The Two Best Star Wars Films of All Time!

I appreciate all the Star Wars films, even the ones that do not appeal to me or I did not love.

We have a tendency to want to glamorize the three first Star Wars films, but as someone who saw those films when they first came out in theaters as a wee lad, while wildly popular, with the exception of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, none of the original three were masterpieces. They were flawed films, but the mythos, the characters, the message, the hope, and the gestalt, the end product was enough to outweight any flaws.

Perfection is for Gods. And the goal of filmmakers and a film is to try to give us something… wondrous. To share a bit of love, and awe, and joy with us.

I never liked the first Star Wars, even as a kid. It was overlong, badly paced, dragging in the middle.

But I found things to like and to love in that imperfect movie. The characters, the visuals, the bad guys, the spectacle. I never loved the first Star Wars film, but I never hated it. I always liked it, if finding it flawed.

As an adult having revisited the first STAR WARS film several times throughout my life, if is still flawed, and overlong, and badly paced, and plodding in the middle.

However the good in it, always outweighs the negatives. The great characters, the wonderful visuals, the hopeful message. To not take away more good from all that effort expended and all that talent and all those moments, to not at the very least appreciate a flawed but essentially good movie, I think would say more about the viewer than the viewed.

The first STAR WARS for me is not a 10 movie, but it is at least a solid 7 to 8. Which is a passing and respectable grade. EMPIRE is a 9 to 10. RETURN is an 8 to 8. 5.

All in all it is a fondly remembered movie trilogy. But I do not judge things on Nostalgia.

Because something came out when I was a kid doesn’t make it the greatest thing ever, and because something new comes out when I am an adult, it is not the worst thing ever. Because it fails to be for my adult sensabilities, what that old movie was to my kid’s sensabilities does not make it wrong.

As an adult rewatching those movies, I can judge them based on not what they made  me feel as a kid, but on what I get from them now. And the same for a new movie, we should not judge it based on what we want or thought it would or should be, we judge it on what it is.

The prequels for me, judged for what they were, I thought they were underwhelming. They had nice visuals, but suffered from core characters not as interesting, and a story not as compelling or well told as the original trilogy. I was not a fan, I did not like them, but I did not hate them. They were simply a miss for me, simply not for me. Not everything is for everyone. For me they were flawed films, possibly a 5 to 7 for the trilogy.

However I realize for a younger audience, the trilogy, flaws and all, may be more appealing to them. Again not everything needs to appeal to everyone, and with the Prequels, after a long layoff, Lucas was perhaps looking to  introduce his aging Mythology to a new generation. Not a bad idea. a good idea actually, just not well pulled off in various areas. But overall, flaws and all, it is a rich addition to the mythology. The good that came out of the films, being a richer mytholgy that subsequent tv shows and movies get to build on.

Enter the new Disney Star Wars films. As of this writing, four films, FORCE AWAKENS, ROGIUE ONE, SOLO, and THE LAST JEDI. Films that for some inexplicable reason have met with controversy and hate from some corners, most vocally SOLO and LAST JEDI.

As I said, I have never hated a Star Wars, I can’t readily think of any movie I hate. Hate is a strong word, and I do not go into a theater, pay money, looking to hate or tear something down. I go into a movie looking to be entertained. And even when a movie has flaws, just like that first Star Wars movie all those years ago, if the good outweighs the bad, I count that as a win. It may not be 10 out of 10 movie, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good,. With me, in a world spinning toward mendacity and hate, if a movie has hope and heart and a cogent story and a likeable cast, that cuts a lot of weight with me.

I think all 4 of the new Disney Star Wars films have at least been 8 out of 10. If I had to rate them off the top of my head I would say 8.5 to FORCE AWAKENS, 8.5 to 9 for ROGIUE ONE, 8.5 TO 9 for SOLO, and 9 to 10 for LAST JEDI.

For those of you counting I am saying yes, the new batch of films, as a whole I find more enjoyable than the original 40+ year old trilogy.

With the big exception of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, I, an original Star Wars fan who saw the trilogy in the theaters, have no problem not seeing them with rose-colored glasses, and saying quite easily… as a whole the new movies are better made.

They are, as a whole, better movies than the original trilogy. Which is no slight against the original trilogy, but is respect and kudos to just the progress in the level of craft of filmmaking and directors.

And yes I will go further with my sacrilege, I think Rian Johnson’s inexplicably panned and railed against THE LAST JEDI Is a flat out masterpiece. Is it perfect? No, nothing made by man ever will be, or should be, but it comes close enough to earn my standing ovation.

My better half and I just finished watching it again on Netflix, we loved it the first time we saw it. But rewatching it.. it is even more impressive. It is in its DNA the heart and soul of STAR WARS distilled right to its closing moments.

