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May 20, 2008

More on Movies

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Here's another visit with Marcia and Lorenzo, YouTube's cranky, smart, and amusing Reel Geezers.

* Jon Hastings writes that "Speed Racer" doesn't deserve its bad reviews.

* Patrick Goldstein thinks that Pacino and De Niro are disgracing themselves.

* TUAW interviews Dennis Liu, the young filmmaker who made that OSX-besotted music video I linked to a while back. The facts that interested me most: It took Liu a month to plot out the vid; three months to execute it; and it cost him $100.

* David Chute provides a funny look at "geeksmanship."

* MBlowhard Rewind: I tried to figure out why Spy Mom Carla Gugino isn't a huge star.



posted by Michael at May 20, 2008


In the past five or ten years Al Pacino's given us Roy Cohn and Shylock and Chinese Coffee and Salome onstage so he's got nothing to feel bad about. Even in commercial stuff like Two For The Money he more than earns his pay. To accuse an actor in his sixties who's nailed at least half a dozen great performances on film and on television and on stage of coasting let alone "disgracing himself" is quite simply preposterous.

Now DeNiro on the other hand... yeah, pretty much.

Posted by: Brian on May 20, 2008 4:08 AM

That's a great sexy title for Carla Gugino; Spy Mom. I wish she were the main charachter more often in her movies. The only reason why I would ever see Sin City is to see her in it. I also love those ReelGeezers. I was watching all of their videos last night and cracking up, because they were so right on the money about the movies they were talking about; it was almost like a shock to the system considering that the two thumbs up show is so full of compromizes in opinions. The ReelGeezers would give Roeper a good smacking.

Posted by: David Brown on May 20, 2008 8:26 AM

"Speed Racer" stinks on ice. Jon Hastings didn't write that it was a good movie, just that he thought it was interesting as an example of the evolution of film-making techniques. You mislead by writing that the film doesn't deserve bad reviews.

I sort of agree with Hastings, though I won't pretend to his level of knowledge or sophistication. I can imagine other filmmakers drawing on some of the ways CGI was used and blended with live action in Speed Racer to make much better movies.

However, Speed Racer itself is a failure as an entertainment. It is violent and intermittently-busy but still remarkably boring. It has only two interesting parts: the initial classroom dream sequence, and the Speed-Meets-Trixie sequence. Otherwise it consists of a few car-racing sequences having less appeal than an old Saturday-morning TV commercial for Mattel Hot Wheels toys, dispersed in long, dull psychobabble ruminations (more speeches from Morpheus?) interrupted by scenes of violence drawn from the old Batman TV series but with PG-13 nastiness in lieu of Biff! Baff! Sock! The billionaire's plant tour seems to be a direct ripoff from Robin William's terminally-dull 1992 "Toys." The racing sequences induce foot-tapping and watch-checking because they are so insincere-- the cars spin and slew all the time for no apparent reason--they don't appear to be racing. Roger Allam does a bang-up job moving from jovial to snarling as the bad guy but his performance is wasted delivering lines so dull they might have been penned by George Lucas.

Worst of all, the whole monstrous-conspiracy of evil giant corporations to fake everything in racing (once again, a lame derivative of the antagonist from The Matrix) device utterly destroys the viewer's empathy with the main character's motivation: racing. How can Speed and Pops be the only racers in existence who don't know that it's all rigged? And if it's all rigged, what's the point of participating?

Of course a protagonist needs an antagonist, and it would be too much to ask Hollywood to come up with any villain other than an evil corporate boss. But the movie would be more interesting with a smaller-scale bad guy; you know, a villain who doesn't control the entire world already-- so the good guys and the bad guys could actually contend for a prize both want.

As an adult, I was surprised and disappointed that the film felt like a collage made from parts of recent film failures (Matrix Retreaded parts 1..N, V for Vendetta, Toys, Attack of the Clones) run through a CGI blender

I took two kids to see the Speed Racer movie. Both are fans of the animated Speed Racer (on DVD-- the finest invention of the late 20th Century). Both agreed that (a) the movie was both dull and unpleasant, and (b) that it would have been more interesting if the filmmakers had just updated one of the cartoon scripts!

Posted by: Vercingetorix on May 20, 2008 2:05 PM

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