Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

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zedz
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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#101 Post by zedz » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:01 am

I'd say the bare minimum for an interesting political subtext is that it offers some kind of analysis of power dynamics and how they work, not just simplistic declarations of intent like "tyranny is bad" or "women shouldn't be treated like livestock", and that the analysis might in some way help us understand the real world better.

And I'm afraid my threshold for three dimensionality in characters goes some ways beyond Hollywood Screenwriting text books. (E.g "having a goal," "learning life lessons")

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captveg
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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#102 Post by captveg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:45 am

Wouldn't that be text, not subtext?

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#103 Post by Foam » Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:54 am

It's probably going too far to say the film has an interesting subtext if subtext implies some kind of complex and intentional thematic coherence, especially if that subtext has to "say" something essentially new in order to be interesting; I'm not sure the film has done this. But George Miller's filmography does have some signature themes, such as "family" in multiple senses, which may be relevant here and has mostly gone uninvestigated. And as for feminism, George Miller did hire Eve Ensler as a consultant so I think it's important to look for how that has played out in the final product.

The film wears the minimal dimensionality of its characters and its narrative on its sleeve. But I read that as an invitation to look more closely at its complex surface rather for condemning it for lacking a psychological depth that it obviously has no aspirations toward. I think the film has been too quickly labelled either as simply feminist or as simply making superficial pretensions to feminism. There hasn't been enough detailed analysis about what's so particularly weird and interesting about what it specifically is.

You have to be careful with these things because it could just be simply finally the end: dumb comic book representations of gender expression. But I think the film goes out of its way to push that cartoonishness to a point of excess that asks for further reflection. Instead of just being cartoonish characters for the sake of telegraphing a bare bones plot for the sake of the spectacle, you could say that in this post-apocalyptic vision the organization of these different stations around sexual difference creates a gender-cartoonishness-become-real through gender-essentialist decadence. When a society organizes itself around the dick or around the vagina, you see profusions of rotting masculine stereotypes/archetypes in the dick communities and rotting feminine stereotypes/archetypes in the vag communities.

My favorite shot is the climax of the film: after the Nux sacrifice the phallic guitar spirals into the center of the screen and then defies the laws of physics to fly back out of it, only for the screen to be swallowed up by the tit/vag wheel before Furiosa ascends to take control of the Citadel. What a weird kind of "feminism" for 2015.

As far as I can tell the film's stance towards all of what it may be doing with gender can be read as critical or complacent or anywhere inbetween. Part of what makes it exciting and successful is the felt danger of that ambiguous space. Taxi Driver can be read as both a completely critical and a completely complacent film, but because it is so articulate in that confusion, in a way it's more interesting to think about than a film which is a simple thought-through polemic in narrative form.

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who is bobby dylan
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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#104 Post by who is bobby dylan » Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:46 am

I'd say the bare minimum for an interesting political subtext is that it offers some kind of analysis of power dynamics and how they work, not just simplistic declarations of intent like "tyranny is bad" or "women shouldn't be treated like livestock", and that the analysis might in some way help us understand the real world better.
I'll bite. Here's one example. Immortan Joe maintains his power over those around him by consciously manipulating his image to his advantage. He wears armor and a mask that make him appear like a greater warrior than he is. He uses theatricality (the water deluge/the height from which he gives his speeches/the height of his vehicle) to make himself appear Godlike. He controls his soldiers through a belief system that gives meaning to their violent deaths in his service. I think the above description is more complex than "tyranny is bad". The movie gives an explanation of how tyranny works that can easily be transported into the real world: US politicians really want us/soldiers to believe that their deaths are meaningful, maybe all this stuff we're asked to believe about our soldiers is just as dumb as what the War Boys belief?
And I'm afraid my threshold for three dimensionality in characters goes some ways beyond Hollywood Screenwriting text books. (E.g "having a goal," "learning life lessons")
I'm afraid that I don't find employing private/personal definitions of words in a debate/discussion as impressive as you seem to. There are many movies full of "three dimensional characters" that I do not like. I don't find it necessary to then invoke a personal definition of what a common place term means, so that instead of explaining what my personal reasons for not liking something are, I can make a sweeping statement about how dumb and 1 dimensional the whole thing is.
The film wears the minimal dimensionality of its characters and its narrative on its sleeve. But I read that as an invitation to look more closely at its complex surface rather for condemning it for lacking a psychological depth that it obviously has no aspirations toward. I think the film has been too quickly labelled either as simply feminist or as simply making superficial pretensions to feminism. There hasn't been enough detailed analysis about what's so particularly weird and interesting about what it specifically is.
I agree with the thrust of this, but would say that the film creates three dimensional characters, but then presents them minimally as a creative choice. Without labeling the film as feminist or not feminist, I will just point out that George Miller used the cultural cache of Mad Max to finance a $150,000,000 action film where the co-lead is a woman and that Charlize Theron shares the title card with Tom Hardy. Within the context of the film it's treated as matter of fact that men are responsible for the destruction of the world and inherently untrustworthy unless they're willing to ally themselves with women.
My favorite shot is the climax of the film: after the Nux sacrifice the phallic guitar spirals into the center of the screen and then defies the laws of physics to fly back out of it, only for the screen to be swallowed up by the tit/vag wheel before Furiosa ascends to take control of the Citadel. What a weird kind of "feminism" for 2015.
Very interesting take on the climax of that scene.

