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The Hero With a Thousand Options: The Anti-Mythology of the Star Wars Sequels

The original Star Wars trilogy stands as one of the greatest cinematic trilogies ever made. It spawned a franchise that consists of additional movies, novels, comic books, video games, and even radio dramas. The genius of the Star Wars franchise is in how it created something that feels entirely original, but is deeply indebted to millenia of stories that came before it. Star Wars contains influences from not only space adventure serials and Westerns, but also Arthurian tales, Greek Myth, and even religion.

That being said, the Star Wars movies have not always lived up to their original standard. For years, George Lucas’s prequel films detailing the transformation of Jedi Anakin Skywalker into the evil Darth Vader were reviled as some of the worst films ever made. When Disney announced its acquisition of the franchise and subsequent plans to make new movies in 2012, fans went wild. It couldn’t possibly get any worse than the prequels.

Or could it…?

Midnight Diner: Where Everybody Knows Your Ramen

Which brings me to the other night, a frustrating roam through Netflix trying to find something worth watching. An evening laziness that sought something distracting but not annoying. A night of tourist entertainment. Even with that low bar I couldn’t find anything. I tolerated a few shows or movies and had to switch them off. Reluctantly I clicked on “Midnight Diner,” a Japanese show now streaming on Netflix. I wasn’t looking for subtitles or something foreign, but I was out of options. And I was delighted from the beginning.

“The Congress” Vs. “Ready Player One”

Watching “Ready, Player One”, I was struck by the similarities to “The Congress”. Their initial similarities include a plea to appreciate reality and connect to each other.  Furthermore, each has an underground fighting the corporate controlled artificial reality that most are immersed in.

Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood-Revisionism Is Much Better than Quentin Tarantino’s

The Netflix miniseries Hollywood offers more depth than the overrated “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.”

If you had to ask most cinephiles the question, “Who would do better telling a story set in classic Hollywood: Glee-creator Ryan Murphy or Pulp Fiction auteur Quentin Tarantino?” then the answer would seemingly be obvious.

Book Review: Avengers Infinity Saga and Philosophy

Avengers Infinity Saga and Philosophy is a collection of philosophy essays seeking to use Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame to present various philosophical ideas. For example, the multiverse theory means that those who use the likely consequences of their actions to determine the right thing do to are paralyzed, while those with a clear moral structure can still act decisively. There are more than thirty essays in Avengers Infinity Saga and Philosophy, so there’s literally something for everyone. (Including those who agree with Thanos’ doomer worldview or literally see him as the hero.)

Django Unchained ’s Bleak Racial Vision

In an interview years before he made Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino said, “[I want] to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like Spaghetti Westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to.”

Tarantino called this new genre the “Southern,” as opposed to the “Western.” And just as the Spaghetti Westerns from the Sixties (Westerns made by Italian directors) were often quite violent (at least, for the time) to portray the rugged realities of the Old West, Tarantino could bring his signature style of violence to this new genre in a way that displayed the awful exploitation and racial hierarchy that was the nexus of the Antebellum South.

This is Part 2 in an ongoing series analyzing Quentin Tarantino’s filmography. For Part 1 on Inglourious Basterds click here.

Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Fantasies

I like Quentin Tarantino. His films, often laced with profanity and brutal violence, have witty dialogue, interesting characters, and can make mundane events such as dinner at a diner endlessly entertaining. It was for this reason that I decided to watch Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino’s gory revenge thriller about a fictional group of Jews that succeed in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. 

Why I Choose Star Wars Over “Real” Life

Recently I had to choose which movie I was going to see. There was a variety of choices—war, a sex scandal, a generic action movie. Let me tell you what I seek from art: an experience of the ideal, a feeling of spiritual replenishment through the sight of human greatness. Now you know why I chose Star Wars. I will elaborate, quickly mentioning that, throughout this article, I’m drawing heavily on the aesthetic philosophy of Ayn Rand.

I do not seek out characters I can “relate to”, but I do seek out characters I understand, with the heroes’ greatness or the evil they vanquish on full, naked display. I do not seek out the everyday world, I see that every day. What I seek is Romanticism.

Do not tell me that the art of something like Star Wars is silly because “real life isn’t like that”. What Star Warsrepresents is real life, in essence. Star Wars represents the essential differences between good and evil, and does it with great consistency through each aspect of the film: in terms of the characters’ goals and actions, in terms of the characters’ looks, in terms of the characters’ dialogue, in terms of the music. Notice the colours of the villains: black suits and masks, fiery red lightsabers, the sterile uniformity of the stormtroopers or the lifeless grey of the Starkiller base. Notice the colours of the heroes: beautiful people wearing brighter and varicoloured clothing, blue lightsabers, their base amidst a lush forest. This is not a blind resort to a cliché; it is a subconscious pull towards one of the most important functions of art: to present the essentials of existence through a recreation of reality.

The Confused Reparations Politics of Frozen 2

On New Years’ Eve, I went with some friends to see Frozen 2. I liked the first Frozen well enough. I thought the story was creative and engaging, though I thought the music was completely overrated (why they thought a song like “For the First Time in Forever” was fit for production is completely beyond me). Frozen 2 was also entertaining, and often very funny, though I think the songs this time were even more bland and forgettable than the last movie. 

But what really made this movie stand out from its predecessor was the really bizarre political angle that the story attempted to take.

Marvel and Disney Vs. Martin Scorsese: How the Modern Studio System Is Impoverishing Cinema

This ongoing superhero movie debate isn’t about superhero movies. 

Before I continue, let me say I’m a fan of Marvel films. I think they’re fun to watch, moving, and well-made. I also think it’s entirely reasonable for us to have different categories of film. It would be off-base, for instance, for us to compare Endgame with Citizen Kane. They’re two entirely different styles of film, two entirely different cultural products. (I borrowed this metric from the late film critic Roger Ebert.) 

I don’t think this debate will die down anytime soon. I don’t think it should.

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