Review: Mad Max

Doomsday Movie Marathon
Mad Max

[Chris Edwards, who writes extensively about silent films on his blog, Silent Volume, has written the following review of Mad Max, and will review the next two in the trilogy in the near future. To see the full programme click on the Doomsday header image above.]

“A few years from now…’

These words are powerful, so use them wisely, all you would-be directors of dystopian film. Put them onscreen right at the start, and buy yourself an hour of the audience’s good will. They’ll set aside their scepticism and give you a chance to make your future real. It is the future, after all—they’ve no more expertise about it than you.

If you’ve got a GDP-sized budget, maybe your future looks like Minority Report (2002). That’s cool. And if you have no money, and a cast full of nobodies, like that Gibson fella who showed up for his audition hung over, well, then you can make the future look like a decaying wreck. It doesn’t hurt if you’re filming in rural Australia, which can be a real wasteland when you want it to. Put some bitching cars in there, too; they might boost your sales. You might even set a profit-to-cost record that’ll stand for 21 years. Would you like to know more…?

Film on TV: November 9-15

ridethehighcountry.jpg
Ride the High Country, playing on TCM Friday, November 13.

 

A few interesting new ones this week. I haven’t seen Nicholas Ray’s Bitter Victory, playing on Wednesday, but it comes highly recommended by Jean-Luc Godard. So there. Then there’s Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder on Thursday, which I can’t believe we haven’t seen in this feature before, and Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country on Friday – a film which sits, like many of Peckinpah’s films, right on the cusp between traditional and revisionist westerns – and Jean Cocteau’s poetic Orpheus late on Sunday. Finally, Sundance has both parts of Steven Soderbergh’s Che on Saturday, probably the first time it’s played on TV outside of PPV or premium cable. Beyond that, still a bunch of good repeats.

Monday, November 9

5:30am – Sundance – A Woman Under the Influence
Gena Rowlands gives a tour-de-force performance as Mabel, a woman whose teetering madness threatens her marriage to Nick (Peter Falk). Their relationship edges back and forth between love, frustration, and anger with amazing quickness, yet it’s not clear whether Mabel’s instability is causing the problems, or the other way around. John Cassavetes directs with an unwavering camera, refusing to look away.
1974 USA. Director: John Cassavetes. Starring: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands.

5:35pm – IFC – A Fish Called Wanda
It’s not a Monty Python picture, but with John Cleese and Michael Palin on board as participants in a zany crime story, along with ambiguous-relationshiped Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline, it has some of the same absurd charm.
1988 USA/UK. Director: Charles Crichton. Starring: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Maria Aitken, Tom Georgeson.
Newly Featured!
(repeats at 3:30am on the 10th)

Would you like to know more…?

Remembering a Decade…2007

(prologue) As we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the third row decided to start on this continuing series throughout 2009 that will look back at our favorite films of each of the past ten years (2000-2009). This will ultimately culminate in a “ten best/favorites of the oughts” piece sometime in early 2010.

This has got to be the finest year for cinema goers over the past ten years. I can remember narrowing down my personal list to about 30 favorites and then having a real tough time weeding it down to 10. Hence coming up with a consensus for a “top” five among seven or eight people proved to be downright impossible (leaving off all of the great “off the wall” cinema was particularly difficult – e.g. Grindhouse, Bug and Black Snake Moan specifically). So we each listed five movies that really captured our hearts that year and I tried to make the best executive decision I could that really showcases some of the best 2007 had to offer while maintaining a general sense of the tastes here at RowThree. Here are five films (and of course some honorable mentions) that represent some of the greatness that 2007 delivered.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: The Box

Director: Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales)
Story: Richard Matheson
Screenplay: Richard Kelly
Producers: Richard Kelly, Dan Lin, Kelly McKittrick, Sean McKittrick
Starring: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella,
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 115 min.

What would you do? A classic philosophical question being asked to students and colleagues alike for decades ever since the short story, “Button, Button” was penned in 1970; published by Playboy Magazine. If you push a button, two things will happen. One, you’ll receive a very large sum of cash. Two, someone whom you don’t know, somewhere in the world will die. Do you push the button? How would you rationalize it to yourself and what might the ultimate consequences be? It’s a conundrum of a conversation that could go on for hours. Or in director Richard Kelly’s case, two hours.

This above scenario is exactly what is presented to Mr. and Mrs. Lewis. A financially struggling couple living beyond their means when a disfigured Frank Langella shows up at their door out of the blue offering them this very deal. Well of course it’s not much of a spoiler to disclose that eventually the button does get pushed (wouldn’t be much of a story otherwise would there?). When the payoff is delivered, Mrs. Lewis asks of her mysterious “business associate”, “What happens now?” He resonds with the answer that the box will be reprogrammed and the offer given to someone else “whom I can assure you, you don’t know.” So sets off a story of paranoia and mystery as to the nature of the box, who is this mysterious deal offerer and what are the consequences to the pressing of the button?
Would you like to know more…?

