Star Wars the Last Jedi – Belated Review

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Seeing the Movie:
The Last Jedi caused bitter strife among Star Wars fans ever since it first came out, and it will probably do so until the heat death of the galaxy. I saw The Last Jedi with my father last December partly for that reason, to see what annoyed the crying manbabies this time, and I liked the film on the whole. Even my father liked it, saying it was different from the other Star Wars movies. I found his comment striking because he hardly likes anything; he even trash talks Shakespeare and Mozart for being commercial artists, which he is right.

But commercial artists are not bad artists by nature. We admire Shakespeare and Mozart for good reasons while Disney, a big businessman, keeps making enchanting powerful fairy tales to this day, despite being dead for fifty-two years. Not even death cheated Disney, so I am not too surprised he claimed Star Wars as his own, and The Last Jedi is the fruit of his labors.

I saw The Last Jedi again, this time with a friend, about a week ago, and I still like the film for all its faults. I would say the Last Jedi is excellent when dealing with the larger difficult themes but is weak with details in the plot. Whether you like the film or not depends if you spot the larger themes and, if you do, whether it outshines the plot holes.

What Critics and Audience Say:
I checked Rotten Tomatoes for a good sample of critic and audience reviews, one that reflects of the mood of the public I see a stark difference, not in what critics and fans saw in The Last Jedi, but how they saw it. Critics see movies with trained eyes, seeking all the things your high school English teacher taught you to see in stories: motifs, symbols, characters, motives, plot, development, and so on. They see the film from a distance, with their head more than their heart.

But fans see franchise films from a very close point of view; looking for the characters they love so dearly, they want the franchise to be consistent more than anything else, but while they are deeply involved in the story they are also shortsighted. Film directors carry a burden because of this, where they must struggle to make a new movie like the old movie, but add enough new things to make the new movie a new movie. The Force Awakens is too timid, so fans complain of it being a rehash of A New Hope, while The Last Jedi is too bold, so fans feel betrayed by Disney. The directors cannot win; the fans know this, and enjoy holding the unfair advantage.

The critics gave the Last Jedi rather positive reviews, sometimes with too much optimism. Leah Pickett of the Chicago Reader discusses the themes in The Last Jedi shared with the other Star Wars films [1]. Christopher Orr from the Atlantic discusses how director Rian Johnson approached the film, by toying with the themes seen throughout the Star Wars franchise and confounding our expectations [2]. Ron Gonsalves from E Film Critic makes the most insightful review, pointing out how The Last Jedi subverts the Hero’s Tale, a classic archetype that forms the backbone of the original trilogy [3].

So what did the audience say? Well, some people were intelligent, some not. Sanjay Rema and Phil Hubbs criticized the Last Jedi for its many plot holes, which Hubbs listed in lengthy detail [4]. The Internet talk show host known as Destiny explained how the movie did not properly justify the subversions in it [5]. Meanwhile, Plinkett and friends from Red Letter Media whined for 47 minutes how the film was only about failure, with the moral being “don’t try anything” [6]. As for the racist morons who hate Finn for being black, they are the source of my contempt.

My Review:
What did I think about The Last Jedi? I will describe the movie’s faults first, its virtues second.

Rey’s character jumps at me first: she grew up on the wasteland planet Jakku but speaks with a perfect British accent, as if she lived her whole live on wealthy Coruscant. A woman who trades junk for bread in the middle of nowhere is a coarse creature, Daisy Ridley homeless, not Daisy Ridley without makeup. If she must have an English accent, it better be cockney. Her power in the Force and skills with the blade are absurdly advanced despite her small amount of training, something many fans pointed out.

I found it weird when Leah, blasted into space, uses the Force to fly back to safety. There is no technical fault in the scene: you can indeed survive in outer space for a few minutes and Leah has the Force, as much as Luke does, to perform a superhuman feat if she needs to. I can only justify Leah for her Marry Poppins act if she uses the Force in next film to fulfill such an extreme foreshadowing.

