Tag Archives: Andy Wachowski

Speed Racer (2008)

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To make a kid’s movie that isn’t just a kid’s movie, you have to establish a balance between the simple stuff that appeals to kids on an instinctual level, and the more complex, allegorical stuff that parents want their kids to see. Speed Racer is a boisterous example of this, coupling a potent visual experience with themes of family and honor. At the film’s heart is Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch), a once-in-a-generation driver whose love of the sport is matched only by a steadfast devotion to family. When his roots put him at odds with a corrupt sponsor (Roger Allam), Speed is forced to defy his father (John Goodman) and follow in the footsteps of his disreputable older brother (Scott Porter), threatening his own standing in a series of dangerous, underground races. Along with most of the film’s race sequences, these less-than scrupulous events provide the film’s most exciting moments, and reveal the Wachowskis as not just dynamic, but remarkably efficient filmmakers.

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Watch it with kids or don’t, but understand that Speed Racer was created with them in mind. It’s a film with a heart, and a lesson: through anything and everything, your family will be there for you, and you must be there for them.

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Cloud Atlas (2012)

People don’t tend to like it much when you wear your heart on your sleeve. This isn’t universally true, but seems to be a relatively persistent trend in modern culture. Pessimism is easier than optimism, and there’s something admittedly thrilling about a blasé cynic, which for me explains the tepid response to Cloud Atlas, an epic adaptation with three directors and a hearty interest in the workings of the heart. That’s not to say there aren’t valid criticisms to be made about Cloud Atlas, or that the general ambivalence around the film is coming exclusively from the heartless. But there’s a common refrain in these assessments—“It just didn’t work for me.”—that reveals a structural weakness: intellectual critiques of sentiment are inherently weak, because sentiment is not an intellectual mechanism. Whether or not you respond to it isn’t a a matter of what you think, but what you truly feel, and post-Cloud Atlas, I felt a great deal.

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