The History of the Movies #WordPrompt

This month’s WordPrompt features the word BRIDGE. In an email from WordPress the morning of March 9, the first thing I did was start to consider using the WordPrompt inspiration as a jumping-off point for a new blog post.

What’s the Word: Introducing the Monthly WordPrompt

When I was learning how to make blogging a hobby, I took part in a few free courses. WordPress provided me with a ten-day photography course to get me out the door (and onto the “blog”) with some beginning training as a photographer.

Looking for other resources, I found the now-retired writer and educator Jeff Goins, from Nashville, Tennessee, best known for his bestseller The Art of Work, which I have read twice, also led me through an introduction to how to write a blog, some years ago, through the free portion of his training courses, on Facebook. Mr. Goins is great and you can find his blog at https://goinswriter.com/blog/

Nowadays, building a bridge is not an expensive activity. Some towns are doing it to transform the pedestrian experience in their communities and to bring back some charm to the old traditional ways of living. By installing a pedestrian bridge, nearby areas will become more accessible and in turn boost local business as well.

A beautiful bridge crosses the Welland Canal very near to my parent’s home. There is a parking lot to sit in your car and watch ships pass, and walking and rollerskating and hiking trails run to and fro, very nice. It is not really for pedestrians, although you can go on foot if you feel what’s out there is worth walking to.

The road runs out of town in the direction across the bridge. The hiking trails run along the outskirts.

I want, for this post, to go back twenty-five years, to recall some excellent films. All these films pointedly affected me.

The Coen brothers’ 1987 film Raising Arizona is a favorite comedy. Lovers played by Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter pine for a baby of their own, though are unable to conceive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AIfVoGUs6c

Finally, Cage, desperate to make his beloved wife happy, kidnaps a baby to raise him as their own. Despite the bad taste of the plot, it is a very funny caper film and does have a happy, if ambiguous, ending to all the trouble. The evil presence of the monstrous biker, having pledged his help to the infant’s real father, kind of transforms Cage’s view of criminality and helps him see that wrongdoing is not a loving way.

In 1988 audiences got the mind-blowing film Die Hard, where Bruce Willis plays a shameless cop who becomes caught in a high-level burglary in L.A. at Christmas time. The stakes are high for Willis’ character and the action is exciting and fast-paced.

Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman redefined how a movie could introduce a superhero on the silver screen, especially at a time when previous versions of the character were beginning to be forgotten and new themes for the character were being introduced in the pages of comics. Tim Burton’s Batman was not only a superhero adaptation for the big screen but also incorporated elements that had never previously been attempted (or even dreamed of).

The nineteen nineties were set to be an excellent decade for film. With Jaws in 1975, Star Wars in 1977, and Superman in 1978, the tradition of the summer blockbuster event film had been established; the warnings that film was a doomed industry were unfounded. In 1992 Robert Altman brought to the screen a scathing indictment of Hollywood politics; Altman had previously been well known for directing MASH, the Korean War comedy.

Altman’s The Player was the story of a struggling screenwriter, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, keen on making his film a reality; the film executive who might give him his chance becomes so incensed by the trouble writer’s persistence that a lone encounter ends with manslaughter. The rest of the film is about the studio exec’s insistence on escaping justice, and while these are spoilers it is to be noted that the corruption about the murder is so pronounced that it translates to the meta in a break from reality. The Player is a very meta piece of work.

The pop hit of 1994, Trainspotting, based on Scotsman Irvine Welsh’s novel, shows the lives of drug addicts whose only allies are their small pack of anti-social but occasionally intellectual nonconformists. Great movie with not much CGI, but great music and outsider philosophy that is hard to match.

Another outsider film, a tiny film in 1994, Clerks is directed by Jersey’s Kevin Smith and features an unknown cast shot in grainy black and white, giving a voice to frustrations among convenience store characters who carry the talky little thing that Smith would prove in the career ahead of him he would never leave behind.

