by Ryland Walker Knight (and Rob Humanick)
Over on that surprising trap we've all embraced (for the most part; against better judgment), I wrote a "status update" that went like this: "-- how about this: _Speed Racer_ kinda makes me weepy. Were it not for that fucking Spencer Breslin shit and his chimp-kick, it would verge on great." The ensuing exchange with colleague-buddy Rob Humanick (via "comments" upon this "status"), makes me realize I definitely think this thing is assuredly great, precisely because it is complicated and problematic and weird and absurdly uneven--and beautiful to behold. Here 'tis:
Rob: I'm still working on my thoughts for a piece at The House, but I'd absolutely call it great. I look at Spritle and Chim-Chim as surrogates for the Wachowski's; themselves two kids of crazy antics, absorbed in their own fantasy-land, sometimes annoying (like when Racer X comes to their home -- eesh), but absolutely necessary. And 4 times out of 5, I think they're hilarious.
Seriously: one of the best "kids" films ever. Years from now it'll be appreciating. And I'm downright sick of the shallow write-offs given to the cast. Can we please stop reviewing Episode I, people?
That whole climax is incredible, no doubt. I can't understand why more critics aren't behind this as a beautiful meditation on the role of the artist in society. It's completely personal, and, equally important, free of irony.
Ryland: yup yup. the climax MOVES me.
I dig that reading of the idiots (their LOOK MA stands out against the --blank slate-- of everything/everyone else) but I still can't shake my irritation at their hot air. There's too much. And when you've got so much other great stuff -- so much BEAUTY -- it's hard to be generous to that kind of jumping up and down. If anything, and this is something, I'm certain: they're fucking weird. And weird here is good. Great, even. Spin me, spiral of light!
Rob: It really is videogaming technology used in service of art. And that last shot of the Mach 5's melting wheel is worthy of Cronenberg. My interpretation of his ridiculously wonderful front-tip balancing act post-Beyond the Infinite final lap cum victory, is that the artist is signing his work. And that swirling shot of the car spinning as if on a tie-die canvas.
My favorite quote about the actor who plays Spritle is that he's a 40 year old trapped in a 10 year olds body. Totally weird. Papa Racer says it best: "You're too *pale*!"
Ryland: Yea, that pirouette is another trace Speed leaves on the track (on life!), and that drip is his joy come and spent, another mark left. It's the flash of success that wakes him. Success, of course, being his route to making the world's passage a little easier--if only for the moment. And what a moment! All those pinpoints reflecting, all those bulbs burning. I like to think of the flash as always single use, a tiny life begun and ended in an instant. All those lives out there looking to be lifted!
SO, when the idiots interrupt our revelation, I cannot take it. I revolt. Lemme get consummation! I guess that's the point, tho, right? It's a "kid" movie after all.
Then again, this makes me weepy too: Daney on Garrel.