FAR OUT ISN’T FAR ENOUGH: THE TOMI UNGERER STORY (unrated)

Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (unrated)

 
 
Controversial artist Tomi Ungerer is profiled in 'Far Out Isn't Far Enough.'
Controversial artist Tomi Ungerer is profiled in 'Far Out Isn't Far Enough.'
Brad Bernstein

Movie Info

Rating: * * * 

With: Tomi Ungerer, Maurice Sendak, Jules Feiffer, Michael Patrick Hearn.

Writer-director: Brad Bernstein.

Producer: Brad Bernstein.

Running time: 98 minutes. Vulgar language, extremely graphic art of sexual nature, adult themes. In Miami-Dade only: O Cinema Wynwood through July 14.


rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

In the 1950s, Tomi Ungerer was one of the most famous children’s book authors and illustrators in the world. In the early 1970s, he disappeared.

What happened in between is one of those stories that seems too wild to be true — except that writer-director Brad Bernstein tracked down Ungerer, who now lives in Ireland, and convinced him to sit in front of a camera and recount his life story.

Fortunately, Ungerer, 82, is a chatty fellow with a razor-sharp memory and a tendency to say outrageous things (“I’m sure he deserved it,” he says about a sketch showing a kid being boiled alive in a cauldron). Growing up between France and Germany during World War II, along with the traumatic death of his father, led to his fascination with dark stories and drawings. When he moved to New York in 1956, he started working for advertising agencies and magazines and eventually submitted his first children’s book, about four cute piglets who get slaughtered by a butcher.

The publisher rejected the book but asked if he could rewrite it with a happy ending. Thus began a long streak of increasing success, influencing peers such as Maurice Sendak, who says Ungerer’s tendency to use ugly animals as protagonists — vultures, octopuses, boas — liberated his own imagination.

But the social tumult of the 1960s, combined with the Vietnam War, inspired Ungerer to do other work — controversial anti-war posters that used shocking images to clearly communicate protest messages. He also began drawing erotic art, publishing collections of sketches such as Fornicon and The Party filled with graphic depictions of sex and sadomasochism.

What’s amazing is that no one connected his work — the children’s books and the adult fare — until he was invited to speak at a children’s book convention and someone in the audience attacked him and accused him of being a pervert. Suddenly, all his children’s books were banned, The New York Times stopped reviewing his work and he was blacklisted from the industry.

Ungerer doesn’t apologize for anything — he’s proud of his art and continues to sculpt and draw prolifically — and his children’s books, unavailable for decades, are now back in print. Far Out Isn’t Far Enough, which borrows its title from one of his collections, could have lost 10 minutes: The film spends a little too much time on his stint living in Nova Scotia, for example. But the movie succeeds as a celebration of the artistic impulse and the courage of a man who dared to follow his, no matter where it led him.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">What’s the secret?</span> Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are a brother and sister trying to solve the mystery of a demonic mirror in ‘Oculus.’

    Oculus (R)

    Mirrors have been as much of a fixture in horror movies as knives and cats that suddenly jump from the shadows. But they’re best in cameos, as in the ending of Dressed to Kill or the bathroom scene in The Shining. Oculus revolves entirely around an ornate mirror that is, what, a gateway to hell? A summoning force for evil spirits? A really ugly piece of furniture from a medieval Pottery Barn?

  •  
Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman square off in a scene from ‘The Raid 2.’

    The Raid 2 (R)

    Every time you think The Raid 2 can’t possibly top itself, writer-director Gareth Evans goes “Oh, yeah? Watch this.” Most of 2011’s The Raid: Redemption took place inside a tenement raided by a SWAT team to apprehend a mobster and his squad of killers holed up inside. Practically no one survived the movie — the violence was astonishing — but the contained setting and the idea of having events grow hairier for the good guys the higher they went in the building gave the tight 101-minute movie a sense of compressed, relentless action. Now comes The Raid 2 (known as The Raid 2: Bernadal in its native Indonesia), which is far more expansive and complicated, and runs almost 2 ½ hours. Miraculously, the new picture makes the old one feel like Evans was just warming up.

  •  
A sexual addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) visits a therapist (Jamie Bell) with unorthodox methods to try to help get over her compulsion in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

    NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 2 (unrated)

    Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (unrated)

    Things get really kinky in Nymphomaniac Vol. 2, the second chapter in director Lars von Trier’ epic-length saga about a woman who can’t get enough. If you saw Vol. 1, which ended with our perpetually horny heroine Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) losing all feeling in her sexual organs, you might be wondering, “How could this movie outdo the first one?” To quote the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category