Archive for the ‘Speed Racer’ Tag

[50/50] New Fall Schedule for JPTV

Monday, September 30th, 2013

cbs_logoI watched too much television growing up. My dad always warned us that if we didn’t stop, we’d turn into one giant eye — like the CBS logo. And he was right. TV is a drug, a powerful narcotic, and I was an addict. I wasted many many hours on really stupid shows, hours that I wish I had back now to waste on something important.

That said, there was one thing I loved about television, and that was the strange modern custom American networks developed around the launch of the fall season. The TV Guide preview, the annual handicapping of new shows, the ritual sacrifice of the first cancellation. Even if I didn’t watch all the shows (and you couldn’t back then), I loved looking at the programming grid.

Head over to wikipedia and check out the grids for every TV season back to 1946: it is a fascinating time capsule, especially when it comes to shows, concepts and entire networks you’ve probably never heard of (Rhumba dancing in prime time! Something called the DuMont Network!)

It wasn’t just me — there were actually several different board games in the ’60s and early ’70s where players would compete against each other in creating successful programming lineups for fictional networks.

While I generally agree with Marshall McLuhan’s famous assessment of TV, there are a few shows I could watch again (and again in summer repeats) that I have fond memories of, or are just truly great on a literary, cultural or entertaining level. So with that in mind, I give you the perfect Fall Schedule for JPTV.

TV grid

[click on grid to enbiggen]

[50/50] Genre Movie #14: “Speed Racer”

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Genre Movie #14: “Speed Racer” (2008)

speedracerThere was a time when “The Matrix” absolutely would have been on this list. It is still a great movie, but the Wachowski Brothers’ two interminable and pointless sequels dissipated its cred. But I had to include a Wachowski Bros. movie in the countdown: in spite of an uneven career, and their tendency toward ever more ponderous and pretentious scripts, there is no doubting the two filmmaker’s imagination and visual daring.

This was never more clear than in their long-awaited, live-action, big-screen version of “Speed Racer,” the famous 1960s cartoon that helped kick off the Japanimation (later anime) craze in the State. While the movie bombed at the box office — by one measure, the 10th biggest loser in history — “Speed Racer” did not fail because of lack of ambition or love of the source material. It certainly didn’t fail visually, as it is one of the most eye-popping, stunningly designed, densely packed action flicks of the last decade.

There are a lot of reasons why “Speed Racer” didn’t do well (my two reviews of it are still online), not the least of which it didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be — too political to be a kid flick, too cartoonish to be taken seriously by adults — followed by a disastrous, misdirected marketing campaign. (It was also filmed and edited during the most stressful time of the brother’s life, when Larry Wachowski underwent a sex change operation and became Lana. So, clearly they were distracted.) It is, in the end, simply put, too long; if ever a movie could benefit from a Phantom Edit cut, it is this one.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching, just that it can be challenging to watch. In the intervening years, the movie has developed a cult following, especially over at io9; and on my other blog, I spent the some months breaking down all the car designs in the film. Turns out there were a lot.

(And how Christina Ricci’s Trixie avoided becoming a gay icon, I’ll never understand. I mean, my god, just look at her.0516f_trixie)

Bonus entertainment round, for those who made it to the end of this entry! A few years ago, when Inception mashups were all the rage on You Tube, I realized there wasn’t one for Speed Racer. That has since been rectified: