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Anthony Lane re: Sith
May 18, 2005 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Movie review of the month. Anthony Lane writes in the New Yorker, "No, the one who gets me is Yoda. May I take the opportunity to enter a brief plea in favor of his extermination? Any educated moviegoer would know what to do, having watched that helpful sequence in “Gremlins” when a small, sage-colored beastie is fed into an electric blender."
posted by mert (116 comments total)

 
Great review. It takes a lot to make the New Yorker drop the f-bomb.

And from Salon: "I sense Count Dooku!" Anakin Skywalker announces warily in one of the movie's early scenes, and he's right -- the smell is all around.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:58 PM on May 18, 2005


hurr, i hate star warz, i'm so sophisticated!!!11!11one
posted by keswick at 8:11 PM on May 18, 2005


Wow -- cathartic. Haven't even seen the new one but I'm finally just fine with admitting that the whole god-damned Star Wars enterprise is an irritating mediocrity. And yes, I know I am betraying my, sniff sniff, 7-year-old self, holy little lad that he is.

Tell me this, anyone: If I told you that there would be a six-movie cycle, 14 or 15 hours long, that was venerated as one of the great works of our time, a whole mythology of profound meaning to millions of people, could you ever imagine a vision as banal and underfed as the one George Lucas has put together?

Do all these movies, put together, have the sweep of a real history, or the rich emotion of a family saga that is deep and wide, or the vast imagination of a distinct and memorable universe?

At least the first two -- excuse me, episodes 4 & 5 (or is the IV and V?) -- are fun, in a mechanical and not world-shattering way. But the rest -- feh. No one in 50 or 100 years will believe that anyone actually gave a wet fart about any of it.
posted by argybarg at 8:13 PM on May 18, 2005


Metafilter: break me a fucking give

Any time Lucas comes up in conversation as some amazing crafter of worlds, I can't help but think that even A New Hope frankly wasn't that great. It was stiff, slow-paced, and at times unintellligible; however, he somehow struck a nerve and created a legendary experience -- which he then slowly eroded and tarnished for the next few decades. In what way did he actually add verisimilitude to the world he stumbled upon? Ewoks? Pod racing? Jar Jar fish-fucking Binks? No way.

I am certain that I will end up watching this movie at some point, but I still feel bad for my friend, whom I know to be waiting in line at this very moment.

WHOA LOOK AT MY NERD SPEECH. IS IT NOT GOOD?

(On preview: YEAH, argybarg. Feel the anger.)
posted by jenovus at 8:14 PM on May 18, 2005


Well, there is a reason why Empire is widely (not univerally, but widely) regarded as the best of the bunch.

It's because Lucas didn't direct the thing. He also shared screenplay duties with Leigh Brackett (granted, he also co-wrote the screenplay for Jedi, but he also directed that one).

George Lucas is not a good director. And having seen Clones, Jonathan Hales isn't much of a writer.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:19 PM on May 18, 2005


"The general opinion of “Revenge of the Sith” seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion. So much here is guaranteed to cause either offense or pain, starting with the nineteen-twenties leather football helmet that Natalie Portman suddenly dons for no reason, and rising to the continual horror of Ewan McGregor’s accent"

He may be a prat, but he certainly has a way with words. I love Anthony Lane.
posted by googly at 8:20 PM on May 18, 2005


Sith will likely be the only movie I see in the theater this year. *shrugs*
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:20 PM on May 18, 2005


It was a brilliantly written flame-job -- I love love love Anthony Lane -- but as a review, it seems too calculated an "f-bomb" to me. It reminds me of those old articles about the Grateful Dead where some magazine would send the most arch, wry, postmodern, hippie-hatin' hipster to a Dead show to wax bilious about the ghastly patchouli-soaked spectacle and the tawdry "nostalgia" of it all. Great if you want to feel superior to all these pathetic fanboys, but less useful if you wanted to know, for instance, how the band played that night.

Anthony Lane rules. And Revenge of the Sith rules, though I'd agree with him that the previous two installments were close to "pure nonsense."

I wish the New Yorker had sent in both Lane and David Denby, who is a quieter writer, but an equally sharp observer who might have actually seen the film in front of his eyes without itching to fire up the f-bomb.
posted by digaman at 8:23 PM on May 18, 2005


I sense a disturbance in keswick's fragile fanboy feelings.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:24 PM on May 18, 2005


If you're looking to rekindle the excitement of the myth, look up a fanboy/writer-guy named Andrew Rilstone and his analysis of the failures of the series...far far better than the series itself, and so much more interesting too.
/shill
posted by hototogisu at 8:33 PM on May 18, 2005


The head pieces Natalie ports are truly absurd.
posted by shoepal at 8:37 PM on May 18, 2005


keswick should consider the possibility that some of us love Star Wars and that is why we are so sickened by what Lucas has done to it the last two three installments. The Salon article really hits it on the head.
posted by spock at 8:43 PM on May 18, 2005


To be 8 years old again and see Empire the weekend it opened. *sighs*
posted by mlis at 8:44 PM on May 18, 2005


Of course some of us don't take any of it seriously, have long felt sorry for those who cared so much about it (seriously how pissed off can you be - I read over and over again about how this or that episode sucks or isn't logical or how the director sucks etc - get a fucking life), and find the entire enterprise entertaining and worth a modicum of our time and money.

Grow up. Star Wars wasn't the greatest film made when you were seven and it's not the worst film made now that you are middle aged. Stop waiting in the stupid ticket line (and yes lining up to piss on Lucas is just the exact same que as those lame folks who wait in line at the theater) and get on with your life.
posted by filchyboy at 8:50 PM on May 18, 2005


keswick thinks that the douchebag writer missed several key points in favor of picking up some cred. keswick thinks that article was really lazy and poorly written. keswick is more appalled by the star wars fandom that has out trekkied trekkies than keswick is by the prequels.

yet, ultimately, keswick doesn't really care what some douchebag writer in new york thinks.

keswick also has apparently started talking in the third person. keswick thinks this means keswick should look into a career in rap, sports, or bob dole impersonator.
posted by keswick at 8:53 PM on May 18, 2005


Oh yea as for the review...great snark...delicious even...but a movie review...not so much. What kind of name is Sith, indeed?
posted by filchyboy at 8:53 PM on May 18, 2005


I thought this was a lame review, L-A-M-E, lame, especially when I cherish the yet-green memory of A. O. Scott's infinitely superior hatchet job on Episode II (un-blogerated but-still-live NYT link).
posted by mwhybark at 9:07 PM on May 18, 2005


Dang. Bound and determined to lecture somebody, aren't you keswick?
posted by spock at 9:10 PM on May 18, 2005


I can't help but think that even A New Hope frankly wasn't that great.

