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Three Thousand Years of Longing (George Miller)

  • 19-05-2022 3:06pm
    Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭

    While I have been wondering when Furiosa might start, it never occurred Miller might direct soemthing else in the interim.

    A full trailer comes tomorrow, but the teaser and description already has me intrigued. Miller with full creative control could be a tonne of fun...

    Dr. Alithea Binnie is an academic and a creature of reason. While in Istanbul attending a conference, she encounters a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Eventually, she makes a wish that surprises them both.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 29,317 CMod ✭✭✭✭johnny_ultimate

    I love that this was spoken about for many years as a change of pace for Miller, like a reserved period romance... and then they drop that teaser which looks like a hyper-stylised, Fury Road esque fever dream. Bring it on.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp

    Full trailer. God damn this looks like a lush, madcap and deeply horny production; I'm definitely on board to see how this shakes out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 85,937 ✭✭✭✭JP Liz V1

    Terry Gilliam vibes

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp

    New trailer / ticket pre-book prompt. Lord I hope this is as bonkers and enjoyable as those promotions hint.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 29,317 CMod ✭✭✭✭johnny_ultimate

    Caught this over the weekend. It isn't the gloriously bonkers follow-up to Fury Road many would have hoped for, but to be fair it's working in a very different register. Whether it succeeds in said register... well, not really, but I'm glad Miller at least tried.

    The biggest problem here is that where Fury Road was a triumph of physical filmmaking (albeit with much digital assistance), this feels artificial in comparison. There's plenty of iffy CG and the fantasy scenes often have a sense of trite, unimaginative exoticism (and certainly a fair dash of orientalism). There are memorable images scattered throughout - including the extended version of the trailer shot of a soldier scaling the walls before birthing a horrid spider - but it's often more garish than spectacular. As ever, as a pandemic production, some leeway is due - indeed, Miller has incorporated face masks into some of the scenes in a way that adds extra emotional nuance and even visual texture to a couple of scenes.

    Yet there's something strange and compelling about the film on the whole, largely propelled by the intriguing relationship that forms between Swinton's academic and Elba's djinn. Even the stories themselves often have a nice rhythm to them, despite the awkward art design. It's all a grab bag of ideas and not all of them land... but there's enough here to entertain and intrigue. It tries to shove a lot into its final 20-30 minutes after a relatively sedate first hour, sometimes to its detriment but again with enough good ideas to easily propel the final act. Not to mention the film's best visual gag is reserved until the final seconds.

    So not the glorious return of George Miller we may have hoped for, but it's too distinctive and enthusiastic to dismiss entirely. A noble failure? A mixed success? Something like that.

    Post edited by johnny_ultimate on

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp

    I really enjoyed this, despite the flaws - the most notable being that weirdly hurried last act. I can totally understand why this crashed and burned as it did - anyone expecting a tonal follow-up to Fury Road would have been annoyed. Though it's fantastic that that film's success clearly opened the door for Miller to make this film in the first place.

    Sensual, baroque and emotional, a really sweet story about, well, longing as well as the importance of stories in our lives. There's probably something self-reflective in a director in his 70s making a movie about the power of story, but wouldn't speculate if that was deliberate or accidental.

    What was interesting was you could have gender flipped the main cast and the story would still have worked as-is. That doesn't usually happen.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    i dont know why anyone would expect "fury road", accepting that marketing insisted on blazing it over the trailers i suppose.

    but the trailers absolutely broadcast what this was: a quirky horny arabian/turkish fairytale

    agreed about the last act, didnt work. everything else was spellbinding imo

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators Posts: 11,034 Mod ✭✭✭✭Fysh

    I caught this on Friday and really liked it, although I did find the pacing unusual (at a guess the narrative structure is more like 4-act than 3-act). I tend to enjoy stories-within-stories and anthologies if they are done well, and I thought this managed pretty well.

