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06 January 2016 @ 01:15 am
So, I saw Star Wars... [Spoiler free, but opinionated]  
I did not expect to see Star Wars. But when I got home from work just before 8pm because I NEED A NEW JOB, poor old Mr B who has been sick as a dog since Boxing Day, leapt up and said MOVIE NIGHT! And given his state of illness (throaty, chesty, achey horror), I felt I had to go along with this plan.

I thought the writing was really lazy, though competent, but I liked the direction, acting, design, editing and music. And I am prepared to give a bit over two hours of my life for the sight of two stormtroopers backing away Slowly and Quietly. I laughed vey loudly.

However. If you're a writer, give your readers a reason for things. A real reason, not 'he's the best pilot in the Resistance' – that's a description. Something like "Poe grew up in the Resistance. He's been flying these planes since he was eight. Stealing them since he was nine, but he never broke one, so we didn't complain …' or 'I met a pilot from the Rebellion when I was 16, and while he told me stories of laying down covering fire on the Death Star attack, I realised, that's what I really wanted to be. So every minute since then, that's what I've trained for. I found out years later that he just ferried the X-Wings around, but by then, I was flight leader, so I didn't hold it against him.'

I just want films that acknowledge that, most of the time, you get good at things by doing things. And that work has worth and value to it and can be a part of the story that makes your character a person.

Which, obviously, means I should say 'Oh, let's watch something small' the next time Mr B has a hankering for big budget. But it was fun, and I didn't need to worry my poor overtaxed brain, and those stormtroopers will bring me joy for years to come.
anna_wing on January 5th, 2016 02:30 pm (UTC)
There's a tie-in novel (or rather, three novellas) by Greg Rucka, called "Before The Awakening", about Poe, Finn and Rey, giving a fair amount of the background that they left out of the film.

Since Poe was a bit part, really, perhaps they will expand a bit on him in the next ones. I don't like having useful information conveyed only in ancillary material but the needs of marketing override all else.

I was still not convinced at Finn's sudden change of heart. Allegiance yes, the boy is obviously desperate to attach himself to something, having left the First Order. The absolute antithesis of a loner. But surely their training and indoctrination would have dealt with basic things like "How Not To Be Upset About Shooting Civilians, Whether Innocent Or Not".

At least the film showed a fair bit of how tough and clever Rey has had to be to survive her life, which made sense of her competence in the film (the book explains her piloting skills too - a scavenged New Republic flight simulator training programme).

Edited at 2016-01-05 02:30 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 8th, 2016 01:47 pm (UTC)
The Finn characterisation was the most problematic for me, because there were LOADS of reason why he didn't want to be upset in that scene, from bad conditioning to a sense of justice at the massive disparity in force, but we're not given any idea of what's going on. The most rational reading is that he's upset about shooting civilians, except that also makes no sense, because the civilians start shooting as soon as the New Order forces land.

Mr B read it as he's meant to be a coward, but then he's brave as can be the minute he meets Rey. In fact, before that, the escape is pretty damned ballsy, too. Sigh.

Fully agree that at least with Rey there is some way of seeing why she is who she is. I;ll have to hunt down the book and see if it helps :-)
anna_wing on January 11th, 2016 04:25 am (UTC)
I really don't think that a coward would have made it past stormtrooper training. That would have to be one of the basic things that the system would be set up to spot and eliminate, one way or the other.

I forgot that the civilians were the ones that initiated hostilities. Perhaps Finn was upset that his buddy got killed. And then everything blew up with the captured pilot, and he acted on impulse while still in a destabilised condition (not having had time to report for reconditioning)and things just escalated from there. It would be fun if later films showing him changing his mind and deciding that he can't stand how badly run the New Republic is and going back to the First Order.
ravurianravurian on January 5th, 2016 03:07 pm (UTC)
I agree with you: the writing was utterly lazy. What this means in practical terms is that there is a lot of room for fandom to come in and fix it, which I suppose is ace in terms of those interacting with the fandom. For myself, though, I just want the writers to do their job and do the work. I don't want the heavy lifting to be outsourced to the fans. The thing that I most missed from this film was the politics, I think; the why of it all. Politics was a huge part in the previous films, even those dodgy ones we don't like to talk to. This one had a whole load of hand-waving, and no one cared that the seat of power for the republic was destroyed. No one reacted to those billions of souls who presumably cried out and were silenced. And, you know, 30 years after their victory, the rebel fleet is still around (what are they rebelling against now?) and the republic is not synonymous with the rebels, and the First Order stands for... what, apart from a rather sleek aesthetic? Ugh. I should back away because this film was not talking to me, and I should be fine with that. Um.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 8th, 2016 01:57 pm (UTC)
YES! How can the Senate be such an incredible threat if they can be wiped out with five planets? Were those planets vital economic resources, or the outsourced capitals of twelve star systems? WE JUST DON'T KNOW!!!!

