Christian Blauvelt Profile picture
Dec 23, 2017 24 tweets 10 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Before I shut down for the holidays, a few thoughts on #StarWars #TheLastJedi.. Where to begin? Well, to start, it’s the first blockbuster I can remember that demands you scan all edges of the frame. A wide screen has rarely been used this dynamically.
Not to get all David Bordwell on you guys but most blockbusters still do center their action in the middle of the frame regardless of the widescreen format, so what Rian Johnson does is incredible - worthy of Kurosawa, Tati, Preminger, film's masters of widescreen aesthetics.
Then you have the story, a brilliant deconstruction of mythic tropes many #StarWars fans have taken for granted. Johnson’s film says, quite explicitly, that maybe the Jedi weren’t that great, that we can build people and groups up into legends - and maybe legends are overrated.
You know what? Many of our heroes in this saga have spouted the kind of absolutes the villains do.
Then there's #TheLastJedi's sense of humor, which much like the gas mask joke from Wonder Woman I dissected earlier, emerges purely from the characters and their situations – the only real applause/laugh moment that breaks the fourth wall is so, so earned. #starwars
I love the way #thelastjedi finds grotesque comedy in its villains, especially – evil so dark it can destroy many may very well be buffoonish indeed. (Thinking also of General Grievous. Who did you think I was thinking of?) #starwars
Then there’s the beauty of Johnson’s writing, which has a pulp pop: “I’d like to put my fist through this whole lousy, beautiful town.” #starwars #thelastjedi
Then you have #TheLastJedi's debunking of fan theories, its rejection of being a “mystery box”. Suffice it to say, it’s also the rebuke of the Harry Potterization of pop culture I’ve been looking for. #starwars
The Potter stories suggest everyone’s related, the person you crush on in middle school will be your spouse – “mythic” storytelling has rarely been so small, so juvenile, so petty. Johnson’s film shuns all of that – and Hollywood’s current “plot is everything” approach.
Johnson opens up the canvas of #StarWars by allowing in randomness, happenstance, the kind of things that aren’t taught in screenwriting books, but are essential for great films. Heroes should sometimes fail, certain journeys should be dead ends.
I wanted #StarWars to take a step "into a larger world" - I wanted that feeling of the stars streaking when jumping to lightspeed for the first time. #TheLastJedi delivers it. It is the very definition of larger than life – a story that goes deeper in addition to going wider.
And damn, if #TheLastJedi doesn’t have as magical an ending as blockbuster cinema has ever given us. It’s so complete that if this were the last #StarWars film to be made, that would be okay (like Toy Story 3 - it ties everything up so beautifully without ever feeling tidy.)
Of course, by doing that #TheLastJedi actually whets your appetite for more stories set in the #starwars universe better than any previous film in the series to date.
A few more thoughts I've been mulling this #ChristmasEve: If you don’t like #TheLastJEdi because you have a negative emotional response to it, or you feel frustrated by it or unsatisfied by it, that response is valid.
#TheLastJedi IS an upsetting, unsettling movie – one that upends so much of what’s come before. Maybe it isn’t for you. There’s nothing wrong if that’s the case.
But what does tire me are viewers who go out of their way to point out “plot holes” or apply weaponized YouTube-caliber snark to identify “everything wrong with [insert movie]” as if they’re approaching a film like a math problem. They want to “solve” the film, not review it.
I once knew someone who hated Doctor Zhivago because Zhivago could never have written poetry in his Siberian chalet in winter. Why? Because the ink would have frozen! Therefore the entire film had to be dismissed as junk. Don’t be that person. #TheLastJedi
Are there valid criticisms against Zhivago? Of course! Talk about a story where every character is related. A story which, as Roger Ebert once put it, goes “from nowhere to nowhere.” (But doesn’t life, really?) Which overuses Lara's Theme and underuses the (better) main theme.
That’s all fine to point out. And you can still love Doctor Zhivago even by acknowledging those flaws (love isn’t best when it’s blind, but when you see the flaws and still love that thing or person anyway). But don’t dismiss Doctor Zhivago because the ink should have frozen.
Let’s not confuse that with film criticism, guys. These folks are the 21st Century equivalent of the “let’s pick it apart” viewers who Hitchcock dismissed way back when as “the plausibles,” people for whom suspension of disbelief depends upon airtight literalism. #TheLastJedi
The plausibles think hard-headed factuality overrides emotion, that literal fact is more important than poetic truth. Don’t be a plausible. Don’t engage in the nitpicking that Susan Sontag called “the intellect’s revenge upon art” then pass it off as film criticism. #TheLastJedi
If you didn't like #TheLastJedi as narrative, as filmmaking, that’s fine. An “objectively right opinion” is oxymoronic when dealing with art. We all see art from a certain point of view. I think The Last Jedi itself suggests having only one point of view is in itself dangerous.
But what's more important than you're opinion of the movie is HOW you arrived at that opinion. Some of the thought processes I've encountered surrounding #TheLastJedi, some of the reasoning or lack thereof, have been disturbing to me.
A #ChristmasEve repast calls. I raise a tall glass of blue milk to you all. And I take comfort that we have a movie as rich and resonant as #TheLastJedi. The way I see it, I am the author of #StarWars Made Easy, yes, but @rianjohnson is the author of Star Wars Made Complex.

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