Both of us thoughout the movie kept marveling at how good the movie was, and openly mystified by the virulent hate and attacks those involved in this movie endured.

Again I have never hated a movie, much less to extend that hate to people whose only ‘crime’ is making a living trying to entertain people, it is for us the inexplicable mewling of the mob. Of people who grade movies either 10 or 0, and attack movies for not agreeing with the version of the movie they make up in their head. It is the mewling of people who watch all the trailers, and spoilers, and gossip, and script leaks, pre-chew and digest and second guess the movie before ever getting in the theater, than complain about how there were no surprises in the movie.

I don’t aim this at those  who fairly watched LAST JEDI and it wasn’t for you, that is fine, not every movie is for everyone, but the attacks LAST JEDI has endured is largely from armchair directors and armchaoir writers, railing against the movie for not being their fan-fic of what the movie should be.

And for that demographic, who go into cinema looking for something to rail against on social media, the 10 or 0 crowd, the truth is, they would have hated the original trilogy just as much as THE LAST JEDI if they came at it with this same level of entitlement and armchair quarterbacking.

If today’s fans, was the fandom of the original STAR WARS film, that film would have bombed and there would have never been an EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Fandom has become people with uninformed opinions and too much access, spreading their noise over the signal.

These are the same behind the curve types who hated on Carpenter’s THE THING when it first came out, or buried Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL.

Here is the thing.

People, the taste you have today, will grow and matiure as you do. And things that do not resonate with you today, you likely will grow into tomorrow. That, is the goal, of growing and maturity. So be wary of sticking your flag too deep in the ground on what you hate, because the ground shifts.

Always.

Two best STAR WARS films of all time?

That’s easy.

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and Rian Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI.

And the most gorgeous, and visually impressive STAR WARS film of all time, well, not even a question, Rian Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI.

That we lost out on him completing his trilogy due to the mewling of the uninformed social media lynch mob, well we and a future generation of filmgoers who rediscover THE LAST JEDI (just like THE THING was rediscovered) will be the losers.

 

Here endeth the lesson. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

Go back ten years in this blog and you will see I was singing the praises of Walter Hill’s EXTREME PREJUDICE as not just one of Walter Hill’s best films, but one of the best action films ever made.

Here is where all of Walter Hill’s loves and inspirations (from John Ford to Sam Pekinpah) took him furthest and took all involved furthest. Much like Anthony Harvey’s seminal THE LION IN WINTER it was the best film of everyone involved.

So EXTREME PREJUDICE‘s lack of availability in a great Bluray, and better yet Steelbook format, has always struck me as a missed opportunity.

While the US has yet to correct that wrong, Germany and Japan (and the UK had an out of print version as well) evidently know a brilliant movie when they see one, as you can get Walter Hill’s best film on BluRay thru those countries.

Shame on you US!

In my best PLANET OF THE APES growl… “BOW YOUR HEAD!!!” 🙂

But yeah, came across the below BluRay version from Germany…

I have recently gone on a steelbook kick thanks to recent absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful steelbook releases by Shout Factory. I’ve kinda grown to despise the titular blue bar on the top of traditional BluRay packaging. I was never a fan of that branding, but accepted it because, that was all there was.

Well today we have great companies releasing wonderful Blurays done with an eye to aesthetics, that makes not just the film a work of art, but the whole gestalt, the whole process, a work of art. Which is what hopefully anything that takes up space, precious space, in our homes and our lives should be… a thing of beauty.

A thing that makes us smile, to look upon it.

The twelve movies below, including the aforementioned EXTREME PREJUDICE release… make me smile.

Reach out to me, if you need assistance in acquiring any of these.

Without further ado… 

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

The Japan and Uk version use similar art for the BluRay, but both are out of print. But they have that blue branding at the top that I can deal with, but does not inspire me to rush out and get a copy. These days I drag my feet before buying anything that doesn’t completely thrill me. Streaming has spoiled us, even us DVD and Bluray fans: today even for an increasing # of us, owning physical media is a luxury that has to justify itself, in an age of Digital.

Digital… meet justification. The German mediabook of EXTREME PREJUDICE…

 

HOLY … BLOODY… HECK!!! 

That is a magnificent cover! And I even forgive it the Blue branding at the top.

Man… when I saw this, even though the book portion is in German (And the title is AUSGELOSCHT which translates loosely to Elimination or Annihilation), I had to have it. Especially when I saw that it was sold out nearly everywhere. 

Okay that was one Bluray down, here are today’s other 11 must own BluRays.

