December 2015

24 Dec 2015

The last, and only, good Star Wars film came out in 1977. Before George Lucas got cute, that film was simply called “Star Wars.”

It generated deserved excitement at the theater. It was audacious, it was original, and yet it had the familiar feel of an MGM swashbuckler like Captain Blood. It didn’t have a young and irrepressible Errol Flynn, but it had an erudite Alec Guinness and memorable characters. Like Blood, Star Wars started with the whip crack of a propulsive theme and title sequence which set off the adventure on an ebullient note that it rarely lost.

Many Christians discussed the theological, Zoroastrian errors of the Force, but I think that’s taking it too seriously. Most people just saw in the original film a vivid and noble adventure yarn. Heroism, good and evil, and dying for friends.

So what about the just-released and highly touted Star Wars: the Force Awakens? Well, Joe Sobran attended Bill Clinton’s 1993 inaugural speech and noted how the incoming president strained for grand effects he didn’t know how to achieve. So does Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The first half is derivative of the plot points and feel of the 1977 film, but without that flick’s boldness, creativity, and emotional power. It’s like they didn’t have the imagination to come up with anything so they settled on weakly reflecting the first film, as a piece of wax paper reflects the sun.

Everyone remembers the forlorn “Force Theme” during the Binary Sunset and Kenobi death scenes in the 1977 original. These were great little scenes that packed a wallop. Force Awakens tries – oh how it tries – to bring in that classic theme at various points to lend gravitas. It’s been a few hours since the movie ended and I honestly can’t remember what those scenes were.

The film goes downhill as it moves along. The semi-enjoyable nostalgia exercise of the first part of the film gives way to overlong action sequences in the second half. The action scenes in the original Star Wars were all watchable. They didn’t go on endlessly and the plot moved along. Force Awakens was more like the overrated series of Marvel action movies with their interminable CGI sequences. How many more movies do we need where a protagonist runs along and the ground blows up or collapses behind them? You’d think movie producers would realize that watching non-stop “harrowing” sequences becomes like watching a film loop or an assembly line. No matter how interesting it is, the repetition eventually renders it dull. (During the movie I was distracted by a 7 year old who kept standing up next to us– what is with adults talking and unattended kids at the theaters now? Given that I was checking my watch a lot that final hour, it would’ve been more enjoyable if that kid and I had gone out to the lobby to shoot the breeze.)

Force Awakens also features that most tiresome and ever-present cliche in modern films: the warrior chick. You can close your eyes and visualize feminist groups sitting at a large conference table with Disney executives and stressing the proper attitudes. It can’t be long until the franchise introduces its first homosexual. One wonders if in a decade the hero will be a cross-dresser.

All this would be even more annoying if the female protagonist was fleshed out. She was actually quite dull and underwritten, perhaps because she was so “empowered.”

As it turns out, the film’s most memorable character was a little red droid. Yes, a glorified machine stole the show. Or at least it would’ve if there was a show worth stealing.

22 Dec 2015

Here’s a quote from an interview yesterday with NPR where Barack Obama was asked about opposition:

If you are referring to… specific strains in the Republican party that… uh… suggest that somehow I’m different… I’m… Muslim… I’m disloyal to the country, etc…you know… Which, unfortunately, uhh, is pretty far out there and gets some traction, uh, in certain pockets of the Republican party, and that have been articulated by some of their elected officials. Uh, what I’d say there is that, uh, that’s probably pretty specific to, uh, me, and, uh, who I am and, uh, and my background, and that in some ways I may represent change that worries them.

We’ve heard this basic script many times before with the president. It’s interesting how thin-skinned he is. He talks in measured academic tones, with thoughtful uhhs, and there is an undercurrent of condescending offense that anyone could actually disagree with him. There is a touch of passive-aggressive ad hominem. He comforts himself that he’s dealing with simpletons harboring bad motives– most especially, racism.

Granted, anyone who reads news article comments on the internet will often see discussions conducted in bad faith, but that cuts all ways. It’s rare to see thoughtful, unapologetic, fair-minded arguments in lieu of the usual pointless brawls between “libtards” and “teabagger racists.” However, I think a less arrogant man than the president would disregard such chaff and act more charitably toward his opposition. Once you get past the insults, even some of the name-callers can articulate reasons for their disgust with his policies.

03 Dec 2015

I haven’t figured out who funds the Ad Council, which seems to have a lot of money and is fond of airbrushed progressive propaganda. It sounds like much of its money comes from government agencies. Another thing I wish we could defund.

The Ad Council’s “Love Has No Labels” ad runs incessantly. Two skeletons are shown kissing on a screen. The skeletons come around each side of the screen and… it’s two women. To smooth over the obvious social molding (It’s normal! Accept it!), we are shown more skeletons which are in turn revealed as a mixed-race couple and a special needs child.

It’s nauseating. It’s also ripe for someone with more guts than SNL to make fun of it. Maybe someone goes behind the screens and finds that there’s a zombie biting someone’s neck. Or maybe the outline of a goat back there. I mean, why not, maybe it’s predicting the future in our brave, new, sexually confused world.

By the way, why all this emphasis on monogamous same sex relationships? Why two?