A week in film – 2016, week 51

Finally, a week when I can feasibly get this out on Sunday. The perks of seeing a new film in the middle of the week is that I want to write about it immediately, and at length.

Even so, while Rogue One: A Star War Story isn’t necessarily the film I wanted to go and see this week – days of hypothetical planning to see and two minutes of realising we wouldn’t be able to see Moana will do that – I think I needed it. A two-hour onslaught of spectacle and effects and hope and pain, Rogue One isn’t short of things working in its favour. The plot – a woman, Jyn Erso (a completely brilliant Felicity Jones), learns her father is the architect of a ‘planet killer’ (the Death Star, obv) and that the Rebellion want to find him and stop it – seems simple. To some degree it is – a couple of beats aren’t remotely surprising, and this is ultimately a prequel to one of the most famous films of all time, so the general outcome is known – but Rogue One still feels fresh. There hasn’t been a blockbuster like this in a while. Seeped in violence and horror and tragedy, like all war movies, but still finding time to quip occasionally (and effectively). Characters, even those who have a few lines of dialogue, feel real. They mean something. Especially Jyn, who comes into her own as she figures out her place in the Rebellion. Her speeches to rally the troops, which may seem more cliché when I watch them back, landed.  Alan Tudyk’s K2SO is the sassy droid we all needed. When viewed as a whole, it’s hard to deny that Rogue One feels a success – and, for me, someone who didn’t grow up with Star Wars and feels nowhere near the same emotional investment as those who did, it felt like an opportunity to see where everyone’s coming from. I understand why you love this galaxy now!

Then there’s Flight of the Conchords, which I have idiotically never started until this point. I remember people comparing it to The Mighty Boosh around the time when it was at its peak, and while I agree from one point of view – there is the tendency to break into song at really any time – it’s so much its own thing that comparisons seem feeble. The Conchords, a pair of New Zealanders trying to make it as a band in New York who really only have one (very persistent) fan, and are instead kind of awkward and uncomfortable playing the odd gig booked by their hapless manager. I started watching the first series on the weekend train journey to London, and by the time I got into Paddington I was so hooked that I hung around at the station for another few minutes to finish the episode I was on. I have fallen for it, and I’m going to be watching it in commute-friendly bursts until I’m done. Of that I’m sure.

There’s also been a little bit of Gilmore Girls, dependably comforting and reassuring, as ever. Gilmore Girls is exactly the sort of show to watch after a bit of a day. As I power through season five – where Rory and Logan are taking their damn time on their journey to being a couple (I really thought they were a thing by now) and Lorelai and Luke are still trouble-free – I’m probably in one of its happier stages. It’s never exactly been groundbreaking, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t really nice to spend time in the company of those characters, all of whom are so well-drawn.

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