Andrew Ellard Profile picture
Jan 29, 2018 43 tweets 16 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Time, at last, for Tweetnotes on Star Wars: #TheLastJedi. SPOILERS

In short: Wonderful, deliberate storytelling done with careful measures of drama, thrills and wit. So why all the fuss?

SW-TLJ: Oh boy is it exciting watching Johnson unpick the things that happen just cos genre expects it.
SW-TLJ: Rey is living through your expectations. Haunted by them. She’s struck the same way by the reveal.

Rey was always the girl who had seen Star Wars as kid. Pilot dolls and heroic myths. Of course she thought she was a secret Skywalker. Didn’t we all?
SW-TLJ: But how canny is this:


He dreamed of being a pilot, a Jedi. Then he found out what a bunch of dicks they were. He watched the DVDs. And he quit.
SW-TLJ: For fans who think invention is lightsabers being purple, double-ended, four at a time, etc. - or just fans reconciled to the prequels - this is painful stuff.

Rey saw the OT and wanted to live that life.

Luke saw the PT and realised the Jedi were bullshit.
SW-TLJ: Luke is right. Prequel Jedi are pricks. Their no love rule is idiocy. Their nonsense should not be tolerated. After Phantom Menace we all wanted to live on Ahch-to and get off our faces on blue milk. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: Next problem, for some, will be time. Almost none elapses between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. everything over the two films is a matter of days

We’re gonna call this The Quantum of Solace Problem.
SW-TLJ: One of the reasons QoS bugs people is that it that the final scenes of Casino Royale felt like enough ‘getting over it’ for Bond.

He’s become Bond now, we can fill in the gaps. What’s all this ‘finding solace’ stuff? #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: Likewise, we’d decided Rey, Finn and Poe were bonded. We’d got our new hero team, and Kylo was our baddie.

What’s all this still-conflicted, still-finding-each-other stuff? #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: Had this film been set months after TFA, what would we have assumed?

Finn’d join up, Rey’d be trained, they’d all be pals and Kylo would be a full-on space bastard.

Here we get a film where all the stuff we assumed would happen in the gap…happens on screen. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: Regular followers know I love Quantum of Solace. I think it makes interesting points well and with skill.

I love Last Jedi. It makes interesting points well and with skill.

But both films annoy people because they’re…anecdotal. They’re skippable story.
SW-TLJ: “Rebel scum” is Finn finally picking a side. He never has before, he was just trying to help his pal Rey.

It doesn’t play as huge as it should because…damn, did he not pick already? We just kinda figured he must’ve done.
SW-TLJ: Likewise there’s a weird twitch to Poe introducing himself to Rey at the end of the film.

A real “Wait, two films in and they *just* swapped’ names?!”
SW-TLJ: Of *course* that’s winding people up. Story-wise, it’s a hard thing to swallow.

And especially so in a film about leaning not to revere the Jedi, learning to be part of a whole, not just doing what you want. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: It’s basically a film committed to holding characters to account beyond genre. Your genre assumptions are not their lives.

But people do not like to watch popcorn adventure films feeling that they’ve been in the wrong.
SW-TLJ: You had huge ideas about Rey’s parents? Tough. Star Wars never made Luke’s dad a mystery, his story was laid out for you…and then revealed as a lie.

Though that’s not all on you. It’s also on JJ, who half-mystery-boxed Rey’s origins as a placeholder in TFA.
SW-TLJ: (Therein lies a bigger problem with Lucasfilm playing this trilogy like a game of Exquisite Corpse rather than having some big set-up-reveal tentpoles in place.)…
SW-TLJ: Similarly, comparisons to Empire are unavoidable. The ‘escape through space’ story intercut with Jedi training and throwing in a rogue’s betrayal make it inevitable. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: We know how Empire works: when Luke leaves Dagobah, we’re into act 3. Finale’s coming.

But Rey and Kylo aren’t the finale of TLJ. They’re the second half of act 2. The finale’s down on Crait.

Because of this, something trips you there. The pace feels off. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: (That’s also to do with a two-hour film somehow being 150 minutes long, of course.) #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: When you feel the pace wobble in the second half of TLJ, that Empire vibe is part of why. It’s not doing ‘what it should’ based on our experience. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: That’s partly on us for bringing such expectations, and partly on the film for being just a bit too much like The Empire Strikes Back. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: This is why the film is so, so much better on rewatch, once you know what it’s trying to do.

Cos it’s doing it well. It’s just struggling to reverse out of your - and its own - comparisons. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: Once you know Poe story’s angle, oh wow is it all tuned-in and tied togther. It’s really precise, so many lines and moments are about teeing it up and paying it off.

We were just too annoyed to Holdo to notice.
SW-TLJ: Don’t get me wrong, that’s a hard one to tell an audience of wannabe flyboys - don’t be so damn rebellious.

We have huge human sacrifices in the film, but each is its own calculation. It’s a plea to make calculations. And to trust wiser heads.
SW-TLJ: In an era of people voting for dumber heads cos they like the myths they tell better than objective reasoning, that seems especially important to be saying. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: So I see the issues. I get why “Your parents are normal” is a lesser reveal *than* a reveal.

