Archive for January, 2017

The Charlie Rose Interview, a year later

Posted in Spotlight with tags , on 18 January 2017 by Megan

Give or take a couple of weeks. Charlie Rose, a person I have never heard of before, interviewed George Lucas, a person who needs no introduction, in December 2015.

This interview is a huge inconvenience to Disney|Lucasfilm and the monster that is New Star Wars, so as the patrons and defenders of trEU Star Wars, we must never let this interview disappear or become obscure. There are so many great lines in this interview that as I listened to it, I kept thinking of so many things I wanted to touch on, so I’ve decided to do a post about it.

lucas_rose1

This is the one I want to start with — George Lucas, the human.

ROSE: Because you have worn all these hats, though — filmmaker, director, storyteller, writer, technological innovator — what do you want the first line of your obituary to say?

LUCAS: I was a great dad. (Long pause.) Or I tried. (Heh.)

And in that pause, he looks like he might cry. Rose seems kind of frustrated and repeats, “But do you consider yourself any of those things first? Writer, director?” And Lucas persists, “Dad.” And there’s something so deeply human in this that I had to stop and write a few words on it.

We all have some vision in our minds of who or what George Lucas is. Star Wars connects with each one of us so deeply that it feels like it’s our own. It feels so deeply our own that we can get irritated with him for not executing our vision of what it should be — but the fact is, while he made the OT for himself, he made the PT for his kids. He tells Rose he quit directing to be a dad. George Lucas is just a human being who made some incredible movies, and he is just a human being who wants to be the best father he can.

This is why, however you feel about him, he deserves our thanks and our respect, and why I am increasingly glad I’ve organized Thanksgeorging Day to try and give him something back for everything he gave us.

Lucas’ humanity also struck me in a surprising way when he explained his motivation for selling the company was concern for his employees; he emphasized that the films he’s interested in making now cannot make money and eventually would run the company into the ground.

Around the half hour mark is when he starts talking about how Star Wars is more than “just a silly kiddie movie” and how people keep failing because they make movies about spaceships and it’s “more than just spaceships.” Around the half hour mark is also when I began wanting to hit Rose in the head with a crowbar for sheer annoyingness. He was the most tedious and frustrating part of listening to this whole thing. I know interviewers tend to do this, but it seriously infuriates me how he kept interrupting Lucas to tell him to keep talking. Dude, you want someone to keep talking, you keep your mouth shut.

Anyway, where was I? Oh!

You’re telling a story using tools. You’re not using tools to tell a story.

In Yoda’s terms — that is why you (Disney) fail. Lucas’ observation is spot on that the American film industry is so constricted, so regulated, that it cannot tolerate innovation or creativity. He controlled his emotions pretty well, but it was clear how much disdain he felt that he sold this franchise and all they did was a glitzy re-cast of the film he made 38 years earlier. Movies are growing increasingly worse, with shallow, confusing plots and bad acting coupled with incredible special effects. Because the industry 1) will only sell what has already sold, and 2) puts the tools first.

This is the interview in which Lucas famously described Disney as “white slavers” — he takes full responsibility for selling, but at the same time grimly observes that the six films are his children and he gave them up to white slavers. The metaphor is clear, grim, and doesn’t break down. What are “white slavers”? In the modern context of Lucas’ interview, and especially coupled with the description of the Star Wars saga as his children, it means sex slavery — forced prostitution, especially of minors. It is undeniable that Disney lured Lucas’ brainchild away from him and is whoring it out for money.

That is why I call Disney and Disney’s treatment of Star Wars immoral.

That is why I will never stop resisting and fighting them.

They turned my best friend into an enslaved child prostitute.

This interview came out during the hype of “The Force Awakens” (many sarcastic air quotes), when Disney was frantically pumping that Lucas loved the movie and loved what they’d done — and this interview has been a huge wrench in their works. They tried to suppress it. We must never forget and or forgive while the injustice continues.

lucas_rose2

A few random quotations from the interview that I enjoyed although don’t have any particular comment to make on them:

On art

If you want to say, I want to convey an emotion to another human being — that’s something only human beings can do.

On awards

I’m not much in to awards. It doesn’t mean that much to me because I’ve gone through this. … You’re there to draw eyeballs. … I know it’s about the TV show; it’s not about me.

On Hollywood industry

You’re forced to make a particular kind of movie … I know a lot of Russian filmmakers and they have a lot more freedom than I have. All they have to do is be careful about criticizing the government. Otherwise, they can do whatever they want. You have to adhere to a very narrow line of commercialism.

On politics

[In politics] they are doomed to repeat themselves every few years because they do not listen to history.

Advertisements

Review: Fanboys

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , on 7 January 2017 by Megan

All right, so this is not a canonical entry. But it’s the seventh greatest movie ever made. I watched it yesterday and was so hit between the eyes at how excellent a film it is that I wanted to review it for you today.

