Cheeseburger Gothic

Jason Bourne returns

Posted August 4, 2016 into Movies by John Birmingham

I also quite liked this piece in Rolling Stone on the return of the Bourne franchise. I've always liked the sleeping assassin genre. The first line of Without Warning is a nod to it. The Bourne films are the apotheosis of that particular literary trope – although Robert Ludlum would hardly literary.

This piece by David Fear is worth a read for any fans:

No one knew that the War on Terror was just around the corner while folks developed the blueprints for the Bourne movies in the early aughts, or that the talented lad who cried in Robin Williams' hairy arms had an inner MMA fighter lurking within. Play poker against an Oreo-licking, scenery-chewing John Malkovich? Totally. Sweep the leg of a guy with a machine gun who just crashed through a window, crack his limbs and stab the dude with a pen? Did not see that coming.

That's the Identity scene that really sells the idea of Damon as an agile action hero — or more specifically, that his lean, mean, government-trained killing machine could be the template for an entirely different type of action-movie hero, one more suitable to the moment than the traditional steroidal he-man. The Stallone/Schwarzenegger model wasn't necessarily going to cut it now, nor, for that matter was a dapper agent with a martini in his hand and witty quip on his lips. (To say that the Bond films changed tact, and wisely so, would be an understatement.) What was needed was someone espionage-savvy who played dirty in a dirty-bomb age even if he seemed as superficially whitebread as a Midwestern all-state wrestler. Someone smart enough to have read a book and lethal enough to then use that same book as a weapon.

33 Responses to ‘Jason Bourne returns’

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2016
I read an interview with Matt Damon years ago about first getting cast as Bourne. His career was a bit dead. His last couple of movies had not been commercially successful. He was not being sent scripts. He was worried. Then he got invited to lunch with these filmmakers. Didn't think much of it. That's what happens in Hollywood he said, you get invited to lunch. Not much usually comes of it. But they pitched Bourne to him and they seemed keen for him to do it. He was puzzled by their interest. He said to the interviewer, look at me, my face is naturally boyish and a bit smirky. His said his first job after being cast was to stand in front of the mirror and find the Bourne face.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted August 4, 2016
Ha, great story.

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Stephen M. Stirling is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2016
God, but I wish the CIA were as ruthlessly omnipotent in real life as it is in the Bourne movies.

NBlob reckons...

Posted August 5, 2016
Because the CIA has such an impeccable record of helping, being right and making things better?

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted August 5, 2016
I don't think the CIA can find their ass with a road map.

Sudragon asserts...

Posted August 5, 2016
Isn't that because Russian moles have swapped all the maps?

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted August 5, 2016
Most likely.

Like no one noticed the soft spots in the lawn at Langley.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted August 7, 2016
It must be odd, significantly & jarringly odd to work in an agency publicly tasked to undertake industrial grade shenanigans. In a Military context sir yessir, but civilian with footy-tipping and the new A04j(15)-Approval of New Form form which is submitted to the form approval unit, not the old A04j(11).

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted August 5, 2016
I reckon the Bond franchise needs to go back to Fleming's work and re-imagine it in a darker world. Either that or realise that shark jumping is not best practice.

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DarrenBloomfield mutters...

Posted August 5, 2016
I bunge (re)read all the Bond books from go to whoa last year. Hadn;t read them since I was a teenager, I was inspired to do so by the excellent "For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond" by Ben McIntyre (regulars will have heard me bang on about this many time before here at the Burger).\


I was shocked at how *bad* they were,

Any decent (dark or otherwise) Bond reimagining needs to be at least as removed from the source novels as the Craig versions...

Lulu asserts...

Posted August 5, 2016
Darren, have you read "The Man Who Saved Britain: A personal journey into the disturbing world of James Bond", by Simon Winder? It's hilarious, while also saying some quite astute things about why Bond appealed to post-war Britain.

DarrenBloomfield swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 8, 2016
No, but I will. Thanks!

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted August 6, 2016
I'm conflicted. I generally like the Bourne movies and Damon as an actor. Seems like a likable dude. I can't decide whether or not he is a major hypocrite for having his career revived, and pockets filled, by playing a character (multiple times) that uses guns, etc., and yet he calls for disarming everyone. I generally let that stuff slide ... but I'm conflicted here for some reason.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted August 6, 2016
I haven't seen the new movie, but the series does not present guns as a desirable lifestyle choice. Bourne is constantly miserable and the only nice people he encounters do not seem to be carrying a weapon.

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HAVOCK21 has opinions thus...

Posted August 6, 2016
real WTF.

'but the series does not present guns as a desirable lifestyle choice. Bourne is constantly miserable and the only nice people he encounters do not seem to be carrying a weapon."

There a lot of people in TEXAS and elsewhere that would really fucking disagree! IF FACT!...One of my most hapiest and recurring fkn events is when I have a GUN IN MY HAND!!!......BOTH for those with dirty moinds and Killing bambi and ducks and I would wger FKN BAD GUYS!.

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Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 8, 2016
Aside from lifeguarding saves the closest Zen moments I've ever had come from time spent with an M-16 or some other type of weapon.

Frankly, I think Damon is a first rate hypocrite. Then again, he isn't alone in Hollywood in that regard.

