Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Han Solo and the creative crisis


I'm not surprised by Why Lucasfilm Fired Han Solo Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller by Peter Sciretta. Not exactly. I don't really have emotions about it either.

Despite the overwhelming enthusiasm that exists in the world, including by many people I like and respect, I have never been able to raise the tiniest spark of interest for the work of Mr. Lord and Mr. Miller. I don't hate them or their work. And, in theory, I'll be trapped in a room somewhere and watch something they made. I might even enjoy it. I don't know. Until then, there's always something I'm more interested in doing, like watching something I was already interested in or clipping my toenails or something.

Not to mention, while I love Han Solo in the original movies and I'll go to this, no matter what, because I'm still seeing Star Wars movies, I'm not really interested in a Han Solo flashback movie. Oddly, most of the other elements interested me more than Han Solo, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Donald Glover in a Star Wars movie makes me happy in some way. The idea of a young Han Solo movie bores the fuck out of me. I'm hoping the movie eventually wins me over anyway.

All that said, I would love someone to pull together a real timeline for this crisis. The timing itself is curious.

I assume when these guys, Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank were brought in, the idea was to give the anthology "Star Wars Story" movies would have unique textures outside the Lucasfilm "house style". Obviously Trank burned out somehow pretty early in the process.

I suspect the success of The Force Awakens and the specifics of Edwards peculiarities led to the much discussed reshoots and a Rogue One that generally resembled "house style" fairly closely. I'm really quite fond of Rogue One. I'm glad it exists, but I'm not sure, for that reason, Edwards or his story were the strongest lead for this.

Honestly, none of this group seem like they were strong choices to lead a series with that as the goal to my view. I can't help wondering what other options they had on the table to work with but ultimately moved away from to favor these choices.

One of the things that's been plaguing me recently for reasons irrelevant to any of this is that one the biggest problems of making a project with multiple stylistically independent projects work isn't necessarily making them all the same within a range, which is the first and obvious concern, it's making sure they're all different enough to ensure that it's always clear that they're stylistically independent. People are naturally inclined to follow the leader or build on an existing pattern, especially a successful one.

Once Rogue One went to "house style", it was going to be harder to explain the future stories falling away from that. I don't think they had a contingency for that.

This, I think, comes pretty close to explaining to me how they got past the initial planning of this project without it breaking down on the basis of what, at this point, was clearly an impasse. Rogue One was being placed as a "hit" and canonized as what they wanted as the anthology style to be just at the time that this started filming. It got past that window in which it should have broken down without a big crisis.

That said, I still can't help wondering, like most others, exactly how it got this far and, having done so, how it finally broke down this late in the process. It seems like there's still an interesting story right there.

That said, I love this anthology story idea. There was a time that I fantasized about Star Trek doing a series of TV movies that did something similar. It might have been a better idea with TV movies having so much less at stake for each individual movie. It would have allowed them to take more interesting risks with them and not have to make too many about characters with the top name recognition and explore deeper. If they had considered such a thing.

Interestingly, as I understand Star Trek: Discovery will be the beginning of a similar concept in the form of limited series of different concepts. I like it, but it does take it back to putting pressure on each one again, doesn't it?

So far, the freedom to play around the edges, as a movie, still comes at the cost of having the succeed at the same level as the main story. More is the shame, I think. Most people will ultimately be happier with this, or at least leap to understand what it is and why they should like it, and they're smarter to make them happy than me.

And what do I even know about that? So far, they've completed one anthology movie, and I really liked it a lot. I might be the dumbest one of all.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The future of the USA



I continue thinking about He has sounded forth the trumpet that I wrote on January 25, 2017. Like all predictions about Trump and Trump's America, it suffers from thinking anything will, or could, move forward in a predictable fashion. Since, as Max Boot wrote,
Donald Trump Is Proving Too Stupid to Be President
, and the Republican Party remains far too cowardly and irresponsible to even attempt to fix that mess, there's no telling where this ride ends. I no longer think my old prediction will prove accurate, although I'm not sure how to update it.

I just read The American Empire (1898 – 2017) by Buzz Dixon, and its follow-up, America, The New India, and I think it feels about right.

As much as I love Prophets of Rage, and dig the song embedded above, they're off here. The song seems largely about unfucking the US. A fair goal, in itself, but I can't help thinking that an America that isn't at the top of the food chain has a better chance of being unfucked.

Look, I don't see this ending with the US being whatever it is now. I don't see our current parties making it out of this. Republicans have no heroes to point to when this all blows up. They'll try with John McCain as usual, but I think America has largely, if more quietly, joined Alex Pareene, I Don't Want To Hear Another Fucking Word About John McCain Unless He Dies Or Actually Does Something Useful For Once. Everyone might not be saying it, and we know it'll always make the news when McCain pretends to have a spine against his party, but his credibility is completely in the Honey Bucket tank, which might be better than it deserves.

All could be considered ironic since I think everyone who voted for the guy who said "He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured." are fucking garbage.