It had some excellent moments, like the cantina scene (thanks, Kurosawa!), but you can't argue that the character dynamics were better--far, far better--than any of these new episodes. I know it's kind of intangible, but I don't feel any magic with the first two episodes. Nothing. I don't care about Count Doo Doo or Paddle Me or Jar Jar Jar.

There was something gritty about A New Hope and Empire that made it feel more natural. This reviewer mentions how we never see people doing any people stuff. But A New Hope had angry drunks, and Empire had people eating, and the sets were, well, lived-in. Phantom Menace and Clones felt antiseptic. The parts of the movie that weren't CGI still felt CGI.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:14 PM on May 18, 2005


To be 8 years old again and see Empire the weekend it opened. *sighs*

There are hundreds of thousands of kids tonight all over the world having that experience of Sith, the darkest, strangest tale they've ever seen on a screen. It will stay with them.
posted by digaman at 9:23 PM on May 18, 2005


mwhybark, that EpII review was one of the least inspired, most boring reviews I've ever read. I mean, compare that to this review of Alone In The Dark, and it reads as if it were phoned in.

I say this after not having read the current thread's review, btw. I won't read any reviews of the movie until I've seen it.
posted by shmegegge at 9:33 PM on May 18, 2005


Can someone in the States explain what is with the F-bomb? It seems to be like the shock and awe weapon du jour for American print media. It's really amusing for people in Oz, because it's bandied about like hot chips in most respected magazines and periodicals.


This just in: The southern half of Oklahoma was wiped out when a woman published the phrase - "Fuck the fucking fuckers" in a local PTA newsletter. ATF officers are now at the epicentre of the blast which some experts say could have been a terrorist-motivated attack, however locals are say that "Maude was a bit ticked off at everybody after they put down her pineapple upsidedown cake at the last Thursday meeting."

You guys... so crazy.
posted by JGreyNemo at 9:34 PM on May 18, 2005


There's absolutely no way Lucas could live up to the hype. I hazard to guess there's no way anyone could live up to the hype. You try to live up to thirty years of international hype over you crapping in a toilet. See whether or not you get constipated. Shame on all of you.

There are movies that everyone has splintered in their mind's eye as a personal substitute for what Lucas has actually wrought. The only difference is those movies will never get out of anyone's head. Lucas owns the copyright. He has more money and resources than God. So he got to make the Star Wars movies, and no amount of whining and bitching from the teeming masses is going to make a fucking mound of shit difference. There are those who make Star Wars Sagas, and there are those who whine and complain about Star Wars Sagas. Guess which one we are? Break me a fucking give.

I'm sure many would prefer to see Lucas go bankrupt, be incarcerated in a mental institution, curl himself up into the fetal position and suck his thumb mumbling something about how nobody appreciates the voices in his head. This is not going to happen. Everyone's a critic. Everyone thinks they can do a better job with their misperceptions of Lucas' fictional universe. Guess what? It's his fictional universe. In his own mind he didn't fuck it up. He told the story he wanted to tell. So either sit there with your mouth stuffed with popcorn and shut up, or get the hell out of the theater and go see fucking Monster-in-Law.

Personally I'll probably wait till it hits DVD cuz I hate crowds, and George Lucas has conned me out of enough money over the years, the ripe bastard.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:47 PM on May 18, 2005


I've enjoyed all the Star Wars movies, and I imagine I'll enjoy this one. I've always found it a little Annie Wilkes-ish the personal affront people seem to take based on the decisions of an artist manipulating vision, storylines, and characters that he created in the first place.

If you don't like the dialog, fine. If you don't like how it's filmed, that's cool. If the film experience for you is more negative than positive, my sympathies. But how about doing the rest of us a favor and refrain from watching it 40 goddamn times and analyzing like it's the fucking prophecies of nostradamus and then proceeding to tell all of us why we should not have a nice time watching it. The past 20 years of such bullshit have been quite enough.
posted by troybob at 9:47 PM on May 18, 2005


I love Anthony Lane. If you liked that review, I highly recommend checking out his collection Nobody's Perfect, which mixes his hilarious (but often positive) movie reviews with some of his non fiction pieces from the New Yorker. The essay on Legos is great.
posted by jcruelty at 9:47 PM on May 18, 2005


Whatever, haters. (That means you, too, Anthony Lane and Stephanie Z.) I LOVED IT (saw the charity premiere last week) and CAN'T WAIT to see it again.
posted by melixxa600 at 9:48 PM on May 18, 2005


i totally did not rip off zachsmind's post!
posted by troybob at 9:50 PM on May 18, 2005


The furry patheticness of the Ewoks has cursed the franchise. Star Wars can never be made whole again without whole-burnt offerings before the Muppet God.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:54 PM on May 18, 2005


It will stay with them.

And then their sibling will come home from their freshman year at college and show them "City of Lost Children", and they won't be able to find Pez dispensers or pencil toppers with their favorite character.

On 2nd though, haven't most of the 8 year olds have probably already seen the old ones? I don't know any kids.. I wonder what they think of I/II/II vs. IV/V/VI.

Yes I am a curmudgeon.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 10:01 PM on May 18, 2005


So either sit there with your mouth stuffed with popcorn and shut up, or get the hell out of the theater and go see fucking Monster-in-Law.

???

These are really my two choices? Why?

refrain from watching it 40 goddamn times and analyzing like it's the fucking prophecies of nostradamus and then proceeding to tell all of us why we should not have a nice time watching it.

What? I mean, what the hell?

I saw both prequels once and thought both were bad, in fact almost unwatchable. You have a nice time at them? Great.

Personally I'm of the opinion that the entire Star Wars franchise is very much overrated. Aaaaaand that's it. The enormous overemotional extent of my opinion. Don't really see the Annie Wilkesishness in that.

(Sometimes I really do think we live in a time in which our opponents in any point can't be wrong -- they must have a pathology, something that makes them creepy and disgusting. I assume this is what you, ZachsMind and troybob, assume of those who haven't enjoyed the prequels and would say so.
posted by argybarg at 10:03 PM on May 18, 2005


yet, ultimately, keswick doesn't really care what some douchebag writer in new york thinks.

Don't forget "elitist".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:08 PM on May 18, 2005


I liked the review - it says what meant and the reverse as well: The new Star Wars are worse than mediocre, they are poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted, and generally all-around suck. Even the first three films were half-baked, melodramatic or childish at times, and borrowed liberally from just about everything. What made the first two good (and Return of the Jedi OK) was that they were breaking new ground by using excellent special effects to create a whole different world, one which was easily understandable and constantly exciting. That could have held true for the later films but since they were so shoddily done and focused on all the wrong areas of the franchise (Lucas is an incredible fool) they fell flat.

The fact is nobody cares, in fact most cringe at the dialogue in any of the movies, but light sabers and interstellar war are simply too cool to pass up. That's the draw.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:10 PM on May 18, 2005


Another bad review.

