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Top 5 Dumbest Things About ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

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As a life-long Star Wars fan I thoroughly enjoyed Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. I was sat mouth agape as the story continued to take unexpected turns, I loved the marriage of nostalgia and new ideas when it came to handling an iconic character like Luke Skywalker, and I even managed to avoid eating my entire bag of Peanut M&Ms during the trailers like I normally do, meaning I had some to enjoy during the movie. It was a home run. But even while I was enraptured in what was essentially a two-and-a-half-hour chase movie in space, there were moments that left me thinking, “Hang on a minute…” There are questionable narrative choices, bizarre character moments, and plot holes in this movie big enough to fly a First Order dreadnought through.

So, for fun, let’s take a look at some of the silliest moments in The Last Jedi. It should go without saying, but this top five is going to be absolutely rife with spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you probably want to stop reading right now. Like, right now. There’s going to be spoilers right after this comical picture of Chewbacca. Right now. You’ve been warned.

I would pay good money to see a movie in which a teenage Chewbacca goes to high school in the ’80s.

5. C-C-C-C-C-Code Breaker!

Benicio Del Toro hams it up rather gloriously in The Last Jedi.

Mid-way through the movie, Finn and Rose discover that they have a potential solution to the First Order being able to track their ships using magical space GPS, and they go to Poe Dameron with their plan. Princess Leia is conveniently in a coma after being sucked out into the cold void of space and magically flying to safety with force powers (erm, okay), meaning that she can’t tell anyone that they’ve already got it covered, and her replacement is an idiot, so Poe Dameron thinks that Finn and Rose’s plan is their only shot at stopping the First Order before the Rebellion is destroyed once and for all. Forever. And so our heroes put in a call to Maz Kanata, who tells them that their plan is so outrageously complicated that there’s only one man in the ENTIRE GALAXY who is good enough to crack First Order’s security code in order to get Rose where she needs to be to shut down the tracking.

And then they just find somebody else to do it. Wait — what? Yeah, so Finn and Rose travel to the Casino Night Zone — or whatever it was called in the movie — which is basically like a massive tax haven for the richest 1% in the galaxy. The goodies are looking for a master safecracker, but immediately after locating him they’re arrested by casino security and get thrown into a jail cell — a jail cell that they share with an inmate who just happens — no shit — to also be a master safe cracker who can do exactly the same thing that the one person in the galaxy who they were looking for could do. I was sure that at some point Benicio Del Toro’s character would be revealed to have been the guy they were looking for all along, but unless I slipped into a momentary force coma during the movie, that never happened, and the whole thing was actually just a massive, ridiculous coincidence.

4. Finn and Rose’s Wild Goose Chase

I like Finn and Rose as a team, btw. They just need better adventures.

Of course, Finn and Rose would never have had to go after an intergalactic safe cracker at all if their commanding officers had actually told them what was going on. While on the run from First Order baddies, Princess Leia is put into a coma, and she’s replaced as the leader of the Rebellion by Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo. Holdo immediately gets into a bit of a to-do with Poe Dameron, disliking his reckless, cavalier attitude, and rugged, bad-boy good looks, and she utterly dismisses him when he comes forward with ideas for how to solve their First Order problem, but doesn’t bother telling him that she’s already got a loads better plan of her own.

Her scheme involves secretly getting the entire Rebellion onto transport ships and abandoning the fleet, allowing the First Order to believe that they’ve destroyed the Rebellion while our heroes escape and hide out at a nearby base. I mean, it’s a solid plan, as long as nobody from the First Order looks out of a window. That aside, why is she keeping the plan a secret? Princess Leia says it’s because Holdo didn’t need to be a hero. Oh, okay. It’s good to be modest. But because she doesn’t tell anybody about her plot, Poe Dameron believes she’s a coward, and so he gets in league with Rose and Finn, actions that directly result in the First Order discovering what the Rebellion are up to (thanks to Benicio Del Toro’s treachery), which leads to the deaths of like half of the Rebellion. Even when Poe confronts her she doesn’t mention it. And loads of people die. So yeah, good job on not being a hero. Maybe, you know, actually tell people what’s going on, Holdo. That would probably help.

