Wednesday, June 29, 2016

AFI Top 100, #7: "The Graduate" (1967)

Movie Stats:
Released 1967 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Mike Nichols
Stars - Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross

Plot Summary:
Recently graduated from college and at loose ends, Ben Braddock (Hoffman) drifts into an affair with an older woman, family friend Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft). Conflict arises when Ben begins to fall for Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Ross).

Warnings:
Very minor blue language; minor violence; heavily implied sexy times; almost-nudity (basically every part of the female breast except for the nipple).

Bad Stuff:
I don’t like the experimental camera work.

I hate the second half. While Ben’s actions make a semblance of sense within the context of the film, he basically turns into a crazy person, and Elaine’s reaction to him isn't believable to me. It’s this really great film that rather suddenly veers into WTF territory.

It’s weird how the soundtrack repeats songs. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Simon & Garfunkel, but I don’t really need to hear “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” twice in a row (literally twice in a row, plays through once and then starts over again).

Good Stuff:
The first half is incredibly solid. It really captures that feeling of graduating from college and being at a complete loss as to where to go from there. I remember it all too well. It’s really not something that’s addressed enough in society, how aimless a person’s early 20s can feel. I love it when it’s portrayed well in film.

All of the acting is pretty good, but Hoffman and Bancroft in particular knock it out of the park.

The costuming and set design are magnificent.

I absolutely love the final shot of Ben and Elaine on the bus, the expression on each of their faces as they slowly realize exactly what they’ve just done.

The Verdict:
For me, this movie is a tale of two halves. The first half is brilliant, truly a masterpiece. It never occurred to me before how messed up it is, the way that Mrs. Robinson takes advantage of Ben, who’s lost and vulnerable. She’s a predator. I actually found it rather chilling. Then Elaine shows up and both Ben and the movie lose the plot. It’s a huge disappointment. I’m sure others feel differently about it, but I find that it simply doesn’t work. The only good thing about the second half is that final shot, which is such a (good) punch in the gut. I’m not sure what I would have liked better, but I wish they’d done it anyway. This is an iconic film that doesn’t quite live up to expectation.

I give it 3.5 stars.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Out and About: North San Diego County

Some pictures from my adventures around North San Diego County (and not so north San Diego County):

Sunset, as viewed from our balcony.

Pretty color at the Oceanside pier.

The water looks far less inviting in Carlsbad
during the middle of June Gloom.

Tasty treats at one of my favorite coffee
shops, Banana Dang! in Oceanside.

This palm tree at Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad hasn't had
its growth spurt yet.

Ceiling and light fixture at Miguel's in Carlsbad.

Little archway at Leo Carrillo Ranch in Carlsbad.

Old timey windmill at Leo Carrillo Ranch.

The Leo Carrillo brand.

Entrance of Balboa Park in San Diego.

Reflecting pool at Balboa Park. Now
the background photo on my phone.

Roses at Balboa Park. Now the lock screen
photo on my phone.

Beautiful colors in the botanical garden at Balboa Park.

Hiking Buena Vista Park in Vista.

Buena vista at Buena Vista Park.

We liked this sign at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Harris's hawks awaiting our falconry lesson at Torrey Pines State
Park in La Jolla. Lesson conducted by Sky Falconry.

Hope you enjoyed this taste of what I've been up to. I know I have!

Friday, June 24, 2016

AFI Top 100, #s 9 & 8

I previously reviewed these two movies for my Best Picture Project. Below is the pertinent information about each: the movie stats, plot summary, and the rating I gave it.

SCHINDLER’S LIST - AFI #9
Movie Stats:
Released 1993 (USA)
American, in English (significant amounts of non-translated German, Hebrew, and Polish)
Director – Steven Spielberg
Stars – Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes

Plot Summary:
Ostensibly, this is the story of Oskar Schindler (Neeson), an Austrian businessman who used his factories during WWII to save approximately 1,200 Jews. In general, however, it is about the Holocaust. Kingsley co-stars as Schindler’s Jewish co-conspirator (and accountant) Itzhak Stern and Fiennes as Captain Amon Goeth, commander of the Plaszow concentration camp.

Rating:
4.5 stars

Full review HERE.


