Category Archives: Star Wars

A Star is Bored: A Novel Book Review

Among the non-acting jobs that one can have in Hollywood, the most unique is that of a personal assistant. That person is as close to their boss as a family member or friend, but at the end of the day, they are still a paid employee.

A Star is Bored, written by Byron Lane, was just released last month. Charlie Besson is working a dead end, third shift job at a local news station in Los Angeles. Then he gets an opportunity to interview for a personal assistant for actress and writer Kathi Kannon. Over the next three years, Charlie becomes much more than her assistant. But will he able to live his own life, or spend the rest of his days living vicariously through Kathi?

I loved this book. Lane, who worked as an assistant to the late Star Wars actress and writer Carrie Fisher, uses his personal experience to tell Charlie’s story. Like her real life counterpart, Kathi is bawdy, outspoken, and emotional, but also feels deeply. Though he is aware of Kathi’s flaws, Charlie remains loyal, in spite of the nagging urge to go his own way.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed (2007)

On the surface, the Star Wars movies appear to be your standard science fiction films. But fans know that these films are much more than they appear to be.

Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed premiered in 2007 on the History Channel. The documentary describes how George Lucas based the narrative on history, popular myths, and religion, among other things. It also explains why the films continue to be relevant decades after they originally premiered.

There are those who dismiss this series as kids films. Which, in truth, they are as Lucas himself has stated many times. But they are so much more than movies for young audiences. There are lessons to be learned about humanity, about the past, and more importantly, about the future.

I recommend it.

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Today is the Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

This image is not mine, merely borrowed.

The core of any legitimate democracy is the right to vote. On the surface, voting is a simple act. But if one were to dig a little deeper, they would see that voting is much more than simply casting your ballot on election day.

Today is the 100 anniversary of the 19th Amendment. In the span of history, 100 years is not a long time. But in the history of the fight for female equality in the United States and around the world, 100 years means the difference between being chattel and beating treated as a full human being.

The women of that generation saw voting as only the first step. They understood then, as we do now, that gaining the vote was only the first step in a long path ahead of them.

Iron Jawed Angels (2004)

Given our breathtaking progress in the past century, there is a part of me that is bursting with pride. But another part of me knows that legislation cannot wash away centuries of sexism and double standards. That requires education and changing of hearts and minds.

Though there are many issues that must be dealt with (including the fact that women of color are still fighting for their rights), the fact that we have come as far as we have is nothing to sneeze at.

Mrs. America (2020)

Ladies, we know that today is a celebration. But we also know that there much more work to be done. Today, we take a breath and a moment to enjoy the progress that has been made. But tomorrow, the work begins anew.

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Cursed Review

The myth of King Arthur has existed for thousands of years. From a writing perspective, the good thing about myths is that it open to a variety of interpretations.

Cursed premiered last weekend on Netflix. Based on the comic book by Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler, the series follows Nimue aka Lady of the Lake (Katherine Langford). On the verge of adulthood, she, like many girls in their late teens or early 20’s, thinks she knows it all. With dark magic in her blood, she is persona non grata to those around her.

Then the Red Paladins destroy her village and kill her mother. The Paladins have an end goal of ethnically cleansing the land of Fey (magical non-humans) and their supporters. Charged by her dying mother to take an ancient sword to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård), Nimue starts on a journey that will change her fate. Among those who join her on the journey are the brother/sister duo of Arthur (Devon Terrell) and Morgana aka Morgan le Fay (Shalom Brune-Franklin).

*Note: I have not read the comic book, so the review is strictly based on the series.

I enjoyed this non-traditional retelling of the King Arthur tale. I enjoyed it because while it is still familiar, it is not the same story that has been repeated for thousands of years. The main reason it works is that it is told from the female perspective with an eye on expanding a woman’s role in this world. In the traditional Arthurian myth, there are two distinct types of women: the love interest/damsel in distress (Guinevere) or the evil witch bent on taking power (Morgan le Fay). Boxed into these stereotypes, these women are not allowed to more than a one note character.

The other reason it works is that the world is turned upside down. Merlin is not the wise, old Obi-Wan Kenobi type whose sole task is to mentor the future ruler. He is old, but his life and his choices are complicated.

