Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Resistance Season 1

One of the best things that J.J. Abrams did for Star Wars was make Poe Dameron as distinct from Han Solo as possible.

I’m going to try my best, moving into this era to not focus all of my analysis on Poe, I mean that. But it will be hard, because the only other character I’ve connected with this quickly and this completely was Blair Waldorf. (They have nothing in common except I love them both…)

I want to get this out of the way. Superficiallly, Poe and Han have a lot in common. They’re charismatic, confident have a certain anti authoritarian streak and then there’s the leather jackets. But Poe has a different heart than Han, he never even tries to be mercenary.

But part of what’s fun about Resistance is that it’s as enamored of Poe as I am, which might explain while I was immediately on board with the show’s main protagonist Kazudo Xiono, a New Republic Naval Pilot and son of a senator who’s saved by Poe and then immediately recruited to be a spy against the First Order.

Well, recruited is the wrong word. The situation goes as follows (A Summary)

Kaz: You’re Poe Dameron!
Poe: (Chuckles) You bet I am kid. The Resistance needs you! Wanna be a spy?
Kaz: You’re sooooo cool.
Poe: That’s a yes! Let’s go!

Kaz is a terrifically awful spy, but he’s a good pilot, and a good person, so he does well enough making friends and gaining the trust of the people around him on The Colossus, a refueling station on a sea planet. This includes a retired rebellion pilot, and his two teenage proteges.

The voice cast is delightful. All talented, and I had an immediate, “Oh, no, I love him,” reaction to Kaz as well. I have a soft spot for protagonists who are constantly in over their heads and that’s something that Kaz has in spades.

What’s also deeply fun and creative about Resistance is when it’s set, which quite literally the days leading up to The Force Awakens, so the First Order’s ascendance, the Resistance getting it’s act together has a ticking clock to it, which gives the show a lot in common with Rogue One actually. That’s about all it has in common with Rogue One but that’s there.

The finale bumps up exactly with the climax of Awakens, and what’s going on on The Colossus while Rey, Poe and Finn are storming Star Killer Base.

Season 2 begins next week. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for this gang. (The teaser shows us Kylo Ren, which is fun, but I want more than anything for Kaz to meet Finn.)

Which we will talk about next week. I genuinely can’t wait to watch The Force Awakens again, and to write about it again. It’s the movie that got me excited about Star Wars to begin with. I’d always loved it, but The Force Awakens was like that moment where the nerdy girl next door took her glasses off and I realized she was the one for me all along.

 

60 Books In 2019 #46: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

I don’t know what I liked best about Alex, Approximately, the way it played out like the kind of mid 90’s indie film, which I love, or if it’s about kids who love movies and vintage crap, like I did, or if it used The Shop Around The Corner as it’s rom-com pattern, which I think can be used infinitely (and largely has)

As for plot, teenager Bailey Rydell has just moved to Northern California to live with her dad, after her mother’s second marriage hits the rocks. There’s hints here and there that something really traumatic happened to Bailey early on and the reveal is definitely worth it, so I won’t spoil it. Also, somewhat coincidentally, she has an internet pen pal, a boy named Alex., a fellow film buff who lives in the same beach town as her dad. Bailey hasn’t told him she moved but has decided she’s going to find him, based on their vague conversations.

Once she starts her summer job at a local curiosity museum, Bailey immediately finds herself on the wrong side of hottie surfer dude/security guard Porter Roth. OF COURSE once they get to know one another, Bailey and Porter fall in love their odd mix of teen nerdiness and traumatic background fitting together.

Since I mentioned The Shop Around The Corner (and You’ve Got Mail coming right from there…) you can probably guess that Porter is Alex. It’s all terribly sweet.

It took a little while for me to get into the headspace for this book, coming off of IT afterall…I even took a brief break and reread some Percy Jackson books, which needed to be done anyway, with the fourth Trials Of Apollo out this week. (I have to get to 50 before I’m letting myself read it. I do make the rules on this one. It’s arbitrary, but still…)

Up next is The Kitchen by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. I was hoping to read this before seeing the movie, and I did, but the movie is also now long gone from theaters…so…yeah…

Why Do We Go On With It All?

