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A Real New Hope

Ashley Walton —  November 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

So by now, the Star Wars stuff is old news. Disney bought Lucasfilm and they’re gonna make episodes 7, 8, and 9 with episode 7 projected to come out in 2015. I hear a lot of the same things from Star Wars fans– some relieved, some angry, but I thought I’d throw in my two cents (this is the internet, after all).

I’m not gonna lie– I’m excited. I sent texts to brothers and nephews, and I went nuts on Twitter and Facebook during the live conference call. Now let me clarify, my excitement is not naive. I’ve been burned by Star Wars before. I’ll never forget my supreme disappointment when I skipped school to see Episode I in theaters opening day, only to find it was about trade legislation (this was only after I’d bought Episode I action figures, gushed over Darth Maul’s look, and dawned Queen Amidala’s makeup for the opening). I think episodes 1 through 3 are beyond boring, and I think Empire Strikes Back is the only truly well-made Star Wars film, though I love the world with all its creatures and characters.

Having established my scorn, I’m still elated that the baton has been passed and someone else is going to give it a go. Will it suck? Maybe. But looking at Disney’s relationship with Marvel, I have hope for Star Wars yet. And whatever happens, I’m thrilled at the prospect of episodes 7–9, which have only been discussed in hushed tones, and I’m relieved they’re being made by someone other than Lucas. If Lucas were making them, I don’t think I would even see them.

Lucas came up with a wonderful world, and he is one admirable philanthropist– I don’t think anyone should ever let him write or direct. Neither of those things are his strengths, nor his talents (geez, the guy made Natalie Portman look like a bad actor, for crying out loud). I know Lucas has had a hard time coming to terms with his angry fans and trusting his beloved ideas to others, but in the end, selling Lucasfilm is the best thing he could have done for his fans, and it’s the most selfless thing he’s done for his fans in years. I’m optimistic about the future (er, or the past, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away).

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This is my kind of comedy. Fair warning: I don’t like a lot of comedies that other, more socially adept people enjoy. When I’m asked to name some of my favorite funny films I might say, Amélie, Being John Malkovitch, or The Cabin in the Woods. Most wouldn’t name any of those as a laugh riot comedy, but hey, to each her own. Sleepwalk with Me takes some of the dark, uncomfortable parts of life and makes them something to laugh at. The star and writer Mike Birbiglia might be likened to a less suicidal-sounding Louis C.K., a man who knows how to make sad humor sound honest, which is why it works. The main character’s narration is at once deeply personal and relatable. It’s also based on true events (and not like how The Exorcism of Emily Rose was based on “true events,” but actually based on personal essays by the writer, which have been featured on NPR’s This American Life).

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In Book Talk, I recap what I’ve read lately and what I’d recommend to whom. I’m always looking for new books, so I’d love suggestions for what I should read next!

For anyone:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I’m not gonna lie. I’m one of those people who saw the trailer for the upcoming film and thought “Oh no! I’ve gotta read the book before the movie comes out!” But then of course I refused to buy the movie book cover. It’s a book I’d always intented to read but had never gotten around to, and I’m glad I finally did. This book reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye, but with a more innocent narrator. It had some parts that made me feel more alive, and it had other parts that made me deeply sad. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It’s not just for angsty teenagers.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Robot & Frank is set in the near future, when robots can cook your meals, clean your house, and create a garden in your backyard. Frank suffers from memory loss in his older years and receives a robot as a gift to help him with daily tasks.

While I waited for this film to start, I sat in an artsy theater, surrounded by people who were obviously many years my senior, and I wondered if I’d made the right decision in seeing this film. Apparently I’m ageist, but I wondered if I’d be able to relate to the main character enough to enjoy the experience. It turns out I related to him terrifyingly too well.

As someone who fears the loss of tangible media, as well as the thought of robots someday being much smarter than me, I had no problem seeing Frank’s point of view. But as Frank’s mind deteriorates, the robot becomes a sounding board, reflection, and retainer of Frank’s thoughts, fears, and talents. Initially, I was turned off by the film’s tagline: “Friendship doesn’t have an off switch.” But by the end of the film, I had an emotional connection to the robot, too, since it represented an “out” for a crumbling mind, not the actuality of a sentient friend.

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