    I'm disappointed this didn't do better but still glad it got made at all.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp

    The Ottoman empire was a fairly opulent, lavish era and the heady, sensual visuals didn't seem especially problematic. I wonder were the director not a white Ozzie would you have been inclined to presume orientalism?

    I'd say it never stood a chance at box office success. I kept thinking of Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, with its similar structure of stories within stories. Or did it? It's so long since I saw it last. Now that had some exoticism going on.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators Posts: 11,034 Mod ✭✭✭✭Fysh

    Terry Gilliam is a good comparison for the style of storytelling - and the won't-make-billions-but-will-delight-those-people-for-whom-it-resonates nature, come to think of it.

    It's not a flawless film by any means, but for me it's the sort of film that makes me continue to want to go to the cinema.

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 29,317 CMod ✭✭✭✭johnny_ultimate

    Well certainly if it was a different film made by a different filmmaker that particular observation might not have applied :)

    Honestly I just found the style of the ‘flashback’ parts of the film to be rather fixated on the exoticism of its settings, to the point where the film itself came across as garish and artificial (the sheer volume of dodgy CGI didn’t help). I particularly wasn’t fond of how leery the camera and delivery was when it came to the overweight characters. Yes, it’s meant to illustrate excess and all with a fantastical undercurrent, but in a film where virtually none of the characters outside the main two have much opportunity to speak for themselves, it all comes across as a bit ‘othering’.

    I know Miller’s co-writer Augusta Gore does have a background studying some of the material here, and there’s certainly an effort to ensure the stories being told do have a grounding in folklore and history. So credit there, and I don’t want to suggest any ill-will at all on Miller’s side. But IMO the whole thing seems to sorta bask in the sheer ‘foreignness’ of the cultures it’s portraying - I think it was Donald Clarke who compared some of the visual design to an old Turkish Delight ad, and that’s not too far off the mark! Something like Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights trilogy from a few years ago showed more visual and stylistic imagination in how it wove in elements of fantasy and Middle Eastern folklore, and in that case also through a western perspective (Portuguese in that case).

    That I still mostly liked the film is testament to a lot of the other things going on it - I’m glad the film exists and Miller aimed high. And I think a generous reading could argue that it’s actually critiquing some of its own storytelling tactics through its overarching themes of how we tell stories… but ultimately IMO the film’s a bit over-busy to really land in that regard.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp

    I think what you called exoticism, I just call a deep sensual, very sexual theatricality of a notedly opulent court. Told from the perspective of the man who lived through it all. This was a very heightened movie with a very specific perspective. It's a bit ... ach, a little misplaced to crib about other voices silenced ... when it was quite clear, at the request of Tilda Swinton's character, we hear of Elba's life, told by the Djinn of the folly and tragedy of wishes granted throughout his life.

    Would be very slow to read anything more into that than TBH and it almost strikes as reaching and does the film a disservice to think there was a degree of "othering" going on. His was the life of an observer of humanity's flaws - quite literally when he was trapped in limbo & remaining wishes forever unasked. A story shouldn't have some obligation to ensure all "voices" are heard, when its structure was quite clearly built off of two specific perspectives. In fact, it'd have made the narrative more unwieldy and messy, had it broken its own structure to have other characters' insert their agency into Idris Elba's life-story. Frankly, I didn't care; the point of the thing was to cosy up and hear the Djinn's sad tale.

    On the harem, interestingly that was taken from real-life as that Prince/Sultan had a craving for larger women, and spent most of his time cavorting with girls in a fur-lined harem. Again though, don't share any sense of discomfort as I didn't get a sense their presence was played for comedy or repulsion, beyond a general sense of that aforementioned intoxicating tone.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    i dont think its on the director to police the viewers reflex guilt (or titters) when the camera lingers on the specific bodies called out there.

    i think the story was more than generous enough to be taken as a sensual look at human quirk and sure, fetish- did you need the fat people censored or something? because otherwise you seem to require a lot be done to cater for your own take on it and im not sure thats miller's concern

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    follow up because i rattled that off on the bus and its too brusque!

