Monday, April 14, 2008

Speed Racer promo

I found this on David Poland's The Hog Blog, where he's been a relentless promoter of all things Wachowski for years now, even though he won't admit it.

My favorite element, which hopefully is for real, is the line "He cannot tolerate the shame of defeat". Sooooo Japanese.


K. Bowen said...

The trailer I saw of it looked pretty darn impressive.

John M said...

That's weird, cuz the trailer I saw of it looked pretty darn insufferable.

Forgive me if I don't yell hosanna for a splashy bludgeoning of a cartoon I never really cared about in the first place. (Who did? Seriously, who?)

The Wachowskis should've been forced to serve time in a federal prison for the second and third Matrix movies. They're just not good.

Jeff McMahon said...

Someone's got a case of the Mondays...

A good friend of mine worked on Speed Racer in the music department and according to him, it's good. Not mindblowing, but fun and well-made.

Matrix Revolutions I thought was pretty misconceived (ditto V for Vendetta) but I enjoyed Matrix Reloaded well enough even though it was ultimately a setup without a punchline.

John M said...

Was Matrix Reloaded the one with the Banana Republic earth-tones orgy in a cave with Laurence Fishburne screaming, "Hear me!"?

That was a silly, silly movie.

I think the Wachowskis are slightly interesting thinkers--for Hollywood hacks, anyway--but really bad directors. They approach every scene with the same dead style.

Speed Racer is closing Tribeca, which is annoying for admittedly obscure reasons--mainly, the programmers at the festival are assholes who more or less demand premieres of everything, including the littlest short. And then they close it all with something that simply doesn't need to be shown in a festival. Thank GOD we New Yorkers get the chance to see it a whole day early!

The movie looks like a supremely annoying video game, chock full of impossible camera angles and hambone acting. Ugh ugh ugh. The thought of all the middle-aged men chomping at the bit to see this movie keeps me up at night.

Jeff McMahon said...

Yeah, that was far and away the worst scene in that movie. But I don't think the Wachowskis count as 'hacks' in the traditional Richard Donner/ Brett Ratner sense of the word. You can still make an idiosyncratic, personal movie on a $150 million dollar budget, and indeed that's one of the reasons why the Matrix sequels don't work as well as they should - they're overstuffed with a lot of pseudo-mythic Joseph Campbellian stuff that was deeply meaningful to the filmmakers, but didn't translate effectively to the audience.

And John, can you reconcile 'dead style' and 'impossible camera angles' for me, or at least elaborate? I have no problem with the stylishness of the Speed Racer trailers as long as they don't go too far into the flash-cutting. Or perhaps I should just ask the really annoying question: is there a single blockbuster Summer movie you're not planning on sneering at, John? I don't mean that to be as obnoxious as it sounds.

Thanks, though, for reminding me that in 2006 David Poland lambasted the Tribeca people for including Mission Impossible 3 as one of the movies, and has had not a peep about their inclusion of a similar blockbuster this year.

john M said...

Oh, I'm very very excited for Indiana Jones.

And...yeah, maybe that's it. I want Tropic Thunder to be good, but I'm worried.

This will sound even snobbier, you populist, but if the director's not interesting, I'm not interested...if the reviews and word-of-mouth once it's come out say otherwise, maybe I'll see it. But I feel a very deep pain when sitting through a bad, loud movie. I'll never forget the hell of Matrix Reloaded and Spider-Man 3. I will never forget.

The Wachowskis shoot almost every scene the same way. If it's a conversation, then it's medium or medium-close shot-reverse-shot, if it's a solitary scene, there'll be dolly shot that moves directly in on someone, probably the HERO or VILLAIN...with our hero or villain in the center of the frame. It's not "directing,"'s trailer-making. They may push themselves technologically, but visually, they're doing the same corny stuff they've been doing since that Gina Gershon movie.

Once the action starts, then it's a bunch of "impossible" shots that can only be achieved through some sort of green-screen compositing, with remote heads and cranes that would make the Pentagon envious. Stuff that, in my opinion, belongs in animation.

And the Joseph Campbell stuff is just embarrassing at this point. All the stoner dorm-room conversations about what "real" is. They just sound like a couple bored paranoids.

But you're right, I misused "hack." They have a "hacky" style, but they're certainly making the films they want, God love 'em.

Jeff McMahon said...

Well, Speed Racer is mostly an animated movie anyway, so I don't see what the distinction is except that they know that people still prefer to see live actors with facial expressions over the blank avatars of a Zemeckis movie. But there's nothing wrong with making a movie out of 'impossible' shots. That's just showmanship. It's distracting in a Fincher movie like Panic Room that's trying to take place in an otherwise real world, but in a Wachowski movie there's not that burden.

I just want to add, John, that our discussions make me feel much better about myself when I try to tell people that something like Transformers is mostly garbage. That said, both Matrix Reloaded and Spider-Man 3 have elements that redeem them in my view.

I'm also looking forward to Indiana Jones, The Dark Knight and Wall-E, somewhat less for Iron Man and Hellboy 2, and not at all interested in Prince Caspian, X-Files, or The Happening.

john m said...

There's a new X-Files movie? Wha?

Yeah, Wall-E looks like it could be good.

Call me a schoolmarm, but I don't generally like tricked-out CGI composite crane-swoop shots in any movie. If the Wachowskis are such showmen, they might also put some effort into dramatic scenes that build, with engaging performances and visuals that might actually do something, other than tell us who's bad and who's good. And as I see it, no movie with a cave orgy scene like that can be appreciated at any level beyond kitsch.

I'm glad you felt Spider-Man 3 was redeemed by something... I thought, factoring in its embarrassingly large budget, and its "legacy" or whatever, it was a travesty. It was dog shit. I felt friends felt raped...the guy behind me felt raped...even the ten-year-olds sitting squirming in their seats for the entire, like, nine-hour running time felt raped. The entire theater was raped.

And luckily, in New York at least, there's a lot less time spent convincing people that Transformers was garbage.

And call me crazy, but I'm thirty, and I don't want to spend hours of each year watching movies made for passive, dead-eyed 12-year-olds.

Jeff McMahon said...

Yeah, there's another X-Files movie this Summer, probably not a very good idea six years after it finally trailed off into irrelevance.

As far as the rest of it goes, all I can say is this: when I go out to dinner, sometimes I'll get a steak, and sometimes I'll get broccoli beef, and sometimes I'll get a beef burrito...and sometimes I'll just have a plain old hamburger. And my enjoyment of any of those things doesn't lessen my enjoyment of any of the others. And sometimes, the hamburger is actually better than the steak, if you're actually paying attention to it.

Oh, and I think you might want to take another look at your New York/Transformers statement. I guess when you're on the subway, people are always talking about that Bresson retrospective?

John M said...

Well, first thing, you should get your colon checked. That's a lot of red meat.

Secondly, no, I haven't discussed Transformers with people on the subway, just as you haven't discussed it with people on...LA's...mass...transit...

Anyway, friends and peers here, people in the film world, most of them I'd wager never saw Transformers. I don't think it's a reach to say that. Sure, tons of New Yorkers saw it, but very very few people I've talked to did...and the ones who did, didn't like it.

We can have this argument now or later, but believe me, after years of research, I've come to the conclusion that Los Angeles is, in fact, dumber.