Wednesday, July 03, 2024

MaXXXine, You Forgot To Put On The Red Light

I thought George Miller's Furiosa was going to be my greatest disappointment of 2024, but here comes Ti West's MaXXXine to kick Furiosa outta the way with one high-heeled boot and snatch that feeble crown. Both subsequent films in franchises that are named after their leading ladies -- does this mean that I hate Strong Female Characters? Or maybe I just hate shitty movies? Y'all decide -- I'm too spent from drowning in disappointment this whole damned summer.

As a fairly rabid fan of both X and Pearl -- I've never been able to choose a favorite between the two as they hit very different joy buttons making it depend on my mood -- it brings me absolutely nothing but pain to share that MaXXXine did next to nothing for me. The giddiness I felt for the first half an hour or so here watching Mia Goth klick ass -- and even though this movie has very little idea what to do with her Mia Goth never stops kicking ass -- speeded out of me like air fizzling from a gently pricked balloon.

I'm seeing it a second time next week and I am fervently hoping that I'll be less down on it after that, but as it stands now on a single watch MaXXXine just feels like whiff after whiff -- it sets up what oughta be homerun after homerun and then just spins its wheels around them, unsure where to go or what to say or do. Nothing feels very propulsive, or meaningful -- ideas are introduced only to suffocate from lack of oxygen.

Stylistically it's sometimes fun, but only on a surface-level -- yes okay you're using the Brian De Palma split-screens, but where is any sense of De Palma's sleaze and perversion? Nowhere, that's where. It's a heap of red herrings lit up by neon signs. There's no urgency, no danger -- Maxine herself is such a force we never fear for her, and she remains so singlemindedly antisocial that the "friends" she's made, the ones who are in danger, never register enough for us to care when their times to bleed come.

I know there's been some retroactive appreciation for Scream 3 over the past several years -- mostly due to Parker Posey's hilarious turn in it -- but all I could think of watching MaXXXine was Scream 3 and not in a good way. There are half-baked meta allusions about the brutality of behind-the-scenes Hollywood yadda yadda but neither film makes them amount to much. And MaXXXine doesn't even have a Parker Posey to rescue it. It's Scream 3 without Parker Posey! Imagine!

Of course Goth is never bad and she gives it her all, but there's just nowhere for Maxine the character as written to go -- not as this movie shows it anyway. The pieces of the mystery that she finds herself in click into their expected place with a complete lack of surprise, or oomph -- MaXXXine feels like everybody cashed their checks and was halfway out the door before the first clapboard could slap Action. This was so fucking depressing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly! This was such a step down. I don't really think a third movie in this franchise was needed.