Preserving the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe exactly the way it was

Monday, 1 September, 2014

The “Star Wars” Expanded Universe, or EU, is a vast collection of books, comics, and video games, that feature many of the saga’s original characters, in, for want of a better term, side-line stories, that relate in varying degrees to events of the six “Star Wars” films released to date.

Not all of these stories however were entirely peripheral, given George Lucas stated long ago he would not ever film the final three segments of the saga, episodes seven to nine, the EU had come along and picked up the slack as it were, and carried on the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, and company.

In April however it was announced that the EU was effectively going by the wayside, and that for the most part the characters and developments it had given rise to, would not be part of the forthcoming Disney produced series of films.

This may not be as distressing as it seems, as it will allow for the creation of new story arcs, and add a little intrigue to the upcoming films.

For those who would rather adhere to the EU’s vision of the “Star Wars” future though, Rich McCormick, a writer for The Verge, has put together a timeline of significant events that take place following Return of the Jedi.

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Movie props that deserve a place on the credit roll

Thursday, 21 August, 2014

If you’re a keen movie watcher, look a little more closely at the films you see… it’s possible you may notice the exact same props featuring in numerous, often unrelated, titles.

One such item is a newspaper that has been seen in several films. While it may seem absurd that producers would rather use a surely expensive prop rather than fork out two dollars, or whatever it costs, to buy a paper, there is actually a good reason for doing so:

According to Slate, the newspaper is from a small prop company in Sun Valley, California called the Earl Hays Press and was first printed in the 1960s. Movie and TV productions keep using the same prop newspaper because it’s actually cheaper to pay $15 per prop than get legal clearance from an up-to-date New York Times or other real-life newspaper.

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The science of the science fiction “Star Wars” films

Thursday, 14 August, 2014

US scientist Andy Howell discusses the science of the “Star Wars” films… which he actually describes as “space fantasy”. Could it be that more people might focus on the fiction, rather than the science, of sci-fi stories if they were referred to as fantasy more often?

In any event, some of the apparent science presented to us in the films isn’t too far off the mark.

If Star Wars really happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we might be able to watch it through a telescope right now, or at some point in the future.

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Vale Robin Williams

Wednesday, 13 August, 2014

One Hour Photo scene with Robin Williams

US actor Robin Williams died yesterday.

A sad loss for all of us.

There was a lot of his work that I admired, and I’d be hard pressed to name an absolute favourite, but for me The Birdcage, and One Hour Photo, would be two stand outs.

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Words and Pictures

Tuesday, 29 July, 2014

2 stars
Words and Pictures scene

Don’t go thinking the local high school staffroom is devoid of workplace rivalry, far from it, as Words and Pictures, trailer, the latest feature from Fred Schepisi (“Last Orders”, “The Eye of the Storm”), goes to show, as tensions between Dina (Juliette Binoche), the new art teacher, and Jack (Clive Owen), her English counterpart, start to escalate.

The antagonism, pointless as it is, however amuses students of their Vancouver prep school, while giving Dina, who is afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, and Jack, who struggles with alcohol addiction, an opportunity to see passed their personal issues, conditions that have also hampered the creative, and academic, output of both in recent years.

It becomes apparent very early on where “Words and Pictures” is going, and while it is enjoyable for a time to watch the sparring teachers trying to go one up on each other, it quickly becomes repetitive. Skipping this class is probably a better option, and in this instance it is unlikely that anyone will send you to the detention room for doing so.

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The forgotten rule of “Fight Club”, you do not talk about a sequel

Tuesday, 29 July, 2014

A sequel of sorts is on the way for one of 1999’s most intriguing movies, Fight Club. But the follow-up, being written by US novelist Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote the book that the film was based on, will be released only as a graphic novel. Well, for now anyway.

The book will be set ten years after the events of the first book, with its unnamed protagonist married to Marla Singer and father to a nine-year-old son. Fight Club, says Palahniuk, was “such a tirade against fathers – everything I had thought my father had not done combined with everything my peers were griping about their fathers. Now to find myself at the age that my father was when I was trashing him made me want to revisit it from the father’s perspective and see if things were any better and why it repeats like that.”

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Gustave H awaits your glowing review of the Grand Budapest Hotel

Thursday, 24 July, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel lobby

The Grand Budapest Hotel, the same establishment featured in Wes Anderson’s most recent film, now has its own page on TripAdvisor. It’s already collected a number of glowing reviews, making it the top rated hotel in The Republic of Zubrowka:

When we arrived we had some problems with the tram that leads to the main building, but it was quickly fixed by the highly efficient lobby boy. Out of all the common areas the one you should give special attention to is the Turkish bath and the Greek spa. Food was excellent, and on our first day there were regional sweets from the Mendl’s bakery in our bedroom out of courtesy – that was really nice and they tasted delicious. Staff was particularly kind and helfpul. Next season we’ll certainly go back!

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Charlie’s Country

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

3 and a half stars
Charlie's Country scene

Charlie (David Gulpilil), an Indigenous Australian living in Arnhem Land, is in a bind. His overly dependent family relies on his pension money, and his house, leaving Charlie to live in a makeshift shed. Government regulations meanwhile prohibit him from owning a hunting rifle, something that makes living off the land difficult.

Determined however to embrace a traditional lifestyle, Charlie sets up camp deep in the bush, and for a time is content. After illness strikes though, he is sent to a hospital in Darwin. He soon discharges himself and connects with the city’s Aboriginal community, but it is an association that quickly leads to strife with local police.

Charlie’s Country, trailer, the third collaboration between Gulpilil and Australian director Rolf de Heer (“Bad Boy Bubby”, “Dingo”), in taking a subtle, almost tableau like, approach to the points it is making, often goes wide of the mark. This is still compelling viewing though, on account of Gulpilil’s brooding, dignified, performance.

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Surviving a night in the woods… what horror films can teach us

Friday, 18 July, 2014

Enough horror movies, set in cabins, in isolated forest areas, have been made by now for the rest of us to know the right and wrong things to do when partaking of such getaways ourselves. There’s over a dozen points you need to take into account, and even though there’s no guarantee of survival, at least you’ll know what to expect…

It doesn’t matter how many rooms the cabin has; tonight everyone’s sleeping together. Set up your sleeping bags or whatever in the cabin’s largest room, preferably in a circle allowing you all to face each other and past each other to all entrances to the room. The idea is to be able to see a threat coming from all directions simultaneously, while also keeping your fellow campers in sight.

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Give yourself your own opinion, do more things alone

Friday, 18 July, 2014

It’s always fun sharing experiences with other people, but doing (possibly) the same things alone may be just as rewarding, and even edifying:

Perhaps this explains why seeing a movie alone feels so radically different than seeing it with friends: Sitting there in the theater with nobody next to you, you’re not wondering what anyone else thinks of it; you’re not anticipating the discussion that you’ll be having about it on the way home. All your mental energy can be directed at what’s happening on the screen. According to Greg Feist, an associate professor of psychology at the San Jose State University who has written about the connection between creativity and solitude, some version of that principle may also be at work when we simply let our minds wander: When we let our focus shift away from the people and things around us, we are better able to engage in what’s called meta-cognition, or the process of thinking critically and reflectively about our own thoughts.

The example here about seeing a film alone strikes a chord. I’ve always thought film writers should see the movies they’re critiquing by themselves… it can sometimes be too easy to be swayed by the opinions of those around you otherwise.

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