ON THE WATERFRONT - AFI #8
Movie Stats:
Released 1954 (Japan)
American, in English
Director – Elia Kazan
Stars – Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint

Plot Summary:
A story of corruption and murder amongst a dockworker’s union in NYC. Brando stars as conflicted stooge Terry Malloy; Malden as the local priest Father Barry, who’s trying to get the men to do the right thing; Cobb as union boss Johnny Friendly; and Saint as Edie Doyle, a woman trying to solve the murder of her brother Joey, who was silenced for trying to speak out against union corruption.

Rating:
4.75 stars

Full review HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Last Text of the Day: Month Six

Note: During the move, I lost track of this project. I decided to discontinue it due to lack of interest. Therefore, this is the last post in the series, and it's not even a full month's worth of texts.

Day 1
To Blue: I can't believe they got two red cards.
I was out with friends while my soccer team was playing a game. Before I got home, I looked up the outcome and texted my husband about it. It was the opposing team that got two red cards.

Day 2
To Red: Luckily, you add in the broccoli last so if it's looking too full you can just stop, or you could add more broth. You'll do fine!
Remember that broccoli soup recipe I mentioned in last month's texts? Still talking about it. She was making it for the first time and I gave her pointers.

Day 3
To Black: Haha, ok! Sounds good. :)
I don't recall what this is about.

Day 4
To Indigo: So you think that it's going to be helpful overall?
Discussing a blow-up punching bag she'd purchased.

Day 5
To Indigo: It's just feeling a little limp after last night's workout! Haha.
The punching bag didn't survive the night. She sent me a picture of it. It looked like a limp penis.

Day 6
To Orange: Sounds like a plan!
Making plans, obviously, although I don't recall what they were.

Day 7
To Blue: FYI, we're going out for a slice of pizza. And I'm going to take [redacted] home before I come home.
I was out with friends & checked in with my husband because it was getting late.

Day 8
To Brown & Red: I think that's what [redacted]'s bringing but we prob can't have too much. *yellow wink emoji*
Discussing what we were bringing to a friend's Easter brunch the following day. I believe the substance in question was OJ & champagne.

Day 9
To Brown & Red: Yes, we want to hear a cockney accent!
I recall that we were joking around about Red's husband (he's British and we like to tease him by attempting our own terrible British accents), but I don't remember the exact details of what led to this text.

Day 10
To Red & Teal: Oh no! I'm sorry you're not feeling well. *yellow sad emoji* Honestly, another day this week or next would work better for me. Maybe Thursday?
We were supposed to do the dreaded Culver City Stairs but Red was sick. It ended up being a very nasty cold that lasted for weeks. We never did do the stairs before I moved away. (I did them once on my own when I first moved to LA and thought I was going to die.)

Day 11
To Azure: Thanks! I try to keep my work stuff on my gmail account. It's [redacted].
She offered to send me any job notices she thought I might be interested in.

Day 12
To Purple: I got them! Thanks! I can print them for us.
Tickets to a soccer game.

Day 13
To Azure: His brother literally just asked him if we want to go with him and his girlfriend to [redacted] for his 30th bday. [Redacted]'s like, "we'd love to but..."
This is the day my husband lost his job. I texted my friend about it, and about how my brother-in-law invited us on a trip right after we got the bad news.

Day 14
To Indigo & Brown: I could do another weeknight. I had just suggested Thursdays because it's close to the weekend but I don't mind staying out on a weeknight once in a while. *yellow smile emoji*
We spent months trying to plan a trip to the comedy club we had a Groupon for. It never worked out.

Day 15
To Red: You used 8 exclamation points. You must be feeling better. *yellow lol emoji*
Her prolific use of exclamation points is an ongoing joke between us.

Day 16
To Red: Ok, I'll text you when I get out!
I don't remember what this is about.

Day 17
To Orange & Yellow: His dad landed in the hospital today so it's been an A+ week so far. *yellow lol emoji* Some coffee or about a gallon of alcohol would be nice.
My father-in-law ended up in the hospital about 5 days after my husband lost his job. It sucked. My FIL is okay though.

Day 18
To Red: Well, a man needs his hobbies, I suppose.
I wish I remembered what this is about, but I don't.

Day 19
To Orange & Yellow: Thanks so much for the good food, beer, and conversation, ladies!
Self-explanatory.

Day 20
To Black: My mom used to wear a towel on her head when she was cold but didn't want to turn on the heat. Lol.
This is true but I don't remember why I told Black this.

