A young driver, Speed Racer, aspires to be champion of the racing world with the help of his family and his high-tech Mach 5 automobile.A young driver, Speed Racer, aspires to be champion of the racing world with the help of his family and his high-tech Mach 5 automobile.A young driver, Speed Racer, aspires to be champion of the racing world with the help of his family and his high-tech Mach 5 automobile.
Sure, the story is silly and there are the requisite two lessons for children. All the shots with the parents could have been replaced with a dialog card so far as I care. But this is highly cinematic in a fine-grained sense.
Coursegrained long form would be the cinematic values of that Peter Greenaway film, where the narrative has substance and is cast cinematically. The contrast is shocking, with this Wachowski business seeming to be mere busy style.
But look again. There's real value in how the story is told even though the story is as close to vacuous white noise as possible. In fact, there's a statement there that matters. This movie is about movie-making. The watchers of the "race" are watchers of the movie. Its a simple fold.
I consider this the best of the brothers' films because their sometimes intriguing plots distract from their deeper intent. That intent is to visually explore what it means to watch. Sure, those plots are about watching as well. But people watch "The Matrix" and build religions around the story mechanics as if they matter. Previously, "Bound" was my favorite Wachowski film because it suppressed the noise of the story so as to equal the expression of that story in terms of the eye, the desire of eye.
These folks are to Welles as Coltrane is to Getz. They run riffs whose patterns are derived from the languid, meaningfilled studies of what went before, but which are presented so quickly you cannot possibly comprehend the fullness with which they were originally loaded.
That overloading of serious visual grammar has an immediate effect: that we are really there instead of digesting something filtered to be simple enough for us to understand. But there's a deeper effect: there is so much motion here, so many paths we can choose from to decide what we see, that there's a sort of tease between the film and our mind about what options they will present and what tricks they will use to suggest paths to comprehension. And on our part to discard, to race ahead of the track suggested, to speed ahead and get to the end before even the movie.
I consider this serious work, and an advance in film grammar that possibly will be profound.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
- May 10, 2008