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Every Star Wars film ranked!

Charmaine Blake

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“From the sagas debut in 1977 to this months Solo and (almost) everything in between, we rank 14 of the Star Wars films and spin-offs

14. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999)

What a disaster. Never was so much anticipation and excitement loaded into a single movie, which shortly after its release in 1999 became known as A New Crushing of Hope. This monumentally obtuse and dull prequel episode utterly failed to answer 15 years worth of what-happened-next? (or is that what-happened-before?) excitement, and featured the intensely annoying and borderline offensive character Jar Jar Binks.

13. Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)

Warwick Davis plays Wicket the Ewok on his home turf, the forest moon of Endor, in this TV movie. He helps two orphaned human siblings, Mace and Cindel, find their abducted parents. Burl Ives narrates.

12. Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)

A classy cast, including Sin Phillips, arguably gives this movie the creative edge over the first Ewok-centred film. Cindel, the orphaned girl from that film, reappears to help the Ewoks against marauders.

Caravan
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, one of two Return of the Jedi spin-offs. Photograph: Allstar/Lucasfilm

11. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

An animated feature-length one-off that spawned six seasons of a TV series. Set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, this drama recounts the story of Jedi knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, and their command of a clone army in the war with the Separatists. Lively appearances from Yoda and Jabba the Hutt.

10. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The third in the prequel trilogy has its defenders, perhaps due to the fact that it brings the threads of a big, baggy story together and creates the origin-myth moment for Darth Vader. The flawed, unhappy Jedi, Anakin Skywalker, is drawn into the ambit of Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, and a great villain is born. Anakin will often tilt his head down and look up, in an awful parody of coyness.

9. Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002)

This is the best of the prequel trilogy, due to the appearance of Christopher Lee. He plays the wicked renegade Jedi, Count Dooku, who has a mano-a-mano confrontation with Yoda, which is nothing if not very good value. There are some spectacular battle set pieces that still stand up, especially on the big screen.

8. The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

The invention of YouTube in 2005 gave an official recognition to the existence of the bizarrely misjudged one-off Star Wars variety special transmitted once in 1978 and then never again. For years, a sheepish George Lucas pretty much tried to manipulate fans into thinking they had dreamed it. Everyone hated the Holiday…”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/24/every-star-wars-film-ranked-solo-skywalker

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From Nico to Tonya Harding, womens true stories are being told on film at last

Charmaine Blake

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I wasnt happy when I was beautiful: the movie Nico, 1988 shows singers resilience in later life, signalling a change in how biopics treat their subjects

“On paper, Nico the Warhol acolyte, singer and fashion model who added international exoticism to the grungy downtown hip of the Velvet Underground would seem to be perfect biopic material.

With her glowering, angular looks and smoky drone of a voice, she was unlike anyone else around at the time. She had a string of romances with beautiful, troubled men. Further boxes are ticked on the biopic checklist by the fact that she struggled with demons heroin was her drug of choice.

But Nico, 1988, the daringly unconventional biopic by Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli, which has just opened in the US, is not about the singer in her iconic phase. Instead it deals with the last two years of her life: Nico prefers to go by her birth name, Christa Pffgen; she performs avant-garde proto-goth dirges while scowling through her fringe in European dive bars; the decades of addiction have taken their toll, but she doesnt care: I wasnt happy when I was beautiful.

Nicos value to Warhol was inextricably linked to the way she looked. When asked what became of Nico after she left his studio, the Factory, Warhol was dismissive: She became a fat junkie and disappeared. But what interested Nicchiarelli was her resilience. Unlike other Warhol superstars such as Edie Sedgwick and Candy Darling who crashed and burned once their 15 minutes of fame were snatched away, Nico reclaimed herself. Talking at the Rotterdam film festival, Nicchiarelli said, The intriguing thing about Nico was that she survived. She was so much stronger.

Nico,
Nico, centre, and the Velvet Underground. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The focus of this film on unglamorous middle age rather than gilded youth is significant. It is representative of a change in the way biopics for so long dominated by white, male stories approach female subjects. Theres no doubt that we are in the midst of a particularly rich period for female-led real-life dramas. Alongside independent productions such as Nico, 1988 and Christine (about TV news anchor Christine Chubbuck), Hollywood has also got…………………”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/aug/05/female-biopics-nico-tonya-harding-womens-true-stories-being-told-at-last

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How did Mission: Impossible become Hollywood’s most reliable franchise?

Charmaine Blake

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Critical adoration and box office success has met the sixth installment of Tom Cruises series, an unlikely 22-year phenomenon that shows no signs of tiring

“Lets take a moment to appreciate the preposterousness of Mission: Impossible. Not the rubber masks or the exploding gum sticks or the nuclear countdown clocks that always stop with one second till death. (The usual, Ving Rhames Luther Stickell would shrug.) All franchises have their implausibilities, whether its Transformers sentient cars or the Fast and Furious sentient Vin Diesels. But only the Mission: Impossible franchise has gotten better reviews with every installment, climbing its way up the Rotten Tomatoes rankings as though wearing electromagnetic gloves. Bruce Willis cant make a good Die Hard happen. But this weekend, Mission: Impossible Fallout had the best critical approval of Tom Cruises entire career, better even than the three films that scored him Oscar nominations, and his second-highest box office opening ever, just under 2005s War of the Worlds. Fallout probably would have beaten that, too, if MoviePass hadnt glitched.

Kudos to Cruise for making the most of a career he never meant to have. Mission: Impossible is also an outlier……………….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jul/30/mission-impossible-tom-cruise-reliable-franchise

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Blindspotting: Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal on Race, Comedy, and Poetic Justice for Oakland

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“We meet Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal), the best friend duo at the heart of Blindspotting, in the parking lot of an Oakland, California burger joint called Kwik Way. Its the grand reopening of the beloved city chain, which, under new owners, has overhauled its fast food menu with health trend bait like whole wheat buns and wedged potato french fries. The lifelong friends and Oakland natives arent too happy with the result. Why should I have to specify that I want meat on my burger, Miles fumes when he discovers that he was served a veggie patty by default.

We soon learn that this bougie Kwik Way iteration stands as a microcosm of a city in flux: Rising prices are driving out original Oakland communities to lure and make way for wealthy transplants. Employed at a moving company, Collin and Miles are forced to witness this migration firsthand. Together, they cruise around the city in a giant moving truck, gutting and refurbishing homes that will soon be filled with tech bros and culture vultures. Collin and Miles are able to make light of it all, riffing on the invasion of absurd hipster bicycles, uppity corporate types, and $10 green juice at their local bodega with jokes, banter, and impromptu freestyle rapping.

But pulsing beneath the witticisms and rhyming verse is an anxious beat. The mens hometown is becoming more expensive, more homogenous, and more vanilla, and theres nothing they can do but try to stomach it. During one moving job at a gallery, the pair is tasked with packing up photographs of local urban landscapes superimposed with oak trees. Trunks sprout out of building roofs and highways and other places they no longer grow like arboreal apparitions. During another assignment in a decrepit house, Collin, who is black, finds a dusty photo album of the black family who used to live there. He raps softly to himself as he flips through the photos. Like the oak trees, each smiling face is a ghost of the displaced.

Nobody understands the tragedy behind these changes better than costars Diggs and Casal, who also collaborated to write the films screenplay. The pair grew up together in Oakland and have been tossing around ideas for the movie for around a decade. The identity of a place being a thing thats not……………..”

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/hamiltons-daveed-diggs-and-rafael-casal-on-the-poetic-justice-of-blindspotting

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