I didn't really see the prequels. I reviewed the first one and found it all so baffling and irritating that I wasn't invited to the other two after my honest review. Oops. Certainly wasn't going to pay for them!

The annoying thing for me was that I could see how it could have been good if it had a bit more thought in it, but they just settled for making it slick. Mr B ranted the whole way home: 'WHY have the Nuremberg Rally –– and I will grant you that Gleeson does an exemplary Hitler impersonation –– but why have it when all you are doing is assembling 10,000 soldiers to tell them you're going to shoot a weapon. Quite aside from everything else, have these people not heard of military secrets?? And then no wonder they lose a battle a few hours later, half of their troops have heatstoke from standing around in the sun in full armour!'

On an unrelated note, a friend at work told me excitedly that there was Labyrinth II in the works with Connelly and Bowie and I was all HOW could I not know this?! to which the answer is because no there's not. But then I thought 'Well, how could they rework it for a sequel, anyway?' and two minutes later, 'Oh, yeah, that would work …' and I have the best plot in my head, but no time and don't generally fandom, and, and …bugger.
ravurian: slytherinravurian on January 8th, 2016 02:08 pm (UTC)
No, but. You must write it. An 40-something Sarah, an adult Toby, an oddly aged Jareth. YES. I am here for this. I bet she wouldn't say no to being a Goblin Queen now. In place of a Dark Lord, etc etc etc. OMG. Wait, that's probably not where you were going with this, but. Um.

And yes to everything you and Mr B said, obviously, esp. re: Gleeson. I have a soft spot for redheads (I am a carrier of the gene on both sides, but it skipped over my parents and my siblings and me, alas).

Also, speaking of fandom stuff (of the HP variety), have you read the Boy With a Scar series by Dirgewithoutmusic? Or her marvellous We Must Unite Within Her Walls Or We'll Crumble From Within series?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 8th, 2016 02:20 pm (UTC)
I have not! And this year I am absolutely determined to read some more fandom stuff, so thank you for the rec.

Yeah … I confess, there was definitely a thread of Goblin Queendom in there. Aunty Sarah to Toby's kids ('But why none of your own, Sarah.' 'You need to ask? You? You were THERE when I showed why I would be a bad choice as anyone's maternal unit.'), Jareth feeling the weight of time's movement as his Kingdom dealt with … NO! I have to finish writing a novel that will earn me money so I can make all my money from writing my own good novels rather than editing other people's shit journalism and then I can just write all day and THEN I can do things like that!

Gleeson was a gift to all of us over 15 who had to watch that, I think. Though the suggestion to check out all the Emo Kylo Ren tweets above is genius and brought me joy.
ravurianravurian on January 8th, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
I mean. I'm pulling up a chair and settling comfortably in anticipation whether you're writing fannishly or otherwise. Are you in a place where you can talk about your novel, or will it make you cry/vomit/voluntarily break your own wrists to avoid it?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 8th, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
There are three, alas.

The crime one is the one closes to being finished has the first 56,000 words all but done and a plot for the rest, with some scenes sorted, and all it needs in the first part is a tweak to the opening scene and then a little bit more in the way of timeline for one event, but it's very far along and I was in a rush of writing when it hit me that … I was meant to be co-writing this with Shiv … and now I am in a bit of a dither as to do I just finish it and hand it to her and say 'so, put in some more romancey bits and change the bits you hate and then we're sorted …' or do I hand it over with the plan and say 'OK, second half is yours' or ... fuckit, I don't know. Will sort something and soon.

The next one is a thriller in which the 2008 crash and the age of terror are looked at through a classic vampire war novel. Have only about 40K of this sorted and keep trying to lock down the motivation of the bad guys, the problem being that when you translate the real world 'because we're selfish cunts' into narrative, it's less satisfying as an explanation. Halfway to solving it.

The last one is a fantasy that I wrote almost all of 10 years ago and while I liked most of the events and characters, the structure has never worked for me. So it's been sitting there waiting for a reworking, which I thought I had solved last year and 10K in went 'Oh, yeah, no.' I'll pull it out again this year.

I just need to DO more and finish more! It's the problem with being an editor, you're mid-flow when you suddenly go 'Hmm, that creates a strange tempo, let me just read back …'

I should probably send you £10 a month to tweet 'Get the fuck of Twitter and write books!' at me…
ravurianravurian on January 11th, 2016 11:01 am (UTC)
I have just seen that David Bowie has rather emphatically ensured that Labyrinth II will not be going into production, though I can't help feeling that we sort of predicted this (in a rather roundabout way) in our vague references to the mysterious Decline of the Goblin King. My goodness, aren't we topical? (But also: damn on two fronts).

