'Obscene': The Rise and Fall of Barney Rosset

Maui Time | September 11, 2008

Debut filmmakers Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor tell the dynamic story of Barney Rosset's iconic rise and fall as the owner of Grove Press and Evergreen Review, responsible for publishing such 20th century literary icons as Allen Ginsberg, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Malcolm X, and Jack Kerouac. Laced with cheeky interview footage between Rosset and Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein, the film places Rosset as a freedom-of-expression rebel engaged in precedent-setting obscenity law court battles to defend the validity of adventurous authors and filmmakers whose work defied convention. John Sayles, Jim Carroll, Gore Vidal, Erica Jong, and John Waters are some of the key figures interviewed about the significance of Barney Rosset's influence. Well-placed music by Warren Zevon, Jim Carroll, and X give the piece an appropriately punk groove. This is the kind of art house documentary that inspires the right kind of social rebellion.

Not Rated. 97 mins. (B+)


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Maui Time Weekly provides insightful analysis and in depth reporting. We believe some issues are so important they require thoughtful consideration. We are not a “paper of record”—a daily journal of government meetings, ribbon-cuttings and corporate announcements. We decide what’s...
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