Once again, McGregor speaks in a simperingly lifeless Rada-English accent, a muddled and misconceived backdating of the Guinness original - the young fogey with the light-sabre. In boringness he is matched by that Jedi master of woodenness: Hayden Christensen, the flatliner to end all flatliners. As an actor Christensen must show the terrible embryo of future wickedness within himself. And how does he do this? By tilting his head down, looking up through lowered brows and giving the unmistakable impression that he is very, very cross. If Princess Diana had gone to the Dark Side, she would have looked a lot like this.
posted by gsb at 10:12 PM on May 18, 2005


Armitage: Yes, I did. Thanks for catching that.
posted by keswick at 10:33 PM on May 18, 2005


George should have stopped after "Star Wars" (note the absence of "Episode IV", or "A New Hope" - all that shit came out after George started believing all the hype. Originally, it was just a movie called "Star Wars".) It's by no means a faultless movie, but there is a certain genius to it. It all went south after that. Even the beloved "Empire" takes itself WAY too seriously.

As for effects, he has yet to include anything in any film that matches the emotional impact of Luke Skywalker staring at the twin suns of Tatooine while John Williams' pitch-perfect score sings in the background. I don't know how they made the twin suns, but I'd wager that it involved a technique that's laughably primitive by today's standards. Still, look what happens when you use special effects to enhance a movie with a decent plot and more memorable characters... quite different from when you base your ENTIRE MOVIE AROUND THE EFFECTS!
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:49 PM on May 18, 2005


You know, I was a kid when Return of The Jedi came out, and I still remember it fondly as a very VERY close second to Empire in the series. My girlfriend, who grew up Star-Wars-ophobic and was only recently introduced to the series by me, when watching Jedi looked at me and said, "Aren't these... (Ewoks, dear)... right, Ewoks. Aren't these things a little... stupid?"

Me: ...
...
...
...
you know, I guess they are. huh.

Like, it never occurred to me that the ewoks were stupid, because I was under the age of 10 when they happened. Even now, I can only intellectually understand how someone MIGHT see them as stupid, but I just don't feel it. But then, everything in that movie that ISN'T ewoks is pure old-fashioned home-grown awesome. Kids today may see things like Jar-Jar in much the same way I see ewoks, but they won't have anything like Han and Leia's relationship, or Jabba's palace or anything like that to keep them going through the years despite Gungans.
posted by shmegegge at 10:52 PM on May 18, 2005


For instance, in Empire:

Leia: I love you.

Han: I know.


Even today, I still consider that one of the best pieces of dialog in movie history, whether Harrison Ford improv'd it or not. And I'm not just saying that as a sci-fi fan, either. I'm a fan of all kinds of movies, even sappy slow artsy ones.
posted by shmegegge at 10:55 PM on May 18, 2005


I was 15 when I saw Return of the Jedi, and I found the Ewoks to be unbelievably boring. I liked the rest of the film, which was the only film I ever saw in 70 mm (whatever happened to 70mm theaters?), but I definitely was somewhat disappointed.

The original Star Wars was just plain fun. Some of the acting stunk (Mark Hamill's reaction to the death of Luke's aunt and uncle has always made me cringe) and the dialog wasn't great, but Harrison Ford and Alec Guiness were terrific, and the movie had a real sense of humor. Empire was technically a lot better, but it didn't quite have the charm of the original. If you want to know what made the the original trio superior to the prequels, just compare the Han/Leia relationship to the Anakin/Padme relationship.
posted by gspira at 11:10 PM on May 18, 2005


interesting assumptions, argybarg. but i wasn't--and didn't say i was--talking about anyone who doesn't enjoy the movies. i don't consider someone who doesn't like the films as being wrong in any way, much less mentally afflicted. my point was that i find irritating a particular category of viewer who expends an inordinate amount of energy and time directed toward something that he feels is unworthy of the energy and time, and then won't shut up about it.

in any case, i don't know that i make multiple posts on a subject i find overrated. it would seem to undermine my point.
posted by troybob at 11:40 PM on May 18, 2005


For instance, in Empire:

Leia: I love you.

Han: I know.

Even today, I still consider that one of the best pieces of dialog in movie history



Were all those slow, artsy movies longform Warhol silents?
posted by bunglin jones at 12:19 AM on May 19, 2005


I second a look at Andrew Rilstone's site, though he's not updating it at the moment. The Star Wars essays (and a lot of other stuff) is in here, also including his heroic struggle with the question Is Dave Sim Mad? Also of note is his Open Letter on Doctor Who, which (to judge by how the new series turned out) actually got read by someone at the BBC.

I used to enjoy reviews like Mr Lane's, but to be honest there's so much cynicism around now that it just seems cheap and lazy and meh. I'm sure when I borrow the DVD of the new Star Wars film from a relative in a year or so, I'll enjoy it as much as I did the other two new films (considerably, actually, considering it's junky space opera).
posted by Grangousier at 12:46 AM on May 19, 2005


The interesting thing to me about Star Wars fanboys is that a large chunk of them don't read any other SF. I had a friend who had read all of those Timothy Zahn books, actually ANY Star Wars book that came down the pike, worships the movies, action figure collection, you name it. But that's where it ends. He doesn't read any other sci fi authors at all.

As a sci fi fanatic (I'm talking about books here), I find Star Wars to be quite mediocre. Of course I grew up on the first three, and I think Empire is a genuinely good, well-directed movie. (not directed by Lucas, hint hint)

But as space opera goes, there's much better stuff out there, albeit not in movie form. Clarke, Asimov, Dan Simmons, Robert Heinlien, Iain Banks, William Gibson...I could go on. The point is as far as being a fully realized world, Star Wars is just so-so. Off the top of my head I can think of Dan Simmons' Hyperion series, now that's science fiction.

I had hope for greatness, even an improvement when Episode 1 came out, but in the first 20 minutes I realized that Lucas had jumped the shark. For good. The actions was great (liked the pod racers), but Lucas really, really can't direct actors, or write dialogue, or create tension, and for these signifigant reasons SW won't be the classics they so earnestly try to be.

Haven't seen Sith, but I will, and whether I like it and whether I don't, I'll go back to my books. Better escapes lay there.
posted by zardoz at 12:53 AM on May 19, 2005


I should be pointed out that the Tomatometer on the new film has held pretty steady at around 80%, with even the "cream of the crop" (i.e. the big guns) rating it 74%.

That being said, I am going with some friends tonight and trying to lower my expectations as much as I possibly can, in order to glean some enjoyment from this should it turn out to be a turkey.
posted by LondonYank at 1:28 AM on May 19, 2005


splintered in their mind's eye

Well played.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:21 AM on May 19, 2005


It's because Lucas didn't direct the thing. He also shared screenplay duties with Leigh Brackett (granted, he also co-wrote the screenplay for Jedi, but he also directed that one).

