Star Wars: All Film & Television

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
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573
I was once a big Star Wars fan and love the original six as to me George Lucas is a very fascinating artist. He has all these little quirks and idiosyncrasies you don't usually see with blockbuster films, and the stuff he does well he does really well. I have completely drifted away from Star Wars over the last few years. Rogue One and The Last Jedi were fine enough but otherwise I've found them emblematic of that issue we'd been discussing [MOD NOTE: THIS POST PICKS UP FROM HERE], with both the Disney corporation in charge and fans interested principally in serving the brand reporting to them. I still mean to watch Andor, though. It's from Michael Clayton director Tony Gilroy and is connected to the Rogue One movie he did. By all accounts he cares about telling a story interesting to him first and foremost and so I'd like to check it out.
 
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Mordeen

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 18, 2022
133
204
I was once a big Star Wars fan and love the original six as to me George Lucas is a very fascinating artist. He has all these little quirks and idiosyncrasies you don't usually see with blockbuster films, and the stuff he does well he does really well. I have completely drifted away from Star Wars over the last few years. Rogue One and The Last Jedi were fine enough but otherwise I've found them emblematic of that issue we'd been discussing, with both the Disney corporation in charge and fans interested principally in serving the brand reporting to them. I still mean to watch Andor, though. It's from Michael Clayton director Tony Gilroy and is connected to the Rogue One movie he did. By all accounts he cares about telling a story interesting to him first and foremost and so I'd like to check it out.
I agree wholeheartedly. Most folks crapped on the prequels and that bothered me. The man had a vision. And it was a great vision. Revenge of the Stith was a masterpiece. Not on the level of The Empire Strikes Back, but close.

- Mordeen
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
390
573
I feel that way a bit about Attack of the Clones, though it's often interesting to me in piecemeal, but I really love the other two Prequels.
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
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I feel that way a bit about Attack of the Clones, though it's often interesting to me in piecemeal, but I really love the other two Prequels.

It took me two days to get through Phantom Menace. Just curious...what do you like about it?

I like parts of the third one but it's still such a poorly executed movie, even if it has some interesting ideas.
 

Mordeen

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 18, 2022
133
204
It's funny still to me that we're talking about George Lucas film flaws while we ignore David Lynch film flaws.

When I went to see Mulholland Drive or Lost Highway or the rest of his films, of which I've seen almost all at their premiers, I was thrilled. When I went to see Inland Empire I wanted my money and my time back.

I know it's not a popular opinion.

- Mordeen
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
390
573
It took me two days to get through Phantom Menace. Just curious...what do you like about it?

I like parts of the third one but it's still such a poorly executed movie, even if it has some interesting ideas.
I think it's a very interesting film thematically and I appreciate it's perceptive depiction of a society having already quietly slipped into dystopia. I think Lucas' action direction is very good. His action is always fluid, readable, and elegant rather than choppy, stitched together, and hard to follow.

I appreciate his attempt to capture a variable tone kind of like Twin Peaks by marrying a certain tone to each one of the film's central characters. I also appreciate that it's a bit of an ensemble piece, fun to see a film with like a deuteragonist and a tritagonist.

I also appreciate his willingness to turn Star Wars into a repository for his passions, his frames of reference having shifted from old Jidaigeki films to Wuxia, which is better to me than just Star Wars for Star Wars' sake. I also like his use of color composition and his tendency to cut across the color wheel.

A lot of this is stuff I like about Lucas in general, but yeah. There are of course some criticisms I agree with, most prominently Lucas' dialogue which has always been weird and wonky, but there's a lot to it I love.
 

AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
283
648
I tend to find the way people disparage the prequels to be thought terminating in a way. I don't think they're perfect films, but I don't think people engage often enough in what there is to like or dislike in a way that seems informed and generous. I think there's dialogue issues, scripting issues and that the overuse of green screens harmed the acting ... but given that the setting is so specific, it's also true that a certain degree of woodenness is actually just part of the intention. If people went into Kurosawa's films with the same ready-made criticism, they'd go in expecting stilted performances and not read the samurai stoicism as exactly that. Comparisons to such touchstones to say they're poorly done versions are well and good, but it often feels like the assumption was Lucas was aiming at something else entirely and failed. I've had people roll their eyes at me for bringing up certain design philosophy, such as certain incorporations of art deco aesthetic mirroring that the setting is in lead-up to fascism, as if I'm crazy and it's not pretty obvious, not to mention right there in production commentary. Many don't want to see them as anything but clunkers it's fun to hate, and so they refuse to engage beyond that level even when they can engage with better disparagement.

Space monarchy and an order of monks should be formal, not to mention the always present inspiration from Gerry Anderson's puppet serials. I hate scifi where it doesn't create a believable future environment and way of emoting because they're scared of potentially alienating modern viewers. I'd even say it should alienate on some level. It's the future (or in this case, cue opening scrawl), so it shouldn't look like current life.

