Thursday, June 05, 2008


Chasing the blues away… Thanks, Don! (Let it load a little while first.)


Don Mancini said...

Just doing my part -- to lift your spirits, and to spread the word on our magnificent obsession!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Just heard from another friend who went to see Speed Racer and left after 15 minutes. [ Sigh ]

"Our magnificent obsession" is right. I'm beginning to think I know my answer (and probably yours) to question #27 on the latest quiz.

I don't know if I'll be able to get to see this brilliant movie (still the best of the year well into June) again before it leaves decent theaters completely this week, but I'm sure gonna try! Cool beans!

Anonymous said...

Best of the year?

Somebody didn't see Jumper.

Seriously, though, I think Chiwetel Eljifor, Tim Allen and David Mamet might have something to say about that.

Respect the BELT.

Though I approve of the neon levels and the Ricci, this needed way more gunfire and way less monkey.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Bandit, good to hear from you! You're working on your quiz, I presume.

As one who is not typically taken with Mamet, I am definitely down with the Redbelt. It's very near the top of my list so far.

But Jumper aside (let's put it wa-a-a-ay aside), Speed Racer has my number for sure. I cannot disagree about Ricci at all, and I find the look of movie beautiful, whereas many found it downright ugly. (Your favored blue is mixed in with a lot of other pleasing hues, for sure.) But come on, some love for young Paulie Litt as Spritle and the two fine chimps who essayed the role of his B.M.F.F. Chim-Chim, please. Litt's comic timing is superb in a role that only a few years ago would have been automatic Spencer Breslin fodder-- he and Chim-Chim are pitched to the kids, for sure, but that doesn't stop them from being funny.

outside dog said...


I thought this was gonna be some Parliament/Funkadelic clip, or at least Bootsy's Rubber Band!


Dennis Cozzalio said...

Sorry, W.A. The funk being decimated here is of the "life's-a-bummer navel-gazing" variety, not the "tear the roof off the sucker" variety. For this, exposure to Speed Racer is the perfect tonic. See this ad for further Bootsy-less illumination! (Substitute SR for Kona Shake (TM), lather, rinse, repeat.)

bill said...

Dennis, am I to take the fact that you are "down with the 'Redbelt'" to mean that you've seen and enjoyed the film??

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Hey, Bill, I was actually going to e-mail you about it, but, yes, I saw it a week ago Monday-- there'll be some mention of it in the quiz answers I'm prepping right now too.

As someone who, as you know, has had problems with past Mamet films, especially House of Games and Heist, I really dragged my heels on seeing Redbelt. But Chiwetel Ejiofor is phenomenal in this, and Mamet seems more confident than ever before as a filmmaker. Maybe it's because he's not as dependent on his typically labyrinthine plotting, but there's something about the subject matter that really gooses him into a much leaner style-- the Panavision frame is used pretty dynamically here. Of course, as usual, every minor incident, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, ends up figuring significantly into what ultimately happens, but it's not all in service, for once, to one of those double-triple-quadruple cross narratives where Nobody Can Be Trusted (TM) and Nothing Is What It Seems (TM) and eventually Nothing Really Matters Because Everyone Is Just Out For Themselves (TM).

I loved the Brazilian and Japanese influences, and my wife (who did not see it with me) says she read somewhere that the movie has some roots in Greek tragedy as well, though my collegiate scholarly days in Greek drama and mythology are far enough behind me that I'm not able to directly call up what she might be referring to. I think Bob Westal also said that it was basically Mamet's Golden Boy, which I can also see.

But I just liked how it dramatized the idea that, for Ejiofor's character (and for us all, think) our notions of honor can be coded but also easily upended-- in the end, honor is where you find it, and to achieve you may end up on an unexpected path. It's a pretty goddamn amazing movie, actually. Thanks for the recommend.

bill said...

Well I'll be damned. I don't know if you remember this, but I was actually a little mixed about "Redbelt", because I think the ending is kind of a mess. And my wife and I could not completely make sense of the plot (Roger Ebert has my back on this).

But Ejiofor IS great, and those early scenes in the school are just terrific. For me, it's kind of a strange movie. I had genuine problems with it when I left the theater, but it's taken up lodging in my head, and it won't leave. The theme of honor, and how it's presented int he film, is probably the main reason why (and, again, Ejiofor).

I'm a huge Mamet fan, but I find myself being persuaded by people such as you, and others, to think harder about this one. I was going to buy the DVD anyway, but now I'm getting impatient for it to come out.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

I think I was in just the right frame of mind for it too. I saw a 10:30 pm show on the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, just a few days before it disappeared from theaters, and there wasn't a soul but me in the auditorium. Everything converged in a ideal way to make this screening just right for me. I am still waiting on my DVD of Homicide to arrive so I can renew my experience with that movie, and I still need to see The Winslow Boy, State and Main and, yes, Spartan, but for now I can say that for me Redbelt is David Mamet's best movie as a writer-director. I eagerly await the inevitable DVD commentary, as long as it's just him and not a Mamet party with him, Ricky Jay, Rebecca Pidgeon and all the rest of the stock company liquored up and yapping over one another.

