Blood Transfusions Don’t Work Like That: A review of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

maxresdefaultYou might be familiar with a little review I wrote for a little movie called Snowpiercer.  In fact, you’re more likely to be familiar with that piece than anything else on the site, since it’s had nearly eleven thousand hits, which is eight thousand more hits than the second most popular post I’ve ever written.  It’s the first thing you get when you Google “Snowpiercer stupid,” and it still gets 35-40 hits a day, every day, no matter what.

A thing to remember about that movie is that I wanted to see it.  It was my idea.  Because Snowpiercer had been getting rave reviews from people whose opinion on film I generally trusted.

Those same people have been raving about Mad Max: Fury Road for over a week now.  It’s been an incredibly well-received film.  And as a result it was the first movie since Lincoln that I’ve seen in the theaters that didn’t involve a superhero somehow, although I did manage to miss opening weekend.

I was terrified to see this film, and I was terrified precisely because of Snowpiercer.  I wanted to love it, but…well, you’ll see.

Here’s the good news: I didn’t hate it.  It might sound like it at points, but I really didn’t.  Does that mean I think it was a good movie?  No.  It’s not.  In fact, the Snowpiercer comparison is actually pretty apt: Mad Max: Fury Road is a very Snowpiercer-ish movie, in that it is stunningly well-shot, amazingly pretty, great to look at… and so deeply stupid that it hurts me in my bones.

But God, is it pretty, and exciting, and appropriately badass at any number of points.  This is the bad guy:

MadMax-FuryRoad-ImmortanJoe

I mean, look at that creepy motherfucker, with his creepy teeth painted onto his respirator and his weird creepy transparent plastic armor.  He’s Obviously Evil, and impressively so.

Here is the thing about Mad Max: Fury Road.  It is a two-hour car chase.  It is literally and completely and I am not exaggerating a two hour car chase, or if you want me to be super specific it’s probably about three half-hour car chases with some slightly calmer shit in between.  Shit blows up good, and people are badasses.  There’s a dude whose only job it is to play electric guitar while hanging from some chains several feet above a moving vehicle.  The guitar occasionally shoots fire for some reason.

If you hear that and think “Awesome!” then go see this movie right now.  If you’re of the mindset to question the need for a flamethrower-guitar dude while risking dozens of lives and some of the only few remaining post-apocalypse vehicles plus untold amounts of ammunition and explosives and gas and water to bring the only four pretty women left on Earth back to Captain Creepyteeth up there, you might want to give it a pass.  If you’re going to spend the movie wondering why the four scantily-clad pretty women aren’t ever worried about sunscreen, this might not be your movie.

(Captain Creepyteeth’s real name is Joe.  That’s not a joke.  The character’s name is Joe.)

What separates it from Snowpiercer territory is that Mad Max: Fury Road knows what kind of movie it is, and revels in it.  Yeah, there’s a guitar flamethrower.  But squibbity-blam-boom-flame!!!  Yeah, there’s a scene where grown men attach themselves to the ends of giant mechanical pole vault sticks to swing around above the cars that are moving at many dozens of miles an hour over desert, and there’s lots of people spraypainting their mouths silver for some reason, and then there’s the bit with the blood transfusions that I won’t even get into.  But all that shit is cool!  Fury Road knows it’s a gloriously dumb movie, and it wants you to revel in the glorious dumb.  Snowpiercer really thought it was a Deep and Serious Film about Deep and Serious Issues and not a shit-stupid action movie.  Mad Max: Fury Road knows good and goddamn well that it’s a shit-stupid action movie, and it is a damn good shit-stupid action movie, to the point where I’m not sure being smarter would have helped.

(A possibly clarifying example: that robots vs. monsters movie… what the hell was it called?  Pacific Rim.  Pacific Rim was a terribly stupid movie that did not have to be terribly stupid, and in fact in several places could have been helped by being less stupid.  I’m not sure that removing the dumb parts helps Mad Max.  The movie wouldn’t be better without Flamethrower Guitar in it.  It would just be less itself, if that makes any sense.)