    i dont think either our proxy storyteller nor our director as storyteller invite anything of a modern perspective on what we see in these tales, and ofc miller isnt blind to that being a tool he uses which can't simply serve as a handwave to show anything he wants, any way he wants- but while watching i definitely felt more of an invite to view what we were seeing through the lens of the tale and i felt pretty much everything set in those stories was fair enough.

    while agreeing that gilliam is an obvious comparison, i find it very difficult to imagine that he is capable of showing grotesque without letting us know he is showing grotesque and letting us know what we should be reacting to in it- with this i really didnt feel like we were getting that steer. our djinn isnt judging and i dont believe we are either.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 29,317 CMod ✭✭✭✭johnny_ultimate

    I actually don't think I'd have thought the harem stuff too noteworthy in this regard (as said, it is based in history) if it wasn't for that one scene in the bathhouse with the broken tile. I think in that scene a character being overweight is played for laughs (as far as my reading of that scene goes anyway) and just felt misjudged tonally to me.

    And yes, the nature of the storytelling device here means that inevitably the two main voices will dominate by quite a degree - I definitely don't think Miller should be obliged to give every character that shows up a voice. But there are consequences to that decision and mixed with the often creaky visual design choices, it creates a very shallow take on these cultures and worlds IMO. Although I do think some parts of the film fare better than others in that respect - the more narrow focus of the third story, for example, means there's less scope for Miller to get lost in CG excess, and more effectively capture the sensuality, texture and emotions of the story being told. I think a lot of the design in the second part just felt flat to me due to its bigger scope - shots like the one where they shoot the boat from the tower didn't really have much visual oomph for me.

    And finally, to reiterate in the strongest terms: I have no interest in the film being censored or changed. I think Miller is an extremely talented artist who should tell whatever story he damn well wants in whatever way he wants. Having recently listened to the excellent oral history book about the making of Fury Road, he comes across as an immensely smart, thoughtful man. Any criticisms I make are simply trying to articulate why the film didn't totally work for me: I am extremely glad a film this unusual on this budget level exists in the year 2022, but can't pretend I liked it more than I actually did :)

    Post edited by johnny_ultimate on

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp

    Mmm I still can't quite translate that point of view; not as a negative, to choose a such a baroque, luxurious lens towards a culture. It's OK to show sorded histories as sordid. The nature of the film's very structure did mean there was an inevitability that some segments would feel briefer than others. 3000 years is a long time to cover lol, the Ottoman section the obvious, longest stop.

    I'm very very cautious about writing something that appears to be an attack on someone's perspective - especially when ultimately, worry over representation is a Good Thing. But my reflex is to wonder if there's a degree of needless, automatic criticism Johnny; that because the on-screen iconography isn't western, there's a hostility towards a presumed surface-level, objectified - othered - presentation of Foreign Climbs. And while classic cinema is filled with presenting foreign cultures as hostile, savage or inscrutable - I never read this film's historical Constantinople Istanbul as anything except what it was. That, yeah, it was exotic, hedonistic times - especially for a Djinn whose purpose was finding heightened, emotional connections within that very emotional time.

    Weirdly, this segue reminds of similar criticism levelled by some towards Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, of all things; that its warm, loving embrace of Japan & Japanese Culture, albeit from the PoV of a tourist, was somehow wrong by default, purely 'cos the author was a geek from Texas. It wasn't a majority opinion by any means, and stank of contrarianism - but it was this immediate presumption of Othering because we can't just luxuriate in somewhere foreign.

    I think there's a level of respect that can, ironically, come out the other side when it just can't enjoy a place. Romanticising a time, people or location shouldn't be cause for immediate suspicion, introspection or ... and I use the term verrrrrrrry loosely, and not as an attack on you Johnny, White Guilt.

