Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Unseen #29: The Young Racers

Time For Another Installment In Things That Don’t Suck’s Red Headed Step Child. THE UNSEEN!!!

(For once you will get EXACTLY what the poster promises)

Why’d I Buy It? : Included in the Roger Corman Box set I bought.

Why Haven’t I Watched It ?: To quoth Murderface The Young Racers lacks a certain zazz. There’s nothing WRONG with The Young Racers but when its placed next to the lurid delights of something like Bloody Mama, X The Man With X Ray Eyes, or A Bucket Of Blood, The Young Racers can’t help but look a little anemic.

How Was It? : Interesting. The Young Racer’s isn’t a movie I would call good. But based on the way it acts as both a perfect example of and exception to Corman’s work, makes it a must see for any fan of his.

The film follows a kind of douchey professional racer touring the European circuit. He’s basically kind of an asshole and seems to be suffering from both raging narcissism and a half formed death wish. He’s befriended by a young journalist/novelist/would be race, who joins up with the racer’s entourage made up of his resentful brother, bored wife, willing groupies, and assorted hangers on. But does the young journalist have a, DUH DUH DAAAAA, ulterior motive.

On one level it’s a total fulfillment of the Corman Formula. Find a gimmick (racing). Find an exotic location (Europe). Go on from there.

On the other hand, The Young Racers feels atypical of Corman. For one thing, it doesn’t look cheap. The racing sequences have a real feeling of scope and speed, most of them are set not in tracks but on city streets, which presumably had to be blocked off, so as not to kill the pedestrians. For another, Corman pads the film with footage of his disaffected young cast walking around Mediterranean villa’s saying vaguely angsty things to one another. The result looking uncannily like a Roger Corman produced Antonionni film.

The real problem with the film is that its cast is deeply unappealing. With neither the star in his fading twilight years, nor brash up and comer that Corman was usually able to provide to anchor the picture, we’re left watching a bunch of bland people participating in skullduggery between the heats.

Who do we root for? The vain preening ass hat veteran? Or the callow non entity journalist? Or should we ally our sympathies with the vapid Euro hotties who Corman owed a favor to. Like Hitler versus Stalin whoever wins humanity ultimately loses.

Still despite the utter lack of any rooting interest Young Racers remains an appealing watch. The racings scenes are in themselves worthwhile. And in the era of the queasy cam its almost obscenely gratifying to watch a film made by someone who knows the value of relative motion. Plus its kind of fascinating to watch a filmmaker as thoroughly attuned to Midwestern sensibilities as Corman deliver his version of swinging sixties Euro Sophistication. Its like watching a Hee Haw episode centered around La Dolce Vita. Where Stock Cars, decadence and ennui meet on equal footing. On second thought this movie is kind of glorious.

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