Category Archives: Star Wars

My Favorite Movies of 2019

Going to the movies is sometimes akin to stepping onto a roller coaster. Sometimes you love the film your seeking. Sometimes you hate it.

My favorite movies of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The Farewell: The Farewell is my favorite movie of the year because it is heartfelt, genuine and thoroughly human. In the lead role, Awkwafina proves that she can play much more than the comic relief.
  2. Avengers: Endgame: If there was a perfect way to end a film series, this film is it. Balancing both action and narrative, this thrill ride is pure perfection.
  3. Judy: Renee Zellweger is an absolute shoe-in for the Oscars as the late film icon Judy Garland. Disappearing in the role, she tells the true story of the final years of Garland’s life.
  4. Downton Abbey: Transferring a popular television show to the big screen is often easier said than done. The Downton Abbey movie is the perfect film bookend to this beloved television program.
  5. Harriet: This biopic of Harriet Tubman is nothing short of tremendous. In the lead role, Cynthia Erivo is Harriet Tubman.
  6. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: This final entry in the Skywalker saga is not perfect, but it ends with both a nod to the past and an open door to the future.
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The late Fred Rogers was more than a milquetoast children’s TV host. He taught generations of children in ways that go beyond the classroom. Inhabiting the role of Mister Rogers is Tom Hanks, who reminds viewers why we loved him.
  8. Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
  9. The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
  10. Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.

This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Star Wars, Television

I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture Book Review

The image of a “geek” is not particularly attractive. He or she is socially awkward, has a limited social life or none at all and is known for being a fan of something that is not “cool”.

Writer A.D. Jameson is looking to change that image. In his 2018 book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture, Mr. Jameson explores how so called “geek culture” has expanded to general pop culture. Using examples from Star Wars, Star Trek, the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings, etc, the author talks about geek culture is not only accepted, it has become cool to let your geek flag fly.

I loved this book, it is brilliant. From one geek to another, Mr. Jameson talks about geek culture as only an insider can. One of the points he brings up (which many do not) is that movie/television studios and companies that make the accompanying paraphernalia is they think that fans are blindly loyal. Slap the name of the movie or the television show on anything and we will hand over our money. It is one of several misconceptions that Mr. Jameson brilliantly discusses.

I recommend it.

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We Miss You, Space Mommy

Courtesy of Vanity Fair

When the average person thinks of the late (and dearly missed), Carrie Fisher, they think of the iconic character she played in the Star Wars film series. Princess turned General Leia was badass, in charge, unapologetic and had no problem telling the boys off.

The woman behind the character was just as badass, in charge, unapologetic and had no problem telling the boys off.

She also was open about her struggles with drug abuse and mental illness. Both are subjects that are touchy and depending on the person, it is a no go conversation wise. But Carrie, in her unique way, was honest and upfront about her usually, almost brutally so. In doing so, she allowed the rest of us to be open and honest about our own battles, whatever they may be.

Tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of her passing.

In the words of our mutual ancestors, may her memory be a blessing.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review

*-This review will be spoiler free. Loose lips sink star ships and anger fans who have not seen the film.

When Star Wars: A New Hope premiered in 1977, it appeared to be nothing more than a hokey space adventure aimed at a young audience. 42 years later, Star Wars has become part and parcel of our culture with millions of fans around the world.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker premiered this weekend. Picking up from where The Last Jedi ended in 2017, the members of the rebellion are licking their collective wounds and gearing up for battle once more. Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with the help of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher).

On a distant planet, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is connecting with the universe’s ultimate evil: the returned from the dead Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The Emperor has one goal: to finally destroy the rebellion once and for all.

While Leia maintains the rebellion from home base, Rey, Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) go on a journey to stop the First Order in its tracks.

The reviews of this film have been mixed. I don’t agree with them.

The only flaw that this movie had is that it could have been cut down by a few minutes. Other than that, this film is perfect. It was the perfect ending to the Star Wars saga. I loved the new characters, I loved the ending and the seamless way that Carrie Fisher’s scenes from The Force Awakens were integrated into this movie.

I absolutely recommend it.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is presently in theaters.

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Thoughts On the Final Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer

Last night, after months of excitement and hype, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released.

The purpose of a movie trailer is to reveal just enough about the film to entice the audience to see the movie. This trailer is really good. Like any Star Wars trailer, the details are kept under wraps (at least until December 20th).

We know that is going to be a battle between good and evil, which has always been the basis of the Star Wars story. But it is supposed to be the be all and end all for this saga and these characters. However, knowing Disney and Lucasfilm, I would not be surprised if there was another leg to the narrative released in the next twenty years.

