Friday, November 16, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

In response to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNph0g1o5hs I wrote:

I feel that the extreme backlash over The Last Jedi is an emotional overreaction to certain elements in the story that went against people's expectations. If the movie were taken out of the Star Wars context, then as a standalone film it is actually pretty good. It has a few minor problems that I attribute to poor direction, but I just watched it for the 4th time and I still really enjoy it. 

The reason that I enjoy The Last Jedi as a Star Wars film is that I am willing to let the story take me where it wanted to go as opposed to expecting it to go where I wanted.

Best wishes, 

John Coffey  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Check this out

I hope this link works.  This is hotel in Tunisia is where they filmed Star Wars for Lars homestead.   Click on the picture on the left to get more pictures.


I don't know if it was a hotel before Star Wars, or if somebody just thought that this would be a great place to put a hotel.  It appears to me as if these underground structures may have already existed before the movie.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matmata,_Tunisia


I've seen deserts in Nevada that looked more hospitable.  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Snowpiercer a sequel to Willy Wonka???

I found the first 3.5 minutes of this video pretty interesting.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Shrek II (In response to youtube video.)


1.  Aliens is definitely better than Alien, although both are great.  Toy Story 2 is the same way.

2.  Blade Runner 2049 is a nihilistic borefest that I only barely count as a movie that I enjoyed because there is just barely enough interesting stuff in the movie to make me think that it was almost worth a price of a ticket.  However, I wish that I had waited to rent it.  I never want to see it again, which makes it extremely weak compared to the great original which I try to see at least once every decade.

3.  As much as I wanted to enjoy Shrek II, I was pretty bored.  So was everyone I know.  All the pop culture songs come off as stupid.

I would be willing to watch it a second time.  It has been 14 years, so maybe I should see it again.   However, I definitely didn't like it the first time around.  I don't care what positive message you think that the movie has, there is too much in the film that I consider cringeworthy.  And the positive messages are kind of juvenile.

4.  One of my favorite Dreamworks films, and there aren't that many, is "Home".  It never comes off as cringeworthy, except for the mercifully short musical number at the end.  It is not a terribly deep film, but it does have some layers to it, and the characters are likable.  It isn't hilariously funny, but I find myself smiling at the jokes and caring about the plight of the characters.  And unlike Shrek II and Blade Runner 2049, I have seen it four times.   Loved that movie.   Home is vastly underrated.   I feel almost as positive about "Monsters vs. Aliens."

Monday, September 10, 2018

Compelling Hero or Mundane Mary Sue? How do women really feel about Rey?

In response to ...



I wrote:


Speaking as someone who likes The Last Jedi because I think that the good scenes outweigh the bad by a comfortable margin, I still think that there are a number of problems with the movie. I don't see Rey as a Mary Sue, but as an unexplained mystery, where the fact that they haven't explained anything about her is frustratingly annoying. Because of this, it feels like there are giant holes in these two movies. The optimist in me keeps hoping that the third film will fill in the gaps in such a way that it will all make sense. In fact, I think that this is what will happen, or needs to happen for the franchise to save itself. There have been all sorts of hints that Rey may be more than she appears. Maz asks Han, "Who's the girl?", as if this is the pivotal question of the entire trilogy, and I think that it really is the pivotal question that needs to be answered. Adam Driver in an interview said, "You have, also, the hidden identity of this princess who's hiding who she really is so she can survive." What would satisfy me is to find out that Rey is Luke's daughter, who he thought was killed in Kylo's uprising, hence his strong emotional reaction at the devastation. He couldn't sense that she was alive because he had cut himself off from the force. Just like The Empire Strikes Back, I think that they went to Mark Hamill and said, "Only two people know this, and now we are going to tell you, so if it leaks we will know it was you." And what secret would they tell him? Something about who Luke is related to.  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Netflix Streaming

I found this interesting website that gives recommendations on what to watch on Netflix streaming, including ratings on some shows.


I like the penultimate section that recommends some shows that will soon disappear from Netflix, called "Last Chance to Stream."


Friday, August 31, 2018

BlacKkKlansman


Racism is an ugly topic, so it should not surprise me that BlacKkKlansman is in some ways a movie about ugly people.  Based upon the advance publicity, I expected it to be a little more whimsical, similar to the wonderful Logan Lucky, but instead the film's tone is somewhere between American Made and Edge of Darkness, but with less humor.  Although the movie is described as a "comedy drama", I fail to see how it is in any way funny.  Perhaps the film is being misrepresented to promote ticket sales.

