Our Unifying Force

A couple of weeks ago, the trailer for the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, was released. Several co-workers gathered in our conference room and watched it multiple times on the Surface Hub.

It was a shared experience between lovers of this movie saga. We dissected the meanings behind the dialogue, commented on the music, spoke about how awesome December was going to be when the movie is actually released. It was fun. It was enjoyable. Like I said, a shared experience.

But when I got home, I realized that this unifying experience was not limited to our conference room. Twitter was alive with the buzz of the trailer. People from every walk of life: Geeks, Politicians, Sports Writers, Tech CEOs, Software developers, Literary Writers. The whole gamut was represented in the “audience” of Star Wars fans.

It occurred to me at that moment, that Star Wars is THE unifying force (pun *not* intended) in our current climate. With so much divisiveness present in our collective society, this one movie franchise seems to have the power to bring us all together.

I wonder if George Lucas ever dreamt that would be the case way back when this story was forming in his mind.

Editorial Note: Despite the tragedies that are the prequels, he should be very, very proud.

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The American President (1995)

The American President (1995)

Tomorrow morning the White House is sending a bill to Congress for it’s consideration. It’s White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a twenty percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming. The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I’m throwing it out. I’m throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and hand guns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I’m gonna convince Americans that I’m right, and I’m gonna get the guns.

I can’t even imagine a president being able to say something like this now. This movie was released in 1995, made in 1994, and probably written years earlier. Our country has (fundamentally) changed. We don’t believe in common sense anymore. We don’t even believe in facts anymore. Everything is so unbelievably partisan.

The last scene in the movie shows President Shepherd walking into the House of Representatives chamber prepared to deliver the State of the Union. I can’t imagine Donald Trump walking into that chamber. I can’t imagine him standing in front of Congress, and giving us (the American people) an update on the state of our country. Not from someone who views his presidency as a gameshow.

We (collectively) are lost.

Movies: Better Today?

Have you ever wondered if movies are getting better? Yep, you read that correctly. Getting better. Let me provide some context. I was listening to The Talk Show, episode #40 and in the middle of their ongoing Bond movie-fest, they started discussing the differences between the Bond movies of the Connery era and the Bond movies they were at currently in the series (I think it was in the middle of the Roger Moore era). Both hosts seem to think the Connerry-era Bond movies were so much better. Is this true? Is it smiply nostalgia? Having never seen most of the Bond movies, much less the older ones, I have no frame of reference, so I don’t know in this particlar case.

But it got me thinking. The movies we look back on with great admiration, the movies that we love, the movies that give us comfort. Are these movies really great? If you removed the notion of Citizen Kane and Orson Wells from the collective conscience and released the movie next week, would we (society) view the movie in the same way?

My personal opinion would probably be something to this effect. On the whole, movies made today are probably better than movies made in the past. Let me repeat, on the whole. Movies that are considered classics would probably still do ok in modern times, but I don’t think they would reach the pinnacle they are at now in movie historians’ eyes. I think the world has just changed too much for us to take a movie from the past and drop it in current times and have it stand on its own legs.

I often go back to movies I liked as a kid and re-watch them. Some still have the magic, some are ok, and some are just down-right bad. The acting is over-the-top, the directing is dull, the suspense is laughable sometimes. Forgoing the advances in technology, one movie that still holds up for me is “Back to the Future”. Great movie, even now. Released in 1985, it sill hold up. The action’s good, the acting is still believable (commenters, start your engines), and the story is still fun.

Then there’s a movie like The Shining. I know a lot of people (including John Gruber and Dan Benjamin from The Talk Show itself) will disagree with this next statement. It’s not really a good movie, in my opinion. The acting is way over-the-top. It’s painfully slow to get going and, as an audience member, you’re never quite sure what’s going on. Obviously, you know what is going on big-picture-wise, but the subtlety is wasted. The only real thing I’ll give the movie is the creepiness factor. It still does have that.

What do you think? Are these movies that are held up as the epitome of film really all that good from today’s statndards?