Archive for May, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (a review, spoilers possible)

May 18, 2015 Leave a comment

So what’s to be said about Mad Max. You know the backstory – rogue wanderer of the wastelands trying to do things. All caught up? Good. So forget everything you remember about the previous 3 films except Tina Turner’s fabulousness, and go into this one with eyes wide open. This is a different Max from George Miller; this Max (Tom Hardy) does his thing, but isn’t out front and center. That role belongs to Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a one armed soldier slave gone rogue who is trying to smuggle out the piece of crap warlord’s harem of wives back to her home of greener pastures for a better life.

Don’t get me wrong; Hardy plays a mean Max. In fact, here he’s meaner and more of an antihero than before. However, that plays well into the story when it comes time for redemption. It’s more hard-won.

I like that this film gives me the same vibes as the Alien movies: Furiosa, like Ellen Ripley before her, can hold her own against crazy odds and doesn’t play the scared victim part well. To me that’s great because that’s the norm for most high-octane action movies. Guys want to be the heroes, and the girls want to get with the heroes. Mad Max spins that idea completely around on its heel and gives the ladies the glory of the fight.

It’s a Mad Mad world, and George Miller gives it to the audience old school-style; a lot of real explosions, stunt work, and crazy souped up cars against a wasteland landscape. There is some CGI (and you’ll be able to tell where pretty easily), but it’s used very sparingly. This is like an outback western from the future apocalypse to come.

Whatever you do, make sure you get your snacks and bathroom duties out of the way before the show because you’re not going to want to leave your seat for anything.

George Miller, you’re still the master. This is the same guy who brought you the original Max movies as well as Happy Feet and Babe. He can spin a yarn with the best of them and it’s always a treat to watch.

My overall score: A+ for kick ass special effects, bad ass women, and a great antihero who doesn’t have to talk your ear off or get nekkid to make his presence known.

Mad Men Finale: Person to Person (and now I want a Coke)

May 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Don Draper in full on Ohm mode

There’s always flak that showrunners get if a beloved TV series doesn’t have a great finale. In all these years I think the standard is still the M.A.S.H. finale. While not mind-blowingly epic, I think Mad Men’s finale ended things well. Some highlights:

  1. Sally has come home for a while to help her mother out while Betty continues to deal with lung cancer. Yet there she was, puffing away on a cigarette while Sally washed dishes. It’s that defiance in the face of what is to come that shows just how strong Betty really was in the end.
  2. Joan sets up her own production company. She got tired of men treating her like crap so now she gets to be the boss and set up her own rules.
  3. Pete Campbell and Trudy are living the high life with Learjet. Interesting though that Pete had a lifelong aversion to planes after his father was killed on one, yet he’s got no problem now.
  4. Roger and Marie head off into the witty sunset with each other. They are a well made match. God I’m going to miss all the epic Roger-isms.
  5. I’ll admit it, I’m one of those that always felt Stan and Peggy were meant to be together. And in the end, they were, and I was so happy I started tearing up. My husband looked at me with concern with huge undertones of amusement at his dorky wife. Who cares, I ‘ship Stan and Peggy… Steggy?
  6. Don comes unglued, realizing finally that his quest to erase his existence from those around him actually works. Betty doesn’t want him to take the kids after she passes away because that isn’t his “normal”. The only one concerned about him is Peggy, until Stan reminds her that he does this kind of thing all the time, disappears and then comes back. However, the time at the ashram isn’t all wasted. All the peace and love, hippy dippy stuff sinks in and it’s heavily implied that he gets inspired enough to come up with the famous “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” campaign for McCann that will now be your earworm for the rest of the day. I sang it several times last night before I went to bed. Curses, Matt Weiner!

Anyway, no one dies, life goes on and the world keeps changing.

This was such a great show. If you’ve never seen it, get on that with a quickness and be inspired.

Categories: Television Tags:

Did you go see the Empire Strikes Back in 1981? You may remember this

May 13, 2015 Leave a comment

There was a short film called Black Angel that ran with screenings of Empire in the UK. It has now been re-released on Youtube. From the AVClub:

The film is a swords-and-sorcery tale of a knight traversing a plague-stricken land with many elements of dream imagery and mythical archetypes woven throughout.

Roger Christian (Art Director: Empire, Star Wars, Life of Brian, Alien) says that John Boorman screened the short for the crew before beginning filming on Excalibur, and the influence is clear on that film, along with other works like Lionheart and Ladyhawke. The short also proved influential to Empire Strikes Back as well—the fighting sequence in Black Angel is step-printed (slowed down in a specific way) which would later be used in the fight between Luke and the Darth Vader vision on Dagobah in Empire.

If you’re into Star Wars and Excalibur-type geekery like I am, then I think you’ll like it.

Categories: Movies Tags: , ,

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (a review)

May 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Kurt Cobain was a tortured soul… physically as a result of a lifelong stomach ailment that he tried to numb with illicit drugs, and a shitty childhood that scarred him psychologically. When I heard the news about his death, I remember thinking, “He had it all, why would he do that?” If you thought the same, then you should watch this documentary.

Directed by Brett Morgen, “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” had unprecedented access into old home movies, photos, journals, artwork and interviews from Cobain’s life, friends, family, and bandmates. Frances Bean Cobain is a producer on this doc and she, along with her grandmother/Kurt’s mother (Wendy O’Connor) and mom Courtney Love gave permission for the material to be used as well as a say on the final cut (Frances Bean).

Admittedly, there are reports that O’Conner and Kurt’s sister were pretty upset at a few old home movie scenes that were included (there is one where he is holding Frances as a baby looking very strung out while Courtney tries to cut her hair), but there was no major effort to remove them from the footage that was used. The movie is pretty unblinking and candid regarding the drug use, once rumored to be rampant even when Love was pregnant with Frances Bean and confirmed in Love’s interview. Despite the issues with drugs, home movie footage that Courtney filmed during their time together shows a genuine level of affection that the two shared for each other and for their child.

Love also gives an interesting theory as to what could have drove Cobain to attempt suicide in Rome 8 days prior to his successful attempt: she was considering have an affair with someone else, and he found out about it and got really upset. **(I have my theories as to who the person is/was, but she does not go into that detail during her interview.)** Yes, the popular opinion is to hate Courtney and blame her for Kurt’s suicide and drug use, but listen to what she has to say in her interview and how she says it. Kurt’s heroin use didn’t start with their relationship, and two addicts trying to raise a baby wasn’t exactly a recipe for success by any means.

Obviously there are quite a few people that like the conspiracy theory that Courtney had Kurt snuffed out, but this documentary shows how really messed up he was inside and outside way before Courtney entered the picture. His drawings (vividly brought to life), old anecdotes about his dysfunctional family life (and one involving his first sexual experience and his first attempt at suicide), journal entries and interviews with his parents and an ex girlfriend paint a picture of a man who didn’t feel like he had the skills to gain a sense of enjoyment out of life even as a rock star that millions of people admired.

Watch this movie, and then listen to Bleach, Nevermind, and In Utero again. It’s pretty mind blowing hearing the progression of his musical skills and anger at the world and at himself.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is available for viewing now on HBO and HBO Go. I had heard of a theatrical release in the works, but nothing concrete as of yet.

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