The light will always rise to meet the dark
No spoilers, I promise.
I’ll get it out of the way: I liked The Last Jedi. It’s not my favorite Star Wars movie, and it certainly has plot holes and whip-fast pacing that feels more Hollywood-action movie than sci-fi saga, but I don’t think it’s a bad movie. If you’ve seen it, and have added your voice to the growing online criticism, I hear you, and you’re right: there’s something about it that doesn’t feel like a Star Wars movie. It could be the string of recognizable Hollywood faces (Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro, in particular), or the emphasis on quick plot turns and “in the nick of time” escapes. Yes, I get all of this, but still, I liked the film a lot.
I think its portrayal of the Force is why it worked so well for me. Generally, in the Star Wars universe, there has always been a sense of needing to wipe out people to bring balance to the Force (or, if you’re on the dark side, to gain absolute power over it). Even in the previous film, The Force Awakens, the focus for the mysterious First Order is on locating Luke, on wiping out this “last Jedi” which will finally erase the Jedi order, right? Not quite. As Luke tells Rey early in this film, as she desperately pleads with him to come help the Resistance, the Force is beyond living people – that light will always rise to meet the dark, even after he is gone. It’s the sort of tone that sets up the ability to let this universe live forever – as it most likely will, as Last Jedi director Johnson has been hired to direct a new Star Wars trilogy separate from the Skywalker family. The Force is an energy that has always existed and will continue to exist, long after the Skywalker family is gone.
Also – I really liked the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren. I may just be a super #Reylo fan, but the moral ambiguity of good and evil – in both of them – was compelling. We’ve got another two years to wait and see how the saga ends for the Skywalker family, but thankfully, that’s not the end for Star Wars.
‘Tis the season
Just a week out from Christmas, I’m finally in the mood to indulge in Christmassy things – peppermint lattes, Mariah Carey songs, and funny holiday movies. While there are dozens and dozens of movies on Netflix under “Christmas,” I’m hesitant to reach out for new picks and, instead, like to keep my favorites close. It’s nostalgia, what can I say? As a girl who likes to keep things funny, my Christmas movie picks are those silly romps that will keep the cheer levels high amidst the dark and dreary weather:
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. This is the better Christmas-esque movie of the Home Alone series. New York City is at its best during the holiday season – you don’t even have to try to make a good Christmas movie set in New York; the city does a lot of the heavy lifting here. You better believe that last week, when I was at Rockefeller Center myself, gazing up at the massive, iconic Christmas tree, I immediately thought about that scene when Kevin is monologuing in front of the Rockefeller tree, and he turns around to find his mom. That’s pop-culture Christmas nostalgia at its best.
Happy Christmas. This one snuck out mostly unnoticed a few years ago, and stars Anna Kendrick as a 20-something screw up who, after a breakup, stays with her brother (along with his wife and newborn) for the holidays. The movie is directed by Joe Swanberg, who’s known for letting the actors largely improv most of the dialogue. Anna Kendrick nails the performance, improved by her ability to ad lib her lines and fall completely into her character. If you’ve ever felt stuck between adolescence and adulthood, you’ll relate completely to Kendrick’s character and her cast of friends.
The Holiday. My cheesy romance pick, which I still like largely for the talented Hollywood cast and portrayal of strong female characters. The contrast between Kate Winslet’s LA adventure and Cameron Diaz’s England getaway is super fun and easy to lose yourself in while you spend an hour or two wrapping gifts.
The Santa Clause. Is there a better Christmas comedy? (And no, Jingle All The Way is not the answer). It’s Tim Allen at his best. Plus, I had a total crush on Bernard the Elf growing up. It’s peak 90s Christmas gold, guaranteed to be playing on your television for the next week solid. (I am still trying to make hot cocoa just as good as Judy the elf.)
header image: still from Star Wars: The Last Jedi / lucasfilms