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  1. I agree—though Madi has now tripped for the second competition in a row, which seems uncharacteristic. Very happy they won anyway, but that’s got to grate if you scored below them at either competition. H/D have been retooling their FD all season trying to get it to score higher. I think it’s just a clunker of a program, at the end of the day, and Zach can’t seem to skate it cleanly on top of that. Knowing them, there has to be some frustration that they were in Montreal “first,” and C/B have now overtaken them after joining up two seasons ago (and really only one full season because of Madi C’s surgery last year). I do think it seems very crowded there, and very UNcrowded with Marina, especially considering Marina has had a team on the podium for the last how many Olympics now? It’s at least four (Belbin/Agosto in 2006, Virtue/Moir and Davis/White in 2010 and then in reversed order in 2014, the Shib Sibs in 2018). I know some of those were when she was with Igor, but he hasn’t had the same success since the split that she has. All that said, Zach‘s girlfriend and Madison’s fiancée also train in Montreal. I wonder if that might be a sticking factor in their venturing out elsewhere, or if Smart/Diaz would also make a switch at that point. I wonder if there’s any regret for leaving Calalang/Johnson off the worlds team after seeing their relative success here in an international field.
  2. I found that very underwhelming. I think they were going for the Lost type finale, where we ignore the fact that none of this makes sense and we don’t really like it because they gave us the emotional payoff. I agree with others that I was never going to love this because I fundamentally disagree with the showrunners that Oliver’s story had to end with his death. To me, it’s actually the easier answer and shows less creativity. But even if I agreed, it was always going to be a hard sell to have a finale of Arrow that featured almost no present day Oliver, and I don’t think they nailed it at all. The whole thing just felt kind of...meh. Even the last two brilliant minutes that relied on the amazing chemistry EBR and SA have always had weren’t enough to justify the episode as a whole. Plus, Oliver can bring back Tommy, his mom, Lance, and the mansion (and his dad’s company) but not Roy’s arm? And if QC hadn’t gone under, Ray Palmer never would have-you know what? Never mind. It’s not even worth thinking this absurdity through.
  3. I think Vincent is a fair choice for worlds when you take into account what the circumstances have been. Cain and LeDuc though- it almost seems like they were given the spot solely because they’re the ones who earned it last year.
  4. Very happy with the dance results. I agree that H/D’s program has improved, but IMO isn’t on the level of C/B even though the snake dance still makes me vaguely uncomfortable. I feel like both H/D and P/C started taking their top spots for granted and getting a bit too...I don’t want to say pretentious, but honestly I’m thinking pretentious...with their choices. H/D keeps choosing music with a prologue and spoken dialogue and I think everyone has caught on that their only chemistry and performance level is overdramatic romantic agony/clutching. Regarding Zach’s on ice apology time Madison, apparently (according to Madison) they came out of their first spin in the wrong direction, which reversed the next four elements for them. I assume that was his goof, not hers, hence the apology. I still don’t like H/B’s free at all (and international judges seemed to widely agree), but this was the best I’ve seen them perform it. Amazing skate by Calalang and Johnson. Really beautiful pairs elements and skills. They have a lot of potential if they can skate cleanly. I am so done with Les Mis in general for skating programs—but if you’re going to choose it, why oh why would you pick the MOVIE version? Andrea Joyce is really embarrassing, you guys.
  5. Hope everyone had their cameras ready! Those smiles were the most forced I think I’ve seen so far. Very interesting to see C/B in first even with the tiny loss of balance. That has to send a message. Seems like the tide really is turning, and I hope it lasts. I so vastly prefer Evan and Madi. Maybe if Madison H hadn’t HAD to be Marilyn Monroe and skate to the creepy My Heart Belongs to Daddy, the shift would never have started. Interesting also to hear Tanith state that C/B’s lift was by far the best in the competition. I do think the relative height difference between the pairs allows C/B to do more in terms of lifts than H/D. That was a beautiful and moving skate from Gracie. I hope she’s happy with it.
  6. After another rewatch of the 1994 version, I’ve decided that professor Bhaer was the weakest point for me in the new version. Professor Bhaer doesn’t have to be “eye candy.” He DOES have to be intelligent and critical of Jo’s writing while still being kind, genuine and generous. He DOES have to seem like he loves Jo’s mind, rather than just being physically attracted to her. This version really didn’t do it for me and I had no investment in whether or not Jo married him—which, as I write that sentence, I come to realize was possibly the point. Happy to see Florence Pugh with a well deserved nomination (Saoirse was always a given). VERY disappointed not to see a nod for Gerwig. I think that was a real miss by the academy.