3. The Force Can Do What Now?

Force Skype might be a dumb concept, but it provides opportunity for Kylo Ren and Rey to have the best conversations in the movie.

Man, how much easier things would have been in the previous Star Wars movies if only all of the characters had known that you can just magically talk to anyone in the galaxy using Force Skype. Rey and Kylo Ren spend half of the movie talking to each other while light years apart, only for it to eventually be revealed that Snoke is the one who has given them this ability. How or why Snoke is so strong with the force I do not know, and we’re not likely to find out since he gets unceremoniously sliced in half in the middle of the movie, but Snoke’s power is absolutely nothing compared to what Luke can do by the end of it.

At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke telepathically projects an image of himself across the galaxy to engage in a pretend fight with Kylo Ren to distract First Order forces while the Rebels escape. How long has he been waiting to pull off that little trick? Since when was that possible? Up until The Last Jedi we’ve seen people trick their way into bars using the force, move things with the power of their mind with the force, and occasionally shoot lightning out of their fingers with the force, but now we’ve got force holograms? Imagine that. If only people had known sooner. Want to trick the enemy into believing you’re at the other end of the Death Star when you’re plotting to blow it up? Force hologram. Need a distraction so you can escape when the new leader of the Galactic Empire decides to murder all of the Jedi? Force hologram. Been invited to a party that you can’t be arsed to go to? Force hologram. It’s a shame nobody knew about it until now.

2. The First Order Are Complete And Utter Morons

General Hux is blates about to comically slip on a banana peel or something.

Back in the first Star Wars movie, C3PO and R2D2 escape the clutches of the Empire on an escape pod and the baddies, apparently because of some sort of galactic recession resulting in uber-expensive laser charging fees, don’t bother shooting it down. “No life signs on board,” they say. Oh boy. If only they’d known. We’ve long mocked the Empire for orchestrating their own downfall thanks to their frugality with ammunition, but compared to the First Order they’re positively on the ball. General Hux, who was suitably slimy and evil in The Force Awakens, is reduced to wholesale buffoonery by the end of The Last Jedi, being thrown around in slapstick fashion time and again by Kylo Ren. By the end he’s only missing the Benny Hill theme tune. And as if to demonstrate just how comical the First Order have become, General Hux has hired Eddie Hitler from Bottom as his second in command.

But by far the silliest thing about the First Order in The Last Jedi, though, is their plan to stop the Rebels. The Rebels are driving away from the First Order, and so the Order are chasing them. They’re moving at the same speed so the Rebels are always just out of firing range, thus saving their skins until they inevitably run out of fuel, and the First Order ships blow them out of the sky. What this amounts to is an incredibly slow chase through space, but for some reason, absolutely nobody in the entire First Order says, “Hey, why don’t we just engage the hyperdrives on a couple of our ships and move them to the other side of the Rebels, trapping them between us, and shoot them to shit?” I mean, I’m not a military general, and so perhaps there are flaws in my plan, but honestly, somebody had to have had a better idea than to keep firing every now and again just to remind the rebels they’re there.

1. Crying Over Spilt (Green) Milk

Star Wars fans are, once again, embarrassing themselves en masse on the Internet.

One thing dumber than anything that happens in The Last Jedi is the absurd level of fan backlash to it. I’m old enough to remember a time when it was Jar Jar Binks’ vaguely racist comedy routine in The Phantom Menace that had ruined Star Wars forever and retroactively destroyed childhoods across the globe, but apparently if the hilariously overblown user reviews on collation sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are to be believed, The Last Jedi is literally the worst thing ever. Sure, it’s got some silly moments in it, and some of the story beats don’t quite hold up to scrutiny, but it’s a movie about space wizards and laser swords and we’re really going to start a petition to force Rian Johnson to admit his movie sucked over a couple of plot holes? Give over.