Day 21
To Black: Awww, thanks! Will def try to make the next one.
She said my friends missed me at trivia night.

Day 22
To Red: Me too!
I don't know what this is about.

Day 23
To Beige: Definitely!
I don't know what this is about.

Day 24
To Red: Oh, soccer balls! I vote for soccer balls. *yellow wink emoji*
She was making a pair of pajama pants for her husband. I asked what fabric. She said he hadn't chosen yet, so I put in my two cents. Her husband is, like me, a footy fan but he did not choose soccer balls.

Day 25
To Blue: Okay. It's good to have a firm date.
He texted me with his start date for his new job.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Music Love: "Let the Good Times Roll" by Louis Jordan


Louis Jordan first appeared on my radar screen around 2009, when I was living on Maui. One day, while I was driving to my volunteer gig, I heard his song “(You Dyed Your Hair) Chartreuse.” At the time, I thought it was hilarious and downloaded it. The more I listened to it, however, the more I found the song a bit annoying. “Why does this guy care so much what color she dyes her hair?” I would think to myself. “Why is he threatening to tell her mom? What a tattle tale!”

Fortunately, falling out of love with that song didn’t make me fall out of love with Jordan himself. I’ve continued to listen to, enjoy, and download his music. And my absolute favorite is “Let the Good Times Roll.”

I’m not going to say a lot about this song. I’d like to let it stand for itself. The music, while simple, is catchy. The lyrics are pretty simple too. What I really love the sentiment. “Hey everybody, let’s have some fun,” he invites you into it, “you only live but once, and when you’re dead you’re done. So let the good times roll.” 

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit dark, but I still maintain that it’s a feel-good song. It’s all about enjoying life while you’ve got it, a sentiment I occasionally need to remind myself of. I recommend that you turn up the volume, kick back, groove along to this smooth piece, and always, always let the good times roll.

Friday, June 17, 2016

AFI Top 100, #10: "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)

Movie Stats:
Released 1952 (USA)
American, in English
Directors - Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
Stars - Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen

Plot Summary:
Silent film pair Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Hagen) have a difficult time transitioning to “talkies.” O’Connor co-stars as Don’s piano-playing, lifelong pal, Cosmo Brown, and Reynolds as Don’s love interest, Kathy Selden.

Warnings:
Minor violence.

Bad Stuff:
I’ve never been keen on the modern-dance sequence toward the end of the film. In addition to simply not liking it, I also feel that it doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie. I liked it better this time around because I appreciated the technique and beauty of it, but I still think it’s out of place.

There are some very clunky scene cuts. It’s jarring.

Good Stuff:
The singing! The dancing! The costumes! The sets! The physical comedy! The snappy dialogue!

God, I love Jean Hagen in this. She’s so funny. That voice. And the fact that she sings in that voice. Singing in a voice that’s not your natural speaking voice can’t be easy.

It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s feel-good.

The Verdict:
I used to be very anti-musical (I was convinced that I didn’t like the genre as a whole; I was wrong), so most of my life was musical-free. The first time I saw this one was about nine years ago. My then-new-guy-I-was-dating-now-husband suggested we watch it very early on in our relationship. He’s not exactly the type of guy you look at and think to yourself, “There’s a guy who likes musicals.” But he likes this one, and his enthusiasm convinced me to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did!

I love this film. It’s fun and funny. The music is great. The dancing is great. There’s virtually nothing to dislike about it. I re-watch it at least once a year. (My husband and I also occasionally sing “Good morning!” to each other because we’re dorks.) Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about it. If you’ve never seen it, there’s no time like the present!

I give it 4.5 stars.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

AFI Top 100, #11: "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)

Movie Stats:
Released 1946 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Frank Capra
Stars - James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers, Lionel Barrymore

Plot Summary:
When kind-hearted small-town man George Bailey (Stewart) is at the end of his rope and contemplating suicide, angel Clarence (Travers) is sent down from Heaven to save him by showing him what the world would be like without him. Reed plays George’s wife, Mary, and Barrymore his lifelong adversary, the odious businessman Mr. Potter.

Warnings:
Violence.

Bad Stuff:
It’s sooooooo hokey! Especially the angels-talking-to-each-other stuff. There was actual grimacing on my part.