The Truman Show in 1998 stars Canadian comic Jim Carrey as a naive salesman who wishes passionately to leave his hometown, to give chase to a mysterious girl who once flirted with him in high school. His wife, his mother, and his best friend all reject the idea. Adding to the complexity of Carrey’s character, he misses his father dearly, who drowned in a dramatic storm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne-DzDN7WDw

Alan Ball directed American Beauty in 1999, a scathing satire of the upper class that is reminiscent of some of the best satires of the 1970s, such as Chinatown and Network. The film American Beauty asks questions about art; it takes the American Dream to task, with confusion among its seasoned male characters living successful family man lives.

Another great film from 1999 is The Blair Witch Project, a frightening horror film that broke box office records left and right and was the least expensive investment in Hollywood history that turned out to be the most successful. Internet marketing helped add to the intrigue in 1999 by linking the found footage filmmaking style to a website that helped make the events of the film appear real. I am pretty sure that The Blair Witch Project is the first found-footage horror picture.

In 1999, another excellent movie was Fight Club, in which Edward Norton’s character unravels and reassemblies his psychological makeup and values based on a chance encounter with Brad Pitt. Great music.

A fourth important film from 1999 is The Matrix. Neo, a computer programmer played by Keanu Reeves, finds out truths about a simulation that controls the world and slowly accepts that he is a hero for it.

SLC Punk in 2001 brought arthouse outsider sensibilities to the story of an American punk asshole who would claim to be a punk rocker while still pursuing the avenues opened to him by his hardworking parents. Good music here, too.

In 2002 The Bourne Identity stars Matt Damon as a U.S. spy with no memory of who he truly is. A realistically minimal style of narrative where the plot and dialogue are concise and effective helps make this film just great! No one dreamed it would be such an influential hit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpKaB5dvQ4g

By making Bourne Identity’s scripted ending seem insensitive, the events of September 11, 2001, complicated creative decisions about its conclusion, the director determined.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 in 2003 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 in 2004, both directed by Quentin Tarantino, proved that the best martial arts films in screen history could now come within from the USA; a new tradition.

The Terminal, a 2005 film starring Tom Hanks as an immigrant living in an airline terminal, until his immigration issues can be resolved, is a terrific movie. Hank’s efforts to be guilelessly cool work well and there is quite a bit of observational satire about social acceptance.

Another film that was strong in 2005 was Transformers, based on the Hasbro toys of the 1980s that represent advanced cars and trucks that transform into robots. Megan Fox delivers a strong and visually sophisticated performance as the female lead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t3TedG-ovs&vl=en

Note: this video, while using footage from earlier films in the franchise, is mostly discussing Transformers 7.

In 2006, Daniel Craig starred as James Bond 007 in Casino Royale, which was the last film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels after decades of James Bond movies. Craig did a good job as his performance helped bring a flashy but lightweight, though beloved, film franchise, into a new universe for 007, that saw that what was going on was dark and dirty.

The Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men in 2007 is stellar, where a lucky cowboy does his best to steal a small fortune in drug money after he comes across a shoutout where no one has survived. The villain in this film is a frightening characterization.

The 2007 action film Live Free or Die Hard is a sequel to 1988’s Die Hard, and even has Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith together for a scene. Unusual that a greying lead actor can return to continue to do a stunt-heavy film would become more and more acceptable for cinema audiences who enjoy the USA style of filmmaking.

A few years later, in 2015, the promotional work by the Walt Disney Corporation for Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens made me glad that I had Star Wars toys as a kid. I even had an R2-D2 light switch cover that would turn off the light when I needed to rest. I had workbooks, which are a little unfair to the other students, that helped teach me to put words together on the page through the lens of a world filled with Star Wars.

I had a lot of action figures that were likenesses of characters and vehicles from the Original Trilogy, and, in nice weather, I could play with them in the backyard of my house. In 2015 some of that fun reemerged unexpectedly when Disney and Lucasfilm revealed that J. J. Abrams would direct a brand new Star Wars film. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill even returned for the new titles.