A quick perusal of said user reviews reveals that there are a bunch of people who take massive issue with the lack of answers as to Snoke and Rey’s heritage, a selection that are real sad about how Luke Skywalker buys the farm, and a not insignificant portion bemoaning that not every hero in Star Wars is still a white American dude. For shame. Duder77 on Metacritic has this to say in his in 4/10 review:

“Last year we got to see a 15 year old girl lecture battle-hardened rebels that “rebellions are built on hope.” Thank you, Mary Sue.

This year, we get to see a purple-haired kindergarten teacher appear out of nowhere to lecture a reckless “flyboy” on his toxic masculinity before she single-handedly takes out a huge first order starship.

I wonder what the Solo movie will have in store for us. Maybe it will be revealed that he’s really a girl identifying as a boy. Actually, as I write this I’m getting scared…”

chabbledubbs82 was even more critical in his thought provoking 0/10 review:

“Star Wars is officially dead. Disney is a corporation simply to serve SJW agendas by piggybacking off popular names. End of story. Even with the shoehorned diversity forced upon people for no reason other than to tell you what to think and that women are powerful (every major heroic moment is all females for the feminist agenda).”

Although perhaps Parag0N says it best in his in depth critical analysis of The Last Jedi in which he awarded the movie 0 marks out of a possible 10:

“Sucked this movie did…lost their damn minds the critics have…ruined Star Wars Rion Johnson has…Ive never left a theatre more pissed off and disappointed in my life. This felt like being diddled by your favorite uncle for three hours then offered ice cream afterward. Every single major plot point and mystery from Awakens is wasted in the worst of ways. Star Wars has always bordered on hokey and corny but it had just the right tone to keep it dramatic and serious. Rion Johnson didn’t understand that and went full on Lucas (ep I-III) with the tone. I was waiting for a laugh track to kick in during the very first scene it was so bad. F this movie and Rion Johnson! Do not support this trash. A waste of some of the best characters of all time…the people raving about how great this pile was would probably be just as entertained watching dogs hump for three hours…”

Everyone’s a critic.

Seriously, though, get yourself on there with a bag of popcorn and you can waste at least an hour trudging through the mire. There’s some glorious work by a bunch of Star Wars fans that are super not happy (again), and they really want everyone to know about it, and you can have a good laugh reading it all.

Yes, sillier than anything that transpires on screen during The Last Jedi is the absurd overreaction that some fans have had to it, with some even claiming that they’ve developed bots to artificially lower the user rating of the movie on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, because apparently just not liking something quietly and getting on with your life isn’t an option. Let’s face it — there was a bunch of stuff in the old movies that didn’t make a lick of sense either, and I didn’t give a fig about any of that when I was watching The Empire Strikes Back on VHS for the twelfth time in the mid-’80s as a kid.

So suck it up, star dorks.

John can generally be found wearing Cookie Monster pyjamas with a PlayStation controller in his hands, operating on a diet that consists largely of gin and pizza. His favourite things are Back to the Future, Persona 4 Golden, the soundtrack to Rocky IV, and imagining scenarios in which he's drinking space cocktails with Commander Shepard. You can follow John on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JohnDoesntDance

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. George Cheesee

    December 19, 2017 at 4:25 am

    I agree with all of these points, and yet the movie is still competing for my favourite. Need to see it again (and again) to be sure.

    • John Cal McCormick

      December 19, 2017 at 7:02 am

      It’s my third favourite, I think. Not everything we like has to be perfect. Liking something in spite of its flaws is better than just pretending they have none. So what it’s got daft bits in it. The movie rocked, right?