Anyway, I like parts of 1 and 3, but 2 is genuinely terrible and it's because of interminable sequences like C3PO and R2D2 doing god knows what in an abstract CGI factory line for what seems like forever.
 
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Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
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If people went into Kurosawa's films with the same ready-made criticims they'd go in expecting stilted performances and not read the samurai stoicism as exactly that.

I just saw Seven Samurai for the first time and nobody was stoic in it, the characters were totally off the wall and wacky and funny and full of life and personality. I saw it with a crowd and it got tons of laughs and applause.

I don't think Lucas was aiming at something else and failed, but nor do I think he executed his vision well. Dialogue, scripting and FX issues is a generous way of putting it. I'd call these elements a total disaster. I'm as unbiased an opinion as you can get: I'm not a Star Wars fan at all. I don't care about these movies even a little bit. So my reaction has nothing to do with expectations, because I didn't have any (actually if I did have any, they were very low as there was such negativity surrounding them.) I just went to them as any other movie really and couldn't believe what I was seeing, and I mostly felt so bad for the actual fans. But if some people like the movies, that's good, I just always get the feeling it's very begrudgingly and with a lot of qualifiers. I did read a compelling essay once about episode 3 that made me appreciate parts of it.

I still remember the feeling of the theater during Episode 2. Just total and utter boredom. It was so tense and awkward.
 

AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
283
648
I just saw Seven Samurai for the first time and nobody was stoic in it, the characters were totally off the wall and wacky and funny and full of life and personality. I saw it with a crowd and it got tons of laughs and applause.
Kurosawa's films are all over the place in terms of style, because he had a bunch of different writers for his scripts. Seven Samurai and Yojimbo are outliers in what is otherwise a filmography with a deliberate sense of pace and stoicism. Hidden Fortress (the biggest inspiration on Star Wars) stars a stoic ensemble. I've personally seen people react to Rashomon with boredom, unfathomable as it is to me.

Incidentally, one of the films he did write himself, Dreams, is full-on arthouse fare and gave me nightmares.
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
390
573
I agree wholeheartedly that the claim they have a complete lack of intention or anything worth engaging with is largely memetic. Without question the films are victim to a plethora of thought terminating cliches, especially within nerd circles.

I don't usually see that kind of boring CinemaSins stuff among more serious cinephiles like here on Tulpa, whether they like the films or not. Like we can see from everyone else in the thread there's more to the criticism than that. I will say that while I absolutely adore them, I understand they can be entirely alienating depending on what a person wishes to see or considers good out of a movie.

I see film, at it's core, as a product of human creative labor. It takes a lot of work to make even a bad one, so the spirit, ideas, or vision of a piece ranks very highly for me. Films I find moving in that regard tend to be films I love, even if they have flaws. The idea of a society doomed to fascism but which in fact already died a long time ago, having given itself over to corruption and institutional thinking interests me.

I don't see the overall progression of the story of the films or the FX as a disaster. Attack of the Clones is a little bit but as a fan of stuff like Lexx and Babylon 5 I have a higher tolerance for that stuff than most. Plus, it's inevitable films which use new techniques or technology won't age too well so I take that understanding to viewings of the film as well. On top of that Attack is essentially a sci-fi noir which includes extended homages to John Ford and Ray Harryhausen. How often do you see that in theaters?

The dialogue is obviously awkward but I don't find that out of keeping either with the kind of sci-fi Star Wars is or Lucas' work on the whole. I do agree there's an element of intentionality to it as well. The Prequels are essentially the story of a slave freed only to be separated from his mother and shoved into an order whose teachings have long since gone mad by any standard outside indoctrinating children into it since birth. This order gives him no mechanism to work through his trauma to which they are as indifferent as they are to the existence of slave states on the outskirts of the Republic in the first place. Even then he's only reluctantly accepted because the putatively noble order needs a superweapon to use against their enemy. I think it makes sense such a person would not be a good communicator, that the entire Jedi order would themselves have communication issues at that point, having so embraced ceremony for it's own sake.
 

Jordan Cole

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Sep 22, 2022
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The dialogue is obviously awkward but I don't find that out of keeping either with the kind of sci-fi Star Wars is or Lucas' work on the whole. I do agree there's an element of intentionality to it as well. The Prequels are essentially the story of a slave freed only to be separated from his mother and shoved into an order whose teachings have long since gone mad by any standard outside indoctrinating children into it since birth. This order gives him no mechanism to work through his trauma to which they are as indifferent as they are to the existence of slave states on the outskirts of the Republic in the first place. Even then he's only reluctantly accepted because the putatively noble order needs a superweapon to use against their enemy. I think it makes sense such a person would not be a good communicator, that the entire Jedi order would themselves have communication issues at that point, having so embraced ceremony for it's own sake.

