Let it be said that there were more movies that opened up at the weekend other than Star Wars: The Force Awakens…sweet little things. They never had a chance in Tatooine.
Shame really, as 45 Years recently won the incomparable Charlotte Rampling another award for her performance as Kate Mercer, longtime wife of Geoff (expertly played by Tom Courtenay), who encounters a series of sudden and quite unexpected events that lead to the questioning of everything she has ever thought about her life with her husband. The film is intense to be sure, and it rolls nicely off the eyes onto another intense theme with yet another group of fantastic actresses. Suffragette tells the story of British women facing the realities of change brought on post-First World War while depicting the despicable treatment female workers had to endure leading up to the final recognition of women’s rights in 1928. With actresses Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter already getting Oscar and award buzz, plus Meryl Streep, you know that this film is high on fierce, dramatic acting. What I think is just as important to note is that the film mostly stars, is directed, produced and written by women. This is a key point for me when dealing with a film or piece of literature or any art form depicting women as a theme. Punt! Well done.
Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty of why we’re all here today! The Force Awakens, simply stated, gives credence to the salvation of this story/franchise/way of life. J.J. Abrams did an excellent job throughout the entire filmmaking process of not only giving peeks to fans and tiny snippets of creatures/ships and such, but he and the producers and cast also hosted a slew of different and serious charity events during the filming of this new flick, and it certainly seems that they all sewed some good Karma/Dharma out into the universe. The good thing is that we, the audience, get to revel in that dharma! And it feels bloody great. When that Falcon door opens and Han Solo says, ‘Chewie, we’re home,’ it’s truly hard not to feel that you are. Side note: please know that I, with the name of Lucas Abram, have always been strongly drawn to this series and story (George LUCAS? J.J. ABRAMs?); true fact—my sister was in LOVE with Mark Hamill at the very end of the Seventies, and when my parents gave her an option to help choose my and my twin brother’s names, she chose Luke for me based on Skywalker. Naturally, my Mexican-American parents opted for Lucas, but voila! The force is strong with this one here.
One main thing you notice about Abrams’ take on Lucas’ world is that he has brought back the full-scale sets, matte painting-style of filmmaking with much less digital nonsense and thankfully, no bloody atrocious JarJar-style characters to be found in this movie. Sighs of relief breathed? Let us continue. From the moment the John William’s score commences with the titles and plot line, the viewer is taken back to a world not so long ago but certainly further back than 10-16 years ago. Abrams has used the original Lucas template of the Seventies/Eighties series and added his Spielbergian touches to a polished script using old and new characters…albeit new characters which are very derived from older ones in situations presented from the original Lucas and Co. films. It’s imperative to note here, as well, that Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes back 35 years ago, has also co-written this newest entry.
The First Order now doubles with a new name for the Empire of yore. Leia is now a general, Luke has gone missing for some time now and their best pilot (Oscar Isaac) called Poe Dameron is scouting for a map to Luke’s possible location or lead to it. Queen sabe? Enter screen left Finn (John Boyega), who is black and begins the film as a Stormtrooper, having been kidnapped from his home world and enslaved by the First Order. An attack of conscience makes him throw off his armour, at which point Abrams cuts to Boyega doing his best over-acting, and he does it very well. This character and the impeccably cute-as-hell Daisy Ridley, who is white and looks an awful lot like Keira Knightley, playing a Force-sensitive scavenger named Rey make a pair ready for adventure. So perfect in their roles, it will be nice to see what is next for them in the series.
What you come to find out is that whilst there has been a parting of the ways between Leia and Han (once a scoundrel, always a scoundrel!), they have also produced offspring, and it is here where the story soon takes its focus and runs with it. Revenge, parental discontent, the eternal waging of war and its emotional effect also come to play within the action of the film, and while this critique corner has never been a place for spoilers, I can say without hesitation that the viewer is in for an entirely unforeseen sequence of events that set in motion what will come in the next couple of years and again in 2019, as the saga of The Force continues. For now, rejoice children…you can wake up now! ####
This new season also brings with it all the nominations and excitement of awards season, and nothing, other than the Oscars, is more celebrated than the recently-announced 2016 Golden Globes and their nominations. The show itself will have winners (and Oscar indicators) revealed a few days after Reyes/Epiphany, but many other city Film Critics Associations have been handing out their accolades and praise. One noticeable candidate for example is the heaps of praise Todd Haynes’ latest Carol, starring cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, is receiving. Telling the story of a young aspiring photographer (Mara) and her relationship with an older woman going through a difficult divorce in 1950s NYC, the film has yet to be released here (and won’t be until February) but over the next two months, our cinemas and this critique corner will be rife with praises and predictions of so many critics’ faves to come.
Last week’s link to the Golden Globes nominations left me wondering why The Martian was nominated for Best Comedy or Musical and Matt Damon as Best Comedic/Musical Actor. Que que que? Though Ridley Scott’s entertaining sci-fi epic has some funny moments involving disco music, one would be hard pressed to call it a comedy and certainly not a musical. I do admit that I quite liked seeing the Comedy/Musical Actress nominees as my gal Amy Schumer received a Best Actress nod for her film Trainwreck, as did Lily Tomlin, whom we recently praised in this blog for her outstanding, long overdue performance in Grandma. Throw in Jane Fonda’s lightning rod turn in Paolo Sprrentino’s wonderful new Youth, and you already know some fun is going to be had at that drunken soiree. Incidentally, if you haven’t Netflixed or seen Tomlin and Fonda’s latest TV series Grace and Frankie, check it out now. Tomlin also got a Best Actress nod for her TV work in that series. Again, take a peek at the nominees in both film and TV categories here, and start forming your opinions. We here at Metropolitan will give out our opinions on winners and such in a few weeks! Have a lovely holiday, spread cheer and laughter and love wherever you go and see you at the weekend, kiddos!