Thursday, May 22, 2008

cartoon violence

Jude and Dana, my little creations for Citywalk, discuss violence & peace in their latest adventure.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

speedracer: movie review

What do car races, ninja fights, monkeys, and a funny fat kid have in common? They're all the best parts of the best movie I've seen so far this year.

A few weeks ago I scored free tickets to an advance screening of the new film Speed Racer, which opens this Friday. It showed last night and there were probably a little over 200 people in attendance here in San Diego. Which makes for great buzz & energy, especially when the crowd is comprised almost exclusively of people who are REALLY excited to be there. I love it when an audience erupts into spontaneous applause and cheers at the cinema, which is exactly what happened when the lights began to dim.

I was never a Speed Racer fan growing up for the simple reason that I never had the opportunity to watch it. So I didn't have a lot invested in this movie except for the fact that Christina Ricci is one of my top 5 favorite actresses working today. Also, while I was a huge fan of the The Matrix, its sequels left me disappointed. So you could say my expectations were just average for this new film from the Wachowski brothers.

Boy, was I in for a treat. First of all, the Wachowskis were very smart to make their first writing/directing post-Matrix effort in a polar-opposite genre from the R-rated Matrix trilogy. Because those films are so iconic, they really needed to work with very different subject matter in order to avoid comparisons and break the mold once again. And break the mold they did!

Speed Racer is unlike anything I've seen on the big screen before. The sensation is similar to what you may have felt during last year's Beowulf if it was your first 3-D feature film experience (as it was mine). But the Wachowskis achieve their adrenaline rush without asking their audience to don a pair of 3-D glasses. Visually, this movie is just as groundbreaking as were The Matrix and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in their day. The unrelenting bold colors fly across the screen and help to transport us to Speed's (Emile Hirsch) world, which is quite a virtual feat and spans the globe, from futuristic cities with hovercrafts and brilliantly-designed skyscrapers, to icy mountain slopes, to desert dunes - even the suburbs look exciting through the Wachowskis' eyes. And the races are amazing. You'll certainly see some of the same slow-motion tricks made famous by Neo and Trinity in 1999, but the brothers have taken their game to a whole new level here. My favorite was seeing the cars flip 360 degrees - sideways - and land on the other side of the track without losing a bit of speed.

But effects and bombast aren't the only reason to see this movie. It has great characters, humor, and heart. Andy & Larry even manage to eek out a relevant critique of corporate sponsorship burying the heart and soul of what makes racing (or any sport or human creative outlet) great. The stylized performances of the cast, who are all at the very top of their game, make for great viewing. Christina Ricci plays Trixie, Speed's girlfriend and air traffic controller, with spunk, spark, and sass, using her trademark big eyes to liven up the screen. John Goodman and Susan Sarandon, as Mom & Pop Racer, are pitch-perfect as a type of 50's-era squeaky clean parents while still giving the story, and Speed, the heart it needs to make this film more than just eye candy. And let's not forget to mention Paulie Litowsky, who plays Speed's younger brother Spritle, and his companion Chim Chim the Chimpanzee, who effortlessly provide the best laughs of the movie.

Not yet having made it to Iron Man, this was a great way to kick off the summer blockbusters of 2008. If you're still not convinced, all I have left to say is... go, go!

Monday, May 05, 2008

child, these are the days

A new song, with a prologue of useless chatter about the Padres, Simon Cowell, and my best friend and border collie, Winslow. Winslow, whom I love. (Song lyrics below.)

She keep her distance from strangers
Keep her eyes closed to block out the dangers
She should fight tooth and nail
To see truth prevail
These are the words that they told her
With the salvation they sold her
No refunds and no exchanges
This is how the game is played

These are the days child
When the whole world conspires
To steal away your innocence and freedom
These are the days child
When the whole world is wild
So heaven help us if we cannot beat them

She remembers a day when
They shut the door and wouldn't let her in
It was dark outside, but even still
The florescent lighting had lost its appeal
'Cause when the Bible is your congressman
Freedom is a work of fiction
But when you're fed, who would contest
That these days, child, are the best of the best?

Child, tell me are you sedated
Sucking the nectar of things you hated
For so long now, have you lost your taste
For anything real, has it been replaced?