Going to ECCC? Visit Amy King in the Artist Alley!

One of the nice things about creating the Return to the Stars role-playing game is the chance to collaborate with great artists!

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Amy created this sci-fi take on Elizabethan costume.

 

And illustrator, character designer, comic artist and writer, Amy has recently done work for Dark Horse, as she has two great independent comics of her own (The Muse Mentor and Harlowe Vanished).

She’s at Booth R5 in the Artist Alley,  with art prints and stickers for sale.

 

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Delusions and Grandeur: Last Jedi Splits It Down the Middlebrow

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Did you see Last Jedi and love it? Great, I’m happy for you!

Did you see Last Jedi and have a bad time? I’m sorry to hear it. Unless you disliked it because the cast looks vaguely like America rather being an endless parade of white male heroes. If that’s your beef: drop dead.

Perhaps, like me, you were ambivalent–let’s sort through what worked and didn’t.

The Good:

Rey’s story—the film deepens our understanding of who Rey is and what motivates her: a need to understand her place in the world. The narrative takes unexpected turns and is visually interesting. Treating Supreme Leader Snoke as disposable as a mouse droid was bold and useful choice. Rian Johnson may be selfishly serving *this* story at the expense of Star Wars as a whole (Mark Hamill first reaction was undoubtedly correct: Last Jedi is untrue to Luke’s character, and false to the themes of the core trilogy) but at least this part of the movie is true to itself in interesting ways—such as having the “dark side” pit that Luke can’t bear merely show Rey endless variations of reflections herself.

It was nice to see Yoda back in trickster mode.

The action sequences were paced interestingly while also being legible. This may seem like damning with faint praise but, honestly, so many blockbusters can’t thread this needle.

The Bad:

The other half of the movie.

Can one create a war movie that focuses on the heroism of endurance? Sure, this year Nolen did a great job with Dunkirk. Johnson failure here isn’t the story he chooses to tell, but rather his incompetence and inconsistency in dealing with plot, themes and characters.

Alyssa Rosenburg carefully examines plot contrivances and thematic inanities in her masterful essay It’s time to Stop Grading Movies like ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ on a Curve.

I’ll simply note that, despite Lucas’s limitations as a writer, the Original Star Wars movie managed to clearly and quickly define each major character in few bold strokes. You knew who Han or C3P0 were after a few lines of dialog. This absurdly long second film leaves audiences with no idea who Poe or Rose are at their core, and it merely regurgitates Finn’s minimal characterization from Force Awakens. That we care about these characters is a testament to skills of three great actors, ill served by weak scripts.

A popular argument is that the blight of Canto was needed to reinforce the themes of the movie. That’s absurd. This isn’t a freakin art film. Rian Johnson isn’t Jodie Mack making Let Your Light Shine and using abstract images to interrogate the role of decoration in our lives.

In a popular film themes are explored through the story arc of clearly defined characters whose growth as individuals illustrates some moral point. That didn’t happen here. Instead we got muddled meanderings masquerading as middlebrow rumination.

No doubt there will be a fan edit that removes much of the pointless parking violation driven plot. Hacking out a half hour will make the film better, sadly it can’t conjure up the real character development Finn, Rose and Poe deserved, but didn’t get.

SATs: signifying nothing. Peerless mixes Macbeth and college admissions

Company One will stage the first-ever live theatre run at the Boston Public Library this weekend.  Peerless recasts Macbeth as a tale of twins ruthlessly competing for admission to an elite college.  Performances begin Thursday, April 27 at 7 p.m. and continue through May 28, 2017 as part of “All the City’s a Stage: A Season of Shakespeare.”

 

Post-Meridian Radio Players production of Peter Pan premieres this evening

The Post-Meridian Radio Players are premiering an original full-length adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan this evening in Davis Square.  There are 7 performances and the radio drama runs through April 29th.

Given there are several “family friendly matinees” ones suspects that adaptation doesn’t focus on the Pan’s sociopathic behavior towards the lost boys, as documented in the original novel: “when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out”

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Everyman opens at the Apollinaire Theatre in Chelsea

The Apollinaire Theatre Company is helping Chelsea become center of creative innovation.  Their new black box theater will host some both old and new with Everyman a contemporary reimagining of a 15th century morality play by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.  It opens tonight and runs through May 6th.

You can see the playwright talk about Everyman in this video from the original National Theatre production.

Festival fav “I Am Not Your Negro” screens @IFFBoston Fall Focus tonight

The Fall Focus series continues this evening at the Brattle Theatre with a screening of a documentary based on an unfinished James Baldwin manuscript. The filmmaker connects Baldwin’s words, narrated by Samuel L Jackson, to both the historical civil rights and black power movements, and to the struggles of today.

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The Handmaiden: deceit and desire war in a scoundrel targeting an heiress. @IFFBoston.

IFFBoston continues at the Brattle tonight with The Handmaiden.Set in the 1930s this intense, stylized film tells the of a Korean pickpocket who is drawn towards an Japanese heiress she is meant to defraud. But there are wheels within wheels, as the complicated plot unfolds in three acts.  Complications arise not just from individuals scheming, but also Japanese colonialism, patriarchy and class divisions.  But it’s set pieces of lust (and brief moments of grotesque violence) that stand out.  At the Brattle this evening.