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LCC asserts...

Posted August 12, 2016
JB... my heart swoons a little just writing your initials!! I lived for Felafel and just caught the news about 66 York Street.

That book was such a gem in every way. I still live in Brisbane and often think of its various characters. Thanks for having the balls to get it out there.

Also.. just wondering JB, had you ever had time for The Sopranos etc?

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Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted August 12, 2016
I do enjoy the Jason Bourne movies...but every time I see Matt Damon on a screen or in print I instantly think of Team America - World Police.

Jon ducks in to say...

Posted August 13, 2016
"I'm so wonely" damn you now I have to watch that again!

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted August 15, 2016
I know that this blog isn't a money generator and I'm damned glad JB is busy, busy with paying gigs. But, I'm a spoiled Rhino. Anyone else feeling JB withdrawal symptoms?

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2016
You are not alone, Rhino.

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Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 15, 2016
Testify, Rhino.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2016
there is a lot of derp out there taking up his attention methinks. Trump, derps dressing like a bunch of footy players for a theme night on the turps (turpsderps) and sermon bombing a church (turps derps at church), Trump, and Trump. Plus that story from a couple of weeks ago about zombie nazi reindeer rising from the melted depths of the siberian tundra has got to take anyone's attention . . . . . okay maybe not nazi but it was from 1941!

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted August 15, 2016
Rumour Control.

1. JB is not quelling a Bunny uprising.

2. He is not consulting with Presidente Dueterte re-writing the Phillipino constitution, substituting a time-traveling brown coach for where it currently says ya de ya fair & speedy trial.

3. Nor negotiating a fair price for the Spratleys.

4. He is not competing @ Rio in the Double overhand spliff roll. His competitive days are past. (An irreparable metacarpal blowout in 03.)

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2016
Fkn auto correct *time travelling brown couch *

Dave W mumbles...

Posted August 16, 2016
Shouldn't have drawn attention to it, N, now it's all I can see and it wasn't noticeable to start with.

Anyway, worst case scenario is that JB has been called upon to ghost write Senator Lleyenholm's memoirs, Liberty For Most, and keeps getting instructed to redraft, but with 'more 'splosions, dammit!'

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted August 16, 2016
Besides - a time travelling brown coach can fit more people in it. Couches can maybe fit 10 max.

NBlob reckons...

Posted August 16, 2016
There is that.

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jason ducks in to say...

Posted August 16, 2016
Where is JB you ask?

Did no one notice the planetary alignment this week (literally not metaphorically). JB is out there planet hopping as part of the research for his new space opera. By now he is halfway to Uranus.

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w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted August 16, 2016
http://www.gifbin.com/bin/052011/1304618376_tumbleweed-gif.gif

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NBlob reckons...

Posted August 16, 2016
Sources GLOMAR (neither confirm nor deny) JB was Kevin's fly in The UNSecGen. While some contend aledge &/or imply JB wants the slot for himself, others better informed suggest his token is on the Mrs Lee candidacy.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted August 16, 2016
Sources GLOMAR (neither confirm nor deny) JB was Kevin's fly in The UNSecGen Oyster. While some contend aledge &/or imply JB wants the slot for himself, others better informed suggest he is backing the Mrs Lee candidacy, just hasn't worked out how to tell Havoc.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted August 19, 2016
Taptap pause tap pause taptaptap.

Either JB is being held prisoner, or the moron tap an apple choir is rehearsing

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Respond to 'Jason Bourne returns'

Stephen King's Cell. First trailer, and a book review

Posted April 27, 2016 into Movies by John Birmingham

Stephen King's zombie project, Cell, has moved the big screen. From the trailer below it seems they've dialed back on the zed-axis and amped up the technophobia. Possibly to put a little daylight between Cell and the 28 Days/Weeks franchise which first popularised the fast-zombie trope, and Brad Pitt's World War Z sequel which will be along any moment now to give you a little nibble.

Anyways, the book gave me nightmares when I had to review it, which doesn't normally happen with the King's stuff. It was also one of his last 'pure' horror novels before he started to stretch out into speculative literature with 63 and, arguably, Under the Dome.

My book review is below. It's interesting to speculate on what's been changed for the movie adaptation. The sympathetic gay guy is the most obvious switch, making way for Sam Jackson's cranky but sympathetic black guy. The zeds also look more WWZ than 28 Days, which is not the case in the book:

The supermarkets and mega stores will probably discount Stephen King's latest novel, Cell, using it as a loss leader to drag punters into the shop. You might even get it for less than twenty bucks, but don't imagine for a second that's all you're going to pay. There'll be a heavy toll levied on anyone who reads this thing from cover to cover; vivid nightmares that wreck your sleep for however long it takes you finish and get the creepy thing out of your system

As with the best of King's work, Cell comes with a simple premise. At 3.03pm, US Eastern Standard Time, some sort of Pulse runs through every mobile phone in the world. Anyone using their natty little Erricson at that time goes violently insane. And as the author points out, who doesn't own a mobile nowadays? As millions of zombie's possessed by their batphones suddenly turn on the rest of the population, those not affected at first begin to ring friends and
family to warn them or to find out what's happening, and they too get zapped by Satan's Own telco. Only a small percentage of people remain unaffected, either because they don't have mobiles, or they stay off them long to realise that they are the source of the problems.

