Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rogue one


I have a lot of thoughts about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to sort them out, as I'm sure it'll find a place into my regular Star Wars viewing. The Force Awakens is still dependent on my enjoyment of Rian Johnson's Episode VIII and Colin Trevorrow's Episode IX to see if I spend any effort at all revisiting it.

First of all, let's be clear, I almost certainly would have enjoyed a movie that centered around Donnie Yen's Chirrut Îmwe and Jiang Wen's Baze Malbus more than I did this movie. That was largely a given, and should not be taken as a particular knock against this movie, but the pairing certainly lived up to my expectations.

I seem overall to like Gareth Edwards movies. I liked both this and Godzilla more than many people did, but I can't help thinking in both cases that there wasn't a movie he was trying to make that I might have liked more. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it.

I'll address the issue I brought up in Star Wars and autistic tendencies. There is nothing in the movie that shows Mads Mikkelsen's Galen Erso furthers or dissuades the notion of his being autistic, leaving me to suspect the additional detail was largely James Luceno's.

The interesting case is K-2SO, who plays more than a little Aspergian. Are we seeing the same traits that the public treats with derision and, at best, condescension in real life humans being trotted out as endearing in fictional characters a lot now? Probably even bringing it up makes me sound more sensitive than I am, but it definitely feels like something that's building, and I believe I'd prefer it not to. Is that the only reason I didn't shine to this character as much as the rest of the world? I don't think so. Frankly, more than that issue, he just seemed forced, at least as much as when the exact same gag was done with the droid AP-5 on Star Wars - Rebels.

Was the earlier released story intended as trial run or was the fancy new Story Group asleep at the wheel there?

To the movie itself, I liked it. I think the Dirty Dozen vibe works surprisingly well overall. And it works best the closer it gets to it. It also falters the most, the more it apes Star Wars, which felt considerably less than The Force Awakens, but it might just be that this one managed to hook me better.

I recently tweeted that Disney seems more committed to ensuring that all Star Wars heroines resemble Marcia Lucas than George had been. I think that was most disappointing here, because Jyn Erso had a lot of potential to forge new ground as a Star Wars heroine, which she falls just short of doing, I think.

To touch on a somewhat minor, arguable spoiler, I had been very impressed with the fact that Jyn and Cassian Andor had a bickering kind of relationship that never seemed to develop into a possible romance, which would be another new step in the series, but I think they finally undid that hope in a single shot. I think it was minor enough that I might be able to pretend that's not what it means in the future, but it was there for everyone who needs it, which is a little disappointing.

The music is disappointing. I thought having different composers for these "Star Wars story" entries would allow for them to set these entries apart in a variety of ways, but Michael Giacchino's score here is just John Williams-lite, rather than attempting anything surprising or unique. I hope they'll broaden that in future entries.

Overall, while I have no doubt that Disney had many hands in this, for a movie that had a much more famous reshooting/rethinking, this feels much more organic than The Force Awakens, so perhaps they are on the right track. I'm not convinced it will become a new favorite, although I don't rule it out completely, I think it will sit comfortably along with The Clone Wars and "Rebels" as worthwhile ancillary materials, even if I don't take a shine to the future sequels.

As a final note, I'll include a link to Roderick Heath's Rogue One review. I've been holding off reading it until I saw the movie, because, while we don't agree on everything, we seem pretty solidly on the same page with Star Wars movies and I didn't want to have his thoughts in my brain going in. We are again on much the same page here and his thoughts are, as always, much better organized and developed than mine, so they are well worth reading.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Merry fuckin' Christmas


I fuckin' love Christmas!

I love the whole thing. I love Christmas movies and Christmas specials.

I love Christmas music. I love religious songs like Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and O Little Town of Bethlehem. I love silly songs like Nuttin' For Christmas and Christmas Goose. I love modern ones like Soulful Christmas and Merry Xmas Everybody. I like cynical ones like Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy and Fuck Christmas.