Think I'm ready for The Life Aquatic yet? :)

bill said...

Well, Ricky Jay shows up on the commentary for "House of Games", and that's a pretty good one. Mamet needs someone to talk to, I think, because he's by himself on "Edmond", and long stretches of time pass where he doesn't say anything.

I'm really glad you liked it, Dennis, even if, bizarrely, you actually liked it more than I did. If you and I ever do meet face to face, we should have movie marathon that consists of "House of Games", "Dazed and Confused", "Speed Racer" and, yes "The Life Aquatic".

Regarding that last one, yes, you're ready! You can do it! And try not to think about the fact that if you watch it again and still don't like it, I will be crushed.

Anonymous said...

I saw Speed Racer a few days ago (it just opened in Australia) and I have to agree with you Dennis; the film is incredible. The second I stepped out of the theater I burst out laughing. It's a joy to behold, emotionally direct and aesthetically beautiful. It's easily accessible (though box-office and reviews suggest otherwise...) at the same time that it tries new things with the cinematic form. It hasn't left my mind over the past three days.

I've noticed that many (spoilers here) are complaining about what they see as the 'muddled' ideology the film pushes, especially towards the conclusion (which Armond White went so far as to call devoid of 'morality', merely illustrating 'Speed seeking celebrity') but to me all of this is missing the point. I found the climax to depict a wonderful feeling of transcendence over all of the limitations of corporate interests, in which Speed drives purely 'because he's driven'. To me, that's a wonderful articulation of the spirit of channeled inspiration produces great works of art.

It opened at #6 on our charts. Tragic. Still, I get the feeling that this is a movie people will be watching many years in the future, and finding new things to love about it. Who really thinks that about, say, The Incredible Hulk?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should say "that produces great works of art".

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Anonymous: I couldn't be happier to hear about someone else who was made as happy as I was by Speed Racer. Despite the movie's commercial failure and coronation as an aesthetic disaster by everyone and his dog, the discussion continues.

And I think you put it exactly right. The way the discussion is lingering even through this summer suggests what you say is true-- that people will be talking about Speed Racer long after movies like The Hulk and Sex and the City and Indiana Jones 4 are forgotten. That's one of the reasons I stared my original piece out with the reference to my experience with Days of Thunder, because my suspicion is that time will be equally kind to Speed Racer. In this respect, it is this generation's Tron, a movie that anticipated how computers would become central to our lives at a time when the Commodore 64 was still the height of exotic technology to most consumers. Speed Racer anticipates a new way of telling stories which uses new technology to enhance old narrative forms and discover new avenues of expressing universal emotions and themes. And it's an unadulterated blast! Thanks for writing, A.gc

Greg said...

Dennis, I clicked on your "the discussion continues" links and my condolences on being the subject of a film forum. Oh man, my first was last year and I couldn't stand it. The things people say about you in those things.

I didn't like the movie (admittedly seen under very poor conditions on a computer) but I thought your write up was intelligent, thoughtful and well written. Funny how flamers on those forums never bother to go to the source to leave their comment.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Such is the buzz of Speed Racer for me, Jonathan, that despite the fact that I would love everyone to love it as much as I do, I just can't seem to get too upset about the negative reaction, especially as it pertains to my own review. Those forum guys are notoriously nasty, and they have a right to dismiss me as longwinded, but I don't take their knocks too hard when I know they're not taking anyone's point of view other than their own at all seriously.

It could've been way worse than this-- Domino Harvey: "Oh my God, I somehow read that entire ridiculous blog post. If he tried any harder, a black hole would form." That actually made me laugh! When I first got started in all this four years ago, Peet published a piece of mine at 24 Lies a Second and I got crucified by a bunch of these guys over at a Brian De Palma discussion group. It was really awful. I think from that shitty experience came a lot of my own attitude that if this blog was going to be anything, it most certainly was not going to be a podium for blowhard bastards like that to hold forth and belittle everyone who dared speak their mind.

I have regretted not being able to get back to the thread at Scanners more quickly, but I feel one more comment simmering and I'll probably head over there tomorrow morning. My week has been so brutal-- the amount of writing I've done for school, coupled with that PAYING gig, plus the post I'm trying to prepare in which I answer the quiz myself and pull my favorite responses from everyone else, has really brought the hammer down on my blogging output, as a reader and writer. But I'll get back over there soon!

Thanks for checking in and making me feel like the doors haven't completely shut over here this week!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Everyone: I'm a little late on this one, but after you check out the comment he dropped under my "Days of Speed Racer" piece, check out Chris Stangl's spirited defense of the movie entitled "Get That Weak Shit Off My Track!"-- esssential reading for the seasoned appreciator of Speed Racer! Thanks for drinking the Kool-aid too, Chris. We're in even better company now!