Monday, August 31, 2009

Funny how? Some more quick thoughts.

I wish that I could pinpoint what it is about Scorcese's films that keep me at a distance. I can't figure it out. Goodfellas is what it is, an elephant in the room, but I've never been a big fan. Joe Pesci (and the character written for him) is the best part of the movie. Otherwise, I guess that I can value the film for showcasing "wiseguy" glamour, the sole driving force behind America's gangster fetishism. The gangster life is about self-interest. Henry is a gangster because it's a life with benefits, but he's quick to dump the lifestyle when it doesn't benefit him any longer. Henry rats on his "friends" to save himself, but he's clear-headed enough to readily admit to missing the lifestyle he's leaving behind. There is no moral conversion, only self-interest to the end.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is pretty clearly a revenge-themed exploitation picture, so, by all accounts, Tarantino has succeeded admirably in making exactly what he set out to make, trimming away all excess and giving us nothing but pure revenge exacted. I'm sorry that I don't care. It's too bad that Tarantino sets the bar so low for himself, but he seems to be having a grand old time wallowing in the muck. Tarantino knows more about bad 1970s films than I know about anything. I respect that. I just can't share his enthusiasm.

I watched Adventureland for a 4th time now that it's out on DVD. It still holds up, but I know that I'm now done with the movie, having mostly exhausted what it has to offer. I love the perfect evocation of time and place and friendship and community that Mottola conjures throughout, but I think that there are problems with the story; each element falling too neatly into place to further a plot, creating a deterministic atmosphere at times instead of a spontaneous lived one. Then again, I don't know if Mottola expected anyone to be watching the film four times in four months and thinking about it so much. There's nothing in Adventureland that has any exact correlation to anything from my youth, but the tone is so right that watching the movie felt like hanging out with old friends.

Last night, I had the incredible joy of taking my daughter to work with me. The work being my volunteer usher job at Cornell! We watched Up for a second time and I can say that I was completely enthralled, enjoying it much more this second viewing. It's definitely one of the best films of the year so far.

Clean was further proof to me that Olivier Assayas is someone to watch, though I suppose that now I need to watch Demonlover or Boarding Gate to discover Assayas' exploitative streak. Clean features a good script and great performances that seem to come alive effortlessly through Assayas's direction. I especially loved the Nick Nolte character and his grizzled grace. Maggie Cheung could be one of the greatest female actors of recent memory. At least, her work with Wong and Assayas hint at the possibility. The musicians featured in the movie also seem to be here organically, in a much more realistic feeling way than Rachel Getting Married's wedding jam from last year. Anyhow, good stuff worth checking out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.

Dawn of the Dead is the best zombie movie that I’ve ever seen!

That’s not saying much since the only other zombie film that I can remember seeing (I don’t count 28 Days Later or I am Legend as real zombie films) is Romero’s first zombie film, The Night of the Living Dead, which is also quite good.

Dawn is a sequel to Night, exploring some of the wider implications of what a zombie infested world would look like. That last sentence might sound ridiculous, but I don’t think so. The hungry Undead may seem like a stupid starting point for any film, easily sliding into schlock, but Romero mostly plays it straight, working in a plausible science fantasy context. One only needs to be willing to suspend disbelief and accept the film’s basic premise.

When hell is full, the dead will walk the earth.

There is a lot of humor and subtle satire amidst the horror, but Romero never loses his way by veering into Exploitation or Camp. He walks a fine line between the two, ultimately making what I can’t help but think is a genuinely moving, lyrical film. It’s not Days of Heaven by any means, but there is a poetic rhythm in much of the visual imagery and in the film’s relatively slow pacing, allowing characters to reveal themselves properly, all in good time. The story, as silly as it could have been, is firmly grounded in real human persons with recognizable human emotions.

My favorite scene is almost an aside, a brief look at some “good ol’ boys” enjoying the hell out of zombie hunting. Zombie infestation as Redneck wet dream rings hilariously true, but Romero shows us this in a really respectful manner. It’s a compliment of sorts to country boys to portray them as not only capable of dealing with any manner of vermin, but to be able to blissfully enjoy themselves while citified folk are running scared, trying to make existential sense of the situation, and generally being eaten alive.

