Wednesday, May 27, 2015
      ( 3:35 PM ) posted by Setsuled  

Young love is more often known for its intensity than its wisdom, certainly no-one more artfully affirmed this than William Shakespeare. Which makes intriguingly controversial the title of his post Elizabethan comedy All's Well That Ends Well. The Wikpedia entry notes that this is classified as a "problem play" because centuries of assessments have discovered that there is a rather tragic quality to what actually happens in the play despite all the clever dialogue. Personally, I don't see why this element of tragedy should prevent it from being a comedy, rather I take it as another indication of Shakespeare's peculiar genius in producing something that would sit easily among works centuries newer that indulge liberally in a variety of moods and ideas while still being broadly called drama or comedy. All's Well That Ends Well is a portrait of how truly funny human ridiculousness can lead to mercurial and sad results.

I watched a 1981 BBC production directed by Elijah Moshinsky, produced by Jonathan Miller who also directed several productions of Shakespeare for the BBC. I found Miller's production of King Lear so badly misconceived I wasn't able to finish watching it and this production of All's Well That Ends Well suffers in the same way to some extent, particularly in the casting of Angela Down as Helena, the central character. I suspect it was Miller or Moshinsky who instructed her to play Helena as wise and sort of clinical as part of a deliberately provocative expression regarding the nature of the character. The result, though, is something that simply doesn't make sense. Helena as played by Down comes off as someone too cool to swoon over a handsome young nobleman who despises her and she'd definitely know better than to force the king into making him marry her. Helena is clever, certainly, as evinced by her elaborate plan to trick Bertram into having sex with her. But forcing a man who hates you to have sex with you hardly reflects the wisdom that comes through in Down's performance.

Parolles, a vassal of Bertram's, is played a bit more appropriately by Peter Jeffrey whom I recognised from the Doctor Who serial The Androids of Tara (though according to imdb I've seen him in several other things). Parolles is a bit like a more perfidious version of Falstaff; a boaster, coward, and drinker like the more famous character but much more willing to double cross his friends and much more vain. The scene where his comrades kidnap him, blindfold him, and speak in nonsense jargon to imitate a foreign language is one of the most genuinely funny bits in all of Shakespeare's plays.

Even better cast was Celia Johnson as Bertram's mother whose benevolence and love for Helena conveys the sense in which Helena marrying Bertram is actually a good idea--in that having Helena as a daughter in law might improve having Bertram as a son, though the countess is too nice to put it that way.

The production has nice costumes and the lighting seems inspired by Rembrandt, which was an excellent idea.

For a more appropriate take on Helena and a slightly less effective take on the countess, here's a clip from a more recent production by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It contains some of the most obnoxious lens flares I've seen--this is a filmmaking trend that really needs to go away.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015
      ( 4:02 PM ) posted by Setsuled  

How do you cast a great Irish actress? In almost anything, it seems. Maureen O'Hara was cast as a Spanish noblewoman in 1945's The Spanish Main, two years before she'd play an Arabian princess in Sinbad the Sailor, which was not the last time the great redhead would be cast as Arabic. I guess it's a little easier to buy her as Spanish, that's hardly the biggest flaw in the 1945 pirate film, though The Spanish Main has quite a lot going for it. Unfortunately, its screenplay is beyond mediocre.

Certainly, though, it suffered from a miscast male lead--Paul Henreid is believable enough as the respectable Dutch immigrant to the Carolinas he's introduced as but after the goods from his wrecked ship are confiscated by a Spanish governor, Juan Alvarado (Walter Slezak), he becomes a terribly dull and unconvincing pirate.

Particularly next Maureen O'Hara. "That red hair of hers is no lie," as Barry Fitzgerald says of her in The Quiet Man and, yes, her quick reflexes and obvious physical strength would have made her a great action star. There's a long list of male stars from the time I'm fully confident she could've taken easily in a fight but unfortunately that's a side of her too rarely seen. Here we're meant to take her as defenceless and too weak even to cock a flintlock pistol.

This is from a duel between her and Anne Bonny--a real life pirate who is here played by Binnie Barnes, physically slighter than O'Hara and with not half the fire. She's jealous that Laurent (Henreid) has taken Francisca (O'Hara) to wife and in one of the many stupid plot contortions Bonny becomes part of a group of pirates intent on taking Francisca away from him for his own good.