I would read any of your three novels, in whatever state they appear, though I have proved utterly unable to prevent myself asking all sorts of annoying questions when reading people's novels. I also display a lamentable tendency to cover them in red pen. Terrible, appalling habit.

I have a growing stack of enormous and terrifying stories in my head, but they're never small, never things I think I may be in any way equipped to doing justice, and they just seem so immense that I can never imagine actually, you know, writing them. I am fond of telling people parts of them, though, which seems to scratch the itch. I wish you better luck with yours!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 11th, 2016 12:27 pm (UTC)
In retrospect, his most recent songs were a bloody big clue. But we were all so used to him killing himself off in his music, we failed to spot the final time.

And now I really want to write that fic …

All right Mr Red Pen, I will send you the first one finished -- very likely to be the crime story -- and you can interrogate away, because that is how stories get better up to a point (if you try to explain EVERYTHING, they get worse again). And then, once I have a nice jusicy agent and contract, I will take advantage of my spare time when procrastinating on my own work to say 'Oh no, good sir, I think you will find that is a scene, and it clearly needs to be a book, and no-one else could write it like you, AND THINK OF ALL THE MEDICAL RESEARCH YOU COULD FUND!

Then we will both be able to fly to wherever and swap pages and wield terrible editors' pencils, but have the other say 'Oh yes, MUCH better!' a lot.
ravurianravurian on January 12th, 2016 11:47 am (UTC)
My friend Nat said I should watch the video for Lazarus, and this morning I did, and then I watched the video for Black Star, and now I am mildly freaked out because I kind of feel that not only was he announcing his imminent demise, but he was also leaving a road map for his resurrection. I mean. Gosh. I feel like I should make a petition against anyone bedazzling his skull and placing it on the back of a kneeling woman of child-bearing age. Or, you know, that I should stand ready to disrupt that ritual and slam that door shut with all my strength. Because, you know, he's not the only thing behind that door. Um. NOT THAT I AM CREDULOUS AND HAVE AN OVER-ACTIVE IMAGINATION, you understand, just that I have some experience of telling stories, and quite a bit of being a story. ANYWAY. And yes, you should write that fic (and maybe refer to the Goblin King's successor as the Black Star? IDK, I'm just saying).

And, ugh, my friend Mohammed is always listening to my ideas and nodding wisely over his drooping hand-rolled fag and beer and saying that what I think is a short story is a novel, and what I think is a TV show is a series of novels, and what I think is a novel is possibly some sort of cult manual or a bible, and that I should probably write my stories or risk enacting them instead. That is, he says, a very real risk for storytellers. I can't say he's entirely wrong.
lee: Fleursnegurochka_lee on January 5th, 2016 08:52 pm (UTC)
most of the time, you get good at things by doing things

a;lskdjfsl;dj. I haven't seen the movie yet (I know, I know), but I was JUST having a convo with the S.O. yesterday about this! What is with pop culture books/TV/movies where people are just magically good at things without putting any work or practice in?? Is this why my students all want As for no reason??! I don't know where it comes from, other than fantasy wish-fulfillment, I guess, but damn, is it ever maddening. And I agree with you, character development would be all the richer if we could see how people who are good at stuff got that way. Graaah!

And oh hey, hi! :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 8th, 2016 02:02 pm (UTC)
YES! EXACTLY! This is why some young people HAVE NO IDEA THEY HAVE TO WORK!!!! (And also because we don't let them go down mines and walk to school and suffer in all the ways we did when we were young, though of course, since we missed the world wars, we are by definition soft.)

And HELLO! I had assumed you've been up to your nose in life, as have I, but I have missed you!
(Anonymous) on January 8th, 2016 07:18 am (UTC)
YES! so much better if the work to aquire skills is at least nodded to, better if properly acknowledged.

All the best for this new year to you BTW
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 8th, 2016 02:03 pm (UTC)
Exactly! Nods are all we need, if the writers feel they're going to slow down the story with too much exposition.

The same to you, I hope it is brimming with splendid things for all of us!
kestrelsparhawkkestrelsparhawk on March 6th, 2016 08:51 pm (UTC)
Perfect description
which means it fits my reaction entirely. Except I love how you took it one step further and showed how they could have improved. I'm so disgusted with popular screenwriters these days. I suspect they all had one workshop at Clarion and think they know everything about writing -- and the others who hire them believe that because they haven't any idea about how to write character either. We have several channels here with very old movies, and I'm always struck how comparatively good the writing is even on series like "Perry Mason" compared to the "top level" stuff these days.