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70 Best Movie Posters of 2019

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Best Movie Posters of 2019

Deciding the best movie posters is no easy task…

I remember when I was younger, I used to head to the video store and rent movies I’d never heard of based solely on the movie poster art. This was, of course, a different time— sure, the internet was a thing, but we didn’t have countless websites, not to mention social media platforms, promoting new movies online with news stories, movie stills, featurettes, teasers, trailers and so on. Not to say that sort of marketing didn’t exist in the past, because it did, but it wasn’t always in your face. For better or for worse, the internet changed the way studios market movies, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the use of a poster to help build excitement and anticipation for an upcoming film. Most posters continue to be an important marketing tool for filmmakers worldwide and so once again, we’ve decided to collect images of our favourite movie posters revealed over the past twelve months. If you checked out our list of the best movie posters of 2018, you’ll remember it included posters for indie gems, thrillers, horror movies, foreign language films, Hollywood blockbusters and everything in between. This year is no different, although it should be said that some marketing campaigns were so good, we’ve decided to include more than one poster for a few select films. Also worth noting, we didn’t include any fan-made poster art below. That out of the way, here are the best movie posters of 2019.

Click on any one of the images to enlarge the posters.

The Best Movie Posters of 2019

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The Piercing ‘Marriage Story’ Is Noah Baumbach’s Best Film to Date

TIFF 2019

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Marriage Story

In 2010, director Noah Baumbach began divorce proceedings with his now ex-wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh. The divorce was finalized three years later, and since then Baumbach has been in a relationship with actor and director (and occasional collaborator) Greta Gerwig. It’s impossible to view his newest film, Marriage Story, without taking into account his own dissolved marriage; this is a searching, seething work of recriminations and longing that pits two all–too–human parents against each other, and invites the audience to not only imagine which bits of psychic trauma are his own, but also to consider our own relationships, successful or not.

Marriage Story stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as Nicole and Charlie, a married couple living in New York City with their young son Henry. The film opens with a montage as Nicole recites the things she most loves about her husband, from the way he can cook and doesn’t mind waking up with their son, to his skill as a theater director. In turn, Charlie narrates his favorite aspects of Nicole, his regular lead actor. There are plenty of opportunities for tears here, but the unguarded emotions of these confessions might get them started right from the beginning. But just as they finish reciting these traits, we’re brought back to reality; these confessions were things that they had written down to read to each other as a kind of peace offering at the start of their mediation following a separation that has led up to their divorce. But Nicole doesn’t like what she has written — or at least doesn’t want Charlie to hear it. And if she won’t go, then it’s not really fair for him to read his. So neither tells each other what they most admire in the other, and instead stop seeing the mediator.

It’s the first strike in Nicole and Charlie’s mutually assured destruction agreement. Though they initially plan on avoiding using lawyers, Nicole gets tipped off to a well-regarded attorney (a funny and ice-cold Laura Dern) who advises her to take a maximalist position in order to ensure she gets half of everything she wants — at the very least. Once she has a lawyer, Charlie tries out a variety of legal counsels (a soothing Alan Alda and a fiery Ray Liotta), but the real conflict comes down to location; Nicole has taken Henry to Los Angeles while she films a pilot, and wants to stay even after it’s finished. Charlie, however, thought they would move back to New York. Each escalation in the feud necessitates an opposing reaction, and the two are driven further and further apart, even as they try to stay close for the sake of their son.

Marriage Story

Baumbach has admitted that some details of the film are based on his own divorce, but he’s also said he interviewed many of his friends who divorced around the same time, as well as lawyers and judges involved in divorce cases. In some ways, Marriage Story isn’t just a portrait of a couple separating, but a primer on divorce court that far surpasses something like Kramer vs. Kramer, which was out of date even in 1979. The film is also an opportunity to observe two of the best living actors at the top of their game. Johansson and Driver have a knack for finding the sweet spot between un-actorly naturalism and the stylistic ticks that we recognize as compelling acting. It gives us a sense that these people were actually a family, and really cared for each other. Baumbach’s script helps; it’s maybe his best writing ever, filled with so many painfully open moments, yet leavened with just the right amount of humor. He’s also as fair as he could be, and neither parent comes off as too saintly or self-centered.

Marriage Story ends in a circle of sorts with the discovery of Nicole’s notes about Charlie’s best qualities. Their marriage was effectively over before the film even started, but I kept thinking back to that lovely introductory scene. How might their journey to divorce progressed if they had the courage to speak openly to each other in that one moment? Perhaps something might have been better. Marriage Story doesn’t harbor any of those romantic illusions, however; once it’s over, it’s over.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 12, 2019, as part of our coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival.