Though it's not as dumb as how Francisca and Laurent were married in the first place, this being around fifteen minutes of film given over to placating the Hays code as Laurent and his crew take O'Hara's ship en route to Juan Alvarado and force her to . . . marry Laurent! But only with her complete consent! And then, when she leans back in bed, hoping he'll take her in his arms he . . . refrains! Yes, he's become a real wild man.

O'Hara had played another damsel in distress in another pirate film a few years earlier, The Black Swan, which is superior in just about every way. But The Spanish Main has some amazing costumes, I'll give it that. O'Hara's dresses are all fantastic, this one was my favourite:

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Monday, May 25, 2015
      ( 3:39 PM ) posted by Setsuled  

I think in honour of Ireland I'll be calling it Game O'Thrones to-day.

Last night's episode seemed primarily to consist of connecting scenes between last week's episode and next week's--lots of plot stuff, big developments to get characters to new places for next week to digest. Some of it I liked, some of it felt a bit rushed, as the io9 review says. There were some dumb things but mostly they were because of already established dumb things.

Spoilers after the screenshot from Brazil.

I guess Peter Vaughan (left) won't be reuniting with his costar from Terry Gilliam's 1985 film, Brazil, Jonathan Pryce (right) because, in my favourite scene from last night, Vaughan's character, Maester Aemon, passed away more peacefully than just about anyone else in Westeros.

Aemon, reminiscing through slight hallucination, seems to find himself back with a more innocent version of his brother, the long dead mad king. The line where he says he dreamed he was old ranks with Ciaran Hinds' death earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, Pryce is miles away in King's Landing sparring with Diana Rigg.

I'm not really sure if the High Sparrow is very badly written or completely delusional. Olenna (Rigg) says she can spot a fraud a mile away and I thought, yeah, this guy isn't exactly subtle. As Olenna points out, out of all the people in King's Landing he could have condemned, he chose politically significant people. It's so obviously a power play. But he stays committed to the role, giving Olenna a rap about how the commoners outnumber the aristocrats and how he's with "the people". "Well, if that's so," I thought, "and you don't believe in VIPs, why are you scrubbing the floor of this huge room by yourself?"

One thing that generally goes along with being popular is that people want to be around you. I guess if I worked hard for the show, I could say that scrubbing the floor is a form of meditation and the High Sparrow asked to be alone. But then, despite being the guy who says religion is supposed to be for the people, he's basically shutting everyone out of the holy place on his peculiar prerogative. It makes his threat to Olenna that he's somehow going to turn her own subjects against her seem really lame. George R.R. Martin has said in interviews that the Sparrows are inspired by the Reformation. If that's so, he or Benioff and Weiss have a pretty hazy grasp on that chapter in history. Neither the Catholics or the Protestants limited the people they denounced for heresy to prominent figures.

I did kind of like Pryce's speech about the age of the altar. But the character is far more effective if you look at him as a fringe cult figure, more like the Ranters or the Hussites than John Calvin or Martin Luther. The fact that Jan Hus was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church reminds us that crazy religious establishments tend to spend a lot more time killing smaller groups of people with other crazy religious ideas.

In Winterfell, we find Sansa locked away having suffered many more cruel nights at the hands of Ramsay. She begs Reek to help her--if anyone was expecting Theon to reassert himself and do so they must have forgotten about the time he had a straight razor to Ramsay's throat and did nothing but shave. Ramsay cut Theon's dick off, by the laws of bro-hood or something Theon has to do everything Ramsay says now.

You know, I should really stress this again in case Snoop Dogg is reading; you can't make a guy your thrall by cutting his penis off. It won't work.

I kind of wondered how Ramsay knew it was the old woman who told Sansa about the candle in the window signal. But I guess he could have interrogated all the serving staff. I guess he's not exactly following his father's advice about trying to win the hearts and minds of the north. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Roose kills Ramsay.

Not too far away, Stannis is plotting his attack on Winterfell despite Davos' misgivings. I really liked that Melisandre wants to sacrifice Stannis' daughter. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

In Dorne, meanwhile, one of the Sand Snakes uses one of Melisandre's favourite persuasion techniques by taking her clothes off in the middle of a conversation with a guy though instead of sexually inexperienced Jon Snow who's caught flat-footed it's Bronn--rather out of character for him.

