myself it can be hard to catch those sorts of things when you're crafting a film with a small team. The real enjoyment here is in the rediscovery of a lost art form.