Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Movie Review: Speed Racer

This weekend, Gina and I were discussing movies that do – and don’t – translate well to the cinematic medium. Throughout the night, we discussed the good (Hellboy, Casshern), the bad (Dune [take your pick], Ghost World), the ugly (Spawn, Troy), and the resounding (the Narnia and Lord of the Rings series). I had admitted a secret to her – it involved Dune – and we wandered down the path of writers and directors being into the movies they translate and how important it is for them to really dedicate the passion and adoration necessary to make a beautiful piece of work.

Speed Racer was one of those movies.

Yeah, I just compared Speed Racer to the Lord of the Rings. I went there. I called Speed Racer a motherfucking masterpiece. And I believe it with every fiber of my GO-MACH-GO-loving being.

It was the perfect homage to the cartoon. It had all of the kitschy elements of that darling classic: you had Spritle and Chim Chim, surprisingly not as annoying as you would imagine…in fact, they were refreshingly adorable, and while they did still have their random interludes (not as random as, say, driving through the countryside in top hats and monocles), they were funny and cute. I wasn’t sure why Sparky had an Australian accent, but the Racer parents were perfectly portrayed by Susan Sarandon and John Goodman. Speed and Trixie – I can’t even say enough about those two and how amazing they were. And don’t even get me started on Racer X. I would have paid the admission price alone to see Matthew Fox run around in black leather, which he does throughout the entire movie, except one scene in which he is FIGHTING IN HIS BOXERS. As Trixie says, “Hubba hubba!”

The acting was refreshing and the dialogue was a devoted tribute. With every scene, you can see how much everyone loved this movie – the writers and the actors. I had goose bumps for the first 20 minutes, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Speed’s mom told him how he “took her breath away” with his driving. And I’ll admit, when I saw the trailer, I thought the racing scenes were going to be over-the-top ridiculous, but when we went to see it again last night, I found myself looking forward to each of the races, and cheering Speed on.

If you liked the cartoon, there’s even more in store for you. The attention – and dedication – to detail was startling. The first announcer in the movie was the original voice for Speed in the English-dubbed cartoon. There’s a scene with a James Bond movie playing in the background. Cruncher Block has pet piranhas…in what appears to be a nod to the Mammoth Car. And a very enthusiastic high five to anyone who can spot the Tatsunoko logo in the movie! (Thanks, Gina!)

I can’t say enough good things about this movie – nor can I express how shocked I am that it’s getting destroyed by critics. The affection with which this movie was written, cast, and created takes my breath away. I haven’t been this excited about a movie since – holy shit, I’m going to fucking say it – Fight Club.

Go see it. Now. You can thank me later.


Gina's comment was so awesome that I felt the need to add it here for all to see:

"This movie...what else can I say about it? Sigh. Imagine all the characters from the cartoon. Got that picture? Ok. Then imagine them as having fully fleshed-out, multi-dimensional personalities and feelings. Then imagine those personalities and feelings of real people interacting with each other, loving each other, working through grief, fighting injustice. Pretty fucking awesome. The depth of these characters was, quite frankly, breathtaking. Especially given what they had to work with from the original. Then imagine Matthew Fox in his underwear with a silk drape artfully wrapped around his mouth, fighting ninjas. Sweet Christ, it was like Hanzo Hattori meets Playgirl.... Worth the $10 ticket price alone."

She's absolutely right - especially about Hirsch's portrayal of Speed. His innocence and naive simplicity - not to be confused with stupidity! - are truly like the cartoon character come to life.

Go, Speed, Go!

and for those of you who need more persuasion...HOTNESS:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Movie Review: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Sometimes things happen and you regret them later. Maybe you put too much sugar in your coffee, or performed some heavy flirting with a married guy, or pushed someone down a flight of stairs. Either way, there are things that happen that make you think to yourself, “I really wish I had a time machine right now.”

That’s the situation I’m currently in.

I was in the Superfresh a few weeks ago – the classy one down on South Street – and this obnoxious scene-tard was going on and on about movies while standing by the Redbox. “Oh, this is the BEST MOVIE I’ve seen in a LONG time,” he said, waving around a copy of Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. I took it as some kind of dare, and rented it. If I had a time machine right now, I would go back in time and tell him his taste in movies sucks, because yeah, I got to see Marisa Tomei’s boobs, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is basically awesome in everything he’s ever been in (Happiness, anyone?), but that’s about all that was worth seeing in it, and it could have been compressed down to about an hour and a half or less.

(See? I’m not always happy with a longer movie. Take that, people who don’t agree with me that I Am Legend would have been better if it was longer and, you know, more coherent.)

Anyway, the movie wasn’t worth watching, that guy in Superfresh is a toolbox, and my coffee is way too sweet. But I’m seeing Matthew Fox in black leather tomorrow, so I don’t have a care in the world.