The mall setting obviously allows for lots of little jabs at consumer culture, but I think that even here Romero is subtle and tastefully refrained instead of wild and bombastic in his critiques.

The most beautiful shot is of two of our heroes, “Flyboy” and Francine, in bed after having a rare date at one of the mall’s restaurants. The scene in the restaurant shows us two people trying to enjoy something normal after experiencing so much trauma. The shot immediately following this scene is a long shot of the couple in bed, him laying down on his side, sleeping, and her, sitting up and staring blankly. What can safely be assumed to be a post-coital moment is revealed as a moment of spiritual devastation rather than something exultant and hopeful, reminding me most of Haneke’s The Seventh Continent. It’s hard not to be an acting nihilist when the dead are walking the earth.

The film ends on a note of hesitant hope even though the likely conclusion should the story continue for another hour is that the helicopter runs out of gas and our remaining two protagonists are eaten alive by zombies wherever they land. The ending is perfect, but slightly marred by a strange “action hero” style sequence involving one of the characters deciding not to leave on the helicopter only to change his mind, fight off a dozen zombies, then reach the helicopter at the very last minute. The music (generally good throughout) is here like something straight out of the A-Team and it just feels odd. I’m not sure what to make of this last 5 minutes or so.

Dawn of the Dead really caught me by surprise. Now I’m really looking forward to the next four movies in this mini-horror-movie-marathon. Thank you Allos for getting me started along this trail of dead and undead.

Monday, August 24, 2009


By 1999, I was pretty solidly a cinema addict. Spring 1999 was the semester I took Art & History of Film with Murph, easily the best class I've ever taken. I was "forced" to watch about 40 classic films, a few of which I'd seen already, most of which I hadn't. I had access to the entire Houghton film library and watched plenty of other classics on my own time. I discovered Tarkovsky! Herzog! Kurosawa! So many other international masters. In 1999, I was also surrounded by other cinephiles. Ben Gallman was religiously taping films off of TCM. Joseph Lewis! Nicholas Ray! Raoul Walsh! Dan Krawiec was encouraging me to geek out with top 10 lists. 1999 is the last year that I remember making a top ten list before this year.

1999 was the culmination of my previous 20 years of loving movies passionately, but mostly ignorantly. I learned just how stupid I was and that felt liberating. I wasn't a know-it-all anymore; I was a little baby soaking up new knowledge.

As a child, my parents took my younger sister and I out to the cinema nearly every week. Sunday afternoons were glorious as they were filled with moving images and buckets of popcorn. Looking back now, I realize how lucky I was and how formative all of those trips were, whether I remember all of the individual movies or not.

Through high school and college, I continued to go to the movies almost weekly, except that, more often than not, I was going with my buddies instead of my parents.

By 1999, I was in the habit of watching a LOT of movies. I count that I saw over 80 films from 1999, the large majority of which I saw in a theater somewhere in 1999 and the rest almost immediately upon release to VHS/DVD.

I'm stressing all of this because 1999 also marked an end of sorts. 2000 was when I lived in London and I was usually watching at least 1 or 2 films a week at various cinemas, but, looking back now, I've forgotten most of what I've seen there and it turns out that I didn't actually see all that much that was released in 2000. After 2000, I entered a sort of Cinema Dark Age in which I watched much less of what was new and current. Getting married and having children slowed me down, but I was also less than thrilled by what was coming out at the time. Netflix wasn't around yet and it was difficult to find good foreign or Independent films in Binghamton at the time and I insist that most of what was available at the Multiplexes was pretty bad. As I make lists for the last decade, it will quickly become apparent that I'm not all that big a fan of the last decade.

But, there was 1999. What a year.

We got Stanley Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, perverse in its way, but obviously important as the work of one of our masters. David Fincher raised the bar for himself with Fight Club. The combination of Jonze/Kaufman was unveiled as an original creative force of nature with Being John Malkovich. Michael Mann was confirmed as a major Hollywood talent with The Insider. Spike Lee evoked a specific time and place with Summer of Sam while Woody Allen playfully dabbled in a sort of faux-biopic in Sweet and Lowdown. Sam Mendes made us look in the mirror with American Beauty, overrated but important at the time. We also got new movies from Lasse Hallstrom, Neil Jordan, James Mangold, Milos Forman, Frank Darabont, Norman Jewison, Alexander Payne, M. Night Shyamalan, Tim Burton, and David Mamet. I liked some of these films. I hated others. None of them made their way into my illustrious top ten.

