‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’: The End of an Era

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a solid closing to a 42-year story that must sacrifice its thematic choices in the process.

CREDIT: Lucasfilm LTD

The newest and final installment in the Skywalker story has arrived and with it brings an array of controversy that is not foreign to Star Wars. Rey, Finn, Poe, Leia, and the whole gang are back for one final mission to bring down the first order in the new film directed by J.J. Abrams. The final story in the new trilogy that started in 2015 with Abram’s The Force Awakens and continued by Rían Johnson’s 2017 movie, The Last Jedi was met with a mixed critical reception and has once again left the fandom of Star Wars polarized.

There is a lot of things that The Rise of Skywalker does right, but the picture is far from being perfect. The first twenty minutes of the film are very rushed and feel out of place with the overall film. They feel like an epilogue to what could have been Abrams’ Episode VIII. Once the action and story really start to flesh itself out, you are once again reminded about what makes Star Wars a cultural phenomenon.

The movie has heart, laughs, and tear-jerking moments that made this man transport back to age 6 when I fell in love with a galaxy far far away. Sadly, there are character choices and some dialogue that does not land as well I thought it could have that makes this my least favorite in the new trilogy. Underneath the chaos of a movie that is just good, there is a movie that can grow on you with multiple rewatches.

Go watch The Rise of Skywalker in theaters and may the force be with you, always.

Grade: C+, 4/5, or 7.5/10

‘Marriage Story’: An Intimate Story of Divorce That Breaks You Apart

Director Noah Baumbach crafts a meaningful emotional piece of art that just cannot stick the landing even with its incredible performances.

CREDIT: Netflix

This story of the divorce of a couple trying to get past a troublesome relationship between each other is written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The film stars Adam Driver as Charlie Barber a famous theater director in New York City who is undergoing a divorce alongside his soon to be ex wife Nicole Barber who is building her acting career in Los Angeles portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. The picture also includes an incredible performance by Laura Dean as she plays the lawyer helping Nicole Barber.

I am not one that says I have high expectations for movies. I think movies are consumed best when we enter the theater without any notions of what we want the movie to give us. That’s how I went into Marriage Story but came out not entirely satisfied.

The film is incredibly performed by Johansson and Driver, and if you were to just rely on the performances itself than this is as perfect as it gets. The plot feels a bit rushed especially for it pretty long runtime. There are some odd editing choices that made the movie feel a little out of place. It also feels a bit lopsided, for example I felt that it was a film majorly concentrating on Charlie and not Nicole, which could’ve been improved by adding a bit more depth to her character.

Marriage Story is one of my favorite movies of this year but has been a difficult one to put up against other incredible releases this year like Parasite, The Farewell, and Honey Boy. Noah Baumbach’s picture asks us to do probably one of the hardest things us humans can do and that is to feel. I recommend you all give this movie a chance like I did, and not listen to people on the internet posting a scene from the movie passing judgment without context.

Watch Marriage Story on Netflix today or if you can catch it in a theater near you still definitely do that!

‘Parasite’: The Anxiety Inducing Masterpiece from Bong Joon-ho that Delivers on all Cylinders

Parasite is Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece of 2019 that takes a simple family drama and creates a layered thriller about classism.

CREDIT: CJ Entertainment/Neon

Parasite, the 2019 Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival directed by Bong Joon-ho and written by him and Han Jin-wan. The film follows the family of father Kim Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, son Ki-woo, and daughter Ki-jeong as they infiltrate the Park family house to gain jobs to hopefully pull themselves out of their impoverished life.

This is not the first time that Bong Joon-ho has brought a hit to the United States. Bong Joon-ho directed 2006’s The Host, 2013’s Snowpiercer, and 2017’s Okja that was released on Netflix. Parasite won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and since then would come to the US to sprout some interesting conversations. As we approach The Academy Awards those conversation have begun to circle around the film getting a Best Picture nomination.

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is a tour de force of a film, and is one that weeks after watching is still lingering throughout my head. There has been a small amount of movies this year that have done the same like The Farewell, The Lighthouse, and Honey Boy. The film is masterfully crafted by the cast and crew throughout its runtime of two hours and twelve minutes. The story grips you and absolutely never lets you go even after its incredibly executed climax that left me speechless. The theme of classism is profoundly present throughout the picture and creates an interesting theme to talk even after the credits roll on the silver screen.

