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mad max: fury road

Mad Max

mad max. damn. Where do I even start? My ever-growing crush on Tom Hardy continues. Granted he barely spoke during this film but the entire story defies dialogue in place of action, which is emphasized with stunning visuals and haunting sound. I first saw Hardy in Bronson but wasn’t really sold on him until Warrior, which made realize that this guy has more to him than just his “look.” And now I can appreciate that “look” just a little bit more.

warning: this entire post will spoil the movie for you.

In the opening scene, Hardy narrates, “My world is reduced to a single instinct: Survive. As the world fell it was hard to know who was more crazy. Me…or everyone else.” We know this is some time in the distant future where humanity has fallen and resources are scarce. What we understand about Max Rockatansky (Hardy) from the get is that the dude has been through some shit (major PTSD), whatever it may be, we get glimpses (literally) of some sort of chaos from his past (hears voices in his head). We are to assume it is familial cause really, what else gets the hero in motion right? What was interesting about the approach is that we never really learn about this girl (daughter), this woman (wife) and the tons of other images of people (a mob he couldn’t save perhaps?) that flash before his eyes every time he is faced with some action point. As my friend Ashley pointed out, George Miller (director/writer) assumes his audience is smart enough to figure out what happened to Max without beating you over the head with backstory. After eating a two-headed reptile, Max is kidnapped by a gang of War Boys from the Citadel. The War Boys are a fanatical cult: powdered bodied (due to their diseased nature), branded with various tattoos symbolizing their Hierarchy status, a little crazed with the idea of sacrificing themselves for their water-hoarding tyrannical emperor, Immorten Joe (Hugh Keays-Bryne) in hopes of reaching the shiny, chromed out heaven-like Valhalla, where Joe has promised them eternal life. Max is a universal blood donor (O Negative, which is realized by an intense tattoo session) and becomes a blood bag for super sick, mechanic War Boy, Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

Then there’s this bad-ass:


Charlize Theron plays Imperator Furiosa, a one-armed, sharp-shootin’, big rig-driving heroine with a shaven head. It’s here that I will mention that this film is really about Furiosa. Plain and simple, it’s true. Actually, I came to discover this entire film is a commentary on women and their multiple placements in society. We can get to that later. Furiosa is in the War Rig on her way to Gas Town to collect fuel in exchange for water. Every resource is precious or so we gather by the way things are going so far- Immorten Joe has claimed all the water in the Wasteland and the grossly obese ruler of Gas Town, The People Eater (John Howard), well he hoards all the gasoline. Immorten Joe is awarded with the best costume: the maw (air-filtration mask) fitted with a chrome mouth plate and horse teeth, a Plexiglass body of armor (which hides his gross skin boils) that makes him look super fit, a belt buckle that goes on for days, medals of valor pin his shoulders, and that awesome hair, come on, what’s not to love? Dude is scary as all heck.


After making his due speech atop the only cliff in Citadel, Joe opens the aquifer and lets loose gallons of water down the rocks. He watches smugly as the wretched fight one another for their ration. Then he abruptly stops the flow and tells “his” people not to become addicted to water. This is quite telling as we have seen the sad state of health of humanity: inhabitants are pale, have mutations, skin disorders, etc. It is obvious that without normal and very necessary resources, the people of this Wasteland have adapted quite poorly to its pathetic conditions. Soon it’s brought to Joe’s attention that Furiosa has turned the War Rig away from Gas Town and is headed onto the endless Fury Road. Suspicious of Furiosa’s intent, Joe enters his lair, passing through rooms (one of which has the only signs of lush green plant life in the desert) and discovers that his Five Wives are missing. The ladies made sure to leave behind bloody notes on the walls to let him know that they are no longer his property. Enraged, Joe calls upon his War Boys, loads up The Gigahorse and so the chase begins.


The war crew is a motley one: from pole swinging vaulters to bungeed Doof Warrior, the red onesie wearing war crier/electric guitarist/flamethrower dwarved by a wall of amps, and gang allies from neighboring territories Gas Town and Bullet Farm (where all the bullets are made). Even Nux, as sick as he is, fights his way into the convoy that pursues Furiosa and the Five Wives, determined (like every other guy involved) for the glory of Valhalla. Nux has Max, iron-masked and strapped to the front of his coupe, which allows him to continue his blood transfusion while barreling down Fury Road screaming (infamous trailer line), “Oh, what a day. What a lovely day!” At first you kinda hate Nux because he has our hero imprisoned but in time the character really grows on you. When it comes down to it, Nux just has high religious hopes and really wants to be validated by Joe so he can make it to Valhalla. Nux even tries to sacrifice himself (and Max) by blowing up his car into the War Rig, which is headed straight into the biggest sandstorm anyone has ever seen.


