Monthly Archives: May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road directed by George Miller

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road on opening night. I don’t watch many action movies, but I had to see this one. I had all kinds of weird memories like fever dreams about watching Mad Max: Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with my brother when I was probably too young to be watching them. Through I hadn’t seen the films in decades, life often reminds me of Mad Max films. Frequently, when driving over Point of the Mountain, Utah, I feel like I am in a Mad Max film. Everyone increases their speed to about 80 miles per hour, semis barrel past me, shaking my little car, and motorcyclists with no helmets (and sometimes no shoes!) race past me in the fast lane. Once I saw a guy smoking a bong while driving. It’s just nuts out there, and it always reminds me of the apocalyptic lawless motifs of old Mad Max films.

I frequently reference Mad Max films, but don’t get a huge response from people. It had felt like I’m the only one for whom those films where impactful. In the weeks leading up to the release of Mad Max: Fury Road I rewatched both Mad Max: Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome to  prepare. The opening scene to Road Warrior is pretty great, but after that I began to doubt my ability to watch the old films. It seemed too much had changed, that they didn’t hold up over time. But, I persevered and found that, with some patience, both films do hold up in doing what they do best, which is to create a really specific and unique theme and motif that is carried through all of the Mad Max movies—and it’s a really weird motif that I absolutely love.

So, I went to see Fury Road on opening night and was blown away. I couldn’t’ve anticipated what it would be like, but I was delighted at every step of the way. Every image and moment is dedicated to building that same weird and delightful motif that George Miller creates in his other films—but even better this time. It looks like he took the time to add every layer and element that he wanted to add to the story, and it was so fun to see all of the references and connecting work throughout the piece. So, yes, I was already going to like this movie because I had a lot of nostalgia and positive bias, but even so, I still think the film is genius. It surpassed my expectations by a mile.

image from imdb.com

image from imdb.com

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My Body Is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta

image from amazon.com

image from amazon.com

For those of you who miss the bygone days of the grad school creative writing workshop, My Body is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta is going to be your jam. It fostered in me nostalgia for those rapid cycling days of pushing myself to the psychological and intellectual limits to produce the wildest new thing imaginable only to discover it’d already been done, and better, and then I was back to the drawing board, and I did this on repeat for a couple of years until maybe (maayyybee) I really did create a few new things.

Washuta’s book has the messy feel of a creative writing workshop. In many of the sections, you can almost imagine the writing prompts to which she’s responding. Readers unfamiliar with this kind of (independent?) prose could very well be put off by this book. And to be fair, even as far as independent presses go, this book has some clunky, first effort moments. As a reader, I was okay with these moments because I was just so glad to be reading something new and different and good and incredibly personal and raw. Maybe too raw.

It’s difficult to write about one’s own mental illness without seeming off-puttingly self-indulgent, and Washuta is aware of this problem and bravely soldiers on. Her themes are so smart—a beautifully nuanced commentary on interactions between race, gender, government, and society. It’s weird. Life’s weird.

Interestingly, both Lena Dunham and Washuta published their books last year and both sometimes use a footnote method, where they break down a piece of text (such as their online dating profile or food journal) with footnotes. The footnotes are so great and so real. It feels very intimate. The only downside (and it’s a big one for me) is that you’ll get vertigo from going back and forth between the original text and the footnotes.

Here are some words I loved:

First, the title: My Body is  Book of Rules is genius.
Next, a chapter title that she should’ve saved for the title of her next novel: “Faster Than Your Heart Can Beat.”

Her descriptions of bipolar:

“…decreased social judgement” (12).

“…a window left open to let the murderers in” (13).

Commentary on Cosmo’s “sex tips”:

“…definitely don’t forget his sack” (18).

Her literary criticism:

She nails her analysis of Catcher in the Rye (a book with which I was previously enamored) like I’ve never seen before when she writes that it “Talks about what’s wrong when that’s not really what’s wrong” (63).

Her insights on life:

“Hope is the thing that comes before the very fucking scary thing” (135).

“do it because you want to, so badly, because you can’t not” (176).

“I am enough” (177).

“Nowadays, when someone else wants to reach me, they get a perpetual busy signal while I whisper sweet nothings to myself late into the night” (177).

“Perfection is hard to stomach” (183).