Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End is a documentary following controversial political cartoonist Mr. Fish as he navigates his work and personal life. It screened at the 2018 Florida Film Festival, among other festivals as an official selection.
The story of the film is absolutely compelling. I have always found political cartooning to be an interesting artform, and this documentary evaluates it as such. Mr. Fish is far from an orthodox artist, so we as the audience get to experience art that we may not normally see in an artistic light. Sometimes, we get interviews with Mr. Fish or one of his various acquaintances that explain the meaning behind one of the pieces, but more often than not, Bryant allowed the cartoons to speak for themselves. There are some extremely well-edited sequences in which we see many of the cartoons in succession, allowing you to analyze them. Surprisingly, this is one of the most effective ways in which the documentary easily got me to sympathize with the subject. In my opinion, the best way to get to know an artist is through their work. Additionally, since Mr. Fish's satire is so biting, I found these sequences to be hilarious.
The film's subject matter also allows for some extremely timely commentary. One of the main points that the film has to make is regarding the First Amendment. Yes, it is a little on the nose, but why wouldn't a film about a controversial political cartoonist have this commentary? The film feels even more relevant because it was shot over a period of time in which the political climate was not continuous. In the beginning of the film, we see how Obama's administration affected Mr. Fish's work, and towards the end of the film, we begin to see the influence of Trump. The film also isn't afraid of brewing controversy. It openly showcases everything that Mr. Fish's work has to offer without a fear of what people will think, and because of this, the film earned my respect. I was also really surprised to learn that this was Bryant's first film as a director. It's very well-shot and put together in a way that maximizes political impact and entertainment value.
As a whole, I found Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End to be a great documentary. It's both an important and entertaining documentary, so fans of the medium should check it out. It's not for the easily offended, but if you have a good sense of humor and political awareness, I think you will love this film.
Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End
Big Tuna's Rating: A-
How Did I Watch It?: A press screener.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Yes.
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I look at films as if through old red and blue 3D glasses— one lens is as art, one lens is as entertainment.
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