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Thread: Silver Screen, the General Movie Discussion

  1. #91
    From the LA Times ___

    The original 'Ghost in the Shell' was a watershed film in animation history

    Charles Solomon

    Mamoru Oshii's 1995 Japanese sci-fi epic "Ghost in the Shell" ranks as a watershed film in animation history.

    A moody, provocative adventure set in a dystopic future, "Ghost" defined cyberpunk, spawned a string of sequels and TV series, and influenced films on both sides of the Pacific. Last year, protests erupted when Paramount announced a live-action remake starring Scarlett Johansson as the crime-fighting cyborg, Maj. Motoko Kusanagi. That film opens Friday.

    An agent for Public Security Section 9 who suggests a cross between a Playboy centerfold and the Terminator, Maj. Kusanagi battles the hacker known only as "The Puppet Master." But her real quest is of self-discovery: Does her "Ghost," her essential being, reside in the organic brain within her largely prosthetic body or is it part of the Web? Which is more real: the physical world or the electronic one?

    Roland Kelts, the author of "Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.," said the original "Ghost" "introduced American audiences to the philosophical risk-taking and literary sophistication of Japanese animation. The film is about defending against malicious hackers, and the fluidity of gender identities ? making it almost unbearably prescient two decades later."

    "Ghost" began as a manga - a Japanese graphic novel - by Masamune Shirow that was popular among animators.

    "I figured it would eventually be animated, and that I would likely end up directing the animated adaptation," Oshii said in a recent interview conducted via email. "I tried to make Shirow?s abstruse work as easy to understand as possible, but in spite of my efforts, it seems to have a reputation as a difficult film. It wasn?t very well received when it first hit theaters in Japan, so I was taken aback by its reception in the United States. Its ongoing popularity shocks me, frankly: I never thought of it as something audiences would keep watching for such a long time."

    He speculated on the reasons for that success: "Real and unreal worlds are a dramatic theme as old as time: Humans are by nature unable to live in anything but a virtual world, and it will never be possible to prove that one's own reality is the same as another person's."

    Many recent Japanese animated features deal with shifting identities and uncertain realities. But Oshii seemed skeptical about his work affecting other filmmakers. "Perhaps the influence is more about directorial aspects than about the ideas ['Ghost'] explores," he said. "People have told me about the similarities between my film and 'The Matrix' with annoying frequency, but that series is based on the Wachowskis' own worldview."

    "Ultimately, all movies begin as copies of others, and it's impossible to avoid consciously or unconsciously copying things from other works," he added. "Any film set in a near-future world is influenced to some degree by 'Blade Runner,' but I did my best to make ['Ghost'] different from it. In terms of the film's style, I drew more from 'hard-boiled' Hollywood movies."

    The casting of Johansson, a white actress, as a quintessentially Japanese character created a storm in social media about "whitewashing." (The name Kusanagi is taken from the sacred sword that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan.) An online petition calling on the studio to "reconsider casting Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and select actors who are truer to the cast of the original film" garnered over 100,000 signatures.

    That controversy did not extend to Japan. "Asian Americans and anime fans outside of Japan yelped in anger and disbelief when Johansson was announced as the lead," Kelts said. "But in Japan, the casting choice is largely perceived as shrewd: She's a marquee name who may sell tickets; a bit funny, since she's about as Japanese as a Big Mac."

    Oshii said he's eager to see Johannson's interpretation of the character: "I'm a fan of hers, so I'm quite looking forward to seeing what kind of woman her Major will be. I think it's the best possible casting."
    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 03-29-2017 at 10:17 AM.

  2. #92
    From the LA Times ___

    Disney film executive delivers sobering message on changing cinema business

    Ryan Faughnder

    Hollywood's annual gathering of movie studios and theater owners in Las Vegas, known as CinemaCon, normally opens with a cheerleading speech for the movie business dominated by talk of box office records and global growth.

    But the event's opening remarks by Disney's film distribution head, Dave Hollis, took a slightly more sober look at the troubling trends affecting the film business, including long-term pressure on attendance because of digital media.

    In his remarks to cinema owners at Caesar's Palace, Hollis acknowledged stagnation in the actual number of tickets sold (1.32 billion last year, compared with 1.4 billion a decade ago). Moreover, he said, per capita attendance, the average number of times each person bought a movie ticket, is on the decline. Last year, per capita attendance fell by 1%.

    Those trends undercut some of the fanfare surrounding last year's record $11.4 billion in box office revenue in the U.S. and Canada. Box office is expected to remain relatively flat in the next several years, reaching $11.5 billion by 2020, Hollis said, citing analysts.

    Hollis, like many analysts, blamed the increasing amount of new digital entertainment options sucking up more of people's time. Movie attendance among young adults ages 18-39 is down significantly from five years ago, he noted.

    "It does feel like the changing lives of our consumers are having some impact," Hollis said. "The great news, obviously, is box office is up, but our goal has always been to stay ahead and look for new opportunities to drive it forward and keep it as healthy as it can be."

    Hollis gave some jaw-dropping numbers on the proliferation of social media use. The number of tweets sent per minute has grown from 98,000 per minute in 2011 to 430,000 last year, he told the crowd, joking, "albeit, most of it [coming] from our president," referring to President Trump's penchant for early-morning Twitter use.

    "This is disruption personified," Hollis said.

    But Hollis said theater companies' efforts to court millennials with improved theater amenities, coupled with studios' focus on must-see blockbuster movies, is working. Per capita attendance among 18- to 24-year-olds increased for the first time in five years in 2016, up 10% to an average 6.5 tickets sold.

    The picture is bleaker, however, among teenagers - the hoped-for next generation of moviegoers - whose attendance fell 16% last year to 6.1 on average, according to a recent report by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

    Despite all the talk of digital disruption, Hollis was conspicuously silent on another hot-button issue. The major studios - with the exception of Disney - are putting pressure on cinema owners to allow earlier releases of movies as video on demand as the film companies' home entertainment profits deteriorate. Disney, the industry leader, has resisted the move because its movie business is built around the biggest superhero films, computer-animated pictures and "Star Wars" movies that people still want to see on the big screen.

    Having Hollis on the CinemaCon bill also was unusual. Usually Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, opens the ceremonies and champions the industry?s global growth.