1999 was a strange year for science fiction. Virtual reality was the hot topic with eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, and The Matrix all taking a stab at profundity, all falling a bit short. I suppose that The Matrix has won out of the three as it found its way into mainstream pop consciousness.

One of my favorite movie memories of 1999 was going to see a double feature with Yams. American Pie signaled the rise of raunch that was to come, turning me right off, but Inspector Gadget turned out to be quite unexpectedly enjoyable, crafted in the same spirit of fun that made Speed Racer such a delightful surprise as well. This night with Yams was infamous for being the occasion of our stupidest giggle fit. EDEDI HRUPYM!!!!!

I didn't like Run Lola Run, but thinking about it reminds me that Troeller was still alive at the time. He was one of my major movie influences, giving me a love of John Huston, introducing me to the Coen Brothers, and generally challenging me to stop being such an idiot.

Animation had a good year in 1999. There are 3 titles in my top 10, but besides those there was also Disney's decently tame Tarzan and the indecently perverse South Park, scathing in its satire and ferociously catchy in its musical numbers.

1999 was an unusual year for me in that I saw the release of two film adaptations of two of my favorite novels. Neither succeeds in being a great adaptation or a great movie, but each has its own charms. Breakfast of Champions is a madcap farce with a great cast, but it's so zany that it's nearly unwatchable. Jesus' Son earns some of its better moments, but fails in forcing the stories together into a single straight narrative.

Boys Don't Cry was one of my favorite movies of the year at the time, making this boy cry like a little baby. I haven't seen it since. Maybe it's unfair that I'm shoving it off to an honorable mention status, but, looking back, I think that I can honestly say that I enjoyed all of these other movies in my list below more.

Arlington Road and Stigmata are two "guilty pleasures" from 1999, both of which I enjoy far more than either probably deserves.

Twin Falls Idaho marked the debut of two of the sweetest filmmakers I can think of, the Polish brothers. I love everything I've seen of theirs with Northfork definitely being their masterpiece so far.

Galaxy Quest is just a lot of fun and dead-on in its spoofing of both "Sci-Fi" media and its strange fandom.

I've still left off a lot of films that were important in some way or another, but I'll let them go. It's time for a Top 10.


1. Julien Donkey-Boy (Harmony Korine)
2. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch)
3. The Straight Story (David Lynch)
4. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
5. Three Kings (David O. Russell)
6. Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki)
7. The Iron Giant (Brad Bird)
8. Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter)
9. The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella)
10. Bringing Out the Dead (Martin Scorcese)

Enough said.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I'm so far behind on posting here.

Quickly, here are a bunch of movies that I've seen lately...

Sans Soleil is another marvelous Chris Marker film, on the same Criterion disc as La Jetee. Basically, Marker's formula seems to be: Memory=Cinema=Time Travel. Each memory creates its own legend. Cinema allows us to preserve memories, creating a sort of time travel. I thought about this a lot while watching I Confess. Montgomery Clift and Karl Malden seemed so ALIVE. And in a sense they still are through the preservation of the movie.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen is the worst movie I've seen so far this year. Ebert has trashed it properly. I don't want to waste any more words on it.

The Incredible Petrified World is only marginally a Science Fiction film (and it would be easy to knock its faults as a less than B-movie budget picture), but the way in which everything is played out is more solidly SF than all of the Transformers and Knowings that we've been stuck with recently. To think that men would act slowly and rationally while caught up in an impossible adventure!

I watched Left For Dead because I was interested in this newfangled Horror/Western hybrid that seems to be growing in popularity. It's not the thought that counts, though, and Left For Dead is hampered by a really dumb story and bad acting.

Gremlins is movie magic, either in spite of or because of its silliness. After watching it, I've been listening to a commentary with Dante, one of the producers and the special effects guy. Even the commentary is a lot more fun than most other movies. The only problem is that my daughter Annie saw the case to Gremlins and now every day bugs me to let her watch "SCARY MONSTER WITH GLASSES."

