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Entries in Star Wars (90)

Saturday
Aug132016

RIP Kenny Baker (1934 - 2016)

Kenny Baker, the actor inside R2-D2 in each of the Star Wars films, has passed away at 81. Share your favorite R2-D2 moments and insights in the comments.

Tuesday
Jul262016

Five Days 'til the Smackdown

THE SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN OF 1977 is coming. You already met two of our panelists. And here are the other three (including me). 

MEET THE PANELISTS 

Panelist: Sara Black McCulloch
Bio: Sara Black McCulloch is a Toronto-based researcher, translator and writer. She has written for i-D, cleo Journal, Adult, The Hairpin, Gawker, Bitch Magazine and The National Post. You can read more of her work here

Question: What does 1977 mean to you? 

1977 seemed to be steeped in so much disillusionment. I think that, like the years that signal the end of a decade but don't quite bookend it, it was...fraught. The year was packed with events that pointed to change and fueled uncertainty. It was the year the U.S. signed the nuclear-proliferation pact and the same year that the U.S. government voted against covering elective abortions through Medicaid. The Apple II computer hit the market and Jimmy Carter warned Americans about their oil consumption. New York City had a blackout. Culturally, things were brewing, or at least clashing with traditions: The Sex Pistols crashed the Silver Jubilee; Saturday Night Fever and a Star Wars sequel were released; hip-hop was just getting started and Roots was sweeping tv ratings. 

So much of the art produced and general sentiment of the U.S. pointed to different internal and external conflicts -- pushing boundaries, but setting up borders; artists, citizens and politicians all wanted to turn a new leaf but they were still anchored to their past. The best way I can summarize 1977: it's like the last 10 seconds of New Year's Eve, but the clock freezes.

 

Panelist: Mark Harris
Bio: Mark Harris is an editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, and a contributor to New York magazine. He is the author of Pictures at a Revolution (2008) and Five Came Back (2014). He lives in New York City.
[Follow him on Twitter]  

Question: What does 1977 mean to you?

I was in eighth grade and living pretty deeply in the world of television--Happy Days, Good Times, All in the Family, Charlie's Angels, Saturday Night Live. But I do have some movie memories from that year: Seeing Network just before the Oscars and thinking it was one of the greatest movies ever. Seeing Annie Hall and not getting all the jokes but recognizing parts of my New York neighborhood. Seeing ads for Star Wars and thinking, "Ehhh, not really for me." Seeing ads for Saturday Night Fever and thinking, "100% for me." I now get all the jokes in Annie Hall. Everything else still stands.

 

Panelist & Host: Nathaniel R
Bio: You can read more about me here, but you already know me!
[Follow Nathaniel R on Twitter]

Question: What does 1977 mean to you?

I don't remember much. The only movie I physically remember sitting in the theater for was The Rescuers -- I was really into Evinrude the dragonfly and Medusa's pet alligators.  My most vivid showbiz memories of 1977 are two: making Bionic Woman noises while jumping around the backyard with my best friend and hearing my big sister playing Streisand's "Evergreen (The Theme From A Star is Born)" on the piano a lot.

ARE YOU VOTING ON THE SMACKDOWN, DEAR READER? Get your votes in by Friday early evening. 


The Nominees were...

Leslie BrowneThe Turning Point
Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl
Melinda Dillon, Close Encounters
Vanessa Redgrave, Julia
Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr Goodbar 

Readers are our final panelist for the Smackdown so if you'd like to vote send Nathaniel an email with 1977 in the header line by Friday with your votes. Each performance you've seen should be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 hearts (1 being terrible 5 being stupendous) -- Remember to only vote for performances that you've seen; the votes are weighted to reflect numbers of voters per movies so no actress has an unfair advantage because her movie is popular. 

Thursday
Jun232016

Cue the Imperial March.

Daddy's back!

One of the most iconic characters of all time is set to return to the big screen. Darth Vader returns to cinemas when Rogue One hits on December 16th. But do you sense a disturbance in the force? A few questions get raised here. Was Darth Vader added in the reshoots when the studio was reportedly in panic? Perhaps the biggest question of all is: do we need to see Darth Vader again?

It would be surprising not to have Darth Vader mentioned at all as he is a very large character in the universe at that time this new (old) story takes place, but to appear on screen is a huge moment to promise. Audiences will return just to see this character again but isn't that, perhaps, detrimental to the larger revival of the franchise. Part of the success of The Force Awakens was the way it balanced nostalgia whilst shaping a new path. It ensured Vader cast a dark shadow, and his absence was felt which is a successful use of nostalgia but not overkill.

Have we already spied Darth Vader in the Rogue One trailer?