But I guess the big news from last night was Tyrion meeting Daenerys. This was the end of a segment featuring a series of very unlikely things--Tyrion managing to talk himself into being bought by the same guy who bought Jorah, the same buyer being rather careless with his slave gladiators, Daenerys apparently forgetting she'd outlawed slavery or somehow not understanding she was witnessing slaves fighting right in front of her, and Jorah managing to knock out half a dozen fighters without killing them. Tyrion, for some reason the only slave who was chained down, is set loose by another slave and promptly introduces himself to the queen, taking us well and truly outside the territory of the source books, by all accounts (I haven't read them). Well, to Benioff and Weiss, I say good luck. It would be nice if this works.


Sunday, May 24, 2015
      ( 4:11 PM ) posted by Setsuled  

Considered one of the greatest stories ever written, you'd think the Odyssey would have generated more film adaptations. The oldest one I've seen is 1954's Ulysses starring Kirk Douglas as Ulysses (in recent years more often referred to by his Greek name, Odysseus) although it's an Italian film. The dubbed dialogue presumably crudely translated from an Italian screenplay--though Douglas dubs himself in English--and certain decisions to economise the story diminish the film a little but it is an effective adventure tale in beautiful colour.

As in Homer's original poem, an effective through line of tension in the film is that while Ulysses is having his various adventures at sea his wife, Penelope, back home in Ithaca, is beset by suitors who've basically taken over her home. It's only a matter of time before everyone finally decides Ulysses died in the Trojan war and one of them claims her. In Homer's version, Ulysses is more leisurely about getting home because he's unaware of the situation. In the film, he's still unaware but the filmmakers take more opportunities to make the story about Ulysses' desire to see Penelope, such as making the song of the sirens an imitation of Penelope's voice that torments Ulysses for being unable to reach her while tied to the mast. This is a bit disappointing, though of course composing a song that actually drives people mad may not have been a task composer Alessandro Cicognini was equal to. I would have preferred perhaps switching to the POV of a crew member with wax in his ears witnessing an agonised Ulysses with a muted soundtrack. That would have preserved some of the mystery which is much more effective than the idea that Ulysses was duped by a sound-alike.

Perhaps the biggest change the film makes, aside from a whole lot of omissions, is in combining the characters of Calypso and Circe, called Circe, and making her look exactly like Penelope--both characters are played by the beautiful Silvana Mangano.

I can't blame the filmmakers for wanting to her on screen as long as possible. Though, being only one year older than Franco Interlenghi, who plays her son Telemachus, she was quite visibly too young for the role.

Also in the film is Anthony Quinn as Antinous, the most prominent of Penelope's suitors, and he does a great deal for that through line of tension. Though impertinent and aggressive, he's nevertheless charming and seems sincere in his offer to protect Penelope if she becomes his wife.

The end of the film is, of course, not the orgy of gore depicted in the poem, neither is the encounter with the Cyclops as bloody but Kirk Douglas makes both episodes pretty entertaining, his steely glee just right for Ulysses' cleverness and bloodlust.

Ulysses' encounter with Nausicaa on Scherie is modified to give Ulysses temporary amnesia so he can fall in love with Nausicaa who's played by Rossana Podesta. She and the other women of her court appear to buy clothes in Victorian England and hats from a bakery.


Saturday, May 23, 2015
      ( 11:53 AM ) posted by Setsuled  
Congratulations to Ireland becoming the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. Well done. Maybe one day you'll even have Doctor Who.

For some reason in the entire history of the television series the Doctor has never once visited Ireland despite going to Scotland all the time and also paying visits to France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and the U.S. For some reason the country right next door with the beautiful filming locations has never drawn a Who production. Well, maybe this is the beginning of an era of positive change.

As it happens the only Doctor Who audio play I managed to listen to this past week, Scherzo from 2003, is about marriage and stars Paul McGann, who I think is of Irish decent (he was born in Liverpool), as the Eighth Doctor and India Fisher as companion Charley Pollard--and no-one else. The story is about marriage in a rather grisly, allegorical way as the Doctor and Charley find themselves stripped of most of their senses--left only the ability to speak and hear--and find their bodies are gradually merging over a period of perhaps months. Every now and then they're permitted the return of their senses in order to feed on some mysterious, rapidly evolving organic mass.

