It may seem a contradiction

It may seem a contradiction. I hate contradictions, but they can be useful for telling stories—as long, I suppose, it winds up one way or another, and if not, face a flat sort of ending. The contradiction I am referring to is when I posted something like “why read reviews” and then publish a review blog a few days later. I must come down one way or another or just let it linger in limbo. Why not let it linger?  Except what is one saying? Does it matter? The answer must be this: Welcome to my new review blog, Pete’s Movie Round-Up . I cover several bases be that story, ‘dodgy’ content,  theme, and artistry all fairly objectively, and also cover the human story, coming down one way or another. I may not like some ‘dodgy’ content. I endeavor to be fair, though, as much as possible , depending on how I feel about what I am watching.

 

 

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A success

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi gets straight to the story from the first line of the three-paragraph scroll which opens the episode. The line shows that the story has moved on in leaps and bounds from the last episode, The Force Awakens.

It’s such a leap that I wondered how what happened got time to happen. The initial meeting of Rey and Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens is continued in The Last Jedi, but lots of significant things seems to have gotten on in the galaxy during it. It was an awfully long meeting I suppose.

Liberties are taken on continuity here and there, but we are set up in the best way possible. It’s a riveting backstory, an exciting episode, a tight story with parallel plot lines that verge, and a good sense of theme and subtleties.

Action-packed for the first ten minutes as The First Order makes a move on the Resistance base. The Resistance are the good guys in this. The First Order the behemoths.

The story goes in-between the Resistance evading the First Order, Rey and Luke on an island, and a couple of renegades on a mission to deactivate a First Order tracker that should allow the Resistance to escape an ambush.

A back story of Luke and Kylo Ren, the film’s version of Darth Vader, and quite an interesting delivered series of revelations on the island punctuate the middle with a mythical air. Not quite as revelatory as we’d expect though, it keeps in line with Star Wars lore quite comfortably when it comes down to it.

What keeps this exciting is tight storytelling and direction and is always well paced. We the viewers anticipate what’s next. There are surprises and disappoints, not disappointments in a lack of quality, but in the story detail. Dare I say.

It’s not as uplifting—but this is not the Return of the Jedi episode. Thematically I couldn’t—almost—fault it.

Luke and Leia are prominent, especially Luke, with the new characters feeling more developed. I think Mark Hamill delivers the best performance as a grumpy and world-weary Luke Skywalker.

Old characters Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C3-PO don’t come to the fore. BB-8 doesn’t seem to be his chirpy self, though he tries. A lot is going on in this episode that including every quirk and trait is beyond it, there are more important things to show, and it works.

As The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi is authentic in its own right, adding to the originals and bettering the prequels. A success.

[First published at Pete’s Movie Roundup]

Why even watch it?

A question, who asked it I can’t remember, but is it okay to watch and maybe like The Last King of Scotland or something like that but not review or mention it in public because you don’t want to promote it? Why watch it and like it, said the kid, if you can’t be free about it. The adult replied, but was interrupted by the kid. Why even watch it said the kid. You did watch it didn’t you? Why? The adult said I may not have liked it. So why not tell the world about it, said the kid? The kid was really looking for transparency, and wouldn’t have a clue about the matter and hoped someone did. A genuine question, a genuine seeker of truth.

Why read reviews?

Hypothetically speaking, some parting words from a film reviewer who aims to stop the movie habit except for a very few movies. Don’t know who this is, but it sounds good to me:

Reading reviews of movies are not really necessary if you’re looking for a film to see. All it requires is a little research. Go to imdb.com. Watch the trailer first. Does the trailer resonate? Does the trailer give you warning signs that it might not be as good as it wants to be? Read the premise. Does the premise sound all right? Check the parents guide. Is there anything that may shock you in it? We may not need film reviews at all if we just use the information at our disposal first. Judge for yourself.

 

Trailer looks promising

This week Darkest Hour is on release in North America–it is about British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s decision to make a deal with Hitler or fight the Nazis in Western Europe, as the brilliant trailer reveals. Gary Oldman as Churchill is riveting and another good looking production from director Joe Wright. A must-see. View trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pNOCzV5jG0

A climate for conflict

A Passage to India (1984) is a fine film, a grand and lavish epic, handsomely mounted, based on the E.M. Forster novel, published in 1924 during the days of colonial England. It’s a valuable story. The values of East and West meet romantically, but also comes with a hefty dose of realism where East and West clash. British daughter-in-law and mother-in-law travel to India to with be with her fiancé and explore this exotic country. But she is caught up in a scandal, claiming an Indian doctor, who was her escort on a day trip, violated her. Controversy erupts and the locals stand by the doctor, saying he is innocent and the British are unjust. The larger meaning is the relationship between England and colonial India. The human meaning is prejudice and fear of the unknown. A Passage to India is beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted, and larger than life-like characters engage vividly and vitally. It is especially recommended for thoughtful audiences and fine film aficionados. Rating: 10/10

Slice of life cuts to the heart

Places in the Heart (1984) unwraps as a slice of life in a community of Texas in the 1930’s, it’s leisurely paced as Edna Spaulding responds to her husband’s accidental death, making her a widow, and the community also responds. She now must avoid foreclosure on her house with the help of unlikely allies. Beautifully rendered storytelling, cinematography and cast of characters. Forgiveness and facing the world with strength and resolve is in this slice of life movie. Rating: 9/10

Making things right

The Killing Fields (1984) is, despite the title, real heart and soul, a wonderful sense of humanity in desperate places, based on a true story. A Cambodian interpreter is working with a New York Times journalist covering the conflict in Cambodia circa the 1970’s. Dith Pran, the interpreter, stays in Cambodia, as Sydney, the journalist, leaves the country. The Pol Pot regime takes over and Pran is imprisoned, but he attempts to escape the prison camp and flee to safety. Sydney is dealing with a guilty conscience over leaving Pran behind and tries to find him. The Killing Fields is done with a sense of horror at the atrocities of war and a thread of hope and humanity despite the horrors and how things can be made right. It is also a vivid recreation of that period.
Rating: 10/10

Two wholesome movies

Wonder and The Star are at theatres this weekend. The trailer for Wonder shows me a winning attitude despite the obstacles of facial disfigurement in childhood. In fact, the boy August Pullman is a winner in this trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob7fPOzbmzE

Animation The Star is an animal focussed take on the nativity Christmas story about the birth of Jesus. The trailer is cute (unlike the Justice League trailer which has sensational visuals and a tad theology that may be debatable). The Star trailer will probably whet appetites for more among family friendly viewers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NjvYZtwk00