There is also this guy, whose name is– I am not making this up– Rictus Erectus, because of course it is:

new-mad-max-fury-road-trailer-shows-no-mercyHe will play Grond, when Benevolence Archives becomes a movie.

(And I’ve found no good place to mention this, because this movie really isn’t about acting, but Charlize Theron really is as great as everyone’s been giving her credit for.  The movie really should be called Furiosa: Fury Road, except that takes it into Riddick levels of stupidly repeated words.)

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Today’s agenda

I haven’t really done much with my three-day weekend– which is fine– but today’s looking a bit overstuffed as a result:

  • Finish reading Anathem (about 150 pages left)
  • Reread three issues of Descender, write piece for Sourcerer about it
  • Get started on another Sekrit Post for Sourcerer
  • See Mad Max: Fury Road

Wait a minute.  That’s not actually that much.  I gotta be missing something in there.

  • Do That Thing I Forgot
  • Email That Guy About That Thing

There we go.  Now it’s a weekend.

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A curious psychological phenomenon

South Bend is celebrating its 150th anniversary this weekend.  They’ve been pulling out all the stops; there’s been a crazy amount of shit going on downtown all weekend and while at least a couple of things probably ought to have gotten somebody killed from what I’ve been hearing and seeing most everyone’s been having a good time.  My wife and I brought the boy downtown this afternoon for a bit, mostly intending to just walk around.  As expected, finding parking was a bit of a difficulty.

Now, you’re just going to have to trust me, because I didn’t get a good picture of this part, but a lot of the streets near the event downtown were filled with cars parked right next to “NO PARKING SATURDAY OR SUNDAY” signs.  Apparently what the signs mean is don’t park on top of the sign, because there were plenty of blocks that were completely full of cars except for the small amounts of space taken up by the actual no parking standees.  Again, I should have gotten a picture.

It’s been a long time since I lived in Chicago, but I was well trained during my time there.  If your ass sees a No Parking sign in Chicago, what that sign means is if you can see this sign with a telescope, you shouldn’t park here, because those motherfuckers will fine you if there is a sign underneath a car six blocks from where you’re parked.

Now, I watched a ton of cops stroll right by those cars without ticketing anybody, despite the potential bonanza in ticket fees.  Watched people pull out.  Drove right past some empty spots.  Did not park.  I’m a Chicagoan still.  I know better.

We finally found a spot.  A whole road, even.  This is the view behind my car:

IMG_2585Let me make sure y’all understand the logic here:

TONS OF “NO PARKING” SIGNS: park wherever the hell you want, nobody cares.
ABSOLUTELY NO SIGNAGE AT ALL: Do not park.

I swear, I was nervous leaving my car here.

There’s a word for this, I just don’t know what it is.

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STATION IDENTIFICATION: Infinitefreetime.com

Hi!  I’m Luther Siler.  I’m the author of Skylights, available for $4.95 from Amazon, and The Benevolence Archives.  You can download Benevolence Archives Volume 1 for free from Smashwords or OpenBooks.com, and Volume 2, entitled The Sanctum of the Sphere, can be ordered from Amazon here or added to Goodreads shelves here.  Both Skylights and Sanctum are available in print as well; the print edition of Sanctum includes BA 1 as a bonus!

This post is a bi-weekly service for new folks who might want to know where else to find me on the Web.  Regular folks, if you see the STATION IDENTIFICATION tag, feel free to ignore it.

So here’s where to find Luther Siler:

  • You can follow me on Twitter, @nfinitefreetime, here or just click the “follow” button on the right side of the page.  I am on Twitter pretty frequently; I use it for liveblogging TV, whining about anything that strikes me as whine-worthy, and for short, Facebook-style posts.  I generally follow back if I can tell you’re a human being.
  • My author page on Goodreads is here. I accept any and all friend requests.
  • I have a Tumblr!  I don’t actually know what Tumblr is, because I’m old, but I’ve got one.
  • My official Author page on Amazon is located here.
  • Feel free to Like the (sadly underutilized) Luther Siler Facebook page here.  It’s mostly used as a reblogger for posts.
  • And, of course, you’re already at infinitefreetime.com, my blog.  You can click here to be taken to a random post.

