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To countless avant-garde novelists, filmmakers, and playwrights, publisher Barney Rosset -- proprietor of the legendary Grove Press -- qualifies as an undisputed hero. Via scores of in-court legal battles, Rosset fought aggressively and valiantly to defend the release of works as varied as William S. Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch, Henry Miller's novel Tropic of Cancer, and Vilgot Sjöman's classic arthouse film I Am Curious (Yellow). As co-directed by Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor, the documentary Obscene builds a case not only for the idea that Rosset was utterly… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The focus of Obscene remains steadfastly on the man, thanks to a rich variety of archival and interview clips that span his entire career and a slew of colleagues, fiends and enemies."
‑ Ted Fry, Seattle Times
"Filled with reminiscence and laughter, this lively and largely adoring documentary looks back on the life and work of Barney Rosset, best known as the longtime owner of Grove Press."
‑ Joshua Land, Time Out New York
"An entertaining and engrossing film."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Obscene, is melancholic. The eerie contradiction is how chirpy and cheery this remarkable activist, and self-confessed sex addict, is at more than 80 years of age."
‑ James Christopher, Times [UK]
"With testimony from scads of heyday contributors and an infectious design reflecting Grove Press's innovative cover art ... the filmmakers could have shelved the weaker bits without missing a beat."
‑ Matthew Sorrento, Film Threat
"A compelling documentary about [Barney Rosset] directed by neophytes Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor."
‑ V.A. Musetto, New York Post
"[A] very fine documentary."
‑ Michelle Orange, Village Voice
"This film is an engaging portrait of the man and a fair assessment of his achievement."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"An entertaining docu-tribute."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian [UK]
"Rosset is a lively subject, and his interviews (over many years) provide an oral history of his life and times."
‑ Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"A warm, entertaining compendium of counterculture voices (including Jim Carroll and Amiri Baraka) and literary landmarks."
‑ Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
"Obscene, a tribute to New York publisher Barney Rosset, is an entertaining reminder of the ferocity of the culture wars of the 1950s and '60s."
‑ Tamara Straus, San Francisco Chronicle
"While the filmmakers squander some excellent opportunities that might have helped to illuminate the contradictions in their subject, this remains a fascinating study of an unrepentant American maverick."
‑ Jamie McLeish, Film4
"Brilliant social history about one of the greatest publishers of the modern epoch, even if he is "Human, All Too Human""
‑ Louis Proyect, rec.arts.movies.reviews
"... a justified tribute to [Barney] Rosset, who in his mid-80s is still feisty, with a refreshingly lighthearted attitude toward all he accomplished."
‑ Andy Klein, Los Angeles CityBeat
More reviews for Obscene on Rotten Tomatoes