The Internet’s Very First Review of THE LAST JEDI

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017; director Rian Johnson)

Here’s the kind of Star Wars fan I am: A few short months ago, I was talking with a co-worker about our mutual enjoyment of the series, up to and including the latest movies, and then this person asks me “So, what do you think is really going on with Snoke?”

I had no idea what he was talking about.

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STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999; director: George Lucas)

Under George Lucas, Star Wars is not for the geeks, no matter how fiercely they claim it. When this film was released in 1999, series creator Lucas was 55 years old and did NOT relate to grown men with sealed action figure collections and beer bellies packed into Darth Vader T-shirts. He doesn’t know why they’re here. He can’t explain them. He’s too rich to need them. He doesn’t seem to like them (and I can’t say that I blame him).

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WONDER WHEEL (2017; director: Woody Allen)

Woody Allen’s sense of tragedy is relentless, traditional, bears a powerful whiff of the theater stage and is as unfashionable as could be expected from an 82-year-old writer/director who’s been criticized for his hermetic approach for decades—and it’s only gotten more extreme as he’s aged.

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A Laurel & Hardy Party #1: “Unaccustomed as We Are”

My Christmas gift to myself in 2016 was the Laurel & Hardy Essential Collection 10-DVD box set.

Christmas 2017, I’m finally watching it because that’s how I roll: Slowly, forgetfully and focused on things that no one cares about it.  I intend to write about EVERYTHING on this monster, even if one of the special features turns out to be a ninety-minute interview with Stan Laurel’s dentist. I will be here to report.

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Twin Peaks Season 3 Soundtrack Albums Part II: Screaming on Your Knees at the Roadhouse

One of many refreshing left turns in the Twin Peaks revival is its disinterest in traditional television cliffhangers. Episodes end with dangling questions galore and turning points left up in the air, but David Lynch never gives us a hard cut to credits after a gunshot in the night. Instead he often goes out on a song, a “live” performance on stage in the long-standing Roadhouse. Like Mr. Rogers changing his shoes and jacket, the moment the neon bar sign hits the screen, you know the show is almost over. What young band in Lynch’s iTunes is playing this week?

Far from superfluous though, these scenes have two powerful effects on the series:

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Twin Peaks Season 3 Soundtrack Albums Part I: Angelo & Friends

Composer Angelo Badalamenti was the Great Missing Man For the first few hours of Twin Peaks season 3.

It began almost eerily quiet. There was the typically meticulous David Lynch sound design, but there was nothing like the nearly wall-to-wall jazzy snap and shuffle of the old series. Still, it made sense. This was a world slipping back into its skin and feeling its way through the dark. Characters we hadn’t seen in twenty-six years were in no rush to open up to us about where they’d been all this time (except for Lucy and Andy). It was mystery on top of mystery on top of mystery, right from the first scene.

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Thrift Stores and Other Delights

When you see Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass in a thrift store, you buy it. Just to have it. It’s like a membership card into the club of cheap-bin record hunters (all of us have it). This LP in your possession says that you’ve been there. You know the fluorescent lights. You know the dirt. You know the smell. You know the pain.

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BASIC INSTINCT (1992; director: Paul Verhoeven)

This early 90s meisterwerk is so dedicated to being trashy, sleazy, steamy and light on the logic that it’s real easy to love if you have a taste for the tasteless. It’s slick in that Paul Verhoeven way, which means that there’s a faint smirk underneath the perfect Hollywood lighting and the troubled cop/femme fatale cliches. Everything is over the top. Verhoeven lays on the close-ups and the opulent San Francisco views. The Joe Eszterhas script is hard-boiled to the max, all snap and innuendo, with scarcely two lines of dialogue in a row that sound like anything that an actual human would say. Meanwhile, Jerry Goldsmith’s booming orchestral score lays countless exclamation points all over this cinematic purple prose.

You’ll know in the first twenty minutes if you enjoy this movie or if you think that the original film negative ought to be fed to rats. I’ll lay it out for you.

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Vampire Brats

Poppy Z. Brite
Lost Souls
Dell Publishing, 1992

At my advanced age I felt like a real drip reading (and enjoying) this novel of angst-ridden vampires and goth kids.

On the other hand, I’m glad that I didn’t read it when I was a teenager because I would have been INSUFFERABLE afterward–and I was annoying enough already back then. I know how obsessive I can get. This book would have effected me. It would have changed my life. I would have started to wear all black. I probably would have gotten into eyeliner. I would have dug deep into Sisters of Mercy B-sides. I would have spent my senior year prom night hanging out in a cemetery. There’s not a doubt in my mind, no sir.

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