  7. I saw it again and liked it a bit better (though I did also enjoy it the first time) maybe because I knew exactly what to expect so I could enjoy the parts that I liked more without being as “wait, what?” about the other parts. But one thing that bothered me a lot this time around was how Rey kept leaving her friends in danger to go chase Kylo Ren. It was her fault that Chewie was captured, and the only reason that the rest of her friends got away is that Kylo literally stood there and let them go. Then she left Poe and Finn on their own on the Star Destroyer and, save Hux’s unexpected interference, they’d be dead. At least Luke had awareness that he was endangering his friends because his father could sense him. Rey just kept leaving them in impossible positions so she could go flirt. I know the second one was theoretically about the dagger, but it didn’t ring quite true to me. Both times she gets that “force” look and then rapidly and vaguely excuses herself, leaving the boys in peril. Yup! Furthermore, after seeing this Idea being floated around post TROS, the author of the comic and the story group confirmed that Palpatine is not Anakin’s father. Rey and Ben/Kylo are not related. At the same time though, it can be a meta argument to contend that there’s no narrative reason Rose needed a bigger role. The writers write the narrative. The reason she’s not narratively necessary is because that’s not what they wrote. I personally can’t find it a coincidence that she’s the character who was introduced by Rian—I assume not using her was part of what seems to be JJ’s middle finger to him in this movie. But the fact that so many people, casual and hardcore fans alike, are questioning it or commenting on it indicates to me that not using Rose did leave a hole in this movie and in the end of this trilogy, the same way excising Poe or Finn or even Hux from movie two would have left a hole. When someone is established a s a leading character, you expect them to do something. The fact that she’s a mechanic isn’t relevant. Rey was also a mechanic/scavenger. If they had wanted her in the story, they would have found a way to put her in the story. The suggestion from Chris that she had lots of scenes but they were all unusable isn’t going to satisfy anyone who was bothered by this. I like this thought. Similarly, while I know there are people unhappy with Rey ending the movie in Tatooine because she’s back on a sand planet alone, it occurs to me that that’s sort of the point. Physically, she’s in a very similar place to where she started in TFA. But she’s content, because spiritually she’s in a completely different place. She’s a Jedi with a family. She’s not alone anymore, and she knows what her place in the world is. I think this is really interesting, because this wasn’t my interpretation from TLJ and it helps me see where some of the confusion about the ship being established in TLJ is coming in. I felt that Rey DID get to see and know aspects of Ben Solo during TLJ. We establish from the beginning that Kylo Ren is a character who is caught between the dark and the light. I felt that through their conversations, the part of Kylo that was light (the Ben part) truly connected with and cared about Rey, understanding some of her experiences in a way other people couldn’t. I assumed that they also had conversations we didn’t get to see, since by the time they go to touch hands they both seem to have a deeper understanding of each other. When he tells her she’s not alone, I felt it was sincere, as was his relief and awe at her returning the sentiment. When he killed Snoke, I thought he was very close to turning back to the light, but ultimately couldn’t break free of his problematic thought structure about the world and need for power. And then of course Rey “abandoned” him, as he saw it, and the rage cycle kicked in and Ben Solo was more fully eclipsed by Kylo Ren. There was ALSO some manipulation and gaslighting in there, particularly when he’s trying to get her to turn, which to me reflected that Ben/Kylo himself had been so groomed by an abuser that he has internalized that as a way to interact with people and get what you want from them. But based on that movie, I felt that the Ben part of Kylo genuinely had a soft spot for Rey and it made sense to me that in this movie he didn’t want to kill her. From Rey’s perspective, I think she saw true parts of Ben Solo and of course had a vision (that played out in this movie) that he would turn and fight beside her. But also... THIS. No amount of Ben Solo being in there and connecting with Rey does or would mitigate what Kylo Ren has done. He’s not, as the shippers insist, “a soft boi” (whatever that even means), and that thought is really concerning. As is some of the anger that Rey “rejected” Kylo by saying she only wanted Ben. Of course she rejected Kylo! Kylo is a mass murdering sociopath! Oy vey. I do have to say that if there’s one thing that makes me doubt my own interpretation from TLJ, it’s Driver’s acting in this one. He so clearly establishes that Ben Solo is a completely different person than Kylo, which makes me wonder if we were really seeing any of him in TLJ. Incidentally, I also think the people who think it would have been more interesting or satisfying for him to live—not in a HEA but to have to atone to the universe—are drawing from how compelling Driver’s short time inhabiting the character was. I’m not talking about the shippers, because that’s another story completely. Unfortunately, even if they had left the door open on him in the hopes of adding supplementary material at some point, I’m sure Adam Driver is done.
