Monday, June 16, 2008

Film As Graphic Design As Film As ...

My initial shock of seeing a photo of Norman Halim of KRU at Variety Asia Online has died down. My initial excitement about The Happening has grown. My curiosity about the new Hulk has died away completely.

So, what else is new?

Well, my admiration for Speed Racer has been rekindled. Jason Morehead of Opus has an interesting review of the film, He says:

There’s a sense of hyperreality to the film—of going so far over the top that the “over the top-ness” itself becomes substantial and “real”. Again, the Wachowskis played with this a bit in the Matrix films, but they’ve really ramped it up for Speed Racer.

That's a nice and interesting way of putting it. Jason also found that the more dramatic, family moments are actually touching, the same thing I encountered, that the Wachowskis at least did not let the blue-screen fervour override their emotional consciousness.

But what the visuals in Speed Racer mean has eluded many of us. I won't be the first to claim that I know, but one night, I was in a car, stuck at a traffic light, and I looked around. The tail-lights, the street-lights, the cars - they all started to imply something. I was reminded of the lens flares, the neons, the works in Speed Racer. There was a speck of the inspiration that gave birth to the manufactured universe of Speed Racer, and I could see it. The world of racing in Speed Racer isn't just a "a super-glossy version of the future as imagined in the 1950s," but it's the sport of racing draped in Las Vegas kitsch and sensibility, minus the vulgarity of excess.

What's even more interesting is the link at the Opus review to Khoi Vinh's analysis of the film's visuals from a graphic-design point of view. Khoi Vinh finds the use of digital images "aggressively abstract." He also says:

The world created by the film’s directors, the Wachowski Brothers, is very much like a post-Photoshop equivalent of an Impressionist masterpiece; the cinematic vision at work here has nearly no truck with reality, only with reinterpeting — often, regurgitating — familiar objects as if experienced from the inside of some sci-fi Chuck E. Cheese.

It's a very interesting read, and eye-opening too. While he was incredibly impressed with the visual design, Khoi Vinh also found the story touching. Mostly, he's hit on something about Speed Racer that I felt but couldn't really express. Hop on over and have a read.

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