This is the fourth audio play I've heard written by Robert Shearman who has impressed me a great deal with his previous three, The Holy Terror, The Chimes of Midnight, and Jubilee. Scherzo is quite explicit in its metaphorical sex, if that makes sense, the Doctor and Charley having much dialogue about how they're becoming one as they find their hands and then their faces are growing into each other accompanied by moist meaty sound effects. Even more frightening and weird is what amounts to their offspring which seems to indicate Eraserhead levels of anxiety regarding procreation. But ultimately, the story is sweet and the biological stuff seems a stand in for the worries of two people whose lives are merging. It's certainly an interesting predecessor to the relaunched television series' focus on romance.

I also rewatched the Seventh Doctor serial The Silver Nemesis starring Sylvester McCoy who partly grew up in Ireland. This serial seems to have gotten a bad reputation but I still rather like it. The Doctor and Ace are delightful together as always, even slightly over the top moments like where Ace asks the Doctor if he's lost his marbles and he immediately produces a handful of marbles from his pocket. This is largely sold by Sophie Aldred delivering the setup with an impression of complete natural candour. The Seventh Doctor and Ace have a chemistry that continues to surprise me in its depth in small moments like that. Sometimes she's the Abbott to his Costello, and then the Doctor has a dark look and it seems he's the Jacob Marley to her Scrooge. It all fuses together in something really vital, a clever comedy routine that's a precarious lid on something really volatile.

DOCTOR WHO - Silver Nemesis - (PART ONE) by TimeLordWannabe69

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Friday, May 22, 2015
      ( 1:56 PM ) posted by Setsuled  

It's been a long and some might say furious or even Furiosa road. From cop movie to western to Sci-Fi and now, finally, to fantasy in 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road. More than any of the previous films, Fury Road focuses on themes, particularly ideas of heroism, self-worth, and altruism, at times quite successfully. Invariably successful are the action sequences which dominate a whole lion pride's share of the film and through it all is that distinctive aesthetic weirdness that you only get with George Miller's Mad Max.

In a way, the genre this film most pays homage to is the Mad Max genre. Looking back on the previous films, it's easy to see the best parts are the decadent car chases, not merely for the action but for the insane, over the top displays by the villains. Fury Road not only occupies more screen time with these, it piles on more of everything--more makeup, more engines, more skulls, and it's all topped off by the post-apocalyptic version of a piper, a rock guitarist (iOTA);

Again, we have more of the wild-grown high fashion. Despite the fact Beyond Thunderdome is widely considered the weakest of the series, Fury Road picks up a lot where its immediate predecessor left off mainly in terms of a focus on world-building. Where the tribe of children worshipping the dead crew of a commercial airline in Thunderdome was used to explore the Sci-Fi concept of a transplanted cultural evolution from our familiar culture, Fury Road goes, hmm, beyond Thunderdome with the War Boys. The focus of this hypothetical civilisation is less on how they came to be from what we know and more how they reflect basic aspects of human nature. Almost entirely male, pale, sterile, with eye shadow resembling the shaman kid from Beyond Thunderdome, the civilisation has only a handful of women mostly used for breeding or to produce breast milk.

There are various references to Norse mythology, most explicitly the fact that the endless supply of male soldiers seek glorious deaths in battle to reach Valhalla. There's also perhaps something of Wotan's relationship with Brunnhilde in Wagner's operas in how much of the plot is driven by a group of the precious few women rebelling against the leader of the War Boys, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). There's even a minor character credited as simply "The Valkyrie" (Megan Gale). But she comes from another civilisation, one to which Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) originally belonged.

One of the two leads of the film, there's quite a lot of Furiosa's story that's somewhat conspicuously left untold. An Imperator is a sort of officer among the War Boys. Furiosa explains to Max that she was captured as a child from the "Green Place", her destination in the film where the five wives of Joe, hidden in the tank of her stolen "War Rig", hope to find safety. Furiosa tells Max she's motivated by a desire for "redemption"--presumably for working as an Imperator but it's unclear.

Fury Road is indeed, as many critics have been saying, more feminist than the previous films, though really more on grounds of policy than in terms of character. The male characters are still more interesting--in fact, arguably more interesting because they're allowed to be inferior to the women in some respects. Max's wife in the first film wasn't much more than a victim, Virginia Hey's part in The Road Warrior was too short to really get going, and the female leader of the tribe of children in Beyond Thunderdome makes stereotypically dumb, emotionally motivated decisions that Max has to clean up after. Tina Turner was appreciably badass but she was also the villain so on some level Max had to trump her, too, leaving aside the somewhat enigmatic ending of the film.