I know, here's where some poor traumatized, cry baby Trump voter comes with their crocodile tears and say, "Oh, how do you expect to get votes from people if you call them fucking garbage?"

First, I don't expect to get any votes. I'm not running for anything, shithead.

Second, I don't expect the Democratic Party, or any other alternative to the Republicans, to get any votes either. Me failing to speak truth is absolutely not going to change this frustrating fact. They, and their most fervent supporters, would have to look a lot deeper into the mirror to see what went wrong in 2016, and I don't see anyone even admitting they need to in this cycle. These are people who, after knowing she lost and Trump became president, refuse to accept that Hillary Clinton was a flawed choice of candidate. I know. There's no fucking way they're doing any better next time.

Third, and I think most importantly, it's called integrity. The fact that you and I know that Senator McCain, the victim of that anti-American attack, is certainly one of those pieces of fucking garbage himself. Or, worse yet, he's not that kind of garbage, but would claim to be if cornered.

Yeah, I'll stick to the losing side with my integrity. I fully understand that no Trump voter will ever understand integrity, so I won't bother to explain it.

The point is that, some day we will come to the end. Trump's presidency will blow-up or fizzle-out. We will then have 63 million voters who should have the integrity to admit their part in the destruction of the US, as it stood at the time of their fatal vote. And they will not. The best of them will, as we have already seen, admit only to being fooled or conned. Their claim is that they somehow believed a self-evidently sociopathic asshole would be transformed into a decent citizen by the magic of being given power, and they blame him for his for being a scorpion.

So, where will we end up? In a Second Civil War, as I suggested. I suspect not. Not as I originally imagined it. Something that would be reasonably comparable to the first Civil War. It could be something that will eventually be described as such by people looking back at it.

I think there's something to Buzz Dixon's India comparison. A lot to it, in fact.

Now, if I knew more about Indian politics, I might be able to express this better, or at least understand how it compares in this context, but I suspect we're coming out of this with a less powerful federal government. I don't know if this will involve a reversal of the Civil War gain of federal power over the states and simply more state power, as Republicans have long argued for, in many contexts, at least, or if it will be be larger regions that have some intermediate power, like blocs of states, or if it will be smaller than states at a county or other size, that will be the center. And I don't know how much power will be left in the federal government. I doubt there will be anything like a full breakup. I suspect the union will remain in name and many functions, but without the same levels of power.

Again, with the United States no longer the biggest power in the world, which I agree we have already fallen from and just don't know it yet, the amount of power the the federal government has is substantially reduced, leaving less reason for many to fight as furiously to keep it in one place.

I'm sure that many of my left of center friends are ready to pounce on me for endorsing such a thing, but here's the thing, I'm not really. I just think there's no way it's not going to happen. This blows-up or fizzles-out in some way that none of us know yet. If that's soon or peacefully, my prediction could be wrong, for the time being, but I doubt it will quite be either that soon or entirely peaceful.

So, somewhere the fact that the Electoral College deprives value of the vote of someone from California and adds value to the vote of Iowa means something different this time. Something more. Something worse. How much ruin is the country in? How immense a crisis? How much blood spilled? I have no prediction, but the answers to these questions will be the clues to how united we are at the end of whatever happens and how united we wish to remain.

I don't know the answer. I just know that right now everyone's playing a game like this is Richard Nixon and Watergate and we'll come out at the end bruised, but not fundamentally changed, at least to our own perception, and seeing some imaginary light at the end that gets us there. I don't see that happening here. I think we will see the scars from this every day. I don't think they will be sexy scars that we'll pick up other countries with either. It will just be national PTSD that makes us afraid to engage with the rest of the world.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Twin Peaks and the trouble with critics


When I was much younger and I would discuss my thoughts on movies, or other artistic works, people would often say things like "I don't know how you enjoy movies when you're thinking of all of this stuff?"

I always found this puzzling, because nothing like that ever occurred. I'd watch the movie. I would have some opinions, and I would examine, in reflection, what led me to those opinions. It seemed simple enough.

The other idea was confounding.

Why would a person think that made sense?

Now, more and more, with the Internet leading everyone to have opinions on everything, I see that for a lot of people that is how they develop any opinion other than "movie good"/"movie bad". Or so it seems from their explanations.

This feeling has built up over time, but the opinions of the new season of Twin Peaks seems to have exacerbated that feeling. I watched the first four episodes and loved them. Right now, they feel like great songs that are part of an album I haven't heard in its entirety yet. I really want to hear the rest of the album. I want to listen to them again. I have some thoughts, but they're still forming and based on the overall experience I had.

Too many of the opinions I've read seem to have been built like a play-by-play analysis as they watched. Even in cases where I agree with parts, I'm still left more confused than enlightened, because that sounds like such a bizarre way to watch and enjoy the show. It's like me and those critics, some professional, but most of the arm-chair variety, are a completely different species. I say that having watched it with my cat who watched intently and seemed to be experiencing it for what it was while it was on.

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