The New Barbie Movie, Cultural Fracking, my aphantasia and why Speed Racer is a much better movie than The Dark Knight
Full Show Notes: https://www.thejaymo.net/2022/04/30/301-2217-speed-barbie-racer-knight/
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Speed Barbie, Racer Knight
If you’ve binged all 180 whatever episodes of 301 you’ll know that I don’t watch films – at all. I’ve recently realised why but I’ll come back to that.
I’m literally the last person that should be talking about new films and movies on the internet. But since this is my podcast, I’m going to ‘have an opinion’ anyway.
Here’s a headline i saw this week: ‘Margot Robbie’s ‘Barbie’ Sets 2023 Release Date, Unveils First-Look Photo‘
From the end of the article:
“Barbie” is one of many Mattel properties on the burner for feature adaptation. Projects based on the magic 8 ball, Hot Wheels, “Masters of the Universe,” Polly Pocket, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and the throwback dolls Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy are all in the works.
Mattel is all in on making live action movies based on kids toys. But I do wonder who these movies for? Who the hell thinks a magic 8 ball movie is a good idea? Unless Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots is about ridiculous 100+ story tall gundam robots fighting each other I’m not interested. Then again, they already made Godzilla vs. Kong last year and I haven’t seen it.
Presumably Mattel thinks people will fall over themselves to watch their favourite kids toys oncreen. The thing is, there’s a difference between Marvel and Mattel.
Both are examples of the cultural fracking that continues to diminish and restrict our collective cultural imagination. There is no future, only the endless commercial regurgitation of the things you liked as a child. When you were a kid though, you actually got to play with the toys and make up your own stories. Now however, next year, you’ll get to go see Greta Gerwig (who’s directing) play with her Barbie, and you’ll be disappointed about it.
It’s much easier to understand the utter disaster that was the Star Wars reboots as writers and directors playing with kids toys and everyone else screaming ‘you’re playing the wrong way’ at them on the internet.
The Marvel movies are so successful because it’s an IP that wasn’t heavily exploited into plastic toys in the 1980’s. Kids reading comics were aware that they get made by a team of people. A writer, an artist, a letterer etc. Readers had no control over their beloved characters. They could only turn the page to find out what happens next.
This is a very different kind of connection to fracked characters than ones based on toys. Let’s bracket the Lego Movie off for another discussion.
Anyways, a Hot Wheels movie? Why would anyone watch that when you can watch 100’s of hours of Hot Wheels cars racing on a treadmill at high speeds for free on Youtube?
Honestly I’m the last person that should be having opinions about film on the internet. But I do believe we already have a Hot Wheels movie,
The Wachsowski’s 2008 masterpiece Speed Racer. One of the best films ever made.
The first and only post-postmodern film made so far in the 21C. It queers the cinematic language of editing in a way that I think made audiences uncomfortable in 2008. Its surrealist aesthetics blow anything made before or since out of the water. The whole film is composed like a Joyce novel or a poem by Gertrude Stein. If you gave it a hard time in 2008 or haven’t ever seen it, watch it this weekend.
You’ll know it’s a masterpiece from the very first Focus Pull.
Remember Speed Racer came out the same year as the Dark Knight. A dreary, brown, and unimpressive movie that went on to influence and utterly ruin the last 15 years of cinema.
Speed Racer on the other hand is a wild, psychedelic visual and narrative assault. It attempts to mimic how people actually experience the world. Relational snatches of movement, narrative and action.
Go on metacritic and look at the most positive and negative reviews of the Dark Knight posted back in 2008. All the negative ones – the correct ones – say it was a terrible movie. Which it was.
Can you imagine if things had gone the other way in 2008? 15 years of movies more like Speed Racer than the dreary drivel the Dark Knight inspired?
The reason I like Speed Racer so much is related to the reason I don’t like or watch conventional movies – my Aphantasia.
I read a friend’s 9 page movie treatment the other day. It was fantastic. I’ve come to the opinion that all stories should be written in the screenplay format. I don’t have a mind’s eye so… tell me, don’t show me.
If you are someone who doesn’t have a mind’s eye, then you remember a film as a series of plot beats. Narrative that clips along at 2x speed – movies-done-quick style. You can edit the dark knight down to 20 mins and wouldn’t lose anything at all – that’s how I remember it.
This happened, then this happened, then this person did this to this person because they felt like this, but this was the result so the other person went over there and did that’.
Stories are only alive in their telling. Speed Racer, because of its avant-garde editing, is a movie that is alive in the watching.
If Mattel does make a film about Magic 8 Balls or Polly in My Pocket. They should take cues from the Wachsowski’s. They need to make them feel like Half remembered memories that played out on the audience’s bedroom floors as kids.
The script above is the original script written for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the edit.
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