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Disney's Star Wars Scoundrel™ Problem

😈 He's a Tramp, But I Love Him... Since taking over LucasFilm, Disney has developed a bit of a scoundrel problem. Not that there's too many, per se --scoundrels make for great characters. Han Solo is one of the most iconic scoundrels in all of cinema. But since they started making  Star Wars  content, Disney has gone all-in on anti-heroes, scamps, and ne'er-do-wells. The problem is, though... they kind of suck at writing them. I mentioned this being one of the main problems plaguing  The Book of Boba Fett , but it's endemic to the franchise at this point and goes back at  least  as far as  Rogue One . Now, don't get me wrong, I liked  Rogue One  quite a bit, and not just because I was crushing super hard on Felicity Jones at the time. But think about Jyn Erso's character progression in that movie. And if your immediate reaction to that question is "What character progression?" then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Jyn makes practically no
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Consumed With Hate: In Defense Of Food

🌱 Feed Me, Seymour... The Crime:  In Defense Of Food: An Eater's Manifesto The Guilty Party: Michael Pollan Overview: Read words. Mostly books. Not this one. Why I Hate It... There's some good advice in this book. The cover, for instance, has the words "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." That's pretty sound advice, if you ask me. And you can pretty much just stop at the cover. This one angered me more or less from page one. I went into it expecting to like it, and I was immediately repulsed. At least a portion of the blame must go to the narrator Scott Brick, who performs the audiobook with maximum condescending smarm. It's whatever the exact opposite of charming  is. But Brick was reading from a terrible script, and the end result was bad enough that I found myself constantly reacting against it--even during the times when I knew Pollan's facts were right. He correctly, for instance, dives into the technical obstacles of doing good food science and

Consumed With Hate: The Book of Boba Fett

🚀 Any Trick In The Book, Now Baby... The Crime:  The Book of Boba Fett The Guilty Party: Jon Favreau Overview: Less a TV show than a collection of fan service and poorly-executed ideas all chess-pieced together into a meaningless action set-piece finale. Why I Hate It... Do you know the difference between a story and a premise? This isn't a set up to a joke or anything. It is, rather, the sort of question that comes up if you spend enough time hanging around with writers. A premise is simply an idea. For it to be a story  you need a character journey rooted in the choices of the protagonist. You need stakes. You need agency. You need an internal conflict that must be overcome. If you don't have that central character journey, then all you're left with is just a bunch of stuff that happens, divorced from meaning or consequence--full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. This is the classic amateur writer mistake. Newbie writers  love  a good premise. They have cool ideas a

Consumed With Hate: Keep Moving

🕺 I Like To Move It, Move It... The Crime:  Keep Moving: And Other Truths About Living Well Longer The Guilty Party: Dick Van Dyke Overview: The more you learn about Van Dyke's personal life, the more he comes off as a gigantic douche. Why I Hate It... I have a lot of affection for Dick Van Dyke. I grew up watching Mary Poppins  and reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show . (Yes, especially the walnut episode!) So I borrowed this from the library expecting it to be charming and familiar and warm and fuzzy--like a favorite bedtime story as narrated by Morgan Freeman. Ostensibly a how-to guide for the nonagenarian, I thought it would secretly be a blend of philosophy and memoir with a dash of the self-deprecating humor and unflinching geniality that was the core of his appeal as a young actor. What I got instead was rambling Hallmark-channel dreck, overwrought and presented in seemingly random order with such wide-eyed sincerity that it begins to slip into self-parody. Is this... is this a

Consumed With Hate? Sucker Punch

🥊 Mama Said Knock You Out... The Crime:  Sucker Punch The Guilty Party: Zack Snyder Overview: Snyder crafts a hyper-stylized meditation on feminism and audience complicity in sexual-violence-by-proxy that fails on just about every level but you kind of have to admire it for what it's trying to do. Why I Don't Completely Hate It... Another week, another content warning for sexual assault. We'll do something lighter next week, I promise. I am not a Zack Snyder fan. There are things he's good at, for sure: He's got a distinct and well-executed auteur style (I don't love it, but it's definitely singular and finely crafted); he's got a great sense of scene geography during chaotic action sequences; he's got a vibrant visual imagination; and he's great at shot composition. He uses these talents to create instantly-recognizable and iconic visual tableaus. The things he's not so good at, however, are the things that I really care about in my stories

Consumed With Hate: Atonement

🪖 We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert... The Crime:  Atonement The Guilty Party: Joe Wright, but mostly Ian McEwan Overview: A gorgeous and tragic period drama ends with a soul-crushing rug pull. Why I Hate It... Content warning for sexual assault, and oh by the way I need to spoil the ending in order to discuss it. Atonement  is a 2007 period film directed by Joe Wright based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Ian McEwan. It's a moody period piece that balances stories of lost love with jealousy, tragedy, and guilt into a gorgeous tableau. Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey creates painterly vistas that juxtapose the bleak horror of war against small moments of beauty. It received rave reviews for its texture and nuance--and it's acting, which included a star-making turn from a then 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was one of the most highly-regarded films of its year. And oh my god, I hated it so much! The movie foll

Fixing "The Last Airbender"

🛠️ I Will Try To Fix You... A few weeks ago I posted about how terrible M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender  was. Something that I didn't really have space for in the post was that the movie is more than anything else a failure of adaptation. Don't get me wrong, it's still badly shot, badly edited, badly acted, badly designed, etc. But at the heart of it all is a terrible script and fixing that would at least be a first step towards getting a competent director to turn it into a film that's at least  mediocre. So let's talk about the challenges of that adaptation. The first issue is one of scope. Season one of Avatar: The Last Airbender  is roughly seven hours of television. Now, a lot of it is very episodic and can be condensed down into montage so you can focus on the fundamental story, but the story is big and there's a lot of ground to cover. We need to introduce our principle trio, the relevant backstory, as well as introduce our primary villain f