Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Mad Max, Fury Road is Now My Favorite Movie of All Time, and Why Hollywood Needs to Take Notes From It.


I went with a group of friends to see Mad Max, Fury Road last night. Over the last year, my hopes in regard to the upcoming Mad Max movie had shifted from dubiously guarded, to ecstatically hopeful. By the time the movie arrived, I knew I was going to enjoy it. The question was simply, would I like it? Or would I love it?

The answer is a resounding I utterly adore Mad Max Fury Road to the end of all things.

There are so many areas of adoration to cover, that it would be almost impossible to get them all discussed, so for this post, I'm just going to focus on a huge factor that the rest of Hollywood has been floundering with of late. Women. For the last several weeks women in action movies has been the theme of numerous headlines, none of them good. Heroines have been undermined on posters, and in toys lines, they've been thrown under the bus due to their sex lives and written clean out of parts that are rightfully theirs.

If all the aforementioned bullshit plucks your nerve, then let me humbly suggest that you get your ass to the nearest theater and watch Mad Max Fury Road. Yes, it's a movie about Max Rockatansky. But it's also a movie that embraces women. I mean seriously, and honestly embraces them, without any reservation. Doubt me? Here's a small list (because I'm super tired, and I overworked myself today, so a list is easiest) highlighting the female embracement going on in Mad Max FR.

- Max is only one of the main characters, not *the* main character. He shares the podium equally with Furiosa.

- Furiosa and the Wives thoroughly beat Max's ass when they first meet each other. Not by luck, by brute strength. In fact, Furiosa would kill Max, if not for faulty shotgun shells (nice nod to Mad Max 2, there)

- Furiosa and the Wives save themselves. Repeatedly. Yes, Max is with them, and he's fighting as well, but the women hold their own, despite that one of the Wives is 8 months pregnant, and all of them have been kept as prisoners for at least the last several years of their lives, and have not allowed to do anything for themselves.

- Furiosa and/or the Wives save Max repeatedly. True, he saves them here and there as well, and Nux, the War Boy is not to be discounted, but the women do a huge amount of saving each other as well as saving both Max and Nux.

- Furiosa is first introduced to us as an Imperator. She is held in awe by all of the War Boys serving in Immortan Joe's army of 'half lifes'. A literal army of men view Imerator Furiosa with reverence and respect, and take orders from her without ever questioning her. So profound is their devotion to her as a leader, that when she drives her War Rig off course, abandoning her supposed run for a gasoline shipment, the War Boys with her don't immediately question her actions. Also, she does all the mechanics on her War Rig, she built it and she maintains it.

- At a pivotal moment, when it all hangs in the balance, and Max has already missed one shot (and only had two bullets to start with) he hands the gun to Furiosa, and tells her to take the shot, putting his faith in her without hesitation. She nails it perfectly.

- Once Max, Furiosa, the Wives and Nux are all on the same page, and have managed to escape (temporarily) the reach of Immortan Joe, the People Eater, and the Bullet Farmer, they discover that their destination is a place that no longer exists, but at the same time, they're reunited with people Furiosa grew up with. Who are all women.

- This is where we learn that Furiosa grew up among the Many Mothers, a group of all-female tribes. The Vuvalini are the last of these tribes, and though they regard Max and Nux with guarded acceptance, they readily welcome Furiosa and the Wives.

- When the lot of them eventually decide to return to the very Citadel they escaped from (in hopes of gaining control of it, since Immortan Joe and all of the War Boys are still after them) which means charging directly into their enemies, the Vuvalini readily join forces with them. To Nux and Max, this is the best chance they have. No one ever questions the decision, even though it means a group of maybe a dozen women (and two men) are going up against hundreds of male warriors.

- Through the ensuing battles, the women - Wives and Vuvalini alike - fight shoulder to shoulder with Max and Nux, just as powerfully as either man. In one instance, Furiosa actually catches a falling Max by the ankle with one (prosthetic) hand and drives while holding him upside down out one window. Oh, by the way, she's doing this during and after she's been viciously stabbed by an enemy and she never falters.

- Mad Max doesn't kill the ultimate bad guy, Immortan Joe. Though he does kill the two side-kick-type baddies (the People Eater, and the Bullet Farmer, whom Furiosa had already blinded with her perfect shot) It is Furiosa, with the help of the Wives, who destroys Immortan Joe, and subsequently end the war.

So, there you have it. There is virtually no part of Mad Max, Fury Road that doesn't utterly and unfailingly embrace women and all of their strengths. Why the rest of Hollywood can't do this, I don't know. But if you want to see the most badass, high octane, action packed, gender equal movie hitting the big screen this year, I suggest you go see Mad Max, Fury Road.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Last Of The Thunderbirds

It happened again. The Henni Penni killer returned last night and took Woebegone. Not literally, but it killed him.

