A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

If only all action movies could be directed by George Miller and edited by Margaret Sixel. Then we might have fewer scenes shot in the dark with shakycam and patched together out of snippets of film so you can't really tell who's fighting whom. Or much less gratuitous use of CGI in scenes where actual hardware provides greater immediacy than software can ever do. Miller and Sixel are one of the movies' great husband-and-wife teams, and it's gratifying that they've both been nominated for Oscars for Mad Max: Fury Road. I've never been much of a fan of the Mad Max series, but this one, the fourth, seems to me to be the best and most coherent. It has the kind of visual storytelling that takes you back to the silent roots of the movies. It also features, in Charlize Theron's Furiosa, the best female action hero since Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Aliens (James Cameron, 1986). I don't expect the movie to win the best picture Oscar: It's not the kind of film the Academy admires, preferring action movies that are wrapped in history, like Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962), or sanctified by religiosity, like Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959). Fury Road is sheer enjoyable nonsense, with an abundance of grotesque villains and some heroes who, with the exception of Tom Hardy's Max and Nicholas Hoult's Nux, happen to be women. But I hope it takes home Oscars for John Seale's cinematography, Jenny Beavan's costumes, and for production design and visual effects. And I wouldn't mind if Miller and Sixel won, too.