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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

There’s just something about the opening moments of a Star Wars movie. The quiet “a long time ago…,”, the iconic John Williams music, and the moment that the title crawl begins. Now that we’re destined to get a new Star Wars movie every year from now until forever, that impact may at some point wear off, but not yet. The feeling of seeing Episode VIII go across the screen is one that really is still one that’s as every bit as powerful as finally seeing Episode VII appear in the title crawl two years ago.

The Force Awakens ended on a cliffhanger, so for the first time we get a Star Wars movie that picks up pretty much right where the last one left off. The Starkiller base has been destroyed but so has the republic as well as any military presence that the republic may have. The First Order is now the de facto biggest power in the galaxy, and General Leia’s Resistance is even more Rebel Alliance 2.0 than before if that’s possible. General Hux ( Domhnall Gleeson) opens up the movie trying to stop an evacuation of the Resistance. In the opening sequence Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) tries to attack and destroy the far outpowered First Order Dreadnaught ship, and while his squadron is ultimately successful in taking out the bigger ship, the victory comes a cost that possibly puts the remains of the Resistance in even greater danger than they were before.

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For those who have never heard of the Winchester Mystery House, it’s a popular “true” ghost story in American History. Sarah Winchester, one of the wealthiest women in the world thanks to her 50% stake in the Winchester Repeating Arms company, oversaw the never ending construction and expansion of the Winchester mansion which was worked on for thirty-eight years until her death. The ghost story about the mansion is that Sarah Winchester believed that the mansion had to be built to appease the spirits of those who were killed by the weapons made by the Winchester company. The never ending, haphazard construction of the mansion lead to bizarre architecture including doors and staircases that would lead to nowhere and windows that didn’t look outside but rather into different rooms and hallways.

The maze of a mansion captured the public’s imagination and the mansion, along with its story became a popular tourist destination for those interested in the supernatural, including the famous Harry Houdini who is said to have been the one to give the mansion the name ‘Mystery House.’

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Thurgood Marshall lived a long, fascinating life. He argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court including, most famously, Brown vs. Board of Education. He was also the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court. None of this is explored in this movie. The movie isn’t a biopic detailing the life of the man it’s named after, but instead, it’s a movie that focuses solely on one case early in his career.

In the early 1940s Thurgood Marshall was an attorney for the NAACP, traveling the country and defending clients who were being persecuted in the courtroom due to their race. The person in question for the case that is covered by the movie was a man named Joseph Spell, a chauffeur who was accused of a wealthy, upper class white woman of raping her multiple times before throwing her over the side of a bridge attempting to drown her.  When Marshall arrives in Connecticut, he’s faced with a world of obstacles. Not being a member of the Connecticut bar, Marshall is not allowed to talk in the courtroom, meaning that the reluctant Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad) is forced to be the one to speak for the defense while Marshall sits silently at the table, communicating to Friedman through brief notes and raised eyebrows.

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The Weird State of Streaming Services

One of the biggest announcements coming out of Hollywood this past month was that Disney would be ending their deal with Netflix to start their own streaming service. Now, before everyone starts to panic, this isn’t going to take place right away. Disney movies that are on Netflix (including the Marvel and Star Wars movies) will still be there when you get home. Disney movies and shows should still continue to be on Netflix through the end of next year and, depending on how certain deals were written, some even longer than that. (For example, the Marvel Defenders series will remain on Netflix)
But this news about a potential new streaming service drowned out an announcement from another streaming service that happened this past month as well. See So, the comedy based streaming service announced that they would be shutting down at the end of the year.
While most people can name the three big streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu) and maybe a handful of others, the fact of the matter is that there are way more streaming services popping up than you can possibly keep track of. If there is a niche out there that you might be interested in, there’s a fair chance you can find a monthly subscription streaming service that might cater to that niche.

Box Office Report: Jumanji

It really can’t be avoided anymore. We have to talk about the unbelievable box office story that is Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. This past weekend, Jumanji was once again the highest grossing movie at the box office. Seven weeks after its debut, Jumanji is still able to top the weekend at the box office. Yes there have been a few of those weeks where Jumanji came in at number two in the weekly rundown (it did open the weekend after Star Wars after all) but all in all, Jumanji’s box office dominance is something that nobody was expecting.
The movie has grossed over $350 million domestically making it The Rock’s highest domestic grossing movie of his career (yes, even more than any of his movies in the Fast and the Furious franchise) and has brought in over $850 million worldwide making it Sony’s fifth highest grossing movie ever with no end in sight (Only Spider-Man and James Bond movies have grossed more worldwide and Jumanji’s number continues to climb). To continue to put in perspective just how bonkers huge of a hit this movie is, Jumanji is a movie that was released in December that was the number one movie at the box office in a weekend February. This is something that hasn’t happened for twenty years, and the last movie to do that was Titanic.
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