Tag Archives: Carrie Fisher

On Second Thought – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I am not a Star Wars fan. I knew about it peripherally, the way it’s infused into pop culture and stuff, but I’d never seen the movies and never cared to. But Sean has always carried a special spot in his heart for Star Wars, or for the original trilogy anyway. He was just born when the first one came out but as a little boy he was enamoured with the series, with the very concept of space cowboys, and swords made out of laser beams, and cool flying cars. And while I think he respected my stance on keeping Star Wars out of my life for the most part, he kinda sorta took advantage of me when I had massive back surgery two years ago. High on back pills, he screened all 6 movies for me, and I was ambivalent at best. I’m totally okay with these movies existing in the world and I’m  happy for anyone who takes joy from them, but they aren’t for me and never will be. But I still experienced vicarious excitement for Sean when The Force Awakens was announced. It felt like we waited forever to get our hands on that one, and it felt a little out of this world to sit in a theatre and watch that famous crawl go up the screen. Ultimately, though, Sean was disappointed by TFA. He felt it was a little too similar to a previous Star Wars film and couldn’t quite work up the same enthusiasm for this retread. But don’t think that didn’t mean our butts weren’t in the seats opening night for Rogue One. And again for The Last Jedi, of course, and this time, Sean was a little more enthusiastic.

Warning: spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, steer away. Maybe check out Sean’s spoiler-free review instead, or my own of the original trilogy.

I was not. Enthusiastic, I mean. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket on his boyhood nostalgia, and it wasn’t as if the film was without merits. I didn’t think it was bad, I just didn’t care all that much. And at two and a half hours, it was long and felt it, and I couldn’t help but sneer at the scenes that I thought of as bloated – that extended Finn/Rose casino adventure that never went anywhere in particular.

But later, thinking about this one scene between Luke and Rey, I reconsidered. “I failed him” he says of his nephew Kylo Ren’s defection to the Dark Side. No, she says, “He failed you.” And that’s when the movie really opened up to me and I started thinking of the film in terms of theme – that theme being failure. Triumphs are easy. Heroes are tested when things don’t go their way. Rose and Finn are not going to accomplish their mission but they never stop trying, they never stop believing, and that doggedness inspires hope in others. That mission was never as crucial as they believed. Vice Admiral Holdo had another plan in mind the whole time, and she orders the evacuation of her ship. But this plan fails too. The escape pods are picked off one by one and Holdo ends up sacrificing herself to save them. When she reveals to Leia that she’ll stay behind in what will amount to a suicide mission Leia says “I can’t take any more loss” to which Holdo responds “Yes you can.” Never mind that it feels like Laura Dern is speaking for us, the audience, who have so recently lost Carrie Fisher. It’s also a tiny admission by a formidable General that her job is hard, and weighing on her heavily.

Leia looks weary in this movie. The toll of each loss is written in the slope of her tumblr_oxl4isuDq51ruu897o5_540shoulders. But her unwavering belief in the cause encourages her to soldier on, as a Rebel and as a Leader – a figurehead who inspires others but also a teacher who is grooming the next generation. Poe seems to be a favourite of hers, though all agree he’s a bit of a hot head who prefers the shoot-em-up approach. Poe’s whole raison d’etre this film is to learn some hard lessons. He too must fail, and learn to put the Light first and foremost, ahead of even his own ego.

And perhaps it is Luke himself who needs most to learn how to continue on in the face of failure. Having failed his nephew Ben, who then serves under Snoke as the formidable Kylo Ren, Luke is so devastated and full of self-doubt he retreats. Not just physically, though he does completely disappear at a time when, arguably, the Rebellion needs him most. But he also retreats from the Force. He cuts himself off completely. And maybe it’s his fear that he’ll fail again that prevents him from giving Rey the help she needs.

In the film’s last epic battle, between the two men who seem to have failed each other, we must contemplate what, if anything, is Kylo Ren’s failure. Though The Last Jedi is a direct continuation from where we left off in The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren seems to have grown quite a bit. He’s more self-assured and he’s more powerful. But he’s still prey to his own temper, which betrays him. He should have been able to pick up on Luke’s misdirection if he hadn’t been letting his rage dictate their interaction. The truth is, temperamental as he may be, Kylo Ren is a contender now. We’ve been underestimating him, and we’re not the only ones. But does he have a fatal flaw? Certainly, Kylo Ren has failed the Light. He’s failed his parents, and his heritage. But is he also failing himself? And if the answer is yes – does he have the means to soldier on?