The movie is based upon the true story about how black police officer Ron Stallworth 40 years ago pretended to be a white racist on the phone while talking to KKK members so as to gain information about their activities.  When he was required to make a personal appearance at KKK meetings, he sent a white undercover narcotics officer to represent him.  

In the real story no arrests were made and the investigation was shut down after nine months.  The movie adds a bunch of fictional elements to make it more interesting, including a love interest, a terrorist bombing plot, and the notion that the white undercover officer was Jewish.

Although all the actors are good, I especially like Topher Grace as David Duke.  He has come a long way from That 70's Show.

As a fictionalized version of real events, the movie is plenty entertaining.  However, it gets into murky territory when it implies that Donald Trump is the equivalent of  David Duke, and the ending uses the protests and riots at Charlottesville to attack Trump and imply that racism is alive and well.  At one point Klansman are shouting "America First", adding another connection with Trump.  To those who are the anti-Trump faithful this may seem all well and good, but it disrupts the narrative of the movie to make a blatantly obvious political statement, and one that at least some of us disagree with.

In fact, the movie tries to draw parallels wherever it can to the events of 40 or 50 years ago and the present day.  It frequently talks about police officers shooting and abusing black men.  However, racism is not near as extensive as it was 40 to 50 years ago.  The membership of white supremacist groups is down to a few thousand.  The actual facts about modern police shootings do not show a pattern of racial discrimination.  We live in one of the most racially harmonious periods of our history, where we elected a black president, but the movie feels like it wants to agitate people about racial politics.

Regardless, the film tells a good, although mostly fictional story, and is thought provoking.

Rating:  B+.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a busy movie, so much so that I didn't feel like I could absorb it all on the first viewing.  I was unhappy with the ending, which is confusing, has too many twists, and ties up everything a little too neatly.  This detracted from what was an otherwise a fun movie.  I needed to see Solo a second time so that I could better understand the film.  In fact, I caught the last showing before it disappeared from my local theaters. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story starts out fun as we learn that gangsters on Corellia force kids into a life of crime. Solo looks like he is barely an adult as he schemes with his girlfriend, Kira, to escape from under the thumb of a gangster.  Parts of this story aren't as logical as they could be, but we get a thrilling chase scene as Solo and Kira try to flee.  Kira doesn't escape, and Solo's only way out is to join the military of the Empire.

Jump to three years later and Solo tries to desert from the Empire, meets Chewbacca, barely escapes death, and joins a gang of thieves lead by Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson.  They hope to make a big score that will allow them all to retire from a life of crime, but things don't go well, which leads to a confrontation with a gangster, Dryden Voss, played by Paul Bettany who we know from the Avengers movies.  They try to make a second score, which leads to further complications, including joining up with Lando Calrissian and making the famous Kessel Run.

All this is fun until the ending.  On the second viewing the movie made complete sense to me, unlike the first time, and I was better able to appreciate the film and ending.  I understand what they were trying to do, but the ending is still a bit too convoluted, forced, and not particularly logical given what we know about the Han Solo character and the universe he lives in.

Does Alden Ehrenreich make a good young Han Solo?  I like this actor, but initially he seems unconvincing.   On the second viewing it was easier for me to accept him in this role because I understood better how this character is young, naive and too optimistic.  However, we have no reason to think that he would be this way given that he grew up under the worst possible conditions.  He is very green, but this is not how we imagine Han Solo would be compared to the older cynical version we saw in the original Star Wars movie.  I expect him to be cynical from the start.

Other than Solo and Beckett, this movie lacks interesting characters.  Voss is somewhat intriguing, but his screen time is short and he seems like a stereotypical gangster.  Kira is a generic girlfriend character until a plot twist at the end.

