MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Redux

This. THIS.

The Moment in Mad Max When Tom Hardy Removes His Face Device

Lord, self never wanted to like Mad Max: Fury Road.

She saw the trailers and was — OMG, this movie’s been taken over by Charlize!

Not that self has anything against Charlize.

But seriously — there’s a reason this movie is called Mad Max. And that’s because it has to be about Mad Max. Later, Charlize can be in her own movie, and they can call it Imperator Furiosa.

Today, in Banff, took a class on book-making. Not writing — scrapbooking! (So nice to have non-verbal expression, for once! Also, the store was absolutely delightful, and so was the owner.) Wait a minute, self was about to write something about Mad Max. (Er, would you believe self has only seen a handful of movies this year? And it’s nearly half over! Must correct that situation pronto!)

Anyhoo, Tom Hardy. In that facial gear, self kept slipping up and thinking she was looking at Gerard Butler.

Not, however, when he finally succeeded in prying off the unholy device. And —

Ladies and Gentlemen, a new generation has arrived. His FACE, dear blog readers. THAT FACE.

Tom Hardy, you are so beautiful. After that, self never looked away from the screen once, not even while she was madly scribbling lines of dialogue into her take-everywhere notebook. She can barely decipher her scrawl now.

Self must also mention this other presence:  Nicholas Hoult. He plays a “War Boy” named Nux.

Okay, while not beautiful like Tom Hardy, he is moving. Self has seen him play a zombie, play a 12-year-old, play Jack in the Giant Beanstalk movie, and she always always finds him terribly easy to empathize with.

In fact, self would have to say the BEST lines of dialogue in this movie (What? There was dialogue? Hold on . . . Indeed there was! Not of the Shakesperean variety, mind you! But close, lol!)

For instance, somewhere in the middle of the movie:

Nux:  There’s high ground just beyond that thing.

Furiosa:  What thing.

One of the Brides:  He means the tree.

OMG, do you see what self means about the dialogue? It is economical, it is brisk, and it does the job!

Next line of memorable dialogue: Wives (aka Breeders) having a squabble. One wants to give up and return to her oh-so-unholy breeding activities. The other wives chase after her and tell her:

You. Are. Not. Thing.

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Do dear blog readers know that self has a science fiction story set in a dystopian (apologies, but she has to use that word) future? And it is called Thing? It was published in the New Orleans Review, 2012.

Yes, you brides who are all played to great blank affect by possible real-life models: YOU ARE NOT THING.

Three cheers for George Miller for using such a great line in his movie.

And now to Nick Hoult’s lines:

I live.

I die.

I live again.

There was just something so nihilistic, so even Nietzsche about that line. About the movie, in fact. Captured the despair of the characters perfectly.

So, when the credits finally rolled, self waited to see those words:

DIRECTED BY GEORGE MILLER.

Well done, sir. If she were in a movie theatre alone, she would have clapped.

Stay tuned.

Things Self Learned While Watching “Lawless”

  • You can make whiskey out of anything —  even tree bark.
  • SPOILER:  It is indeed possible to survive having your throat cut ear to ear —  especially if a woman like Maggie (played by Jessica Chastain) is around to drive you 20 miles to the nearest hospital.
  • Moonshiners have a lot in common with the Mafia.  While watching the movie, self kept being reminded of “The Godfather”  —  young whippersnapper/hothead (Shia LaBeouf standing in for Al Pacino) has a lot to learn before he can truly manage the family’s illegal business.  (The Godfather role was played by Tom Hardy.  The things that man can do with close-ups, dear blog readers, would drive any woman in the audience wild!  And self does mean wild!)
  • Guy Pearce gets the Charlize Theron treatment:  he gets to play ugly. Really ugly.  Not only ugly:  loathsome.  So convincing is Pearce that only long after the movie ended did it occur to self that the probability of having a villain that dandy-ish and that arch — in 1930s America, no less — was well-nigh impossible.  (He was the Nazis, the Fascists, the Bogeyman and Freddy Krueger all rolled into one.  His character had a toe-curling predilection for pomade and three-piece suits.  Whenever he was within striking distance of Jessica Chastain, self would have to cover her eyes —  until the scene where he jams his foot in her door and says, “Don’t worry, I don’t drink from a greasy cup.”)
  • A great musical number can indeed be inserted into a violent movie —  The one in “Lawless” takes place in a backwoods church, all the men sporting long beards, raising their right hands, palm outwards, singing a very rousing, homegrown hymn (Think Gregorian Chant, only backwoods.  No, think Tibetan Buddhist monks chanting, as they do in Sherab Ling in Himachal Pradesh).  In this church there occurs a highly erotic scene.  Apparently, ritual foot-washing is part of the Sunday services, and Mia Wasikowska’s foot (in close-up) looks just ravishing. Alas, Shia’s character is branded with shame for, almost at the instant when his lady-love dips one of his horrible, calloused feet into a basin of water — what is the meaning of such a ritual, self wonders? —  he does the I-am-about-to-puke routine and barges out of the church, minus one shoe.