In Fury Road, it's the women who have a clear idea of priorities while the two male protagonists, Max and Nux, are psychologically lost. Nux (Nicholas Hoult), despite being such an over the top character--one of the War Boy soldiers--has kind of a subtle and surprisingly rewarding arc. But, appropriately enough, the best character in the movie is Max, played now by English actor Tom Hardy. And Hardy is largely responsible for what's interesting about Max in this film.

He has very little dialogue. He explains to us in voice over how he's hunted by both "the living and the dead"--the latter being the people he couldn't save. He has a repeated vision of a child that distracts him at key moments. But it's also Hardy's performance that conveys a man tyrannised by his own mind--soft spoken, with a slight stutter and a reluctance to lock eyes with people and, when he does, it's clearly to assess physical threat. When he changes from seeing Furiosa as an obstacle to seeing her as a comrade, it doesn't seem a conscious decision but merely a shifting of ingrained behaviour pattern. Hardy brilliantly conveys a man so damaged by the loss of loved ones that his ability to empathise with new people has been reduced to almost nothing.

Alongside Hardy's performance, the film's visuals are the chief highlight. The road gangs look less punk now and more metal, appropriate for the Norse mythological references. There also seems to be an anime influence--Wikipedia quotes Miller as being influenced by Akira but I was also reminded of GAINAX productions of the 2000s. Aside from the guitarist, I generally thought the derivative score was the film's weakest point--in addition to the fact that's another modern film where almost every shot is orange or blue--but it's hard to notice when the film had so much else going for it.

After Caitlin R. Kiernan reported in her blog having such a bad experience seeing the film from close to the screen, I made sure to get a seat in the back row of the theatre and I recommend you do the same if you see it. There's a lot to take in and it moves really fast.


Thursday, May 21, 2015
      ( 10:18 AM ) posted by Setsuled  

So from cop movie to Spaghetti Western, Max arrives on his third outing at a Science Fiction film with 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. By reputation, I expected this film to be the watered down, Hollywood big budget version of Mad Max and I found this somewhat true and yet there is quite a lot to appreciate in its visuals and characters.

It seems like we're in for another Spaghetti Western in the beginning which borrows a crane shot from Sergio Leone to establish Bordertown--starting with a wooden sign to sweep over a bustling crowd like a shot from Leone's Once Upon a Time In the West.

This is one of my favourite sequences in the film as Max--Gibson again with the same weird long hair with really short hair in the middle he'd have in Braveheart--makes his way through the motley tide of merchants and punks into some man-made caverns. There's a real sense of chaotic, strange human existence going on reminiscent of a Terry Gilliam movie but again with the seemingly spontaneous manifestations of high fashion.

Soon Max meets the woman more or less in charge of Bartertown--played by Tina Turner who, with the only American accent in the film, seems slightly out of place but isn't so bad. She rules the town like a stage, involving a lot of strutting and charm. The people call her "Aunty", bringing to mind India and the particular affectionate place "Aunties" hold in Indian culture.

Thunderdome itself proves to be the real weak point of the film. Max picks a fight with Aunty's rival for Bordertown rule--Master Blaster, who is in fact two people; Master (Angelo Rossitto), a little person who rides on the shoulders of Blaster (Paul Larsson), a very big person. Max and Master Blaster settle their dispute in Thunderdome, a community arena designed for the purpose where "Two men enter, one man leaves." I can't imagine many people accepted the sense in how Max's fight with Blaster ends.

It's one of a few moments in the film where rather hazy logic connects one act to another. I won't spoil it for you but suffice to say the next act has Max wandering the desert until he encounters a tribe of children living in a canyon oasis.

The movie's filled with homages, this sequence purportedly borrowing heavily from a novel called Riddley Walker which I've never read, borrowing not only plot elements but names without attribution. It's really puzzling--if directors George Miller and George Ogilvie were going to steal something, you'd think they'd be more discreet about it. But considering the concept was hardly original to Riddley Walker--a tribe whose mythology and dialect have devolved and evolved from familiarity with things of the modern world--Miller and Ogilvie could have easily gotten away with it if they'd just avoided names. Personally, I was reminded of one of my favourite Doctor Who serials, the 1977 story The Face of Evil where the Doctor encounters a primitive tribe called the Sevateem--a corruption of the term "Survey Team", the ancestors of the tribe who'd originally landed on the planet.