When the storm has subsided, Max wakes up to find Nux unconscious, so he drags himself (and Nux, who he is chained to) toward the War Rig. Furiosa is busy with repairs and the Five Wives appear like muses: perfect, glowing skin (majority of them are supermodels after all), dressed in swathy whites, drinking water and ridding themselves of their metal-toothed chastity belts. These women are the best of the land, an imprisoned harem set aside for breeding perfect little Immorten Joes. In a move I didn’t quite expect, Max pulls a (non-working) gun on the girls (mostly to cut the chains that bind him to Nux) and fights (so awesome) Furiosa, managing to steal the War Rig for a few seconds before it dies. Furiosa clues him in on the kill switch, which only she knows the sequence. Without choice, Max allows all the ladies back on the rig and the chase continues, leaving Nux behind. They head into Biker Gang territory, where Furiosa has made a deal to exchange fuel for safe passage but the whole deal is a bust when the Bikers realize that the convoy is not too far behind. The narrow passageway is detonated and the War Rig makes a run for it.

mad-max-fury-road-image-nicholas-houltMeanwhile, Nux has gloriously found his way to Joe’s stead and tells him that he can get back on the War Rig. As the convoy moves past Biker Gang Territory, Joe bestows Nux a pistol and a promise of entry into Valhalla, who’s gates are shiny and chrome. It’s believed Valhalla is an all-chrome Heaven and I think that before these boys think they’re going to gain entry they spray paint their mouths in shiny chrome as either a symbolic gesture or so they physically fit in perhaps. They also cry out, “WITNESS ME!” right after they chrome themselves probably as an amen-like gesture before sacrificing themselves. Nux flies onto the War Rig, dropping the gun, and is thereby admonished by Joe and the rest of the War Boys for his blatant failure. Joe attempts to shoot Furiosa but his very pregnant wife, The Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whitely) reveals herself and blocks his target. The convoy does not stop and a great battle ensues, leaving behind Angharad, forcing Joe’s convoy to come to a screeching halt while the War Rig reluctantly moves on. Capable (Riley Keough) discovers Nux, who is hidden in the back of the Rig, distraught over his failure. Furiosa tells Max that she is taking herself and Joe’s Wives to the Green Place of Many Mothers, where they will be safe from Immorten Joe. She recalls this place from her youth and remembers its paradise.

Before long, Joe’s ally, The Bullet Farmer (Richard Carter) catches up with the War Rig and a barrage of bullets ensue. Night has fallen and the War Rig is stuck in the muds of some weird deserted, burnt treed, crow-laden with scarecrow-stilt-walkers, swampland where Nux helps the Rig get back on its way in pursuit of paradise.234110-9470980e-f9dd-11e4-9416-e181221d5c3b The next morning, the Rig comes upon a tower with a naked, crying woman, Valkyrie (Megan Gale) which Max identifies as a trap but Furiosa takes her chances, proclaiming loudly that she is of the Vuvalini clan. This signals the entrance of desert bikers, which is one of those parts where you are totally surprised because when the bikers reveal themselves, they are a group of elderly women. How cool is that? I’ve never seen anything like that before: old badass women. They confirm that Furiosa is from their all-female clan but was kidnapped alongside her mother long ago by Immorten Joe. The women let her know that the swampland they crossed during the night was once the Green Place, which has now become uninhabitable. The group decides to cross the salt flats in pursuit of a better life whilst Max takes his own journey.

But Max quickly changes his mind after another vision of his daughter and encourages the group to go back the way they came because the Citadel truly has everything they need and the only thing in the way is Immorten Joe. And so, the chase continues as the War Rig makes its way back from whence it came. Epic warfare ensues as the Rig meets up with Joe’s army near the Biker Gang Territory. The Vuvalini unleash epic warfare on the remaining War Boys while Max battles Joe’s overgrown son, Rictus Erectus (Nathan Jones). After many sacrifices, the War Rig crew, now in the Gigahorse, makes its way into the Citadel. The War Boys are on high alert as the Gigahorse’s new inhabitants display the horse-toothed ventilator mask as proof of a new ruler. The little War Boy crew who churn the elevator up and down allows the new Gigahorse crew up on the cliff. I love this part because the children who are doing all the labor take matters into their own hands and bypass their elders. As the crowd cheers their new ruler, the overweight wet nurses (who produce the much vied after “Mother’s Milk”) turn on the aquifer letting the water flow gloriously toward its people. Max, who is down below, gives Furiosa a knowing nod before disappearing into the crowd.