Much has been written about Donald Glover's portrayal of Lando Calrissian.  He does a good job, but the character isn't particularly likeable, and it is hard to see why Solo develops a friendship with him.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is often exciting, starts out fun, but doesn't really finish that way.  This is a decent movie that could and should have been better given the $260 million dollars they spent on it.  There were production problems, the original two directors were fired, and most of the movie had to be reshot.  The movie doesn't always seem logical, nor is it always consistent with the Star Wars universe that we already know. One scene bothered me when Solo walks up to a bar and orders a "brandy."  It blows my mind that an earthly drink would exist a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I am changing my rating from from three stars to three and a quarter stars.  Instead of giving it a "B-" I am giving it a "B+."  Solo could have been better, but it is okay.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Movie Pass

My problem with Movie Pass is that everybody who signs up for the service expects to get more out of the service than what it costs.  Assuming that people actually use the service after they pay for it, there is no way Movie Pass can stay in business.  In this respect it could resemble a pyramid scheme.  Those who paid for a whole year will have to use the service as much as possible before the company folds up, just to get their money's worth.

At least the AMC service couldn't go out of business, because they own the theaters.  The worst that could happen is that they stop offering the service.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Solo bad.

If you don't mind the 50 minute length, this video is pretty entertaining and spot on.


I enjoyed the movie up to the ending, which somehow bothered me, and made the movie feel average.

 I am planning to see the movie a 2nd time real soon just to make sure that I'm not being too hard on it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

"The Last Jedi is amazing and you are all insane."

I like the perspective expressed by this video: 
 
I'm not as positive as he is, but I agree with his points about The Last Jedi taking the story in a new and positive direction.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story


Solo:  A Star Wars Story feels a bit like a history lesson, filling in the backstory of Han Solo, for example letting us know how Han Solo met Chewbacca, met Lando Calrissian, acquired the Millennium Falcon and completed the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.  

That sounds like fun, and mostly it is.  I was really enjoying the movie until the ending.  What's wrong with the ending?  Nothing major.  However, despite the movie feeling slightly too long, the ending wraps up the plot threads a little too quickly and too easily.  For me it felt kind of forced.  That's when I realized that Solo: A Star Wars Story seems kind of average and not particularly special.  It is mostly a heist film in space with space gangsters.  You could have had the same story in another setting that didn't have anything to do with Star Wars, like a western.  The film as given doesn't really add anything to the Star Wars saga.  It slips in a couple of easter eggs that have implications for the Star Wars story in general, but they weren't significant enough for me to care.  

There is a big reveal at the end of the movie that sets up a sequel, but the reveal isn't too surprising to anyone who has watched the Star Wars The Clone Wars animated TV series.

As far as characters are concerned, again I don't feel like we got anything special.  Chewbacca is probably the most interesting character in the movie.  Alden Ehrenreich is passable as a young Han Solo, but he is too bright eyed and bushy tailed.  He is green and lacks any kind of hard edge that we would expect from Han Solo.  Lando Calrissian as played by Donald Glover is good, but none of the other characters really stand out; they feel ordinary, just like the story feels ordinary.

Even when I watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which if we are to believe Rotten Tomatoes was hated by half the fans, I felt like I was watching something truly special and significant to Star Wars.  With Solo we get a story we didn't need that is kind of forgettable, with a great many characters that we only partially care about.  Perhaps one problem with the movie is that it has too many characters.

The movie had production problems and its budget exceeded 250 million dollars.  For that kind of money, my expectations for the film were a little higher than what we got.   The movie is entertaining enough, but that is all it is.  Star Wars deserves better. People go to see Star Wars movies because they are exceptional, not because they are average.  Part of the problem is that Disney is making too many Star Wars movies, so the quality of the storytelling is being diluted.

Rating:  * * *   or B-.

Solo has a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  My favorite movie critic, Richard Roeper, gives the film three and half stars.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Full Star Wars Movie Schedule and Release Date Calendar

Defending "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace"

In response to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ7j3IG4OVY, I wrote:

I think that The Phantom Menace is vastly underrated.  People let their dislike of Jar Jar, who I didn't mind as a comic foil, discolor an otherwise really good movie.  (I have to add that in Science Fiction, it would be seem unlikely that all the intelligent species would be of the same intelligence.  That would be nearly impossible.  So it makes sense that you could have one group less intelligent than another.  Using one of them as a comic foil is an artistic choice, but in an otherwise overly serious movie you need some humor to lighten it up.  Although many people found Jar Jar cringeworthy, I like the character.  It was kind of nice to see him the animated shows as well.)

I have seen most of the movies multiple times, and the original 18 times over the last 42 years.  So my ranking of the movies we have seen so far is ...

