Synopsis: It’s an adaptations of the kids show Speed Racer, by the duo who did The Matrix. An arthouse kids film.
Who Should Watch This: People who are tired of sameness in Hollywood films, and want to see something really wild and different.
Things to Look For:
- That editing.
- Seriously, that editing.
Speed Racer (2008) is an arthouse kids film. Read that again, it’ll make more sense each time.
I was inspired to suggest this one, after seeing it come up in a recent video essay mentioning. Multiple film friends of mine have cited this film as one to come back to. Yet because it’s a “kids film” and was commercially unsucessful, people haven’t appreciated the wildness of it’s style.
Speed Racer is an example of how box office doesn’t always correlate to merit. Matrix Reloaded was one of the most finiaincially successful Wachowski films, while Speed Racer was a flop. Wrap your brain around that. Yet, Speed Racer is the one that people keep coming back to and feel the need to write about.
I suspect part of the issue was marketing. Supposedly, this film is targeted towards kids, yet in one scene a character curses and it’s bleeped out. Is that a kids film trope? There are a lot of scenes and style choices that seem targeted towards adults. What this does share with kids films is a very simple story, direct characters, and bright colors.
One thing kids films often share is a lack of subtext. Adults understand that people often lie, say things they don’t mean, and have motivations that are hidden from their peers. In kids films, even when a character lies, it’s very clearly indicated to the young audience. They might even look away from the other characters and say something about what they’re doing. This film takes that stylistic choice to it’s locigal conclusion with every stylistic choice pushed to the max.
Even though this has the trappings of a kids film, I’m not sure it’s actually for children. But then again – why shouldn’t a kids film be as ground-breaking and stylized as any other film? If I was an overactive hyper kid, I’d probably think this movie was the coolest.
I mean, it’s a film about an overactive kid with an autistic special interest in his artform, that itself pushes the limits of it’s own artform, with a message that love of the artform is more important to than the business and politics around it. Kind of fitting that it’d make bold choices that didn’t lead to finiancial sucess, but pushed the medium forward.
Speed Racer treats shots not as individual edits, but as elements to arrange in the timeline. It’s hard to tell where one shot begins and another ends, because green screen shots pass across the screen wiping between them. Even if you find it a bit much, if you’re interested in film as a medium, this is one you should check out.
Also – weird aside – is it just me or does the plot here have some similiarities to last weeks recommendation, Thief (1981)? A master of his artform has a powerful man demand he work for him, or have everything taken from him. Seems to be one of those universal stories, played through many artforms and mediums.
- Watch Speed Racer (2008)
Previous Movie Reocommendation: Thief (1981)