So, I’ve been lax this movie season. But if you thought I wasn’t lazily sauntering towards Downton Abbey think again.

There’s no rush at Downton, where it feels like time has stopped. It’s been two years but nothing much has changed, Anna has a fab new hairdo, Tom’s lost some weight, but Daisy and Andy are still downstairs, Moseley and Shaw are still at vague flirting and Thomas is still cranky and Mary is still running things.

Of course everything gets upended when the King and Queen come to visit, and the usual beats are hit. Edith has a woe is me crisis of a minor personal variety (She’s pregnant! But Bertie is being asked to go on a Colonial Tour with The Prince of Wales to model good family man behavior. Me to my mom, “Well we know that didn’t work.”) Anna gets involved with some criminal activity. (No, Little Johnny Bates is not arrested for murder. More’s the pity. Then at least something would have happened.) Thomas Barrow befriends (and more?) the king’s valet, winds up arrested in a bar raid in York, and Tom and Mary foil a plot to assassinate the king. (Remember early Tom, back when he was joining Sien Fien and burning down Anglo-Irish castles? Now he’s ratting defecting British Intelligence officers out to the crown? The part of me that loves the slow silliness of British period pieces is thrilled, the part of me who’s family left Ireland around the time this particular one is set, uh, finds it hard to stomach.)

There’s plenty of the stuff that made Downton Abbey the show, fun here. (The clothes, Isobel and The Dowager Countess trading barbs, Carson and Mrs. Hughes doing their thing.) There’s just not enough of what made it great. I rewatched the series to get ready for this movie, and while it was always a big glossy soap opera it at least had something of a human heart. That heart is gone here, which makes the whole thing feel shallow and a bit silly.

It’s all damn pretty though. My god, Highclere Castle on the big screen is worth the whole endeavor, followed closely by some of the clothes. (Michelle Dockery dons a red leather coat that’s positively swoon worthy and the gown she wears to the royal ball is worth the price of admission.) But this isn’t a good movie. It wouldn’t even be a particularly good episode of the show. (For God’s sake man, Robert doesn’t even comment about how we’re living in a changing world and old chap, we must change with it! Not ONCE!)

Rankings:

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  7. Downton Abbey

Trailers

What the hell is that fireman movie with Jon Cena, Keegan Michael Key and John Leguizamo and some kids? I love those three men and would like a GOOD movie with them please!

Harriet – I look forward to weeping profusely at this, which looks really wonderful. Even if I feel deeply attacked by a movie starring Cynthia Orivo and Leslie Odom Jr. that isn’t a musical.

Last Christmas – Shut up and take my money! Seriously I can’t with how adorable this movie looks. And I agree, she is most definitely going to be dead by the end. Or he’s a ghost or angel. There’s something supernatural going on with that one.

Dark Waters – We’re heading into the Oscar Pursuit Career Stage for Ruffalo and I am HERE.FOR.IT.

Ford V Ferrari – Christian Bale using his real accent! Matt Damon as a scheming smart guy! Race cars! Sciencing the shit out of things! I can’t wait to see this.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

The thing about Return Of The Jedi is that I really love it a lot. I like endings, and I particularly like happy endings of the fairy tale variety. Where good triumphs, and evil retreats defeated.

So, I really like Return Of The Jedi that has that in spades, plus a strong theme of family and legacy and the things we need to take. It includes some pretty strong bullshit, (from a certain point of view) and it’s certainly a more clumsy movie than either of it’s predecessors, but I love that ending. I love Luke redeeming his father. I love the rescue sequence in Jabba’s palace.

The main thing though, that again, this project has given me is perspective on the series as an organic whole, and you can really start to see the clunkiness that is Lucas’s style take shape. Luke and Leia’s conversation where he reveals their sibling relationship is about as bad as “I hate sand.” It’s better because Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are better than Hayden Christiansen, but the dialog itself is bad, bad, bad.