 

 

https://amzn.to/2LeMZ4s

Yes, I listed THE THING Steelbook last time, and yes it still takes my breath away. SHOUT FACTORY has just knocked it out of the park with this and their other recent Steelbook releases. I own it now and still am impressed with it every time I see it on my shelf.  And people, this is nearly out of print everywhere. Pick it up while you can.

 

And moving on, here are the remaining must own Blurays of today!

 

 

https://amzn.to/2Lgq2Oj

https://amzn.to/2NKS3iF

 

https://amzn.to/2zMhgkM

The Blue Branding is just a removable cardboard piece, thankfully, and at the price this classic is a must own.

https://amzn.to/2NLjN6X

https://amzn.to/2MS9CxN

https://amzn.to/2NLzsmF

 

https://amzn.to/2MR0HMT

https://amzn.to/2HCv1qf

I do not love THE HOWLING steelbook, but it is growing on me. I kinda like it. And it is currently affordable.

https://amzn.to/2MSacvt

While everyone is proclaiming the death of physical media, I have to tell you, there are people like me, who will always support beautiful things. And while it is great to stream movies, and stream comics, and stream books, and stream magazines, there is no substitution for being able to hold and peruse and showcase a well designed work of art.

So if companies up their game like SHOUT FACTORY is doing, don’t just slap a photo on the cover, but put some bloody creativity into the packaging. Custom artwork, great design, and they will sellout their SteelBook Blurays… just like SHOUT FACTORY is doing. People will support… quality.

Choir… preach. 🙂

Guys if you like this post. go ahead and support this blog by using the links provided. Purchases thru the included links earn this blog a few much appreciated pennies to keep the virtual lights on. 🙂

Thanks for viewing, leave a comment, like or email or subscribe. It is all appreciated. Till next time… be well!!

 

Movie Posters of the Day!

 

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Harriet

The poster grabbed me, but what really made me excited about this film was seeing it was being directed by Kasi Lemmons of EVE’S BAYOU fame. One of my favorite films, just such a magical, yet somehow easily beautiful little film, that defies easy genre labels. If she can bring that deft touch to this ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ tale of HARRIET TUBMAN, we could have something very special here.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie Poster

Intriguing poster and trailer, but the jury is out on this.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Terminator: Dark Fate (#1 of 2)

THE TERMINATOR franchise has largely been a case of diminishing returns since the second one. And while I have no great interest in a new one, with Tim Miller at the helm, I’m intrigued to see what he can do.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Expanse (#5 of 5)

THE EXPANSE is one of the best scifi shows(full blown space opera) to arrive on the scene since FARSCAPE. Not sure if we are getting a new season but the existing three seasons are a brilliant self contained novel, ala BABYLON 5 and DEEP SPACE NINE. If you have not watched it, watch it. You’ll find it time well spent.​

 

Streaming films of the Day : SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and BORDER!

Ali Abbasi and Boots Riley.

LaKeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Gräns (2018)

These are names you should remember.

They are Writer/Directors to seek out.

You know for the most part when we go to one of these Blockbuster films in the theater, whether AVENGERS ENDGAME or the latest MISSION IMPOSSIBLE or JAMES BOND , we know what we are going to get. If not the particulars, we know the formula, the genre, the broad beats of hero and villain and threat to resolve.

With films like SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and BORDER if you go in blind, without trailer, or forewarning, or spoilers, as I did, and as I suggest you do, you are in for what film used to be, in the early days of film. You are in for something strange, and beautiful, and horrible, and more than a little bit unsettling; you are in for something rare, something new under the sun.

You are in for a ride, that is unfathomable and twisting, and both harrowing and transformative.

These are arguably not films that do well in the theatrical setting, for the simple fact they do not cater to expectations, they live in the unfamiliar places. And can arguably leave us… thoughtful and conflicted about what we see.

And audiences these days like to leave the theater, with easy assumptions reinforced, rather than challenged.

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and BORDER are both films that do not play to the usual. They are living room films, they are home theaters films, they are personal films, and they are films that will stay with you long after you see them.

Both films feature amazing performances. Lakeith Stanfield of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, and coming off a show stealing performance in ATLANTA is quickly becoming one of the best young Actors working. And Eva Melander, an actress unknown to me, is nothing short of award material in BORDER.

Both are must own films on DVD/Blu-Ray. In the age of streaming, these are the type of films you do not trust to the ephemeral nature of streaming. You can try before you buy by viewing both movies courtesy of HULU. and once you do, you’ll want to add these films to your collection.

I consider them both, cinematic gems, that will only grow with subsequent viewings.