Visioneers really bummed me out. It's got a great near-future SF premise, but is burdened by a simplified "follow your dreams" message. Unfortunately, follow your dreams equates to leaving your family. Visioneers contains some of the best images I've seen in a movie all year, but it ends on a note of false hope, leaving me in a foul mood instead of a happy one.

The Roaring Twenties is such a great film. I haven't made up a ganster film list yet because I realized that I've seen so few of the "classics." You know you've got me beat, Brandon, in terms of the sheer quantity of older American movies that you've seen. Anyhow, watching Cagney and Bogart together is pure cinematic bliss.

It Happened One Night is another classic that I was long overdue in seeing. I'm nostalgic for days in which I never lived, when I feel that every American popular Romantic Comedy had whip-smart scripts like this one. I know that the 30's had more than its fair share of bad movies, too, but at least it had great ones. I can hardly think of any contemporary Romantic Comedies that could stand beside a gem like It Happened One Night.

Timecrimes receives an 'A' for effort. It starts with mystery and the suspense keeps building. Unfortunately, the action quickly devolves into an obvious (and ridiculous) time travel conundrum that only makes sense on the surface. Still, I was impressed (because, really, who has made a time travel story work? This one comes close) and I'm looking forward to the director's future efforts.

Funny People isn't all that funny (unless you can laugh at endless variations on dick jokes) and its people aren't all that personable. I think that it tries to be honest, but things resolve too neatly in the end.

Ponyo is so good that my oldest daughter Mildred saw it twice, once with her mother, aunt, and sister Annika, and once yesterday with me. This is the first Miyazaki film in a while aimed at a much younger audience than films like Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away and I'd say that it works perfectly for the 10 and under crowd all the while pleasing an old grouch like myself. HAM!!!

More to come soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Top Ten 2008, Final Answer (for now)

I'm sorry, Brandon, but from where I'm standing 2008 knocked the snot out of 2007.

Here goes:

1. Mister Lonely
2. Still Life
3. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
4. Ashes of Time Redux
5. Wall-E
6. Funny Games
7. Appaloosa
8. La France
9. In Bruges
10. Iron Man

1 made me break down and love the world anew. 2, 3, and 4 reminded me how precious Love is. 5 is unarguably delightful. I insist on 6. I may be too gracious toward 7, overreacting against a largely lukewarm critical response, but my enjoyment of the film as one of the best Westerns of the past couple decades or so still stands. The music of 8 still haunts me to the point that I should just look up the lyrics and learn them already and start singing in French all day. 9 and 10 are just so watchable that I can't not include them.

Now I'm going to cheat. 2008 was so good that I'm going to include two honorable mention spots, #11 and #12, both including 10 movies each, all of which I thought were good to great, listed in alphabetical order. Any of the movies in the #11 slot could easily slip in and out of the Top Ten (and many of them were already there earlier in the year before other favorites came along). #12 contains movies that I enjoyed a great deal, but had some glaring flaw or two that kept me from outright gushing over the films. Besides my 11 and 12 categories, there are still several films from 2008 that were critical darlings that other people liked and I either didn't like them as much or I just haven't seen them yet. What's amazing is that there's very little overlap between mine and Brandon's lists (we only share 2 entries), but we both thought that we saw some great movies. I respect each one of his choices (I haven't seen 2 of them: Reprise or Benjamin Button) and most of them are somewhere here on my honorables lists. I still need to watch The Dark Knight again. I know I've been unfair toward it.

#11 Che, A Christmas Tale, Encounters at the End of the World, The Fall, The Flight of the Red Balloon, Gran Torino, Happy-Go-Lucky, JCVD, Synechdoche, NY, W.

#12 Burn After Reading, Cassandra's Dream, Hellboy II, My Blueberry Nights, Redbelt, Shotgun Stories, Speed Racer, Tell No One, Waltz With Bashier, Wendy and Lucy

As a word of warning, I'll echo Brandon: "Of course this is all bullshit, I’ll want to change my mind immediately after I post this."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I've only disliked one Hitchcock film (To Catch a Thief) among the dozen or so that I've seen. I Confess is no exception. It might even be my new favorite (though that happens just about as often as every time I see a new Hitchcock film). The plot is classic "wrong man" Hitchcock. A priest hears a confession of murder and is then framed for that exact same murder by the man who confessed.

