Jonathan Majors’s incredible transformation as bodybuilder Killian Maddox in Magazine Dreams Stunning, first-ever glory in godlike daydreams, posed for the requisite professional competition, caressed by golden light. But when the soaring melody of Jason Mills’ tune fades into a deflated hum, signaling trouble ahead, the scene shifts to Killian’s bare lightbulb in his humble garage Down. This is the first hint that this strong Adonis is actually a lonely, painfully shy and deeply insecure man whose feelings of inadequacy, buried self-loathing and resentment often take the form of outbursts of rage.
It was a timeless show, full of anger and vulnerability, and to our credit, our hearts ached for Killian, even—or maybe especially—when he Out of control. Major and writer/director Elijah Bynum has accomplished quite a bit, making us worry more about this formidable giant than he stands on Trembling employers in. Magazine Dreams
Bottom Line A masterpiece of a flawed but impressive vehicle.
Location : Sundance Film Festival(American Drama Competition) Cast : Jonathan Majors, Hayley Bennett , Taylor Page , Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris Director and Screenwriter : Elijah Bynum 2 hours 4 minutes
When this character flexes his muscles for the judges on stage at a bodybuilding competition, he’s heaving and sparkling Glowing muscles and taut tendons, even when his smile is a forced grimace, his veins burst. But when he tries to talk to Jessie (Haley Bennett), the cashier he has a crush on packing groceries at the supermarket, he’s hunched over and embarrassed, as if wishing to disappear rather than confront the possibility reject. When he did ask her out, he preemptively said no before she even had a chance to speak. This clumsiness, often manifested in his gait, is partly due to his large size, but more tellingly, his discomfort with gnawing on his own skin.
Bynum developed an unusually strong character study around Killian and his single-minded obsession with tragedy, using race, socioeconomic disadvantage, mental health issues and deep-seated trauma to cover his quest for champion greatness. There’s also the sad acknowledgment that unwavering confidence is a strict American requirement for anyone trying to be famous, as evidenced by the venomous online comments to Killian’s stuttering bodybuilding videos. More than one thought suicide was his best option.
The first half of this engrossing film nuancedly portrays a complex man, gradually exploring the pathos behind his still hopeful self-assault-realization as he tries to escape disappointment, with varying degrees of success. In the second half, when Killian’s fledgling incestuous tendencies kicked in and he morphed into a fiery Travis Bickle, the Magazine Dreams began self-indulgent torture, punishment the wrong way , as it sputters over a handful of possible endings into the inevitable pitfalls of an American dream that won’t die.
Killian lives with his ailing Vietnam Veteran grandfather William (Harrison Page) and dreams of being on the cover of a fitness magazine like his idol Brad Vanderhorn (Mike O’Hearn) The Champion wrote regularly to bodybuilders, signing them “your number one fan”. It goes to show that when we see Killian talking to almost anyone, he speaks in a monosyllabic grunt, but in the voiceover in his letter to Brad, he is clear, confident and articulate, hinting at how he sees himself , at home in the spotlight as an accomplished star athlete. With a national competition coming up soon, he has already booked his first magazine cover and is getting on well with his girlfriend. The sad concern in Patricia’s eyes showed that she saw the self-deception behind those apparently false claims. Bynum’s script doesn’t provide details of the violence that initially put Killian in treatment, but we do learn he threatened nurses while he was in the hospital. “I’m going to split your head open and drink your brains like soup” was one of his most frequent warnings. A total disaster – it becomes one of the most harrowing scenes in the film. He dresses up and takes her to an informal steakhouse, and at first they seem to hit it off. She finds him attractive and his shyness endearing. But the shocking way he explained his orphaning in a matter-of-fact manner was the first red flag. Then, when the conversation turned to bodybuilding, he began a manic rant demanding discipline and total commitment, all the while ordering half the high-protein options on the menu.
Bennett’s face, sweet and open at first, as Killian hums in forgetfulness and Jessie realizes how unstable he is consumed by his ambition, from Discomfort turns into a mixture of pity and fear. She was gone before the food even arrived. Killian’s clumsy effort to maintain his dignity when the waitress informs him she’s leaving is one of the many examples we’ve seen of the flimsiness of the armor he’s built.