Leigh Brackett handed in her first draft of Empire, then died. Lawrence Kasdan finished it up and also wrote Jedi, which Richard Marquand directed.

Tom Stoppard apparently punched up Sith, but I don't think it helped any.
posted by John Shaft at 2:44 AM on May 19, 2005


The only reasons the earlier movies were any good were Harrison Ford and Carrie, I suddenly realized in a flash of blinding light. They didn't take themselves too seriously. Lucas took great care to eliminate any of THAT in the prequels.
posted by Peach at 4:01 AM on May 19, 2005


So...the thing is in theaters now, so we can stop talking about it, right? Right???
posted by ChrisTN at 4:30 AM on May 19, 2005


Tom Stoppard apparently punched up Sith, but I don't think it helped any.

Guh? Jesus. Lucas must be quite the control freak if the dialogue is as lifeless as I'm led to believe.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:37 AM on May 19, 2005


I never said I enjoyed the prequels. I was just as upset as any fanboy when Episode One came out. What the hell was the deal with Jar Jar? Why start the tale with such a freaking young Anakin? Having a spoiled bratty kid save the day and win the battle was worse than when Wesley Crusher saved the Enterprise for the umpteenth time. I was livid. Had all kinds of hate and bitterness for Lucas. Mighta spit in his face if I'd ever gotten within spitting distance. How dare he do this to MY childhood fantasy??

And somewhere in all that madness I grew up a little, cuz I realized some very important things that most people STILL bitching about Star Wars have failed to realize. If you're in your thirties or late twenties now, you might be like me and from 1977 onward incorporated the Star Wars universe to some extent as a part of your personal little childhood fantasies. Generations before us used Lone Ranger or Tarzan or Captain Marvel. For my generation, it was Star Wars. So instead of cowboys and indians me and the guys I hung around with in my preteens we pretended to be jedis or bounty hunters. There was one kid who had asthma - he usually got to be Darth Vader cuz he already sounded like him.

Star Wars isn't ours though. No amount of merchandise can buy one stock in George Lucas' imagination, and his imagination is going to pale compared to whatever each fan of the show thinks they could do - and we ALL think we could do better than Lucas - but he owns it. He has the resources and he makes the movies. And he's been making those movies for a younger audience - we're no longer his demographic. He's aiming for preteens and teenagers, and people who never quite grew up and can still suspend disbelief and are dazzled by fancy special effects and bright colors and dark shadows with light in them and things that blow up... If you're too cerebrally enlightened to appreciate a story with as many holes in it as Star Wars, that's great. Go read your books or see fancy independent films that have no effects but are well constructed to a level that you prefer.

Star Wars isn't supposed to be the ultimate in cinematic perfection. It's like a carnival funhouse or a roller coaster. It's not supposed to be an artistic ideal. It's just fun. Bitching about it being something other than what it is isn't going to change what it is. Sorry to pop your balloon. Maybe your idea of being happy involves being unhappy with anything Star Warsy. Being unhappy that it's getting all this hype only further encourages said hype, and it's not going to change anything. Why do so many people want to go see the Star Wars prequels when there's other films out there that deserve more attention? Who knows? Who cares? I'm still pissed off at Fox Television for cancelling Firefly, but that's not going to bring it back to TV, is it? It's just wasted air. You're chasing the wind.

And thank you Stavros for catching my terribly geeky obscure reference to Alan Dean Foster's novel. I couldn't resist, but feared no one would get the joke there. You've restored my faith in geek kind. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 4:50 AM on May 19, 2005


Break me a fucking give.

All wrong is the sentence construction. Good parody of Yoda's speech patterns, it is not. "A fucking break, give me," it should be. Aware I am of the reasons this decision he made, but held up as masterpiece of erudite wit, it should not be.

Regard Lane as one of the finest film critics around, though, I still do. The odd position I am in, despite the film having personally really liked (link-self), is that agree fully do I with most of the criticisms others making are. Yet in the cinema, grips you the excitement does (and big Star Wars fan, I am not), and spoil it, the flaws do not.

Irritated by this now am I really getting. Stop, I will, fuck's sake for.
posted by flashboy at 4:57 AM on May 19, 2005


I keep thinking of the rueful Obi-Wan Kenobi, as he surveys the holographic evidence of Anakin’s betrayal. “I can’t watch anymore,” he says. Wise words, Obi-Wan, and I shall carry them in my heart.

That's a cheap laugh. Movie reviewer shoots dog, smirks.


> Break me a fucking give.

That's another cheap laugh.


> It takes a lot to make the New Yorker drop the f-bomb.

Indeed. There are very few islands of civility left these days, and one would hope the New Yorker would remain one of these few. One would consequently hope that if they find they just must have a duck-fit and start cursing in print, they would do this over, say, starving children, rather than over something that is in fact mere popcult triviality, no matter how many people storm Walmart for the little plastic figures.
posted by jfuller at 5:01 AM on May 19, 2005


...an art of flawless and irredeemable vulgarity. All movies bear a tint of it, in varying degrees...

Bah.
posted by sciurus at 5:12 AM on May 19, 2005


I watched the original movie in the theater. I thought it was great. I also thought snowbanks were usually 3X my height. As I grew up both Star Wars sequels and snowbanks have failed to live up to my memories.
posted by srboisvert at 5:18 AM on May 19, 2005


Hayden Christensen: more wooden than Charlie Sheen.
posted by bwg at 5:43 AM on May 19, 2005


I'm always amazed at how seriously people take Hollywood entertainment offerings. For me, I'm going. If I enjoy the film, great. If I don't, no big deal. Hell, I liked Josie and the Pussycats, so I'm easy (didn't bother seeing it in the theaters, though; I'm not completely stupid).

And I've never understood all the rancor over the Ewoks. They were essential to the character arc for C3PO. And they were integral to the cultural metaphor of the exploitation of indigenous peoples for the sake of the larger power struggles of empire (kidding).
posted by effwerd at 5:55 AM on May 19, 2005


This review resonated with me, I'm somewhat chagrined to admit. When I was fifteen in 1977, I was so fascinated by Star Wars that my parents were a little worried about me, but I'm in my forties now, and the buildup to this "final" movie has me slightly sick of it all. I'm putting off going to the movie until I really feel like it. For now I'd rather curl up with a good book.
posted by alumshubby at 6:13 AM on May 19, 2005


I loved that review. For people who think it's a hatchet job: well, duh. It's The New Yorker for crying out loud; what did you expect them to say?