This is my problem with the prequels. The way supporters of those films describe the story in the prequels sounds so much more interesting, complex and engaging than how the actual movies are.

Would love to see THAT movie.
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
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573
I would say the Prequels are that movie! It just comes down how well you think Lucas pulled off what he was going for.

One problem I have with some of the Prequel defenders is they talk with this very rude tone, like "the Prequels are secretly brilliant and if you don't think so you're a dipshit moron." I don't like that. I mean, talking about movies is supposed to be fun, right? And besides, there are many things about them I can 100% see why people would dislike. At most I'd urge others to rewatch them with what I see in them in mind (as well as some great critics like Jane Brown at Style is Substance), just to find if they start to see it as well, irrespective of whether it makes the movies "secretly brilliant" or even work for them at the end of the day.
 

Jordan Cole

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Sep 22, 2022
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My friend who has a movie blog I love did a looong article about Revenge of the Sith, but it's been deleted. But he did leave up this summary review, which I think some might enjoy:


With an element of gross misstep and a boggling triumph in every scene, this age's designated popcult touchstone epic marches and meanders to its in/evitable conclusion, and Star Wars ends. The end is the beginning is the end, as unspooling contradictions writhe beneath the surface of George Lucas' primal and personal glossy space opera. A full-frontal merchandising assault is mounted on the same stage as a politicized Greek tragedy about how genocidal dictators are born. Bleeding-edge tech is harnessed to create photorealistic Amazing Stories covers. Every major beat of the story is etched in marble, but destiny's grim march is constantly interrupted by noodling asides. The unreined imaginations of a hundred creature, costume, environment and spaceship designers are funneled through a director with no filter for kitsch, cliché, or dorkiness, and a stadium full of lightsabers cannot slice through the resultant clutter. The downward-sloping arc of doomed protagonist Anakin Skywalker is designed to take him from slave boy to slave cyborg, and focused on the moment when he will murder his pregnant wife, but when that defining moment arrives the cause of death is something like lack of will to live. The biochemical mechanics of the Force are explained, but in such a way as to explain nothing. Moldering Yellow Peril caricature villains are merged with amphibians in papal hats and named after Republican politicians.

The nominally straightforward plot is confused, baffled, and rerouted through twisting blind-corner mountain roads. Nothing so agonizingly prevized on every level from galactic to midi-chlorial has ever been so sloppy and strange.

We have here a series of children's films with images of decapitated and dismembered fathers as a major visual motif. There is something going on in the Star Wars prequels at direct odds with certain conventional wisdom that they are vapid, soulless, lazy, cynical cash-grabs: Bad in some conventional, grinding, anonymous fashion. They are many things, but normal they are not. They are profoundly weird and more than a little bonkers.

This shadowed half is intended to balance the bright-hearted Episodes IV-VI. Within the six-movement film cycle, the Episode I-III trilogy climaxes and resolves with a fall from grace, leaves the universe charred and smoldering and thus primed for new hope. In an infamous, much scoffed-about preproduction documentary clip, Lucas tells his team that the films are "like poetry." A peculiarly formal poetry they are, carefully metered, rhymed and assonated, highly allusive and steeped in mystic esoterica. E.g., General Senator Binks may not be funny, but his real role in the mythos is of the Holy Fool, and his place in the poetics is to rhyme with the sidekick life-debt of Chewbacca. Where the story does not work, the schematic is rich. Trash, perhaps, but singular, epic trash.

Revenge of the Sith specifically finds its director in purposeful, less spastic form, confident in the forward thrust of the film and not just isolated sequences. A sleek black helmet is lowered over the burnt skull of a little boy who once insisted that he is a person and his name is Anakin, and the weight of six films bears down and presses the mask to his face.

Just found another bit in the comments section on the blog:

SITH: Yeah, that remark about Jar Jar is a little confusing and I might've done better to use an example specific to SITH. It was just intended as an offhanded example of an element of these films that was, in the understatement of the century, not well received but makes sense in the rhyme scheme. So basically, in larger STAR WARS lore, Chewbacca hangs out with Han Solo because the Wookiee owes a life-debt to the Corellian (I actually forgot that this isn't mentioned in the movies... I suspect that Lucas forgot, too). Immediately upon introduction, Jar Jar is bound to Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon by another life-debt. For most of us, Jar Jar is no Chewie, but his comic relief-cum-noble warrior task in the story is basically the same, and they owe life-debts to humans. That's all.

