So, yeah. Quiet lately.
Damn, this is annoying.
Basically, there's interesting things afoot at my job. Perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel. Who knows. But the frustrating thing is that, being all the usual hush-hush stuff, I can't discuss what little I know, even though the potential occurrences, as well as the potential resulting situations in which I could find myself, are taking up a larger and larger part of my thoughts on a daily basis.
What's more annoying, though, is I've found that when I muzzle myself on one significant issue that is taking up a lot of my attention, it has the irritating side effect of dampening my urge/ability to discuss anything else. I keep trying to come up with stuff to blog about, and it's not like I haven't been busy, and I do have things I'd like to jot down. But when it gets to be time to actually start writing, I can't seem to muster the focus to really get my non-hush-hush thoughts to gel.
Fucketty fuck fuck fuck. Annoying.
So, saw Revenge of the Sith the other night, and ... well ... meh. It was crap. Better crap than the last two pieces of crap that Lucas squeezed out, but crap nonetheless. Horribly written dialog, atrocious acting, and a good 30 minutes too damn long. Granted, it looked spectacular, but by the time they arrived at the big finish (and, what, the 439th light saber battle?) all I could think was "man, I would have liked this better about 30 minutes ago...."
And good lord the writing and the acting was beyond bad. A couple of the actors managed to pull something worth watching out of their asses (Ewan MacGregor does a solid Alec Guinness imitation, and all the bad guys are fun -- when you're dealing with absurdly underwritten cliche characters, evil always has more to work with, even if "more" means having an eyebrow to arch and a mustache to twirl), but Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen are locks for Razzie nominations next year. Horrid performances, lifeless and mewling respectively. To be fair, they are trying to act against green screens, with no props, opposite computer generated "actors" who are typically represented on-set by a tennis ball, mouthing atrociously poor dialog, and directed by a man with as much sense of drama as your typical high school gym teacher, so it may simply be a matter of not having anything at all to work with. Portman, in particular has done better work (she's not stellar, but I enjoyed her in Garden State and Closer).
It got me thinking, though, about what exactly is wrong with these movies. I mean, obviously George Lucas is what's wrong with them, but how so, exactly? So we went back and re-watched Star Wars (oh, sorry. I mean "Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope." Assholes.) to try to figure out what was lost.
And, well, it's a bunch of stuff. The most prominent, though, is a sense of lightness and fun. The first Star Wars had it in spades. It never really took itself too seriously, and while the writing had all the clanging awfulness that characterizes Lucas' other scripts, the delivery (especially by snide Carrie Fisher and wry Harrison Ford) saved it from overwhelming, fatal clumsiness. The droid banter was fun in an Abbott and Costello/Laurel and Hardy way. The whole thing moved along at a nice, brisk clip -- it's masterfully edited, never getting too bogged down in the less engaging elements. Even the mystical shit was handled half-seriously (Ghostly voice overs! Does it get any goofier?). Dumb lighthearted fun, poorly written but delivered with energy and panache.
Most of these elements were jettisoned for Empire, but that's OK because instead we got the one, solitary, well-written SW script (courtesy of Leigh Brackett, who died of cancer before it was released thereby enabling Lucas to steal far more credit for the script than he deserved when he revised it with help from Lawrence Kasdan) and terrific directing by Irvin Kershner. It was more serious and darker, but it was also so much better written and acted and directed that it didn't get bogged down by the darkening mood.
And then, well, Lucas decided he was Orson Fucking Welles, got back in the driver's seat for Jedi, decided to try for dark plot elements and light moods simultaneously (Cute and fuzzy ewoks! Adorable cherubic kids that go bad! Absurd racial stereotypes disguised as alien races! Cutesy dialog between robots everywhere you turn!), and the whole series rapidly swirled down the shitter. Jedi was bad, but fun. Phantom was awful, but tolerable. Clones was literally unwatchable -- I've never managed to see the entire thing in one sitting, but have instead watched far-more-tolerable 15-20 segments of it over a 2 year period, finally assembling the entire thing into a sort of extended, patchwork, quilt-like viewing experience.
And, well, now Sith. It's a slight return to something approaching acceptably enjoyable entertainment. Perhaps a tie for 3rd place, along with it's brighter, dumber cousin "Jedi." But a distant 3rd all the same.
I hate that I even care, but there it is. I'm such a geek.
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