    Yet Dodd, for the first time in recent memory, skipped the confab for a prior family commitment, a spokesman for the MPAA said.
    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 03-29-2017 at 10:28 AM.

  3. #93
    The 25 Best Movies Based on True Crimes

    You just can't make this stuff up

    By PAUL SCHRODT | Nov 14, 2017

    Crime movies have been popular as long as movies have been around, and the world keeps providing ever stranger real-life material for them to use. It'd be hard to invent the terrifying stories behind classics like Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, or more scuzzy works like the vacation-from-hell horror movie Wolf Creek—and they didn't. In recent years, the "based on a true story" conceit has become a tired Hollywood trope, but only because these movies so masterfully blended nonfiction with the wild imaginative possibilities of the big screen. Here are the best movie based on true crimes, ranked.

    American Hustle
    Despite what the trailer and posters might make you think, American Hustle is about more than Amy Adams' cleavage. The movie stylishly riffs on the FBI's 1970s ABSCAM sting operation, and is filled with as many twists and double-crossings as era-appropriate pop songs and swishy dance moves.

    Catch Me If You Can
    It's not Steven Spielberg's best, but Catch Me If You Can ranks among the director’s more entertaining movies. It tracks Frank Abagnale's rise as a wunderkind conman. Leonardo DiCaprio has never been more enjoyably charming and slimy.

    Zodiac wasn't necessarily the movie horror fans - or fans of David Fincher's previous Seven - expected. Instead, it's a process movie about the people who tried to unmask California's Zodiac Killer. Studiously researched and impeccably shot, Zodiac turns into something larger and more foreboding than a spate of murders.

    Memories of Murder
    Before South Korean director Bong Joon-ho made international thrillers like Snowpiercer and Okja, he crafted this gem of a murder mystery, based on Korea's first serial murders. He brings his signature pitch-black humor to the story of two detectives in over their heads trying to solve the puzzling killings.

    The Wolf of Wall Street
    The best and boldest thing about The Wolf of Wall Street, possibly Scorsese's most indulgent movie, is how fun it makes its crimes look. Scorsese and writer Terence Winter condense fraudulent stockbroker Jordan Belfort's memoir down to basically the most sensational parts, putting you in the headspace of a man who sees other people's money as his own playpen.

    Scorsese gets three movies on this list, and deserves all of them. Casino is an underrated '90s gangster effort living in Goodfellas' shadow. The cast—Robert De Niro as a low-level mobster making his way up the casino racket (based on Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal) and Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci as the wife and friend who threaten to tear it down—is entirely perfect.

    Summer of Sam
    An uncharacteristic movie for Spike Lee, Summer of Sam depicts the effect of the notorious murders of "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz on young men living in The Bronx in 1977. Lee seamlessly weaves the stories together, and John Leguizamo proves he's a real-deal actor.

    The twisted, trashy story of South Florida high schoolers who murdered a sadistic friend who had abused them, Bully is a hard one to stomach, but director Larry Clark (Kids) gives the script the no-bullshit delivery it deserves, and Brad Renfro's performance is quietly haunting.

    Dog Day Afternoon
    The movie inspired by a Brooklyn robbery solidified Al Pacino's legend, in all its spittle-filled, shouting glory.

    The French Connection
    The fictionalized account of New York City detectives who pursue a French drug smuggler is essentially one long, glorious chase scene. But Gene Hackman's performance and the sobering ending give it moral weight.

    All the President's Men
    Bless them, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman made journalism sexy by embodying Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they followed trails that led them them to connect a Watergate burglary to President Nixon.

    Wolf Creek
    One of the great horror movies of the 21st century, Wolf Creek is also the main reason I'm scared to visit Australia. Fictionalizing two different Aussie backpack murderers, it follows three sexy tourists venturing into the Outback who meet a stranger and...well, you know the rest. What separates Wolf Creek from other slashers is its unflinching directness; not since Michael Myers has there been a depiction of a man made of such pure evil.

    While the assassination of John F. Kennedy remains officially solved, Oliver Stone's historical drama is such a persuasive conspiracy thriller that it will leave you convinced that something else was at work.

    Anatomy of a Murder
    Jimmy Stewart is as flawless as he ever was wavering between comic and dramatic in the Otto Preminger-directed courtroom drama, based on a novel written by a defense attorney and inspired by one of his cases. Few movies seem to grasp the moral ambiguity of the legal system while also being both realistic and tense.

    Spotlight could've been really boring. Not because the story itself—about the conspiracy to cover up child sex abuse by the Catholic Church in Boston—is boring. But the Best Picture-winner chooses to focus on the perspective of the journalists who unearthed that scandal by spending a lot of time at their desks calling people up. Remarkably, director Tom McCarthy's movie manages to improve on All the President's Men by not even attempting to sensationalise what these journalists do. It unravels in straightforward, stoic conversations that gradually build into almost unbearable catharsis.

    The Untouchables
    One of director Brian De Palma's best movies is also one of his most conventional: Kevin Costner plays federal agent Eliot Ness, who is trying to nab Al Capone (Robert De Niro). The staircase sequence, inspired by the silent movie Battleship Potemkin, is a mini-masterpiece of suspense.

    F for Fake
    Orson Welles's last, great movie is ostensibly a documentary about an art forger, but it quickly fractures into something else. Welles intrudes on his own narrative to raise questions about the nature of authenticity. It's his own amusing, exceptionally clever take on postmodernism.

    In the Realm of the Senses
    If you watched In the Realm of the Senses without background knowledge, you might wonder what sick nutjob wrote it. But it's based on a Japanese woman who became national myth—a Geisha in the 1930s who strangled her boss/lover in the heat of passion and then, uh, took a souvenir from his body. In the Realm of the Senses artfully abstracts that tale, unfolding in long, largely silent, and sexually explicit takes.

    Terrence Malick's stunning 1973 feature debut gives poetic shape to its inspiration, based on spree killer Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend. Sissy Spacek does justice to the dreamy, elliptical voiceover dialogue covering their courtship and crimes.

    Bonnie and Clyde
    Bonnie and Clyde is such a singular, monumental movie in American history that it's as famous as the couple it's about. Which is only right: Never before had a major movie in the United States addressed criminal and sexual themes so openly and without any heavy-handed judgment. The stark, bloody climax still feels revolutionary.

