Tag: Star Wars

Orwellian Boondoggles in Congress. Again.

 

The nation’s oldest polling company, Gallup, periodically tests Americans’ confidence in our institutions. On July 5, they published their latest. I bet the numbers won’t surprise you. While Americans continue to hold small businesses, our military, and the police in high esteem, Congress is ranked dead last.

Americans despise Congress more than Jar Jar Binks.

Even nine of ten Democrats polled don’t have much confidence in an institution their party controls.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, and the author of The New York Times best-selling book, The World According to Star Wars. He shares what drew him to this topic, and why, after 45 years, these movies have become a $70 billion multimedia franchise and continue to have such wide intergenerational appeal. They review some of the classic myths and legends that influenced George Lucas, the brilliant creator of the films. Prof. Sunstein explains some of the larger civic educational lessons found in the space epic, including the war between the democratic Republic and the autocratic Empire, in which the Jedi Knights rebel against imperial tyranny. They also discuss the story of Anakin Skywalker, and his turn to the Dark Side; and the supernatural “Force,” that imbues a series classified as science fiction with a transcendent quality.

Stories of the Week: In England, university and student groups are opposing government plans to set minimum eligibility requirements for student loans. In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams is seeking an extension of mayoral control of the school district, which for the past 20 years has meant important oversight authority over the schools chancellor and most of the governing panel.

May the Fourth

 

Disclaimer, before I even start:

I dread the first few weeks of May.  Every. Single. Year.  It’s one of those stretches of awful memory that many of us have at different times of the year, when it seems that regrets/trauma/cataclysm all pile on top of one another to render certain times insupportable and sometimes just plain unbearable.  To wit:

  • May 2–the anniversary of my stepson Michael’s death.
  • May 10–the late Mr. She’s birthday
  • May 13–my late mother-in-law’s birthday.  She who died from a medication error, having been given the set of pills which should have been allocated to the lady in the next bed of the nursing home where my mother-in-law spent her final days
  • May 17–my late father-in-law’s birthday.  A man who, by all accounts was one of the smartest and most generous men you’d ever know, but who, in my own experience, was an awful, nasty, abusive, destructive, drunk
  • Mother’s Day–a day in which my small family celebrates the Mums and Moms we have known, every single one of whom died in traumatic and ugly circumstances–from the medication error mentioned above (mother-in-law), or from a fall head-first down the stairs, and a traumatic brain injury (Mr. She’s first wife and the mother of his three children), or from lifelong undiagnosed mental difficulties and eventual fronto-temporal dementia (my own mother)
  • And a time of year when I began to inkle that a dear, if non-familial, friendship might be lost to me forever, and that I, who didn’t break it, couldn’t fix it.

And yet.  And yet…

On this episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, former MMA fighter and “The Mandalorian” star Gina Carano joins host Ben Domenech to discuss her role in the Star Wars series and explain how she approaches ideological diversity and wokeness in Hollywood.

R.I.P. Dave Prowse, Darth Vader

 

It remains one of my most thrilling visits to the movies. I had seen clips for this upcoming science fiction film, Star Wars, on Creature Features (in the San Francisco Bay Area, KTVU). I wasn’t impressed. It was just a little scene inside a space ship and that ape creature’s make-up wasn’t nearly as impressive as what was done for Planet of the Apes.

But our family took a vacation to see relatives in Colorado and one of my cousins told me I had to see this film. He had already bought the soundtrack album, which I thought was a rather strange thing to do, not knowing I’d soon do the same. Soon, I was sitting by him in a movie theater in Colorado Springs. As that John Williams surged, words drifted over my head and soon huge spaceships. I had never experienced anything like it. And I love it.

Soon the camera took us inside that rebel ship. It was being invaded. A huge masked man, all in black including a grand black cape boarded the ship. “Scary” didn’t begin to describe him. In the film, he was an underling to greater forces, but it was difficult to imagine who Darth Vader could possibly answer to. Who could be even more dreadful than this Sith Lord? When Vader escaped the explosion of the Death Star, it was frustrating and exciting. Multiple viewings of the film led to discussions with friends, “Will there be a sequel? Darth Vader has to come back.”