Self was mighty impressed with Tom Hardy’s backwoods American accent, but just to show you how pathetically ignorant self is about true American backwoods accents, every other reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes denigrated his attempt as “pseudo” —  and no one praised him.  Dear Rotten Tomatoes reviewers, don’t you understand that when one is born speaking British, it takes Herculean effort just to stop sounding British?  Never mind if you don’t sound like anything recognizable.  So long as you don’t sound like what you really are —  British — you will never fail to impress moviegoers like self.

Mia Wasikowska’s character was supposed to have a really strict Papa, but this longbeard was never around, except in church, or maybe replenishing supplies at the feed store.  Mia and Shia had ample “alone time” —  at one point Mia is even able to change her clothes behind Shia’s car —  which led self to conclude that parental supervision was exceedingly lax.

Shia’s character had a lot of stupid ideas.

And that’s about all self feels able to discuss right now, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

New Mantra, For the Rest of 2012

You can die from someone else’s misery.

You can die from someone else’s misery.

You can die from someone else’s misery.

Self will not die from someone else’s misery.

Self will not die from someone else’s misery.

Self will not die from someone else’s misery.

Quidditch team news:  Let’s see if self can do a quick scan of her memory.  Richard the Canadian is traveling (without leaving the confines of Canada).  Jenny the Oxford Professor and Poet is in Oxford (of course) as the term has begun.  Joan is being very industrious and writer-ly because she has not written.  Marylee is doing very intensive research for her novel in Paris (Would that self had done the same when she was in Paris, instead of wandering the city like a lonely waif, in search of that damn Louvre!  Which turned out to be as big as a Mountain!).  Allison is teaching a summer writing course in Oklahoma.  She sent a couple of pictures from her apartment, and it looked as if there were actually palm trees growing in the parking lot (of this place in Oklahoma), will wonders never cease?

Bella’s nails are growing awfully long.

Self really is developing quite a fascination with Tom Hardy.

The new Will Ferrell movie has a scene with 27 Filipino staff on a cruise liner.  One day, self must take a cruise for the purposes of interviewing the Filipino staff.  This is her firm resolution.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Hardy, Renner, In Brief

Today Blog Mistress went to see “The Bourne Legacy.”  And it was a mighty fine movie.  Miiiighty fine.

First of all, Jeremy Renner is the new secret super-secret agent.  His eyes get really big when he is being earnest, which is distracting, but he moves with surprising grace, especially when jumping over rooftops.  There’s poetry in that body, dear blog readers.

Secondly, Rachel Weisz is just so good.  She is beautiful, but one doesn’t think of that when one watches a Rachel Weisz performance.  One thinks of her mind, behind those darting brown eyes.  Yes, she is one hell of an actress.

And now to Hardy.  There were previews —  many previews, of course.  Considering “The Bourne Legacy” has been given so much hoopla.  There was a preview for “This is 40” (Paul Rudd is still sooo handsome!  And Lesley Mann is absolutely a knockout.  Self didn’t know what this movie was about until she saw the title:  “And they think they have problems?” she hissed to The Man.  Who gave an I-agree-with-you kind of snort)

There was also a very exciting preview for “Life of Pi.”  And then something with Shia LeBouef, Guy Pearce, and Tom Hardy!  And Hardy was sporting a very believable American accent!  How did he accomplish that?  The trademark Hardy growling manner of speech is nowhere in evidence.  He must indeed have had a very masterful dialect coach!

And now self is watching “Warrior” (Her Netflix movie:  She’s had it about two months and never found time to watch it).  And, damn!  That Tom Hardy is so hot!  He’s in a scene with ex-drunk and father played by Nick Nolte, and he’s talking about some Deep Dark Shame which happened “over there” (Iraq), and why he changed his name to Riordan, and he is just so full of rage, and his lips are so full, and he has that Keanu Reeves kind of look about his eyes, but crooked lower teeth (Never have your teeth fixed, Tom!  Never, never, never!  And in addition, stay away from Rom-Coms!  Especially the ones that have Reese Witherspoon!  And you would be smart to heed this advice as well, Chris Pine!)

When he throws a bucket of slot machine coins at Nick Nolte, self was just —  awestruck.

And may self just add:  Nick Nolte’s face is as ashen and graven as Mount Rushmore!

And she actually felt like crying!

Even though The Man was walking in and out and wondering why self’s face was so red!  And she hadn’t even had a margarita —  all day!

