Movie Talk with a Side of Books

My intention this weekend was to post three blogs about Solo: A Star Wars Story.  I posted about the score and about the concept art book, but I didn’t get the review finished.  A funny thing happened on the journey to complete it: I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to say about it.

I enjoyed the film immensely.  There’s a lot to praise about it, I think.  I was even surprised by it a couple of times, which is hard for films — or for Star Wars as a whole — to do anymore without undermining the very things that make these things amazing.  I think too much like a writer, so for me it’s more about execution than concept.

But when it came time to write that review, I kept getting in my own way.  I felt like I was fighting myself, fighting the division of fandom that’s causing the low box office turnout, and fighting… ghosts of the past?  I’m not really certain.  I’ve backburnered that review for now until I can figure it out.  I’m in the process of letting go of a lot of personal baggage, and weird as it seems to me on the inside of this, Star Wars is at the forefront of a lot of it.  My personal identity is wrapped up in a lot of things that I love, and I’m slowly untangling from that.  It didn’t stop me from pre-ordering the Blu-ray though.

Speaking of, Disney’s Peter Pan is coming to Blu-ray, along with its sequel, Return to Never Land.  The Disney Movie Club offered me a good deal on both as a bundle, so I decided to go for it, having never seen the sequel.  I’ve also not read the original novel by J. M. Barrie, so that’s probably going to happen in the near future.  And it’s been so many years since I’ve seen the Disney film that I only really get whiffs of nostalgia.

Like so many others, I know the story, or think I do, but I think it’ll be more than a little interesting — and perhaps even a little off-putting — to view this one with modern eyes.  I’m prepared to take it in, come what may.  It’s just that I’m aware that the things that make Disney films classic are evergreen, but some of those things are woven through with other ideas that are very much dated and products of their own time.  I’m also wondering how some of the themes will play for me given how life’s been unfolding lately.  Part of me doesn’t want to read too much into this.  Part of me can’t help but do so anyway.

Being a more modern film, I’m wondering how Return to Never Land connects the dots across generations and audiences.

It also makes me very aware that I’ve not touched my Mouse Magic project here on this site in an embarrassingly long time.

And that segues perfectly into another discovery I made over the weekend, speaking of projects I’ve not touched in a while.  The Criterion Collection released a while back a film I’ve been looking forward to seeing since I first became aware of it some 30 years ago:  Vampyr.

It’s the perfect candidate for my Project: Monster blog, being a 1932 German expressionist early sound film based on J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla.  Actually, that’s a little too simplistic.  It’s more accurate to say it’s drawn from elements in Le Fanu’s collection In a Glass Darkly, of which Carmilla is one of the five stories.  And sadly, as many times as I’ve read Carmilla, being one of my absolute favorite classic vampire tales, I’ve not read the other four stories.  Missed opportunity?  You bet.  But I can correct that oversight easily enough as I’ve recently acquired the whole book.  The Vampyr Blu-ray arrives in the mail today, but I feel like I should be familiar with all the stories first so I can properly understand what this film is doing, why, and how.  That might seem like a lot of work, but I do love getting visceral with these old movies and seeing what makes them tick.

Before I go to any of those places… I’ve got a couple of pre-ordered audiobooks that I’ve been chomping at the bit for, both of which drop tomorrow.  So excited!

The third in line of Star Trek: Discovery novels, Fear Itself by Trek veteran novelist James Swallow, centers on Saru.  I’ve been deeply impressed with the previous two books in this series, both of which made great strides to connect the new TV series to the classic original.  The unprecedented access these writers have been given to the TV series as it develops has really raised the bar on what tie-ins can — and always should — accomplish.  Star Wars really could take some notes on how this is done.  I have high hopes for this one as Saru is a far more complex character than most might give him credit for being.  He’s been stereotyped as a “fraidy cat” type by some, but I would contend it takes courage beyond courage to be the first of a race labeled as prey to voyage into the unknown.  To me, that’s inspirational.  That’s what Star Trek is all about at its core.

And while it’s not a novel, Jim Butcher is releasing another collection of Dresden Files short stories, Brief Cases.  There are three Bigfoot-related stories in here that I’ve already read and enjoyed, but there are others that I’m really looking forward to, such as one featuring Molly and Mouse and another featuring Butters in his role as a knight.  I don’t typically keep up with the short stories when they’re published in other anthologies.  I just don’t have that kind of money, so it’s always a welcome return to the world of Dresden when a collected edition drops.

One of these days I need to go back to the beginning.  Today’s not that day, but… eventually.

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