It also helps that the casting is both gender and color blind, reflecting both the world that exists within the narrative and the real world of the audience.

I recommend it.

Cursed is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Mark Shepard is the Kid We Need Right now

In the Star Wars film series, Yoda was the character whose sage advice went far beyond the limits of the movie screen. One of the quotes is as follows:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

These days, one would have to be living under a rock to see the rise in antisemitic hate crimes. Unfortunately, some of this is due to the sharing of ancient and bloodthirsty lies by foolhardy celebrities. Stephen Jackson is one of these celebrities.

In New York City, Jewish teenager Mark Shepard tried to bridge the divide and talk some sense into Jackson.

Mark is the kid we need right now. By reaching out to Jackson in the way he did, his attempt to build bridges does more than any law can do. Will this get the ball rolling and create the monumental change needed to finally rid the world of the antisemitic b*llsh*t? No, but a simple conversation is sometimes all that is needed to create real and lasting change.

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Thoughts On the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back

*A New Hope will be referred to as ANH and Empire Strikes Back will be referred to as ESB.

Logically speaking, we know that a film (unless it is a documentary) is a work of fiction. It is the cumulative work of many who come together to create a final product that seems real. But a good film has a way of touching the audience in a way that lasts well beyond the final credits.

Thursday was the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The second of three films in the first Star Wars trilogy, it is widely ranked as one of the best films in the overall series. While it’s predecessor, A New Hope, is the simple story of how a farm boy, a princess and a pirate destroy an evil empire, ESB takes that basic concept and expands it tenfold.

From a writing perspective, ESB is everything one would want in a sequel. The characters have grown and are facing new challenges. The world that the story takes place in is wider. The stakes are higher as the Empire has rebounded and is eager to take back the ground that they lost in ANH.

From a fan perspective, there are two major narratives that will forever hold a place in my heart. I love the will they or won’t they between Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (the late Carrie Fisher). The tension between them is absolutely perfect. I think that it goes without saying that the exchange between Han and Leia just before he is frozen in Carbonite is simple, sexy and utterly romantic.

And then, there is the most jaw dropping revelation in film history. To this day, new fans watch this scene and their minds are still blown that Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) father is no other than Darth Vader.

Here is to the 40th anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back. May this film live on for another 40 years and beyond.

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May the 4th be With You-2020 Edition

At first glance, the Star Wars film franchise seems to be nothing more than the average action/adventure film set in space. But it so much more.

There’s politics, history, religion, growing up, family, finding yourself, etc. I’ve been a fan since high school, when the original trilogy was re-released. My passion for Star Wars has only grown over the years. I love that the message underneath it all is hope. Hope is the one thing we have when all seems lost.

May the 4th be With You!

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Your New Favorite Podcast Should be Thank the Maker: A Star Wars Podcast

There is no doubt that the Star Wars film franchise has millions of fans around the world. This, naturally, results in a large variety of opinions on the subject.

One of my new favorite podcasts is Thank the Maker: A Star Wars Podcast. The podcast is hosted by musicians and Star Wars fans William Ryan Key (Yellowcard), Adam Russell (Story of the Year), and Nick Ghanbarian (Bayside).

The thing that hooked me with this podcast and keeps me hooked is the intelligent (and sometimes eye-opening) conversations between the hosts and the guests. The most recent episode talked about The Phantom Menace. Though I love the franchise as a whole, I loathe the prequels and The Phantom Menace in particular. As both a writer and a fan, these movies fall short of the reputation that was crafted by their predecessors.

One of the topics that were brought up during the most recent episode was the glossing over of midi-chlorians. In laymen’s terms, midi-chlorians are the microscopic-sized life forms that if exist in significant numbers in an individual, give that individual Force abilities.

Writing-wise, the question asked was why midi-chlorian and the role they played in the conception of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) was not given it’s due. Instead of being a major part of the narrative, it was a throw-away line that only the most ardent Star Wars fan would have noticed.

With most of us locked in our homes nearly 24/7, intelligent conversation seems to be one of those things that we are relying on to keep us sane. I will take any intelligent conversation about Stars Wars, especially these days.

That, dear reader is why Thank the Maker: A Star Wars Podcast is my new favorite podcast and it should be yours as well.

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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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