By Robin E. Simmons


Australian medical doctor George Miller had an idea for a movie 35 years ago, but could only raise about $400,000. So he shot the post-apocalyptic MAD MAX  in rural and desert locations with a young, unknown actor named Mel Gibson. The movie became a hit and MAD MAX: ROAD WARRIOR followed. It was even more frenetic and MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDROME, a lesser sequel followed starring Gibson and Tina Turner.

But apparently Dr. Miller was not satisfied with these iterations. A grander vision of his mythic, heroic, action film kept nagging at him until he finally wrote the full synopsis while on a long flight and then worked with Brendan McCarthy, a comic artist, and created a 3,500 picture storyboard. Miller wanted his movie to be about the flow of visuals and not the spoken words. He wanted people all over the world to understand this film without resorting to subtitles.

As of this writing, the press preview has just ended and I am frankly blown away. Miller’s visceral action extravaganza starts full throttle and the adrenaline fueled epic adventure never lets up. Not for one second. The bar has officially been raised. Not only is this the best action adventure ever, it is also a genuine work of ferocious cinematic art.

The core story, not really a prequel or sequel, has Tom Hardy playing Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson’s character in the previous editions), as a haunted and hunted loner who gets caught up in an insane and deadly chase with a group of escaped sex slaves led by Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. They are fleeing the decadent, tyrannical warlord Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keyes-Brynn, the villain in the original MAD MAX movie).

Miller likes the feel of “real physics” as opposed to the eye-popping but obviously fake reality of extreme CGI (as in FURIOUS 7). The stunt work, supervised and created by Guy Norris, must be specially noted.  Long overdue is the creation of the Motion Picture Academy’s Oscar category for “Best Stunt Work.”  This film deserves such recognition. On some days, more than 150 stunt players were on location in Australia and South Africa. Much of the action was filmed in real time, with high speed chases in real vehicles. And what vehicles they are. More than 100 were created for the movie. Many had special names.

So much more can be said in praise of this ferociously visceral cinema art that finally is a feminist riff on our collective future. In a male dominated violent world that’s hell bent on self-destruction, maybe the answer to our survival is to consider a matriarchal society. Max is mad for all the right reasons.

Don’t miss this film on the biggest screen you can find. It looks great in 3D, but 2D is just fine and for me, perhaps better. Check it out at the Pickford Theater and chat with your friends, have a latté before or after the movie in the new Cinema Café. Now showing.


I love this “Jewish comedy” caper featuring a bunch of old geezers who have no regard for political correctness.

This crazy Israeli crime comedy, directed by Reshef Levi is about Jonathan, a 12-year-old Israeli boy who is dealt a cruel double-blow by fate. First his father is killed in a freak accident while working at the local bank. Not only does the bank deny fault, they also repossess the boy’s home! Pushed to the edge, the boy must get money fast, and decides to rob the bank. He needs a team but the only crew available is comprised of three senior citizens. One of whom is played by Sir Patrick Stewart.

Some “anti-feminist” riffs are funny but made me squirm a bit. Lots of one-liners and a ton of old people jokes are thrown against the wall and some actually stick.

Part of the Celebration of Jewish Film series, starts May 22 at Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert.


Amazing Space

For more than 25 years, the Hubble space telescope has given us incredible access to the cosmos and the grand mysteries of the universe. Now, armchair adventurers can embark on a truly breath-taking journey through space. This hour-long, enthralling and strangely calming, meditative audiovisual experience is perfect for repeat viewings and especially for unwinding. I like running this before going to sleep. For me, it enhances the mind-state that enables lucid dreaming. Kristin Hoffman created the immersive, hypnotic soundtrack composed of piano, strings, wind instruments, cello and vocals. Let your spirit soar directly into majestic star clusters, nebulas and galaxies.  The three disc set includes a music CD, DVD and Blu-ray. From Film Chest Media. Recommended.