JMad Max fans have shouted out a magical wish and will conjure up a new movie from George MillerHere and now, not a moment to waste. Perhaps that’s what they’ve been wanting since Fury Road set out in the desert back in 2015. Now their prayers, God help them, have been answered, as Miller arrives at the Cannes Film Festival to direct an image he describes as “anti-Mad Max”: a vast thousand-style fantasy. Nights about the relationship between an old genie and a London academic These people really should read the lowercase letters Every magical wish has a consequence and a cost.
Adapted from 1994 AS Byatt novella, Three Thousand Years of Longing casts Tilda Swinton Like Alithea Penny, a master of narration, she tells stories about stories. Alone in her hotel suite in Istanbul, she opens a glass bottle and jumps on gin (Idris Elba with pointy ears), vowing to deliver her heart’s desire. He’s spent thousands of years in confinement and has a lot to say for himself. And so the couple, sitting in a white bathrobe, recounted his adventures and imprisonment, telling Alethia of the Queen of Sheba and the Ottoman Empire while periodically urging her to make a wish. The professor, perhaps for the first time in her life, is confused. “This wishful thinking is a risky business,” she complains.
Miller, a student of narrative science himself, loves to strip stories from their bones and recycle their parts to make something new. Movies like Happy Feet or Piguelling Babe: Pig in the City work best when they’re viewed as fiction. Even Mad Max Postmodernism spins the journey of your classic hero, the director’s version of a Western or Greek myth or samurai tale. On this occasion, though, the vanity feels exaggerated, more so than the script, as if the film still had a slippery foot in Alithea’s Lit-Theory symposium. Stories about stories can be flashlights and starbursts. But it requires more hurt and abandon than what this person can muster; Perhaps there’s a more obvious chemistry between her proud heroes, too. Alithea believes that the jinn are a fraud even though he blindly swears he is not. She is very careful, very educated. She’s learned that all wish-fulfilling fantasy is just a cautionary tale with her makeup on.
None of this suggests that the movie itself is a monkey’s paw, a wish that goes back to being the worst thing in the world. Three thousand years of longing is sinless, open-hearted, like the dream of the antique bookseller of the Thieves of Baghdad. It’s so defiantly out of fashion that there’s finally something cool about it. At the age of 77, far from the success of his 50-year career, Miller earned the right to make whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and hell with fans clamoring for more road warrior films. I think it was just made for him. I think it turned out just as he had hoped.
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