The following Mad Max: Fury Road capsule review was rejected by Time Out Chicago since they informed me they already have a “network wide” review (i.e., one that appears in each of Time Out’s city guides), which they also informed me is usually the case with “big box films.” So I’m posting it here instead. Enjoy.
Even if it weren’t any good, I would probably recommend Mad Max: Fury Road just because, as an R-rated “tent pole” movie, it’s something of an anomaly. I’m happy to report, however, that it’s more than good — it’s flat-out amazing from beginning to end, one of the leanest and purest pieces of action cinema I’ve ever seen. The film it reminds me of most is, believe it or not, Buster Keaton’s The General; the entire first half is basically one long heart-stopping chase from west to east and the second half one long heart-stopping chase from east to west. Exposition and the illusion of “character psychology” are refreshingly absent but it’s also full of the kind of highly idiosyncratic, occasionally surreal production-design touches that have always been director George Miller’s specialty (a combination electric guitar/flamethrower, chastity belts with metal teeth, etc.) and it’s all beautifully cut together (the shots match!) by his wife Margaret Sixel who had never edited an action movie before.
While Tom Hardy is credible as the laconic Max (a role originated by a then-unknown Mel Gibson), don’t let the title fool you: Charlize Theron, playing a kickass heroine with the irresistible name of “Imperator Furiosa,” is co-lead with Hardy and arguably the more important of the two characters. She’s the one on a specific mission — the details of which I won’t give away — while he’s more or less just along for the ride. Furiosa is also but one of several intriguing female characters in a movie that should satisfy fans of the earlier Max films while also offering surprises at every turn; the more I think about it, the more this action movie strikes me as genuinely subversive in its feminist bent — yet another reason why this is the one summer “popcorn movie” that everyone needs to see.
This Saturday, May 16, I’m introducing a screening of E.A. Dupont’s silent German masterpiece Variete at Transistor Chicago. I’ll be screening my German Blu-ray of the 2015 F.W. Murnau Foundation restoration, which runs 20 minutes longer than all previous home video releases (and one should note there are no plans for a North American release). The event is BYOB and admission is free. Here is the description I wrote for the Transistor website:
A major masterpiece of Germany’s silent film era, E.A. Dupont’s tragic, darkly ironic tale concerns a love triangle between trapeze artists that ends in betrayal and murder. Emil Jannings is at his best as the cuckolded husband but it’s the brilliant cinematography of Karl Freund (‘Metropolis’) that really makes ‘Varieté’ fly. Only released in the U.S. in truncated form, this 2015 restoration by the F.W. Murnau Foundation magnificently revivifies Dupont’s film to its original glory. (1925, R, 94 minutes)
More info here: http://www.transistorchicago.com/51615