Friday, May 09, 2008
Camera Obscura: 'Speed Racer'; Doomsday on TCM; Call For A Better Movie Theater
The nation's film critics are having a blast attempting to craft the words to describe the movie "Speed Racer" opening today. The movie, based on a 1960s early anime TV show, explodes with color and energy and the best advice I can give you about the movie is to remember that it is aimed at kids more than adults who might recall the old TV series.
J. Hoberman describes it as:
"Gaudier than a Hindu-temple roof, louder than the Las Vegas night, Speed Racer is a cathedral of glitz. The movie projects a Candy Land topography of lava-lamp skies and Hello Kitty clouds—part Middle Earth, part mental breakdown—using a beyond-Bollywood color scheme wherein telephones are blood orange, jet planes electric fuchsia, and ultra-turquoise is the new black. Call it Power Kitsch, Neo-Jetsonism, or Icon-D—this film could launch a movement."
And while Rex Reed hardly qualifies as a real movie critic, he echoes the Fuchsia theme memorably in his review:
"Speed Racer makes you want to never see a movie again as long as you live. I can sit through just about anything, but I draw the line at two hours and 15 minutes of fuchsia vomit."
From Cinematical, writer James Rocchi provides a more balanced view:
"This is a property where one of the supporting characters is, after all, a monkey; any fully-grown individual hoping for an adult action film or racing realism is looking in the wrong place. Speed Racer plays like a car-crazed visual wonder -- it looks and feels like what pop artist Roy Lichtenstein would dream if you locked him in a room full of gas fumes, gave him only candy to eat and showed him nothing but Tron, Indianapolis 500 footage, episodes of the '60s Batman TV show and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. All at the same time. With the volume very, very high."
All I know is, I've liked all that the brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski have done so far, and the jaw-dropping insane colors and production design make me most curious to see the movie. So many movie critics seem to despise the idea that movies are first and foremost a visual form of storytelling. But from all I've read so far, they looooove the way they can stack wild verbiage to describe "Speed Racer", which tells me that the movie does offer much enjoyment.
One movie trend of late which just bugs the crap out of me is the Extra Scene After The End of the Credits. One Rant echoes my thoughts on this practice - mainly, if it's supposed to be part of the story, put it in BEFORE the credits roll -- dammit!
"Oh, what, at the end of the last Pirates of the Caribbean -- after the 37 minutes of credits have rolled -- it turns out Elizabeth has a son and is standing around waiting for her once-in-a-decade evening of romance with Will? No she doesn't, and no she isn't. Because the movie ended 37 minutes earlier, when the closing credits started. Whatever happens after that is just you horsin' around. Doesn't count. It's not canon. What's that you say? After the credits of X-Men: The Last Stand we learn that Dr. X is not dead after all? Huh. Interesting. You'd think an important piece of information like that would have been included in the film, not as part of the previews for the next showing to be viewed by the ushers as they're sweeping out the theater. "
Seriously, stop it.
Now for something I most earnestly, desperately desire - and a confession of deep envy for what the folks in Nashville have: The Belcourt Theatre. I got their most recent email and my heart skipped several beats just reading about how good they are at providing more than just a screen for a studio release or the newest indie trend - they've got midnight movies, weekend classics, concerts with folks like John Prine and John Hiatt, and Dan Tyminski, plus indie movies, new cult movies, old cult movies, a Werner Herzog min-fest, and even the legendary "Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation", a shot-for-shot remake by teenage film fans which took years to complete. Oh, cruel Fate, which has left this corner of the state of Tennessee without such a fine theater.
Feast your eyes and feed your head, East Tennessee, at the awesomeness which is The Belcourt.
PS: if someone wants to open such a place here in East TN, I know the very exceptional person who could operate it --- ME.
Tonight on Turner Classic Movies, a trio of Apocalypse movies will hit the airwaves, starting with a much-overlooked gem of a movie, "Five", by director Arch Oboler. His movie was the very first of the 'what would life be like after a worldwide nuclear bombardment' epics. This 1951 classic hasn't been show in a long time, and it is a fascinating and very smart film. Director Oboler filmed much of the movie inside his own house, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and makes an impressive backdrop for the story.
It inspired many other movies, including the second feature of the night, "The World, The Flesh and The Devil", which tells the story of two men, Harry Belafonte and Mel Ferrer, and one women, the beautiful Inger Stevens, who are the last three people on the planet. The third movie is the often-shown film, "On The Beach", with big-time stars like Gregory Peck, who travels the oceans via submarine after the nuclear nightmare.
But it's the first two of that trio which will make your evening and your weekend better.