when movies become rituals

February 12, 2016

I’ve been noodling around with this idea for awhile.  Especially two months after The Force Awakens, and watching how the fanfic, the memes, the theories, and the love show no sign of slowing down.  Especially after grappling with my own difficulties in figuring out how to approach reviewing the movie.  How can I possibly separate my love of the world and judge the movie simply as a movie?  And now, there’s an amazing fever pitch surrounding the release of Deadpool.  All the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies of the last couple of years have had this immense hype and love around them, and as I mentioned in my review of Ant-Man, I’ve pretty much given up approaching these movies with any kind of objective detachment.  Moreover, the movies don’t actually care about being considered as movies.  They don’t really stand alone.  They’re chock full of inside jokes and easter eggs.  They have a laser focus on their audience, and in giving that audience what it wants:  a really good time in the worlds that they love.

Star Wars, the MCU, Harry Potter, maybe a couple of others but those are the ones that stand out for me:  these aren’t really movies anymore.  They’re communities.  The movies have become the periodic rituals that these communities celebrate.

There are lots of media fandoms and fannish communities.  The phenomenon’s been going on since at least the first Star Trek conventions in the early 70’s.  And in most cases the communities persist even if no more movies or episodes are forthcoming. (Captain Power is 25+ years gone but there’s still a small group of us who can’t stop talking about it.)

But this is something else.  Something different.  Something spawned and fueled by the internet, huge and pervasive.  These franchises seem to have reached a tipping point where these aren’t just movies that we’re excited to see.  They’re events.  The anticipation is part of the experience.  We’re not just looking for entertainment, we’re looking for new information to add to what we know, to fuel more fan theories and musings that will go on long after the film is out of theaters.  It helps that so far these movies have generally been good by most standards.  But I’d argue:  they don’t stand alone, really.  They wouldn’t exist without the fervent devotion of these tremendous communities.

And it’s a feedback loop:  the communities support the movies; the movies fuel the communities.  That loop generates power.

There’s more thinking to be done with this idea, but for me it’s helping provide a framework for why my critical approaches to Star Wars and the MCU have been changing, becoming different than my approach to other movies.  I love these worlds and characters, I consider myself part of the communities that are bound by them, and that changes my thinking about them.

Must ponder some more.


I can now do cable stitching.  It’s kind of hard to see because the yarn is dark (but what a great a color!), but this is a fingerless glove.  One of these days I’ll have to try a glove with fingers.

cable knit glove


This is yet another Star Wars post.

So, I’m really enjoying the outpouring of love for Rey, Finn and Poe that’s cluttering up the internet right now.  Like, these three are such an endearing ensemble of heroes, we just can’t help but wallow in it all.

Except:  Rey and Poe never actually interact in The Force Awakens.  When the Falcon returns to base after the big climactic thing, Poe glances at Rey, registers her, acknowledging that she’s the one Finn was so desperate to rescue.  But he doesn’t know her, and a second later he’s totally focused on the unconscious Finn and that’s where he goes.  Rey of course doesn’t know who the hell he is or why she should be interested in him.

Later, they’re both standing in the room when the pieces of the map get put together.  One presumes they’ve been introduced by this point.  There was no reason to show this introduction — it’s got nothing to do with the story, really.  From a story perspective, it’s just fine that we never see them interact.  It wouldn’t add anything, and it would clutter up an otherwise slick narrative.  But gosh, wouldn’t it just be so neat?!  And that would be the only reason to show that scene:  because fans like me want to see it.  Note:  narrative flow ought to trump fan service.  So, I’m glad the movie is the way it is.  But still.

I mean, I can totally imagine it.  They both arrive in the infirmary, waiting for news about Finn.  And Poe introduces himself because that’s what he does.  “Hi.  I’m Poe Dameron.  You’re Finn’s friend, aren’t you?”  And I can just see the look on Rey’s face as she realizes that yes, she is Finn’s friend, and he is hers, and she’s never had a friend before, and she kind of wants to freak out a little.  But she doesn’t.  “Yes.  He saved my life.”  And Poe smiles and says, “Mine, too.”