And for people who think that no one could live up to the hype: puhleeeeze. Episodes I and II were awful beyond words, and I say that as someone who saw each only once, and only saw the second episode because my daughter made me take her. Because those prequels were so awful, this prequel only has to be less awful to get decent reviews from mediocre critics. Let's all be glad it's over.
posted by anapestic at 6:19 AM on May 19, 2005


Saw the original in the cinema in '77 & am in knots waiting to go back to see the last tomorrow. I feel quite lucky that I seem to be one of the few who've loved all six, flaws 'n' all.

Maybe I just see them for what they are...a load of aliens, 'droids and whatnot in outer space with loads of cool toys & places to hang out.

I don't care about merchandise, conventions, fan fiction and all the other crap. I've probably spent about GBP35 on watching 6 films, buying the original score (75p from Woolworths!) a comic & some stickers back in the 70's. I will probably buy the DVD box set when it comes out. I think I've got great value for money considering that 35 is a half-decent night out these days.

So, happy rabbit here. Feel slightly sorry for those what can't/won't just kick back & enjoy some dumb fun but what the hey. *shrugs*

And what keswick & ZachsMind said...
posted by i_cola at 6:32 AM on May 19, 2005


re flashboy's above comment on the bad Yoda parody:

Here, you can see "break me a fucking give" get broken down, linguistics-style. The guy's conclusion is that while it's not technically accurate as a parody of Yoda, it makes the most sense considering the alternatives. (See also the previous analysis of Yoda's speech patterns.)
posted by danb at 7:04 AM on May 19, 2005


Lightsaber battles redeem hack mediocrity. Always.

And the review was brilliant--I'm amused by those who were upset by it. Of course Anthony Lane is picking on an easy target--he's freakin' Anthony Lane!

And another bad review, from a person who really wanted to like it.

And how the hell did Hayden Christensen turn ugly all of a sudden?
posted by bardic at 7:06 AM on May 19, 2005


George should have stopped after "Star Wars" (note the absence of "Episode IV", or "A New Hope" - all that shit came out after George started believing all the hype. Originally, it was just a movie called "Star Wars".)

Watchoo talkin' bout? I saw 'Star Wars' eight times in the week it opened, and I remember vividly that although not in the title of the movie itself, the scrolling text at the beginning 'titled' it "A New Hope." Whether it said "Episode IV" or not I can't say for certain, but I do remember that Lucas explained very shortly after the movie opened that it was part four of a nine-part series (whatever happened to that third trilogy, anyway?).
posted by soyjoy at 7:38 AM on May 19, 2005


You know, having seen Sith already, and having loved it against my own expectations, there's something acutely depressing about reading through this thread and watching a bunch of smart people cherry-pick the few bad reviews that are out there so they can feel fine holding on to their opinion that no good Star Wars movies were made after Empire. Believe me, I felt that way too before seeing Sith.

I can't say it any more plainly than this: the new film does not suck. It's surprisingly engaging, haunting, unsettling, and even magnificent in parts. I wasn't bored for a second, and I could barely get through the previous two. In fact, I'm going to see it again tomorrow -- and I never want to see Clones again. Even if the love scenes are still wooden, even if some of the droid humor is goofy, there's a lot more at stake in this film, even if you're not a fanboy. Sith is much, much, much, better than Menace and Clones, and a fitting end to the series, with the gravitas that has been sorely missing since Empire, and a political relevance as timely as the Republicans launching their "nuclear option" in the Senate.

Comb through the reviews picking out the ones that make you feel most self-satisfied, or go see a great new film that will surpass your expectations.
posted by digaman at 7:49 AM on May 19, 2005


If George had stopped after the original 'Star Wars', we wouldn't have been blessed by the splendid excellence of The Star Wars Holiday Special. First appearance of Boba Fett? Check. Bea Arthur dancing with Walrus Man? Check.

Imagine how incredible the new 'Star Wars' trilogy would've been had it been directed by Peter Jackson, a director who knows how to direct actors AND create magnificent special effects.

on preview: damn, digaman, you sure loved Sith. Having suffered through the first two yourself, surely you can understand why We The People are skeptical. Still, at this point I figure I'm 'pot committed', as they say in poker: having sat through the first two, I might as well watch the 3rd one. Even after the travesty of the first two, I'm still getting that 'excited 8-year-old Star Wars Tingle.' It would be nice if this time the movie justifies the excitement.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:01 AM on May 19, 2005


Fuzzy, the amazing thing is, it does. I frankly forgot what it felt like to see a great new Star Wars film. Sith made me remember. I'm glad Lucas gets to go out on a high note. The world needs a jolt of non-sucky goodness right now.
posted by digaman at 8:07 AM on May 19, 2005


The glee of Anthony Lane skewering bad movies is one of the guilty pleasures of my New Yorker-reading experience. And yes, I have his book.
posted by matildaben at 8:15 AM on May 19, 2005


Agreed with digaman. Essentially, what I like about Star Wars is a false memory of what it was - one that gets unpleasantly jolted when going back and actually watching the bloody things, and listening to their dialogue (Jedi especially). It's to the credit of Sith that for two hours and twenty minutes, it does a pretty good job of immersing you in exactly that false memory. It's a really entertaining film, with a nice streak of moody unpleasantness, that I'd quite happily watch again and again. It's not a masterpiece, but it is good. Not bad. Good.
posted by flashboy at 8:25 AM on May 19, 2005


Oh sweet monkey Jesus. A choice review. Lane is essentially peerless.
posted by gramschmidt at 8:27 AM on May 19, 2005


but I do remember that Lucas explained very shortly after the movie opened that it was part four of a nine-part series (whatever happened to that third trilogy, anyway?)

Yessssss! I *knew* I didn't dream that! That's been bugging me ever since the prequels were announced as I remember the same statement from 1977.

The 'Make parts 7-9' campaign starts here ;-)
posted by i_cola at 8:36 AM on May 19, 2005


The so-called third trilogy never got past the stage of rough character sketches and very vague story lines, and Lucas is quite firm in not wanting to take it any farther than that. Which I think is a very, very good thing, particularly since Sith enables him to walk away with honor.
posted by digaman at 8:47 AM on May 19, 2005


I wish that the narrative voice in this (and the other) films was more like this genius blog.

Looking forward to seeing the movie next week. Thanks for all the hype/ reviews/ dissasembling.
posted by Four Flavors at 9:21 AM on May 19, 2005


Anthony Lane is amusing, but he's too in love with his own punning prose to be a reliable reviewer. Aside from his hatchet job, the condescending Stephanie Z piece, and the usual bitter pan in the Voice, the truth is that Episode III is receiving phenomenal critical reaction: great reviews from the BBC, Slate, Newsweek, Ebert, Boston Globe, USA Today, the Washington Post, Film Threat, LA Weekly, the New York Times' AO Scott, just to pick a few. The tomatometer is at a stellar 83%. As digaman says, the film is much better than I and II, and fan reaction is bound to be off the charts. I've seen it three times now, and I still think it's the best of the entire series.
posted by muckster at 9:39 AM on May 19, 2005


After realizing that Lucas lost his ability to make a decent movie with the last two productions there is no way I would ever pay to see another one. I read a review of the film this morning and they rated it 2.5/5. They even compared the dialog in the movie to that of President Bush and Tom Delay. Can Lucas get any more pathetic?... It might be tough, but knowing Lucas it's quite possible.
posted by Guerilla at 9:52 AM on May 19, 2005


Let's give it a little time before we start throwing around terms like "best in the entire series." I liked Clones the moment I was there - but on the way home it began to sour and by the time I walked through my door I was hating it. Given what I know about the film, there's no way it can overtake the original three - George Lucas is bad enough director that he can ruin it even in my imagination.