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zedz
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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#105 Post by zedz » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:54 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote:I agree with the thrust of this, but would say that the film creates three dimensional characters, but then presents them minimally as a creative choice. Without labeling the film as feminist or not feminist, I will just point out that George Miller used the cultural cache of Mad Max to finance a $150,000,000 action film where the co-lead is a woman and that Charlize Theron shares the title card with Tom Hardy. Within the context of the film it's treated as matter of fact that men are responsible for the destruction of the world and inherently untrustworthy unless they're willing to ally themselves with women.
This is exactly the kind of tendentiousness I'm complaining about: the leap from 'having a female action hero lead kickin' ass' to 'having a profound political subtext and a strong feminist message'. It's a fun film. It's less sexist than most blockbuster action films featuring a cast of scantily clad supermodels riding way cool boy's toys. That doesn't make it the second coming of Simone de Beauvoir.

As for the alleged three dimensionality of the characters, you're really going to have to give some examples. This was like a (good) Judge Dredd film, with simple archetypes pushed to entertaining extremes. Did any character at any point act in a way that surprised us and caused us to rethink their character up to that point? And no, the minor baddie falling in lurve and having a change of heart and sacrificing himself for the goodies ceased to be surprising a loooong time ago.

And can you name me one superhero film where the supervillain doesn't "use theatricality"? (Oh my god, were Dr. Octopus's arms metaphors for American imperialism all this time and I missed it?) Those examples you cite seem to me simple genre givens, hardly incisive political insights.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#106 Post by captveg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:03 pm

I was kinda waiting for the backlash on this one. Looks like we've hit that stride!

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#107 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:15 pm

There have been dissenters since literally day one. I know, I was one of them!

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#108 Post by Ribs » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:21 pm

Basically the worst thing that could happen to this movie is it wins Best Picture because then the internet will immediately turn on it.

Since No Country for Old Men, I think only 12 Years a Slave has avoided a nigh-immediate backlash from "the people of the internet" after winning the award, and given none of the contenders this year are even remotely on that 'earned' level that helps it avoid that, I daresay whatever wins will suffer the same unfortuante effect of everybody suddenly turning on it.

The general internet will stay positive on this one providing it doesn't win the big prize, though.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#109 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:28 pm

I didn't care for this film but I'd be only too happy for it to win Best Picture, if just for it being such an unusual choice for the Academy. The big prize so rarely goes to the best film nominated (last year being a rare exception), so the next best thing would be for it to go to the most outlying choice

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#110 Post by zedz » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:19 pm

domino harvey wrote:There have been dissenters since literally day one. I know, I was one of them!
And it's beyond tedious that somebody praising the film but failing to fall down in blind worship at its alleged profundity (i.e. me) gets tagged as a 'backlash'. Why are fans of above-average genre films (see also: anything by Christopher Nolan) so thin-skinned?

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Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#111 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:26 pm

I loved the hell out of this myself. Thought the action was exhilarating, pure filmmaking that seems to have been made by a filmmaker half the director's age, visually stunning, with a smart subtext, minimalist but detailed. I've been for another Mad Max film since I was 14, and this didn't disappoint. Isn't exactly my choice for best picture, but I would like to see it win some technical awards. John Seale's cinematography certainly deserves the nod.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#112 Post by who is bobby dylan » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:45 pm

This is exactly the kind of tendentiousness I'm complaining about: the leap from 'having a female action hero lead kickin' ass' to 'having a profound political subtext and a strong feminist message'. It's a fun film. It's less sexist than most blockbuster action films featuring a cast of scantily clad supermodels riding way cool boy's toys. That doesn't make it the second coming of Simone de Beauvoir.
You could easily apply your charge of tendentiousness to yourself. I haven't argued that the film has a strong feminist message as one its selling points. You're the one who brought up that point only to dismiss it.
And can you name me one superhero film where the supervillain doesn't "use theatricality"? (Oh my god, were Dr. Octopus's arms metaphors for American imperialism all this time and I missed it?) Those examples you cite seem to me simple genre givens, hardly incisive political insights.
The theatricality I mentioned was used towards a political end and that is the context in which I mentioned it. I never claimed that the use of theatricality in itself is political.
Why are fans of above-average genre films (see also: anything by Christopher Nolan) so thin-skinned?
For someone who has implied that they are well versed in political analysis and feminism you are the only one in this thread resorting to name calling and making assumptions about others viewing and reading habits just because they liked a movie more than you did.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#113 Post by captveg » Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:20 pm

In case it was unclear before, my "backlash" comment wasn't meant as an insult to anyone in particular, or even an insult at all. It was more an observation, in that every film in history that has been overwhelmingly positively received will eventually get knocked down a few pegs because no film is perfect or will perfectly please everyone. Citizen Kane has its detractors. Every Martin Scorsese film has its detractors. It's a natural part of any film's reception. The timing here was the focus of my statement, as it's often around awards season that awards-praised films gain the inverse "it's not truly that great" criticisms.

