Archive for December, 2016

Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

December 28, 2016

Admittedly, this is close to the last piece I’d ever want to write and I don’t think I would be doing it this soon.  Sixty years and two months is too young.  Given that Fisher’s exploits are well-known (heck, she always talked about them) it shouldn’t be so surprising and shocking, yet for all of us, it is.  She seemed almost indestructible no matter what she did to herself or what life threw at her.  If there was anyone would could’ve bounced back from  this, it would’ve been her.  But alas, 2016 has given no quarter to the famous, no matter how much we wished for different.

Fisher was of course far more accomplished than playing a beloved character or a pop culture icon.  She’d started performing as a singer she was 13.  She had her first bestselling novel at 30 and launched a second career as a successful novelist and script doctor.  She appeared in a number of well-regarded hit films like “Shampoo,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.”  She spent the last 15 years or so being a public advocate for mental health; no doubt her busy schedule and return to the saga showed those with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses they too can survive and even thrive.

But let’s face it.  We love her because she brought Princess Leia to life, and we love Leia.  Leia was of course George Lucas’s creation but it was Carrie’s personality who helped make Leia who she is:  snarky, brash, sophisticated and feminine yet with an edge, a tiny body that hid a tough-as-nails strength.  It’s easy to forget now in an age where “girl power” is fashionable in film and t.v., but in the ’70s, Leia turned heads because she was an entirely new kind of fantasy heroine.  As Fisher put it, she wasn’t a damsel in distress, she was a distressing damsel.  Absolutely no one in mainstream Hollywood would’ve written a character like Leia; part of the reason why Fisher took the part was that her mother Debbie Reynolds read the script in tears because she’d wished somebody would’ve written a part like that for her.  And absolutely no one in mainstream Hollywood would’ve picked Fisher to play a princess; somebody blonder, more ethereal, “sweeter” would’ve been a more likely choice.  But Lucas wasn’t exactly mainstream and casting director Fred Roos had a good eye for who was going to be memorable in these roles.

At the time ANH came out, Leia was heralded as a “liberated woman” which was the hip ’70s way of saying “feminist.”  But I didn’t care about those labels; I just thought she was the coolest.  She was a competent fighter and she was smart but she was also funny and not always all sugar and spice.  One thing about Leia I still love about her til this day is how she was always free to be herself warts and all.   A lot of studios would’ve been nervous about that kind of character and would’ve demanded somebody “tone” her down.  Or that she got some kind of comeuppance.  But Lucas never sought to punish Leia for being Leia.  And for a 7-year-old in the mid-to-late ’70s, that was extraordinary.  The only  other significant heroine of my childhood was Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman.  My teen years brought Leia-inspired characters like Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor (trust me, James Cameron wishes he’d thought of Leia first).  I gravitated toward larger-than-life rock goddesses like Siouxsie Sioux, a real-life gothy punk version of Leia.  She instilled a type in me and that’s what I wanted to be like:  take no prisoners, take no baloney, and speak what’s on your mind.  Oh and stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves.  Which is ultimately the best thing about Leia.

As for Carrie the person, I have to be honest.  There’s a part of me who absolutely admired her.  It’s impossible to love a character so dearly–Leia is probably tied with Anakin for my absolutely favorite character–and not have that affection bleed onto the real person.  But there were times when we weren’t cool.  Sometimes she made me laugh, sometimes she made me cringe.  The drug stuff disappointed me greatly as a teenager; for a period of time I couldn’t stand her.  Even now there’s a part of me that’s saying, “Dammit, why didn’t you take better care of yourself?”  All of that said, in the end she had been a big influence on a character who had a big influence on me and that means something.  There are people who are examples of what to do and examples of what not to do, and in her case, she was was a little bit of both.