And does that BBC review look... fake to anyone else?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:03 AM on May 19, 2005


I'm about as discriminating a moviegoer as they come. I loathed Episodes I and II with a passion. So my expectations last night were comparable with, oh say, the latest Adam Sandler release.

But guess what? I liked it. Probably because I treated the damn thing as nothing more than a movie. Unlike the fanboy contingent, I realize that there are no deep meanings or profound mythology here. It's just a movie to be enjoyed. Nothing more, nothing less.

Sure, it's not as good as the three I grew up with (which weren't all that great to begin with), nowhere nearly as "dark" as Lucas made it out to be, and it still suffers from Christensen's out-of-control camp and Lucas' stiff dialogue. But here's the thing: it's a lot more fun than the last two films. Probably because this time around, Lucas has a specific direction he's heading and there's something of a plot (instead of some excuse to shoot mindless battles). What's more, Lucas tapped into the Saturday matinee cliffhanger quality that made the other three work and it was a pleasure to see.

But that's just one guy's opinion.
posted by ed at 10:14 AM on May 19, 2005


Stellar 83%?

I think Lane does have some insightful points regarding how the CGI sets have made the movies more sanitary and less realistic. The Falcon was a wonderful that looked worn-down and lived-in. It was not just a ship, it was was home and probably smelled of two batchelors less than circumspect about their housekeeping. Early in New Hope the protagonists find themselves in a garbage bin knee-deep in filth. Luke's training on Dagobah was personal and realistic because it was grungy and dirty, while the swamps of Naboo don't seem to stick to anybody's clothing. Luke's Tatooine is loaded with broken-down decay and dust, while Anakin's Tatooine is like a Disney version of Morocco.

In regards to puppet characters, I have noticed that either one manages the suspension of disbelief that Yoda (or Kermit, or Aughra, or Hoggle) are actually characters with feelings and motivations within the story, or you just see a Henson or Oz hidden behind the scene with a hand up the puppet's ass.

I'll probably like it, but then again, I must say that i liked Menace as well. I just don't take the mythology or claims to gravitas seriously and treat it the way I would a 60 year old Zorro or Robin Hood.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:15 AM on May 19, 2005


There are hundreds of thousands of kids tonight all over the world having that experience of Sith, the darkest, strangest tale they've ever seen on a screen. It will stay with them.

I don't agree. Lord of the Rings will be to this generation what the original Star Wars trilogy was to the last.

The 'Make parts 7-9' campaign starts here

How about a "wait until Lucas dies, then get someone good to make parts 7-9" campaign? I could get behind that.

Haven't seen III yet, but when I see it tonight I'll be looking for evidence of my nascent hypothesis that the Jedi and Sith are both evil. (Not unlike the Vorlons and the Shadows in B5: initially, the Vorlons appear to be good and the Shadows evil. But it turns out both of them are using the younger races as pawns in their power struggle, and the younger races have to throw off the yokes of both.) Apparently Jedi and Sith both think it's perfectly fine to use the Force to manipulate the minds of anyone they can whenever it suits their purpose.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:30 AM on May 19, 2005


From Roger Ebert's review:
'Note: I said this is not necessarily the last of the "Star Wars" movies. Although Lucas has absolutely said he is finished with the series, it is inconceivable to me that 20th Century-Fox will willingly abandon the franchise, especially as Lucas has hinted that parts VII, VIII and IX exist at least in his mind. There will be enormous pressure for them to be made, if not by him, then by his deputies.'
posted by i_cola at 11:09 AM on May 19, 2005


Haven't seen III yet, but when I see it tonight I'll be looking for evidence of my nascent hypothesis that the Jedi and Sith are both evil.

David Brin argued around the edges of that hypothesis in a couple of very fun articles he did for Salon (one of which is here) several years ago.
posted by COBRA! at 11:22 AM on May 19, 2005


They even compared the dialog in the movie to that of President Bush and Tom Delay. Can Lucas get any more pathetic?

Can the Republicans be acting any more like the Sith?
Even Dem-hating conservatives like Dick Morris are getting nervous about the GOP's heavy-handed tactics. I think it's delicious that the Republicans are flaunting their "nuclear option" the same week Sith opens.
posted by digaman at 11:22 AM on May 19, 2005


Oh, and (speaking of a member of the "that's fine if you don't like the movie, but your disdain for Star Wars doesn't make you a bona fide connoisseur of high culture, jackass" faction) I find it fucking hilarious that Lane, while spearing what he sees as an inferior movie, resorts to a Gremlins reference. Gremlins. Yep, you are the king of high-art cinema.
posted by COBRA! at 11:38 AM on May 19, 2005


Four Flavors:
That blog you linked to is amazing. If the new movies were half as creative and well-written as that, the general consensus here would be much different.
posted by bove at 11:48 AM on May 19, 2005


Oh, on a separate note. Has anyone else here seen those outtakes of the casting sessions for the original Star Wars movies, and for Episode 1? The thing that really struck me was that in both cases Lucas picked the least talented actor. For the original I remember seeing William Katt's audition, and then Mark Hamill's and thinking that William Katt was much better. It was the same for the junior Anakins. I remember thinking that Lucas picked the most wooden kid. Anyone else feel this way?
posted by bove at 11:51 AM on May 19, 2005


I thought that review was hilarious. Wouldn't be as funny the second time, but it's a nice, quick, sharp takedown...

although I still fail to understand why I should have been expected to waste twenty-five years of my life following the progress of a beeping trash can and a gay, gold-plated Jeeves

heh.
Yeah, I think it was all harrison ford in the originals. Mark whatsit was almost as abominable an actor as ronald reagan; the dialogue was always cheesy; and the muppet (now cgi) stuff has been a problem at least since the ewoks. But harrison ford brought a lightness to it that held it together.

Of course, they were always mediocre movies - the popularity is simple: look at the title. Star + War = happy kids. action movies in outer space. Too many space movies were too serious or sciencey - star trek wanted to "explore strange new worlds". Kids just wanted to see stuff get blown up.
posted by mdn at 11:52 AM on May 19, 2005


Stop waiting in the stupid ticket line (and yes lining up to piss on Lucas is just the exact same que as those lame folks who wait in line at the theater) and get on with your life.