Vader has appeared frequently in the animated TV series but the big screen where he’s the big bad is another thing. Still a tip of the hat to the never ending successful Star Wars PR machine. They reveal only that Darth Vader will reappear, and millions of voices cry out in glee. But do you find the lack of originality disturbing?

Wednesday
May252016

Thoughts I Had on a Second Viewing of "The Force Awakens"

This week's Best Shot topic looked back at the remake of Star Wars (1977) affectionally dubbed The Force Awakens (2016). Not that the Force ever got any rest. Pop culture could never let Star Wars be, even in the many years between films, so I'll keep this mercifully brief. But it seems strange how little attention we'd given it during its phenomenally successful release during the Christmas glut. For the record though I didn't find the movie all that much more than a fun recycling feat, a second visit reminded me just how well it performs its recycling feat of the unique Star Wars combo of family friend fun, rousing adventure, easily readable almost pantomimed humor, and broad good vs evil drama (aka the Force's light side and dark side) 

a few random thoughts to begin...

• How jealous do you think Batman was when he saw Kylo Ren's ship?

• Stormtroopers can bleed? They've died such unmessy G rated deaths for 39 years. One colored blast topples them with no carnage.  I love this disorienting image of a Stormtrooper, confused, and very much not in military formation. Send this one to reconditioning!

3 more random thoughts, 3 exciting moments, and 3 best shots after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May242016

Visual Index - The Force Awakens' "Best Shots"

The Force Awakens may have dominated the world when it debuted at Christmas time but all our Christmas times are devoted to the Oscar race so we didn't truly give it its due here. And thus it's our pick this week for Hit Me With Your Best Shot (though we don't normally do movies this recent) to give us a chance to spend a little more time with Luke, Leia, Han, Finn, Rey, and the galaxy's new collective boyfriend Poe Dameron.

My own Force Awakens post is here if you missed it. I had been running late. Let's blame Thelma & Louise (I've been distracted). The power of the Dark Side or the Light are no match for the Force of Great Actressing in my galaxy right now and close close by.

Alright. Let's see what the Best Shot club chose...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May242016

Nothing Compares 2 Link

MNPP picks 5 favorites from Roger Deakins great filmography - love the write up
i09 Netflix is going to be the exclusive home for Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar movies when it comes to streaming
The Guardian looks back at the career of Burt Kwouk (RIP) who played Cato in The Pink Panther franchise
Variety looks at the top Emmy races. Where are we guaranteed movement in the often stagnant fields?

• Hypable Disney's gay erasure problem (not the pop band) and why the hashtags #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend are so popular. (Captain America already has a boyfriend, of course, but why did Disney include that Sharon Carter kiss?)
Flickering Myth Chris Nolan's Dunkirk shoot has begun (photos from the set). Since he's sick of not being Oscar nominated for directing he's making a World War II picture instead of sticking with sci-fi, magicians, or Batpeople
• Playbill the 61st annual Obie Awards, a prestigious off Broadway prize, have been announced. Winners include Red Speedo (which we briefly wrote about), the musical Dear Evan Hansen, and two shows that have transferred to Broadway and are now up for Tonys: The Humans and Eclipsed
Boy Culture on the Madonna Prince tribute at the BBMAs and subsequent fallout - there's always fallout. Haters gonna hate
MTV Teo Bugbee on the new "tasteful?" nudity in Game of Thrones. I feel bullied by the internet in regards to this show (i don't watch it and don't like it whenever I casually see part of an episode) but this piece is great

In Nostalgia We Trust
Have you seen the new Star Trek Beyond poster? It's pretty but wouldn't this tactic have made more sense for the initial reboot than for a third sequel?  Also just how long until we reach peak nostalgia as a culture? Everything is just old things repackaged.

Yes, we've always had remakes and franchises all the way back to the early talkies but it seems much more dominant now, the whole pie rather than two pieces. 

 

 

Monday
Apr112016

The Furniture: The Forest and "The Force Awakens"

"The Furniture" is our new design series. Here's Daniel...

Once upon a time, Hollywood movie magic looked a bit different. In this age of CGI, with some blockbusters relying so heavily on digital effects that they border on fully animated features, it’s easy to forget how science fiction and fantasy once looked. This is why the throwback technical elements in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are so exciting to behold.

One could go on for quite some time about all these details, many of which come up in the extensive special features included on the Blu-ray. One production design revelation in particular that's worth celebrating is that the final fight scene between Kylo Ren and Rey, set in a dark and snowy forest, was shot on a set.

Initially, a location shoot was considered. Such a choice worked wonders for the forest sequence in House of Flying Daggers (2004) , certainly. Yet, due to the fact that the nighttime setting would severely restrict the schedule, the production design team led by Rick Carter and Darren Gilford began workshopping a solution [More...]

Click to read more ...