The Anakin and Padmé relationship remains fascinatingly botched, though the bulk of the problem is of dead-eyed actors enacting Doomed Love Story clichés that are forced haphazardly into the adventure story architecture. Any screenwriting-by-template exercise would indicate LOVE STORY BEAT GOES HERE, and the heroes would fall in "love" because of the constant proximity, and near-death adrenaline rush as they save each other from the A-Story plot perils. That'd be the normal thing, as filed under Han and Leia, Indy and Willie, Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll. But STAR WARS has peculiar tortured problems all its own. The plot thread isn't there because audiences like love stories, but because the plot is predetermined: to set up the whole series, Anakin and Padmé have to make twin babies. So I'm not saying anything new here, but their relationship is written as if it is a cog necessary for the machine to work, not a sweeping romantic tragedy around which the series is built.

The approach is screwed to start with, and the spots Lucas chooses to wedge in the handful of scenes that constitute this galaxy-quaking affair stick out at uncomfortable angles. E.g. — finding no organic way to keep the couple together, the plot forces a newbie with no emotional control and well-known boner for his charge to bodyguard the refugee politician, despite the availability of an entire temple full of able-bodied Jedi. Et cetera. Padmé commits to Anakin AFTER she knows he has fascist leanings and has committed a one-man My Lai massacre. Et cetera. The texture of the whole relationship is creepy, soaked in unacknowledged Mother Issues. And that element I actually like a lot, but it is extremely uncomfortable and I am not sure whether it is by design. Plus that much-mocked dialogue sails well beyond "corny" or "clunky" and becomes straight up gibberish. I mean I like you because you're not like sand, which I hate. Exclamation point, question mark. That's, like, wild, man.
 
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MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
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Yeah, her becoming his surrogate mother as much as his partner isn't an accident, I don't think. The Jedi love to trade on familiarity and feel they're doing people a favor in these films, maybe as respite from their general austerity, like why a first-time teacher in Obi-Wan is given the tough case of Anakin. It's ironic Qui-Gon is the one who bites it.

It interests me how, as humans once kept as slave Anakin and Shmi find themselves both victim and people caught up in generations of cyclical violence between the original inhabitants of the planet and those who came later. Kinda similar to how Anakin can find himself both bonded to the Jedi and executor for the order. Anakin sneaks in to the Tusken camp, not looking for trouble, but gets violent when he sees they brutalized and killed his mother. Some may be understanding here, especially Padme who feels validated in having someone to nurture and already demonstrated a tendency toward sectarian/ethnic blindness on her home planet, and that comfort proves meaningful for Anakin in that moment of failure. The teaching of the Jedi essentially failed to provide Anakin a coping mechanism for his mother's death, let alone for his natural anger at seeing her killed right in front of him. This is like an extension of how the Jedi themselves failed to take care of any of these problems in the first place, the power of the Force defeated by the political power of Jabba the Hutt.

I'm very interested in the concept of "Ma," or the specific Japanese interpretation of the idea of negative space. The idea that what isn't said or shown is as important as what is. It's fun for me to watch movies from that perspective, of finding important things left unsaid or unseen which inform the work. This might be in part why these movies work so well for me because I always find something interesting subtextually when I think about them.
 
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Mordeen

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 18, 2022
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Lest we forget that the dialogue and acting in the Classic Trilogy were often clunky and forced. Yet those movies are considered some of the best films ever made.

I think age jades us through our memories. I went to see all the prequels with the intent of sseing them through the eyes of a child. They weren't perfect, but I loved them, and I still do a marathon with my son every year.

The sequels, however, are garbage. Wholesale fetid crap. They didn't even try. Because without Lucas, Star Wars has no soul.

- Mordeen
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
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Lest we forget that the dialogue and acting in the Classic Trilogy were often clunky and forced. Yet those movies are considered some of the best films ever made.

The dialogue in the original movies is fun. It has humor, a sense of adventure, a bit of an edge, attitude, personality, a lot of life and energy. You could tell who each character is from the way they talk and you can tell how they feel about things. It's full of personalities clashing against each other, and lots of iconic, quotable lines. Not like the prequels at all.

I watched the originals for the first time not too far away from when I saw the prequels. No nostalgia or anything in my assessment. I basically saw everything within the same few years.
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
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573
I think it's often both. I think it's why so much dialogue from all six lives on as jokes, etc. Harrison Ford told George Lucas way back in the 70s "George, you can write this shit, but I can't say it" but I'm glad he did.
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
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I think it's often both. I think it's why so much dialogue from all six lives on as jokes, etc. Harrison Ford told George Lucas way back in the 70s "George, you can write this shit, but I can't say it" but I'm glad he did.

I have a feeling, totally with no proof, that what Ford was probably talking about was the sci-fi goofy stuff, not the kind of terrible, wooden, awkward dialogue found in the prequels. The dialogue in the original trilogy is zippy, funny, and human, full of personality and emotion. I don't think the dialogue style in both sets of movies are really comparable.
 
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