Review: Mad Max Fury Road


The trailer had me. I was stunned by the visual, lured by the return to Max’s world. I should have left it there!

To be honest Mad Max: Fury Road is not a terrible film. It is however not worthy of the outpouring of praise & critical fervour that it has stirred up. This mantra of the ‘return of the great action film’  is something which is over used and over hyped.

An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.

This is a two hour car chase punctuated with occasional dialogue. The problem for me is the unexplainable nature of certain elements. Why is Max captured at the start of the film other than to start the chase? Max’s flashbacks to a young girl which  I presume he could not save from some unexplained horror. It is never explained who she is or what happened to her.

This may seem petty criticism but these elements were distractions for me and took me out of the film.

As for the much lauded strong female character lines I fail to see them. Yes the women involved are removed form their old world roles of breeders and feeders but they never reach the dizzy heights that many seem to think they do. In effect they are pretty anonymous. Theron is might as Furiosa but to claim this is a victory for women in film is strong given that she is nothing more than ‘Ripley light’ driving fast and shooting a gun.

As I said Mad Max is not terrible but it may be the biggest cinematic disappointment I experience this year!


Review: The Look of Silence


Come see a film about the consequences of the Indonesian massacre is perhaps not the best sell for a Monday evening film club outing but none the less I persevered with my choice and was delighted that a handful of brave souls joined me.

I have to say I;m so pleased that I saw this film. The Look of Silence is quite possibly one of the great documentaries of our time. Haunting, compelling, visually stunning and emotionally draining all in 103 minutes. Joshua Oppenheimer has not just made a documentary but a work of art.

I shouldn’t have been surprised after all his previous documentary the Act of Killing was also wonderful. This companion piece to me though is slightly superior given the content.

The Act of Killing focused on the perpetrators, who bragged unabashed about the carnage they caused and with great pride reenacted their deeds with great aplomb for the cameras. The Look of Silence follows the story of Adi, an optometrist, who lost his brother during the Indonesian massacre when his village was taken over by the military and ‘communists’ were cold heartedly executed in droves. Ari gets the opportunity to meet his brother’s killers and talk openly to them about what happened.

Ari’s focus is not vengeance but conversation. A conversation to enable understanding. A conversation to bring him some peace.

The truly wonderful moments in this documentary are the silent ones. The moments were survivor and perpetrator stop conversation and the camera continues to roll. We see Adi swallow hard, perhaps swallowing some emotion, perhaps worried that his next question may take him too far,

We see those who murdered glance across to check if they are going to encounter anger. A fleeting glance to the floor perhaps to show a flicker of remorse. A look of defiance that rises again to justify their actions.

Adi’s mother with a permanent scowl of anger at the injustice her family suffered. Staying off into the distance reflecting on what might have been if her son had lived.

While the conversations are useful and engaging it is the silence that is the show stealer.

Coming out of the screening I was struck by Adi’s courage, angered by the justification given by killers and heart-broken at a mothers loss.

Mostly though I pondered how each person comes to the conversation in The Look of Silence with a different perspective of something that happened.

When we are wronged, when we are hurt, how so we look at our circumstances?

Do we cling to anger and wish hardship on those who wronged us?

Do we justify away our actions because we are so sure we did or said the right thing?

Or do we attempt to have a conversation. Not for confrontation but to attempt understanding?

The Look of Silence is not an easy watch.

It is however, in my opinion, an essential one.

Jurassic Park : Could vs. Should


Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if the should – Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum)

Jurassic World is released in cinemas this weekend and I have to say I’m excited. I remember clearly the experience of being 13/14 sitting with my popcorn and hearing the roar of the T-Rex for the first time and watching the chaos unfold on-screen. I’m looking forward to re-entering that world again and I’m hopeful that I will enjoy this new outing as much as I did first time round.

Watching Jurassic Park with older eyes though you do see a different story. Yes the thrills, the chases, the suspense of the kitchen sequence still exhilarate and entertain but this is only part of the story.

The creation of an attraction for our entertainment without full consideration to the consequences is a cautionary tale. This 90’s block buster warns that the creation of entertainment must walk hand in hand with consideration of the ethics. Moments of awe can not be designed without a duty of care being granted to those lost in wonder. The pre occupation of could without the consideration of should.

The argument for could vs. should is still a valid one, particularly in our social media heavy world, today.

Social media has become a place for Christians to engage in theological discussion without consideration of feeling, context or tone of those they engage with. Vitriol and accusations of heresy flow freely and then we wonder why people lose interest in what churches stand for / should stand for. At times it is vicious, brutal and dare I suggest light years away from what our faith should really represent.

Within the church we COULD spend time debating issues on social media with those we differ. We probably SHOULD be more willing to accept difference of opinion rather than desperately seeking the black and white answers.

We COULD argue online generating opinions from the noise of keyboard keys. We SHOULD get together and engage face to face where we can the persons intended tone.

We COULD continue to argue incessantly. We SHOULD come prepared to listen and discuss.

We COULD continue to exclude others based on our differences. We SHOULD break bread and drink wine in communion with each other despite them.

We COULD not rest until we achieve uniformity. We SHOULD be content to accept those elements of our faith that unite.