Beyond Thunderdome's version is pretty adorable. I liked how they tell their history with a crude facsimile of a television.

The end of the film swings back towards Western with a train chase, an action sequence where the film starts to feel like it has some of the life exhibited in the previous film. It never quite ascends to that level but it does have a lovely sense of a big, strange world.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015
      ( 3:50 PM ) posted by Setsuled  

Now here's the Max you were probably looking for. 1981's Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior bears little resemblance to its predecessor, more Spaghetti Western than crime film. It's a lot better, too, with a story bound by familiar patterns yet possessed of its own life, the wasteland imagery complimented very nicely by the chaos of improbably stylish survivors.

Max (Gibson again) is the only returning character of the previous film, unless the dog with him is supposed to be the same dog, which seems unlikely since he looks completely different. I wondered if the recent post-apocalyptic Australian film The Rover was partly inspired by the relative indifference Max shows towards his faithful hound in this film.

Soon he encounters a human, a guy with a gyrocopter (Bruce Spence) whose yellow long johns and bright purple scarf making him the first of the film's delightful, wild grown haute couture specimens.

Max takes him prisoner and they hide on a hill where they witness a man being forced to watch the rape of his female companion by a gang of far more flamboyant punk thugs than seen in the first film. This is the first we see of the ubiquitous football padding used as armour.

These guys painted theirs black. The guards in the small community centred around an oil drill and refinery the punks lay siege to painted theirs white, which makes things clear enough.

Recognise her? It took me a moment more because of the eyebrows than the hair but that's Virginia Hey, the talented actress who would go on to play Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan on the television series Farscape. I wish she'd had a bigger role in this movie.

But that's the closest thing I have to a complaint. The roving gangs create a real feeling of menace directed at the vulnerable community and Max, as the outsider western hero, is by no means invincible. A really nicely put together film with terrific action sequences.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015
      ( 3:02 PM ) posted by Setsuled  

Looking for a movie about a dystopia where roving gangs and refugees battle to the death over scarce quantities of oil? Don't look to 1979's Mad Max. Many of the defining aspects of the film series began with the sequel, The Road Warrior. No-one even mentions oil in Mad Max which is more of a combination of rogue cop film and 1950s teen gang film. It indulges in several clichés and the script has some weak points but creative action sequences, an intense performance from a young Mel Gibson, and the basic concept are enough to keep the film interesting.

We're introduced early on to a couple goons peeping on a couple having sex out in the open. The goons are wearing black leather jackets similar to the one Marlon Brando wore in The Wild One and suddenly our perspective is subverted when they receive a call from dispatch and we realise these goons are the cops.

All the cops are dressed like Marlon Brando--minus the hat--and police headquarters looks more like an abandoned warehouse. The gang they're up against look like they were produced by the late 70s punk scene.

But despite this visual dichotomy, there's no real ambiguity about who's who. All the cops want to protect people and stop the bad guys, all the punk bikers want to kill, steal, and rape. Well, one young member of their crew, who's captured briefly by the police, is hesitant to kill.

He's sprung from custody by group of lawyers in one of the film's weaker scenes. Yes, somehow in this future where society has crumbled and justice is a bone of contention between rival gangs, there's a bureaucracy that puts a member of the rival gang back on the streets, a cliché of cop films that sits particularly oddly here. Other clichés, like the murdered partner (Steve Bisley)--who's so obviously marked for death from the beginning of the film he might as well have been wearing a shirt saying, "I'll be dead soon"--whose death makes the hero real mad fit a little more naturally. Though Gibson, instead of vowing violent revenge, decides to quit the force because he's got a wife and child to think of. However, Captain Fifi (Roger Ward), a gregarious man chomping a cigar, is determined to make people believe in heroes again and talks Max into just taking three weeks vacation instead.

What do you suppose happens next, a nice family vacation? Well, so the movie's predictable. But there's a weird personality to the action sequences that's pretty fun--there's a tendency, right before someone dies to cut very quickly to a shot of their eyes bugging out of their skulls. It's not quite cartoonish, more surreal.

Young Mel Gibson as Max is barely containing a fury that might well be racism or anti-Semitism but we the audience can remain blissfully unaware enough to just assume it's a man pushed to the edge by having everything that he holds dear taken away from him. Though I guess that's probably what anti-Semites think the Jews are responsible for. Well, Gibson's crazy eyes are put to better use here.


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