Ugh, I love this movie so much.

George Miller. Come on. This man, aged 70, made this film in his late 60s, which blows my mind. It is very difficult to blow my mind but that he did. Of course the Mad Max franchise was part of my childhood and actually exceeds the length of my lifetime but I admit that I didn’t really follow Miller’s career too closely. I remembered watching Babe: Pig in the City when I was a teenager and thought, dang this movie is dark. And now I know why. Not sure if I ever got around to Happy Feet, but I am glad, so very glad, that Miller got to realize this fine piece of filmmaking. A part of me really can’t fathom how he actually got this made, especially when you know how studio politics work, it’s weird because it felt like there was a lot of trust put into Miller. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset about it, actually I’m pretty excited about it because I feel that if a studio can sometimes just leave well enough alone then the reward can be so great. There is a lot going on in this film and it is very hard to digest everything since it is all zooming at you at extreme velocity. It’s been a week since I’ve seen it and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I had to read a lot of articles and interviews to really understand the movie and where Miller was coming from. MadMax_Main_SL

Some themes that Miller tackles:

  • Women’s Rights
    • The Wives left behind phrases like “WE ARE NOT THINGS,” on the walls of Joe’s lair, which is pretty obvious how they felt about being used for breeding purposes only.
    • When Max first approaches them, they are struggling to get rid of their chastity belts, another nod at the ladies’ enslavement to only Joe.
  • Feminism
    • Furiosa is a leader, entrusted to take on impactful tasks and obviously she takes matters into her own hands when she realizes the treatment of the Wives. And although she has a shaved head and one arm, she is still a gorgeous badass who is not afraid of a tyrannical dictator. Not only is she trying to save these women, but she is also trying to save herself and later seeks revenge on the man who kidnapped her and possibly maimed her.
    • The Five Wives all go for it in the sense that they trust Furiosa enough to leave behind everything they know in order to claim what is rightfully theirs: their bodies and lives.
    • The Vuvalini clan is the coolest thing ever. I love how they ride motorcycles, know their shit and aren’t afraid of fighting Joe and the War Boys. Miller does a great job of keeping the battles between them pretty even and love that it’s the women who who win the war (with a little from Max of course).
  • Limited Resources of Oil and Water
    • Miller has always been intrigued with the effect of dwindling resources, he tells Daily Beast, “I’d lived in a very lovely and sedate city in Melbourne, and during OPEC and the extreme oil crisis, where the only people who could get any gas were emergency workers, firemen, hospital staff, and police, it took ten days in this really peaceful city for the first shot to be fired, so I thought, ‘What if this happened over ten years?’” Miller recalls.
    • Miller’s inspiration for water-hoarding: “We’re almost a desert, Australia, so it’s a crisis just like in California,” Miller says. “In the mid-aughts, I was in India and first heard the term ‘water wars’—that people in Kashmir and other places were fighting over water. Sadly, things don’t change a lot. In terms of the commodification of women, we’re becoming more and more aware of that. But everyone in this movie is a commodity—they wear the brand of Immortan Joe on the back of their necks.” (Daily Beast)


It’s so easy to fall in love with George Miller when you experience the brilliance of this film. Apparently, there was no shooting script but instead a super extensive storyboard created by Brendan McCarthy, who is a writer and artist of comic book fame. I read that there were 3500 panels created for Mad Max: Fury Road, which is truly astounding. I’ve heard there is very little computer-generated imagery, as Miller was hell bent on making sure his crashes and stunts looked super real and that they were as created by Guy Norris, who also worked on Road Warrior. This film was exquisitely shot by John Seale (this was his first digital effort). Everything from the super high contrast to the color palatte to intricate shots, all of it: YES.


This film is a thrilling ride from start to finish, which would be nowhere without the score of Tom Holkenson (also known as Junkie XL). From the tribal thumping of the war drums, radical guitar riffs to the Hitchcockian-Bernard Hermann-like strings, it leaves you pretty much in an anxiety-ridden trance the entire time. Jenny Beavan, the film’s costume designer, was tasked to create the epic dystopian wardrobe for the film; she could not make you want to live in the Wasteland more. I heard that she repurposed a lot of the old Mad Max costumes to create the unique looks for each character and group.