Rose and Finn’s subplot is, as fans claimed, the weakest in the film, which I agree. But the subplot has to exist, to give Finn something to do and a way for the Resistance to escape the First Order. On the good end, it explores how businessmen profit from war by selling weapons to different armies, not caring who wins. On the bad end, we brush that theme for only a few seconds and never hear from it again. I like Rose; she is adorable, but she acts at times like a righteous liberal stereotype.

I think Rose is really cute, and actress Kelly Tran even cuter, and I still cannot fathom why so many fans hate her guts. Is Rose the best writ character in Star Wars? Clearly not, but neither are Boba Fett or Admiral Ackbar; the latter is a walking Internet meme but little more, but fans collect Boba Fett action figures and shed bitter tears when Ackbar dies.

And what of the virtues, the difficult themes I mentioned earlier? For one, it is Luke’s character. In Star Wars Legends (no longer canon), Luke creates a new Jedi Order, fights several new Sith Lords, and gains godlike powers in the Force – and people complain about Rey! It rehashes the old religious war between Jedi and Sith, taking the Star Wars franchise nowhere. Most of the Legends storyline is stagnant; even the technology barely improves, and the archetypal themes of Star Wars are rarely improved on with any depth.

When creating Star Wars, George Lucas avoided making Space Rambo characters like Flash Gordon and James Kirk, but instead made characters who were weak and insecure. Luke was a whiny teenager and Darth Vader was sick depressed man in an iron mask. Making the older Luke into a disgruntled hermit makes sense, since the old hippies who did not sell out to the establishment become a kind of strange outcast. Luke does not become Space Rambo like he does in Legends but is punished for his hubris. In trying to rebuild the Jedi Order, he destroyed it, having the same Error as Yoda and Obi-Wan did.

Ever since Disney took over Star Wars, he has undermined the old morals of good versus evil. The Jedi failed so often because they feared the Dark Side of the Force, the primal intense selfish passions all humans have, and in doing so they cut off the deeper needs we have that make life worth living. They often remind me of 19th century puritans who think if you masturbate you will fall into a path of crime and decadence. Deep in the past, the Jedi and Sith were of one school, made of students who used all aspects of the Force. It only makes sense for Star Wars to overcome its Manichean philosophy to go to the future.

Some fans complain of the First Order being a rehash of the Empire, but that is the point. I write these words in a time when fascists have resurged in mainstream politics, aiming to commit the same crimes their fathers did: to strengthen an oppressive government, to expel nonwhites from the country, to subjugate women, to cull the country of “degenerates”, and so on. General Hux and Kylo Ren, as chiefs of the First Order, wish to oppress the galaxy as the Empire did, but with bigger weapons of war. One fan on Facebook called General Hux a screaming Neo Nazi buffoon, but that is the point of his character.

I also like the plot twist with the Codebreaker. Rose and Finn find a shady man, the Codebreaker, who promises to deactivate a tracking program in the First Order’s flagship, allowing the Resistance to escape. Yet the Codebreaker also turns over his clients to the First Empire to gain a reward for their capture, not caring of the fate of either faction. Fans who have seen the Original Trilogy were trained to see shady allies of the hero, like Han Solo, as a “thief with a heart of gold”, meaning he had his heart in the right place all along and could be redeemed. But the Codebreaker acts like an actual criminal mercenary, not giving a damn of anyone’s fate but his own.

Maybe the best way I could describe The Last Jedi would be “growing pains”. I give the movie a 7/10, for having mixed feelings for such a tricky work, but liking it anyway. I wait for the next Star Wars movie with apprehension, hoping it finishes the Sequel Trilogy with a good taste in my mouth. Let it be so.

Other Reviewers:
1. Pickett, Leah. “Luke Skywalker Still Has Lessons to Learn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”Chicago Reader, 20 Dec. 2017, http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/star-wars-the-last-jedi-luke-skywalker/Content?oid=37051070.