What struck me was the same thing that is constantly present in the Michael Connolly novels that I've been reading all year. When someone comes under investigation, they are guilty. All the time. Guilty. Those under suspicion and investigation are often cleared of the charges against them related to the specific crime being investigated and the true criminal is finally caught. That is true. But, along the way, there is other guilt, unrelated but real, and it is exposed, brought to light. No one is spared. In I Confess, this exposure benefits all involved, because open pain and humiliation trumps secret sin.

I've knocked flashbacks in the past (no pun intended), but I love them here. Hitchcock goes for a highly stylized, trashy silent romanticism that conveys perfectly a specific sort of feminine point of view exemplified by Anne Baxter's character. The cinematography is gorgeous all around, the acting is perfect and the score is great. Hitchcock can do no wrong.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


La jetée is unlike anything I had ever seen before. The closest thing that I can compare it to is Reading Rainbow, but imagine that instead of a single page being narrated, dozens of pages are narrated at a time.

At heart, it is as much love as time travel tale, but centered in questions of Time and Love in the same way that Ashes of Time is, a totally different film in every other regard. It's interesting to watch some of the special features on the Criterion disc explaining the film's debt to Vertigo, one of the many Hitchcock films I still haven't seen. These connections highlight both Marker's obsessiveness and the time traveler's obsessiveness.

La jetée is easily one of the best SF films I've ever seen. My only regret is that I didn't get a chance to see it before having seen 12 Monkeys. Some of the shock and even some of the images were diminished through my familiarity with 12 Monkeys, which is a shame, because 12 Monkeys is obviously the weaker film. I do need to revisit it and see if I still love it. Anyhow, I've known for 14 years that I've needed to see La jetée. Talk about procrastination. I'm glad I've now seen it and look forward to seeing more Marker films.

If you're willing to endure even less than less than ideal viewing circumstances, the whole thing can be found on Youtube (embedded here!):

Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer is almost over.

Summer Hours is every bit as good as Brandon said it was. I'll only add that the ending, both in the museum and in the following house party, is absolutely perfect. The movie hit me a little harder than it might have done otherwise, considering that we are currently in the process of buying the house that Abigail's grandfather was born in. There have been particularly painful events occur and I'm only receiving this house because someone else was cheated out of it. It was good to watch the siblings of Summer Hours deal with one another gracefully despite tensions and major differences. Land may be worth fighting for, but family is worth sacrificing for.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Great Job, So-So Pics

Now that I've trashed Z, here are the 3 other films that I got to see as part of my summer ushering career...

Sunshine Cleaning only works because Amy Adams is so damned cute that just about anyone can watch her in just about anything. But cute doesn't immediately translate into emotionally compelling. The rewards of Sunshine Cleaning are few and far between and are often clouded by Quirk (a nasty atmospheric condition epidemic at Sundance).

Two sisters starting a career in crime scene cleaning sounds like a great premise for a movie. It is a great premise for a movie. This movie just doesn't follow through in examining the nitty-gritty and instead goes for quick surface gimmicks (a mother's suicide, a CB radio to heaven, a one-armed sales clerk). The only part that rang true was the one-armed guy not getting the girl, but instead used and taken advantage of all along the way. I wish that this angle would have been played up instead of having this supporting character presented as a goofball sidekick that loves the position he's been placed in. But we all know that one-armed guys are suckers. I mean, they only have one arm, right?

The Soloist could have been a much worse film than it is. It has its terrible moments, chiefly Jamie Foxx's character reciting the Lord's Prayer over a crane shot of the city's homeless engaged in their nightly activities. It's manipulative as all Hell and surely deserves a place there.

Besides some other moments like the above, The Soloist plays surprisingly fair and straight considering the subject matter. I've grown to really hate films that treat mental retardation and/or mental illness. It's not too often that anyone gets these things right. I also hate that the only subject that seems to matter is the Idiot Savant. Just Plain Idiot would be too hard to watch. We like our mentally ill to be safe and smart and transformable.

Despite sticking with the viewing-public safe genius story, The Soloist gets things right. There's no tacked-on happy ending. The moral (which is explained a little too forcefully) is one that I can agree with: More often than not, we can't fix broken lives and broken minds. The best we can do is suffer together. And that's enough.

