It's a great time to be a Star Wars fan. I’m not quite old enough to have seen either A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back in the theaters but I have distinct memories of seeing Return of the Jedi at least three times at the local cinema. I used to rent the entire trilogy over and over on VHS as a youngster and my mother says I saw them on HBO dozens of times in those early years. The space between the original trilogy and the prequels were filled with countless hours discussing what was then only rumors of six other films that would come before and after the OT. When the prequels finally came out, I was crazy excited then ultimately disappointed when I watched them. Lucas said he was too old to make the last three sequels and that was that.
Years passed, and I felt like I wasn’t even a real fan anymore. I still loved Episodes IV and V, and Return of the Jedi was fun enough though very flawed. But that still left half the series falling into dud category. And frankly the shine had come off the ones I did still like. There were so many other great films that I’d seen since first seeing Star Wars that a silly little space odyssey with a lot of unsatisfying films no longer seemed the amazing thing it once was.
And then that wasn’t that. Lucas sold the franchise to Disney and we’re getting new films on a regular basis. Thus far they’ve been golden. The Force Awakens may have been a retread of A New Hope but it breathed life into a dead franchise and made me excited again. Rogue One told a story we’ve all been wondering about since A New Hope and proved they can do a movie with entirely (well. almost entirely) new characters and make it good.
The Last Jedi took all the Star Wars tropes and turned them on their head. Maybe, it pondered, a hot-headed fly boy who rushes into battle isn’t always what our heroes need. And maybe the Jedi aren’t always the great saviors we think they are. It wasn’t a perfect film, and there are a lot of haters out there, but I loved it. It was exactly the film we needed in this moment. It questioned all we hold dear about the franchise. It gave me hope that Disney is wiling to take a least some risks and not just retread and rehash the old films over and over again.
As is the way of these things of late, The Last Jedi comes in a variety of formats with varying extras with exclusive deals from various stores.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Last Men in Aleppo: Documentary about the White Helmets, an organization that spend time in Syria rescuing those caught in the ongoing war there.
Beast of Burden: Daniel Radcliffe stars in this drama about a drug smuggler making one last shipment who must choose between his allegiance to the cartel and the deal he made with the DEA to keep him out of jail.
Women in Love (Criterion Collection): In 1969, Ken Russel brought D.H. Lawrence’s controversial lesbian romance to the cinemas. Criterion has now worked their magic on it.
King of Jazz (Criterion Collection): A showcase for jazz legend Paul Whitman, this film is less a full-length narrative than a series of sketches and musical performances.
Mr. Robot: Season 3.0: One of so many series I’ve watched a few episodes of, really liked, and then put on the back burner.
Legion: The Complete Season One: See notes for Mr. Robot above.
Prince of Darkness / Assault on Precinct 13: Shout Factory continues to make some fun looking steelbooks of John Carpenter’s movies.