If nothing else, the fact that the pre-sale tickets for this film outpaced Avengers: Endgame by 45% speaks of the love of this film series.

I can only hope that the love is returned to us by a movie that blows us all out of the water.

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Carrie Fisher

Courtesy of Vanity Fair

It has been said that what defines us is not how we fall, but how we rise after a fall.

The late Carrie Fisher rose many times in her 60 years. Today would have been her 63rd birthday.

What she went through might have stopped some people in their tracks. But she found the will to survive, the courage to look her demons in the eye and the sense of humor to publicly laugh about them.

She was more than the lone female for most of the Star Wars film series. She was a daughter, a mother, a sister, one hec of a writer, a bad ass and a mental health warrior. She was not afraid to speak her mind and speak for those who could not speak for themselves. Though many might be shamed into silence by their addiction and mental health issues, Carrie spoke openly and honestly about her demons. In doing so, she allowed others to do the same.

Wherever you are, Carrie, RIP and Happy Birthday. I can’t think of a better birthday present than the release of the final Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker trailer tonight.

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I Love Dark Rey

The best characters are the one who catch you off guard. You think they know who this person is and where their narrative is going. Then there is a switch in the narrative and the character goes off in a surprising direction. When done well, this out of left field change in the character arc has the potential to shock the audience and up the dramatic ante by 100. When not done well, it can turn off the audience.

The new Star Wars firm, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in December. As they are during the lead up to every film in the franchise, Lucasfilm is mostly mum on the details. But then they slip a delicious nugget or two into the trailers.

At this point, there are any number of theories about Dark Rey (Daisy Ridley). Is this a vision of what will or could be? Is this the ultimate manipulation of the dark side? Will we learn that Rey is actually a descendant of the late Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDairmid) and has a family?

At this point, there are so many possibilities. I could theorize all day, but I think I will let J.J. Abrams work his magic and tell us in December.

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Thoughts On Star Wars Day

For some of us, May 4th is just May 4th. But for Star Wars fans, May 4th is a momentous day.

Today is Star Wars Day, or as fans refer to today, May The Fourth Be With You.

What makes Star Wars special for me is that underneath the special effects and other-worldly story is the fight against tyranny and oppression. It is a story that is as old as humanity itself and a fight that still continues to this day.

Though George Lucas may have mucked up the narrative with the prequels, the basic narrative still holds up decades later for a reason. The story of farm boy, a princess and a pirate coming together to fight for freedom is still as emotionally and politically relevant as it was in 1977.

Though the narrative is a basic one, Lucas (at least in the 70’s), knew how to expand on the expand on this basic premise. He knew that Princess Leia (the late and still very missed Carrie Fisher) had to be more than the standard damsel in distress. There had to be something more to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) that just a space pirate who is looking for the next job. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had to have a future other than running his Uncle and Aunt’s farm.

To my fellow Star Wars fans around the world, May The 4th Be With You!

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RIP Peter Mayhew

I’ve stopped counting the number of movies that I’ve seen over the years. Most movies come and go, but there are only a small handful that I will go back to again and again.

The Star Wars films are among the films that I go back to. Tuesday, we lost Peter Mayhew, who brought Chewbacca to life.

Chewbacca was more than Han’s (Harrison Ford) co-pilot. He was the smart ass to Han’s arrogance and the muscle when brute strength was needed. He also had a heart of gold.

In recent years, Mayhew was experiencing health problems and had passed his iconic role to Joonas Suotamo.

May his memory be a blessing not just to the millions of Star Wars fans around the world, but to those who knew and loved him as a person.

RIP and may the force always be with him.

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Thoughts On the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer

After months of anticipation and speculation, the teaser trailer for the new Star Wars film was released today. The name of the 9th film in the series is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

My mind is blown. Like any teaser trailer, there is just enough information to tempt the audience to want more without giving away too much detail.

With most of the cast from the last two films (the late Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Adam Driver) returning to a galaxy far far away, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will hopefully be the closing chapter that this narrative deserves. Among the cast, there is also a familiar face: Billy Dee Williams will be returning as Lando Calrissian, linking the past with the present.

I could watch this trailer multiple times and nitpick, looking for clues as to the overall story, but I don’t want to. I just want to enjoy the trailer and wait until the film premieres in December.

P.S. Did anyone else get the chill when they heard the unnerving laugh of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid)? I cannot fathom how they have brought him back from the dead, but it will be from my perspective, one of the highlights of Episode 9.

 

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