I love surf covers of Christmas songs by the likes of Davie Allan & the Arrows and Los Straitjackets.

I love Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love.

I love presents and time with my family. I could be fuckin' Buddy in Elf.

Whenever the types of conservatives who complain about the liberal "war of Christmas", they sound insane to me, because it's not part of my world. Christmas is fuckin' awesome. The only thing that it less festive it the regular moronic and irritating remarks from them.

I occurs to me that, like most political assumptions made as a matter of course, by people of all political stripes, it's likely that part of their assumption is not only not true, but the opposite of the truth.

Here, of course, I'm talking about "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" being ways to avoid reference to Christmas.

It occurs to me these were indeed created to come up with a way to reference Christmas at a time when saying "Merry Christmas" isn't natural.

No one wishes a person a happy birthday weeks before the anniversary of their birth. Even Holy Wednesday seems awkward for an Easter greeting. Independence Day greetings don't begin in June. I'm fairly certain I've never been told to have a Happy New Year until December 31. Maybe on a Friday before when it occurred on a weekend.

So, even today, with me jolly and enthused for the big day, watching Bob Clark movies and listening to >my holiday playlist, I think it's weird whenever someone says "Merry Christmas" to me today, a full week early.

I suspect that was generally true at one time. You wished one a Merry Christmas a day or two before the say when it was imminent and reasonable that you wouldn't see the person before the day.

But retailers have wanted it on your mind as early as possible for a long, long time now. People always think this is weirdly recent, but we can safely say there's at least a century of this effort behind us. "Happy Holidays!" is a perfect way to refer to a series of holidays, just in terms of U.S. Federal Holidays, we have three in fairly short order, not even mentioning the other religious and other holidays in there as well. Because in a normal world, it's weird as fuck to say "Merry Christmas" a month before the holiday is going to occur, you can still make a reference to keep it on people's minds, but still be appropriate to the moment, in referring to the whole time period.

Now, of course, the real war against the religious celebration of Christ's birth is waged by the secular celebration of elves, consumption and candy that is much of what people, including the generally religious, think about throughout this time, so perhaps they are on track than they know.

Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying the season and has a Merry Christmas... except those motherfuckers who gripe about whether people say "Merry Christmas". I hope Santa shits down all of their throats.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Star Wars and autistic tendencies


I haven't seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story yet. Scheduling in my life will probably put that as something I'm not able to manage until after Christmas. One of the small prices I pay for the lifestyle I've chosen, and largely enjoy.

I did read Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno in anticipation. I occasionally, but fairly rarely, read licensed property novels, which does little but put me out of sync with my friends who read them with some gusto and my friends who dismiss them completely. For what it's worth, I enjoyed it. Not as much as I enjoyed Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston, but more than I had Luceno's Tarkin, which I had given up on after a bit of reading, but might eventually give another chance after enjoying the portrayal of Governor Tarkin here.

What's interesting to me right now is that Galen Erso, the character Mads Mikkelsen plays in Rogue One is clearly portrayed as autistic in the novel. First of all, if that is in line with his portrayal in the movie itself or something Luceno brought to it. Of course, I'm also interested in whether that portrayal, whether by Luceno or the creators of the movie, was purposely done. There's no reference to it in a quick Google search.

There are a lot "probably Autistic" characters floating about these days, more conspicuous in an age when Autism is becoming better understood by people generally. There are characters out there, from nerdy kids to quirky geniuses such as Erso, who seem likely inspired by an Autistic person the author knew at some point, but who was never diagnosed, in an era when many areas of the spectrum were simply not an existing diagnosis, or even perhaps the diagnosis was not known to the author. In a few, I can't help wonder if it isn't a reflection of autistic tendencies of the author, but perhaps that's another discussion. In more recent cases, such as Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, where the creators deny the obvious inspiration of Autistic tendencies, perhaps to avoid having avoid having to following any set list of symptoms.

Of course, having that kind of specific diagnosis a long time ago, in a galaxy far away would make no sense, they're safe from that concern.

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