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…]

Weekly Vlog: Embedded Misdirection

Did you know that J. K. Rowling’s ‘voice choice’ for her Harry Potter novels is such an important part of her artistry that she embeds narrative misdirection in the plot lines of each and every book, i.e., that characters are experiencing the same kind of twist in struggling with the texts and narratives they encounter that we are as readers?

Should She or Shouldn’t She? Why Ms. Rowling Won’t Shut Up — and Why That is a Good Thing

Michael Gambon: The Perfect Dumbledore?

Wonderful conversation going on over at Sword of Gryffindor about the latest revelations about the actor who plays Albus Dumbledore in the movies and the actor who turned down the part.

I haven’t read any of the combox comments except those at the linked articles and they are what you’d expect, namely, fans wanting to see Dumbledore blasted from the Astronomy Tower by Severus Snape in the Half-Blood Prince film (a sentiment I first read on the blog of an Orthodox priest and friend back in 2005). Folks really don’t like Michael Gambon.

Which is too bad. Post Deathly Hallows, I’m thinking he was a brilliant choice for the part. [Read more…]

Tin Man, Harry Potter, and One Argument in favor of Publishing the Whole Back Story

There are few times I wish I owned a teevee set. In fact, I cannot think of a single time I have regretted putting up the teevee expelling charms around my house soon after I was married. I do own a VHS and DVD player that won’t pick-up signals on which I enjoy watching videos with my family (Count of Monte Cristo last night, an amazing adaptation/abridgment) but the the thought of a teevee “on” in my house, addict-in-recovery that I am, makes me shudder.

This morning, though, Amazon.com sent me an email telling me I needed to check out a teevee show called Tin Man on the SciFi cable channel. I checked it out via the hyperlink they provided. I didn’t rush out to buy a working television, but I did say to myself, “I really hope they release this on DVD.” I’d certainly go to see this if it were in the movie theatres. I’ve read more Wizard of Oz books to my children than I want to admit and this Tin Man program looks like the kind of thoughtful adaptation for postmoderns I’d enjoy. [I was the one in the alley behind the theatre who lost his popcorn and lunch after seeing The Wiz.] The Cain figure alone played by Neal McDonough would be worth the price of admission.

And why do I bring this up on a Harry Potter weBlog? I’m glad you asked.

The discussion here at HogPro has come down pretty heavily against learning more back-story from Ms. Rowling than she decided to include between the covers of her seven stage epic. [Read more…]