Director Bong Joon-ho has truly created one of or possibly the best movie of 2019. Parasite is a film that we will be including in discussions when we speak on the medium of filmmaking for years after 2019. Watch Parasite at your local theater that is showing it before this year ends!

Jay & Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow

An Experience

Sometimes life works in mysterious ways to make sure you don’t fuck yourself over from experiencing some of those moments you will never forget. This is that story. (Skip the next two paragraphs if you want to only know about the show and not how I got there).

So, let’s take a journey back to about five months before December 6th where I come across a Kevin Smith (follow him you fools) twitter post decreeing that he and his heterosexual life mate, Jay Mewes, would be taking America (and possibly parts of Canada) by storm promoting their newest film “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. In my nerd hype state at that moment, I purchase one ticket (this will be a mistake, trust me) for $60 and message three of my best friends telling them about it. They seem hyped enough and I, expecting they would be prudent in their purchase to join me, leave the matter in their hands (second mistake). This, in turn, would come to bite me straight in the ass as I had forgotten a key element, that these group of friends are literally the worst at following up on anything (I moved into my house 3 years ago, and none of them have driven the hour and thirty minutes to come see me. Oh well.).

So, here I am holding a ticket to an event to see THE Kevin Smith, one of my personal favorite directors (and king nerd) and just a straight up cool dude. Having watched all his Q&A’s on DVD, I never thought that I would get this chance to see the man in the flesh. Unfortunately, anxiety has a funny way of fucking with you and I told my wife that I didn’t want to go by myself. Reluctantly, I post my ticket on StubHub for $100 (Figured I might as well get $40 for my trouble). Months go by and my ticket stays unsold, so I’ve sold my fate as to being fucked. But, there always appears a light at the end of the tunnel (sometimes it’s a bus, but whatever). Anyways, there had been another ticket that had went up about the same time as mine for the low, low price of $320. As I do not have Kevin Smith money, I said “No thank you”. However, 5 months later that ticket’s price dropped down to $120 (Yes, I know double the original) and luckily for the seller of that particular ticket I was stuck in a Phoenix hotel with nothing to keep me entertained. So, I de-listed my ticket, said “Fuck it” and purchased another ticket to bring my wife along for the ride.

The Myth, The Legend, The BOB

Fast forward this story to the night of the show. After an hour and a half drive, we arrive in the parking lot of The Loft Cinema (btw, I had never been to this movie house) which I doubt had been updated since the 70’s. Neon and the light from the marquee illuminated an old school, silver travel trailer that had been converted into a food and wine truck (We skipped this attraction as I just wanted to find two seats before we were left sitting in opposite ends of the theater. BTW, this show was also sold out. Tucson showed up.) We manage to find seats and patiently waited. I can honestly say, I have never felt more comfortable in a theater of people before. If you couldn’t find a nerd in Tucson, it was because they were all here to support a buddy movie featuring a mute in a trench coat and his blond, loud-mouthed co-star. I was so excited to even have made it this far. About 15 minutes later, our efforts to get to this point would be greeted with a much more trim Kevin Smith, from the one I had seen on those DVD’s, who would go on to express how this was his 53rd sold out show, how this movie was one big personal love fest for Kevin Smith by Kevin Smith as Kevin Smith was the biggest fan of Kevin Smith, and how he thanks everyone for showing up (and probably overpaying) to see him and his friend do the same thing they had been doing for 25 years. He would go on to introduce Mewes who had apparently been pulled from an update of Fortnite, but was ecstatic for this showing as he had family in the audience who had attended. They also went on to show us three, hilarious and creative, audible ads featuring Jay and Silent Bob before they started “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. S/O to audible for sponsoring this tour along with our own little podcast. Get a free trial by going to audibletrial.com/thenerdcorps.