    Steven Spielberg clearly had a lot invested in Munich, his nearly three-hour telling of Israeli spies' revenge against Palestinian terrorists who murdered the country's Olympic athletes in 1972. It was sadly overlooked at the box office, but Spielberg not only brings his mastery of visuals and suspense to his political thriller, but also humanity and scope that sadly many such movies (looking at you, Argo) lack.

    The serial-killer genre owes all its debts to German director Fritz Lang's astounding 1931 movie, which draws on murders in the country around the time and a real Berlin criminal investigator. Portraying an underworld of criminals who are out to catch one of their own in murky black-and-white photography, it's as scary and thrilling as anything released since.

    A Man Escaped
    The classic by director Robert Bresson is about a criminal you can root for, since he's escaping a prison in Nazi-occupied France (it's based on the memoirs of Andr? Devigny). As in Bresson's other landmark works, it's awe-inspiring to watch how controlled the movie is while also seeming like it could be a documentary.

    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    Tobe Hooper's '70s grindhouse classic is loosely—very loosely—based on the crimes of Ed Gein. No, Leatherface never existed, which is almost too bad, because he would have made a hell of an America's Most Wanted episode. But Texas Chainsaw is on here because it gets its power from its faked, lo-fi sense of authenticity. It plays out like the most disturbing home video of all time, and was even promoted more or less as such, making a franchise out of the fear that there is always a monster lurking just around the corner of a country backroad.

    If it's not Martin Scorsese's best movie (and it might well be), then Goodfellas is at least the culmination of what he'd been working toward for years: a time-jumping, ego- and testosterone-filled gangster epic portraying Henry Hill's (Ray Liotta) life in the mafia. It's a movie no one else could have made, and one every other gangster flick will be compared to in the future.

  4. #94
    This Generation Will Never Understand the Impact of FPJ

    Today's generation of movie brats will be watching FPJ through the lenses of irony.

    By LOURD DE VEYRA | Jun 15, 2017

    This generation will never experience moviehouses where you can smoke, eat absolutely anything (i.e. manggang hilaw with bagoong), pay for one ticket and stay inside the entire day, or enter at any point in the screening thanks to lax ticket takers in Cubao cinemas. (I will forever be grateful to these nameless heroes.) This generation will never get to watch an entire film standing in a thick crowd, or sitting on suspiciously sticky aisles. Like lining up for a payphone, changing television channels by tweaking a dial, sending telegrams, there is something else this generation will never experience - the latest Fernando Poe Jr. movie in theaters.

    The FPJ oeuvre can be largely categorized in two: Westerns in the '60s to '70s and thereafter, cop stories. In between are the fantasies, the costume-and-sword epics, and the comedies. The generation of the ?60s idolized FPJ the brooding, stoic, meditative gunslinger riding across the empty plains. The FPJ I grew up with was the probinsiyano cop who suddenly finds himself in savage gun battles in decaying Manila streets.

    I preferred the police dramas. Not because my father was part of the Western Police District (he was a true fan but wouldn't admit to it on the dinner table, citing the physical impossibilities of disassembling a .45). But this was also the time of Rambo, Death Wish II, and other explosive stories of urban carnage. FPJ?s police dramas were snappy and broiling with wit, and the bloodshed was almost gleefully operatic.

    As actor and director, he operated with such uncanny understanding of his audience. Un-neurotic, brooding, yet he is a dispenser of monumental violence, so when the hero finally erupts, the audience might experience ?catharsis? of the Aristotelian sort. I remember the whole of Coronet Theater erupting in wild applause and laughter when FPJ buried Eddie Garcia alive in Ako Ang Huhusga (1989). Partida is one of my favorites because here he goes up not against Eddie Garcia or Paquito Diaz but a mortally distressed Armida Siguion-Reyna - something mildly Shakespearean about the whole conflict.

    Average shot length in mainstream Philippine cinema has decreased significantly (unless it's Lav Diaz, but I did say "mainstream" ). Understand that FPJ constructed this legend within the classical narrative tradition.

    But in his fight scenes, there is a deftness that can never be matched by any of today?s action stars - if any. (Fuck you, ER Ejercito.) The beauty of an FPJ fight sequence is the precision. No steadicam, no shaky handhelds whose disorientation is meant to mask actors? physical limitations. I don?t know how it registers to the kids of today, on their LED screens and tablets, but on the giant screen, an FPJ raining fists on his enemies is consummate poetry.

    Consider this sequence in Ang Probinsyano: Seated on a table across his brother's assassins, he punches the guy on the right and pumps nine bullets into the one in front. Cut to reaction shot of people panicking. It lasts all of four seconds but it blisters with the completion of a miniepic in itself, if you believe Kubrick?s dictum about editing being the heart and soul of cinema. Silence. Precision. Rhythm. Violence. Then silence again - the basic cinematic unit of the cinema of Fenando Poe Jr.

    There?s a scene in Muslim .357, after Rene Hawkins insults Muslims - "Matatapang?pero utak lamok!" - the camera cuts to a protruding handle in Poe?s pants. Next thing we see is FPJ carving a diagonal slash across the bad guy?s face, and eviscerating four more. That explosion of violence, justified by being prefaced with such a glaring insult... You could understand why they cheered for him in Mindanao.

    In another scene: "Kumain ka na at magpakabusog? dahil ang sunod na kakainin mo ay tingga," he says in an apocalyptic half-whisper before slaughtering Vic Diaz, who slumps to the floor with a mouthful of pancit. Of course, at the time, it was important that the cop-era movies contain one powerful line of campy, macho dialogue, which always had an almost biblical resonance. Time was when that particular line would easily find centrifuge in many aspects of popular culture, often quoted even in political columns and parodied in sitcoms and recited by schoolchildren. But the '80s in particular was a Renaissance period for deathless lines - lines we?ll keep repeating and remembering until Baby James (now Bimby) enters rehab.

    The cop films got more imaginative when it came to violence. In Muslim .357, through the crosshairs of his pistol, we see a growing map of blood on towel covering Romy Diaz's face in the barbershop. More slaughter ensues via the POV of the telescope. There was something coldblooded and nihilistic about it. Oh, the cruelty?shooting George Estregan in cold blood. The Western FPJ would rarely do such a thing. Oh, and one other important thing: from an FPJ movie I learned what enema was. I asked my father what "labatiba" meant. It was because Eddie Garcia said, "Si Maramag?nilabatiba mo ng shotgun." See, in Ako Ang Huhusga, FPJ blasted Paquito Diaz's rectum with said weapon. So hitherto, I can't help but associate an enema with shotguns.