In 2017, Rogue One A Star Wars Story also provided a new backstory to the classic sci-fi Star Wars from 1977.

The 2019 film Joker is a standout about an anti-social outsider who wishes for nothing more than both sanity in his mind and the city around him, and who chooses between fame as a comedian or joining the criminal faction of the city of Gotham. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2ZIMeqgZ6E

Boldness of The Skywalker Saga: Where’d You Go?

Dedicated to a love of Star Wars, Celebration this month in Chicago flabbergasted fans.  The assembly included panel discussions and all manner of Star Wars exhibits, and also celebrity appearances, a teaser for Episode IX, along with trailers for EA’s game Jedi:  Fallen Order, The Clone Wars S7, and The Mandalorian.  The celebration also took a look back at The Phantom Menace, embracing the sci-fi franchise once again.


StarWars.com

I took in some of it owing to its availability on YouTube.  Celebration, I recall, is nine years in the running, and in 2019 it highlights Episode IX.  Celebration revealed the title of Episode IX, and a teaser trailer.  There is excitement in the business sector of the entertainment industry, being the introduction of Disney+.  Disney+ is making available animated features from Disney’s history of films, along with Marvel Cinema Universe titles from the last ten or eleven years, and the Star Wars films, of which by now there are several.

The reason I enjoy Star Wars is that when J. J. Abrams directed The Force Awakens, I felt the excitement that Star Wars was again back speaking to me.  It seemed to again be a film series to be passionate about.

The response following Celebration did not completely line up with the positive outlook of the fortunate people who went to Celebration in person.  While most everybody there loved what’s going on, some of the YouTube channels who discuss Star Wars have mixed feelings, to say the least.  Geeks + Gamers criticized the teaser for Episode IX, The Quartering was dismissive, and a union of voices on the Internet ridiculed reactions that were exuberantly emotional.  All that is best measured against the outpouring of support for the franchise.

It is almost as if there is a guilty conscience about being part of the Fandom Menace and hating The Last Jedi, but still wanting to see what Episode IX is about.  I am sure the average fan does not feel this way.  I waited for The Last Jedi to go to Netflix, but I enjoyed it.


Photographer:
Tim Mossholder

The influence of Star Wars is hard to comprehend, but there is a war indeed between the feelings a fan has for Star Wars in the nineteen seventies and eighties, and equivalent satisfaction with the new trilogy, however much it taps into your experience of Star Wars and however deep it runs within you that the original films were perfect.

Rian Johnson directed The Last Jedi, and while that film was a commercial success, the popular response to the movie, as, for example, those voices on the Internet made known on Rotten Tomatoes, divided the fans.

None of this will be settled until December, but there will be a lot of excitement that grows this summer and fall.  As is typical of hot takes, animosities, apprehension, and outrage for Star Wars will be evident in the backlash that is going, “to battle,” for whatever reasons.

Publishous this month presented the Where’d You Go writing prompt.  Publishous is an 11,000-strong Medium newsletter which presents and highlights Christian writers who seek to make it, in the sense that they are writing because of the compulsion they feel to do so.  Although I’m not a member of Publishous, I look over articles they present, which provide some inspiration to blog in light of their writing prompts.

I am also a volunteer at a cemetery, Maple Lawn Cemetery, and I am their SMM.  You can find out more about us here: http://www.maplelawncemetery.org

Thank you, and please feel welcome to “like,” “follow,” and/or comment.  All the best.

SciFi Fandom Pride: Where’d You Go? “He tends to say whatever comes into his circuits.” – Cassian Andor, Rogue One

The Force Awakens

To think about pride, like for me familiarity with popular science fiction, it is true that in 2015, enthusiasm for the Star Wars films, Star Wars fandom, soared nearly beyond measure when Lucasfilm presented the Star Wars film The Force Awakens.