It was easier, in some ways, this time, to find the aftermath. Woebegone was so very old (13ish) and he couldn't walk much, only hobbilty-hop from resting place to resting place. Most people would have put him down already, but he was so happy with Henni, who gave him purpose, and provoked sun-worshiping crows from him on a regular basis. Since finding Henni yesterday, he was subdued, withdrawn. I don't know if it was simply the sudden unexpected solitude, or if he possessed some sense of failure at having been unable to protect her. After all, Woebegone was a battle-ax of a rooster, who once tore a spur clean off fighting with a cat (who was just examining them, not stalking) through the fence of the chicken pen.

He was sleeping when it happened last night, and these days, he slept with the sort of utter detachment reserved for the very young, and the very old. There is no indication that he suffered. He was, I suspect, glad to meet Lord Death, just as most warriors of legend are, choosing that over a continued half-life of crippled existence. The wee chick who couldn't even get out of his own egg without help did, in the end live longer than any of his contemporaries.

I plan on setting a trap tonight, and if I'm successful in catching the chicken killer, I suspect that it will meet a similar fate itself. Not out of revenge. I don't begrudge anything the right to live, but out of protection of the other animals I look after. Whatever this animal is (raccoon/weasel/opossum(doubtful)) it's been here three nights, leaving the tray I feed the ferals on in disarray the first night, killing Henni the second, and killing Woebegone the third. The only thing left for it to do is get into the outside cat cage (where there is a supply of dry food in their bowl) and possibly harm or kill one of the cats, if they fight. I don't intend to let that happen.

Will post results, if and when there are any.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Loving My Food... But Not In The Way You're Thinking...

It was a high stress week, last week, for us. Anyone following will recall that last Monday, Mad Max decided to sample a few pieces of lily leaf and we subsequently learned just how toxic lilies are to cats. After two nights and three days in hospital, I'm relieved to say that Max is fine and suffered no lasting effects from his adventure.

The weekend was much better. I've gotten my vacation set up, even managed find super cheap tickets and get them bought, I spent Monday with the woman who taught me to ride - and in truth taught me a huge amount about life - and I got a whopping 17 new pages written on two different stories and also got several pages edited that belong to an old story that I'm reworking. It was an awesome weekend.

Which is why I never expected to face a dead pet this morning. Woebegone, my ancient rooster (whom some of you may remember from waaaaay back as both a thunderbird, and one of the Demon Chickens from Zorgnog) has been ailing recently, and though he seems happy and comfortable, I know his time is limited. But it wasn't Woebegone I lost. It was little unassuming Henni Penni whom I found lying dead in her favorite wallow, in the front corner of the chicken pen.

It was fast. Probably a raccoon, because whatever it was reached through small gauge chicken wire and wrung her neck. I'll spare you anymore details, except to say that because she was in her wallow, which is dusty, I know truly that it was fast, virtually instant. The smooth dust proves that. No struggle. No terror. She likely never woke up.

I was so shocked, that for a few moments I just stared, trying to grasp the fact that she wasn't busily chattering to me while waiting for her breakfast.

I was very, well, human, about losing her, at least right at that moment. We forget, so very easily, when animals whom we love are, within the realm of the natural world, basically food. People who raise animals and subsequently butcher them understand this, and rarely forget it. But those of us, even the ones with farm experience, who don't regularly raise animals and then kill them, easily forget.

To me, Henni wasn't a walking main course, or an egg machine. She was a little wily person, who'd dominated her first residence (and gotten her beak cropped for it) and who had escaped that place, wherever it was, and hit the open road in search of a better life. She'd found my sister, who had in turn, brought her to me, and at my house, she'd gotten what she seems to have always wanted. Adventure and solitude and one aged rooster, who didn't ask much of her, and was a nice companion, when she felt like being companionable. But to the rest of the natural world, she was food. And sometimes, no matter how much we try to protect creatures, to shield them from their own being, nature finds a way of reclaiming them. No human walked by and opened the chicken pen and killed Henni Penni for love of killing. Some animal (probably an asshole raccoon - the only good raccoon, to me, is a Rocket raccoon) saw an opportunity to grab an unsuspecting meal, and attempted to take that opportunity. That animal failed, but in the end Henni still rejoined the natural circle, because I took her small body out into the woods and left her under an oak sapling, that both the tree, and some other animal might benefit.

I will always remember Henni Penni as a very small entity, with a very large personality, someone who didn't look at herself, or her situation and ever consider, even for a moment, that she might be incapable of changing her own stars. She simple went out and changed them.