Not at all. Pissing on Lucas is fun, while seeing eps. I and II were not.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 PM on May 19, 2005


I watched Episode II last night at home on DVD, in preparation for seeing Ep III tonight. IMO, that's the best way to watch it - because you can skip to the next chapter instantly whenever it gets to one of the horribly bad Anakin/Padme "love story scenes."

When you do that, "Clones" isn't such a bad Star Wars movie. It's amazing to me how much my enjoyment of the film goes up when I can just blink out the lamest parts.

Episode I, however... can't be saved by any creative use of the remote. Not even the "Phantom Edit" version is watchable. Although, it was on network TV this past weekend, and I was able to sit through it okay, while doing some other stuff at home at the same time. I think the commercials made it bearable - only short bursts of suckiness, hehe.

All that being said, I'm looking forward to seeing Ep III tonight. Friends of mine who have similar film tastes and Star Wars Geek levels to me have seen advance screenings, and they pronounce it an enjoyable film, far better than I and II and worthy of the first 3. So I'm sure I'll have fun with it. I just don't take it all very seriously, it's just a movie.

I'll read this review tomorrow, and I'm sure I'll laugh and agree with much of it. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 12:45 PM on May 19, 2005


I find it fucking hilarious that Lane, while spearing what he sees as an inferior movie, resorts to a Gremlins reference. Gremlins. Yep, you are the king of high-art cinema.

Uh yeah, that's kind of the point. You don't need to be a "bona fide connoisseur of high culture" to think that Star Wars is utterly shite, regardless of the straw men being trotted out here.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:54 PM on May 19, 2005


Uh yeah, that's kind of the point. You don't need to be a "bona fide connoisseur of high culture" to think that Star Wars is utterly shite, regardless of the straw men being trotted out here.

Oh, come on. The tone of the review makes it pretty clear that Lane funds it utterly beneath him to waste time trying to enjoy a goofy space movie. But a goofy monster movie, well, that's worthy of citation.

I fail to see the straw man.

Once again, I emphatically don't care if people don't like this movie, or 2001, or, I don't know, Major League or The Country Bears. it's when people wear this as a badge of honor that I get irritated.
posted by COBRA! at 1:04 PM on May 19, 2005


The tomatometer is at a stellar 83%.

Check out the meters for episodes I and II. Not as high as for III, but still fresh, and if that doesn't tell you that the tomatometer overrates the franchise, then what would?

The tone of the review makes it pretty clear that Lane funds it utterly beneath him to waste time trying to enjoy a goofy space movie.

I think the tone of the review makes it pretty clear that Lane finds it beneath him to waste time on these particular movies.
posted by anapestic at 1:24 PM on May 19, 2005


I think the tone of the review makes it pretty clear that Lane finds it beneath him to waste time on these particular movies.

Well, after I made my last post, it occured to me that I had no problem whatsoever with the wall of this-is-beneath-me criticism levelled at The Passion of the Christ. I guess I'l ride my high horse back into the stable and lick my wounds for a while.

Although I still have "Star Wars Fatigue" fatigue.
posted by COBRA! at 1:36 PM on May 19, 2005


You don't need to be a "bona fide connoisseur of high culture" to think that Star Wars is utterly shite, regardless of the straw men being trotted out here.

Hell, you don't even need to have seen the movie under discussion to pronounce it utter shite, particularly if you lard your disdain with Anglicisms like "shite" and "straw men" to telegraph how above-it-all you are.
posted by digaman at 1:43 PM on May 19, 2005


I was happy to see Lane point out what's bugged me for some time: Lucas has a tin ear for people and place names.

Tolkein, Mieville, Vandermeer, Lovecraft, etc. add to the atmosphere with evocative names that have some cohesion and consistency.

Lucas's names sound like Daewoo cars.

(Still, we'll see Ep III in the cinema... rare thing these days)
posted by kurumi at 1:49 PM on May 19, 2005


you lard your disdain with Anglicisms like "shite" and "straw men"

Uhhh, not everyone here is American. "Straw man" is an Anglicism?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:05 PM on May 19, 2005


I could have sworn that we Yanks used "straw man" on a regular basis.

In any event, having just sat through the film...eh. Better than the first two prequels, to be sure. Good CGI and some nifty battle sequences, but I agree with the critics who felt that the best dramatic stuff was left to the very end. (Toasted Anakin is probably too scary for little kids...mostly, the film is just loud.) The acting was on a par with the usual for SW films--that's to say, it was terrible--but it's impossible to tell if the fault lies with the actors or with Lucas. Since there are a number of very good actors roaming around, probably the latter. Oddly enough, I felt rather sorry for Anthony Daniels, who had to suffer in that suit with almost no lines to speak of.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:25 PM on May 19, 2005


Uhhh, not everyone here is American.

Thank bloody God, so to speak. But your userinfo said "NYC," so I took the liberty of assuming you were American. My bad.

"Straw man" is an Anglicism?

The phrase "man of straw" was coined by Thomas deQuincey, the British author of the wonderful Confessions of an Opium Eater.
posted by digaman at 3:31 PM on May 19, 2005


Lucas has a tin ear for people and place names.

Mace Windu = bad.
General Grievous = too obvious and action-figure ready.
Palpatine = weird and creepy. Which may be good.
Padme Amidala = a lovely name, and made up of syllables taken from Sanskrit names for Buddha. Quite nice, really.
Luke Skywalker = love it.
Coruscant = bizarre, and I'm not sure how "coruscating" is supposed to apply to the capital city of the Republic.
Polis Massa (birthplace of Luke and Leia) = sounds pretty good and other-planetary to me.
Count Dooku = dorku.
posted by digaman at 3:37 PM on May 19, 2005


You know that "Luke Skywalker" was originally "Luke Starkiller," don't you, digaman?
posted by jenovus at 3:39 PM on May 19, 2005


(As mentioned in Part Two of The Origins of Star Wars)
posted by jenovus at 3:43 PM on May 19, 2005


I did know that. Yeah, interesting. In one of the early drafts, he was older, I believe. Thanks for the link!

Oh I forgot one of the best names: Darth Vader.
posted by digaman at 3:45 PM on May 19, 2005


digaman: ""Straw man" is an Anglicism?

The phrase "man of straw" was coined by Thomas deQuincey, the British author of the wonderful Confessions of an Opium Eater.
"


That pretty much proves it's a phrase strictly for Anglophiles, yep!
posted by kenko at 4:44 PM on May 19, 2005


Wow. The movie was _really_ good. After you get past the opening sequence which dragged on far too long - the bits with the little droids attacking the ships was not needed at all other than to show off more sfx.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:51 PM on May 19, 2005


MoveOn: Save the Republic
posted by muckster at 5:29 PM on May 19, 2005


kenko, I said, "an Anglicism." You said, "a phrase strictly for Anglophiles." There's a difference. Yep!
posted by digaman at 5:50 PM on May 19, 2005


I love Anthony Lane.