Luckily, it’s just the one scene, the rest of the movie feels more natural, clearer and is really lovely. Frank Oz is probably my favorite part of both Empire and Jedi. 

Yoda’s role in the saga is kind of ridiculously great and one of my favorite, “go by the seat of your pants” legacies of Star Wars, his prominence in the saga is something of a fluke because of the great performance in Empire. People love Yoda, so Lucas gave the people what they wanted. (You know, kind of.)

Overall it’s hard to describe what exactly made the original Star Wars trilogy work. It really, really shouldn’t. It’s hokey, and strange and  lovely, and I’m so glad it exists.

Next week we talk about Star Wars: Resistance, which I have already finished as of this writing and that I love with all of my heart.

Fangirl Love Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Oh boy howdy, The Empire Strikes Back is a good movie. Just appallingly and spectacularly good.

I went in to this watch not sure what I wanted this essay to be, and found myself thinking about a million things, especially in connection with my having watched Clone Wars and Rebels recently. Mostly, thinking about The Force.

The Skywalker family’s strength in the Force, is undisputed, they’re in it deep, connected possibly pure force beings of some kind. Anakin turning his back on his role as the keeper of balance was a big problem, as laid out in the wonderful (though I have learned controversial) Mallus trilogy of episodes in Clone Wars. But what’s even more important here is the way that Luke repeats that mistake here, and Yoda and Obi-Wan know it.

Luke chooses to go after Han and Leia in Bespin rather than continue his training. Anakin chose Obi-Wan and Ahsoka over his destiny as the chosen one. And he chose Padme’s life over everything, the galaxy, even his own soul. Yoda and Obi-Wan want to spare Luke this, and spare the galaxy the fall of another Skywalker.

It’s an intriguing dynamic in the saga and one that’s illuminated by looking at things as a whole, even if that isn’t how they were originally meant to be. Filoni, and JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson, build a lot from the dynamics Lucas and Kershner set up in this movie and it’s quite impressive.

As for all the other stuff, I’ve mentioned that The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite love story ever, right? Han and Leia’s half of the movie is masterful. From the first look across the control room on Hoth to “I know,” everything is done subtly and gorgeously and naturally, and knowing as we do now that Carrie Fisher was the one writing it (for the most part) just makes the whole thing even stronger.

And then there’s Lando. If there’s one thing that my since the Disney acquisition full on embracing of Star Wars thing has taught me it’s that I really, really like Lando Calrissian. It’s almost non sensiscal, but I just really love seeing him on screen, in comic books. (Charles Soule!) Billy Dee Williams is awesome as Lando, and you guys, I’m just so happy that he’s going to be coming back. Aren’t you? BE HAPPY ABOUT IT! Also I think they should give Donald Glover his own Lando movie.

(That was a real, “Ma’am, this is an Arby’s,” moment.)

Next week we wrap up the Originals with Return Of The Jedi, which I secretly like better than Empire because it has more dance parties, and all movies should have dance parties.

60 Books In 2019 #45: It By Stephen King

Bill Denbrough is a gunslinger. I thought quietly as the Loser’s Club came together in two timelines throughout the first 500 pages of the epic It. Maybe Beverly Marsh and Mike Hanlon too. Maybe all of them, but definitely, definitely Bill. 

It is a funny book. Even for King, it rambles and fails to cohere in places. It’s brilliant and beautiful and odd and unfathomably strange. It’s  both obsessed with sex and chaste as a nun. It’s about memory and childhood and forgetting and magic and fear, and somehow, not very scary at all?

I can tell you one thing, as all things serve the beam (which gets a shout out as King describes one of the Losers Club’s better summer afternoons), I hate that fucking Turtle a whole lot.

What a godamned useless cosmic entity it is. Spitting up universes with terrible monsters, that infect small Maine towns and eat children my manifesting evil murder clowns and giant birds and what not.

