Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Tag: Star Wars

Mourning Carrie Fisher (and Celebrity)

Mourning Carrie Fisher (and Celebrity)

 

Whenever we lose another celebrity the Interwebs assemble into two primary factions. 1. Those that mourn. 2. Those that begrudge the need to mourn. The latter faction shames the former for feeling sorrow in the wake of the celebrity death. “Celebrity” assumes that we had no real life connections to the deceased — that they were merely a face on the screen or a voice on the radio, merely a fictional personality.

I never knew Carrie Fisher. I never spoke to her at a press junket or a fan convention. Zero direct or indirect contact. But as long as there’s been a “me,” there’s been Princess Leia. Let’s start at the beginning. I was born in 1978, the year after the release of Star Wars. I saw the film at such an age that I do not recall any moment in my life that predates knowledge of the film.

 

mourning carrie fisher

 

I lay no special claim to the following statements, and I know for a fact that I am not alone.

Carrie Fisher was my first crush. Of course, I crushed on Princess Leia and the hair buns and the “into the garbage shoot, flyboy” confidence, the girl that led a rebellion and, lets be honest, the girl that wore the gold bikini. I was of a certain impressionable age. There was just no getting around it. I was and remain only human. Like many others, Leia was my earliest exposure to cinematic badass femininity.

Of course, as I grew older I distanced the Princess Leia character from the actress Carrie Fisher.

Princess Leia belonged to that unassailable, ideal part of my childhood. The part that worshipped all things Star Wars, watched the original trilogy movies on a loop, went as an Ewok one Halloween, made my mom design different Star Wars-themed birthday cakes each year, paused my VHS tape and counted the number of stormtroopers present when Darth Vader arrives on the Death Star and requested that many stormtrooper action figures for Christmas. I had Star Wars bed sheets and posters of all three movies over my bed. I received phone calls on my Darth Vader telephone. These memories cannot be taken from me. They remain pure, perfect nostalgia.

 

mourning carrie fisher

 

I came to see Carrie Fisher meanwhile as a beautiful, damaged, three-dimensional human. As I struggled with feelings of depression during my early 30’s, I looked to her — someone who’d lived with mental illness — as a figure of hope. Someone who knew what bottom felt like and spoke openly about her experiences, using her celebrity to bring awareness to an issue that remained, apparently, off-limits for dinner conversation. And she did so with wit and wisdom and brazen self-awareness. She’d experienced darkness and as a sort of self-satirist could make light of her troubles without undermining the struggles of anyone else. The world seemed healthier, more honest and more colorful with Carrie Fisher dishing stories about her addictions and the absurdities of her life in Hollywood as Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia and daughter of Hollywood royalty, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

This week we all had to say goodbye to that voice, that wit, that beacon of hope. I have mourned her passing on social media and in the privacy of my home. For the first time in all of our years together, my wife suggested we watch Star Wars to celebrate Carrie, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready to admit that she was really gone. Instead I cleaned the house and blared John Coltrane on vinyl. I wasn’t ready to recognize that the 19-year-old woman who’d catalyzed these films that I’d loved throughout my entire lifetime with the line “Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope,” was really gone.

No, I never met Carrie Fisher, but I have shed a few tears over her passing. I will mourn her as an actress. I will mourn her as a voice of reason amidst the madness of our self-obsessed modern culture. And I will mourn the passing of part of my ideal, unassailable youth — my now somewhat imperfect nostalgia. It sounds selfish — but that is our frame of reference for “Celebrity” — the ways in which they’ve touched our lives through their art. I will mourn because I feel sadness, and that’s the first step toward being better, no matter the scope or scale of that loss.

 

mourning carrie fisher

 

And now having just finished the first draft of this bl-g post, I’ve learned that Debbie Reynolds has also passed. And just like that– another radiant beacon of positivity has been extinguished. As fans of cinema we loved them both like family. I cannot imagine the feeling of loss within their real family. 

 

Rancho Deluxe

Rancho Deluxe, etc.: The Best Things I Watched This Week

I haven’t ponied up for a BTIWTW post in a few weeks, but this week I was inspired to return to the typewriter by a treasure trove of “Best Things.” This collection will run the gamut of movies to talk shows to sports highlights to one specific movie trailer that I guarantee gave people of a certain age some serious feels. No more exposition. Let’s get on with the Things.

besthingIwatchedthisweek2


 

1. Rancho Deluxe

Rancho Deluxe movie poster

When you stumble across a little sleeper of a film that contends for a spot in your Top 100 movies of all time, it makes all the bad ones worthwhile. It’s why we keep going back to the well. It’s why we keep watching old movies that few people remember rather than falling back on old favorites. Old favorites are great. They’re the backbone of any movie collection, but they’re old and they’re favorites. When we watch them, expectations are met and cockles are warmed, but there’s nothing like the thrill of “discovering” a new love. That happened to me this week. I picked up Rancho Deluxe because the film stars a very young Jeff Bridges, Clifton James (Sheriff J.W. Pepper in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun), Slim Pickens and Harry Dean Stanton along with a few other very recognizable faces.

Rancho Deluxe has all the makings of a cult film without any of the hyperbolic Internet ballyhoo. This is documented decadence of the traditional cinematic Western. Why doesn’t this film get its due hyperbolic praise? Maybe because the film lacks a specific genre. It’s part teen comedy, part satire, part Western dystopia viewed through nostalgia that still romanticizes the ideologies of the Old West.

Through the perspective of two young Montanta misfits (Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston), Rancho Deluxe views the West as a comedy of overidentified ways and means. The cattle farmers and ranchers living high on the hog from merely “showing bulls” and reveling in their pre-existing wealth. So bored that they’re hunting cattle rustlers because they’ve got no other way to fill their days. The youth growing up in this modern frontier without education or potential employment and tormenting the cattle barons “for sport.” There’s a brothel scene, pot smoking, very un-PC bits of dialogue (“Mexican Overdrive” = “neutral”), the old steer in the motel room gag and conversations filmed only in the reflection on the glass of a Pong video game machine.

Rancho Deluxe pong

I should start by saying that Roger Ebert hated Rancho Deluxe. Reading his review, I can’t help but think he overlooked the entire point of the film. Likewise for many other critics of the film in 1975. It’s possible everyone was just too close to the glory days of the classic cinematic Western. Maybe Rancho Deluxe was a little jokey to see the dose of wickedness behind the gags. Whatever the reason, I f’ing loved this film, though it begs for some restoration and a Blu-ray treatment. The current DVD is terribly muddy and hardly does the brilliant Big Sky landscapes justice. Should you want to give Rancho Deluxe the shot at being your newest favorite, the movie is available on YouTube. I’ll toss the embed below:

 

2. This Catch by Nolan Arenado

Any baseball fan will immediately compare this catch to Derek Jeter’s 2004 catch. This catch tops it. Arenado made this catch over his shoulder and running straight back from his position at 3B. Jeter’s catch is made legendary by the theatricality of his Greg Louganis into the seats. The angle of approach makes Arenado’s far more impressive, plus he almost doubles up the runner trying to advance. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two. No contest. It’ll probably be the best catch you’ll see this year.

 

3. Ad-Rock on The Daily Show

The Mutual Admiration Society joined The Daily Show on Monday night when Beastie Boy Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz sat down for a chat with his fanboy Jon Stewart on Monday night. The two bromanced, talked vinyl, how Ad-Rock didn’t remember meeting Jon Stewart during his days at MTV (not sure he remembers much from those days at all) and then engaged in an admittedly cursory discussion of Horowitz’s movie appearance in While We’re Young. Stewart has always conveyed sincerity, but this talk with the equally sincere Ad-Rock reminds us that even stars are full-on stammering fanboys when confronted with their idols. They’re just more eloquent than the rest of us.

Any baseball fan will immediately compare this catch to Derek Jeter’s 2004 catch. This catch tops it. Arenado made this catch over his shoulder and running straight back from his position at 3B. Jeter’s catch is made legendary by the theatricality of his Greg Louganis into the seats. The angle of approach makes Arenado’s far more impressive, plus he almost doubles up the runner trying to advance. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two. No contest. It’ll probably be the best catch you’ll see this year.

 

3. Ad-Rock on The Daily Show

The Mutual Admiration Society joined The Daily Show on Monday night when Beastie Boy Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz sat down for a chat with his fanboy Jon Stewart on Monday night. The two bromanced, talked vinyl, how Ad-Rock didn’t remember meeting Jon Stewart during his days at MTV (not sure he remembers much from those days at all) and then engaged in an admittedly cursory discussion of Horowitz’s movie appearance in While We’re Young. Stewart has always conveyed sincerity, but this talk with the equally sincere Ad-Rock reminds us that even stars are full-on stammering fanboys when confronted with their idols. They’re just more eloquent than the rest of us.

 

4. And then, yesterday, there was this f’ing thing.

Narration by Mark Hamill. The voice of Harrison Ford breaking through the fade to black just before the image of Han Solo and Chewbacca. More teases of the John Williams score. The goddamn teaser trailer made me teary eyed. A SUB-TWO-MINUTE TEASER TRAILER. Every time I watch the thing I run through all sorts of gooey feels. I never had any doubts that J.J. Abrams would be good for Star Wars, but he’s gone beyond expectations. J.J. Abrams has entered the dangerous territory of impossible expectations. These trailers and the quality of Star Wars: Rebels have awakened the obsessive 6-year-old boy who paused Return of the Jedi to count the Stormtroopers during the scene where Darth Vader arrives at the Death Star. I had to have all the Stormtroopers and Santa was going to bring them to me.

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