Thursday, May 26, 2005

FUN IT WAS. QUALIFIED APPROVAL I GIVE. Saw that big scifi movie everyone’s talking about. I found the dialogue unspeakable and, judging by their performances, so did the actors. Though I eventually rolled with the explanation that Anakin was primed to accept the Dark Side in any case, I was for a long time surprised that even a sullen mope like him could be snowed by such an obvious B-movie villain as Palpatine.

The sets were very attractive, though I was at times uneasy at the patchwork of style influences. Though the Jetson/Piranesi exteriors make some kind of sense, it is hard to see how a techno-Classicist society would produce such sybaritic, Southern California Pre-Raphaelite interiors. Maybe citizens of the artist class were smoking some kind of space weed. I suppose the mid-air water-ballet attended by Anakin and Palpatine is the design touchstone; if you can’t figure out what kind of civilization considers that a hot ticket, you may as well stop trying.

Still, there is one thing that excuses everything else, and that’s a good story. Revenge of the Sith is such a corker of a story that, having absolutely no affection for the genre, the style, the much-beloved and -merchandised characters, or the actors, I became engrossed, cared what happened next, palpably felt the coming of the resolution, and was satisfied at the end. That, as they say, is entertainment; and though Lucas is the opposite of my ideal filmmaker, I have to admit that he has this vital aspect of making pictures down cold. When Kenobe and Anakin chase each other along a toppling oil-rig that is running down a lake of fire toward an abyss, I can easily imagine D.W. Griffith nodding in approval.

Also, though it’s no Donovan’s Reef, it has some wicked cool fight scenes. And I liked the clones and the Wookies and that big lizard Kenobe rode and… oh hell, there goes my cred.

As my regular readers know, I am the sort of dark, ratlike creature who revels in marginalia and sneers at the common herd with their bourgeois reality shows and blow-‘em-up adventure pics (and their Christmas! And their presents with their gaudy wrapping paper!), but I am really glad to have enjoyed a popular film on its first run, especially after running into the stoned kid outside the theatre (a young Ratso Rizzo played by Gino from Bay Ridge) who asked if we had just seen the movie and then bellowed, "It’s really good, right? Youse t’ought it was good? Like as good as the old Star Wars movies? I seen it four times! And I can’t wait to see it again! I got the bootleg, right? An’ it’s so clear – like sometimes you see people getting up an’ they’re shakin’ the camera, but this was just, like, the movie!" (Bootlegs have been like this for some time; obviously this was the first movie he cared to buy in that format.) "But wait’ll you see it in the IMAX! Oh, man." (Gestures indicative of blowing-away) Had he seen it? "No, that’s not coming out till like November."

How can you not feel good about a movie after that?

What it has to do with politics of any kind I can’t imagine.

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