The realization was great that appreciation for the popular trilogy of films of the nineteen seventies and eighties was “striking back,” an achievement again like the success of Star Wars in the spring of 1977.  George Lucas nearly didn’t get his 1977 film made, according to accounts of what happened, and even though it is true that most film projects whether original in scope or not fail to get made, it is an endearing success story that Lucas made the movie.  The phrase “success story” lacks the weight behind what Star Wars actually did to Hollywood cinema, which was as expansive as what became of the Star Wars galaxy a long time ago and far away.


Photographer:
One Idea LLC

The fervor for Star Wars returning in 2015, helmed by J. J. Abrams, was awe-inspiring.  In fact, Star Wars’ ability to create awe is what gives it such a punch.  For The Force Awakens, original cast members from 1977 joined a new cast for a continuation of Return of the Jedi.

The Force Awakens was a giant success and seemed to bring with it the promise that Star Wars would be once more returning with aplomb and dedication.  Despite unravelling the plot of the original Star Wars films by undoing the Rebel Alliance’s success destroying Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and failing to bring Harrison Ford, the late Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill together in The Force Awakens, it was implied that untied ends and more importantly the reunion between the actors from the original movies would appear in Star Wars Episode VIII in 2017, directed by Rian Johnson.

Discouragingly, Johnson’s film about Star Wars horrified and divided the Star Wars fandom, by dismantling thoughtlessly a trove of Star Wars lore, failing to shoot what would have been an extremely important reunion of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo, and, also front and centre, bringing identity politics into the movie.

There has always been a deep-felt pride in Star Wars and while I’m a Canadian, I felt pride when Star Wars returned loud and strong in 2015 with The Force Awakens.  Then I felt that pride evaporate when I realized that The Last Jedi is potentially ruining Star Wars, which sounds catastrophic and yet is indeed a possibility.  There is every chance that the best science fiction, at least science fiction on film, the best of the entire twentieth century, will be undone if Episode IX fails at the box office.

The rest of Star Wars will be history.

There are voices on the Internet, the fandom, divided by The Last Jedi, that organized and presented a call to Disney to save the glory of Star Wars by insisting CEO Bob Iger and Kathleen Kennedy do the work to successfully market Episode IX, for which we have not yet heard a title or seen a trailer.  Star Wars Celebration is in a few days, helping Star Wars on its way.  Youtuber and filmmaker Star Wars Theory has promised to upload video he’ll shoot at Celebration.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8CbFnDTYkiVweaz8y9wd_Q

In the event that Episode IX is good, the Star Wars fandom will unite, and pride will spread throughout.

If the film flops, Star Wars will go to that great “clearance bin” in the sky.  I hope very much for pride but chances are it is through.

You are welcome to click “like,” to follow the blog, and/or to comment.

Why Star Wars Episode IX Troubles are Hotter than Jennifer Lawrence

The summer of 2011, Jun 3, 2011, the movie adaptations of Marvel’s X-Men continued with X-Men First Class.  To many fans’ delight, it turned out to be both well-executed and of substantial interest.  Film history website IMDb identifies that Jennifer Lawrence is “the most successful actor of her generation” https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2225369/

Beneath is a link to a scene from X-Men First Class.

X-Men: First Class (2011) – Charles Xavier & Raven Darkholme

https://binged.it/2HFD3RV

Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men First Class is Raven.  She tackles the question of what it means to be beautiful and what it means to be normal.  She is the shapeshifter.


X-Men First Class Promoshoot

You might say it’s ironic that the name of the mutant team, the name “X-Men,” implies that the X-Men should be male, but Raven ranks among them as an important character who is female.  Jennifer Lawrence was the highest-paid actress in the world in 2015 and 2016.  Her casting in the film reflects her strengths as an actress, in addition to X-Men First Class’ effectiveness exploring gender, and ever-elusive equality.

In 2019, the next Star Wars film is struggling with a backlash among fans given woes with the previous film in the franchise.  The 2019 film I’m referring to is Star Wars Episode IX, coming in after the disastrously written Star Wars Episode VII:  The Last Jedi.  Star Wars Episode IX has its work out cut out for it.