I’d seen in her person a few times, the first time actually in a Georgetown parking lot in 1987.  I was too chicken to approach her.  She came off as a little intimidating.  The next time I saw her was at Celebration II in 2002.  At one point, she and her entourage had to cross a line I was in to get somewhere and fans respectfully parted like the Red Sea.  Nobody bugged her or mobbed her.  She still seemed a little intimidating.  I never did meet her in person although most of the people I know who did meet her at various cons had great things to say about her, that is if they didn’t mind getting glitter cast upon them or something.  I know that at Celebration II some fan had been in line for hours to meet her and she felt so bad for this guy who hadn’t eaten all day, she had her assistants bring him something to eat.  I have seen her speak a couple of times, once at a Celebration and again at SDCC in 2004.  I think she was very intelligent.  She was also funny as hell.  Her kind of humor was always just beyond appropriate with a big dash of “that’s so wrong.”  She loved writing naughty messages on some of her autographs but I think she had a pretty good gauge as to who was up for that sort of thing and who wasn’t.  I also remember seeing this at a past SDCC; she was signing autographs next to Jake Lloyd, who was signing for the first time at that particular show.  Before she left, she made it a point to go over to Lloyd and talk to him and shook his hand.  I know that she made it a point to make the Star Wars  stars who came after her feel like they were part of the family so to speak, even if she had a touch of a competitive streak.   That includes the cast of Clone Wars and of course TFA and Episode VIII.

Fisher completed filming Episode VIII and voiced her digital doppelgänger in Rogue One.  What ultimately happens to Leia is still up in the air; Fisher had said she was going to return in IX.  This will have to be sorted by Lucasfilm over the coming weeks and months.  But Leia is forever, a part of the mythology of our time.  She lives beyond her portrayer and  likely beyond any of us.

Fisher had become the First Lady of Star Wars so to speak.  I think she finally realized it within the last decade or so of her life.  Of course she can never be replaced.  But there are great ladies of Star Wars still with us–Natalie Portman, Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones, Ashley Eckstein, Vanessa Marshall, just to name a few–and now what they bring to future generations is that much more important.  Some are already wonderful ambassadors for the saga, others have yet to step into that role but likely will over time.

My sincerest sympathies go to Fisher’s friends, former co-stars, and family, especially her daughter Billie Lourd, mother Debbie Reynolds, brother Todd Fisher, and beloved dog Gary.  I hope they will find some comfort from the outpouring of love, respect, and appreciation not only from Star Wars fans but also from people who loved her other films, people who loved her books, fellow writers, the entertainment industry, mental health advocates, among many others.

Update:  Reynolds has passed away just over 24 hours after her daughter from a stroke.  Damn.

 

 

 

 

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Open Thread: A Sad Day For Fandom

December 27, 2016

Even though Carrie Fisher wasn’t part of the prequels, she was easily one of the most important players in the saga.   I will post a separate piece with my full thoughts.  Here, feel free to vent, mourn, react.

Ep. VIII Sticks Up For PT

December 26, 2016

Not huge news but still nice to see (H/T Steve Bragg):

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It’s A Jar Jar Kind of Christmas

December 24, 2016

…Because I’ve got two relevant posts on everyone’s favorite clumsy Gungan.

First, this at PopWrapped on ideas for future Star Wars spinoff films.  Who wouldn’t want to see a whole flick dedicated to Jar Jar?

Then there’s matril’s post “In Defense Of The Underfrog”:

It’s more fun to laugh than to hate. Are Jar Jar’s clumsy hijinks rather silly and childish? Yeah, maybe. It’s not like there weren’t juvenile gags and slapstick humor in the original trilogy. And honestly, there’s so much darkness coming in Episode III (hardly any Jar Jar there at all) that I’ll take all the silly laughter I can get. Episode I, in many ways, is about the innocence of childhood. Anakin is about to have it ripped away from him. Let’s enjoy some goofy fun before it’s gone, for heaven’s sake.

Kitster Found

December 21, 2016

Whatever happened to Anakin’s young friend on Tatooine, Kitster?  Here’s the guy who played him anyway, Dhruv Chanchani, now an adult as he appeared on this week’s Star Wars Show Holiday Special:

Is ROTS Still The Darkest SW Film To Date?