2. Orr, Christopher. “The Last Jedi: The Best Star Wars Movie Since 1980?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 14 Dec. 2017, http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/the-last-jedi-may-be-the-best-star-wars-movie-since-the-empire-strikes-back/548363/?utm_source=feed.

3. Gonsalves, Ron. “Overall Rating.” Movie Review – Star Wars: Episode VIII : The Last Jedi – EFilmCritic, 3 Apr. 2018, http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=28770&reviewer=416.

4. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” (2017) – Rotten Tomatoes, 25 Apr. 2018, http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/star_wars_the_last_jedi/#audience_reviews.

5. Destiny. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Review with Kyle, Devin Nash & MrMouton.” YouTube, 16 Dec. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNU_5og95fs&t=4865s.

6. RedLetterMedia. “Half in the Bag: The Last Last Jedi Review.” YouTube, 19 Dec. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9hwGZFPSmw.

Hoity Snoot Reviews: Tim Burton’s X-Men

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Tim Burton’s X-Men is a typical PG rated movie fun for the whole family that only superficially resembles Tim Burton’s style. It is similar to modern goths, punks, hipsters, and other “alternative” people. They dress like rebels but act every bit like your typical white-collar office drone. Tim Burton himself went in that direction more than once. The quirky and macabre director who made A Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline also made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland, the latter is a typical action-adventure film that happened to be set in wonderland. So yeah, this movie is basically the Hot Topic of Tim Burton films.

So how did Tim Burton tackle the subject of the X-Men, now almost a genre in itself, complete with scores of shitty movies scheduled for production in the next ten years like SUVs on a factory line?

Well, he starts with Protagonist, a not too unusual boy who is really special but no one sees it yet. His kind, mentor-like grandpa, who is named Grandpa, is brutally murdered by a Hollow, an abomination straight from a Lovecraft novel. Protagonist journeys with his asshole dad, who is called Dumb Skeptic, to dreary, rainy Wales. This is a Tim Burton movie. It must take place in England and every character must drink tea and look whiter than sour cream.

Protagonist abandons his father; he falls down the rabbit hole to a wonderful, quirky, whimsical mansion where everyone is as cool and different as he is. This new cast includes Love Interest, a girl who is literally full of hot air and Jealous Guy, some guy who sulks all the time. A caretaker called Professor Peregrine Xavier watches over the children, protecting them from all the normies who just don’t understand what it’s like to be different.

But all is not well. Samuel L. Jackson, leader of the Hollows and token black man Tim Burton put in the film in a vain attempt to ward off whiny liberal critics, is mad as hell for not getting to swear in this movie, and he is out to kill a muthafucka’. He captures Professor Xavier for his dastardly scheme and, of course, violently kills a few people along the way.

Protagonist and his motley crew of rebels track down Samuel L. Jackson and foil his plans. Enough is enough! Samuel L. Jackson has had with these muthafuckin’ kids in his muthafuckin’ business! Everybody strap in! He’s about to open a fuckin’ can of whoopass! But, sadly, he never gets to because parental censorship. He dies, the day is saved, and Protagonist and Love Interest lose their virginity (off screen of course).

I cannot give any critical analysis or anything dumb like that for this movie because there is nothing to analyze. Just take your whiny preteen brat to this movie instead of letting them shop at Hot Topic. It is cheaper. You will thank me. If your child is not subdued, if he does not grow out of this phase, you must put your foot on the ground. Kindly remind your child he is just as boring, mediocre, and shallow as every other person in the world, and toss him out on the street to get a job to prove your point. Believe me, you will thank me.

~Hoity Snoot

 

 

Hoity Snoot Reviews: Pierrot Smiles Back

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Pierrot Smiles Back is Sarah Silverman’s attempt to dramatize her struggles with depression on the big screen (or Netflix these days), with mixed reviews from critics. Most critics praised Sarah’s power as a dramatic actor; her talents being so great she made viewers completely forget the goofy frat girl Sarah everybody knows and loathes. However great Sarah’s performance was, she did not have the commitment from the rest of the cast, which detracted from the film.

