Tag Archives: cinema

On Star Wars

Like almost everyone else in striking distance of a cinema, we went to see the new Star Wars over the holiday. No one who did could claim to be disappointed, in that it turned out to be exactly as anyone would have expected.

I remember the shock of the first film, when I saw it as a student in 1977. George Lucas was an unknown, who had gambled a lot on an unproven project. It was not exactly The Seventh Seal or Citizen Kane – Alec Guinness, who made an unreasonable amount of money out of it, plainly despised it.

Some of the dialogue was risible – there are remarkably few quotes from such a popular film that made it into everyday parlance. One critic described it as “disco for the eyes”, as he said it resembled the sort of slick, empty dance music made at the time.

But it was something completely new, taking science fiction cinema into a new era. The initial shots on Tatooine were startlingly original. The floater looked real. The aliens were not just men in rubber suit – well, some of them were men in rubber suits but they didn’t always look like it. One of Lucas’s cleverest tricks was avoiding plinky-plonk “futuristic” electronic music, as you might expect in SF, for more martial themes.

The JJ Abrams “reboot” looks too cynical a retread. Weird jazz band in a Western-style cantina? Tick. Huge destructive machine about to destroy the Universe? Tick. Defeated with just seconds to go? Tick. Inconclusive light sabre battle, to allow for sequels? Tick.

The only real shock was, in hindsight, probably inevitable, in that it allowed the new central character to assume the role of an earlier one.

I do not know how many times I have seen the first, 1977, Star Wars, mostly with my children, who were not even born when the third came out. I doubt I shall see the JJ Abrams version very often. And I wonder if the film industry is capable, in these days of focus groups and global franchises, of making anything simultaneously so original and so overwhelmingly popular as that original film.


On The Odeon

I seldom swear on this blog. But Boy and I have just had a wasted journey to watch a film at our local Odeon. The film is advertised on their website, but it is not on.This is because, we are told, the times change every week but “the management” do not update the website.

The Odeon is owned by Guy Hands’ Terra Firma. I have spoken to the PR man. Doubt much will change. In this day and age, is it too hard to keep your website up to date? In a consumer-facing industry?

Customer service? How much do you need our money?

Update: a prompt and courteous response from the Odeon, who are investigating. I am offered a free viewing, which I cannot accept. I’ll delete the swearing, then.


On “Gone Girl”

I have been mulling over the success of “Gone Girl”, the book and now the film. It is well acted, particularly by Rosamund Pike and by Kim Dickens as Rhonda, the detective. It is competently directed. It is only about 15 minutes too long.

This puts it well ahead of the average Hollywood blockbuster on all three fronts, but doesn’t explain why the film, and the book, has hit such a chord. Sometimes this happens. In 1987 Fatal Attraction came along, about someone who had it all, the Michael Douglas character, took a bit more and was brought down as a result.

I suspect, and forgive me if this sounds like cod psychology, that this tapped into the fear among many at a time of growing affluence, in the West at least, that we were having it all too effortlessly and that one day we would have to pay. I suspect it also tapped into some men’s fear of dominant, aggressive women who were beginning to make their way in the workplace.

I suspect “Gone Girl” has to do with our insecurities over marriage and other steady relationships. Someone pointed out recently that in today’s society, the partner is supposed to provide for all our relationship needs, replacing roles that would earlier have been played by friends or relations.

This, and economic circumstances, may explain why one in three marriages ends in divorce. We expect too much, and we often have the financial means to walk away and start again.

If we are so dependent on one other, what if that other is not what we think he or she is? Do we really know what they are thinking? I suspect anyone in a long-term relationship must occasionally have looked at the other and wondered. It is a fear that “Gone Girl” plays to.

The glance to camera Pike gives at the start, deliberately repeated at the end, is chillingly blank, deadpan. It says, you know nothing about me.

Not a great date movie, then.