My parents were early adapters to the home-video market. They were given a Betamax sometime in the early '80s, but for reasons that were never quite clear to me, they switched to the VHS format fairly quickly thereafter. In the early days, there weren’t very many places around in which to rent videos. I recall only two places in our area. I remember very clearly that our favorite one, Silver Screens, on the outskirts of town, displayed the movies they had on shelves with little hooks holding these little tags on them. Each movie had two hooks under it, one for VHS, one for Beta. You’d take the tag and bring it to the front counter and they’d collect the film. If it didn’t have a tag, then someone else had already rented the film.
I have many fond memories of going to that store with my family and taking home a movie. It felt so revolutionary for awhile. You no longer had to go to the theatre to see a movie, or wait for it to show up on television. You could get whatever you wanted (as long as the store had it) whenever you wanted.
My favorite rentals occurred whenever my mother was out of town or hanging out with her friends or whatever mom did when she wasn’t home for a few hours one evening. Dad and I would go to the rental store and we’d pick out something Mom would never want to watch (and likely wouldn’t allow me to see). This usually involved some cheesy sci-fi flick or a B-grade horror show. At least once (and probably several times), this resulted in us taking home films featuring Mad Max.
The only of the first three films I actually have any memories of is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but I’m pretty sure we actually did rent all three at some point or another. Though its not popular to say so I loved Thunderdome the best (though not as much as I loved Ice Pirates - I apparently had terrible taste in movies as a kid).
Yet for whatever reason, I’ve never watched any of the Mad Max films since childhood. I never gave them much thought at all until Fury Road came out. Even then, I wasn’t particularly excited about it. The hype built and the fanboy excitement grew as the early reviews were very good. Still, I hadn’t really planned to see it until I found myself with a babysitter and at a theatre where nothing much else was showing.
I talked the wife into watching it and away we went. My review can be summed up with three words: embrace the ridiculousness. I think I thought of that about the time the dude strapped to the front of a truck with the flame-throwing guitar showed up. George Miller has created such a strange, ludicrous, and outrageous world that you either have to embrace it or you’ll just walk out. Choosing to embrace, I was taken on a wild, imaginative, and absolutely gorgeous-looking ride.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Boulevard: Robin Williams final on-screen performance finds him playing a 60-year-old schlub who turns down an unknown street that up-ends his life as he meets a charismatic hustler and rethinks who he is. That’s a cliche-ridden plot, but I can’t resist seeing Williams one more time. It also stars Bob Odenkirk, which is a plus.
Good Kill: Ethan Hawke stars in this war drama about a Air Force pilot who starts flying drone missions and becomes disillusioned by the mission.
The D Train: Jack Black and James Marsden star in this raunchy comedy about a high-school reunion. (Read Adam Blair's review)
Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World: A documentary about the artist who created the original design for Ridley Scott’s Alien amongst many other terribly creepy things. (Read Mark Buckingham's review)
Bessie: Queen Latifah stars as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in this HBO film.