But I love Bill Denbrough. I’ve fallen in love with one character in each of King’s stories that I’ve hit, that I never wanted to let go of, and for It, it’s Bill. (One would think Richie, given my allegiance to second Bananas, but no.) What a great kid! And grownup. And leader. Seriously. I love this character.

The book’s playing with memory is outstanding writing and It, and Pennywise The Dancing Clown are scary monsters. (Though, having read it practically back to back with The Shining, I find the Overlook’s ghosts much creepier.) The Losers Club are a tight band of heroes, a ka-tet worthy of the name.

But man, fuck that fucking Turtle.

Up next is Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

Is there anything left to say about Star Wars, or A New Hope depending on your level of fandom pedantry?

I don’t even remember the first time I watched this movie, that’s how weaved into my life it is. I’m sure it was a rainy Saturday, and I’m sure my dad had his arm around me. I couldn’t have been older than three. I don’t remember this, I just know this is so, because that’s how we watched movies when I was little.

Here’s the thing about A New Hope that I think I, despite talking about the movie constantly, and loving what it has birthed, tend to forget. It’s a basic ass movie that is miraculously not boring. It should be boring. It’s weird that it isn’t boring.

The story is so simple. The dialogue is silly. The acting is very good. The score is sublime and the action is terrific. And this all gels to make something wonderful, something unqiue and beautiful that has since just exploded, like a death star.

I don’t know, I didn’t find anything new in this watch. I was just so happy to be watching this movie again. I was happy to watch Han, Luke and Leia all meet. I was happy to see Obi-Wan become one with the Force. I was just so damn happy. I love Star Wars.

I wish there was more to this post, but I just don’t know what’s left to say. It’s a really good movie and I like it a lot and I will watch it again many times in my life.

Next Week We’re heading into the Star Wars GOAT with The Empire Strikes Back, I don”t know exactly what I’m going to be writing about, but there’s a good chance is that it’s going to rhyme with “Brando.”

60 Books In 2019 #44: With The Fire On High By Elizabeth Acevedo

When I was in grade school one month out of the year we would be told that our book report had to be a “multi cultural book.” This vaguely racist category basically meant we had to read a book that wasn’t about white people. That’s it. The main character couldn’t be white.

As I read With The Fire On High which is fun, compelling and interesting I thought this was the perfect book for such an assignment. The main character, Emoni, is an Afro-Puerto Rican girl living in Philadelphia. She had a baby at fourteen and wants to be a chef and the book is about her senior year.

It’s a great slice of life story, and Emoni is a really compelling protagonist. Her dreams are small but still in her mind out of reach. She loves her daughter but wonders if her life would be easier without her. She resents her absent father. She’s falling in love after years of hiding from boys because of her kid. She’s worried about her grandmother, who raised her. She loves her friends, has petty feuds with her classmates.

As I’m trying to teach myself to cook and write about food, I find books about food all the more compelling. Emoni’s story is punctuated by recipes, all of which sound delicious. (If I’d been home while reading this I would have absolutely given a few of them a whirl.) And as I try to expand my YA palate, I was happy to find Aceveda. (I’m planning on picking up her other book, Poet X as well.)

Up next is IT because CAN’T SLEEP CLOWN WILL EAT ME!

60 Books In 2019 #43: The Shining By Stephen King

If you’ve hung around this blog for the past two years, you know how deeply I regret not letting myself be scared and falling into the work of Stephen King years ago. But as I read The Shining last weekend,and stunned a beach house full of graduated Georgia Tech Sorority girls by explaining I’d never read it before. (Well, the ones that had known me for years were stunned. The ones I’d never met before barely cared, which is fair.) I realized even with my pediatrician mandated, mother sleep needing rules against horror in my adolescence, I probably wouldn’t have been reading King anyway.

