Friday, September 30, 2016

Star Wars Episode II: Send in the Clones, Don't Bother, They're Here

This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.

Those fateful words will basically serve as the epitaph of an entire age of cinema. To most modern movie goers, those are words of a bygone era, but to cinephiles of certain age, they were a constant reminder of the subpar state of our home video versions of films. In those dark times, before the advent of the widescreen TV, audiences were forced to suffer through releases of films where it was possible that upwards of fifty percent of the image was chopped off just to account for the vast difference in aspect ratios between the original film stock and our televisions. In our darkest hour, "widescreen" versions of movies were paraded as some kind of special edition. Basically, it was a fucking travesty.

It always seemed appropriate to me, then, that out of my entire Star Wars movie collection, the only DVD that still bore those terrible words--Full Screen Edition--emblazoned across the top, those same, terrible words that were no doubt inscribed on the very gates of hell themselves, was my copy of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, my least favourite of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

I have a distinct memory of sitting on my roommmate's bed watching a trailer for Star Wars Episode II on his Mac and wondering aloud about the effectiveness of the subtitle Attack of the Clones. I don't remember exactly what it was that I said, but I do remember that it wasn't positive. I wasn't so much unimpressed as I was bewildered. For whatever reason, it didn't seem Star Wars-ian enough to me. It didn't seem to fit with my idea of Star Wars, which was, of course, the obviously correct one, and George Lucas and everyone else be damned.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wishing a Final Farewell to the Waco Kid

Immortalized by perhaps his most iconic role as Willy Wonka in the 1971 classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder was known and beloved by generations of movie-goers, whether they knew his name or not. He was a singular comedic talent, and his death on August 29, 2016, was a particularly poignant loss. I must admit here (somewhat sheepishly) that a few years back I assumed that since I hadn't seen him in anything for a while that he was already dead, but it turns out he had consciously taken a step back from the Hollywood scene, and then in recent years he was out of the public eye most likely due to his battle with Alzheimer's.

Myself, I was never a real fan of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was wacky, and Gene Wilder owned the shit out of that role and was the single reason the character of Willy Wonka became so iconic in the first place, but it never sat right with me. It was filled with terrible characters doing terrible things to each other wrapped up in a terrible message, which wouldn't be so bad if Willy Wonka wasn't specifically trying to impart a moral to its intended young audiences, as children's movies tend to do, much to the detriment of society at large.