AFI Fest 2009: Fish Tank

banner.jpg

 

fish_tank.jpg

Director: Andrea Arnold (Red Road)
Screenplay: Andrea Arnold
Producers: Kees Kasander, Nick Laws
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbinder, Kierston Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths, Harry Treadway, Sydney Mary Nash
Year: 2009
Country: United Kingdom
Running time: 124min.

 

Three years ago, Andrea Arnold burst onto the scene with her first feature Red Road, a slowly-paced but incredibly rewarding thriller set at the edges of Britain’s working class. She has outdone herself with Fish Tank, in which she continues to find inspiration from the working class, this time focusing on teenaged Mia, struggling with school and a shrill, messy home life, keeping her head afloat only through her enjoyment of dance and possibly her relationship with an older man. If this sounds like the premise of a sappy, inspirational coming of age story, trust me, it doesn’t play like one. What I said above is basically the synopsis that appears everywhere for the film, and though it approximates what happens in the film, it’s wholly inadequate to describe it.

Would you like to know more…?

AFI Fest 2009: Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

banner.jpg

 

guy_and_madeline_on_a_park_bench.jpg

Director: Damien Chazelle
Screenplay: Damien Chazelle
Producer: Jasmine McGlade
Starring: Jason Palmer, Desiree Garcia, Sandha Khin
Music: Justin Hurwitz
Year: 2009
Country: United States
Running time: 82min

 

Combining the intimate, grainy B&W aesthetic of early John Cassavettes with the exuberance of Jacques Demy and an original jazz score seems like kind of a tough sell, but first-time director Damien Chazelle has managed to do just that with a shoestring budget, guerrilla-style shooting, and a cast of non-actors.

GuyandMadeline.jpg

Guy is a promising young jazz trumpeter in Boston who had a relationship with the winsome Madeline. After they break up, she plans to go to New York, taking a job as a waitress in a diner in the meantime, while he pursues a relationship with another girl, Elena. But before long it becomes clear that Elena is not interested in Guy’s music, and in fact, is quickly annoyed by it and his musical friends, and Guy tries to reconnect with Madeline. There you go, that’s the story.

Would you like to know more…?

AFI Fest 2009: Reporter

banner.jpg

 

Reporter

Director: Eric Daniel Metzgar
Producers: Ben Affleck, Mikaela Beardsley, Steven Cantor, Ann Derry
Starring: Nicholas Kristof
Year: 2009
Country: United States
Running time: 90min.

 

The best documentaries do something more than just depict a subject or situation; rather, they seek to engage the audience, pushing us to question or examine the subject in the hopes of gaining a greater understanding or perspective than we would have simply by giving us straight facts. Not that any documentaries are ever truly objective, but the ones that rise above being simply informative and utilitarian and into the realm of filmmaking art often make their very lack of objectivity and easy answers an integral part of their story.

Reporter wears one of its agendas in its very title – though Eric Daniel Metzgar’s film very poignantly highlights the suffering and death among Congolese refugees fleeing the ongoing ruthless conflict between several factions of area warlords, he is most interested in New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and how Kristof seeks to bring the plight of the Congo to a seemingly deaf western world.

Reporter_filmstill3.jpg“Psychic numbing” is the psychological name for the mental block most people have when it comes to sympathizing with the suffering of a large group of people, such as the four million dead from the Congolese wars. In fact, states the film, people’s willingness to help those in need begins to decrease when asked to help as few as two people rather than just one. Armed with these psychological studies, Kristof seeks to find that single person, that single heart-wrenching story he can use as a focus for his columns (as he did with great results in uncovering the humanitarian crisis in Darfur). In this quest, however, he bypasses so many other horrific situations that don’t quite fit his needs that Metzgar is forced to question his methods, while begrudgingly admitting the logic of them.

Would you like to know more…?

Alfredson’s Next Romance

2008_let_the_right_one_in_006-1

If a child-vampire love story wasn’t enough for your particluar romance requirements perhaps The Danish Girl, Tomas Alfredson’s next venture will quench your thirst.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman play a 1920’s married couple, Kidman in drag (I’d assume), as Einar Wegener husband to artist, Greta. Standing in place of Greta’s model one afternoon, Einar dresses to duplicate the absent female. Gown, dress and shoes to match, thus births Lili, his female alter ego and the lifestyle he eventually decides to make permanent!
Would you like to know more…?

“Machete” Poster

Holy hannah! – two Jessica Alba posts in as many days? Welcome to the third row on a Friday I guess. Anyway, I saw this a day or two ago, but totally forgot to post it. A couple of years ago one of my most delightful moments in the cinema came about thanks to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino and their production of Grindhouse. One of the best bits within Grindhouse were the faux trailers; and one of the best of those was Danny Trejo in Machete. The actual full film for Machete is due out in theaters next spring, but it looks like the marketing has already started. “They just fucked with the wrong Mexican!”

Here’s one of the posters already hitting the web this week that showcases Jessica Alba. You can click the image for a slighter larger version:

.

Trailer is below the seats.
Would you like to know more…?