If there was one thing in the world that I craved as a teenager it was acceptance. I’ve often described myself as feeling like a guest star with my various groups of friends. (This caused one therapist, one of my favorites, who I had to part ways with because of changing insurance, to remind me that “life is not narrative.” Mr. King would probably disagree, Ma’am!) I hid my nerdy obsessions from my friends, where they didn’t fit. With my theater friends, I was all about Sondheim and Schwartz, with my hometown friends I loved indie rock and sitcoms and old movies, with my school friends (who had some theatrical crossover) it was punk rock and YA novels and blockbuster movies. (This allowed the X-Men and Batman to creep in occasionally.)

If I’d gotten into Stephen King then, and started talking about Danny Torrance’s Shine in relation to Jake Chamber’s Touch I don’t know that I could have survived the baffled looks.

This preamble is all to say that talking about The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant but very different from this book much to the chagrin of it’s author, film would have been acceptable conversation among all my friends, the book was anathema to them.

Anyway, The Shining, which rules. Just definitively, it’s amazing, and I’m glad I didn’t read it while I was still high on the tower but saved it for when I knew I was going to need a kick start back into his style, with several big deal adaptions on their way.

The book itself is a masterful haunted house story, with The Overlook Hotel taking on a monstrous personality, and it’s mysterious “manager.” (I believe I said outloud as Grady, the long dead caretaker discussed management with Jack Torrance, “The Crimson King?”) Because I began my constant reading journey with The Dark Tower I know I am doomed to feel the pull of the beam whenever I pick up a King book, ya dig? But I was eventually able to see past my own tower induced blinders to the horror and scares at The Shining’s heart, the horrors of addiction and rage and toxic masculinity. The things that consume Jack Torrance as his wife Wendy tries to shelter Danny from them.

And let’s talk about Wendy, shall we? Man, if I’d read this book when it came out and then watched that movie I’d have been PISSED AS HELL about Wendy, who is nothing but a tower of strength and patience balancing on a frayed nerve from her first moments. Granted, King has a tendency to do this with his women, he writes soft hearted survivor ladies, who come out of the crucible of male cruelty saintly and strong. It’s a problem on it’s own but it’s a hell of a sight better than the screaming, whining, snivelling performance given by Shelly Duvall in the movie.

Danny Torrance is a great character, maybe a little young for his role, King hadn’t yet hit his sweet spot of tween hero boys yet, so five year old Danny feels over precocious. (If Danny were 10 he’d be perfect. Then again, if Danny were 10 he’d be Jake Chambers…so there’s that.) (Look, we all know this is ending with me reading The Dark Tower again, I mean, not yet, but it’s going to happen.)

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. Up next is With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. Let’s get our YA on y’all!

60 Books In 2019 #42: The Proposal By Jasmine Guillory

You guys remember how much I really loved The Wedding Date, right? Well, now we expand into Jasmine Guillory’s California, with The Proposal. Freelance writer Nikole finds herself publicly humiliated when her casual, kind of douchey boyfriend who she was thinking about dumping anyway proposes to her on the jumbotron at a Dodger’s game. (YIKES) She says no, obviously, and is quickly rescued by Carlos Martinez, who we knew as hero Drew’s best friend in The Wedding Date.

The two start dating, and once again competing priorities nearly break them up but don’t!

Having already clicked in to Guillory’s formula I enjoyed watching it play out. I wasn’t as into this as I was her first, though I related to Carlos a lot. (Putting his life on hold because of his family, or at least that’s his excuse. BEEN THERE MAN!)

The book moves quickly and was exactly what I needed this weekend as I moved around Florida and had no idea where I was going to be sleeping. It’s such an easy read and so perky and happy and fun. I also appreciate the natural way Guillory works with diversity, not have characters who “happen to be” minorities, but who’s race and backgrounds influence everything about them. It’s a nice change from my usual rom-com fair, of perky white girls who move to NYC to be journalists. (I will never abandon my perky white girls who move to NYC to journalists. I love them.)

Up next, and now for something completely different, The Shining by Stephen King. As I close in on the 60 books, and pressing myself to do more diversity, we’re bumping up against the weather changing and 3 (count ’em) Stephen King related projects coming out (IT, Castle Rock season 2 and Doctor Sleep) which means, you know…we gotta get back on the path of the beam.