Posts From Author: apocalypse now

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: Five Things We Learned

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise by Chris Taylor NY: Basic Books, 2014; 488pp Star Wars Episode VII has a title — The Force Awakens — as you can’t have failed to notice if you switched on the internet last week. Great timing, as I spent last week taking suspiciously long lunch breaks to read Chris Taylor’s new history of the series, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise (Basic Books, 2014). Although Taylor is not endorsed by Lucasfilm, the Force is nevertheless strong with him. His fanboy credentials are never in doubt, even as he manages to maintain a decent editorial distance throughout. The book doubles as a partial biography of George Lucas, Star Wars‘ Creator (the biblical proper noun maintained throughout). Taylor takes us from Lucas’s childhood in Modesto, CA, a town which would serve as inspiration for his first big hit, American Graffiti (1973), to the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 and the announcements surrounding Episode VII. Along the way, Taylor makes stops in some of the darker, less explored corners of the Star Wars universe. Here are five things I learned. 1. You can watch Star Wars in Navajo. […]
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Do The Movies Have A Future?

“Is the theater really dead?” asked Simon & Garfunkel once upon a time. Forty-five years later, and at the height of the movies’ annual silly season, one might well ask the same of the cinema. Whither the great American movie? Whither directors of integrity and vision? Whither criticism? These are the questions David Denby poses in his excellent collection Do The Movies Have A Future? (Simon & Schuster, 2012). It’s mostly reprints of his New Yorker articles but reworked and reordered to orbit his central worries. These include so-called “conglomerate aesthetics”, the notion that it’s “not only possibly but increasingly easy to attract audiences by making movies badly”, the loss of lyricism in the rise of digital cinema, and a decline in ethical seriousness in criticism. Sound grim? Worry not: Denby’s no wallower. Alongside sharp critiques of the movie industry as it currently stands are a series of lucid, sometimes rapturous readings of a selection of the greatest recent American movies, including Capote, The Tree of Life, Winter’s Bone, The Social Network, and (to my mind the best) There Will Be Blood. In the book’s final pages, we even find Denby an unlikely advocate for 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This isn’t stuffy stuff; Denby […]
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