But why I am I treating this film so heavily? It’s about depression, and everybody knows you just need to snap out of it and smile goddamnit. If that doesn’t work, take your Prozac. You should be relieved of your inner demons at the cost of your ability to feel anything. If that doesn’t work, you’re clearly a dumb, attention-seeking emo whore who should just kill herself already.

Everyone knows that comedians are deeply miserable people at heart who use their comedy to medicate themselves to keep their sanity together. Show business is no laughing matter. And Sarah does show the depth of that misery through her weeping, rages, and reckless acts despite her bumbling costars.

Sarah plays herself in the film, as she does in everything because she is that egotistical. She is an affluent housewife who, strangely enough, suffers depression. It is odd. What does she have to be depressed about? She is white, she doesn’t have to work in a tollbooth for eight hours a day, her husband does not abuse her, she has two happy loving children, and she drives a sleek Dodge van with folding seats that destroys the earth’s atmosphere each passing minute.

Yet she willfully destroys her life. The perverse woman snorts powdered sugar with rolled up one hundred dollar bills, she cuckolds her husband by having buttsex with shady men in bars, she raves at some dumb hippie mom for saying Thanksgiving is genocide, and destroys her husband’s deal with a customer by calling his wife a whore.

Sarah clearly wants you to view her character as tragic and wants you to sympathize with her. I do sympathize with her despite her many faults because I know how terrible mental illness is, as I have OCD and mild depression. When such demons grip you in full force they distort everything you see about the world and yourself. They shut out everything else in your life until all that exists is your self-absorbed pain and self-loathing. At its worst depression is like a constant pain that never goes away. It is almost physical.

At the very start of the film you see a close shot of Sarah’s face. Her eyes are as dark and bleak as the deepest pit of Hell as she numbly stares at what can only be called an abyss inside you. This is what being possessed by your demons looks like. Now steal my idea and win yourself an Oscar or a Noble Prize in Literature, you pretentious prick.

~Hoity Snoot

Hoity Snoot Reviews: Leaving Behind Bobby Fischer

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Coming to the big screen, Josh Waitzkin stars in Leaving Behind Bobby Fischer, a dramatization of his early life as a chess child superstar. Know-it-all critics at Rotten Tomatoes generally describe the movie as a coming of age story that pleads for introspection and decency. But what they miss is what Josh outgrows in the first place and that is Bobby Fischer.

Josh is at heart an ordinary kid who loves to play baseball and legos. He also loves to play chess with drug addicts, hustlers, and other typical wholesome inner city residents in Washington Square Park. It is in this muddy water where his chess talents begin to bloom as a lotus. His father encourages Josh’s talent and gets him a drunk bitter Irishman failure for a chess teacher.

The two jaded adults live vicariously through the small boy, burdening him with adult expectations and responsibility. Josh strains under the pressure and meets his rival, Jonathan Poe, a child chess machine who is what Josh is in danger of becoming. Poe is a mean-spirited arrogant little shit completely lacking in normal human behavior and emotions. His father, unsurprisingly, is another bitter failure who vicariously lives through his son.

Josh and Poe face off in a national championship for tots who still wet their beds and pick their noses in public. Josh remembers the advice of his very first teacher, the drug addict street hustler and the most human chess player in the film, and plays the man, not the board. Josh takes advantage of Poe’s arrogance to avoid a draw and claim victory. The movie ends with Josh reflecting on Bobby Fischer’s influence on chess and America.

Yes, the actual title of the movie is Searching for Bobby Fischer but what really happens is Josh leaves him. The stunted Poe is, as a bystander claimed, “the next Fischer”. Bobby Fischer never appears in the film in person. He is an icon, a symbol, but Josh finally sees him in person through Poe, and it is not a pretty sight. Poe has no life outside of chess and his father even stopped him from going to school and playing with other kids

Bobby Fischer was a great chess player; that cannot be questioned, but he was a failure as a human being. He had a superficial and one-dimensional understanding of the world, he knew little of human contact and intimacy, and he was an easy dupe to the anti-Semitic and anti-communist propaganda of his time. Americans hailed him as an all-American hero before he turned his back on them, glorying in the deaths of the victims of 9/11.

