Preening with hipness, Jim Mendiola’s mock-docu “Speeder Kills” is ultimately something of a mock movie as well. Pic purports to be the film diary of a Latina vid artist on the cusp of national fame who comes up dry of inspiration until she has a chance encounter in her hometown of San Antonio. Likably shaggy and unkempt up to a point, pic overstays its welcome and irritates with an excess of narrative digressions. Sure to snare some happy fest crowds, the Tex-Mex mix will have an easier time lassoing a vid deal than theatrical.
“Speeder Kills” is really Mendiola’s love letter to San Antonio’s alternative youth and rock subculture, and probably best read as a throwing down of the culture-pride gantlet in front of rival Austin, perennially Texas’ top dog in the rock and music scene.
A Godardian edict on screen to “play this film loud” gets things spinning, as artist Amalia Ortiz alludes to a life-changing moment and then proceeds to backtrack with a dizzying set of flashbacks, starting 17 months prior with her ill-fated life in San Francisco. Along the way, Amalia — who would out-verbalize Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie (“Sex and the City”) Bradshaw in a motormouth voiceover contest — talks about her various critically lauded works, ranging from “My Life in 200 Seconds” to a goofy vid featuring a can stuck to a car hood that incredibly attracted the attention of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Having frittered away the foundation’s astoundingly generous $45,000 grant, Amalia is back home in San Antonio where her photographer grandma has died. She is given a final deadline by the foundation.
Mendiola does a reasonably convincing job of fooling auds into thinking that what’s being seen is Amalia’s autobiographical portrait (when, in fact, it’s partly drawn from his own career), with the major giveaway being the generally poor and obvious acting by his cast. Cagily, though, he keeps the thesping to a minimum, and maniacally packs his movie full of sidebars, commentaries and films-within-films.
Stuck with no fresh ideas, Amalia stumbles on a notice for local band Speeder. She pitches a po-mo vid project to the group which then negotiates into a promo vid as well. Typical of every step along the way, there are new digressions recounting the past and present of San Antonio’s metal-influenced rock scene.
The Speeder-Amalia union culminates in an elaborate stunt during the burg’s big annual Fiesta Parade.
Mendiola’s filmmaking style contains energy and enthusiasm to burn, brimming with attitude which finally fails to translate into intriguing cultural border politics or ideas. Mixed visual media are worked to exceptional advantage. Music selections drive a charging beat from start to finish.