Killian’s day job goes well beyond “you get what you sow” in order to achieve your goals. Intense gym workouts, runs, ice baths, and high-calorie food intake didn’t give him the extra pounds he wanted, so he routinely injected himself with steroids that destroyed his internal organs and snorted cocaine to boost his his energy. Still, words from a contest judge who criticized his hamstring and said his delts were too small still eroded him.
Those words come up again in a harrowing scene near the end, when his mind literally falls apart. But this incident, although it made him feel the condescending power, it did not bring him long-term peace.
Killian’s stability. During a phone argument with a painting contractor about work on William’s unfinished house, Killian struggles to control his anger, repeating to himself “I control my emotions, my emotions don’t control me.” When that doesn’t work , he unleashes his anger — dashing to the guy’s hardware store after get off work, his customary death metal car stereo accompaniment roaring in his ears — and the ensuing devastation is staggering. Humans become human wrecking balls.
The revenge of the shopkeeper’s nephew and a pair of thugs was brutal, with one of the attackers spitting out “what have you got now, you fucking ape?” before they took off . That means there is an undercurrent of racism in every part of the conflict, from the contractor’s refusal to address a client grievance who served in the armed forces. Killian’s awareness of this seems clear in a subsequent restaurant scene, where he confronts the man leading the attack over dinner with his terrified family.
The film begins to creep forward as Killian, bloodied from the beating, rises from the ground to drive to a scheduled bodybuilding competition, and he finds himself in a horrific situation. Despite the shocking evidence of his physical condition, his blind determination is captured in increasingly frequent instances of cinematographer Adam Arkapaw’s camerawork taking on a dizzy, hallucinatory feeling that blurs Killian’s mind The line between what’s in it and what’s actually happening.
An abortive encounter with a sex worker (Taylor Page, brilliant in a disappointingly short screen time) suggests that any human connection is now beyond his reach. Meeting inspiring figures gave him a much-needed boost but left him feeling inferior. Bynum proved that scene was another crucial step in Killian’s unraveling. But if you add this factor to the already rich reasons for the protagonist’s self-hatred, the film could be accused of being homophobic.
When Killian buys a lot of guns, the movie starts to go over the edge, becoming over the top and obvious. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear Nick Lowe’s great song “The Beast in Me,” but as a harbinger of violent fantasies unleashed, its lyrics couldn’t be more explicit. The clumsiest interlude takes place at the bar, where a drunken alcoholic approaches Killian and takes him into the bathroom to hum a few lines. The Stranger then unleashes a hate-inciting rant that’s overlaid so frantically in its world-shattered social loathing and vengeful urges that it makes you leave the film.
The anticipation of high tide blood is palpable, and Bynum certainly knows how to heighten the fear and suspense through the level of pain. But Magazine Dreams is more interesting because it’s a deep and intimate psychological study of a giant weakened by a world in which he feels his place Negative, making him feel pathetic and invisible. There are enough dimensions and complex dualities in Majors’ mesmerizing performance to sustain that narrative without turning it into a Taxi Driver A riff on , in which the ultimate violence is a stomach-churning tease, with gorgeous detours before the tragic reality of a broken man takes hold again.
The blunders of the final scene don’t detract from the brilliance of Majors’ work exploring body, mind, and a man caught in a helpless obsession – arguably America’s obsession with celebrity and success The definition of obsession—the person whose spiritual anguish is destined to be out of reach.
Nor do the questionable decisions detract from the film’s consistently fine craftsmanship, especially Acapa’s highly controlled visuals – images that are at times organic, dreamy and poetic, and at times Dark as a brooding threat. Jon Otazua’s cut traces Killian’s lineage in a meandering, fluid way, fueling the story’s fatalistic progression. Hill’s score is tonally accurate and varied—with classic passages from Elgar, Wagner, and Saint-Saëns—hauntingly using mournful strings and employing urgent drumming to eerie Effect.
Despite its flaws, Magazine Dreams is a deeply disturbing experience, unable to take your eyes off open.