Keeping such a global disaster personalised is the role of Clay Riddell, 'a young man of no particular importance to history', a graphic artist caught in Boston during the Pulse. The book follows his attempts to make it home, a hundred miles away, to his twelve year old son, for whom he had only just purchased a mobile phone. Clay throws in his lot with an ensemble cast of suppporting survivors; notably Alice, a traumatised teenager and Tom, a confirmed bachelor of much less than heroic stature, who turns out to be one of the most sympathetically drawn gay men you'll ever find in pulp fiction.

Possibly the goriest of Stephen King's books so far, it won't be for everybody. Never one to resile from painting humanity in the worst light, recent events seem to have darkened his view of us even further. The book is current enough to include references to Hurricane Katrina, and the aftermath of that disaster informs the shocking and occasionally sickening portrait of a world in collapse which takes up the first part of the narrative.

With it's legions of blank-eyed, shuffling undead unpeople, Cell quickly reveals itself as a zombie horror story, in the style of George Romero, one of King's favorite auteurs. And like Romero, King uses the iconic figure of the zombie for satircal as well as scarifying purposes. When the phone crazies, as they are quickly dubbed, begin to exhibit flocking behaviour, and march in jerky lockstep to nearest mega mall to strip it clean of rapidly decaying foodstuffs, they recall scenes from Romero's Dawn of Dead, which was as much a commentary on American materialism as it was a low budget splatterfest.

As usual, King's story is loaded with references to the world of real things – a phrase of which he is very fond – and while some of these merely provide verisimilutde, others point to a deeper intent on the writer's part. The opening scenes are purposely drawn in the shadow of 9/11, and Al Qaeda's mass casualty attack haunts both the action and the thoughts of the main characters throughout. King is also The King however, and a world full of flesh eating zombies isn't nearly
interesting enough to keep him at the keyboard. He amps up the story wattage with a developing subplot about the victims of the Pulse beginning to act as a single organism with weirdly otherworldly Stephen Kingly-type super powers.

It might all sound like a load of old cods, but all of his books would, when viewed in blurb form. King pulls them off because he has that rare facility of making you believe it could happen. I challenge anyone to read this book and feel comfortable making a phone call right afterwards. Indeed, like all true art, the Cell lingers in your mind, having its greatest effect when the immediate experience of the work is over. It's like a depth charge, sinking deeper and deeper into your subconcious and detonating days afterwards in the form of some
very unpleasant dreams.

It can and will be read on different levels. As simple freak show carnography. As a satire on commercial culture. A homage to Romero. Even as a reflection on the war in Iraq. (One character makes this link explicit). For me though, it marks a stunning return to form of the heaviest hitter in the world of the airport novel. If you don't mind being pursued through your dreams by a ravening host of zombies, this one is for you.

15 Responses to ‘Stephen King's Cell. First trailer, and a book review’

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted April 27, 2016
Nice. Love the cellphone zombie tie in.

Seems obvious now that I see it in the trailer.

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insomniac reckons...

Posted April 27, 2016
Judging from the morning commute it would seem the zombification has already occurred. All that needs to happen is the activation code to be sent.

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Paul reckons...

Posted April 27, 2016
Well summed up review...trailer looks quite good, too.

This one may not be a disappointment!


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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted April 27, 2016
Thanks for the tip, I missed 'Cell' from my list of zombie reading bibliography. I will immediately go out and rectify this oversight.

Dave W mutters...

Posted April 27, 2016
I was just thinking the exact same thing.

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Kmay has opinions thus...

Posted April 27, 2016
I'm glad I'm not the only one who got nightmares from this book. I think I'll give the movie a miss.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted April 28, 2016
Glad they are finally releasing this. Cell was the first King book i picked up after a long hiatus and started me back on a binge. I must admit i was avoiding reading it due to the title cell which i was confusing between the thing that holds prisoners and the US term for a phone (not sure why). I thought the opening gambit in the book was brilliant and it only got better as they went on the road trip.
I picked up Duma Key after that and it gave me the willies like the King of old as well. Nothing like revenants from the sea leaving fading water footprints in your nightmares

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted April 28, 2016
I was a young teenager, or possibly tween, when I finished "Christine" - staying up late reading it in bed. I finished, turned off my debside lamp to go to sleep. Ten seconds later someone in my street started up there car and revved it.


Scared. The. Shit. Out. Of. Me.

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The girl who watches swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 28, 2016
Great review. I loved Cell but then
I'm slightly addicted to SK novels.
Unfortunately the movies are too much
for my tender psyche so will probably miss this one too.
The only book to give me nightmares was Misery.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 29, 2016
I am keen as a little jelly bean, I'm afraid this one slipped past me. Hopefully when things return to normal I'll have some time to catch up on my latent shame pile.

I loved The Stand in a way that surprised & scared me a little. When I first read it as a young tacker I didn't understand that there was technique, skill involved. I just new he gripped me viscerally and the idea of closing the book and going to sleep was not a viable option. I can count how many times I woke from dreams of Stu, Nick, Harold and Mr Flagg with the book on my face.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted April 29, 2016
*new* = Knew

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Muffet puts forth...