    Today?s generation of movie brats will be watching FPJ through the lenses of irony. You may upload as many movies on YouTube with your own running commentary and re-edits, but you will never ever see Fernando Poe Jr., beamed on a 30-ft screen, administering Paquito Diaz an enema with a shotgun.

    This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the editors.

  5. #95
    From the Vintage News...

    How scene stealer Steve McQueen tried to make sure all eyes would be on him in "The Magnificent Seven" and not Yul Brynner

    Instant Articles Strangeness Dec 6, 2017 Nancy Bilyeau

    Ever since his death in 1980s at the age of 50, Steve McQueen's reputation as the King of Cool has grown and grown. Black-and-white photos of McQueen's lean, weather-beaten face squinting into the sun compete with vivid color images of him straddling a motorcycle or climbing out of a race car, his eyes startling blue. Then there are the photos of McQueen with his arm around his second wife, Ali McGraw, the patrician brunette beauty fresh off Love Story who he stole from her Hollywood husband, Robert Evans, while she was his co-star in The Getaway.

    An essential aspect of a cool persona is a temperament that is laid-back and confident. In the photos, it's as if McQueen were saying, "I don't have to work to get these acting parts or awards or million-dollar fees, or these race cars, or even these beautiful women, they just come to me without effort."

    But what is being lost in the iconography of Steven McQueen is how badly he wanted certain things, none more so than a film career in the late 1950s. There wasn't much of anything he wouldn't do to get it. The Magnificent Seven, released in 1960, is the story of McQueen's reality. The King of Cool did more than break a sweat to get cast in and film this movie - he had a series of meltdowns.

    Directed by John Sturges, The Magnificent Seven is one of the most popular and enduring of all Westerns. Seen today, it's not a bit dated, creating excitement all the way through, and true drama. It's seen as the bridge between the more straightforward Westerns like The Searchers and the late 1960s Spaghetti Westerns like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Based on the Akira Kurosawa film The Seven Samurai and powered by an Elmer Bernstein score, it is a classic.

    Yet while it was being developed and filmed, The Magnificent Seven was a frantic, troubled, uncertain project. There was fighting over who owned the initial rights to adapt it and over screenwriter credit afterward. It was cast in a hurry as an Actors Strike loomed, and shot in Mexico while a disapproving Mexican censor rammed through changes. Just as Casablanca was a chaotic set of last-minute script changes and lead actors who didn't connect offscreen and yet is now one of the most beloved films of all time, the much-admired Magnificent Seven was an angry set and no one contributed to the tense atmosphere more than Steve McQueen.

    In the late 1950s, McQueen was primarily a TV actor and he was pushing 30. America liked him as bounty hunter Josh Randall in the TV Western Wanted: Dead or Alive. He had won a few film parts, but they were in sci-fi films like The Blob or the soapy Never Love a Stranger. When McQueen heard they were casting The Magnificent Seven, he immediately wanted to be one of the Seven, and told his agent to get him out of his TV contract for long enough to do the picture. But the producers of Dead or Alive, a hit series, said no. McQueen personally pushed for it and lobbied, and they still said no.

    So McQueen intentionally got himself into a car accident.

    The story has circulated in Hollywood for a while that McQueen risked injuring himself or even killing himself to get a part in The Magnificent Seven, and some people assume it?s exaggerated. But his first wife, Neile, has confirmed that while they were on vacation in Boston, McQueen deliberately ran his car into the side of a bank. His agent said, "He took his rented Cadillac and ran it into the Bank of Boston and came out of it with whiplash."

    McQueen returned to Los Angeles with his neck in a stiff brace. He got out of his TV contract and he won the part of the drifter gunman Vin Tanner in The Magnificent Seven.

    However, when he reported to the set, Steve McQueen wasn't scamming TV producers any longer, he was coming up against an actor who was definitely his match in ambition: Yul Brynner, the star of The Magnificent Seven. Brynner, who had say in the casting, supported hiring McQueen and may even have suggested him. That made no difference. Stories of the enmity between the hyper-competitive McQueen and Brynner would soon become so widespread that Brynner was forced to give a newspaper interview to calm things down.

    Brynner, 39, had a huge advantage. He'd had a red-hot run in major movies in the previous two years, from The King and I, which he first starred in on Broadway, to The Ten Commandments to Anastasia, for which he won an Academy Award. Women found him incredibly sexy. Eli Wallach, who portrayed the villain in The Magnificent Seven, said, "He had a magnetism."

    It may seem that quintessential American actor Steve McQueen could have nothing in common with European exotic Yul Brynner. But the two men had similar backgrounds, albeit on different parts of the planet. McQueen's father abandoned his mother at their child's birth, and, an alcoholic, she put Steve into a boy's home. He never graduated from high school; dyslexic, he lived on the streets, running with gangs for a while before joining the Marines. As for Yul Brynner, he encouraged reporters to think he was a gypsy or half-Japanese, half-French, or an orphaned Mongolian noble. In fact, he was none of those things, born in a corner of Russia close to China called Vladivostok. His father, a mining engineer, also abandoned his family to financial peril when Yul was young. He had little formal education and ended up as a circus acrobat in Paris. "He spoke of his father with bitterness," Yul's daughter said in a documentary. McQueen and Brynner were both married multiple times, better fathers than they were husbands.

    Yul loved Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai when he saw it in the theater and insisted in later interviews he personally obtained the rights to film the story in America from the Japanese. This was simply not true. Producer Walter Mirisch negotiated the American rights, with Anthony Quinn set to star. After Brynner took over, Mirisch was out and so was Quinn.

    The fact that there were seven gunmen in the film meant it had the potential to get crowded. Sturges cast the parts alongside Brynner with what were later called "the young bucks": McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn, as well as Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz. Right off the bat, McQueen wasn't happy with the number of lines he had in the film. He griped to Vaughn and the other young bucks that Brynner had far and away the best lines. He had a separate massive trailer and a luxury limousine. Plus, onscreen Brynner had the biggest horse and the biggest gun. They were going to suffer in comparison, McQueen kept saying.