And now they’re friends, too.

GAH!!!  *falls over and fangirls a little more*


I am in the future!

January 29, 2016

I just got my first smartphone.  My very first.  It was my birthday yesterday, and this was my gift for myself.  I’d been thinking about upgrading for like six months and finally decided, this was the week.

All the clerks at the mobile phone place had to come look at my old phone.  It was a novelty, a little red Nokia, 7-8 years old.  So old they couldn’t port the data onto the new phone. “This is in really good condition for being so old,” one of them said.  “Yeah,” I said.  “I don’t use it much.”  And I really don’t.  I’m still not sure if the new phone is going to change that.  I actually want to use it more, to take advantage of all the nifty things it can do.

And I’m trying not to be scared of it.  I really want to use these powers for good.  Like, to actually make travel easier, stuff like that.  Better organize my calendar and contacts and to do list and things.  I’m taking it in baby steps.

But, yeah.  I have a smartphone now.  Imagine that.


more Star Wars neepery

January 8, 2016

Right before going to see SW: The Force Awakens for the first time, I had a strange experience.

I had meant to do more fangirling prep for the movie — reading comics, watching movies, etc. — but I got busy.  Between working on some brand-new projects and getting ready for xmas, it just didn’t happen.  But literally just a few hours before going to see the new movie, I made time watch Star Wars.  The first one.  Just to get in the spirit.  To remind myself how it feels.  And it was so strange, so odd, so weird.  Because I was so in the mindset of watching a new Star Wars movie, that Episode IV was suddenly new.  I felt like I was watching it for the first time all over again.  I’m not sure how that happened, and the strangeness of it made me cry a little, in that “who knew this was possible” kind of disbelief.

Here’s what I think:  it’s been a long time since I just sat and watched Star Wars mindfully, not doing anything else, not putting it on in the background, but just watching it.  And my writer brain was on and noticing all kinds of things I hadn’t really thought of before, like how we don’t actually meet the hero until about fifteen minutes in.  Rather, it’s as if the world is the main character and we’re dropped into it to slowly immerse, learning about battles and droids and empires and the rest of it as it happens.  This movie has a magnificent straight line plot, and every scene is late in/early out, just like we’re taught in writing school.  Not a wasted second.  Moreover the tension in each sequence escalates in just the right way to keep the audience engaged.  This movie is really funny.  The prison break scene?  Never stops being funny, from the moment the trio is facing the wrong way when the elevator doors open to C-3PO thinking they’re dying in the trash compactor.  The three heroes are earnest and dorky and absolutely lovable, and I think that Han falls in love with Leia before she falls in love with him.  It happens right there after they’ve been fighting over money and he says, “I’m trying not to, kid,” after Luke asks what he thinks of her. Han’s got this look like, Holy shit my life is never going to be the same, and it scares him, but he may also be a little bit relieved, because it wasn’t like his life was going anywhere good before this.  And in weird bit of counter-intuitive pacing, the entire third act is the battle of Yavin.  Like, there’s nothing else that happens but guys in X-wings fighting the Death Star.  But even that is well modulated and escalates tension.  The whole thing is a sleek model of fast action pacing.

The other really amazing thing I noticed:  The heroes are all so young.  I’m well old enough now to be Luke and Leia’s mother. (But not quite Han’s, thank goodness.) Isn’t that crazy?  They’re babies.  But maybe it takes bright-eyed babies to save the universe.

And that’s when I just started bawling.  Because this movie that I have loved since I was five years old, that I have seen countless times and that I know so well, can still seem new to me, and it is still my favoritest movie ever.


I love that I have geeky friends who are also crafty and talented.  It means I end up with things like this:

flash ornament

It’s just like the one on the show!!!


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December 18, 2015


Nope, no review yet.  I’m guessing I got to bed at something like 5 am, assuming I wasn’t completely wired out of my gourd, and since I’m scheduled to drive friends to the airport this afternoon, and I really want to be awake and focused for that, I am most probably asleep right now.  At least, I’d better be asleep, until about noon I’m hoping.

Don’t worry, I’ll fill you in later.



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