Welcome to ‘Catching Up’

Over the years, due to a combination of parental guidance and ignorance on my part, I’ve missed out on several movies that are crucial to one’s understanding of the pop culture Zeitgeist, to the extent that I have spent at least one dinner with friends listing movies I haven’t seen. CATCHING UP is a combination of light research on the movies, real-time Twitter reactions to viewing the movie (like listening to me talk into the theatre, only easier to ignore), and a reaction after the fact.

“CATCHING UP” #1

THE MOVIE:
Mad Max (1979)

DIRECTED BY:
George Miller

WHY I SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT:
“Mad Max” (and the rest of the trilogy) are so ingrained in our pop culture zeitgeist that we often don’t know it’s there. Sort of like an appendix. That’s not to say that it’s in any way a “useless” movie; it’s just a part of the language we speak.
For example, if anyone wants to describe a post-apocalyptic world, they don’t say “post-apocalyptic world”. Instead, they say “sorta like ‘Mad Max’. Hell, I’ve known what it’s meant when someone’s described a setting to a piece of fiction by relating it back to this movie, and I haven’t seen it yet.
The third movie in the trilogy, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”, is similarly referenced, but that’s another discussion for another review.
Besides, this is apparently the beginning of Mel Gibson’s time as being “Crazy Awesome” instead of just “crazy”. I bet this is before he remembered he was Catholic.

THE TWITTER REPORT:
(To subject yourself to the virtual equivalent of me talking in the theatre jammed into 140 characters, follow me @stuffbyed. Note: I have my account blocked to keep those pesky spambots out. Send me a request and regret it when you sober up.)

-Now watching: “Mad Max” 0:00:58 – Music composed by Brian May? As in Queen? Will have to check on afterwards.
-Not Queen’s Brian May.
-This movie is a guide to making punk rock gear from your local used sporting goods store
-Wow. That one song that girl was singing sounds like a Rocky Horror b-side.
-My dad just popped in to say goodnight. In response to what I’m watching: “Weird movie.” I agree at this point.
-This “heart to heart” Max is having with Pete is absurd, between the watering can, the overly-sentimental music, and the fact that Pete looks like a 1920s circus strongman wearing a scarf.
-Oh god. That sci-fi landscape painting on the van. There’s a super-nerdy part of me that really wants that van.
-Max makes daddy issues sexy, from the looks of it.
-I never knew pigeons lived in the forest. And that it’s real easy to run into them.
-I’m sorry, they got your kid because you’re a neglectful mother. Who was supposed to be watching that kid?!
-Wow. That was fucking brutal. Shotgun to the leg, gets his arm run over. Then, Shoots a guy, gets up, and gets to hobblin’. Bad. Ass.
-Wow, Alan Moore totally ganked that scene in Watchmen from Mad Max. You know, the one with the burning house and the hacksaw.

AFTER THE FACT:
I…I understand what all the hype is about now. Granted, it wasn’t a “good” movie, but as far as low-budget sci-fi goes, it was freaking awesome, and far more fun than any “summer blockbuster” in recent memory.
I will say, though, in support of it being a technically sound film, I was never really “aware” of the camera. This happens far too often in genre TV and movies these days, especially where the director wants to impose some sense of gritty realism. This most often results in awkward pans, poorly-framed sequences, and camera operators failing to duplicate the aesthetic of using a hand-held camcorder. Granted, this wasn’t so much a problem back in 1979, but it’s refreshing to know that there was a time when a movie could create a feeling or express an idea without trying to make it “real”.
My one primary criticism, however, is that it was hard to understand what they were saying at times. Maybe it’s because I’m racist against Australians*, but the accents were so thick at times that I wished I was watching it on DVD, as to utilize the English subtitles.
Anyone creating a piece of genre fiction with intentions of releasing sequels needs to instill a sense of a vast world with unanswered questions. George Miller certainly succeeds. I’m chomping at the bit to get to the sequels. I want to know and understand this world of Mad Max, not to mention know the context in which “Welcome to the Thunderdome!” was used.
Over all, I’m horribly disappointed in myself for not having seen this earlier in my time as a self-proclaimed geek. I feel I’ve been missing out on the standard for a subtype of science-fiction. But no longer! I’m all caught up, and glad I am.

*I’m not really, I promise.

Eddie Delaney

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One comment

  1. bbp /

    Yes, the movie is a must see. Your connection to modern views of the post-apocalyptic world an Mad Max are dead on. You’re a better person for having seen this. Can’t wait for the next installment!

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