Posts Tagged ‘Gareth Edwards’

Short takes: ‘The Lottery, and Other Stories,’ ‘Oona Out of Order’ and ‘Monsters’

June 14, 2020
Combination image: ‘The Lottery, and Other Stories,‘ ‘Oona Out of Order’ and ‘Monsters.’

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 14, 2020

The Lottery, and Other Stories is an anthology that shows off Shirley Jackson’s versatility and talent.

The tales, all evidently published in 1948 and 1949, largely eschew the horror genre of the title story. They instead capture moments in the lives of ordinary women and a handful of men in early and mid-century America. Some of these people are quietly suffering; others are doing fine but are about to endure an unforeseen calamity. All too often, looming forces are poised to disrupt every last scrap of normality to which Jackson’s characters cling.

In the opening story, “The Intoxicated,” a drunk partygoer steps into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and has a straightforward conversation with a teenager girl about her visions of an apocalyptic future. The nameless protagonist of “The Demon Lover,” a 36-year-old Manhattan resident, awakens on what she believes will be the day of her wedding to Jamie Harris; when he fails to show up, she sets out to find him. She ventures first to his home address where, it turns out, he was apartment-sitting for a couple who have just returned from a trip. Matters devolve from there.

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A motley band of raiders defies an Empire in the unexpectedly timely new ‘Star Wars’ movie, ‘Rogue One’

February 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 11, 2016

Gareth Edwards’s December 2016 blockbuster, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is a film very much set in the Star Wars universe but not quite of that fictional realm.

The movie can be watched independently of any other Star Wars feature, and arguably might be more enjoyable that way. Nonetheless, it serves as a sort of prequel to the very first Star Wars film, the 1977 movie retroactively retitled Star Wars: A New Hope, to the point that Rogue One ends shortly before the action of George Lucas’s original blockbuster commences. The McGuffin of the new release is the Death Star, the top-secret planet-destroying super-weapon central to A New Hope — or perhaps more accurately the Death Star’s engineering specifications, which the protagonists must discover and help learn how to destroy.

Edwards’s movie features a few characters from A New Hope, notably the villains Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin (using the digitally reconditioned face of the late Peter Cushing) and the robots C-3PO and R2-D2, mostly in brief cameos, as well as a handful of settings from the earlier picture.

But the main action in Rogue One involves the awkwardly named Jyn Erso. Her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), was once a lead engineer for the Death Star before he grew disgusted with the totalitarian Galactic Empire and fled to a remote farm world with his wife and child.

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‘Godzilla’ brings the monsters and action but leaves characters (plus a potentially important environmental subtext) behind

May 26, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 26, 2014

The opening credits of the new film Godzilla follow a conceit. We are viewing classified photographs and footage from the 1940s and 1950s, accompanied by snippets of text from formerly secret documents. As is typical when governments release such papers publicly, many of the words are censored — thick lines appear before our eyes, obscuring material that is still deemed secret. The words that remain are names and titles. (For example, we’ll see “music,” censor lines and then “Alexandre Desplat,” the name of the film’s composer.)

I found this to be an amusing approach to the material at hand, which incorporates real-life nuclear weapons tests into its fictional story. We’re told, for instance, that the bombs detonated in the Pacific were actually strikes against Godzilla, an enormous prehistoric predacious lizard that was somehow discovered in the 20th century. Would that the film had been able to be so consistently clever throughout. Alas…

The film opens in 1999 when scientists Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) walk into the remains of a long-dead Godzilla-type creature that has just been discovered at a remote mining operation. Inside the immense corpse, they find two pods. One is intact and evidently dormant; the other, apparently catalyzed by exposure to air, has just hatched, releasing…something. The scientists, who work for a secret project known as Monarch, gape in amazement at the trail of flattened trees left in the something’s wake.

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