After all, it's just a ride….

A Furious Reprise…

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Poster-Posse-1-600x800The world is clearly going to hell in a handcart as even The New Yorker loved it and some breathless reviews must be considered WITH THE CAP LOCKS ON. Everyone is going to see this twice, some even braving a third visit to the wretched wasteland of the future, in full fanboy frantic fumigation. In my pretentious way I have referenced my habit of going to see certain films twice as a technical appraisal, but with Fury Road my instincts were less to appreciate how a film was constructed than it was just another submersion in pure unalloyed cinema as experience, as a rollercoaster of sun, blood, and carnage driven invention. Quite simply this is a berserk masterpiece – a word I usually reserve for films at least a decade following release – a film oddly immediately of its time with the feminist cheerleading and harking back to silent cinema, of telling a story in images and movement rather than exposition and dialogue. I’ve been collecting debris for the past week or so and there is some wonderful material scattered over the ether, another sign of the strength of the movie which inspires such affiliation, the best place to start is this two-hour seminar which superbly sets the stage, unfortunately its locked from embedding for some reason.

In a sense George Miller has ruined the rest of the year as its hard to imagine another blockbuster even remotely following in Max’s tracks, with its perfectly choreographed mix of action, characterization, lunatic energy and chutzpah, and the second time around I’m happy to report that some of my mild concerns faded into the sunset. It’s already spawned a host of theories and speculation (this is amusing) but for me it’s also the small moments and decisions that speed pass on the journey, primarily the sniper sequence, Furoisa’s lack of explanatory backstory, the ‘thumbs-up’ bit which Hardy perfectly plays, and the incremental build of pyrotechnics to that final half hour battle which is among the best that Cameron, Verhoeven or McTiernan ever percolated in their grievous garages.

If the film has ignited a passion for other Australian antics then even the BFI have got in on the act with this terrific list. I did note from the second viewing that some material has naturally hit the cutting room floor, not surprising since Miller and his team shot an extraordinary 480 hours of footage which is insane, handing off the rushes to his brilliant editor Margaret Sixel who must be in the running for a little golden gong come February 2016. But it doesn’t matter as the economy of explanation and character carries brandishes the film down its glittering and gritty path, although speculation on Blu-Ray extras and alternate versions has already got the fan community passing out like Victorian dilettantes in an under ventilated boudoir.

mmfrWhen I read this article I couldn’t help but ruminate on just how difficult it is to return to  certain roads and elaborate the franchise experience, as the world and society moves on to new political and social concerns. How many of the reboots and retreads over the past dozen or so years have actually succeeded and (god forbid) enhanced their franchise, their place in the collage of cultural chaos? The Indiana Jones revisit didn’t work, and the least said about Sir Ridders return to Xenomorphic evolution the better. The Tron movie looked great but lacked intelligence, and whatever the development of SFX has mustered the Star Trek movies don’t exactly demand repeated viewings now do they? Don’t get me started on the litany of John Carpenter replicants (The Fog was dismal, Assault On Precinct 13 was a three star dud and worse of all that The Thing prequel lacked guts or a gruesome genealogy), and it sounds like the Poltergeist remake (which opens this weekend) will be exorcised from screens with barely a rudely inverted crucifix. So why has Miller and Max overturned this apple cart? Because he went back to brass tacks and made the film physical, he understands that genre cinema needs to address current affairs no matter how cloaked and buried in the narrative, and in terms of technique he recognized the exhaustion of CGI spectacle which sacrifices spectacle at the altar of genuine, exhilarating affectation.

mmfireThis achievement wasn’t looking possible until those trailers hit a few months ago, we’d all heard about the difficult production which it has to be stressed finished initial lensing three years ago, before a furious round of post preview screenings led to reshoots and the final model trundled off the production line which we are learning to adore. That’s not the narrative of a successful film, the initial instinct is always to view such interference as executive meddling in the creative vision of the participants, but again in a break from tradition it seems that the tweaking and tampering has obliterated movie fans and critics, but the box office is hardly stunning. Here’s some more material to get your engines running. It’s also a strong sign of a films cult movie pedigree when a bit player instantly gets his own strand of appreciation and excitement, the so-called Doof Warrior is already etched in Hollyweird history.

feministSome fans have been carefully excavating the movie as you can enjoy here, and isn’t this genuinely heartwarming? Finally then we turn to the feminist subtext which has caused such celebration and consternation. I don’t think I can manage better than this or this which pretty much covers all the essential bases of how and why this film is quietly revolutionary, although there does seem to be curious lapse in connection to an earlier George Miller film which also moves through similar waters – The Witches of Eastwick.  In the past week alone we’ve witnessed ‘shoegate’ at Cannes, this has sparked debate, Maggie Gyllenhaal illustrates that according to producers she’s ‘past her prime’ at 37, and Denis Villenueve reveals how pressured he was to recast Emily Blunt with a male lead in his latest movie. Why? Because she’s a woman, and not a man. This attitude is as mystifying as it is absurd, even from a pure money spinning perspective of fiscally obsessed moguls given the financial clout of The Hunger Games, Gravity and other female fronted material. Given the appetite for a Black Widow or Wonder Woman movie you have to wonder just how deep the stupidity runs, so I’ll start the charge for Charlize Theron in the potential Captain Marvel movie now. Anyway, enough, I’ve got other fish to fry with two more reviews to complete, go see this movie again so those proposed sequels get the support they need, unlike the efficient Dredd picture which was solid but has no prospect of a sequel given its mediocre box-office returns. I’ll leave you with this odd combination, at the very least it’s an excuse to watch the explosive trailer again;

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