I don’t want to be that guy who spoils, so I’ll try and keep my descriptions as simple as possible about the movie. If you’re a fan of any movies about or featuring Jay & Silent Bob (from Clerks to Dogma to Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) expect to laugh from the beginning to the end of this film. There’s no time for oxygen in some places. Expect for big, celebrity cameos as Smith guilt tripped anyone and everyone he knew to be in the film after his heart attack (he confirmed this himself in the Q&A). Jay Mewes’ performance will give you those nostalgic fits of laughter along with some pretty well formed scenes which will pull on the heart strings. The stand out star in this film is strangely neither of the characters whose name graces the title, but Kevin Smith’s own daughter Harley Quinn Smith. Though Jay and Silent Bob bring the laughs, it is Harley who drives the movie forward and gives Mewes the chance to flex some acting muscles we had rarely seen in previous works. She along with a great supporting cast and possibly the most celebrity cameos to ever be put on the big screen, help to create a feel good, fun time at the movies, where we can properly show our appreciation for Kevin Smith’s creation to honor Kevin Smith. (And yes, Ben Affleck is totally in this movie).

I will just say, if you are lucky enough to make it to the Roadshow, please stay for the Question and Answer segment after the show. Kevin Smith gives honest, heartfelt, and hilarious answers to random questions fans throw out there. I will tell one story from this because I think people need to know how caring these two guys are.

Yes, those are giant inflatable joints that they gave away to audience members.

One of the audience members went on to tell Kevin how thankful she was that he made movies and how she and her husband’s first date was to see “Jersey Girl”. But, she also expressed how her husband had passed away three years ago and she had come to the show to show Smith and Mewes support as she knew that’s what her husband would have wanted. She goes on to ask if this was the final movie for Jay and Silent Bob. Kevin Smith proceeds to bring her on stage and give her a hug (Mewes also gets a hug out of it) and then Smith holds her hand the whole time while answering her question. Which, by the way, both a Clerks 3 and Mall Rats 2 are currently going into production. I think this experience shows why Kevin Smith is one of the most beloved directors of our age. He is super appreciative that the “one magic trick” he was capable of with the creation of Clerks has paid off for the last 25 years because of the fans. (If you weren’t aware, Clerks was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry about a week ago).

To give this movie a rating (as is The Nerd Corps way) would be difficult to say the least. I know the experience of this film would be far different if I had been alone on my couch instead of watching this film in a packed theater full of Jay and Silent Bob fans including the real life versions of Jay and Silent Bob (and honestly, I think this was one of the best dates my wife and I have ever gone on. So, thanks Kevin). So, in lieu of a rating, I will say just to go watch the movie when it drops on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Amazon Prime on January 31, 2020 or before hand if you can make it to one of the stops on the Reboot Roadshow and decide for yourself.

I can safely say that this night will be embedded into my memory until I cease to exist and I am damn glad I decided to go out of my comfort zone and see great people creating great things. YoungYoda out.

‘1917’: A Bold World War I Film That Cannot Break Out of its Own Chamber

1917 is an incredibly crafted war film that offers nothing past the surface of its impeccable technical merits.

CREDIT: Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

1917 is the new World War I film directed by Sam Mendes written by him and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. The picture stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as two soldiers who journey to relay a message to hold off an ambush at the frontlines during the height of The Great War. Roger E. Deakins also reunites with Sam Mandes as cinematographer since 2012’s Skyfall.

The film is masterfully crafted, the sound design is exquisite, production design is superb, and of course the cinematography by Deakins is absolutely jaw dropping amazing. It feels like a single one take except for one instance in the movie but other than that it truly flowed like Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance to recount another film that has done the same. The sound design and mixing stood out to me the most, the explosives, reloading of the rifles, and planes coming in truly make you feel like you are right there on the war front of the picture.

Sadly, that is all that the movie could offer. The technical characteristics feel like they are the one and only important part of this movie throughout its very dragged out paced runtime. I never felt captivated or interested by the story because I felt as if the story was of little importance. 1917 just feels like there’s all these incredible chances for storytelling but it never makes it past the surface. Don’t get me wrong, this is an anxiety inducing movie and really does work if you want to see the isolating brutality of war. I was just disappointed that the story was not executed as well as it could have been.

I am still very interested to see what else Sam Mendes does in his next movie. Make sure to watch 1917 when it launches in the United States on December 25th, 2019 and January 10th, 2020 in the United Kingdom.