December 21, 2016

Granted, “dark” is a descriptor and not unto itself an indicator of quality, but @prequelpositive says yes.

Order 66 is arguably the most devastating scene in this film, the music sets the tone as clips of the Clone Troopers turn against the Jedi and characters that we have gotten to know throughout the film are shot down by those they considered comrades and friends. This is made even more painful if you have watched The Clone Wars, in which many of these Jedi have side stories of their own.

Open Thread: Rogue One Reax

December 16, 2016

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What did Maximus think?  What did you think?

Note:  I will not see the film until Sunday afternoon.  My comments will go up Sunday evening or Monday, depending.  So if you guys are posting your reviews/reactions keep them light on spoilers since I still have to moderate unapproved comments ;).

Again:  No flaming, no bashing, no trolling, no baiting, etc. or the ban hammer will be applied.  If the thread goes off the rails, I will have to shut it down.  Thank you.

 

AOTC Is Someone’s Favorite & Untold Secrets Of The PT

December 15, 2016

Now this is what I like to see…a guy who states his opinion without apology.  AOTC is his favorite Star Wars film…deal with it:

The Original Trilogy was understandably doused in ’80s camp in a good way. The Phantom Menace, though released in the last remnants of the ’90s, still harbors some of that ’80s warmth and lightness. Episode II eschews all of that in favor of a far darker and more mature storyline, one that features Anakin struggling not only with the burden of being the chosen one, but also with the guilt of abandoning his mother, forbidden feelings of passion and love, and overall, a desire for validation of his inner conflict, something no one in his life seems to understand. Anakin’s genocidal elimination of a tribe of Tusken Raiders is a key moment that marks his first steps down a path of darkness.

He might not like the Anakin/Padmé stuff as much but not bad at all for going against fandom groupthink.

Meanwhile over at ScreenRant, usually not the most friendly place for prequel fans, is this piece 19 Untold Secrets of the Star Wars Prequels.  Some of it is pretty well-known, some of it may be new to you.

A Couple Of Things To Brighten Your Day

December 13, 2016

Well, a smidge anyway.

Clickbait site Screen Crush interviewed Rogue One star Riz Ahmed and the topic of the prequels came up.  He’s not real fond of Jar Jar but had good things overall to say about the films.  Because I don’t want to give the clicks to a clickbait site, Star Wars The Prequel Trilogy has the relevant parts screencapped.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Kennedy tells the New York Daily news that:

“We certainly look at the prequels and there are a lot of ideas inherent in the prequels that will probably — undoubtedly — find their way into future ‘Star Wars’ movies,” she notes.

“So yeah, it’s all part of the mythology.”

H/T Furious Fanboys

Essay On ROTS

December 12, 2016

A Score To Settle is about music scores and this entry focuses on ROTS.  There’s a lot of great stuff here, check it out:

On the day it was released, I wound up seeing it twice – once in the early morning on my own and then again in the evening with friends. From the opening space battle to the visually poetic closing moments, I was riveted. As a first generation fan who caught each film from the classic trilogy in the theaters, I’d found myself fascinated on many levels by the era being presented in this second trilogy, the prequels. It was akin to watching a “period piece” of our own history, when mannerisms, dress and behaviors might differ to the present, such as Elizabethan dramas compared to present day. Not to everyone’s taste, but I was digging it. The world-building was imaginative and immersive, diving into other cultures and corners of the fictional galaxy previously unexplored or simply unknown. I plugged into the macro/micro level of parallel storytelling on display throughout, noting how over the course of the trilogy we witness both a democratic Republic and a compassionate Jedi Knight named Anakin Skywalker be manipulated and corrupted from the inside out, all by the same person, that being Chancellor Palpatine. Indeed, the fateful circumstances leading to Anakin’s downfall constitute the component to which I unexpectedly connected.