There was no detail left unturned, every small thing was thoroughly figured out and had some sort of meaning. It’s this kind of thing that really matters to people. Viewers who care about that sort of thing (aka me) truly appreciate it when the filmmaker gives a damn about what they are doing. I really didn’t know what to expect from this film, I was skeptical for sure, but man was I impressed. Miller’s vision paid off, big time. And now we shall await the subsequent Mad Max films… I just hope George Miller will still be involved with them (fingers crossed).



2001: Space Odyssey


if ever there was a definition of cinema it would be this film. It’s weird how you can watch something as a kid and not get it at all. Then when you revisit it later in life it suddenly makes all the sense in the world. I just watched 2001: Space Odyssey again but this time at the Cinerama Dome at the ArcLight in Hollywood. It was magic. Seeing it projected on the curved screen, the quality of film and the big sound. It was as if I was seeing it for the first time. Truly, this is how it is meant to be seen. Began with the overture, even had an intermission. It was spectacular.

Stanley Kubrick. Damn. I never wanted to be a fake fan, of anything, so I generally don’t. But seriously, this film is from a moment (or more) of genius. It is weird when you watch this film, with it’s non-dialogue to story to silence to trippiness and special effects- it all makes sense in the most non-sensical way. There are images and sound and feelings expressed in this film that people just get and connect with.

The sequence at the end…I interpret it as dimension traveling. And it freaks you out because it is stuff you have thought about yourself. At least I have. The thought of bending time and space to make it one continuous loop that you can move through simultaneously. It’s obviously a trip and your brain goes into overdrive to even think at that level. But I love it. I get lost in space thinking quite often and I get existential now and then, this film pretty much sums up the thought process. And it’s not that it makes you feel any better; it just makes it so that you can see it and understand it as it plays out in front of you instead of in your head.

The acting. There is this quiet control in Kubrick’s direction of his actors. I wish I could have seen him direct because there’s something he does that just makes it all the more believable. The characters were great. Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester) has this cool demeanor about him, this quiet intelligence of knowing something that we nor his peers don’t have the pleasure of knowing. Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) has to be one the best ever written. By far he gets the best scenes: from a standoff with HAL 9000 (Douglas Rain) to traveling through the psychedelic sequence and facing every moment of his entire life…He was so much fun to watch. Then there’s Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) who was just plain cute. I loved his interaction with . When they are sitting together eating their meal and watching their interview. I love how they don’t talk to each other because they don’t have to; they just know each other so well and don’t need to. I like how all the characters don’t ever go above volume and never have a dramatic freakout. And HAL, hands down the favorite. It was very intuitive of Kubrick to write a computer character that would turn on its maker. I feel like it was a type of thinking ahead of its time, or at least the best portrayal of such a concept even to date. I loved the sequence when Bowman dismantles HAL, it was so destructive without having dramatic action. It was all done through sound and visuals. Those are my favorite moments because Kubrick is invoking a feeling through the abstract.

so good. that’s all.


In Baltimore. My good friend is graduating from the University of Maryland. I think these types of accomplishments are underrated these days. Sure, most of us working folk are college graduates but there’s a vast majority out there without degrees. That’s cool too. Whatever your life is, as long as you had a choice or even a chance for higher education, as long as that option was given then I don’t give a shit if you went or not. Sometimes it’s cool to hate on school, or even that you’re better off not having gone. I’m not sure how I can be objective on the matter since I also attended college and graduated with a degree. Overall, it probably doesn’t really matter; after all the great minds didn’t attend college- most even dropped out before high school. That’s cool. Everything is a choice I suppose. I think I’m just unveiling a pet peeve of mine- people who are insecure and make fun of stuff just because they don’t like it or didn’t do it. It’s weird.

My aversion to anything positive was tested. Speeches. I kinda hate em. Have to be honest right? I just think it’s funny and weird that everyone is subject to any one person’s perspective. But I learned something. move. That was the theme of the graduating class of 2012. My good friend’s band was even quoted,

I dare you to move.

I liked the idea of moving forward. Just keep moving. Keep achieving. Keep striving for more cause life doesn’t stop. Pretty basic- anything worth listening to is that simple. Also expressed was the idea behind work and having a job. I have long hated the idea of disliking what I did for a living. I never wanted to be that person depicted as the average American worker- slaving away from dawn to dusk and going home only to sit in front of the television. Yeah. Right. No thank you. Check please.

The most unassuming government official, John Berry, spoke to the class (and all the proud onlookers). The most important thing he said,

If you find yourself working for a bad person – walk away. No matter how much they pay you or how much power they offer. Walk away.