1.  The Empire Strikes Back.
2.  A New Hope.
3.  The Phantom Menace.  (Maybe there are some flaws, but there are many good moments.)
4.  Return of The Jedi.  (The singing Ewoks were awful, and these were later replaced by an embarrassingly bad musical number in Jaba's Palace.  It is definitely weaker than the first two movies.  I almost made this #6, but it is still a memorable classic and a necessary conclusion to the original trilogy.)
5.  Attack of the Clones.  (Maybe the dialog could have been better but overall the movie is pretty entertaining.)
6.  Revenge of the Sith.  (Too much action at the expense of the characters.  Anakin's turn is not completely believable.  There is a major plot hole that Obi Wan and Yoda did not work together to defeat Palpatine.  The death of Padme is kind of weird.)
7.  The Force Awakens.  (Feels like an imitation of a Star Wars movie where they almost got it right, but not quite.  They don't provide enough information to support these characters, so the movie feels like it is full of plot holes.)
8.  Rogue One.   (It's a good movie, but somehow it didn't come across to me to be as great as its predecessors.  It is more fan service.  Feels kind of forced.  Not really a movie we needed, but enjoyable.)
9.  The Last Jedi.  (Despite some really obvious flaws, including some really bad plot holes, I think that the good parts outweigh the bad parts.)

Looking forward to seeing Solo.  Even if it is flawed, and even if it pushes an agenda, I'm sure it will be entertaining.  Hope I'm not wrong.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Avengers Infinity War

There have been eighteen Marvel Universe movies since 2008.  These have introduced a large number of characters, i.e. heroes, most of which come together in this movie to fight a single enemy named Thanos.  Previous movies hinted at infinity stones being powerful and dangerous, and the need to keep them from evil.  It turns out Thanos is getting his hands on these stones and has an agenda that involves wiping out half the life in the galaxy.  Why?  His world collapsed due to overpopulation, so he takes it upon himself to solve this problem for everybody else.  If he gets all six stones he could kill every other person in the galaxy with just a snap of his fingers.

There have been a number of good Marvel movies in the last decade and many of the stories from the films pick up in Avengers Infinity War from where they left off.   The action gets started early and almost never lets up.  One might think that this would be bad, but the action is done so well and the characters are so good that the movie feels like something truly special on a grand scale.  Never have we seen so many different stories and characters woven together so seamlessly.  This isn't just a movie, but an event a decade in the making.  

We see more of Thanos than we do any individual hero, making him in effect the main character.  This is as much his story as it is anybody else's, and he is played wonderfully by Josh Brolin.

With so many actors and effects it is not surprising that the movie cost $360 million to make.  They got their money's worth.  Some have compared the film to Star Wars in terms of quality, which is not a bad comparison, although I still prefer the first two Star Wars movies.

Rating:  * * * *  (A+)   


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Kathleen Kennedy Betrayed George Lucas & Star Wars Fans


Imagine that it is your job to entertain other people.  I would think that such a job would be maddening and ego busting.  You could spend 2 or 3 years working on something and then a bunch of people could just say that it is terrible and call you names.  Granted many things are terrible, but I don't think that The Last Jedi falls into that category.

There are things in The Last Jedi I think could have been done better.   The plot holes and logical inconsistencies are too numerous to mention.  

Many people who have criticized this movie have said that the first time they saw it they were entertained, but either they changed their mind after they thought about it, or they didn't like it on the second or third viewing.  I have an issue with people saying the movie is bad based upon this line of reasoning.  I can think of a ton of movies that I enjoyed once but would not want to see a second time.  Although The Last Jedi is logically flawed to the extreme, it has a story and aesthetic quality that I think is good.  If people admit that they were entertained when they initially saw the movie, then how can they say the movie is terrible?

I think that the real issue is that people saw something in the film they didn't like and so they rejected the entire movie based on that.  Although the Social Justice Warrior messages are annoying, these are a relatively small part of the movie, so I think that the issue people are most upset about is Luke's arc.  In other words, the movie didn't give people the story they wanted.  It wasn't the story I wanted either, but I still thought it was entertaining.

Unlike every other Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi failed to entertain me past two viewings.  I think that this is another reason people are upset:  It is just not as good as the other Star Wars movies for a variety of reasons, including a number of logical problems.  However, if I enjoyed it at least once, which I did because I enjoyed it twice, I am going to claim that it is a good movie.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rian Johnson's Trilogy Has Started - Lucasfilm Continues To Ignore The Last Jedi Backlash


I'm not sure that all those who like The Last Jedi are adopting a stupid mentality.