  6. #96
    ^ Continued from above ...

    Once filming was underway, McQueen decided to do what he could to take the picture away from Brynner. Since the two characters, Chris and Vin, were, ironically, close friends onscreen, they were in a lot of shots together. McQueen constantly did what he could to distract attention so future audiences would look only at him: he took off his hat, played with his gun, checked his bullets, twisted in the saddle, any bit of business possible. When the camera was rolling and he was crossing a stream on horseback behind Brynner, he swung out of his saddle, scooped water in his cowboy hat, and doused himself.

    Another story, one that is sometimes discounted, revolves around certain mounds of dirt. When Brynner had to stand next to McQueen, he reportedly saw to it that there was a small hill of dirt to stand on so he was taller. (Brynner was five foot eight and McQueen was five foot ten.) McQueen, whenever possible, kicked the dirt hill down. According to Eli Wallach, Brynner was so concerned about McQueen stealing scenes that he hired an assistant to count the number of times McQueen touched his cowboy hat while Brynner was speaking.

    In McQueen's words, "We didn’t get along. Brynner came up to me one day in front of a lot of people and grabbed me by the shoulder. He was mad about something. I don't know what. He doesn't ride well and knows nothing about guns so maybe he thought I represented a threat. I was in my element. He wasn't. Anyway, I don't like people pawing at me. I said, 'Take your hands off me.' When you work in a scene with Yul, you're supposed to stand perfectly still ten feet away. Well, I don't work that way. So, I protected myself."

    The Magnificent Seven opened in October 1960 but was not a hit at first. After becoming a sensation in Europe, the movie was re-released in the United States and started to gain a following. All of the actors acquit themselves well, with Brynner the soulful leader, his eyes burning into the camera, and McQueen showing likability and great athletic skill, including hurling himself over a wooden counter head first when under fire.

    Following The Magnificent Seven, McQueen's anti-hero vibe was perfect for the 1960s. After starring in The Great Escape, Bullitt, The Getaway, and Papillon, he became the highest-paid actor in America. He was a difficult actor to direct and to star with in many of those movies, however. He was particularly envious of Paul Newman's career, and in The Towering Inferno he insisted the two men have the exact same number of lines, that McQueen's fire chief character doesn't appear until more than 40 minutes into the film, and the fire chief be the hero. The two men were so competitive over billing on the film poster that the desperate studio had to come up with a "diagonal" solution.

    No longer at the top of the A-list was Yul Brynner. He appeared in more than 20 movies after The Magnificent Seven, but his career had peaked. His style of acting didn't fare as well as McQueen's or Newman's in the 1960s and 1970s. But in the 1970s, Brynner received a phone call from a surprising source: Steve McQueen. He wanted to apologize for his actions in The Magnificent Seven.

    Brynner accepted the apology with grace and humor. He said, "I am the king and you are the rebel prince. Both are dangerous."

  7. #97
    From the Vintage News ...

    In "Dr. No," Jack Lord won praise as a suave and smart CIA agent, but he bowed out of Bond series because he wanted Felix Leiter and James Bond to be equals

    Glamour Instant Articles Dec 9, 2017 Nancy Bilyeau

    The film is 1962's Dr. No and James Bond is in a corner. He's gotten the better of a knife-wielding Jamaican fisherman-turned-spy named Quarrel with the help of his Walther PPK and is demanding answers from Quarrel when another voice comes from behind. "Hold it," says a man emerging from the shadows wearing sunglasses. "Gently, gently. Let's not get excited."

    The man takes Bond's gun, orders Quarrel to frisk him, and only then introduces himself: "Felix Leiter. Central Intelligence Agency. You must be James Bond."

    A relieved Bond says, "You mean we're fighting the same war?"

    And so James Bond, played by 32-year-old Sean Connery, meets his American counterpart Felix Leiter, played by 41-year-old Jack Lord. The smooth CIA agent who when necessary coordinates with Bond on his missions was created by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale. In fact, he salvages Bond's mission in the first novel of the series, supplying him with 32 million francs after Bond has lost to Le Chiffre at the gambling table.

    Fleming, with his usual flare for character portrayal, describes Leiter like this in Casino Royale:

    "Felix Leiter was about thirty-five. He was tall with a thin, bony frame, and his lightweight, tan-colored suit hung loosely from his shoulders like the clothes of Frank Sinatra. His movements and speech were slow, but one had the feeling that there was plenty of speed and strength in him and he would be a tough and cruel fighter. As he sat hunched over the table, he seemed to have some of the jack-knife quality of a falcon."

    When Saltzman and Broccoli were developing the James Bond series, they selected the Dr. No. novel to be the first adaptation instead of Casino Royale. In that book, Felix Leiter does not appear, so the screenwriter inserted him into the plot. He is the one who briefs Bond on the situation with a "Chinese cat" on the mysterious island of Crab Key named "Dr. No."

    Jack Lord, who was billed fourth in Dr. No, plays Leiter very closely to how the character was conceptualized by Fleming, and he was rewarded with positive reviews. Many responded to his cool, slithering moves and his suave suits and dark glasses. According to the Bond wikia, Lord played Leiter in a "swaggering" fashion and was an "effective American version of James Bond."

    In a movie known for its visuals, and the genius of designer Ken Adam, Jack Lord's look won special notice.

    "His most well-known accessory is his pair of cat-eye sunglasses, which have since become primarily worn by women," purrs a James Bond fashion site. "Nevertheless, Felix Leiter looks hipper than Bond with his sunglasses, which he places in his outer breast pocket when he removes them. No Felix Leiter other than Jack Lord, except perhaps Jeffrey Wright, comes close to having a competing screen presence with Bond, and his cool look has a large part to do with it."

    Yes, some devoted Bond watchers consider Jack Lord to be an excellent Felix Leiter. Yet Lord only played him once.

    Born with the name John Joseph Patrick Ryan on January 2, 1920, in Brooklyn, New York, the man who took the stage name Jack Lord just might have selected the name because he had a lordly sense of his own importance. And it worked for him. It was that tough, dominating, cool, by-the-book persona that made his Steve McGarrett, the head of the state police in Hawaii, such a fantastic character in Hawaii Five-0, which premiered in 1968 and ran for 12 seasons. The persona of McGarrett still vibrates, and not just in continual reruns on cable TV. Whether it's the catchphrase "Book em, Danno. Murder One" or the huge wave cascading in the show credits, the series is a core part of popular culture, not as huge as the Bond films but important nonetheless. As seen in the HBO series The Wire, when criminals want to warn one another that police are visible, they yell "5-0!"

