George Miller. I view Miller completely different now since Fury Road and I’m racking my brain for another example of an auteur with a career peak this late (70 at the time of his best film). There are auteurs who bloom early and fizzle out early (Godard, Bertolucci), those that die early (Murnau, Fassbinder and too many others to count), those that take forever between movies (Malick’s 20 year gap, Kubrick, Tati, late Cameron), and lastly those that take a long time to get started but once they do, they take off (Haneke, Hogg, Dardenne, Altman (sort of at least- he was 45 when he made MASH)). With the 10-year moratorium for all new films on my top 500 of all-time list Fury Road doesn’t make it yet. So, Miller has just one top 500 film (Fury Road will absolutely get there in time but it could push off The Road Warrior) and certainly a distinct voice (4 of his 5 archiveable films are Mad Max films).
Best film: Mad Max: Fury Road. Since May 2015 when I saw it I’ve barely been able to shut up about this brilliant film. I will say, and perhaps add this to the comments above, that however surprising this film was (very few auteurs have 34 years between their best and second best films) it does not feel fluky or like Miller was at the helm for some sort of happy accident. It’s clearly a Miller film from the style, the editing, to the content and narrative. This is very much the work of the auteur of The Road Warrior– I just thought there would’ve been more indicators along the way the last 30 years since Beyond Thunderdome.
total archiveable films: 5
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (The Road Warrior)
top 100 films of the decade: (The Road Warrior, Mad Mad: Fury Road)
most overrated: Nothing. The TSPDT critical consensus has two Miler films in the top 1000. Fury Road is rising fast and doing fine and Road Warrior is #471 so they have the right two films and both are in fine spots for now.
most underrated: Ditto here- TSPDT is pretty much spot on. Thunderdome has grown on me over the years but there isn’t a third film that should be in the top 1000 that isn’t.
gem I want to spotlight : The Road Warrior. Before Fury Road this was one of the films considered one of the best of the action genre. It is part Rio Bravo but still wholly Miller from the intense overture montage to the big reveal ending. This is also the best Mel Gibson film– which may not sound like much but I have a lot of respect for his early Peter Weir films and the first Lethal Weapon .
stylistic innovations/traits: The jump cut editing seems like a no-brainer in this genre but what Miller perfects in Fury Road has its roots over 35 years ago in the no-budget Mad Max original. The pace and frame splitting has an absolutely palpable effect on the viewer. Miller also gets credit now for creating the rich characters and a wholly convincing world and all the sumptuous visual and narrative detail of Mad Max the character- not unlike Lucas with Star Wars. It’s part sci-fi, part action, and frankly part western with the barren lawless landscapes and antiheroic nature of the title character.
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)
- Mad Max
- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
- Lorzeno’s Oil
By year and grades
|1979- Mad Max||R|
|1981- The Road Warrior||MS|
|1985- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome||R|
|1992- Lorenzo’s Oil||R|
|2015- Mad Max: Fury Road||MP|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives