December 2017 is the month I realised Muppets Christmas Carol is my favourite Christmas film (though I didn’t watch any until Christmas eve), and had many many Star Wars thoughts.
The Crown (seasons 1 & 2) series, Netflix
I don’t like the royal family but I loved this? It was perfect sick-day binge watching – the acting is great, it’s engaging but you don’t have to think too hard, and it’s got a lot of fun and humour as well as more serious stuff. I know it’s not going to be historically accurate, but I don’t care because I’m not really interested in the royals. It’s more just a good story about a family that’s as messed up as any other but in a more formal way.
The Last Jedi (2017) film, cinema
Okay. I have many (mostly spoiler-free) thoughts:
- I didn’t sit in my seat at the end and think “ohmygods that was amazing”, but I enjoy thinking about this film more than any other in the franchise. It was definitely a slow burn but I love it. It’s rapidly becoming my favourite and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.
- In any other of the films, Poe (and Finn) would pull off the near-impossible macho heroics and ultimately save the day. But this time, it almost destroyed everything. All those usual tropes are turned on their head and the characters have to properly think about and engage with consequences. Which relates to….
- When the enemy is overthrown but the socio-cultural systems are not properly faced, dismantled and re-built in a different, better way, it is inevitable that the enemy will re-appear. In Star Wars, as our world, the space-Nazis are back and mainstream because Luke & co defeat the acute problem but nothing broader ultimately changes. The Last Jedi pushes the characters to dismantle the old systems, from both the dark and light sides, which means the story can truly change, though it remains to be seen whether it will be for better or for worse for their world. (As long as JJ Abrams doesn’t do some annoying back-tracking on certain spoilery aspects).
- Half the main characters are women! Half! And they were all different types of characters & I’m pretty sure there were more women speaking more lines than all the other films put together (but don’t worry, Dudes Of The Internet, it was half, not all characters).
- It was a little bit too long, and the casino side-plot was clunky and needed better editing/writing (though I do think it needs to be in there as part of the general theme of dismantling the wider system, thinking about consequences, and just cos every Star Wars film needs a cantina scene).
- The scene near the end between Leia & *spoiler* was like an accidental goodbye to Carrie Fisher and it hurt my heart, as did knowing the next film was supposed to be focused around her but we’ll never get to see it or the General again.
- It makes perfect sense to me that, like the long line of “Last Jedis” before him, Luke would fuck off alone to an island (while Leia stays behind & fights). I liked his arc – grumpy, old and fearful to *spoiler*. Luke was more reluctant than other last Jedi to come back to the fight because he was so fearful & ashamed he completely detached himself from the force. I know it’s the thing a lot of dudes that messaged me took issue with but I think it made sense where he was at the start of the film (and where he ended up). Also a grumpy Luke is a funny Luke.
- Shout-out to Gary, Carrie Fisher’s awesome dog, having a blink-and-you’ll miss-it cameo in the casino
- Also this tweet:
Manhunt: The Unabomber (2017) series, Netflix
Paul Bettany is really good in this; it actually took me a while to recognise him. Crime drama is my easy-watch TV and this was enjoyable, if a little heavy-handed at times. It didn’t really stay with me in any way, but I think that’s because I watch a lot of this kind of thing so unless they’re really great or different in some way they don’t tend to stand out. But if you like crime/true-crime/detective stuff, you’ll probably like this too.
Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013) film, Netflix
It didn’t surprise me to learn afterwards that this was directed by a guy. It’s not that the lesbian sex scenes are long or graphic, it’s that they felt like they were viewed through a male lens, like hetero porn. I can’t articulate why that was, but I just know it would have looked differently had a gay woman directed it even with sex scenes just as long and just as graphic. Apart from that, I liked it. It’s ultimately a moving story about a relationship which doesn’t end up lasting, though in the scene near the end in the relationship you can see how hard it is for both of them.
The Abominable Bride (2016) Netflix
I’ve seen the other Sherlock episodes but somehow missed this one. I enjoyed it at first, and the time hopping didn’t bother me though the pacing was a bit off, but, oh boy, Sherlock on feminism. It’s like Stephan Moffat was trying to address the criticisms about the way he writes his (very few) female characters in all his shows, but all he did was demonstrate he still doesn’t get it & still can’t seem to write female characters with any nuance or real agency. Sherlock is patronising as a character but explaining feminism to suffragettes and how important it is that they “win” and that we hear their voice without actually letting us literally hear their voices is…no. The whole “reveal” has this weird male lens that just misses the mark and is far too patronising.
Bright (2017) film, Netflix
I didn’t know who Max Landis (the writer) was before I watched this, or I never would have inadvertently supported him through viewing figures. As well as being a douchebag, he’s also evidently a terrible writer – this isn’t a good film. Give it a miss for many many reasons.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017) film, Amazon
This was better than I thought it was going to be. It doesn’t have as good a soundtrack as the first one, and that makes it seem not as good a film even though it isn’t that different. I liked that it had more of a focus on the relationships between characters, and about what ‘family’ means. I also thought they handled the death of *spoiler* at the end really well. It was fun, it was okay.
Travelers (season 2) series, Netflix
I downloaded this to my phone and used it as distraction on a couple of horrible train journeys (being wedged in a vestibule unable to move between all the suitcases and people is not good for my anxiety or bad joints). It was exactly perfect. It’s easy-watch time-travel sci-fi, not great but good enough to keep me engaged and watching, and not thinking about the increasing pain in my back, so I’d call it a win.
Black Mirror (season 4) series, Netflix
I usually love Black Mirror but I felt a bit disappointed with this series. The stories largely felt like ones we’ve seen before and lacked the kind of freshness Black Mirror usually has. I liked the Maxine Peake one best, but I think that was in part because it was shot in black and white (and the reveal at the end about why the characters were out there was a disappointing pay-off without the emotional impact that I think was intended – it would have been a much stronger episode if they’d ended it with Maxine Peake’s final scene then a shot of the countryside with the relentlessness of the ‘dogs’ coming for her). Meh.