Saturday, December 17, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Catch Up, day 4: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and buzzing Oscar bees

I was thinking about buzz this morning as I was looking at my catch up list.

Today I'm driving to Memphis to see "La La Land." On Tuesday, back to Memphis to see "Nocturnal Animals." I am hoping that I'll be able to catch a couple of films in the theater on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Christmas, one of which I hope to be 'Lion." (I had really hoped for "Silence" or "Fences" but don't think either are coming down South before the end of the year.)

Although Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman received Globe and SAG noms I feel like there is no real buzz around the movie itself. Which makes me wonder if I should just wait to see it next year, save my pennies for something else.

And then I started to think about "Elle." Yes, readers, I can't stop talking about this film and how disappointed I am it wasn't on the shortlist for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. The night of the announcement, Guy Lodge from Variety mentioned that this omission would allow the campaign to focus all its energy on Huppert for Best Actress. At first I thought this was just wishful thinking. If she is getting in, it won't be because of a focused campaign. But then I thought about all the attention she is getting in the Oscar press. Heck, I've talked about it every day since I saw the film, more so when I saw her not getting nominated by local critics.

That's the buzz she needs. Academy members may/may not read these sites...but they can feel the buzz in Hollywood. That's how things work there. They need that bee buzzing around themwhen they write the names on their ballots. I still think she's in.

Now..."Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

The biggest difference between "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and the most recent "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is that situation our rebels/villains were in seemed real. The characters seemed complete, 100% humans beings/droids/aliens, on a very important mission. The most important mission.

Much of the script was great. When Cassian (played by Diego Luna) is confronted with the fact that his problems go with him wherever he goes...I actually gasped, or something similar. I was shocked that a "Star Wars" movie would go into such character territory. And without a wink! I loved that Chirrut (played by Donnie Yen) held onto the faith of the force so tightly (if a bit too repeatedly). The force really did seem lost here. We didn't even see a lightsaber until...well...spoiler.  I also found Cassian's relationship with Wen Jiang's Baze to be worthy of another story all together.

Sure there were clunky moments. I wanted to take scissors to a couple of lines here and there. Particularly one by Forest Whitaker's Saw Guerra. It was "hold me like you held me on Nabu" bad.  You'll see...And Darth Vader's dialogue...didn't quite seem right.

But the understanding of how the plans got to the rebellion, and the explanation of the flaw in the design cleared up something from "A New Hope" that I always found ridiculous. And not in a convoluted way. It was as if it had been part of the cannon for 40 years, just waiting to be told.

Felicity Jones is incredible as Jyn Erso. Seriously. I felt the pain she experienced from growing up without her parents. It was all over her as she explored where she actually stood when it came to the rebellion and the cause. Her battle speeches were subtle and inspiring. I wanted to fight with her. And Ben Mendelsohn's Krennic is absolutely the best villain in a Star Wars movie in ages. (Nothing against Kylo Ren.) He was an actual person! Not necessarily conflicted, but clearly believing in his cause and tinged with jealousy and ambition. A dangerous combination. He brought history to his relationship with Mads Mikkelsen's Galen (Jyn's father) that doesn't need explaining. As an actor, he did his homework.  He also made me finally give up to the fact that Domhnall Gleason was terrible as General Hux in "The Force Awakens."

It must be said that Gareth Edwards did a fantastic job setting the tone of this film. It is certainly a war movie. And the mission seems real. The ending was exactly what it needed to be. My heart was racing, beating in sympathy for the lives that were on the line to bring the Death Star plans to the rebellion. I haven't felt that way since I was a kid watching a "Star Wars" film. This is truly a film for the adults of the original trilogy's generation.

The bar in the Star Wars universe has certainly been raised, at least in terms of tone and realism. I fear that "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" has saturated "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for me. Almost to the level of comic. Expectations are raised that Rian Johnson can take Episode VIII to a darker, more realistic place.

Must sees (12 Days of Christmas Catch Up)

Closet Monster
Hail Caeser
Rogue One
Toni Erdmann 
Maggie's Plan
La La Land
Hell or High Water 
Nocturnal Animals
The Witch
The Red Turtle
The Lobster

2nd tier
American Honey
The Eagle Huntress
Miss You Already
Knight of Cups
Other People

Probably ot happening....
20th Century Women
Land of Mine
Finding Dory 
X Men Apocalypse
Suicide Squad
Batman v/s Superman
The Meddler
Miles Ahead
The Hollars
Don't Think Twice
Captain Fantastic

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