Posted April 29, 2016
What then?

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Trashman has opinions thus...

Posted May 1, 2016
Um, Dollhouse anybody?

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted May 2, 2016
I thought that was one of the most original takes on an apocalypse I had come across. Project Itoh's novel Harmony being pre-apocalypse but also original.

Strickly speaking I guess Dollhouse was pre\during and post apocalypse.

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DrewfromOz mutters...

Posted May 1, 2016
Being a sucker for all things dystopic I read the book when it came out, enjoyed it but didn't put it on the same level as The Stand...... Will see how the movie changes that.
The book seemed to be ripe for a sequel; so maybe the movie will give birth to the book sequel, which will bring the movie sequel.....

It sort of reminded me of an old English scifi novel, If I remember right, a bunch of teenagers survived when all adults became insane and started attacking their children, and these same adults turning into some sort of evolving hive mind that sacrificed the individuals as bridges across streams so the others could cross.

I'm looking forward to this.

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Respond to 'Stephen King's Cell. First trailer, and a book review'

Rogue One Trailer

Posted April 8, 2016 into Movies by John Birmingham

It looks pretty cool. You can see how mainstream action movie tropes are working on the genre though.

Like, who's the Jedi ninja samuarai guy?

45 Responses to ‘Rogue One Trailer’

SithBear has opinions thus...

Posted April 8, 2016
no Jedi in this movie. he's a muggle

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beeso puts forth...

Posted April 8, 2016
I like forest whittaker in full Ghost Dog mode

Adam Denny asserts...

Posted April 8, 2016
That'd be sweet.

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted April 8, 2016
I don't what the Samurai guy is up to, but I see the actor is Donnie Yen, who is currently probably the world's best and most charismatic martial arts actor.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted April 8, 2016
yeah, I know what i am watching in December

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pi would have you know...

Posted April 8, 2016
Noice.

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Peter in the bleachers ducks in to say...

Posted April 8, 2016
io9 pulled apart the trailer http://io9.gizmodo.com/every-cool-detail-we-spotted-in-the-rogue-one-a-star-w-1769606654 Looks the goods if you are into Star Wars

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted April 9, 2016
Anyone else find the female protag annoying?


she_jedi asserts...

Posted April 9, 2016
Is she annoying because she's female, or is she just an annoying protag?

After six films of the one major female character being mostly a damsel in distress, having female protags, annoying or not, is a revelation for me

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 9, 2016
Frankly, I can't figure out why the General in that scene doesn't lunge across the table. The tone is just way over the top, and to be blunt, the gender wouldn't matter. Male or female, it shouldn't be tolerated.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted April 9, 2016
The impression for the early days of the rebellion is that the alliance grabbed who they could to get the job done.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted April 9, 2016
Murph you also though the commanding officer on the Canterbury mining ship in the Expanse should have slapped Jim Holden across the table.
You have a pattern of wanting superiors in stories to take umbrage at characters I end up liking.
You are turning into a very accurate anti-bellwether for me.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted April 9, 2016
I don't have a military background, so my take on the trailer is different, but I didn't read her words or attitude as insubordinate or inappropriate. She's not an enlisted soldier recognising that general as a higher authority, she's a criminal. If you watch the trailer carefully you'll see she's handcuffed as she's escorted across the landing bay. And in this time frame of the Star Wars universe, the Rebel Alliance are also criminals. Every person in that room, including the general, are outlaws with a price on their heads, in open rebellion against the current galactic government. Her attitude and her words highlight their hypocrisy in reading out her rap sheet - she may have forged Imperial documents, but these guys are trying to take down the entire empire.

My take on the trailer is that they've captured a criminal and dragged her in front of their command in chains, in order to enlist her to take on a suicide mission for them. On that basis she's their equal, because they're in a subordinate position either asking for her help or blackmailing her into giving it. The entire notion of a military command is moot in this scene because these guys are guerrillas fighting a guerrilla war, and have to utilise any means possible to do so.

Another thing to remember is these are the people that made Han Solo a general; I'm guessing the niceties of a military command structure don't seem to be of critical importance to them.

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted April 10, 2016
Actually, Barnes, I thought that Holden should have been thrown out an airlock. Especially after broadcasting in the clear in the wake of the Canterbury's destruction.

She_Jedi, how do you know she is only a criminal? And even criminals who are drafted into the military have to obey basic protocol or else they find themselves running through minefields without the proper tools to clear them other than their feet.


John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted April 10, 2016
I find She Jedi's argument compelling. Is she has the circumstances right, it would be unusual for that character to react in any other way.

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted April 10, 2016
And yet I still find it difficult to see why the General wouldn't have someone thump her one. I find it even more improbable to rely on someone like that.
She is so rebellious, "I rebel," that she is somehow an asset?

I don't see it. Then again, I never bought into the romanticism folks have for thugs and criminals.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted April 10, 2016
Murph, I reckon they want something stolen so they are hiring a thief.

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted April 10, 2016
Snoooooooze, predictable cliche in action with a gender swap.