    Jack Lord was not a well known actor before Dr. No. A merchant marine veteran, he was regarded as a solid actor with TV, film and stage credits. The success of Dr. No vaulted him forward. But when the Bond producers approached Lord to play Leiter in Goldfinger and sign a long-term contract like the actors playing M and Moneypenny, Jack Lord pushed back. He asked for much more money - and for Leiter to be a more significant character, functioning as a partner for Bond, not a sidekick.

    The answer to that was a firm no. Perhaps to make the point clear, in Goldfinger, the actor who plays Leiter is gray-haired, paunchy, and inferior to Bond in spying skills. A conga line of actors have rotated in and out of the Bond series to play Leiter and they’re never memorable. Some have speculated that the Bond producers have an ambivalent feeling toward the CIA's part in Bond’s missions. Even though in reality the Cambridge Five had made a shambles of British intelligence by giving secrets to the Soviets, in the Bond series MI-6 is the leading spy agency in the Western world. When Blofeld submits a demand for money or else he'll blow up the planet, he delivers it to London, not Washington. D.C.

    Before signing on to Steve McGarrett, Jack Lord came close to starring in two other important TV series stars. He was considered for Eliot Ness in The Untouchables and was actually offered the part of James T. Kirk in Star Trek. Reportedly, he asked for too much money, once again. Kirk went to William Shatner.

    In Hawaii Five-0, Lord found his calling. Although his perfectionism could be hard on costars and producers, he fought for a quality show and delivered it. A lover of poetry and an accomplished painter, he was devoted to Hawaii. When he died, a significant portion of his money went to charities and causes in Hawaii.

  8. #98
    'The Last Jedi' tops Christmas box office in North America

    Agence France-Presse / 07:42 AM December 27, 2017

    WASHINGTON, United States - The force was with Disney as the latest Star Wars movie "The Last Jedi" beat out the competition to top the Christmas weekend box office, according to updated industry estimates released Tuesday.

    The eighth installment of the blockbuster space saga topped the charts in North America for a second week, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, pulling in $99 million from Friday through Monday to rack up total earnings of $395.6 million since it opened last weekend.

    Christmas week is traditionally a time when studios flood the screens with new releases, and the Star Wars epic was trailed by three new films.

    In second place was the Dwayne Johnson family adventure "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" which made $55.4 million for Sony over the same four-day period.

    "Pitch Perfect 3," which follows the continuing adventures of glee singers the Bellas, led by Anna Kendrick, was in third, earning $26.5 million for Universal.

    That was followed by "The Greatest Showman," a musical in which Hugh Jackman plays the legendary circus impresario PT Barnum. That earned $14 million.

    Animated feature "Ferdinand," the story of a pacifist bull forced to face down the greatest bullfighter in the world, was fifth. It netted four-day receipts of $9.6 million in the United States and Canada in its second week.

    Rounding out the top ten were:

    "Coco" ($8.1 million)

    "Downsizing" ($7.6 million)

    "Darkest Hour" ($5.5 million)

    "Father Figures" ($5.4 million)

    "The Shape of Water" ($4.3 million)

  9. #99
    'The Last Jedi' brings emotion, exhilaration and surprise back to the 'Star Wars' saga

    "The Last Jedi," written and directed by the gifted indie auteur Rian Johnson, nails the balance of novelty and nostalgia in much more satisfying fashion.

    Justin Chang

    Film Critic

    There comes a moment in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" - the most enjoyable dispatch in a long time from that galaxy far, far away - when Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) lowers his lightsaber and declares, "It's time to let old things die."

    A power-hungry young zealot who has followed in the sinister footsteps of his grandfather Darth Vader, he is calling for an end to all past rulers and revolutionaries, Sith lords and Jedi knights alike, that have kept these cosmos in a perpetual state of violence and sustained a global entertainment juggernaut in the process.

    Given the riches that have been mined from the enterprise since 1977, when George Lucas' original "Star Wars" forever altered the face of Hollywood, it's unlikely that Lucasfilm and its corporate parent, Disney, are about to let old things die anytime soon. Not entirely, anyway. When they announced the launch of a new trilogy a few years ago with "The Force Awakens," it was clear the series needed an infusion of fresh blood, but it also needed its crowd-pleasing tropes and traditions, its foundational stars and mythologies.

    Spryly directed by J.J. Abrams, "The Force Awakens" (2015) brought welcome jolts of wit, energy and warmth back to the series, but as moving as it was to catch up with Leia Organa, Han Solo and the rest of the gang, the balance of novelty and nostalgia too often tilted awkwardly toward the latter. Diverting as it was, its pleasures felt curiously second-rate; you had to wonder if the filmmakers had more up their sleeves than smart jokes, cute droids and an appealingly diverse new trio of leads.

    With "The Last Jedi," those doubts have been laid satisfyingly to rest. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, it?s the series' eighth official episode and easily its most exciting iteration in decades - the first flat-out terrific "Star Wars" movie since 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back." It seizes upon Lucas' original dream of finding a pop vessel for his obsessions - Akira Kurosawa epics, John Ford westerns, science-fiction serials - and fulfills it with a verve and imagination all its own.

    No less than Abrams, Johnson is a pop savant steeped in "Star Wars" arcana, and you can sense his reverence for the legacy with which he?s been entrusted. As in "The Force Awakens," there are sequences here that duly recall some of the original trilogy's most memorable moments, from a one-on-one Jedi training session to an advance by an army of new-and-improved AT-AT walkers. But this time the nods feel less like obligatory acts of fan service than mythological reverberations, signaling a deeper, more intricate narrative intelligence at work.

    It begins with a typically noisy and dazzling space battle, this one pitting the ominously hovering ships of the evil supreme leader Snoke (played with characteristic motion-capture mastery by Andy Serkis) against the Resistance's scrappy fighters. Even amid the ensuing laser-light spectacular, Johnson quickly gives the proceedings a human pulse, sending the dashing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) into the fray and integrating a high-stakes suspense sequence that sets a crucial subplot in motion.