The plot holes are too numerous to mention and these bother me, as do the social justice warrior messages, so I agree with almost every criticism I have heard about The Last Jedi.   However, I don't mind the Luke arc because it surprised me and I find it entertaining.  It's not my story, nor is it the story I would have written for Luke, but it's their story and I enjoyed it as is.   

There is so much in the movie that I like:   All the interaction between Luke and Rey.  The force bond between Rey and Kylo.   Rey's vision.  Everything that happened in the throne room is gold, and it concludes with Ben practically proposing to Rey which is even more interesting.   The Canto Bight story is not the best, but neither does it take up as much screen time as people claim it does.  Parts of it, such as the chase scene, are interesting.  Everything that happened during the Battle of Crait was also excellent, except for the stupid Rose scene.  I liked being surprised by Luke's force projection.  His passing, or becoming one with the Force, moved me to tears.

The first time around I was a little uncertain how I felt about broom boy.  I found the scene both emotionally moving and a little cheesy, but this scene has grown on me.  It creates hope for the future.

One the first viewing of the movie, the humor made me laugh out loud several times.  It comes in surprising places.   I  knew that they were overdoing the humor, but I didn't care because it made me laugh.  The humor is so minor in places that it is hardly a distraction.  Of course, by the third viewing the jokes had lost any surprise effect and were falling flat.

--

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Brilliant or Senseless? Rian Johnson Explains The Last Jedi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C95o0MRzBVs

Some of the best analysis I have heard. I think that there is enough good stuff in the movie to make it enjoyable, despite some really obvious flaws.

I have concluded that Rian Johnson is not a logical thinker, because in interviews he seems
​ ​
unconcerned or unaware about
​ ​
the
​ ​
plot holes,
​ ​
and
​ ​
is
​ ​
only interested in the aesthetics of the film.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi for the third time.

I saw the movie for the third time, after having seen it for the second time 10 weeks ago.

I noticed quite a bit more stuff in my second viewing and still yet more things the third time around. This is a busy movie and there is much in it that is easy to miss. Although the movie does not have the same novelty that it first did, the extra details I noticed seem to make the story feel more coherent and less like it has plot holes. I still think that there are plot holes, but I get a better sense of what the director was shooting for.

In addition, problems are a little easier to ignore on the second and third viewing. The personalities of Luke Skywalker and Admiral Holdo come across as more understandable, and in particular the acting by Mark Hamill seems more nuanced.

This feels like this is the least rewatchable of the Star Wars movies, since all of the other movies I have watched repeatedly and still enjoy them. For Star Wars: The Last Jedi, three times seems like enough. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Black Panther

My problem with superhero movies is that the main characters are able to use magic, or some sort of technology as of yet unknown to us, essentially magic, to apparently violate the laws of physics.  It is not realistic to see most of these characters do what they do, so in this respect these movies seem kind of silly, but these are fantasy films so we should make allowances.  Despite this reservation, I have enjoyed all the recent Superman movies that I have seen, because Superman is a character whose story is well ingrained into the American psyche, with the caveat I have not yet seen the recent and much maligned Justice League.  

An example of where Black Panther violates the laws of physics is that the  main character wears a suit that can absorb a huge amount of kinetic energy, and release that kinetic energy back out on demand.  This is an interesting part of the story, but I refer you to Newton's third law of motion that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If the suit stops a large amount of kinetic energy, the wearer is going acquire some of that velocity.  If anything, the movie is inconsistent on how this works, because sometimes the character will recoil from blows and sometimes not.

The premise of Black Panther, where a much more technologically advanced afrocentric civilization, Wakanda, is hidden in the heart of Africa, comes across to me just as silly as other superhero movies, given that it mixes tribal customs and attire with science fiction technology.  This mixture of old and new makes the movie a fantastic visual spectacle, but stretches believability.

What makes any movie like this good is whether the characters and story are engaging enough for us to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the film.  Here Black Panther shines with its characters, and a most interesting villain.  Add to that a philosophical story that contemplates what role a more advanced civilization should play in helping others?   These elements alone would be sufficient for a pretty good movie, but the science fiction parts of the story also make the film a visual treat.  