Gonna go to sleep now.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted April 9, 2016
Unsurprisingly some fans are unhappy with the choice of protagonist for this movie. Needless to say the editors at the Mary Sue have a response.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted April 10, 2016
So . . . wait . . . the main reason folks are upset is because she is a female lead?

Is that all?

she_jedi asserts...

Posted April 10, 2016
Apparently that's all that's required. Female lead = childhood memories of favourite films destroyed forever in an ocean of MRA tears.

Never mind that for millions of women, childhood memories of films get an almighty *fistpump* when they discover their favourite childhood franchise updated to actually be diverse. I spent my childhood wanting to be Luke Skywalker. Now my niece has Rey and possibly Jyn Erso to model herself on, much to my delight.

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted April 10, 2016
I'm trying to figure out where the poor, dumb, son of a blue collar mechanic was represented in most of the media that I liked as a kid.

Oh, wait, never mind. I never paid attention to those examples because I already knew what what that crap was like.

NBlob reckons...

Posted April 10, 2016
Goomer or Goober Pyle on Andy Griffiths Show don't count?

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted April 11, 2016
Ah, no. Maybe because they were far too nice to match up with the reality I was living with in the form of my father. Maybe if they beat their kids a bit, smoked, and blew all of their money in a bar I might feel different about the example.

Lulu reckons...

Posted April 12, 2016
she_jedi: " I spent my childhood wanting to be Luke Skywalker. Now my niece has
Rey and possibly Jyn Erso to model herself on, much to my delight."

Leia wasn't a bad role model in the original film (later gold bikini notwithstanding). "Into the garbage chute, flyboy!"

she_jedi mutters...

Posted April 12, 2016
Oh heavens no, Leia was a great role model, and I didn't mean to imply she wasn't. But she was also a secondary character. She didn't get to have the final showdown with Vader, or induce him to destroy Palpatine. She DID enable Luke to do this, but even as a child I understood the distinction between Leia being a BAMF and Luke being the hero.

At least with the new movies, Rey and presumably Jyn fulfill both roles, with great male secondary characters helping them along.

Barnesm mutters...

Posted April 12, 2016

I did like in Episode IV A New Hope she grabs her agency half way through the story turning her role from a quest object to active protagonist.

I think the precise moment was when she blasts the grate and shouts "into the garbage chute flyboy"

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2016
How is Leia a secondary character when she is the one with the stolen plans, responsible for transporting them, hiding them, then implementing them? We also see her briefing pilots prior to the attack, giving commands on Hoth, etc, etc, etc.

Secondary? Long before Rey slapped Finn's hand away, there was Leia.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted April 10, 2016
I, like Birmo, think She_Jedi has provided a great self consistent possible explanation for the behaviour seen in that short clip (and with a nom de plume like that I shouldn't be suprised).
Looking forward to Rogue One.

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted April 10, 2016
The behavior is believable, sure.

What isn't believable is that anyone would rely on her for anything. Even with the aforementioned Han Solo there was a great deal of constant cynicism about him and his reliability. We even see that in the last film.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted April 10, 2016
Absolutely; but in the now non-canon universe of books, there was a constant theme of the Alliance, especially in its early days, being held together by gaffa tape and not much else. Needs must when the devil drives etc.

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted April 10, 2016
I'm trying to conjure a scene of George Washington having a chat with a thug over the weaknesses to be found in British defenses at Yorktown.

Instead history tells me about Alexander Hamilton, who wasn't a criminal, wasn't a thug, and even though he WAS indeed a bastard somehow managed to rise above all of that. That was the guy history relied upon.

Ah, it is crap that like that which pretty much ruins Game of Thrones for me as well.

beeso swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 11, 2016
Trailers aren't exactly a reliable insight into a character and character interactions

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted April 11, 2016
True. Maybe she isn't an annoying, disrespectful hazard in the movie.

Conversely, I instantly liked Rey.

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted April 10, 2016
In an unrelated spot of pedantry, my brother objected to the funnel of the Death Star laser being guided into place as a single piece, he wondered why it wasn't built into the Death Star bit by bit.

I argued that something like that had to be precision engineered, otherwise the aim and laser generation would be off, and it was probably assembled in a zero gee environment elsewhere, then transported to the Death Star and put into place, which is the bit we saw in the trailer.

What was funny was the bewildered look on my poor father's face when he overhead our very serious conversation about this, since the last time he checked Star Wars was just a fun movie he took us to when we were kids. Now his adult children were politely arguing over the logistics of construction of the Death Star, while his grandchildren made him watch A New Hope for the second time that day. I got the feeling the brochure on grandparenthood didn't mention any of this, and he was feeling ripped off :)

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted April 10, 2016
Perhaps a more important question to ask is this one.
How did they pay for it?
Money is the sinews of war.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted April 10, 2016
I imagine they taxed the shit out of the federation of planets :)

NBlob mutters...

Posted April 10, 2016
Interesting: how does the empire pay for a series of stars; Death, GBH & Significantly Inconvenient.
Option A: Tax crippling consumption tax hence the hessian.

Option B The Indo model where Armed Forces find alternative income streams. Protection, luxury items, consumables like Imperial Standard dilithium, MRE, Starship-yards.
Option C: Key monopolies- Comms, banking, inter-system bulk commodity shipping.

Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted April 10, 2016
A mix of all of those, I suspect.

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted April 10, 2016
Kickstarter?

Nocturnalist puts forth...

Posted April 10, 2016
They were twelve credits short of the "projectile shielding for the thermal exhaust port" stretch goal when the fundraising window closed.

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted April 11, 2016
Noct, that explains a great many things.

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pi mutters...

Posted April 12, 2016
Interesting piece of rogue one and the militant leftist social justice warrior femi-nazi's and their attack on all things good.

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/what-we-learn-from-the-dialogue-of-2000-hollywood-films-20160411-go3pif.html

NBlob reckons...

Posted April 12, 2016
Nice one Pi.

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Back from the beach

Posted December 6, 2015 into Movies by John Birmingham

And loving this trailer for The Nice Guys, starring Russ and Ryan. Shane Black, the director, is credited with Iron Man 3, but the crucial reference here is Lethal Weapon, his first screenplay and proof that he can write a seminal buddy movie.

It's awesome how Russell Crowe has let out his belt and his innner bogan for this character.

14 Responses to ‘Back from the beach’

Karsoe mutters...

Posted December 6, 2015
Shane Black is also responsible for The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Last Boy Scout, so he has a fair bit of cred in the buddy action genre. In fact, with Lethal Weapon, he may well be one of the pioneers.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted December 6, 2015
Long Kiss Goodnight is the schnitz! Wit' cheese.

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted December 7, 2015
I really loved Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, that was really clever writing. This one looks like a heap of fun

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HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted December 6, 2015
YEP...esp the water wheel fkn scene. YEA FKN HA!...its rocks all round

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 6, 2015
Of course, Shane Black actually acted in a great, kind of buddy movie. Except the buddies kept dying. He was Hawkins in Predator.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted December 7, 2015
But he's no Detective Miller

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted December 7, 2015
Barney Miller?

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted December 7, 2015
'Joe' Miller from The Expanse

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 7, 2015
Just trollin' you.

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Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted December 7, 2015
Oh yeah!
Actually, I think this is better than Iron Man 3.

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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted December 7, 2015
The third comedy crime movie with big stars set in the 1970s being released in a fairly short period. Inherent Vice, American Hustle, The Nice Guys.



Therbs reckons...

Posted December 7, 2015
I think they're doing it for the retro soundtrack options

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Adam Denny would have you know...

Posted March 26, 2016
I think the trailer's great, but forget what I think, Russell seems to be loving every second of it as well, which I reckon is a good sign that this is going to be good. For an actor, even in trailers, I think he finds it hard to hide whether he thinks the movie is shit or not.
BTW, having any of you blokes heard about a film 'SEALs Versus Zombies'? I would swear I saw a kick ass trailer for a few months ago, and since nothing at all. Did anyone see it? What was it like?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted March 29, 2016
Haven't heard of it. Which is odd. It sounds a winner!

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The loss of the video store

Posted November 22, 2015 into Movies by John Birmingham

I used to love visiting the video store a lot more than I love scrolling through Netflix, Stan or iTunes for my televisual needs. Don't get me wrong. I love the convenience of digital distribution, the always there all you can eat buffet. But there was something weird and extra about actually dragging your arse down to the shop.

I've read a couple of really excellent think pieces on the passing of the video store. The best of the indie stores were akin to the finest book shops, a place were people and ideas came together. This piece at Vox by Dennis Perkins, "I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died," is one of the best in a crowded field.

A little taster:

The enemy of video stores was convenience. The victim of convenience is conscious choice.

We watch Netflix like we used to watch television on a slow Sunday night, everything blending together as we flip aimlessly through the channels. At first the choice is overwhelming: all of these options and nothing but the questionable "You Might Like" cue to guide us — we stare at the screen like idiots, paralyzed. But then when we make a choice, if we make a choice, it feels unimportant. Another option is only a click away.

If you're actually in a video store, the stakes are different. You're engaged. You're on a mission to find a movie — the right movie. You had to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to a store. You had to think about what you want, why this movie looks good and not that one, perhaps even seeking guidance or advice. Whether it's from nostalgia, advertising, packaging, reputation, recommendation, or sheer whim, a movie chosen from the shelves attaches you to your choice. Before the film even starts playing, you've begun a relationship with it. You're curious. Whether you've chosen well or poorly, you've made a choice, and you're in it for the duration.

With online streaming, we don't decide — we settle. And when we aren't grabbed immediately, we move on. That means folks are less likely to engage with a film on a deep level; worse, it means people stop taking chances on challenging films. Unlike that DVD they paid for and brought home, a movie on Netflix will be watched only so long as it falls within the viewer's comfort zone. As that comfort zone expands, the desire to look outside of it contracts.

He has many more insights, often touching and brilliant. It's sad to think that something which was once such an important part mass culture will soon pass away. But this is the way of all things.

Read it all here. It's a good Sunday arvo indulgence.

22 Responses to ‘The loss of the video store’

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted November 22, 2015
I think there is a sad piece of irony that these stores, which were supposed to bury movie theaters, have in turn been eaten alive by more advanced technology.