Now we wait for Episode IX.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

ridley-hamill-last-jedi-trailer-ht-jef-171121_12x5_992It is a good thing that Disney did not try to stick a Frozen short in front of Episode XIII, which weighs in at a hefty 2 hour and 33 minutes not including ads and previews. It doesn’t help that much of that time is spent watching Poe Dameron try really, really hard to learn a fairly simple lesson. Poe got it on what by my count was the fourth try, during a battle that took me by surprise because I expected the movie to have ended before that fight even started!

So this was not the ideal movie to have dragged Jay to, with it being an unusually long entry in a nerdy franchise she has less than no interest in. At least trying to spot the rumoured William & Harry cameo kept her busy for a while. I hope.

For those of us invested in this behemoth franchise, this is a solid Star Wars film that changes things up a bit more than did The Force Awakens, though this one sometimes feels like it’s spinning in place. Still, being the Star Wars fanboy I am, I was more than willing to forgive a few extra scenes and a few too many contrivances because what this movie gets right, it REALLY gets right.

At the top of the “gets right” list are the Last Jedi. And  since Jedi is plural, that makes for multiple entries on the list.

First, Luke is actually in this movie for more than one scene and it’s the Luke we know from all three original films, for worse and then for better, and then for so much better. Bear with Luke as in the course of this movie he manages to transition (again) from whiny back-planet farmboy to ass-kicking robed avenger. It’s truly fantastic.

Second, Daisy Ridley’s Rey is really, really great for the second movie in a row. She is the heart of this third trilogy and for my money she’s the best Jedi we’ve ever had (because unlike Luke, Anakin and Ben Kenobi, Rey never had a whiny phase).

Third, we get a Jedi ghost appearance that was an unexpected bit of closure I didn’t even know I needed, as it’s one last advice-giving opportunity from master to student.  It will make you wish that Han Solo was a Jedi so he had a chance to pop up in ghost form during Episode IX to rehash the good old days.

Speaking of the good old days, it is bittersweet to see Carrie Fisher get a prominent role here. Great as it is to have Leia be the true leader of the resistance, her importance means Fisher’s death will leave a massive hole in Episode IX that can’t (/shouldn’t) be filled (CG stand-ins creep me out and should creep you out too). RIP Carrie.

It occurs to me that a two hour version of this movie might have been my favourite Star Wars of all, if they had cut out much of the Poe and Finn stuff (which are the scenes that inspired my earlier reference to spinning in place).  As it stands, this is still a good film that did not disappoint, and it might edge out Return of the Jedi for third place on my list, which is pretty damn respectable.

 

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher is dead at the age of 60. She drowned in moonlight, strangled in her own bra. That’s not remotely true, but it’s what she would have wanted me to say.

To most, she was their Princess, having played Leia in the Star Wars universe. To me, 978319-carrie-fisherunfamiliar with the Star Wars franchise for most of my life, she was a writer and a funny lady. She penned the semi-autobiographic Postcards From The Edge (and later, its screenplay) about her drug addiction and her relationship with her mother, Debbie Reynolds. She was also a notorious script doctor, doing uncredited polishes on other people’s scripts, including the Star Wars prequels, Hook, Sister Act, Outbreak, The Wedding Singer, Coyote Ugly, and Mr & Mrs Smith.

Then she did a one-woman show called Wishful Drinking, which has been one of my favourites, ever. She had such a great sense of humour about herself, above all else, and a keen eye for the ridiculous. Check it out:

She actually has a new book, The Princess Diarist, out just last month, based on journals she kept while she filmed the original Star Wars trilogy. You may have heard the bomb she dropped: she and Harrison Ford had an affair back in the day.

Of course you know she’d recently returned to her Star Wars roots, playing General Leia (badass warrior princess that she was) for a whole new generation. She could poke fun at screen-shot-2015-11-13-at-10-13-52-am-pngher character and her “cinnamon bun” hair style, but she clearly also has respect for the films and their fans. She recently completed work on Episode 8 and was slated to begin filming for Episode 9 this spring. No telling how they’ll treat her death in the films but safe to say it’s a blow for them as it is for us.