There is a great deal of fighting in this movie, and it feels a little repetitive, like they couldn't come up with anything better to do.  However, most of these scenes are fun to watch.  

Often I felt like the characters were a little muddled on their motivations, because the central conflict of the film is whether Wakanda should remain isolationist or share its advanced technology to help the rest of the world?  One also wonders how Wakanda could be such a prosperous civilization when it is not willing to export its only real natural resource, which is a mysterious metal called vibranium?

The Hero's Journey is a type of myth going back thousands of years that follows the same pattern, where the hero goes on a journey, at some point fails and almost dies, is reborn and finally succeeds, and in some stories becomes a king on the return of his journey.  George Lucas popularized this type of storytelling in movies, but it has become repetitive and overdone.  Black Panther follows this pattern so closely that parts of the movie are predictable.

I was a little burned out on superhero movies because there have been so many of them, the result of which is that few of them have been exceptional.  Despite a few minor problems, Black Panther is different enough that it is like a breath of fresh air.

Rating:  * * * 1/2

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ranking The Star Wars Movies

5,4,1,2,3,6,7,R1,8
.  Still like them all though.​

I listened to a 90 minute Rian Johnson interview, and concluded that he is not a logical thinker. He was more concerned with the aesthetics of the film as opposed to whether or not certain parts made sense. This is quite disappointing. 

I have hope that J.J. Abrams can fix things. What is shocking is that they pretty much admitted that they had no plan going from one movie to the next. George Lucas was completely different because he had everything mapped out.
   They had to delay episode 9 because they are still trying to figure out what the story is going to be.

Harrison Ford tutored Alden Ehrenreich on how to be Han Solo

Friday, February 2, 2018

Why the new Star Wars trilogy is dead, and how it could have been better.

I didn't want to watch the entire 36 minute video, but his comments up to 9 minutes are dead on. 


Maybe this is beating a dead horse, since all the flaws of The Last Jedi have been pointed out ad nauseam by youtube posters.

I have commented on several videos that I think that it is possible for a movie to have many obvious flaws and still be entertaining.


Monday, January 29, 2018

The Last Jedi

I was just thinking about the scene where a very youthful looking Kylo Ren says "Let the past die.  Kill it if  you have to."    It is written for millennials.  This whole movie is a calculated attempt to appeal to millennials who Disney thinks are going to spend the most money.  I think that it disregards the old Star Wars fans, or at least has less regard for them.  I already knew that there was some attempt to appeal to millennials, but in thinking about it I realized just how one sided the movie is.


The Last Jedi Deserves All The Backlash!

In response to ...


If Luke changed, then that is the prerogative of the writers; it is their story. Even though it is not what I would have chosen, if everything turned out the way I expected then it would be boring.  I am much more bothered by the plot holes that you could drive a truck through.  Despite these problems, there is a great deal in the film that I do like. 


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rian Johnson Podcast

Out of curiosity I listened to this extended interview of Rian Johnson.  It is long.  It is an hour and 47 minutes long.

Since The Last Jedi has plot holes you could drive a truck through, and after seeing the title, 'Rian Johnson Talks 'The Last Jedi' Criticism, Says He "Wouldn't Change a Thing"', I had to know how Rian Johnson responds to criticism about the plot holes.

Well, after listening, I conclude that Rian Johnson doesn't have a clue as to why these things are plot holes, and why those things might turn off the audience.  I can only guess that he looks at the story from an artistic point of view and not a logical one.  And to think that he is going to be directing the next trilogy?

Unfortunately the interview doesn't talk about Social Justice Warrior messages, which would have been a very interesting topic.


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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Last Jedi

I saw The Last Jedi on December 14nth and then again 2 weeks after that. After another 4 weeks, I would like to see it for a third time, either this week or next.

As for all the people who didn't like it, the movie was designed to defy what everyone expected and that was too much for some people. It turns the Star Wars mythology on its head, and it has a few plot holes. My position is that a movie can have a few flaws and still be pretty entertaining, which it is.

Monday, January 22, 2018

How people's expectations affect their reaction to a movie.


'I am really glad that you brought up expectations and how that biases people when judging a movie, which is a concept that I hadn't thought much about. I suspect that the reason so many people are negative on The Phantom Menace is because of their expectations. Personally, I had a blast with the movie and I think that it is almost as entertaining as the best Star Wars films. Although episodes 7 and 8 have some plot holes you could drive a truck through, I still enjoyed these movies. There is enough good stuff to make them worthwhile. What people didn't like about episode 8, which is that the movie defied all of their expectations, made it more entertaining for me because it was something new and different.'