And, before self parts with dear blog readers for the day, she just has to say that the Bourne Director did a GREAT job shooting chase scenes in the totally chaotic, atmospheric, and fascinating megapolis of Manila!!!  Yes!!!  You go, oh Bourne Director!  Five Stars!  For shooting the best chase scenes in a movie since maybe Bourne # 2!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Some Things You Might Not Know About Self

  • She once, years ago, sat next to Kaui Hart Hemmings (author of the book on which Alexander Payne’s The Descendants was based) on a plane returning from an AWP Conference.
  • There is a book called Hello My Big Big Honey on self’s desk, next to her computer.
  • She just changed her wordpress.com password.
  • She can watch back-to-back airings of Bourne movies on cable TV.
  • She used to get very airsick.
  • She has a subscription to Condé Nast’s Traveler magazine.  And loves reading Vanity Fair.
  • She has tickets to the Stanford vs. Oregon State men’s basketball game.
  • She once tried to join a gym.  She let her membership expire after three months.
  • Her washing machine is, at this moment, filled to the brim with the remnants of an exploded goose down pillow.
  • Her house hasn’t been painted in 20 years.
  • She hasn’t mopped her kitchen floor in xx number of weeks.
  • She has just eaten a hard-boiled egg (supper).
  • Actors she likes:  Matt Damon, Colin Firth, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Tommy Lee Jones, Edward Norton, Jeremy Renner, Sam Worthington
  • Actresses she likes:  Kate Beckinsale, Moon Bloodgood, Juliana Margulies, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Rosamund Pike, Meryl Streep, Mia Wasikowska, Naomi Watts
  • Her favorite movie of 2011 was “Mission Impossible:  Ghost Protocol” (Alas!  Too true!)  A runner-up might be “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
  • She has bought three Apple products in the past few months.
  • She likes reading biographies, memoirs, and war histories more than she enjoys reading fiction.
  • She skimmed through Crime and Punishment — twice.
  • She has read Tacitus.
  • She has written a fantastic story about pig babies that she is trying strenuously to place.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

1st Day of 2012: Gorgeous

Saw “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” at the downtown Century 20.  The day was gorgeous.  Self watered, six buckets in the backyard.  Both her bouiganvilleas, still baby-sized, even after so many years, seem to have been killed off, finally, by the last cold snap.

The movie was gorgeous to look at.  Self was not as overwhelmed by Oldman’s performance as reviewers have been.  She did think Colin Firth and Tom Hardy were outstanding.  Especially Tom Hardy.

With his rugged build and his faux blonde hair and his crooked lower teeth and his sometimes brutish mien, Hardy was still able to project a beating, human heart — in some ways, he was the perfect foil for George Smiley, who we know has a beating, human heart, but one that is overlaid or held in check by decades of British-bred reserve.  SPOILER ALERT!  Take the scene close to the end where Smiley comes home and realizes his wife has come back to him:  in that scene, Oldman is filmed entirely from behind, but there is an almost imperceptible slowing of his steps as he goes down a hallway, and then he rests a hand on the stair banister.  That gesture spoke more eloquently than his face or voice ever could,  and self ended up finding the scene tremendously dramatic, almost a primer on how to use understatement to project tension.

Tom Hardy’s Ricky Tarr, on the other hand, follows hunches, operates on the fly, and turns out, improbably, to be exactly the kind of spy the British intelligence service needed to get hard and reliable information, if only at that particular point in time.  Hardy is even required, at one point, to shed actual, human tears, and hey, he does manage to pull it off without looking silly or even the slightest bit un-manly.

Let’s see, what else about the movie?  It is set in the 1970s.  There must be some unspoken rule of thumb in British cinema/television that scenes set in the 1970s (as “period” as any World War II or Depression-era film, self supposes) must occur in murky shadows.  Somewhat reminiscent of the time-bending BBC detective series, “Life on Mars” (which, alas, had a most untimely demise)  Still, self loved the attention to detail, the porcelain English bulldogs behind “Control” (played by John Hurt) in his office, the huge cigarette lighters that look like they weigh about five lbs., the ugly suits, and most especially the crazy brown and orange diamond-pattern of the walls of the room where the top brass of “the Circus” held their regular meetings.

She kept fearing for the life of  George Smiley’s young assistant, Peter Guillam (who turns out to have a big secret of his own —  well played, Benedict Cumberbatch!  Self would like to take this opportunity to inform dear blog readers that Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes in the recent BBC series, the one that is set in modern times, and he is absolutely right in that role).  Or for the life of Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy’s character).  The movie unfurled slowly but surely.  Self was completely riveted, every moment, from first to last.

She also thinks it is pretty neat that we never know what Mrs. Smiley looks like, she appears as elusive to us as she must to her husband.

Colin Firth is of course still handsome.  Great casting there, too, by the way!

So, let’s see.  How does this movie compare to other movies self has seen recently? (For a year that was really lame —  movie-wise — 2011 really went out with a bang!)  Self thinks she liked “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” more than “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” or “Mission Impossible” or the Sherlock Holmes movie.  She’d put it about even with Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants.”  (She didn’t, alas, enjoy “My Week With Marilyn” all that much)

Perhaps it isn’t fair to compare this movie with the “Mission Impossible” movie, for this one is built on intellect and nuance, while that one was built on action and spectacle and a spate of can-you-top-this moments.  “Mission Impossible” was filled with impossibly beautiful (Paula Patton) or impossibly funny characters (Simon Pegg), while “Tinker, Tailor” was filled with (mostly) plain people (and we are all, in real life, extremely plain, dear blog readers) behaving in absolutely astounding and yet humanly heroic ways.  In its way, in its genre, “Mission Impossible” was as excellent a movie as “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is.  Self thinks she needs a little of both, before she can consider a movie-watching season really totally satisfying.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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