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Matthew d’Ancona’s Culture: Furiosa is epic

Our editor-at-large’s rundown of the pick of the week’s cinema, television and books

Chris Hemsworth in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. Photo: Warner Bros


General release

“World-building” is a phrase too lazily applied to contemporary movie franchises and video games. But George Miller, now in his 80th year, really has shown his competitors how to construct a maximalist, dystopian reality, pretty much from scratch. When he made the original Mad Max (1979) for $350,000, starring the not-yet-famous Mel Gibson, could he have possibly imagined that the saga would still be running 45 years later?

Furiosa is the fifth chapter in the series and a prequel to the magnificent Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), which scooped up six Oscars; introducing Tom Hardy as the new Max Rockatansky (former cop-turned-warrior of the wasteland) and Charlize Theron as the awe-inspiring Imperator Furiosa.

It is her backstory that the new movie explores, and does so in glorious, action-packed detail, combining explosive battle scenes with authentic character development. Alyla Browne and then Anya Taylor-Joy are both superb as the younger Furiosa – abducted from the matriarchal idyll of the Green Place by the deranged warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth with crazy hair, having the time of his life).

Amid all the ultraviolence and fantastically choreographed desert chase sequences, we learn how Furiosa acquired her scary cyborg arm, and how her legend as the “darkest of angels” was born.

“Do you have it in you to make it epic?” roars Dementus at the woman he kidnapped years before, who has grown into a deadly army of one, her hair shorn, her face marked with black war paint. Well: what do you think?



This low-tech, self-funded sitcom, set in a Pennsylvania auto shop, is the brainchild of its star and co-creator, Shane Gillis, who is well on his way to becoming the biggest comedian on the planet.

This is, to say the least, a reversal of fortune. In 2019, Gillis was sacked from Saturday Night Live before he had even started work on the show – after politically incorrect clips surfaced from his long-running podcast with fellow comic Matt McCusker.

Instead of complaining about “cancel culture”, Gillis simply got back to work. His YouTube special Live in Austin (2021) has clocked up 27 million views and was followed last year by Beautiful Dogs on Netflix. With exquisite symmetry the podcast that got him into trouble is now the most subscribed show on Patreon, and, in February, SNL invited him back as a host.

Tires is a very funny workplace show, very much in the spirit of The Office and Kevin Smith’s Clerks trilogy. Witness the new world of digital creativity, in which a talented gang of performers can reach a huge audience and establish a loyal fanbase, outside the old mainstream media channels.


Hit Man
Selected cinemas; Netflix, June 7

From Slacker (1990) and Dazed and Confused (1993), via the Before… trilogy (1995-2013), to the beautiful Boyhood (2014), Richard Linklater has never failed to be an intriguing and nimble director. In Hit Man, he delivers a very entertaining genre mash-up of film noir, classic screwball and modern romcom.

Glen Powell (who co-wrote the screenplay with Linklater) is Gary, a nerdish philosophy professor who lives alone with his two cats and is mocked by his students when he lectures on the muscular philosophy of Nietzsche (“Says the guy driving the Civic”). He also moonlights as a tech guy for the New Orleans police department as it tries to ensnare idiots seeking contract killers.

When Jasper (Austin Amelio), one of the cops actually involved in the sting operations, is suspended, Gary has to step into the breach and – with no preparation – pretend to be a hitman. To everybody’s surprise, including his own, he proves to be a natural and is soon having a blast in a series of disguises, coaxing potential clients into incriminating themselves.

Then, posing as “Ron”, he meets Madison (Adria Arjona), who wants to get rid of her abusive husband. Sparks fly between the two, Gary/Ron persuades Madison not to hire him, and a passionate affair ensues. But is Madison in love with Ron or Gary?


Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches From the Wrong Side of History
by Nellie Bowles
Swift Press

Those familiar with Bari Weiss’s The Free Press will know the writings of Nellie Bowles (who is also Weiss’s wife). This collection of articles and essays has already proved hugely divisive, which is one of many reasons to read it.

Her target is the follies of contemporary social justice movements and particularly their earnestness. Considering herself impeccably of the Left – she had been the only out gay student at her school – she found herself, around 2020, suddenly baffled by (and unable to take seriously) “the New Progressive era of scolding and overcorrections”.

Predictably, Bowles has been widely denounced as a heretic and a traitor and all the other things that free thinkers of the left and centre are called these days. All of which rather proves her point: that the greatest weakness of the new political culture – aside from the many reasonable arguments it actually has to make – is its innate, self-regarding, self-defeating silliness.

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See inside the ‘Do your national service!’ (... and vote me out on July 4) edition

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