He is exactly the kind of person Josh doesn’t want to be. His mother rightfully senses that he fears losing his father’s love and protects Josh from losing his humanity, the thing far more important than chess. Too many gifted children are raised wrong, closed off in ivory towers as they are deemed too special for us mere mortals. This creates a stunted person unable to deal with the real world. I should know. My dad was raised a similar way by his parents, and he became an abusive, irresponsible person who damaged many people. Thankfully, Josh avoids that path and transcends that mentality.

~Hoity Snoot

 

 

Hoity Snoot Reviews: Harry Potter and the Muggle Death Eaters

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Quite some time passed between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. What most people don’t know, however, is Harry Potter’s adventure in between: Harry Potter and the Muggle Death Eaters.

The film begins in the Ministry of Magic where Harry’s boss, bored with her high status, assigns Harry Potter a secret mission. Harry must infiltrate a group of muggle death eaters, informally known as Neo Nazis, White Nationalists, and the Alt Right by muggles, to stop them from poisoning a city’s water supply. Harry agrees to the task, shaving his spiky black hair, covering up his lightning bolt scar, and reading Nazi literature.

Harry acclimates himself well to the muggle death eaters, meeting all sorts of interesting people. He graces himself with dignitaries such as Rush Limbaugh; an entertainer who hosts radio shows in his basement and David Duke; the soft-spoken but completely fucking insane leader of the death eaters. He acquaints himself to other royals of the master race, including a crazy skinhead, a thuggish skinhead, and a poor kid skinhead.

Harry’s secret agent job is difficult, as too many death eaters are suspicious of him. He helps the Ministry capture Rush Limbaugh, who admits to his captors that he tells stupid muggles lies they want to hear to make a living. But Harry also cozies up to David Duke, the muggle equivalent to Lord Voldemort, and sees a fellow man with very human passions, hopes, and fears. Yes, death eaters are people too.

David Duke nearly succeeds in poisoning all the mudbloods in the city but Harry and the Ministry bust him right on time. Harry and his boss reflect how fascism and other radical ideologies are all founded on resentment and victimization before sharing a butterbeer together at an English pub. The muggle world carries on, oblivious and apathetic to everything that happened.

Harry Potter and the Muggle Death Eaters is an exploration of the diseases infecting white America from the inside out, diseases created by feelings of fear, resentment, and entitlement to their dwindling social and economic advantages. While America’s decline is a complicated history with many factors and destroys the lives of nonwhites even worse than those of poor and middle class whites, the death eaters focus their confusion and rage on a single target. I need not mention whom.

This makes them gullible and incompetent, as a conman like Rush Limbaugh easily swindles them with obvious propaganda. The master race, mighty and strong as they are, is easily outmatched by a group of teen anarchist punks on the street. They can’t even poison a city let alone defeat the ZOG machine.

While a fair share of muggle death eaters are poor dumb skinheads, Harry’s biggest rivals are affluent, eloquent, and highly educated. David Duke lives in a large house, has a huge library, and listens to Brahms. He is the model of the American family man. Contrary to popular belief, the most conservative of Americans are not poor, undereducated whites but middle class, college-educated whites. They were the largest demographic to vote for Trump in the 2016 election.

It is important to see how radical ideologies gradually seep from the fringes of society to the mainstream, usually to lie dormant until released. This happens across the left and right of politics, as many militant anarchists and fascists are middle class. Trump appealed to the resentment and underlying racism and fear of white middle class Americans during his campaign, a resentment that was cultivated by decades of coded language and fear mongering. It wasn’t the only important factor that got him into office but it is a big one.

~Hoity Snoot