‘The Mandalorian’ Is a Glimpse into the Future of Star Wars

Star Wars crosses generations and entire galaxies, but in its purest essence, it’s a film franchise about family. Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian, the newest and first live-action Star Wars television show dropped on Disney+ earlier this year as an argument that Star Wars can tell compelling stories outside of the Skywalker legacy, as well as launch the beloved franchise into the next phase of its brand– unique and intimate tales from the smaller beings of this universe. There have been attempts to shake off the forty-year legacy of the franchise in the past with Rogue One and Solo (interestingly branded ‘A Star Wars Story‘, in case you forgot), but ultimately those fearfully dodged ambition and scale for connectivity in the niches of the pre-existing canon.

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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Wants So Desperately To Be Liked

Every Star Wars film, even the less than stellar ones, has left me with a sense of wonder when I watch the credits roll. Leaving the cinema for The Rise of Skywalker, I could only feel numb. Now, I’m not going to pretend Star Wars was never a corporate juggernaut (there’s probably a one to one ratio of R2D2 merchandise to human beings on planet Earth that exist to prove me otherwise), but for the first time in my Star Wars fandom-fueled life, I felt I was watching a product. In every passing moment of this movie, I could imagine a meeting between our corporate overlords at Disney, puppeteering every piece of this film’s mass-market machine. Is this a film for the sequel trilogy fans? Is this a film for winning back The Last Jedi haters? Is this a film for internet fandom? Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wants so desperately to be liked by everyone that it ends up satisfying almost no one.

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Best Films of the Decade

It is what it is.

You’ve probably seen at least ten best of the decade lists by now and you think, Really? Another one?. Well we knew you’d say that so we thought we’d spice it up a bit. Instead of doing our usual “Best of …” format which usually includes ten to fifteen films ranked based on our individual lists, we are doing individual lists only. We felt that this way, we could present you with a more diverse list of films. We asked fourteen critics, academics and programmers to list their top twenty-films of the decade and write about their #1.But we still wondered if we made a big list, what would be our #1? What film was it that showed up on the list again and again? What film, to us, really captured the essence of this decade? The last ten years have been defined by loss, financial ruin, and anxiety about what world the next generation is going to inherit. But it’s also been a decade where seeds of revolution were planted, and the rise of social movements by people not afraid to fight the powers and systems that have become goliaths. Darkness rises, and light to meet it.

Much Ado About Cinema’s favourite film of the decade is Mad Max: Fury Road. Enjoy and happy new decade! Continue reading “Best Films of the Decade”

‘Doctor Sleep’ is a Thoughtful Re-Contextualization of ‘The Shining’

How do you create a follow up to one of the most influential and beloved horror films of all time? Director Mike Flanagan has an answer: you don’t simply retread The Shining, you craft a response to to it. Straight off the success of his acclaimed Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, Flanagan sinks his teeth into his most daring project yet, whilst still retaining the emotional authenticity that has made his work a standout amongst his mainstream horror peers. The result is Doctor Sleep, a messier beast compared to the unnerving precision of Kubrick’s masterpiece, but one that is distinctly bold, sentimental, and of its own identity.

Doctor Sleep‘s biggest strength is that it is not interested in trying to recapture the glory of its 1980’s predecessor; it instead tries to make sense of it. The film follows an older Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) struggling to cope with the evil he experienced at the Overlook Hotel, as well as battling severe depression and alcoholism. His hopes of recovery and peace are soon interrupted by Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a young girl who shares Danny’s powerful shine. Bonded together, they are then hunted by the True Knot, a cult that feeds off of the souls of children, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). The plot is heavier on building the lore and rules of the universe as opposed to than the minimalist sensibility to The Shining. Sometimes that feels quite overbearing and midichlorians-esque, but it has its benefits.

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‘The Lighthouse’ is a Salty Ol’ Sea Shanty of Sexual Desire

If The Witch was Robert Eggers’ cinematic interpretation of a ‘New-England Folktale’, The Lighthouse is an archaic, 19th century, sailors’ sea shanty brought to the screen. Yes, that’s right — the new atmospheric, slow burn, character-driven, A24 released horror film is here with a substantial October opening and a potential low CinemaScore. What it does have, however, is a strong two-man show, a square 1.19:1 aspect ratio, and a deep love for the visual motifs of the German Expressionist movement; Through that, Eggers successfully harkens back to a horror era gone by whilst still offering enough originality, drama, examinations of masculinity, sexual frustration, and plenty of bodily fluids along the way. That’s a pretty stormy sea to navigate! Avast, me hearties.