You may have heard that George Lucas told her on the set of the first (fourth) film that she couldn’t wear a bra under her iconic white dress. When she demanded to know why not, he famous replied “Because there’s no underwear in space.” When pressed for details, he explained “What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands. But your bra doesn’t—so you get strangled by your own bra.” Fisher thought it had the makings of a “fanastic obit – so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

A Birthday Salute to the Bikini

The bikini turned 70 this week. It was apparently born when a a WW2-era fabric shortage led designers to reimagine styles with a little less substance to them. The French took over, and inspired by seeing women on beaches rolling up their swimwear for better tans, Louis Réard called his lingerie-inspired concoction “the bikini” and unveiled it on July 5, 1946, just five days after he first testing of a nuclear device was held in Bikini Atoll, and likening it to an ‘explosive commercial and cultural reaction’. It was.

To celebrate, I’m putting together a little list of even littler swimsuits from our favourite movie scenes. This isn’t going to be exhaustive by a long shot so if I’ve missed your favourite bikini scene, please let us know.

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Blake Lively is swimming bikini-clad in a theatre near you in a thriller called The Shallows. She worked out extra hard so she’d look good clinging to this buoy but apparently also remained appetizing to the shark. Jessica Alba put her bikini body on the map in a movie called Into The Blue. A stunt double filmed images.jpgscenes for her behind her back, forcing Alba to keep the bikini thing going for far longer than she was comfortable with. The gimmick worked though, and her bikini isuntitled.png what people remember most about the movie. Kate Bosworth made her bikini mark in Blue Crush, a movie about “girl surfers” with an impressive amount of wardrobe changes. Bosworth wasn’t the only one turning heads – her whole crew, including Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake, looked equally fabulous wearing not very much.

A bikini often signals The Temptress and I’m not sure if there’s recently beenthe-other-woman-kate-upton.jpg a better example than Kate Upton bouncing around in The Other Woman. Who else are you going to get M0000733.jpgo make Cameron Diaz, an honest-to-god-Charlie’s-Angel, to feel vulnerable? (Sidebar: who among us could forget when a 40&fab Demi Moore strutted around in her bikini, putting those Angels to shame?) Meanwhile, Brooklyn Decker was on hand to heat things up in Just Go With Itarticle-1355072-0D122FC5000005DC-386_634x394 and did a mighty fine job of it until her co-star Jennifer Aniston took off her own clothes revealing that “sneaky hot Jennifer-Aniston-Just-Gobody” (and then had a coconut-bikini-off with Nicole Kidman, just to keep things classy). And I can hardly write a bikini post without mention of Bunny Lebowski (Tara62 Reid) in her lime green bikini (and matching scrunchie!) asking for her toes to be blown on. The 90s were a fabulous time. Just two years later, another bikini was making an impression on me: Virginie The-BeachLedoyen was looking fine in Danny Boyle’s The Beach. Oh to be the sand upon which she lays. The bikini, by the way, has a great built-in sand disposal unit. It has nowhere to hide! And how can we forget Salma Hayek revealing herself to 489973English-speaking audiences in a daring little bikini (boldly accessorized) in From Dusk Till Dawn. She owned that thing like she owned us. Also 389b5cae16b185ee11268ffa8a31d494sealing sex symbol status in bikinis: Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. Not that her usual Lara Croft attire left much to the imagination, but fan boys like skin and she was prepared to flash it, as long as she could still strap onuntitled.png her weaponry. Margot Robbie, however, didn’t need knives, because she’s got killer curves and puts them to devious use in Focus.

Of course, bikinis weren’t always so itsy-bitsy. When Annette Funicello first hopped her way on to beach blankets, her bikini was anything but skimpy. It still infuriated Disney (she was a annette-funicello_l.jpgMousketeer, the epitome of wholesomeness) so you could say that it was her rather dowdy swimsuit that helped pave the way for newer generations of Disney stars gone sexy, like Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers.

Also on the bikini shit list: Raquel Welch, who inspired a untitled.pngpin-up-worthy movie poster for One Million Years B.C. in which she wore a bikini made of animal skin, infuriating PETA. Sorry PETA, but I think it’s clear that Raquel wins.

