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May 7th, 2008

We’re almost to next weekend, and I was thinking that the correct way to celebrate Mother’s day, would be with Korean food, and a trip to see Speed Racer, preferably in Imax.

Yes, I understand that Japanese food may be vaguely more appropriate. Actually, with the weird blend of live action, Americanized Anime that is Speed Racer, I might as well have hot dogs and processed cheese. With soy sauce.

But I am in the mood for Korean. It is Mother’s Day. And I am the mother.

But Milwaukee is not showing the movie in Imax, and I had my heart set on a trip to that place north of downtown, where I had the pot full of assorted meats and tentacles, brought to the table on a butane stove.
Since Stephen Colbert’s early review of Speed Racer was “The classic story of boy meets seizure inducing lights”, I am recalculating my movie experience and factoring how likely I am to hork my squid, if viewing this on a big screen.

If all else fails, I would be willing to go back to “Iron Man” again.

I am marginally obsessed with this movie, because, not only is it plain old super-hero fun, I think it says a lot about where our heads are at, as a country. Movies like Atonement seem to try to enlighten us, against our will if necessary, by being as depressing and nihilistic as possible.

But the big popular culture hits lay the enlightenment out in front of us, and trick us into looking.

And “Iron Man” was born during Vietnam, our last military quagmire, and is updated easily into the current war. The hero, Tony Stark, well, let’s face it. The guy’s a dick. Very rich, handsome enough (Robert Downey has never been my favorite, but I’m adjusting), and charming in a slimy sort of way. A womanizer. And a drunk. But brilliant. And he’s a weapons designer, and proud merchant of death.

Stuff happens.

And he has a change of heart. Figuratively and literally.

He builds a big metal suit, paints it hot rod red, because that’s the kind of guy he is, and tries to make up for all the bad he’s done.

By killing people, and blowing stuff up. But not just anybody. He will be killing the right people, this time. It’s a weird combination of vengeance and justice.

It’s very American.

It’s also well written, well acted, exciting, and funny. It doesn’t require you to think at all, if you don’t want to.

And it is a lot more upbeat than winter movies like “I Am Legend” and “Cloverfield”, where we found catharsis in destroying NYC before someone else did. Of the two of those, I liked “Cloverfield” the best. “Legend” strayed pretty far from the point of the original story, which wasn’t about killing monsters so much as it was about becoming a monster by hanging onto the past.

“Cloverfield” was a kaiju movie, just like Godzilla. And although it ended as a popular culture joke (and great Blue Oyster Cult song) it began as an anti-war film, and a part of the healing process after we dropped the bombs. And now, here we are, 60 year’s later, watching a big lizard destroy the Statue of Liberty.

But self-destruction and catastrophic after-math are for the winter months. It’s summer.

And at the movies, summer is about kicking ass.