The Last Jedi Opening Weekend USA box office was $220,009,584, 17 December 2017.  The X-Men First Class USA Opening Weekend was $55,101,604, 5 June 2011, twenty-five percent of the former.

While box office returns mean that both films were successful, the Marvel Universe remains hotly anticipated with a trailer for Marvel Avengers Endgame just airing in the Superbowl broadcast yesterday, while Star Wars Episode IX may fail.

Star Wars is suffering some major troubles, with entries like Episode VIII The Last Jedi savaged by fans to who Star Wars is close to the heart.

Solo A Star Wars Story failed financially last year, and an animated television series from Disney, Star Wars Resistance, is arguably receiving relatively little enthusiasm among viewers.

These fans are the “fandom.”  In fact, the Star Wars franchise is suffering greatly owing to problems with The Last Jedi, which, while returning an economic gain for Disney, is failing to ignite the same passion in the hearts of Star Wars fans that the original trilogy generated, as did (again, arguably) Episode VII The Force Awakens in 2015.


Yoda

What Jedi Mind tricks are afoot?  I think essentially both X-Men: First Class and Star Wars Episode IX calculatedly use a sense of the past as an aspect of the setting.  However, the two movies address gender and gender equality rather differently.

In X-Men First Class, the mutant Raven struggles with her self-image in a very literal sense.  Contrast that with The Last Jedi.  Here the female Jedi apprentice Rey, Daisy Ridley, is problematic for many viewers of Star Wars in that Rey lacks a distinctive character arc.  In other words, she is without a back story that can make sense in viewers’ minds.

Rey’s origins are unknown, but she masters aspects of The Force which were previously established in Star Wars lore as being impossible.  Rey’s mentor Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) struggled to achieve his status as a Jedi Knight under both Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda (in the 1977 and 1980 Star Wars films).  The late Alec Guinness portrayed Obi-wan Kenobi in the original trilogy and Ewan McGregor was Obi-wan in the prequel trilogy.

This is a link to a jovial Mark Hamill speaking of Daisy Ridley.

Mark Hamill Living Like Yoda Wishing Daisy Ridley Happy Birthday

https://binged.it/2BexZOy

Like it or not, what’s hot about Star Wars is that the backlash to Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is a compelling drama in its own right.  I see it everyday on YouTube.

YouTube channel Geeks + Gamers has taken for itself the responsibility of taking to task the folk at Lucasfilm.  To restore the glory to Star Wars, Geeks + Gamers feels Lucasfilm lost this by sacrificing so much of what had been established about Star Wars.

Jeremy at Geeks + Gamers thinks through and through that Lucasfilm is reducing the importance of something special to him and to legions of other fans of Star Wars.  Jeremy and many others feel that Lucasfilm is insisting that identity politics control the creative process instead of the requirement for writers to come up with sensible new entries for the sci-fi titan Star Wars.

That said, Star Wars needs success now the way that the X-Men franchise needed a success following X3.

Disney, Lucasfilm and the future of Star Wars are an exciting drama.  If you’re interested, and you believe that Star Wars needs to go forward proper, instead of what it’s currently doing, maybe you would like Geeks + Gamers, if you aren’t already watching Jeremy and his friends.

I don’t feel too invested in the backlash, although I think of it virtually every day.  Star War Episode IX has a release date in December.  Geeks + Gamers don’t exclusively address the situation with Star Wars, but Jeremy’s dismay for Lucasfilm is often-stated, with a commitment to giving subscribers fireballs.

Marvel Avengers Endgame has a release date in April.  It’s the sequel to Marvel Avengers Infinity Wars.

Paperclips on a piece of paper

You’re welcome to click “like” on this post, to follow my blog, and/or to comment.

Beneath is a link to a Geeks + Gamers video in which Jeremy names his favorite X-Men titles.

Geeks + Gamers Staff Top 5 – X-Men Universe Films

https://binged.it/2MGZRj4