The series premiere of Feud: Bette and Joan (FX, Sundays, 10/9C) is the story of one of Hollywood’s greatest feuds – that between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) as they made Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (the only time they ever worked together).
It’s also the story of how these two fading stars fought misogyny, sexism and ageism in Hollywood while trying to extend their careers and retain their hard won fame.
In Robot & Frank, a worried son presents his father with a robot designed to help him deal with the vicissitudes of life – from housekeeping to fighting Alzheimer’s. It’s a thoughtful, engaging and uniquely delightful film.
With Jeff, Who Lives At Home, The Duplass Brothers, Jay and Mark, take another cautious step towards the mainstream with this odd comedy about the eponymous Jeff and his family as a series of seemingly random occurrences lead to a unique conclusion.
I’ll admit it – I didn’t see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, even though it played at a local theater many times during and after its initial release. I first encountered it at a Rocky Horror party at the local sci-fi convention, Con-Version several years later. I subsequently became a fan – though I prefer to actually watch the movie rather than sit in a roomful of people who are throwing toast at the screen.
Now, for its 35th anniversary, Fox Home Entertainment is putting together a Blu-ray debut release with a host of cool features. It’s enough to make a guy upgrade to hi-def! At least I’ve got ‘til October to scare up the cash…
Let’s be clear on this – I have never seen any of the Speed Racer anime´ nor have I seen any of the manga, and am barely aware of vintage merchandizing. Now that we have that out of the way, I have to say that, as a Speed Racer virgin, the brightly-colored film by the Wachowski Brothers is a lot of fun.
Emile Hirsch rocks as the title character, a boy in the process of becoming a man – and a believer in fair play when it appears that there hasn’t been any in professional racer since, well, ever. His rock solid family [John Goodman as Pops Racer, Susan Sarandon as Mom Racer and Paulie Litt as younger brother Spritel], pet chimp, Chim Chim and girlfriend Trixie [a very anime´ looking Christina Ricci] give him the courage to turn down an offer to sign with the top team – at which point he learns of the real nature of his beloved sport. From there it’s only a matter of winning a couple of races [against an entire field of cheaters] and bringing down the Royalton Racing Team [the team he turned down]. Nothing to it – not!
While there’s not a lot of plot to Speed Racer, there’s almost always lots going on as Speed – with the help of the mysterious Racer X [sure it’s not hard to make the connection between him and Speed’s older brother, who is supposed to have died, but it’s a convention – just like nobody recognizing Superman behind Clark Kent’s specs. Deal with it and move on!]. The races are beautifully staged exercises in gladiatorial driving; the fight sequences really capturing the odd, freeze-frame style of anime´ and manga; the cast is clearly having more fun than should be legal, and the whole thing just feels good. The only real flaw in the film is that it’s just a wee bit too talky – but that hardly matters.
For a movie with a candy-colored world [the bright, shiny color of fresh hard candy – not the pastels of rock candy], the emphasis is on the kind of grounding that a good family provides and the kind of justice that is most deserved – the justice of the untouchable evil being brought down by one man with a mission. This may be my first encounter with Speed Racer but it won’t be my last.