Why “obey your superior” is less fun than “go for it, dude!”

Why “Jedi suck” is harder to swallow when you bought a ticket to the lightsaber show than “Jedi rock!”
SW-TLJ: And - this was the big one for me - why Luke returning and not hugging Leia is less fun then seeing the pair joyously reunited.

But the reasons I didn’t get that - why we didn’t get all those things - made this whole film so much more *interesting*.
SW-TLJ: Those delights would have been hollow calories. The arguments and complexities being offered here are far richer. (And fit far better what the OT actually said and did.)
SW-TLJ: And it’s not like you don’t get awesome action, characters and jokes. This ain’t ‘eat your greens’. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: And as a bonus we get ‘Hey, maybe less of the belief in religious nutjobs who tell you what rules the books insist on, and a bit more actual spirituality, huh?’ #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: Even the one thing I didn’t love - Canto Bight - is one I have to admit means so much that its prequel aesthetic - all greenscreen riding and CGI smashery - has to be forgotten.

Cos to smash that place, to look at who profits, to meet that stable boy? Magic.
SW-TLJ: “I wish I could put my fist through this whole lousy, beautiful town.” And then she does. Cos yeah, fuck these guys making money as people, and liberty, die. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: That line is part of a 40s serial feel that permeates so much of Johnson’s dialogue.

It’s all ‘lying snakes’ and non-rude use of “spunk” and “You murdering bastard!”

Anyone who saw Brick, and especially The Brothers Bloom, will be unsurprised.
SW-TLJ: The timeframe, the push back against genre, the occasional odd gag (something about ‘on hold’ being a term in Star Wars feels off to me). I get the irk. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: But I’ve not liked a Star Wars film this much since…you know the one. It’s better on repeated viewing, which beats JJ’s joyful but far more direct-injection approach. #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: Rose feels like a great addition. Kylo and Rey’s bond is wonderfully complex. Snoke is better off gone. The opening bombing run was thrilling and touching.

And I am so completely about the floating Leia moment. About damn time, and what a new way to do it.
SW-TLJ: In general, actually, the film felt at pains to make the Force seem new and alive again. Not more powerful (yawn) but *surprising* again.

Idealised projection, the finger-click cave, floating Leia. The Force as exciting, unknowable thing again.
SW-TLJ: Also the politics feel much clearer now. I left Force Awakens unsure who held power by the end, cos the First Order were rebels that time, no?

That’s clear now. They took it all. Underdogs are all that remain to fight them.
SW-TLJ: It’s an anecdotal movie. One you didn’t ‘need’ to get the chess pieces to where they are at the end - not much here couldn’t be covered by an opening crawl.

Except the richer points. Except the humour. Except the real stretching of the Star Wars boundaries.
SW-TLJ: (There’s also, to be honest, a bit too much ‘Poe waits for a while’/‘Leia in a coma’/‘Luke will eventually tell’ stuff where people are on hold waiting of their next beat. But hey-ho.) #tweetnotes
SW-TLJ: I get why some of you didn’t like #TheLastJedi. But I feel sorry for you missing out on something so wonderful. #tweetnotes
If you’re in the mood, here are some #starwars tweetnotes from the archive.

The Force Awakens:…
Rogue One:…

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Oct 8, 2018
New series, new Doctor, now #tweetnotes threads!

MUTE FOR SPOILERS as we delve into The Woman Who Fell To Earth. #DoctorWho
DW-TWWFTE: With so many new characters to introduce there’s neat trick here: we start with two different Who episodes - the ‘odd artefact’ mystery and the ‘dangerous creature’ seige. #tweetnotes
DW-TWWFTE: While Ryan and Yaz get sucked into one story and work to make sense of it, Graham and Grace are saved by the Doctor in the other.

And then it all links up. That’s canny. It’s a lot of what Who does, intercut and with all the new leads quickly bedded in. #tweetnotes
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Mar 26, 2018
Time for some #tweetnotes on Marvel’s Black Panther. Mute for SPOILERS.

In short: Clicks into place by being the story of how a whole nation/culture can be a superhero.
BP: I want to be up-front about this - it took me two goes to fall in love with this movie.

The first time it was ‘a capable Marvel flick with an especially good cast and design, hampered mostly by lousy greenscreen’.

The second time, I cheered and cried.
BP: Black Panther is a movie about Wakanda having the potential to be a global superhero. And finally waking to that (oh yes) that power and responsibility. #tweetnotes
Read 38 tweets
Jan 25, 2018
So, here’s something I’ve wanted to tweet about for a while.

Even if you ignore all the political and social reasons for diversity in the creative arts, here’s the thing:

Diversity *makes content better*.
I inevitably start with comedy. Watch this little scene from Fresh off the Boat:
Then have a look at this gag and its follow-up from ITV2’s Timewasters - should start at 1:25:
Read 23 tweets

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