I’m a Star Wars kid. That’s not a fan club membership title, it’s simply a term brought into the lexicon by the unabashed popularity of Star Wars. If you grew up loving Star Wars, you’re a Star Wars kid. The first generation of Star Wars kids saw it in the theater in the summer of 1977, the second generation (me) saw the Special Edition in the theater in 1997, and then the three prequels that followed in 1999, 2002, and 2005.
A discussion about which versions are good, and which are bad, and which are pure, etc., is a valid and interesting one, but it’s better left in the hands of Trey Parker & Matt Stone, RedLetterMedia, Smug Film’s own Harry Brewis, and the makers of The People vs. George Lucas.
I’ve always wanted to write about Star Wars, but the problem is, everything has already been said about Star Wars and then some. Has George Lucas become The Empire in some kind of Animal Farm ironic switcheroo? Maybe. Probably not. Are the three prequels terrible? Kinda, yeah. Should Jar Jar Binks be hung in effigy and burned? I guess, but no. Are the Special Editions evil? No. Was Greedo shooting first evil? Yeah, but we all already know why.
As I get older, what fascinates me about Star Wars is its hold on the cultural zeitgeist. As an atheist, I’m interested in the idea of the Bible: a book written by God that has lasted thousands of years and not only stayed relevant but has been taken as truth by some. Star Wars is only 37 years old, and will hopefully never be taken as truth—but, Star Wars is priming itself to be the touchstone artistic achievement of our time.
Continue reading Nothing But Star Wars
Since we started this website, I’ve always felt like I was on a mission. A mission, despite the fact that, at the end of the day, nothing anybody says about art matters at all. Art is an individual experience—even in a group, it’s an individual experience. I can’t convince you of anything, and you can’t convince me. And it should be that way. But right now, fuck all that.
Ghostbusters is high art. Ghostbusters should be thought of the way the Mona Lisa is—as this sacred, unachievable thing forged from genius—because that’s exactly what it is, and it’s been my mission to explain that concept. There are only about a dozen great movies, and these movies are untouchable. They are perfect in every way, and they represent the ultimate synthesis of story, performance, writing, color, music, and all the myriad elements that come together to make whatever is on screen at any given moment the perfect thing.
People don’t give a fuck about art. They like things all willy-nilly and just regurgitate whatever fucking nonsense someone says about why Raging Bull is brilliant. Fuck all that noise. Movies like Ghostbusters are advanced. They do all of the artistic shit Raging Bull does, but for the purpose of entertainment, of making you soak into the movie. That is beautiful, that is advanced, that is transcendent, and that could only happen a dozen times in about a century because it’s insanely hard to do.
And Ghostbusters isn’t even his best movie.
Continue reading Rest in Peace, Harold Ramis
Today we lost one of the absolute best. An actor who put his all in to every role, always giving you your money’s worth, never wasting a moment of your time. A virtuoso, with all the adoration one could ever want or need from their peers and from audiences. Just goes to show, you can have it all, and still throw it away.
Addiction is something I’ve never personally experienced, so I’m by no means an expert. But I do know what it looks like. It looks like the trading of soul gratification for momentary gratification. It looks like an invited wave, grabbing hold of your beach and eroding every castle you’ve ever built, telling you it’s all just sand anyway, so why bother having them. It is evil, and it lies, and it is the ultimate internal resistance. I hope he is finally at peace.
I’d say I ‘miss’ him, but I never knew his mortal self. I only ever knew his timeless self, which will be here as long as cinema—which is to say, forever. Everything good about this man is immortal. Everything bad, I never encountered, and will never encounter. My heart goes out to his family, who I’m sure have been struggling with his two selves for some time. I hope they are able to find peace as well.
Continue reading R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman
There’s a small moment in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation that’s stuck with me more than the rest of the movie (a movie which is little else besides small memorable moments). It’s the morning when Bill Murray’s character Bob is supposed to leave Tokyo, but he’s all tore up because he’s fallen for the young, idle Charlotte, who’ll stay in Tokyo after he’s gone. Whomever that group of Japanese suits is that’s been hauling from him from job to job wants a picture with him (because he’s a movie star I guess) so they all line up. But when they go to take the photo, Murray’s smile fades and his gaze wanders to watch Charlotte walk to the elevator. The look on his face is packed with enough longing and conflict and anguish to fill a sushi boat—yet his expression is pretty bare. It’s kind of a frown, but not exactly. He looks more tired than anything. It calls to mind the zombie mimicking instructions from Shaun of the Dead: “Vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who’s lost a bet.” It’s also sad as hell. It’s not the realization that they’ll never see each other again that gets to me, it’s that damned stare.
Continue reading A Blank Stare Is Worth A Thousand Words
Field of Dreams. The undisputed king, for sure. But here’s ten other great ones.
It was a really tricky thing putting this together because they’re ranked on niceness, not goodness. Number two and number five are the best movies on the list. But they aren’t the nicest.
Niceness is even harder to define than coolness. Niceness is a warm and fuzzy feeling that a lot of art can generate. Probably the most popular example would be Norman Rockwell paintings. Niceness, like coolness, taps into our primal brains somewhere. We’re wired to feel it because it connects us to each other. But the problem with niceness is that it borders so heavily on cheese. Cheese done right is transcendent. But cheese done wrong is, well, cheesy.
Continue reading The 10 Nicest Movies Ever Made (If These Movies Don’t Make You Cry, You Have a Black Heart)