I'm really, really sorry for not reading the whole thread, but I just had to stop after the above and add a link, because from what I've seen, Anthony Lane's writing is as full of pompous hackery as George Lucas' writing. Folks who think they like Lane should check Godfrey Cheshire's dissection of Lane's review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, "a riot of errors and absurdities that would make the shoddiest webzine blush."

It's a brilliantly, carefully pointed savaging that shows Lane for what he is - a doofus when it comes to pop/pulp culture. Must-reading for folks in this thread.
posted by mediareport at 7:48 PM on May 19, 2005


The largest problem with the movie (and the other prequels) is that we already know where these characters are going, and we have no one to cheer for. NO ONE.

We can't cheer for Anakin, because we know he fucks it up. We can't cheer for the Jedi Council, because they're a bunch of fuckwits. Whose side am I supposed to be on here?
posted by graventy at 8:01 PM on May 19, 2005


graventy, your problem has to do with the essential difference between the original trilogy and the prequels: the first three movies are technically comedy (they end in marriage), and it's easy to cheer for all the good guys. The prequels are tragedy, and that makes it somewhat harder to sympathize.

But knowing where the story is headed is precisely one of the ways in which tragedy works, and there are still plenty of characters to cheer for. The most obvious hero in all three prequels is Obi-Wan. There's Padme. The real fuckwit on the Jedi Council is Mace Windu, so you can cheer for Yoda. In Episode I, it's easy to be on Anakin's side (just shout "yippie!"), in II gets a little harder, but I found it easy to feel for him in III. Or do you not like Macbeth either just because "we know he fucks it up?"

And of course, the true hero of all six films is Artoo Detoo.
posted by muckster at 8:27 PM on May 19, 2005


Wow, mediareport, thanks for the link about AL:

Lane is clever and funny. But when he’s not flicking bon mots at Charlie’s Angels, when he’s faced with a subject that requires a bit of knowledge and critical savvy, he’s easily the most embarrassing high-profile film writer in the U.S.
posted by muckster at 8:40 PM on May 19, 2005


mediareport

Godfrey Chelshire writes about Lane:
For one, he’s not really a film critic but a quip-minded belletrist who happened into a lucrative gig and appears to have no inclination, now, to patch up the gaping holes in his knowledge of film.

Okay, to some degree that's all true. But:
1) Lane is a good and often humorous writer
2) While he may be showing off in is Star Wars review it better than the movie in many ways.
3) Godfrey Chelshire is a good critic but being a NY based writer he is obviously jealous of Lane getting such a prize job at the New Yorker.
posted by Rashomon at 11:24 PM on May 19, 2005


he is obviously jealous of Lane getting such a prize job at the New Yorker

Oh, yes, *obviously*. Cheshire's desire in the piece to correct Lane's many pompous factual errors *surely* stems from jealousy.

Puh-lease.
posted by mediareport at 5:38 AM on May 20, 2005


muckster:

Did you just compare the prequels to Macbeth? :)

I can't cheer for Padme because she fell in love with a guy who romantically swept her off her feet with lines on the same level as "You pretty". I like her. But I can't cheer for her.

I like R2D2, but that could be simply because I can't understand what he's saying, only his intent.

Obi-Wan....okay. I'll accept him as my hero. But he'd have to be blind as a fucking bat not to notice all the shit that goes down around him.
posted by graventy at 5:59 AM on May 20, 2005


The Godfrey Cheshire article seems very much like jealousy. Denby is wrong: cinema is not dead, film criticism is. The nadir is when critics start critiquing critics. To his credit, Cheshire probably realizes that cogent film analysis only exists in certain academic film studies / rhetoric departments around the world, and not in the major and semi-major media outlets, and realizes that that excludes him, too. So he gets defensive.

His "dissection" of Lane is feeble. He says that Lane is "not really a film critic" but fails to define what a film critic is. He excoriates a quipper for being a quipper by quipping. He is not (as you said above) calling Lane "a doofus when it comes to pop/pulp culture". He's claiming that Lane lacks film knowledge. He insults Lane for a lack of analysis and film knowledge but he doesn't correct errors; his critique of Lane consists mainly of placing the [sic] tag behind Asian names because the fore and surnames aren't arranged the way they would be in the director's native nation. Ouch. That hurts.

Interesting, mediareport, that people like you and Cheshire choose to perpetuate this tiresome infinite regress of identifying perceiving snobbery only to insist that you are above this snobbery. Are you a Ben Folds fan? There's always someone cooler than you.
posted by gramschmidt at 10:13 AM on May 20, 2005


perceiving should be perceived
posted by gramschmidt at 10:15 AM on May 20, 2005


I find it ironic that the Air Force chose this week to ask for more space weapons.
posted by homunculus at 12:26 PM on May 20, 2005


Spare the little green bugger, I mean, could you kill anything that can belt it out with such panache?
posted by Freen at 3:52 PM on May 20, 2005


I wonder how anybody can find the Godfrey Cheshire article a "savaging", or at least a successful one. Casually slating Lane's inclusion of facts in his article as making him "a confectioner of showy erudition", when he then proceeds to do the exact same thing to establish his own credentials - and far more pedantically, to the extent of criticising Lane's choice of transliteration for the Chinese names of the directors.

But more to the point, isn't it quite clear that, in the central argument of the article, Lane was absolutely right and Cheshire was absolutely wrong? That the recent generation of Far Eastern directors would influence and revive certain Western film genres, both by the appropriation of their styles, and by the direct involvement of themselves and their stars in Hollywood productions - it's happened, and it's going to carry on happening for the forseeable future. Sentences like, "A hybrid Western art film and martial arts film–who’s going to make another one of those?" and his mocking "Maybe we could get Monsieur Bresson to resuscitate the Die Hard series!" just sound embarrassing now. Unless, of course, you live in a world where Ang Lee never directed Hulk, where Yuen Wo Ping isn't rivalling Ben Stiller as the most overemployed person in film, where Hero and House of Flying Daggers weren't major international hits, where Kill Bill doesn't exist, where...
posted by flashboy at 7:54 AM on May 21, 2005


Just saw the movie last night. No spoilers here. But I can describe how I felt about the movie in one word:

:::::::::BORRRRIIIIINGGGG::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Big yawn, here. And I was favorably predisposed to see it.
posted by zia at 9:34 AM on May 21, 2005


Just saw the movie. Liked it in the theater but it doesn't hold up afterwards. For what it's worth, I thought a Crouching Dragon set in the Star Wars Universe would have been the perfect prequel.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:49 PM on May 24, 2005


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