As for visiting such shops, I stopped doing that once it got cheaper just to buy the VHS and later the DVD outright at Wal-Mart.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted November 22, 2015
That irony was indeed explored in the article. And deliciously so.

GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted November 22, 2015
Loved working in video stores in Melbourne in the mid 80s till the early 90s ... in Clayton and in Toorak. Back when Beta and VHS sat side by side on the shelves.

Nothing more exciting than new releases coming out, back then a single VHS unit cost on average $90-100, still remember the buzz over 9 1/2 Weeks.

Dennis Perkins is spot on - you got to know customers like extended family and they expected you to know their viewing habits and always recommend a hit.

Xmas Day was always a riot with someone getting a player but nothing to play on it ... things not so good was dealing with late fees, occasional drunks and oh yeah getting robbed by a guy in overalls carrying a sawn-off.


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Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted November 22, 2015
Perhaps another point of irony. I remember when store front video game arcades closed down one by one, outpaced by the internet and gaming consoles. Yet now there is a hipster pet industry of bringing those old classics from the 1980s and 1990s back to life in arcades fitted out with bars for children of the mullet now grown into the adults they held in contempt during the Hair Band Era.

Maybe someday movie rental stores will experience a similar comeback.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted November 23, 2015
With access online to the gazillion films made throughout history the good ones that should be watched will get buried in the crap. What you might get is guys like the one in the article becoming like a personal trainer. He'll create a movie library base and charge you to stream off his recommendations.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted November 22, 2015
All flesh is grass and time's a lawn mower.

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Spanner mumbles...

Posted November 22, 2015
But my Sunday afternoon indulgence is beer and video games...oh man you used to be cool now it's read this do that, buy my book.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted November 23, 2015
Every time you get into your car to go to the bank, the grocery store, the pharmacy, it is an event. Not, perhaps, as exciting an event as the video release of a film, but still an event. All of these events are disappearing. In my neck of the woods, you can do all of these things - bank, shop for food, obtain medicine - via the internet with delivery to your home. It is the same as accessing a film without the need to leave your house.

[I think it is worth noting that the initial cause of all of this was and still is the desire to access porn in the privacy of our own homes. From photos on demand (Polaroid) to video via private purchase (VHS/Beta/CD/DVD) to streaming content on demand. A big improvement over the previous access mechanisms.]

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted November 23, 2015
Indeed the argument can be made, and I think Crack's Cezary Jen Strusiewicz makes it quite eloquently with remarkably few dick jokes in the piece '5 Ways porn created the modern world."

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted November 23, 2015
What a great article.

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Abe Frellman mumbles...

Posted November 23, 2015
My family was late onto the VHS thing. I think my Dad was so risk averse he didn't want to back the wrong horse so waited until 1987 just to make sure that Betamax wasn't going to stage a comeback. I remember when going to the vid store was such an event - I'd walk from our place near the corner of Botany and Wellington St, past Clayfield Bowl (where I'd stop in for a Slurpee and a game of Star Wars - one of those video games you'd actually climb into and sit inside) and on to the vid store on Junction Rd. And the smell of those places - was there some sort of 'stale sweat' carpet spray that they used to ensure a consistent customer experience?

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted November 23, 2015
It seems we got our first VHS machine at about the same time. Risk had nothing to do with it though. We we're simply dirt poor.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted November 23, 2015
this comes in just as the long suffering Blockbuster in my area finally expired a last gasp of "everything must go. Closing down sale!"

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted November 23, 2015
All of the Blockbusters in our area are long gone. They took a stab at Red Box style rental machines for a bit but those didn't last long either.

Lulu mutters...

Posted November 23, 2015
Our VideoEzy closed recently. I think it's being replaced by expensive apartments.

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Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted November 23, 2015
Possibly because we live in a free-range Boomer sanctuary, there's still an actual, functioning video store at the local shopping centre. Maybe we could get it Heritage listed?

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Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted November 23, 2015
Going in to a JBHiFi or equivalent to buy a complete series on dvd/blu ray is becoming the same for me. I know what I want but get distracted by the various categories which kinda match the old video stores. I see a cheap 3 pack of Caddyshack, Stripes and Ghostbusters and get flashbacks of mull bowls, booze and home made flat bread pizzas.

Quokka reckons...

Posted November 23, 2015
What T-herbs has said.I like browsing JBhi-fi etc just for ideas.We love netflix but the reality is that we'd only watch an hour of non-ABC idiot box fodder at night & we have an enormous pile of shame to plough through in the DVD box sets, anyway.Netflix & the apple TV have been great, but the bottom line is that I've wound up spending more time ereading since the video store disappeared. The kindle, the ipad & the ease of eborrowing from the council library means that I'm probably watching less on the screen than I used to.

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Aaron would have you know...

Posted November 23, 2015
It's funny that someone mentioned porn cause on some ways the same thing is happening g to that. Look what's happened to playboy (not that I am complaining about the umm...convenience)

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Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted November 24, 2015
First it was the video shop across the road closing a few years back, then the other one two blocks up. The real death knell for me was when Dr What at Bondi Junction closed. That was one of the oldest video shops, and carried an immense selection of rare, obscure, arty or hard to find videos...but now they are all available on line with a bit of a search. I can say that we still own a VCR...tried playing something on it the other day and discovered the heads need a good clean as its totally unwatchable! Don't get that on the computer I guess.

