Attack of The Last Jedi

SPOILER ALERT: Go see Star Wars: The Last Jedi already, will you? Quit dragging your Jedi boots! Then come back and read this piece, and tell us what you think in the comments.

My favorite Star Wars movie is Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. Wait – don’t go! Let me explain. First, please note: I didn’t say “Attack of the Clones is the best Star Wars movie.” I said it was my favorite. I understand and to some extent agree with cinematic critiques of that film, and I’ve only ever watched the film on DVD, which means I can easily skip all the romantic scenes with Anakin and Padmé, which are, admittedly, difficult to watch. What’s left of the film – Obi-Wan Kenobi (played brilliantly by Ewan MacGregor) on an extended Dick-Tracy-esque sleuthing adventure, the backstory of the villainous bounty hunter Boba Fett, and best of all, some important advances in the Prequels’ subtle and complicated subtext of the Jedi Order’s downfall – is pure heaven to me, despite disagreement, even derision, from many Star Wars fans.

So I’m fine with liking a movie that isn’t perfect. I find perfection a bit boring, honestly. But the bones of a film have to be good, like the bones of a well-built house. The Last Jedi, while an imperfect film in some ways, gives us that solid space in which our imaginations can dwell, even as it challenges and shocks us. In this way, it’s not unlike Attack of the Clones, with its misdirective title and its quite nuanced subtext. The difference is with Clones, we knew where we were headed: the creation of Darth Vader, the birth of Luke and Leia and the destruction of the Jedi Order. With The Last Jedi, we’re in uncharted territory; we’re vulnerable, floating in space with no space suit. Characters we revere aren’t who they were, characters we trust make bad decisions, and characters we don’t like turn out to be right. Events seem only to lead to devastating failures for the Resistance, for the First Order, for the Jedi (whatever that is anymore), and we do not know where the franchise is headed at the film’s conclusion. When the credits roll, we have more questions than answers. [Read more…]

Three Spoiler-Free Reasons to See The Last Jedi

Fresh from my first viewing of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, here are my relatively spoiler-free impressions of the film. (Read on if you’re okay knowing some generalities about the film, with the promise of no specific details.)

I must state categorically that I loved it, and I can’t wait to see it again. I had heard that the film would “shock” me – that it takes the Skywalker saga in an unexpected direction. I am not as shocked as I was prepared to be (perhaps sheer expectation prevented that), and the film did not satisfy every question I had hoped it would (perhaps the filmmaker’s strategy to keep me coming back, and if so, as young Anakin once said, “It’s working!”). But on the whole The Last Jedi is excellent, thrilling, moving and satisfying Star Wars. Read on for three reasons why you should see it: [Read more…]

Chestnut Hill 2017: Emily’s Conference and Festival Report

Peri Fisher giving her talk on the power of YA lit to effect social reform.

Catching the heels of Louise’s excellent round-up of the sessions she attended at 2017’s Chestnut Hill College Harry Potter Conference, I submit my own report, dear Hogwarts Professor readers. In addition to the conference, my intrepid friend Katherine Sas and I also attended the Harry Potter Festival in the village of Chestnut Hill, just down the street from the College, the day after the conference, as we have done the past few years. The fest was particularly good this year, for both magical and non-magical reasons. I’ll spell them out here, with photographic evidence of the mischief that was so delightfully managed by Chestnut Hill, PA in 2017. [Read more…]

Pottery Barn Potter: Why we love and lament it

This week, retail furniture giant Pottery Barn revealed its new Harry Potter décor collection for teens (okay, let’s all snigger about that as we get out our grown-up wallets). The collection features authentically fashioned, drool-inducing items such as a Golden Snitch clock (because “time flies”), flying keys to hold your jewelry (if you trust them to stay put), an absolutely gorgeous Mirror of Erised (no word on whether it will show you holding the $400 you’ll need to purchase same) and more. Now you can go into your local Pottery Barn and purchase pillows, sheets, throws and backpacks to show your Hogwarts House pride, or even a lap desk with hidden storage (which I guess makes it worth $100?) in the stripes of your clan. Mixed in with the replica items are Hogwarts-inspired décor such as midnight blue velvet drapes, glittery gold bed skirts, vintage-chic rugs and armchairs “squashy” enough for the Gryffindor common room. Here’s a link to the collection. Clicking on it will result in either a fannish frenzy of superfluous spending or – if your financial situation is more like mine – a persistent and painful longing for stuff you can’t afford. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. [Read more…]

Happy 20th Anniversary, Harry Potter! Announcing a new podcast!

Dear Hogwarts Professor readers:

Happy Anniversary! It’s been 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And it seems it’s been almost that long since the last gripping, academic discussion of Harry Potter by your favorite Potter pundits on the podcast Mugglenet Academia (RIP). But never fear! A new forum for over-educated Potter nerdiness is on its way! The new podcast, Reading, Writing, Rowling, hopes to match and even one day surpass Academia in both erudition and geekiness. How could it not, with Katy McDaniel and John Granger at the helm? We hope you enjoy this teaser trailer for the new production.

Mischief definitely NOT managed!