The pacing is off. The lead up is long, the payoff surprisingly brief. I would’ve liked it to be more even.

I don’t like George very much. He’s a bit of a Debbie Downer. I realize that his life didn’t work out the way he wanted, but most people’s don’t. Like, just own it George, and stop being a whiner about it. Also, when things don’t go his way, he tends to throw a huge temper tantrum. While he works it out in the end, the temper tantrums are a chore to get through.

[SPOILER]
Of course, in the alternate universe where George doesn’t exist, Mary turns out to be an old maid. The horror! Blargh.
[SPOILER]

Good Stuff:
I love the way the family relationships are portrayed. There were several moments that made me tear up because I was so deeply touched, and it was simple stuff, like toward the beginning, where they’re chatting over the dinner table. The way they spoke to each other was so natural and heart-warming.

Of course, I enjoy the central message, that each of us is important in our own way, and that we affect others in ways we may never know.

I love how unrepentantly evil Mr. Potter is, and I love that there’s no attempt to redeem him. It’s refreshing, especially for a hokey, feel-good movie like this.

The Verdict:
If you can believe it, this is only the second time I’ve seen this film, and my first time was as a full-fledged adult. That’s right, unlike most people, this wasn’t a childhood staple of mine. Perhaps because of that, I’ve never really been into it. To me, it’s just kind of cheesy and silly, and I was surprised this time by how much I dislike George. I wasn’t rooting against him or anything, but I did get pretty tired of his moping around. However, it’s sweet and touching. Despite the things that irked me, I still found myself crying at the end. I get why people like it so much, even if it’s not to my particular taste.

I give it 3.5 stars.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Up with Geography: Cape Verde

Country:
Cape Verde

Capital:
Praia

Continent:
None; it's an island chain

Map:
 
Cape Verde. I included the island names
for a bit of visual interest.

Neighbors:
None; the nearest countries are Mauritania, Senegal, and The Gambia, in western Africa (to the east of the islands)

Water Borders:
Atlantic Ocean

Total Area:
1,557 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Praia, Mindelo, Assomada, Porto Novo, Sao Filipe

Famous Geographical Point:
Pico do Fogo, at 9,281 feet the island chain's tallest mountain

Famous Person:
Dona Tututa, composer & pianist

Book Set In/About:
The Last Will & Testament of Senhor da Silva Araujo by Germano Almeida

After his death, the lengthy will of the island's most upright & successful inhabitant is read aloud to his family, neighbors & friends. There is much in it that is shocking.

Movie Set In/About:
"O Ilheu de Contenda (The Island of Contenda)" (1995), directed by Leao Lopes

Set in 1964, conflict ensues as local Cape Verdeans begin to express their own cultural identity, which clashes with the colonial Portuguese government. (Cape Verde was uninhabited before being settled by the Portuguese in the 1400s. The subsequently brought over African slaves. Over the next several hundred years, a unique culture arose that was a mix of both Portuguese and African influences. The country peacefully won independence in 1975.)

Headline of the Day:
"Mitu Monteiro Completes a 460-mile Circumnavigation of Cape Verde" in Surfer Today.

Friday, June 10, 2016

AFI Top 100, #12: "Sunset Blvd." (1950)

Movie Stats:
Released 1950 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Billy Wilder
Stars - Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroheim

Plot Summary:
Washed-up, middle-aged silent film star Norma Desmond (Swanson) hires down-on-his-luck writer Joe Willis (Holden) to edit the script of a movie she hopes will mark her comeback. Von Stroheim co-stars as Norma’s butler, Max.

Warnings:
Violence.

Bad Stuff:
Not so keen on the hardboiled detective-like voiceover.

Gloria Swanson’s wild eyes made me chuckle at quite a few inappropriate moments.

Good Stuff:
[SPOILER-y]
I like that it involved a topic so rarely explored in film, older-woman-with-younger-man, aka the sugar momma scenario. Also, that it addresses financial abuse and emotional manipulation, two additional issues rarely portrayed/acknowledged in film.
[SPOILER-y]

[Also SPOILER-y]
The tension is great. The noose tightens around Joe so slowly, and he knows it and yet he feels powerless to stop it. It’s one of those enjoy-it-while-cringing sort of things.
[SPOILER-y]

I sort of loved Swanson’s over-the-top, crazy-ass performance, even the wild eyes.