  8. I don’t think anyone is saying she didn’t, or that Gerwig invented this portion of Amy. What is being said, and what I agree with, is that Gerwig is really the first director to highlight these sections of the text and use them to inform the depiction of Amy. None of the previous adaptations give much time or exploration to Amy’s motivations and thought process. Whether or not you like Samantha Mathis (I do, personally), she didn’t have anything like the material Pugh got for this one. She doesn’t get to talk about why she needs to marry rich or the box she has been forced into, or the idea that the only way she could truly have power was to embrace and own the decision. The 1994 version doesn’t include Aunt March directly telling Amy that her entire family is dependent on her marrying well. I always loved the Europe scenes between Amy and Laurie in the 1994 version, especially him touching her nose, but despite her scolding him and him harrumphing off to grow up, he still comes off to me as the one with the power in the relationship. Samantha Mathis plays adult Amy as sort of coy and gentle, and Pugh’s approach is different. This version also, IMO, highlights more the ways Jo plays into and instigates the Amy/Jo sometimes fraught dynamic, which helps Amy come across as less of a brat. And the fact that ultimately Amy marries Laurie even though he’s less rich than Fred is acknowledged in this version as well. I love the 1994 movie. I think it’s incredibly well done and in many ways is a more faithful adaptation of the book than this version since it is chronological and more thorough. But I think both movies can exist and actually supplement each other in certain ways, because this movie also brings pieces that the 1994 movie lacks. It’s not a criticism of the 1994 movie, just an inevitability of two incredibly capable directors with amazing casts each adapting a book they love. There are strengths to each, things each does better and things each does not as well as the other. If you love the 1994 version, still give this one a chance. I also love the 1994 version, and seeing and loving this one made me want to watch both again.
  9. I was so excited to see this, because I love Little Women. At the same time, I felt nothing for me would ever top the Winona version, which is the one I grew up with. But wow, I really loved this. I appreciated that it jumped around in time a bit because it was a way of telling the story that hasn’t been done before. The scenes of Beth being sick and getting well juxtaposed with Beth being sick and dying—I mean, how can you get more poignant than that? My entire theater was crying. I LOVED the way this version handled Jo’s marriage and think it was the most faithful to Louisa’s real wishes and values while still giving audiences the ending they’ve come to expect. And maybe most importantly, hats off to Gerwig and Florence Pugh—finally, finally there is justice for Amy! I have always had a soft spot for her and book Amy/Laurie was a favorite ship of mine when I was growing up. There is more going on with Amy than being a brat, and this adaptation finally figured it out and got it right. I loved the way Gerwig wove Jo’s resentment at her for getting everything so easily in Jo’s eyes in with the scenes showing that Amy is under pressure to marry well not just for herself and her own needs, but to secure the future of her entire family—and that while Jo is off finding herself and trying to make her own way on her own terms, Amy is under the thumb of Aunt March in Paris trying to make choices that will help her family survive. So well done.