    Snoop's right about Terry Gilliam. His movies DID tend towards leering at the inherent alienness of foreign shores, other peoples. They did tend towards exoticism, to be fair.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 29,317 CMod ✭✭✭✭johnny_ultimate

    Honestly, at the end of the day I did just find the stylistic portrayal of the cultures here rather shallow and surface level - as another reviewer noted, akin to a perfume ad at times, just soaking in the 'exotic' nature of the settings. But I think that circles back around to what is by far my main criticism of the film: that the film just visually is sort of flat and trite in those sections. This all felt rather artificial to me, not at all helped by the copious levels of dodgy CG. I've no problem whatsoever in showing a sordid side of culture or history - this just didn't work for me, even allowing for the extra layer of fantasy and character perspective at play here. I just didn't find the visual design appealing or convincing.

    As mentioned in my initial post, I do think this is potentially a consequence of pandemic production, at least in part. It's clear that this was a film where production was deeply disrupted by lockdown (literally days into the initial planned shoot) and I think there were likely visual and production compromises that had to be made to get it finished. AFAIK they couldn't film the modern Istanbul exteriors in Istanbul (as had initially been planned) as a result of the restrictions, and had to build a set to replace it. I totally sympathize with the practical challenges that must have led to, and am very happy the film was completed successfully despite the circumstances. Whether the film made in less disruptive circumstances would've been substantially different in terms of look and feel, well that we'll never know.

    I think there are genuine, fair and non-outraged criticisms that can be made about films like this or Isle of Dogs. Indeed, I personally loved that film and was much more on the fence about this. Ultimately, it's all a matter of perspective and individual response I guess! I will reiterate once more that I don't think George Miller is at all coming from a bad place here - I deeply respect his and his co-writer's efforts to remain true to the stories and histories they're drawing from. I just think in execution the film just for me fell short, often feeling aloof. Not always, though - there are visual aspects of this film I did very much like, such as how they utilised the space of the hotel room and size/abilities of the djinn. Even the sequence where the musician plays an impossible instrument… that’s a moment where the approach taken here does work IMO to conjure something mysterious and fascinating.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 36,188 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp

    Well that's another point of disagreement; maybe it's 'cos I recently watched Kung Fu Hustle and (eventually) bought into the awful CGI, because the film was such an unapologetic cartoon - while here, the slightly obvious CGI kinda worked into the unreality of it all. This was some weird fever-dream, knowingly unreal sensibility to the thing. The CGI kinda reflected that, alongside the little asides like Swinton's Ah-Ha inspired imaginary friend, or her reminiscing about her husband.

    But otherwise I understand @johnny_ultimate you are speaking from the point of view as someone who had a positive experience than a broadly negative one; just some of the asides you made gave me thought about unconscious bias, and a ... speed to assume exoticism. If knowing the background of the maker shapes our own reception and presumptions. Would a Turkish director have illicit the same caution about the historical pieces? Would a Turkish director even made it that way? I think they would, but that's a big long segue for another thread.

    In other, more disappointing news: I knew the film was a flop - but $13 million worldwide gross is an especially terrible haul.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 29,317 CMod ✭✭✭✭johnny_ultimate

    Yeah for me I don't think it reached that fever-dream level, with the exception of some scattered moments here and there such as the aforementioned impossible instrument or spider transformation. If anything, it felt glossy to the point where the unreality and mysteriousness was sanded down to fairly unremarkable CG spectacle. All IMO of course :)

    Not that I have any fundamental problem with hyper-stylized art design! I think something like Kung Fu Hustle so clearly exists in the realm of pure cartoon that the crude CG enhances the humour and style of the film. Or, to pick another film with an Ottoman Empire sojourn, Karel Zeman's classic take on Munchausen has such a distinctive, surreal visual identity that it feels truly otherworldly in a way I don't think this manages.

    As for the box office, while I'd love to see it doing better than it has done I do think it's such a particular film that it was never going to have mass appeal. That it managed to get a $60 million budget or whatever is fairly remarkable in the first place - Miller rightly cashing in that 'one for me' cheque afforded from Fury Road's success!