Thanks for reading!

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On this week

CFog7gQWMAAlKa4The health app on my iPhone tells me that I walked ten miles– over twenty thousand steps– yesterday, and that is without a single second of anything that I could accurately describe as “exercise.”  It was just that busy of a day.

Every so often it hits me just how ridiculous my job can be, right?  Thursday, in particular, was like that.  On Wednesday evening the sister/cousin(*) of two of our seventh graders, who has been missing for several weeks, was found dead in a field a couple of counties south of here.  My understanding is that the man who murdered her turned himself in and led the cops to her body.  Thursday morning, as we were putting our heads together and trying to figure out what we should do about that, we had one fifth grade student brought down to the office whose nine year old cousin had just committed suicide the night before.  She had just confessed to a teacher that she was thinking about killing herself as well.

Within five minutes of that, we had two fights in two entirely different parts of the building, including one between two kids whose families have literally been feuding since they were in second grade.  

Within five minutes of that, the kid who got put up for expulsion for shoving me earlier in the year was back in the office because he blew up at somebody– an event that turned out to legitimately not be his fault, but he claims nothing is ever his fault.  On the rare occasions he’s actually telling the truth– which isn’t the case most of the time– we still need to do an investigation to verify it independently.

I tried to home iso him anyway, because generally once he gets his blood up he’s incredibly difficult to calm down even if whatever happened really isn’t his fault.  His mom’s response was to tell me that she wasn’t coming to get him, that we should put him in ISS, and that if he messed up in ISS– which everyone involved knew he was going to– we should call the police.

He’s 12.

I got to the office around 7:25.  By 7:48 AM, my morning was done.  Right there.  Done. Before 8 AM.

And y’all think I should be worried about test scores?


So. Right.  The ridiculousness part.  That was my morning.  Other stuff happened, but I had enough student issues on my plate before eight in the morning to keep me busy until well after noon.   What did I spend the afternoon doing?

Check the picture up there.  I spent the afternoon building radio-controlled sharks, learning to fly them, and then teaching 8th graders how to fly them.  And worrying about inflatable pools and popsicles.  We had our post-ISTEP celebration at the end of the day yesterday, and the theme was “beach party.”  And my boss is not the type to do anything half-assed, so there was extensive setup required to get everything right.  So there were games and competitions in the gym for a while at the end of the day, and then two dances– one for 5th and 6th graders, one for 7th and 8th, in separate parts of the building.

At the end of the 5th and 6th grade dance, something amazing happened.  There were, I dunno, 250-300 kids in the room, and maybe 12-15 adults or so.  We cut the music and the adults all raised their hands.  That’s all we did.  I was looking around while all this was going on, and none of the adults were talking to anyone.  The kids all did one of three things:

  1. Some went to stand next to their teachers;
  2. Some went and stood against the wall;
  3. Some went and sat on the bleachers.

But every kid in the gym was moving with purpose and to a destination, and they were all doing so quietly, with none of them being told what to do.  We somehow managed to dismiss half the building at the end of a dance on a Friday before a three day weekend, in– well, not silence, but manageable quiet– without talking to the kids.

And then I did a six-hour shift at my other job, which featured my high school co-worker not bothering to show up until an hour and a half after the start of his shift, a visit by a dozen or so special-needs adults, a group that comes by all the time and who I really enjoy having with us but who generally require about three times as much, uh, hospitality as any similar group ought to, and the immense, “well, this may as well happen” fun of having to clean up a pool of what was clearly menstrual blood on one of our picnic benches toward the end of the shift.  A pool that no one informed us about, and I only found because I was checking the gameroom.

It’s been a long goddamn couple of days, is what I’m saying.

(*) I’m not being dismissive here; I’ve heard both relationships from people who should know, and I suspect this is a situation where the kids are literally cousins but raised in the same house.

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