    Poe's impulsive streak brings him into conflict with the wise Gen. Leia (Carrie Fisher, in a gratifyingly substantial role that she finished shooting before her death) and her formidable deputy, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern, a fierce, purple-haired enigma). Due to some ingenious innovations in light-speed technology, the Resistance fleet can no longer outrun Snoke's mighty vessels.

    And so it falls to the reformed ex-Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and a ship maintenance worker, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran, an excellent newcomer), to embark on a dangerous mission to turn the tide, one that will draw a wily mercenary named DJ (Benicio Del Toro) into their orbit.

    The most compelling of the movie's three interwoven plotlines is the one that picks up where "The Force Awakens" left off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley), a desert scavenger and possible heir to the long-dormant Jedi mantle, arriving on a remote island and coming face-to-face with the elusive Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Luke, haunted by personal demons, has no intention of coming out of hiding, and his stubbornness establishes an immediately engaging dynamic between the eager young upstart and her reluctant mentor.

    Hamill's career may never have fully escaped Luke's long shadow, but somewhere along the way he morphed into a pretty terrific character actor, as evidenced by his sly performance in this year's indie charmer "Brigsby Bear." In "The Last Jedi," he doesn't just rock a hoodie and a goatee; his role as a grizzled, avuncular presence suits him better than earnest leading-man status ever did. To a degree that even Fisher and Harrison Ford couldn't fully manage in "The Force Awakens," Hamill's unexpected gravitas, offset by a faint twinkle of humor, acts as a kind of veteran's seal of approval, setting the tone for fine performances across the board.

    It's one of the vagaries of big-budget franchise filmmaking, of course, that characters and story decisions you may have resisted in the first installment have a way of wearing you down by the second. If "The Force Awakens" had the tough but rewarding task of winning us over to its new cast, "The Last Jedi" rightly assumes from the outset that we are already invested in what happens to Rey, Finn and Poe - and, yes, Kylo Ren, whom Driver plays with unnerving tremors of anguish, ambiguity and cruel resolve.

    Among the movie's more indelible achievements is the psychological triangle that develops among Rey, Kylo Ren and his uncle Luke, who are bound by their shared histories and uncertain destinies, and also by weird disruptions within the Force. As Kylo Ren's malevolent mentor, Serkis also makes a more impressive villain this time around, especially since we now see him in the (hideously misshapen) flesh. That's a lot scarier than his fuzzy hologram in "The Force Awakens," when he was basically secondhand Snoke.

    Those who have seen Johnson's mind-bending time-travel thriller "Looper" (2012) - or, for that matter, his insouciantly clever crime capers "Brick" (2005) and "The Brothers Bloom" (2008 ) - know the director takes an old-school delight in pulling the rug out from under his audience. Even nostalgia goes down better when it's laced with a healthy dose of the unexpected, and while it hardly skimps on callbacks and fan favorites, "The Last Jedi" has a flowing moment-to-moment unpredictability that rises, on occasion, to genuinely thrilling peaks of surprise.

    At times you may balk at the script's tendency to overstate its grand themes of valor and solidarity, as well as its somewhat forced moments of cutesy comic relief. I myself could have done with fewer reaction shots of the Porgs, those infernally moist-eyed little winged critters that have already fueled a Disney merchandising bonanza. (They somehow look cute, tasty and completely disposable, like Ewok McNuggets.)

    All of which is to say that Johnson, for all his idiosyncrasies as a storyteller, hasn't gone so far as to refashion "Star Wars" in his own indie-auteur image. (As Lucasfilm's unfortunate director-retention rate of late suggests, the company doesn't exactly smile on filmmakers who think too far out of the box.) But Johnson has pulled off something no less difficult: Working under the heaviest possible scrutiny, he has succeeded in branding a potentially anonymous corporate product with his own distinct signature. And he has done so with the assistance of some invaluable past collaborators, including editor Bob Ducsay and cinematographer Steve Yedlin, who shot the picture on crystalline 35-millimeter film.

    "The Last Jedi" is the longest "Star Wars" feature to date, though its 152-minute running time should be seen as a sign of confidence, not indulgence. What makes the movie such a robust and invigorating pop entertainment is that even its seeming digressions - a romp through the casinos of a glittering One Percenters' paradise, a battle staged on a visually striking planet of white salt and red dust - feel grounded in a real-world vision of humanity on the brink of ruin.

    In that respect, the wise decision to cast Ridley, Boyega and Isaac in "The Force Awakens" - dismissed as a sop to gender and ethnic quotas in some particularly noxious corners of the "Star Wars" fan-verse - pays off with even richer dividends here. It isn't just that their characters have grown in emotional stature, but that they feel like living, breathing embodiments of a stirring new franchise ethos. You might argue that there's something calculated about the movie's rousing "You go, girl!" sentiments and pointed displays of non-white-male heroism, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong.

    But all art, like all progress, entails a measure of calculation. And if there's room in this already diverse galaxy for characters like Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong?o), there's certainly room for a smart, spunky hero like Rose, played by an Asian American woman who fits effortlessly into this utopian fantasy, to strike her own blow for the Resistance. "The Last Jedi" ensures that moment belongs to her, which is another way of saying it belongs to all of us.

    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 12-27-2017 at 10:51 AM.

  10. #100
    From Esquire Philippines online ...

    Why is 'The Last Jedi' the Most Divisive of the Star Wars Movies?

    Episode 8 is the most polarizing of the franchise, and it's not because of the porgs.

    By MIGUEL ESCOBAR | 18 hours ago

    This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

    Like many others who have seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I recall walking out of the cinema in a daze. At that point, I was only sure that it was an entertaining film, but I couldn?t articulate my amazement quite yet, and was hesitant to pass judgement on how it fared against the expectations upon it as a part of the Star Wars saga. It was great, but it was different - different from any other episode in the franchise - and I wasn't immediately sure about what that meant and how I felt about it.

    As someone who grew up with Star Wars (the prequel trilogy in cinemas, the original trilogy on laser discs), I didn't expect to feel that way. I thought that I would either erupt by the end of the movie, squirming and squealing wide-eyed at new developments and twists and loose ends, or else leave disappointed.