First of all, Fanboys is a movie that could never be made today. All the 1998-authentic fanboy language could get you arrested in the ironically-named “free world” today, but far more striking, imagine supreme hateboys Harry Knowles and Kevin Smith doing appearances in a film that welcomes and praises Lucas’ films for what they are? Geddouddatown. Even beyond that, a group of fanboys like the ones who created the film would no longer be interested in making a heartwarming tale about how Star Wars unites us, binds us in a commonality of love for one man’s genius adaptation of a mythological staple. In the 2010s, “fanboys” are more interested in division and discord than they are about the things we have in common. In a post-2014 version of Fanboys, the protagonists wouldn’t be assaulting Star Trek fans for their differences. They’d be attacking other Star Wars fans who have the gall to love the prequels or call the EU “canon.”

My point is, the world was so much better back before 2010. But I digress. Let’s review the awesome movie, eh?

fanboys

I first learned about this movie back in ’06 or ’07; it was a preview before a horror movie (maybe Pulse?) oddly enough, and I was instantly hysterically looking forward to it. A movie about Star Wars fans? A movie about Star Wars fans so excited about Episode I that they go to steal a print? SIGN ME UP. (Remember that before 2011, fanatical prequel hatred didn’t exist or was so rare as to be unheard of.) But the film’s release was delayed and I forgot about it on and off until 2009 when I was finally able to score a copy. I watched it with a best friend as we were on a road trip from seeing another best friend in Maryland. We were staying in a place called . . . well, I forget what it was called, but here’s the last ever picture of me as a person who had not ever torn a toenail off, and the bag that I tore the toenail off with about 12 hours after this picture was taken.

5018_511771524991_139000521_30466898_4103079_n

Also, this is where I was and what I looked like when we watched Fanboys for the first time. I have a weird memory. Okay, so I first saw Fanboys in 2009 right before ripping off my big toenail and experiencing the 2nd worst pain of my life, so that’s fun trivia. The point is that in 2009, I had never encountered any prequel hate despite being a big time fanboy who spent lots of time online with other fanboys. The concept of prequel hate was so foreign to me that I thought the last line of the movie was a joke, and I still inevitably take it as a joke (“What if the film sucks?”)

fanboys2

It’s Halloween 1998. Windows, Hutch, Linus, and Zoe have been friends since they were kids, and they all love Star Wars — even if Zoe is a stereotype girl who scoffs at their passion; that myth is a little frustrating in its perpetuation — so much so that they reminisce about their childhood plot to drive to Skywalker Ranch and watch Episode I before it comes to theaters. Enter Eric Bottler: he used to be the gang’s fourth, but after graduating high school, he spent three years not talking to any of them except for, apparently, Zoe. After Hutch and Windows see the hostility between Eric and Linus, they take it upon themselves to meet with Eric the next day and tell him something incredibly important — Linus has terminal cancer and has less than six months to live.

This is where Star Wars fans understand each other in a way no one else does. The blow that Linus probably won’t live to see Episode I is as strong on its own as the blow that he is going to die and that Eric has spent the last three years alienated from the man who used to be his best friend. In a desperate attempt to redeem that time, Eric convinces them all to join him on a cross-country road trip to steal the Episode I film like rebel agents obtaining the Death Star plans.

fanboys3

Ebert, who so rightly hit the nail on the head with his review of Episode I, really missed the point of Fanboys and said it was weak for taking itself too seriously. But that’s just the point. Fanboys take themselves seriously because no one else does. And this is a serious film. As Eric struggles to reconnect with lost friends, and his own lost self, Linus struggles to come to grips with his impending mortality. Windows struggles to make his relationship with females work, and Hutch struggles to make something real of himself. With the backdrop of Linus’ illness (almost tragically cut from the final version), Fanboys is no more a geeky comedy than A New Hope is a Kurosawa film with lasers. There’s something more to it. It follows Lucas’ lead, incorporating the patterns of mythology and elevating its subject matter in a way you’d never expect. It’s a film that can make you laugh as well as cry while celebrating something we all had in common when it came out, before the dark times, before the Disneypire.

fanboys4

So, yes, Fanboys is both hysterically funny and deeply moving. There are parts of this movie that I’ve wrapped up and stored in my memory to help when things get hard. As I struggled through a year full of unemployment, almost literal homelessness, and a tragic death in the family, I could turn to this film and be reassured that no, it’s not trivial to love Star Wars. Star Wars is not trivial. There’s more to it.

In closing, I’d like to give you my two favorite lessons Fanboys takes from Star Wars. First, regrets can shape you but they shouldn’t define you. Everyone has mistakes, but don’t wish you could undo them. “You’ve got to keep the flaws. Crappy effects, real puppets. That’s what makes it so good, you know?” Linus explains in his last scene. Sometimes I feel like I wear regret like a cloak, and I almost burst into tears hearing that last night as I rewatched it.

Second, “You just gotta find your Death Star. The greatest thing Luke Skywalker ever did was take down that Death Star. You just gotta find that one great thing you can do that makes you live forever.” That’s what Hutch tells Eric as the latter struggles with an ocean of indecision about what to do with himself. Everyone, every life has a “Death Star,” one great thing; you just have to find yours. It’s out there and you will have it one day. That’s a guarantee.