Get your copies here:

 

https://amzn.to/2Yn5doc

 

https://amzn.to/2E692GB

Currently Watching : DEAD SQUAD TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD

DEAD SQUAD: TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD

25 minutes in and the jury is out on this one. I find it intriguing despite the annoying nature of most of the characters. The annoying, brain dead westerner character is one I can definitely do without. The film so far has not been great, a bit too campy and annoying, but I find myself interested in where the film is going. Interested in the shape of the doom they are getting closer to. And the Antagonist equally wears out his welcome.

However the practical effects and makeup are impressive, and how badass one of the characters is around the 40 minute mark keeps me watching when I was ready to write this one off.

I do not like Zombie/Ghoul films as a rule, but this one is different enough (especially the head monster) and truly deranged and yes campy enough, that you just have to be impressed by the absurd weirdness of it.

It becomes far more intriguing than I was initially thinking. Definitely not for everyone but for fans of Peter Jackson’s early horror films like BAD TASTE and DEAD ALIVE, despite my early doubts, Dominik Hauser’s DEAD SQUAD (his debut film) by the end, becomes an absolutely tremendous and fitting homage and evolution of those campy horror classics.

Try it yourself courtesy of Amazon Prime streaming. It is unfortunate movies like this are not getting a DVD/Blu-ray release with Director’s commentary. That’s how B films like this traditionally have endured. Preserved by collectors and fans. In the ephemeral world of streaming,controlled by cold dollars and cents, films like this can disappear without a whisper.

Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mPtCeemqdE0/hqdefault.jpg?sqp=-oaymwEjCPYBEIoBSFryq4qpAxUIARUAAAAAGAElAADIQj0AgKJDeAE=&rs=AOn4CLDh_UfxcZNe5u6425f8IB_xRSS0rgCLAP, CLAP– A 2017 short film according to youtube, I just became aware of this one tonight. Directed by Brandon Piskorik and starring Aaron Burt it is everything you want from a 5 minute horror film. A setting, a narrative, a looming dread, and a payoff. It is a fantastic short film, so I was a bit surprised to see even IMDB has no entry for it. And there is seemingly no webpage or online poster image promoting the short. To go to the effort to make a quality film, then to spend no effort to publicize it seems to me a missed opportunity.

Horror while a popular genre, is a hard genre to get right. Get the editing wrong, the timing wrong, the pacing wrong, and it becomes dreary rather than dreadful (in the horrific, hoped for tone, you want your horror film to hit). Piskorik gets it right here. A solid B+. Worth a look.

 

Another worth a look short is DOOR TO PURGATORY, also from 2017 this one is written and directed by Alexandra Balda. There are no surprises here, from frame one this is a pretty straight forward horror tale, but it is told and photographed well, with a protagonist you find likable and want to keep following.

At 13 minutes it is longer than most shorts but is 13 minutes well spent. There are minor things that distract, showing too clearly and too long the horror element, and too much of the mustache twirling villain at the end. But beyond that it is a solid first short film. A solid C+.

And the things the film CLAP, CLAP failed to do to publicize that movie, is not repeated here. As this movie is on IMDB, is a festival circuit participant (and winner) and has a poster. Alexandra Balda is a filmmaker I look forward to seeing more from.

 

Now films that did not make the cut and why:

STICKS- while arguably more professionally assembled than others on this list, what hurts this is what hurts most horror films, whether short or long. People reacting without any commonsense. Seemingly the protagonist is a caretaker. Why she is cleaning the house at night, well people get busy no biggie. So i’ll ignore that. However, why on earth would any sane person go up those stairs given the circumstances of the short? Why would any sane person open a door given those circumstances? they wouldn’t. It is bad, lazy writing, and a waste of everyone’s time. And the movie is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.

TOOTH MAN- Not as slickly made suffers from the same issue. Characters acting completely braindead. With reason and commonsense seemingly a foreign language. You are babysitting and discover a bag of bloody teeth after a noise, and the possibility of an intruder, any sane person gets the kid and you get out of the house, and call the police/parents from a neighbors house. But no, not in this movie. I understand you need to create a situation of isolation for protagonist and threat, but you do that through smart writing, not lazy writing. On top of that I hate movies where adults lie to kids. Or husbands patronize wives about the obvious crazy stuff that happens in these movies. When those scenes happen they take me completely out of the movie.

 

 

Three must watch Short Werewolf Horror Films! On VOD Now!

 

Delightful. Suitable for all ages.

Definitely not suitable for all ages, Pretty disturbing actually. But incredibly well done.

End of the Road (2015)

All three of these movies are great for different reasons. END OF THE ROAD skews closest to the traditional WEREWOLF film,and it pays off in a GREAT creature design, and just a pretty memorable and fantastic sequence. A must watch.

 

Check Vimeo, or Amazon Prime, or Youtube to view the above titles. Would love to hear your comments once you do.