In another podcast first, Jack brings on a politician: Mike Gallagher, House Representative for Wisconsin’s 8th District. Though he’s over 30, he’s still a Millennial, and offers some pop culture discussion, some political perspectives, and some advice for young people.

January 1977: George Lucas in Winter

 

Christmas 1976 rolled over into New Year’s Day and the Bicentennial year was over. A Democrat was about to take over the White House, always a happy event in Hollywood. As January began, the town went back to work, crafting 1977’s most hotly anticipated hits: A Bridge Too Far, with Sean Connery, Robert Redford, and Ryan O’Neal; a new James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me; The Deep, from the author of Jaws; and a pair of highly touted dramas celebrating the viewpoints of women, Julia and The Turning Point. Woody Allen and Burt Reynolds also had movies on the way.

Everybody was poised to get rich or richer during the upcoming summer gold rush. But 20th Century Fox started the new year with a costly hangover. They’d spent two years backing a dubious novelty, the American Graffiti guy’s quirky tribute to the forgotten world of Flash Gordon serials, rumored to be something about a gorilla who flies a spaceship and a mystical force called “The Power.” From the screening rooms, word was filtering out: Star Wars was likely to be a loser—dull, confusing and corny, despite a couple of great special effects shots. The rough version was a mess and an unbreakable release date, May 25, was breathing down their necks. Thank God, Lucas stepped up and took charge of fixing it.

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I just saw The Rise of Skywalker, and I loved it. The visual and aural effects were astounding, the settings beautiful, the story fun, most of the main characters engaging, and the adaptations of what audiences love about Star Wars present without being too derivative. This was brilliant high-tech, family-friendly fantasy storytelling. I did think […]

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Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead! I went into my late showing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with expectations low enough to make the bottomless sarlacc pit seem like an inflatable kiddie pool. Up to this point the chief effect of popular “sci-fi”’s encounter with director J.J. Abrams has been to leave the genre “scarred […]

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‘God Emperor of Dune’ Embodies the Greatness (and Strangeness) of the ‘Dune’ Universe

 

This December, the last Star Wars movie (probably) featuring any of the original series’ cast members will come out. Good riddance. Because in November 2020, the god-emperor of science fiction will reign supreme once more, as a new adaptation of Dune by Frank Herbert will come to theaters.

And I’ll be there, even though I’m a relatively new convert to Dune’s greatness. As a sci-fi- inhaling youngster, I was told that the two sci-fi books I had to read were Dune and Neuromancer by William Gibson. I bought them both at a Half-Price Books more than a decade ago…and did nothing with either of them until July 2016, when I finally made my way through Dune.* I liked what I read, and have been gradually working through the series since.

This is how I learned that Dune is not merely “Star Wars for adults,” as the new film’s director, Dennis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) accurately stated. Indeed, Star Wars stole much of its backbone from Dune, in ways that their both starting as sci-fi hero’s journey stories can adequately explain.

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With the exception of Marvel, my fandom as far as movie franchises is concerned is in a pretty sad state right now. The excellent Lord of the Rings Trilogy was followed by the bloated Hobbit films. The Harry Potter movies are now followed up with the mediocre and misguided Fantastic Beasts films, and author J.K. […]

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Last month I saw a blog post on a work network about a connection between JFK and Star Wars I didn’t know about. A new to me theory about JFK’s assassination was brought up in the comments. I thought about posting it here but didn’t want to run afoul of the Code of Conduct. A […]

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(Warning: will contain spoilers for both old and new Star Wars films) It’s been over eight months since The Last Jedi out. Already countless hours have been filmed by youtubers and countless words typed by bloggers both condemning and defending the creative decisions made in the new Star Wars films. I have spent an unjustifiable amount of […]

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Direction by Ron Howard Screenplay by Jonathan & Lawrence Kasdan “I have a really good feeling about this.” – Solo   Star Wars has a dirty little secret. It’s really quite obvious, once you think on it. The secret is this: In spite of being a galactic battle between the goodies (Rebels) and the baddies (Empire), […]

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