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Aaron asserts...

Posted November 24, 2015
I am not surprised but sad to hear dr what is gone. I used to live in bondi 2001 (who knew burger brotherhood was only 3 years away...) and loved that store. Sigh...

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TeamAmerica has opinions thus...

Posted November 24, 2015
I remember going to bookstores like Robbins in Philadelphia or local used book stores and coming across unexpected mags, books or audio cassettes. It was also at least a somewhat social experience. I recall someone at Robbins, a lefty bookstore, suggesting I steal a book I said I couldn't afford. When I responded "You mean liberate it," he didn't catch my sarcasm.

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Star Wars trailer. Still no Luke

Posted October 21, 2015 into Movies by John Birmingham

I'm beginning to wonder if he followed in his father's footsteps. Which, I suppose, is exactly what JJ Abrams wants.

Also nice to see Han raised to the level of barely believed mythic figure. It's a great call back to his scepticism about the Jedi in the first series.

18 Responses to ‘Star Wars trailer. Still no Luke’

Rob reckons...

Posted October 21, 2015


My first thought is it looks like a really well made fan film. Not as good as Pink 5 and Troops but pretty good. But I think that says more about the quality of fan films, the digital revolution and the passion of individuals.

I was actually taken aback by the Han Solo thing, that's a super nice touch. Just like when Han intones in the A new Hope, about kooky religions, old fossils, magical forces controlling his destiny. Now that I've said that , it is actually amazing. Now lets put Attack of the Clones behind us. ( or behind me ...It still hurts...)

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Geoff mutters...

Posted October 21, 2015
I'm assuming we did see Luke just not his face. I guessed he was the one patting R2 on the head with a prosthetic hand in a very brief scene

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Therbs asserts...

Posted October 21, 2015
And these are prolly the highlights of the next confused part of a franchise which should never had gone past one, let alone six movies. Rinse, repeat.

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trib reckons...

Posted October 21, 2015
The fan expectation is already at fever pitch. Abrams is on a hiding to nothing, and if we're seeing the highlights of something disappointing, the backlash will be fierce.

My desperate hope is that it kicks arse and resets the wonder of the original trilogy. Seeing Star Wars at a drive-in as a 10 year old was a foundational experience of my childhood.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted October 21, 2015
God, we can only hope it is really going to be that good.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted October 21, 2015
Low expectations are often met and rarely yield disappointment.

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Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted October 21, 2015
I'm hopeful it won't suck- the scene of the starfighters blasting at zero feet over the lake looks to be worth the price of admission alone.
And how come Chewie hasn't gone grey too, like Han? 44 gallon drums of Grecian 2000?

Rob mutters...

Posted October 21, 2015

when 230 years old you get, look this good; you will not.

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HAVOCK21 ducks in to say...

Posted October 21, 2015
Not sure which one of the trailers its in, but luke is hooded and places his mech hand on R2D2 ya bloody muppet!
But I guess he really is missing. And why are you fkn faffin about again instead of WRITING ANOTHER FKN BOOK!!!!!

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Sparty mumbles...

Posted October 21, 2015
at first I though "oh no none of the dog fights take place in space" but seeing how fake some of the prequel stuff was- that really does look like "real Xwings" heading down a Norwedgian fjord.

I also love the fact that everyone seems to use a lightsabre with intent- not as a twirly look at me baton

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BigTimeTexasTeaserPony is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2015
I thought it was anti-white. They put a black guy in it. Jesus.

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Shifty Tourist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2015
I really liked the trailer, and am more excited than I should be for this to be released.
However the lack of Luke makes me fear the may have nicked the absolute knuckleheadiest of knuckleheaded ideas of the EU and made Luke have turned to the dark side as "the twist." This would be an unforgivable narrative sin in my opinion, by completely missing the entire point of the original movies.
To my mind, they are already on shaky ground by the Empire still being a thing (ok, the New Order... but if it quacks like Galactic Empire...) and by what appears to be another superweapon. But these at least are not unforgivable if done right and written skillfully. But two sins would be unforgivable to my mind.
Luke turned to the Sith and/or the Emperor brought back as a clone.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2015
Who's face is that at 1:02?

Shifty Tourist mumbles...

Posted October 22, 2015
The torturer or the torturered?
The torturer is the purported big bad, played by Adam Driver (?) Kylo Ren. The tortured is Poe Dameron, the X-wing pilot badassing (its a verb now) across the lake in the first trailer.
At least that is according the entertainment sits I've spent... well... probably a bit too much time on.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted October 22, 2015
It's looking like one of the very early supposed leaks of the script was accurate rather than fan wank.

Anyway, Gold Class at 12.15AM on the 17th here.

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Spanner mumbles...

Posted October 23, 2015
Obi Wan: I feel a great disturbance in the force.Han: That's not a disturbance in the force it's the sound of 50,000,000 nerds fapping.

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bazzaa swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 25, 2015
So what am I looking at when 1:03 rolls around?

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