062510-Pam-400Another dubious choice for bikini material: Pam Grier’s crocheted bikini. I don’t want to think about what it looks like if you get it wet, but here’s the thing about Pam Grier: she makes everything look cool. And speaking of bikinis you wouldn’t want to get wet, how about that m6etal slave bikini that Leia wears in Star Wars at the insistence of creepo Jabba the Hutt? Metal rusts when it gets wet, and would also probably weigh you down if there was enough of it (which there isn’t). Carrie Fisher actually had two bikinis – a real metal one she wore while lying around and a lighter-fabric replica when she needed to move around. Either way the bikini was Jabba’s undoing – didn’t she choke him out with her own chains?

u4ggTHBThis list wouldn’t exist without Bo Derek. She has proven over and over to be a perfect ’10’ and has more bikini looks than I can count. I might be slightly partial to this one. Brigitte Bardot has also earned herself multiple entries onto this list and actually starred in a movie called The Girl in the Bikini, although she’d popularized maxresdefaultthe look as far back as 1956 in …And God Created Woman. No matter when or where, she’s always doing it justice.

And finally: Every Bond Girl Ever.

Y7_rAER3svlqH58kuaB7Ima-1sEOko2WnZcwZIJGa2cGloria Hendry is to be applauded not just for sporting a bikini while kicking ass in Live or Let Die, but for successfully accessorizing it with a machine gun. She’s tough and fit but proves she’s also sassy and feminine in her swimwear. James Bond never stood a chance.

Halle Berry turned his head in this orange number from Die Another Day, now an iconic Bond Girl look, with a knife strapped to her thigh. This particular bikini was of course a Halle-Berry-bikini-Bond-Girlsend-up to an earlier Bond Girl: Ursula Andress 40 years prior in Dr. No. She too appeared from the sea in bikinis_01.jpgnothing but a bikini and a blade. The copycats don’t end there: you may remember that Heather Graham sported a similar look in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. 6657c5216cf680dee58ba019435713a1

And just so as not to end this post on Heather Graham:

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Claudine Auger from 1965’s Thunderball in a black and white bikini and an even nicer acce2DAA8CD500000578-3284481-image-a-77_1445591635869ssory: Sean Connery.

Mie Hama from 1967’s You Only Live Twice in a familiar-looking white bikini.

 

2D35473F00000578-3284481-Named_after_her_birthplace_luxury_jewellers_Tiffany_Co_Tiffany_C-m-14_1445597551114Diamond-smuggling bad girl in a hot bikini: Tiffany Case (Jill St John) from 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.

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Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight in a very 1970s print bikini in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974).

 

2D3C037400000578-3284481-image-a-21_1445598307023Caroline Munro throws a kimono over her bikini in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me.

And here’s Caterina Murino riding a horse in a bikini (no mention of chafing) in Casino Royale – a sequined La Perla bikini. You know, La Perla, the lingerie store. In case you had any illusions. They no longer have this for sale, but they do have it, along with Daniel Craig’s tiny trunks, on display in their Beverly Hills location.fhd006VLR_Caterina_Murino_001

Postcards From the Edge

FISHER-1-articleLargeDirector Mike Nichols helps Carrie Fisher brings her best-selling confessional novel to the big screen. Based on her own life (her mother is the fabulous Debbie Reynolds), Carrie writes about a middle-aged troubled movie star (another Oscar-nominated performance by Meryl Streep) who survives rehab only to be relegated to house-arrest with her overbearing, scene-stealing Hollywood-icon mother (Shirley MacLaine).

The thinly veiled rivalry between mother and daughter makes for some pretty unsettling tumblr_nimcjrvp631qzheh0o1_500confrontations. Fisher and Nichols are both Hollywood elite themselves, which means there’s plenty of in-jokes and winks to paper over the lack of depth in the plot. There are no real insights into addictions or family drama here, but there’s an emotional wallop that just may get you, if the sight of MacLaine’s shapely legs in a slitted red dress don’t get you first.

Melodrama has never looked so good: cinematographer Michael Ballhous does career-defining work here, while Nichols does his usual smug, detached thing over in the corner. Do either of these things save it from the inevitable clichés? Not really, but you’re more disposed to forgiving them.

If you can look past the scandal-free safety of the film, there’s a secondary cast to make up the difference: Dennis Quaid as the sleazy boyfriend, Gene Hackman as her demanding director, Richard Dreyfus as her sensitive doctor, and was that Annette Bening I saw? IMDB says you bet your balls it was! She’s whoring it up with cynicism and wit.

If you were a fan of the book, you’ll notice the film has lost its acerbic edge. It’s all about the comedy here, and even an almost-lethal trip to the ER for a good old-fashioned stomach-pumping can’t quell the chuckles. MacLaine and Streep shine through showbiz and show tunes, and if it’s a little shallow, it’s also a good dose of fun.