The Verdict:
I was aware of this film, down to knowing the basic storyline and its famous quotes, and yet I had no idea that it was considered film noir! As film noir goes, it’s pretty mild. The plot is easy to follow, and there’s no endless betrayal and re-betrayal. I really like the pacing. The story develops fairly slowly, but not in a way that feels like it drags. There’s not much action, and yet it’s not boring. Really, as I sit here thinking about it, I realize that it’s a very well-crafted film. Swanson’s performance is a little iffy, just on the border of ridiculousness. Other than that, I have no strong criticism. However, I don’t see it as the type of film I’ll want to watch repeatedly. Once was great.

I give it 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

AFI Top 100, #13: "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957)

This movie was previously reviewed as part of my Best Picture Project. Below is the pertinent information about it: the movie stats, plot summary, and the rating I gave it. You can read the full text of my review HERE.

Movie Stats:
Released 1957 (UK)
American & British, in English (some non-translated Japanese & Thai)
Director – David Lean
Actors – William Holden, Alec Guinness, Sessue Hayakawa

Plot Summary:
When British Colonel Nicholson (Guinness) clashes wills with the man running his POW camp during WWII, Colonel Saito (Hayakawa), he eventually wins out. However, once he and his men begin the task they’ve been assigned – building a bridge across the River Kwai in Thailand – it soon becomes clear that, rather than subtly working against the Japanese, Nicholson is determined to build the best damn bridge that a British regiment can build. In the meantime, American Commander Shears (Holden), who previously escaped the POW camp, returns with a small force to blow up the bridge.

Rating:
4 stars

Monday, June 6, 2016

Up with U.S. Geography: South Carolina

State Name:
South Carolina

Capital:
Columbia

Date of Entry:
May 23, 1788

Maps:

Map of USA. South Carolina outlined in dark ink & shaded.

A close-up of South Carolina & its neighbors.

Neighbors:
North Carolina, Georgia

Water Borders:
Savannah River, Atlantic Ocean

Total Area:
32,020 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Columbia, Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Rock Hill

Famous Geographical Point:
Lake Marion

State Nickname:
The Palmetto State. It's named for its state tree, the Sabal palmetto.

Famous Person:
Lilian Ellison, better known by her professional wrestling name, The Fabulous Moolah.**

Book Set In/About:
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

In 1960s South Carolina, a young white girl who's lost her mother is taken in by a group of strong black women. I chose this book because I've read it & love it.

Movie Set In/About:
"Glory" (1989), directed by Edward Zwick

Based on the true story of one of the first all-black units of the Union Army (the officers were white) during the U.S. Civil War. Bonus story: In high school, I took AP U.S. History and our teacher, a crusty old guy I absolutely adored, showed us this movie. In the opening scene, there's a rather gruesome death, to which all of the students in the room expressed verbal disgust. I'll always remember my teacher, sitting in the back of the room, munching on an apple and chuckling at our reaction.

Headline of the Day:
"Skydiver Falls 14,000 Feet to Death in South Carolina" on Fox News. :(


**I grew up watching wrestling during the Hulk Hogan era. My husband, who's six years younger than me, was into it in his late teens/early 20s, during the height of The Rock's popularity. (In fact, my husband nearly became a professional wrestler. As the story goes, he planned to visit the Navy recruitment center and the Portland wrestling college on the same day. He went to the recruitment center first and ended up in the Navy for 6 years. Lol.) Lately, we've been watching some of these old shows before we go to sleep at night and I've been impressed by The Fabulous Moolah, in her 70s during the stuff we've been watching, who's turned up to a few matches and pulled some moves. While the matches are certainly fake, these peoples' impressive athleticism definitely is not.

Friday, June 3, 2016

AFI Top 100, #14: "Some Like It Hot" (1959)

Movie Stats:
Released 1959 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Billy Wilder
Stars - Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe

Plot Summary:
Set during Prohibition, when down-on-their-luck musicians Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon) accidentally witness a mob hit, they flee town by disguising themselves as women in an all-female band. Monroe co-stars as one of their band mates, Sugar.

Warnings:
Violence.