And, yes, the film has had its fair share of those responses before. It just seemed to kinda be coalescing into a "backlash" type swell between this and other threads I've seen on other message boards in the last few days.

As for Nolan - I found Interstellar to be significantly flawed and merely passively "good", so I wouldn't be so quick to make that a 1:1 corollary.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#114 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:05 pm

Image

Get you Mad Max: Fury Road Post-Nuclear Family car decal here

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#115 Post by Trees » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:25 pm

I'm still baffled that anyone is taking this film seriously. It's a well-choreographed action flick seriously lacking in logical foundation. It's about as profound as a John Grisham novel.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#116 Post by willoneill » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:31 pm

Recasting any major role has an inevitable downside, and it can hamper even a movie as blatantly superb as this one.
At least Mae Whitman agrees with him on that part.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#117 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:35 pm

No one is obligated to be cast in anything unless there's serious racial whitewashing issues at play. I don't agree with the idea that the filmmakers should have their feet held to the fire to cast anyone, and it's jumping to conclusions at best to use this as an excuse to imply that there were even casting discussions about Whitman, let alone that those discussions were dismissive about whether she was "hot enough." Filmmakers should have control over what shape they want their work to take, not the collective Twitter blob

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#118 Post by essrog » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:10 pm

The analogy to Creed is an interesting one, except by citing that he's undermining his argument by ignoring almost all of Fury Road. Yes, it would be kind of cool to see the gun-on-the-shoulder part with Mel Gibson as Max symbolically passing the baton to Furiosa, just as it was cool to see Sly as Rocky passing the baton to a new generation (I assume -- haven't seen it yet), but the problem with the analogy is that Sly doesn't also have to get in the ring and look like he could beat the hell out of someone 40 years younger than him. Mel would have to still be a credible action hero during all those action set-pieces, and even for a movie that features a guy playing a flame-throwing guitar leading men into battle, that would be pretty unbelievable.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#119 Post by captveg » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:34 pm

I also don't get the hangup people have in trying to fit Fury Road into a strict continuity with the older films. It can just be another tale of the Wasteland. Trying to cross all those t's seems like an excercise in frustration when the filmmaker himself isn't worried about it.

This also goes to why I wouldn't mind a recasting of Indiana Jones - I just want some more adventures of the character from random years in the 1930s. Keeping Ford necessitates setting them on the 1950s or later, and that setting just doesn't work for those films, IMO.
Last edited by captveg on Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#120 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:45 pm

I've always found this article, Continuity as Commodity and Fetish to be an excellent account of the worship of continuity among certain groups.

While I don't share it, I do understand why people find coherence--which is what this amounts to--reassuring and therefore attractive.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#121 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:52 pm

I'm not sure I like the wording in the text or in your post. It's not so much a question of continuity or coherence than consistence.
It could be a matter of tone, characters' behaviour, pace, etc etc.

Then, it's obviously up to us to know when we should be looking for some or not. I personally think it's silly to try and fit Fury Road as some kind of Mad Max 4 over a grand chronological line.

But if you take the example of LOST (which is quoted in the article you linked), there are indeed many things in the show that seems out of context within the show own consistence. Like if suddenly, somebody who doesn't know the show and hasn't briefed about where it should be going has taken over the writing room and do his/her own stuff before getting replaced a few episodes later.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#122 Post by captveg » Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:46 pm

Well, with LOST, I'd say that their promotion of the series as a serialized strict-continuity program laid down rules that they should have adhered to, so when continuity is explicitly part of the fabric of the content it should be followed. The 00s Battlestar Galactica did a far better job in this regard (though even they fudged a few details).

But with something like Mad Max the filmmaker has basically stated that strict continuity is not one of his concerns, so I don't see the need to jump through hoops to make it so.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#123 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:12 pm

captveg wrote:The 00s Battlestar Galactica did a far better job in this regard (though even they fudged a few details).
I think they fudged a few stuff for the same reason that LOST fuged some too : because, at some point, they were navigating quite in the dark. The end of season 3 and most of season 4 certainly feels like it (Robot Chicken had quite a funny skit about that).

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#124 Post by captveg » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:19 pm

BSG at least circled back around and relied on things they set up in S1 in the end. Sure, it wasn't planned ahead in specifics, but they didn't just forget it all, either.

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Re: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

#125 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sat Feb 27, 2016 1:32 pm

Quite a ridiculous movie, but really good fun. Wish I'd seen it at a decent cinema rather than at home. Fave thing: the guy playing guitar hitched to the front of one of the souped up vehicles for no obvious reason!

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