general reviews


I’m in bachelor mode for the week because Sarah is out of town, so I decided to see Solo last night, the latest Star Wars movie. I’ve largely dropped the thread on Star Wars movies as of late. The first trilogy, of course, was a big part of my childhood. The prequels in 00 were largely garbage, and pretty much threw me. I went back and watched The Force Awakens, and it was very exciting to see a Star Wars movie on the big screen and gave a certain nostalgic jolt for me. But ultimately, I did not like it; it was a bunch of stunt casting into what was essentially a remake of the first trilogy for millennials. I didn’t see the one after that, do not care. It was the first Star Wars movie I did not see in the theaters, and I felt bad about that, but whatever.

I like the idea of the anthology films, though; films in the sandbox of the others, but different plot lines, different characters, different directors and styles. I really liked Rogue One, maybe as much as the original trilogy. It had a roughness to it, and was not as associated to the big merchandising arm of the main canon, not as wired into the usual summer blockbuster bullshit tactics. It was like when George Harrison did a solo album that had none of the baggage or bubblegum of a proper Beatles album, none of Paul McCartney’s bullshit involved. It was also more of an “adult” movie and (my own theory) had to do more with modern conflict, ala Syria, than the usual good guys wearing white against bad guys wearing black. (I guess stormtroopers wear white, whatever.)

I really do not like comic book movies, do not like Marvel movies at. all. Every Marvel movie is the same, and has the same mechanics: “we’re rebooting something we just did, and we’re going to spend half of the movie setting up the character origin, just to make the fanboys happy and/or piss off the purists to generate more buzz.” It’s like a magician who spends all their time showing you how they are going to do the trick, as if that makes them cool. It bores me. I don’t really care about comics that much, but I really don’t care about the annual Spider-Man reboot, and how they slightly change the origin story this time, or how it’s tangentially related to all the other Marvel movies written with the same exact template. So I was a little worried about that type of movie when I heard about a Han Solo origin movie.

This movie was directed by Ron Howard, but it wasn’t really “his” movie – he’s just a hired gun that was pulled in when the original co-directors shit the bed. It doesn’t feel like a Ron Howard movie, aside from stunt casting his crazy brother in one small scene. The movie goes into the origin of Han and Chewbacca and Lando and the Millennium Falcon, but there’s absolutely nothing about the Skywalkers or the force or any of that, and I wasn’t that off-put by the mechanics of that. Woody Harrelson plays Han’s smuggler mentor, but doesn’t fuck things up. The kid who played the cowboy actor in Hail Cesar plays Han, and does a decent enough job. The story is pretty straightforward, just a standard three-act adventure burn-through, pretty textbook but enjoyable.

What I liked about the movie was that it’s not overly sentimental, or cartoony, like if Lucas had been involved. It doesn’t have the wooden acting, the incredibly obvious good versus bad, and has a slight bit of the more “adult” feel that Rogue One had. It also isn’t too JJ Abrams-y, with tons of CGI and smash cut editing. I think Lucas had minimal involvement and Abrams had none, which was a big plus for me. I really like the idea of different directors doing completely different things with these films. Like I’d love to see Tarantino or someone do a spaghetti western or mobster-like Boba Fett movie.

I don’t have anything bad to say about the movie. I think the main issue is that the movie just sort of is. No high concept, no camp, no big drama, no big theatrics. It just is. It doesn’t perform well as a standalone blockbuster, and doesn’t have the power of any of the main films. And that would be fine if it was a low-budget thing, or a Showtime original. But it’s the sixth most expensive movie ever made, costing something like $275 million, and there’s no way it’s going to pull a half-billion dollars to break even. So it will have a bad legacy because of that. I’d expect it to drop out of theaters this week or next, and then there will be a hard push for VOD and home release, so maybe the completists will buy all the various box sets and they will break even. At any rate, it was a meh for me. Glad I saw it, glad I didn’t go out of my way to see it.




I have a blank emacs buffer open for the filename “cover-text.txt” that will become the back cover of Dealer Wins, the Vegas book. I can’t think of what to write. I’ll drink about nine more Cokes and then use whatever appears.

My temporary crown came off this morning when I was flossing, and fell behind the toilet. You’d think that, even with 97 minutes of rinsing with hot water and Listerine, I’d have serious germophobic fears about putting it back in my mouth, but I guess the sheer panic of popping the thing out and the anticipation of a metric fuckload of pain overrode all other senses. The pain didn’t happen, though. And it looks really weird with the thing off; there isn’t just a metal post, but rather what looks like a little, rounded-off tooth under it. I bought some Fixodent at the drug store and all is well. I also got a waterpic, which I might or might not use regularly. Maybe I will just fill it with Coke and use it to drink a steady stream while I’m sitting at the computer.

I am listening to The Fight Club Score by the Dust Brothers for the first time, and I really, really like it. I realize I’m like four years behind the curve, but this has to be the coolest background music ever. I don’t know anything about techno or the Dust Brothers or anything else, but I have a feeling this CD will be on during a lot of the writing of the next book.

I have decided that after this Vegas book goes out the door, I will seriously get on Zombie Fever, the tentative title of the next book. It will be, in a stylistic sense, a sequel to Rumored to Exist, and it will share some of the secondary characters, but it will be a new, start-to-finish fiction piece. I probably have about 20,000 words of notes and snippets, but I need to take a big step back and think through the whole thing again before I get started.

As far as media consumption, I finished reading John Sheppard’s Home is Where You Hang Yourself last night. It’s a pretty tight little book; at 136 pages, it seems like it’s a lot longer. Some of the short stories continue loose threads from his other books, but for many of them, he created new characters a lot different than the punk cast he’s used before. The stories aren’t all the beginning-middle-end typical MFA creative writing workshop format, and tend to spend more time building up characters rather than pushing people through the movements. I like that, at least that it makes you think a lot more about the people rather than the events. Anyway, it’s only $7.75 on Lulu, so check it out.

I also got through 3 of the 4 discs of the Star Wars trilogy. I haven’t watched Jedi yet, but I might do that this afternoon, just to see if Lucas admits that the Ewoks were simply a bad idea. He probably won’t. He’s given little time in the commentaries to mention the obvious about the special edition additions or the stormtrooper hitting his head or anything else. This is outweighed by him spending a ton of time talking about stuff I had no idea about. If you even vaguely like the original trilogy, you should immediately lay down the $42 on Amazon to get a copy of these. I know, everyone thinks there will be some big 6-movie set coming out later, but it’s worth it to buy this now, especially at the cheap price. I have mixed feelings that I spent $100 on the super-ultra boxed edition of the original films on VHS, but at least I can go back and see Greedo shoot first if I really want to.

Okay, I better get to those Ewoks. I was thinking of going into Manhattan and spending some cash, since the tooth debacle ended up being cheaper than I thought, but I have such a huge pile of DVDs to watch and work to do on this back cover, I guess I will stay here for a bit.