  10. A hundred percent. Also because JJ clearly thought it looked cool. But I think it was Rian Johnson with the right idea here. Putting a helmet on an actor like Driver is a crime. Let the guy act. I don’t want to crush any shipper dreams, but my immediate thought is that picture is from filming Pasaana scenes. They used Jordan for both desert planets, so the setting would look the same. The Reylos are also convinced another ending was shot with Ben and Rey, interestingly. My initial interpretation of what Finn was going to say was the same as yours, but the force sensitive reveal makes more sense in terms of what Finn’s presented storyline was in this movie, if not the delivery. I do think it was purposely ambiguous, though. Which makes the fact that this movie isn’t better even more of a disappointment. Oh, what could have been. I love the ongoing thoughtful discussion about whether Rey as a Kenobi is logistically possible. I also guarantee that if that’s what JJ had wanted to do, he would have done so with no thought as to whether it made sense and drummed up some sort of half thought out explanation later when called on to explain it. I’m remembering more and more that JJ’s thing is big twists and reveals with no actual in world explanations. See: Rimbaldi and smoke monster. You’re absolutely right and I don’t know why I keep letting myself forget it with each new project. Fool me...what are we up to, five times? Shame on both me and him, I think. How cool would it have been to have a hint dropped in movie one or two that Finn wasn’t the only one, followed by the reveal in this one? This is why it’s good to plan trilogies out before they’re made. In terms of Ben’s fate, I think it’s pretty clear that he had to die. The perception of that relationship is interesting because people have SUCH different views of it. The people who are into the ship firmly believe that Ben was tortured by the dark side invading his head since birth (which I do think was alluded to by Palps in this movie) and was essentially an abuse victim who deserved a happy ending. (The fact that he’s a mass murderer doesn’t seem to be generally reflected on at all.) I personally think Star Wars has always been about being accountable for your own actions, and Kylo killed or was an accessory to killing literally planets worth of people, so I don’t really see how you get away from that no matter how sad you think his childhood was. I agree that the ending he got, reverting to Ben and getting to kiss the girl who cared about BEN (not Kylo) once was the absolute best one possible for the character. Anyone who believes they could have let him get the girl in the end and live isn’t seeing this very clearly, IMO. This. There was so much hedging here. It really did seem like JJ was trying to throw a bone to everyone, but I think the reaction has been the opposite. None of the fandom bases got everything they wanted with the result that most people are annoyed or disappointed. Somehow both the shippers AND the anti shippers are unhappy with how things turned out, which is a pretty amazing (anti) achievement.
  11. I had the exact same series of thoughts about the woman who played Sandy. She definitely looked the part, but she couldn’t sing at all. What a frustrating way to cast a high school show. There were some pretty good singers in that cast whom you could have stuck a wig on and had a better overall show.
  12. I totally agree about the wasted potential that was lost due to severe missteps with pacing in movie two. I think a Palpatine return at the end of the second movie could have really set up the third so nicely and given us direction and a clear mission statement for movie three two years ago, which I think would have helped this one tremendously. The fact is that going in, no one even really knew what the story was going to be, and that’s not a great trait in a concluding movie of a trilogy. I think Rose was sidelined because she wasn’t JJ’s creation or idea, and therefore he had no interest in her. Truly a shame that in shunting her off he unintentionally validated the internet trolls. SO crazy. I really can’t imagine what they were thinking, and clearly their “strategy” to just let the directors do whatever really mucked this whole thing up. I think the issue with TLJ was that Disney/Lucas Film allegedly really liked it. I think it must have been a shock for them when the fans had such a strong negative reaction, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they overcorrected in this one by interfering too much. I agree that in light of Carrie’s death, he likely had a different outlook and wasn’t too tough a sell. He basically had to finish her story for her. And that scene was one of my favorites of the movie. I thought reenacting the scene from TFA but from the opposite context was pretty smart, and the “Dad,” “I know,” exchange was beautiful and heartbreaking to me. That said, I have always found Kylo/Ben fascinating, mostly due to Driver’s acting, and I have been expecting a redemption storyline since TFA released. I’m sure others who weren’t as invested in the character didn’t love that scene the way I did. I initially felt like Kylo’s turn back to Ben was too abrupt, but in thinking about it more and discussing it with others it makes sense to me that in healing him, Rey restored part of his soul as well and helped him heed that call to the light. She even healed that lightsaber scar, making him visually a different person. His father’s forgiveness was the last obstacle in his way to believe he could go back. I really do wish we had gotten more of Ben if only because Adam’s acting really rose to the task of showing him as a different character than Kylo. I mean, for all intents and purposes his only line was “ow.”