True, nothing is worth that compromise. Yes. I loved that. The man in charge of human resources for our country told eager job seekers to quit under circumstances most deem normal. I respect it because that ought to be considered normal. It’s common sense. When a baby is unhappy (in whatever sense) he/she let’s everyone know. Kids are some of the most honest people I know. They don’t really do something unless they want to. I want adults to behave that way.

I cannot conclude this essay, I’m tired now.


rice + brown sugar + cinnamon = heaven in your mouth. Truth. Take a trip down to Koo’s in Koreatown because trust me it is well worth it, especially when you can buy these amazing little pancakes for one whole dollar! They are a fluffy and doughy sweet treat that could be eaten at any point in the day. Yum. My mouth just watered.


i saw the exquisite work of Haroshi last night. He was in the house of Huf, which wound up as a crazy party. It’s cool to see that this kind of creativity still exists in a tangible way. This artist takes old skateboards and spins them into amazing pieces of art. check out more pieces here.


Well. There’s a lot to say and not enough words or thought to be able to do so. Especially just hours after watching this film. Christopher Nolan is amazing. His style of writing and directing remind me of the great films from the 1990s, which is funny because all of his notable work began right in 2000 (Memento). Leonardo DiCaprio never disappoints. Ever. He is an actor that has and will stand the test of time. From the minute I saw him I knew why I loved him. (Not only cause he’s handsome but because) he is truly such a talent and a force. Leonardo can really make you feel like you’re watching a whole new person every time he is in a new film and that takes a lot of skill. He played his character so well and with such complexity that you were just able to feel his pain with every word or look. You spend a lot of the film not really knowing about his mysterious past but when it is slowly revealed to you his character only goes deeper and more vulnerable that you can’t help but to get pulled in. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great. I liked him when he first saw angels in the outfield and though I wasn’t sure how he would turn out as an adult actor, I can say he totally gave himself to this role. He played the perfect second man to DiCaprio’s character. Tom Hardy was kind of unexpectedly awesome. I’ve never seen him before and though at first he was a bit off-putting, his was the character that just grew on you until you just loved him. Ken Watanabe is so cool. He is just that kind of actor that is automatically cool without even trying. He is so intriguing and the entire time you feel something greater is going on within without ever really getting to know what that is… Cillian Murphy is so good. He has such a look and way about him that makes it so easy to be taken in by his character. Marion Cotillard is so beautiful and so talented. She really rounded out this cast. I loved her character and the way she played it, which was complicated and downright sexy. Ellen Page was also really good. What was great about her casting was that they went against the expected sex kitten/bombshell character. Page’s character felt plain real and that’s what matters in a film that is dealing with such extraordinary circumstances. The story was fantastic. Another brilliant job of writing by Christopher. He is just so dang good. His ideas are brilliant and his execution even more brilliant. I’ve been hearing that the plot is hard to follow but that’s not true at all. I think that when people are made to feel dumb then they just say things like to make themselves feel better. The dreams versus reality and everything that goes along with it was totally easy to understand and not hard to follow at all. What made it really awesome was the particular detail to the sound design. It was pretty much impeccable and you felt like you were traveling through dimensions. And of course with a score by Hans Zimmer, you can’t lose. Then there’s the visual effects. Insane. So striking. It was as if they mixed Saving Private Ryan with The Matrix and got this awesome, very advanced hybrid effect that felt real but bizarre. The cinematography was truly stunning thanks to the very talented Wally Pfister. Another thing to note about this film was how well done the dream sequences were. I think it’s really hard to re-create dreams of any sort. When you try to tell someone your dreams or someone is telling you theirs, it’s hard to grasp. When you’re in it, it actually feels real yet you know something is off and a bit on the surreal side. Nolan did a wonderful job of doing this. This film is pretty much amazing and is going to be, if not already, huge. And… I want to be an Extractor.

Harold & Maude

mila: I wish I made this film. Hal Ashby, I wish you were still around because this film just made my life. It’s one of those movies that reignites the passion for your craft, the reason for why you do what you do in the first place. It’s perfect on so many different levels. It’s what it is and not ashamed of it and not trying to fit any sort of mold but not totally out there so that you can consume it and be satisfied. Just writing about the film makes me want to see it, over and over again until I get sick of it. But that probably wouldn’t happen. It’s a classic. It stands the test of time. And that’s what I aspire for. This is what cinema is. This is the reason I want to do what I’ve always dreamt of doing. This is the kind of film that re-fuels your passion when you don’t think you have it left in you. Man alive. This movie has a piece of my heart.

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