Bad Stuff:
[SPOILER]
Look, maybe I’m a stick in the mud but I’ve never found people lying to each other particularly hilarious. First, Joe lies to Sugar by pretending to be a woman and gaining her confidence. Then he uses the information he gets from her to pretend to be a millionaire to woo her (while “negging” her much of the time). It’s gross. Not that the way Jerry leads on Osgood (Joe E. Brown) is much better. And then the way that it’s all, “oh, tee hee, it’s okay because I’m IN LOVE with you!” in the end and everyone runs away together. Just ugh. Such a depressing way to portray human relationships.
[SPOILER]

Many scenes feel superfluous to me. For example, we first meet Joe and Jerry when they’re playing at a speakeasy but before that scene is a scene of the cops catching some runners and getting the info to bust the speakeasy. Was that scene necessary? Could’ve just opened with the cops busting the speakeasy. Which is to say, this film could use a little more editing.

I’ve never been a big fan of Monroe’s breathy-little-girl voice or ditzy-blonde act.

Good Stuff:
Although it’s played for laughs, at least the film addresses all the aggressive, unwanted attention women get by merely existing (getting pinched in elevators, men inviting themselves up to their rooms, etc.).

I like that it plays with the ideas of gender and sexuality.

Jack Lemmon is pretty funny, although I could do without his insane laugh.

Great soundtrack!

The Verdict:
I’m not a big fan of this film. I know I thought it was funny the first time I saw it, when I was much younger, but when I watched it again a few years ago, a lot of the so-called humor fell flat for me. I felt the same way this time around. The way the Joe and Jerry treat people, especially women, is bad, and it makes their characters unlikable for me. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. There are definitely scenes that made me laugh. And I’m sure that, for its time, it was shocking, scandalous, and progressive, but I don’t think it plays well in this modern world. I’d be totally fine if I never watch it again.

I give it 3 stars.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

AFI Top 100, #15: "Star Wars" (1977)

Movie Stats:
Released 1977 (USA)
American, in English (made-up alien languages, some translated, some not)
Director - George Lucas
Stars - Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness

Plot Summary:
It’s the classic hero’s tale. When young, restless farmer Luke Skywalker (Hamill) intercepts a message from imperiled Princess Leia (Fisher), he sets off on a rescue mission with the help of handsome rogue Han Solo (Ford) and the aged knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness). Along the way, they find themselves caught up in a rebellion.

Warnings:
Violence.

Bad Stuff:
Luke’s android companion C3PO (Anthony Daniels) is annoying as all get out. All he does is complain and be useless to the point of making things harder for everyone. If I were Luke, I would have left him behind on Tatooine.

I find the character development poor. For me, it’s difficult to believe that these characters like each other as much as they do as quickly as they do. For example, [SPOILER] Luke shows far more emotion at the death of Obi-Wan, who he’s truly only known for a few days, than he does at the death of his aunt and uncle, who raised him [SPOILER]. Either the movie is bad at showing the passage of time and the characters have known each other for longer than they seem to, or important scenes were cut, or George Lucas is terrible at character development (judging by the prequels, I’d say that’s the more likely problem).

Good Stuff:
I like that Leia isn’t a damsel in distress (at first glance it seems like she is but she’s not).

I actually enjoy that this film is one giant trope. It’s the same hero story that’s been told since the beginning of human imagination. The characters are all the same archetypes that you’re familiar with. It’s comforting. At the same time, it’s not boring because there’s just enough that’s different to keep it from delving into “same old, same old” territory.

I’d say what it lacks in character development, it makes up for in pacing. There are few points where the film drags. It’s action-packed from start to finish.

Composer John Williams is a god.

The Verdict:
Look, I like this film. Practically everyone likes this film. It’s fun and entertaining, a story for the ages. The special effects were groundbreaking for the time, and I feel that, for the most part, they’ve held up well. However, I don’t find it quite as special as most people seem to. There’s a lot missing between characters. That seems to be a Lucas thing. I think he’s simply bad at developing them. Also, I’ve always been a little bewildered by how people ragged so hard on Jar Jar Binks (truly a terrible character) without mentioning how awful C3PO is. Like, he nearly ruins the movie for me. I wish I could mute just his character. (Of course, Jar Jar has the added layer - many people feel - of being a racist caricature.) I digress. This is an enjoyable romp. I don’t begrudge its place on the list because it’s been such a huge phenomenon - for nearly 40 years now!

I give it 3.75 stars.