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Don’t Be Sad ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ Never Made it to Manhattan

Spend this rainy day playing a board game or something

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Rainy Day in New York

You do not come to late-era Woody Allen for anything resembling true originality. He is the drunken piano man, riffing off the same old hits in the same old bar, hoping that nostalgia will hit a chord with somebody. As in Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine, or even Irrational Man, his output over the last decade can still bring up moments of true inspiration and fresh-feeling angles on the same old tales, even if the plot-lines feel somewhat familiar. In the best humanist cinema, like that of Rohmer or Ozu, this repetition can make you see the same thing in a slightly different way. The same cannot be said of A Rainy Day in New York, a film so derivative it feels like it came out of an auto-generator, making me feel nothing but contempt for the waste of so much talent. If you are an American Woody Allen fan sad that this movie never made it to Manhattan, there’s honestly no need to be.

Timotheé Chalamet stars and narrates in a performance so poor that he must be happy this film hasn’t released back in the States. He plays Gatsby Wells, a student at upstate Yardley College, a place he detests yet tolerates because his beloved girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) — heiress to a rich banking empire in Tucson — also studies there. As a writer for the University paper, she gets the chance to interview famous director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber), giving them the possibility to explore New York together. Yet when they arrive there, a series of misunderstandings, mishaps, and fear of missed opportunities keeps them perpetually apart, handing them the chance to explore romance with others — including old flames, movie stars and, of course, high-priced escorts. 

Although his first name is Gatsby, Wells better resembles the other great male of 20th century American literature: Holden Caulfield. Like the protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye, he is born of massive privilege, shunning his supposedly phoney origins while still visiting the fanciest hotels and drinking in the fanciest bars. There is perhaps some kind of interesting modern portrait of New York privilege in here, but Woody Allen is simply not the right director for the material. It’s like asking a jazz pianist to bash out a techno tune. 

And just as Allen’s blinkered view of New York blinds him to the real world and its contemporary concerns, Chalamet’s nostalgia act cannot find a way to escape Woody’s wooden writing. The sensitive, pretentious, sensual young man who turned in such a deeply felt performance in Call Me By Your Name could be a natural fit for a Woody Allen character, if only he actually leaned into what makes him a great actor instead of trying his best Woody Allen imitation. While some actors can do Woody Allen well (Kenneth Branagh is uncanny in Celebrity, while Larry David is great in Whatever Works), Timotheé Chalamet has neither the studied talent to impersonate well, nor the arrogance to put his own distinctive stamp on it. Elle Fanning is similarly dire; playing both an intrepid, impetuous journalist and a thick floozy, she carries neither the charm nor the wit to make her a compelling co-lead.  

A Rainy Day in New York

I don’t blame either actor; they’re young, and there’s a feeling that they weren’t given much direction. In fact, almost every aspect of A Rainy Day in New York feels underdeveloped, underwritten, and under-thought. This is a film so lazy that it even recycles the ending of Midnight in Paris, perhaps hoping that the audience developed amnesia since 2011. Even Allen’s trademark eye for Manhattan is missing. Filming here properly for the first time since 2009, the city no longer seems like much of a character by itself, and instead comes off as it would in a generic TV Christmas Movie. 

While Allen’s early 00s work — easily his worst period — is characterised by its TV-movie lighting, his collaborations over the past ten years with cinematographers such as Darius Khondji (Midnight in Paris, To Rome With Love), Javier Aguirresarobe (Blue Jasmine), and Vittorio Stororo (Cafe Society, Wonder Wheel) elevated his films’ look considerably, even when the writing may have been lacking. Sadly here, the legendary cinematographer behind Apocalypse Now and The Conformist — despite what seems like his best efforts to light generic hotel rooms with warmth and vibrancy — cannot save A Rainy Day in New York at all, which feels even more rushed and cut-to-pieces than usual. This is really only for die-hard Woody Allen completists; casual minds need not bother.

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