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Last Days in the Desert

If you want to see a low budget gem of a movie, watch "Last Days in the Desert" where Ewan McGregor plays both Jesus and Satan. There is something compelling about watching a man on a journey, especially on a journey to find himself. Actually, this is not a very religious movie. There are no miracles. The question of Jesus's divinity is left up to the viewer to decide. He could just be a crazy man wandering the desert. The final scene feels out of place, because the movie goes straight from the Crucifixion to modern day tourists taking snapshots of the same desert Jesus supposedly wandered in. Had they given us a hint of resurrection, even a slight stirring under the burial cloth, it would have given the movie a religious meaning. Such an ending, regardless of if you believe or not, would be a satisfying conclusion to the story because it would have shown that everything that went before it served a purpose. Instead the story is ambiguous.

Rating: * * * .5

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Darkest Hour


If you knew nothing about Winston Churchill, hadn't listened to his speeches, and hadn't watched other shows and documentaries about him, then you might conclude that Darkest Hour is a great inspirational movie about the man.  The problem is that it is not historically accurate, but instead revisionist, portraying Churchill as an indecisive, slightly befuddled old man, who only made up his mind to continue to fight against the Nazis, and not surrender, after an inspirational, but completely fictional ride in the subway.  This distortion of history I think is inexcusable.

The one thing that defined Churchill was his decisiveness and his resolve. 

Gary Oldman in his layers of makeup is not totally convincing to me as Churchill.

However, Oldman's performance is strong enough to make you feel like you are watching the real thing.

The movie gets some mileage out of Churchill's speeches, but only three of them, and the ones in the movie are greatly abbreviated.  Had they given the full speeches, it might have bored some people, but it would have given the audience more of a historical context, and felt more like you were there witnessing these things for the first time.  The movie finishes with his "Never Surrender" speech, which in the film is delivered like an inspirational call to battle, like a Saint Crispin's day speech.  However, if you listen to Churchill's actual delivery, it is much more somber.  Another problem with the way the movie portrayed this speech is that it shows it being broadcast on the radio at the same time that it was being delivered to Parliament.  Actually, Churchill gave the speech on the radio to the British people the day after he delivered it to Parliament.

Since the movie only covers a 30 day period, from May 1940, to June 1940, which was probably one of the most critical months in England's history, I feel that there was so much more that they could have given us about Churchill and the remainder of the war.  There are other shows and documentaries that have been far move informative, such as Into The Storm.  Even Netflix's The Crown has some interesting things to say about Churchill.

It is not a complete trainwreck of a movie.  The story of Churchill is inspiring in any context, and Oldman's performance is noteworthy and might even win an Oscar.  Much of the movie centers on how Churchill's own cabinet and even the King opposed him, thus giving us a story worth watching.

The film ties in well with the movie Dunkirk, which is far better, since the events of both films take place during the same period.

Rating:  * * * 



Friday, January 5, 2018

More The Last Jedi comments.



In response to this second video, I made the following comment ...

"Let me make an analogy with Spider Man 3.  The last 25 to 30 minutes of that movie were pretty terrible, but the first 90 minutes I found very entertaining.  Overall, to me the movie felt like it was worth watching, despite an obvious flaw.  

With both Star Wars movies in this trilogy, I notice some major plot holes, more so in The Last Jedi, and what feels like missing information.  There is still way too much that hasn't been explained.  

However, The Last Jedi seems to be designed to defy all our expectations as a form of entertainment.  They seem to be deliberately withholding information, like the backstory of all the major characters, so as to more easily surprise us.  Part of this is because the structure of the film crams too much stuff in it, so there isn't room for a lot of exposition.  This makes it feel compressed, but that is part of why it is entertaining.   The structure of the film feels like it is experimental, because they are not following any normal path.  You could attribute this to bad story telling, or corporate boardroom shenanigans where they tried to put too much in the movie, or maybe it is secretly brilliant.

Regardless, even if parts of the movie are bad, there is way too much stuff in the film that I like.  I think that there is a lot going on under the surface that I hope gets explained later, and I noticed way more detail on my second viewing."