  13. Like others, I’ll start by saying that I enjoyed it and move on to my head-scratchers. I fully agree that the main problem was how overcrowded this movie was, but I’m also not sure how it could have been avoided. It basically had to do the work of two movies, because in retrospect the only part of TLJ that was relevant to this one was the relationship between Kylo and Rey. A lot of us were confused and concerned by the whole director switch-off/everyone gets to write their own movie deal, and clearly that concern was totally justified. Rian should have touched base about what his bridge movie actually needed to do to move plot forward, and J.J. should have done more with the actual movie that exists in this universe rather than just getting back in the director’s chair and saying, “Okay, that was fun, now back to the real movies.” I feel awful for Kelly Marie Tran. Just because J.J. didn’t create the character doesn’t mean Rose wasn’t meaningful to people. She practically had a sign in this movie that said, “sidelined.” I’m torn about the Palpatine granddaughter reveal. I don’t really see it as a retcon because I have a feeling this is what J.J. always intended. On one hand, I like the poetic symmetry of Kylo Ren being the child of heroes and Rey being related to the villain. It also gives Rey a built in conflict. OTOH, I loved the idea that Rey was related to no one and had to make her own place in the story. Rey could have had natural conflict about being attracted to the dark side the same way all normal people battle their anger and rage and hate. Isn’t that, on the most basic level, what these movies are about? Rian even set that up last movie, though heaven forbid we use anything from him. (Granted, a lot of it was unusable.) I’ve been predicting Bendemption for a long time, so I wasn’t surprised by that. And I loved the very small bit of Ben Solo in action that we got. I personally thought the kiss was cute, but I’ve always thought the characters had major chemistry, and I felt both were hard-playing romantic vibes in the last movie. As soon as Palps told Kylo he’d need to kill Rey to get the army, I thought, “Were you not listening in on Forcetime? You’ve misread the situation.” I think there were a lot of reasons the character couldn’t be left alive, but I also thought there was some wiggle room there in his death, with Palpatine talking about their shared life force and how they would live or die together. If you’re really invested in the character and squint hard I think you could fanwank him back. I’m not sure why we had the almost sexual tension between Rey and Poe to begin the movie. It never was paid off. Similarly, what WAS Finn going to tell Rey? I feel like they made it so clear the two are just friends and then hit the backspace button, at least on his end (as it seems clear her attention was elsewhere). Finn and Poe and Rey and Finn have amazing, earned bonds. Poe and Rey spent literally ten seconds of screen time together prior to this movie, and I think that was another miscalculation. They seem like people who tolerate each other rather than friends. I liked Zorii but we got so little of her. I think it’s a shame that after Rian cued it up, we got no acknowledgement of any of the issues with the Jedi order or how they could be resolved in a new generation. That part felt authentic to the prequel trilogy and like something worth exploring, maybe even a reason to DO a sequel trilogy. Instead, we reverted right back to “Jedi good, Sith bad, fight!” Making a great action movie doesn’t mean you have to cut out layers of meaning. For all the problems with TLJ, the corruption of the Jedi order was a huge theme of the prequels that has still not been resolved. So close and yet so far.
  14. I thought the husband/wife team who played the leads were incredibly good, especially him. It’s funny that in high school the other two guys were competing over the big roles, because his voice was so great and effortless that he could probably perform professionally if he wanted to. His acting seemed really on target also. And he seemed to be besotted with his wife, which was very sweet. While it wasn’t really addressed, there seemed to be a strange undercurrent of tension between Laura and her theater teacher parents, from their casting her in the ensemble originally (and with that voice, no less) to the story about her mom telling her not to break up with her boyfriend because it might affect the show, to her mom apparently giving her kissing tips on stage. It seemed to culminate in that little moment where the mom asked the dad if he had seen her mistake, and the dad blaming it on Laura not coming in her with cue. The mistake that WE saw had nothing to do with Laura. The mom simply started her line at the wrong time and had to be cut off by the reprise of the song. The whole thing just made me glad that Laura’s husband seems so very loving and supportive, because from this very small snippet I felt for her with regard to her parents. While there was a slight exploitative feel to the whole wheelchair storyline (gee, can’t believe he got cast as Will Parker again! It’s almost like they were ALWAYS going to have him play the same role, just this time in a wheelchair), it was still incredibly moving to see his family in the audience watching him perform his solo dance number. That said, why would they use a choreographer who had no experience in working with someone in a wheelchair?
  15. I totally agree. They were both right about some things and wrong about other things, and I don’t think either was really meant to be more in the right than the other. I do think that because Driver gave such an unbelievably strong performance, in some ways it feels easier to be sympathetic to him and see him as the victim of the situation when we factually know that isn’t really the case. Charlie’s genuine insistence that Nicole wouldn’t have purposely done things to give herself an advantage in the divorce proceedings was heartbreaking, but at the same time part of his confusion likely stemmed from the fact that Charlie was so used to everything being on his terms when it came to the marriage and their family. It was a nice metaphor that he was a director, and specifically her director, and that she didn’t get to direct until she started building a life without him. And another great point about the attorneys. Alan Alda basically spelled it out for him—if he got more aggressive, they would ask for half the grant money and he STILL wouldn’t get what he wanted in terms of where Henry would live. And yet you fully understand why he spent the money to hire Ray Liotta, even though it ended up being exactly what Alan Alda told him would happen.
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