    And yet for everything that it was and wasn't, the movie didn't disappoint. The Last Jedi refused to indulge us in theory confirmations, ceremonious lineage reveals, and Qui-Gon Jinn involvement (okay, this one was just me; I bet hard on it, for no reason), and instead went off on its own path. Still, after a bit of reflection and two more screenings, my doubts were allayed. The Last Jedi really is an incredible film.

    But as it turns out, not everyone agrees.

    The reception has been vastly mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie currently holds a 92 percent Critics' Score and a 52 percent Audience's Score - a stark 40-point difference. Positive reviews glow with the light of two suns; negative reviews have sentenced the film to be slowly digested over a thousand years.

    Entries that comprise those scores have called The Last Jedi "an unfocused, contrived, and inconsistent dumpster fire of a movie," saying it has "butchered the Star Wars mythology," and bemoaning its "feminist left wing agenda". More articulate distaste for the film came from Richard Brody of The New Yorker, a prequel trilogy apologist who called it "ironed out, flattened down, appallingly purified."

    On the other hand, there is an equally resounding chorus of fans calling it the best episode since The Empire Strikes Back, if not the best Star Wars movie ever. The Last Jedi has been lauded for its unique take on the franchise, for nailing "the balance between novelty and nostalgia," and for being "a volcano of creative ideas in full eruption."

    There's about as much praise for the movie's new and forward-moving approach to Star Wars as there is repugnance at it. Which begs the question: Why is The Last Jedi so polarizing?

    One could argue that it's precisely that approach - its newness, its forward motion - that has left fans so sharply divided. Both in its story and in itself as a film, The Last Jedi leaves the past behind and heralds a drastic new direction for the widely-beloved sci-fi saga - one that dares to reflect the world's sociopolitical situation, to assert an opinion of it, and in doing so, to abdicate all the expectations of its own fan base. The Last Jedi lept far, and not everyone agrees about whether or not it stuck the landing.

    Part of those unmet expectations - and indeed one of the main reasons for the great divide - is the film's refusal (to) resolve the burning questions that Star Wars fans have been asking since The Force Awakens: Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? Who are Rey's parents and why did they leave her on Jakku? Who are the Knights of Ren? Because fans staked so much on The Last Jedi providing the answers, they were sorely let down when it didn't. It was, to them, a wasted opportunity, and an affront to the title's mythology.

    Conversely, others feel that the refusal to answer those questions (at least to the standards that we were all expecting) poses an even more captivating and unexpected one: did those questions ever really matter, and isn't it better that they don't? When you consider the film in its entirety, are those questions not just trivial matters of fandom obsession? Isn't there so much more to the essence of Star Wars than just bloodlines and subplots? I myself was looking forward to better answers to those questions too, but now, I'm even more glad that the film didn't yield.

    But there are also more fundamental reasons for the division - perhaps even political ones. More than any of its previous installments, the Star Wars sequel trilogy is loud and clear on where it stands on ethnic representation and gender equality. Both The Last Jedi and its immediate predecessor, The Force Awakens, are characterized by a diverse cast of characters and strong female leads. The Last Jedi is easily the most feminist episode in the saga, with several subtle repudiations of mansplaining through its four strong female characters: Rey, General Leia Organa, Admiral Holdo, and Rose Tico. There's also a little detail in the promotional materials for Episode 8 that suggests Poe Dameron could be Star Wars' first gay character, and at the very least, that's a worthy effort to denounce heteronormativity.

    This installment makes no secret of the bold new politics of Star Wars, necessarily (and perhaps willfully) alienating conservatives, including and especially the conservative baby boomers and gen-Xers who were alive to see the original trilogy when it first came out. Many negative reviews blame SJWs (social justice warriors, a pejorative term for internet liberals) for ruining Star Wars, because as of The Last Jedi, it's clearer than ever to right-wing conservatives that their beloved sci-fi saga disagrees with them.

    This progressiveness also carries over to the movie's greater moral themes. The old Star Wars that conservatives knew and loved was defined by its binary oppositions: the Jedi and the Sith, the Dark Side and the Light, blue lightsabers and red lightsabers. In all previous films, the lines between good and evil were always cut clear. The Last Jedi challenges that duality by recognizing the hubris of its heroes, and allowing us to hope in its villains. In doing so, it also challenges the conservative frame of mind, which is typically more wary of moral relativism. Necessarily, it appeals to the progressive frame of mind, which more readily acknowledges gray areas. For the first time, our real-life political inclinations are reflected by how much we enjoyed or hated a Star Wars movie.

    These disagreements and diametrically opposed opinions are only exacerbated and radicalized by nostalgia, which at this point, is inextricable from any Star Wars movie. Tom Marks and John Borba of argue, vis-?-vis The Last Jedi, that nostalgia distorts objectivity, and that it clouds judgement both ways. Citing the very early positive appraisals of The Phantom Menace, Marks and Borba think that it's possible to feel too good about a Star Wars movie just because it is a Star Wars movie, even if in the face of glaring flaws. That deep and abiding nostalgia for Star Wars also fosters an entitlement to the direction it takes, which feeds our expectations, and causes us to feel as if anything else than the fulfillment of those expectations would be a deep betrayal. The result: people on both sides feel more extremely about their opinions, and the divide is even more clear cut.

    The great irony of it all, though, is that The Last Jedi's ultimate message - to me, its greatest triumph - is that we cannot move forward if we are blinded by extremism and absolutism, or if we allow ourselves to get carried away by our beliefs and our differences. It happened to the film's purest protagonist in Luke, who was corrupted by his own vanity and his commitment to the Jedi Order; and to its antagonist in Kylo Ren, who ends the movie as a radical progressive leader so intent on "letting the past die" that he misses his mark. It happened to Rey, who was fixated with finding her parents, and it's happening to the fans who are too consumed by their idea of what Star Wars should be to see the merits of its eighth episode.

    But even that virtue is tempered by the movie's depiction of the errors of moral relativism, shown in Benicio del Toro's DJ, who refuses to pick a side, and only lives for himself. "Good guys, bad guys - made up words," he says, after betraying Finn and Rose. "It's all a machine, partner. Live free, don't join." It's clear through him that while The Last Jedi stands against believing too much, it also stands against believing too little. Balance, as always, prevails in Star Wars.

    This conscientious moderacy is the perfect message for a world divided - and it gets across in The Last Jedi because it is Star Wars, but also because it is no longer the Star Wars we once knew.

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