he's busy revvin' up the powerful blog 5: speed racer, lynch, mister foe

Christina Ricci's on the lookout for Dex's new reviews.

Speed Racer (2008) - With the massive success of the (possibly ripped-off) spacey-sci-fi-martial-arts trilogy of The Matrix and producing a super-slick but essentially slight adaptation of Alan Moore's V for Vendetta (2006) (which gave us all the opportunity to hear Natalie Portman ask for tea and toast in an English accent...okay, gave me the opportunity to hear Natalie Portman ask for tea and toast in an English accent), one would think the Wachowski Brothers made an apparent turn away from attempting their previous serio-cinematic poses with this year's Speed Racer.

At least, one would think so: relentlessly grim and curiously uncinematic, Speed Racer is miles away from the kind of light-hearted fun that characterized the cartoon, and Emile Hirsch's brooding, boring Speed (closer to Keanu Reeves' channeling of the One than anything like a wide-eyed manga hero) is hardly the kind of main character kids (who I have to assume to be the film's intended audience) could possibly glom onto. Indeed, Speed Racer - with the obligatory, FX-amped kung-fu fight, jibber jabber about all-powerful corporate conglermates controlling the racing public's perception of reality, and pseudo-philosophical claptrap about breaking on through to the other side - is little more than a hodge podge of Matrix themes, sans the sleek Carrie Ann Moss' cat suits. Aside from the flash and bang of the races - which, to be fair, weren't really represented all that well on my tiny little Daewoo teevee - there isn't anything to recommend Speed Racer to anyone except die-hard Wachowski-heads who still mull over the restaurant scenes in Reloaded, and people (like me) who dig staring at Christina Ricci.

Lynch (2007) - A delicious slice of cherry pie from a member of David Lynch's production team offered to his boss, one of America's most important and cherished directorial talents, the eponymous doc tracks him through the preproduction and filming of the demon-to-some-angel-to-others Inland Empire (2006). Despite his willingness to discuss his artistic process in print and the overall openness of his smiling, shucky-darns-Montana-boy-made-good-persona, David Lynch - and to a much larger degree, his work, especially the aforementioned film - remain impenetrable to easy analysis, no doubt part of his appeal. Lynch takes some steps to rectifying that, or at least, how we might think of David-Lynch-the-director, who comes across (surprisingly) as salty and intense, but possessing a (not-so-surprisingly) sensitivity to and rapport with his actors and actresses like Laura Dern (who he cusses at, banters with, and lovingly calls "Bit").

Mister Foe ("Hallam Foe") (2008) - David McKenzie's latest is an often entertaining piece of twisted sex and Oedipal yearning wrapped around a coming-of-age tale in the tradition of British kitchen sink dramas, following a charmingly deranged Hallam Foe (Jamie Foster) who alternately lusts after and mourns his recently departed mother, peeping in on his stepmother or flirting heavily with his sister to stave off his morbid obsessions. Young Foe, after somehow managing to lose his virginity in his childhood treehouse (whoop! whoop! Freud alert!) to his father's slinky, ice-queen wife (Claire Forlani), flees his country home for Glasgow where - surprise surprise - he meets and falls for his mom's doppelganger, the too-sexy-by-a-mile (and former girlfriend to the 10th Doctor Who) Sophia Myles. Soon Young Hallam spends his days washing dishes in the hotel his not-mom works at and nights scampering up the side of her apartment building to look in on her fuck a married co-worker or cut her toenails. When Hallam manages to bed his fantasy girl/mom, he realizes there's a choice to be made - negotiate the urges attending real love and real life or continue (literally) hiding in the folds of his dead mom's dress and the sensual comforts of a childhood he won't let go of.

Somewhat like the culty Ewan MacGregor vehicle Young Adam Mckenzie helmed back in '03, (which, like Foe, also featured a couple of uniquely attractive English actresses - Emily Mortimer and Tilda Swinton - in various stages of brutal intimacy with the leading man), much of what Mister Foe has to say about relationshps isn't very nice (or realistic, depending on your own POV), and it doesn't nail the dark, closing-time-thoughtfulness of the MacGregor-Mortimer-Swinton flick (though that's probably the point). At any rate, Mister Foe's so skillfully rendered by MacKenzie and Co. that you not only find yourself in league with Hallam, despite the fact that he's almost completely out of his mind, but even when, at some point, you realize that so much of the movie could be interpreted as a series of episodes of post-adolescent wish fulfillment strung together. But it's got a great soundtrack, so fuck it (no pun intended).

(Okay, yes, I totally did intend that pun. Sorry.)

No comments: