Star Wars

Ninth installment sticks to the script

A rebel X-Wing doesn't know when to call it a day

A rebel X-Wing doesn’t know when to call it a day.

“Every once in awhile I have what I think of as an out-of-the-body experience at a movie,” wrote a rapturous Roger Ebert in the summer of 1977 of Star Wars. Later that year a more skeptical Pauline Kael, writing about the same film, said, “the loudness, the smash-and-grab editing, the relentless pacing drive every idea from your head.” Never could the duality of responses to the Star Wars series of films be better predicted. They are either the greatest experiences in a movie theater since L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, or the biggest waste of time since Birdemic: Shock and Terror. [read the whole post]

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Star Wars goes rogue and leaves strong character development behind.

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When Felicity Jones goes rogue, we all go rogue.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the fifth best Star Wars film! Now that I’ve gotten my controversial statement out of the way, let’s continue. We can have the ranking argument later. For now, let’s just concentrate on what’s good and what’s not so good about the first ‘standalone’ Star Wars film, aka the first one to focus a story outside of the Skywalker saga. Except, it’s not exactly a standalone film, nor is it completely focused outside the aforementioned Skywalker saga. In fact, its central storyline comes from the iconic opening crawl that begins the original 1977 Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope. Thus, the odds were always stacked against Rogue One. After all, its story is one in which we, more or less, know the fate of the central characters. So how can a film make us care for characters when we already know how their fates will be sealed? Well, in the hands of director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla), Rogue One is full of impressive visuals and gripping action and just enough interesting characters to get by. There are easter eggs and callbacks aplenty in Rogue One to fully satisfy traditionalist and hardcore Star Wars fans, and enough stylistic changes to fulfill Disney’s initial attempt to launch a series of films meant to explore the expanded Star Wars universe in a way that is new but familiar. Rogue One is far from perfect, but it’s a fantastic movie-watching experience thanks to its exhilarating war movie feel and robust scope.

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This upcoming weekend, July 16-17, the San Francisco Symphony will screen Pixar’s Oscar-winning film, Ratatouille, with the score performed live. Conducting the orchestra will be none other than the amazingly accomplished SF Symphony regular, Sarah Hicks. Sarah was gracious enough to answer some questions about her own musical tastes, as well as her special love of Pixar films…

Spinning Platters: My excitement for the Ratatouille show is growing, since it’s my favorite Pixar film. A popular dinner party question is ‘what’s your favorite Pixar film?’ So, do you have a favorite Pixar film?

Sarah Hicks: Oh, I can’t really choose because I love them all!  That being said, I have to admit that the ones I keep going back to are Monsters, Inc., Up and Ratatouille.

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As you can see from the image above, this wasn’t your average night at the symphony. On Thursday, the San Francisco Symphony honored legendary film composer John Williams with a program full of his iconic, award-winning scores. From fantasy epics like Star Wars and Harry Potter, to memorable dramas like Schindler’s List and Lincoln, John Williams has put a musical stamp on well over 100 films, and is still writing amazing scores to this day, at age 84.

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In the spirit of having a joke-free April Fool's Day.

In the spirit of having a joke-free April Fool’s Day.


April Fool’s Day is a hellscape filled with brands attempting to be funny. Don’t encourage them.

No fooling here, it’s preview time. This week in the Bay Area, we have local punk rock, queercore, nerdcore, a flautist, a man who built his career upon eels, and a benefit about benefits.

Let’s preview. [read the whole post]

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2015

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2015. Here is Chad’s list, presented in reverse-awesome order. Also check out Carrie‘s top ten list!

10.) Cinderella
Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

A lack of the classic Disney song ‘Cinderelli!’ didn’t prevent Kenneth Branagh’s live action version of Cinderella from reaching magical heights. After a plethora of disappointing “re-imaginings” and “discover the true story” versions of classics — Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful — it was time for a movie to play it straight, and Cinderella did just that. With amazing performances from Lily James and Cate Blanchett and beautiful costumes and set designs, Cinderella (hopefully) represents the first in a new series of live action Disney remakes that stick to the strong source materials without egregious silly additions. (Read my full review of Cinderella here.)

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Film Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December 30, 2015
www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGbxmsDFVnE

Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New Star Wars Movie [KINDA SPOILERS AHEAD] Don’t let my subtitle fool you—I actually really enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I saw it twice and can’t wait to see it again! However, as one of the most highly anticipated films in decades and what will likely be the highest […]

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Spinning Platters Weekly Guide to Bay Area Concerts: 12/18/15-12/24/15

December 18, 2015

Star Wars! Star Wars! Star Wars! Star Wars! Can you believe it? It’s difficult to believe! But it’s here! This week! B… [cough]… it’s… it’s been… a long time since it was possible to look forward to a Star Wars anything. It’s here! Extraordinary feelings. Now, let’s talk about what’s coming up this week. Let’s […]

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Film Review: Jupiter Ascending

February 6, 2015
www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLyk00gFPdQ

A Jupiter-sized mess (and Jupiter is big). There’s a line in Jupiter Ascending where a former alien soldier stationed on Earth tells a newly-discovered woman of royalty, “Bees don’t lie.”  With or without context, you should get a sense of how ridiculous this sounds, because it is.  Completely.  Ridiculous.  Jupiter Ascending, from the Wachowskis, whose credibility is descending rapidly, […]

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Show Review: Williams and Spielberg: Maestros of the Movies, 9/16

September 20, 2013

The first four notes of the Star Wars main title blast to life in the beautiful Davies Symphony Hall, and members of the audience cheer loudly, whistle, applaud, and some even rise to their feet.  Only John Williams, the movie score composer who’s been writing music to accompany the silver screen since the late 1950’s, and who’s responsible […]

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