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In case you were wondering what the hell The Lighthouse is actually about, the plot details and trailer for the film are vague for a reason. The film opens with two lighthouse keepers, the ever-iconic Willem Dafoe, and the newly accepted indie darling Robert Pattinson, as they arrive at a remote New England island. Soon, they are stranded by the onslaught of a storm where their sanities are tested and all concept of time gets lost in the ether. Terrorized by shreiking mermaids and angry seagulls, the relationship between the two lighthouse keepers shifts with nearly every scene in hellish isolation and the deep repression that comes with it.

If you are familiar with Eggers’ debut, The Witch, you’d understand Eggers is committed to his period aesthetics. He has his actors speak in ye olde tongue, and every mannerism, voice inflection, accent, and piece of slang is accounted for — but on top of that, The Lighthouse decides to be a lot less straightforward and more minimalist than The Witch. The result is a film that can be a bit hard to swallow (not unlike Dafoe’s lobster) but relishes in being a bizarre, Lovecraftian, atmospheric and performance-driven showcase that’s fascinating to see unfold.

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‘The Lion King’ Sucks the Life Out of the Proverbial Circle

As soon as we left our screening, my friend turned to me in the car and said, “I feel like we both just went on a Disneyland dark ride, where it’s pretty but it’s all really fast and doesn’t really tell the story of the movie that well. It ended and I’m just like, ‘how did we get here?'”

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To me, that accurately describes the experience of watching The Lion King (2019), the hyperrealistic remains of the golden age Disney animation. A remake that evokes the feeling of an unknown stranger breaking into your home to move the furniture just a little bit; enough to gaslight you into thinking everything is cozy and familiar and then you trip over a misplaced carpet. Everything about the movie is exactly the same save for minorly altered scenes, and the story is told infinitely worse— a collection of numbingly boring and non-emotive Kingdom Hearts cutscenes stitched together to make up a two-hour piece of content. Modern Disney remakes have always struggled with justifying their motive to reimagine these beloved classics, and even though I have criticized many of these blockbusters for their lack of new perspective or artistic flair in the past, not a single one tries as little as The Lion King (2019) does.

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Much Ado’s Best Films of 2019 So Far

Believe it or not, we are halfway through 2019. We’ve seen Brie Larson kick ass as Captain Marvel, we’ve witnessed the end of an era with Avengers: End Game, Julia Hart gave us a new kind of superhero film in Fast Color, Ari Aster has scarred us all with Midsommar, and Olivia Wilde has given us the teen comedy we’ve been waiting for with Booksmart. It’s already been a wild year for film, and we still have five months left. With that in mind, here is Much Ado’s favorite films of 2019 so far and why we love them.

Booksmart, dir. Olivia Wilde

‘The night to end all nights’ is a tagline often found attached to tales of raucous frat bros, to the pursuit of the loss of their virginities, and to their final evening of partying, which comes just before the dawn of adulthood. Rarely, in teen comedies that revolve around sex and physical frankness, is said semi-mythical night centered on two rather awkward high school girls. More often than not, it has been the boys in Superbad and American Pie that have not only been permitted but openly encouraged to discuss their sexual desires, appetites, and experiences without so much as a hint of a blush on their cheeks. In Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, this kind of agency is transferred from the obnoxious characters found in the aforementioned teen classics and awarded to Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein): two friends on the eve of high school graduation, for whom discussion of Malala Yousafzai and intersectional feminism sits as comfortably in conversation as the topic of masturbation. After realising that they have spent their entire adolescence burying their heads in their studies — in a fruitless attempt to gain the upper hand over their popular peers in search of places at prestigious universities — Molly and Amy decide that they must embark on the wildest evening of all if they are to truly ‘experience’ teenage-hood. And thus, absurdity, wild goose chases, and chaotic sexual encounters ensue. 

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