Tokyo! is an anthology film, comprised of three shorts, directed by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-Ho. The Gondry film was quite good despite (or maybe because of) ending in a fairly silly, magical way that is only vaguely hinted at with what comes before. The Carax film is madcap crazy. I now confess to having slept through the majority of Bong's film so I shouldn't really say anything more about it than that I let myself fall asleep. I'll stay awake through almost any movie in the theatre, but I was really tired and rudely gave up on the film. First Z and then this. A bad trend. Oh well.

I do hope that Tokyo! is the beginning of a new wave of short film anthology pictures, something which has a long and rich tradition, but has been neglected for quite a while.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Z should be retitled Zzzzzzzzz's. It put me right to sleep.

The Deputy, a peace activist, is scheduled to give a lecture. He runs into some problems finding a place to speak and then is assassinated. The rest of the movie is a long procedural detailing the cover-up of the assassination and the lack of justice brought against anyone involved.

I've wanted to see the film ever since first reading Ebert's review a few years ago. Re-reading Ebert's review, I've found the key sentence:
It is a film of our time.

Z is very much about a specific political moment. These sorts of things still happen all the time across the earth, so, in that respect, Z is still relevant, but I think that Z is too tied to events in Greece and expresses such an indignant anger that it's difficult to divorce the film from its specific time and specific critique of a specific regime in a specific place.

I wish it were otherwise, but instead of being moved to anger, I was dreadfully bored and allowed myself a couple of nice short naps, waking up long enough to discover anew that there was still injustice in the world, not the least of which may be having to sit through Z all the way to the disappointing end.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Left Behind

Fred, it would be great if you're reading this. In a nice coincidence, after leaving your place, we found a used bookstore in Canandaigua where I found a copy of Simak's A Choice of Gods and, of course, I bought that copy and read it over the next two days. Good stuff. Thanks for the recommendation.

Brandon, I'm way behind on posting here due to having just had a lovely long vacation, but I'm at the library now and intend to write up more than a few posts today. I watched The Killing of a Chinese Bookie two days before your "stick 'em ups" post. You need to see it. It is now my #1 favorite non-2009 film that I've seen in 2009. I've started writing a longer essay about it which I hope to post here soon. I need to catch up on writing about other movies that I've seen, too. I wish that I had electricity at night just so that I could write, but, alas, I've got to do all of my writing/typing at the library. I've got notes, but it could take a while before I get around to writing something longer.

Also, I dug out my 5th edition copy of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and I'm now planning on watching all 1001 because, really, why not?

Giving up the profit motive.

It had to happen eventually. My time may not be as important as some others', but I do value it. That's why Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind is the first movie that I gave up on this year. I made it about 22 minutes.

Abigail has fond memories of her father stopping at every single roadside plaque that he'd come across, but her memories, if I remember correctly, are always of her and her siblings becoming furious at being forced into such a dreadfully boring activity.

I'm guilty, too, of stopping at many of these signposts. They are admittedly interesting at times, but I couldn't handle a feature film's worth of consecutive still images of stationary signs. It's an interesting idea, but makes for bad cinema. There may be a cumulative argument to these pictures, but I don't buy it. I want my 22 minutes back.

On the other hand, I enjoyed all 135 minutes that I sacrificed on the raceway of Speed Racer.

I was more than a little bit suspicious when (a small minority of) serious critics started calling Speed Racer one of the most important films of the year, gaining enough mentions (2) to earn a place on the iW Critics Poll '08, about 30 places behind the above mentioned execrable Profit Motive.

It IS visually inventive, but, more importantly, it is impossibly Fun. The plot is a simple and straightforward good guys vs. bad guys set-up, but everything is acted in a spirit of whimsy. "Maybe a nonja" had me rolling with laughter- easily one of the best lines of the past few years, perfectly delivered by an hilarious John Goodman. The "corporations are evil" plot may be undermined by the excessive commercialization inherent in a Speed Racer project, but no more or less so than Wall-E's similar message from last year. I'm not going to put Speed Racer on any "best of" lists, but I do greatly appreciate it for making me smile a whole lot, especially after having experienced an over-serious Whispering Wind.