Han Solo Spinoff Directors Quit Over “Creative Differences”

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has announced that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have officially left the Han Solo spinoff. Kennedy says the grounds for the departure were over “creative differences”.

Here’s what she said in a statement:

“Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon.”

This is troubling news for the film which began filming in January of 2017. What sort of “creative differences” could cause the duo of directors known for writing The Lego Movie, and 21 Jump Street?

Here’s what Lord and Miller said in a statement:

“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”

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This is a very troubling development. Changing directors after a huge block of the movie has already been filmed can result in some very damaging shifts in tone, and well, direction. How substantial are the differences that would cause two very well respected directors to opt-out of filming what is set to be a huge step for the Star Wars franchise?

It’s possible that we will never know what the Lord-Miller film will have gone. So let’s hope Disney and Lucasfilm find a director that aligns with their vision while also being conducive to the creative mind, and vision of whichever director they decide to bring on.

The Leftovers – Questions Answered Unanswered

 

 

 

 

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The Leftovers, a tour-de-force of emotion that has graced HBO over the last three years, has finally come to an end. Evolved by Damon Lindelof (remember Lost?) from the novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, we have seen growth from the source material into a modern hymn for the grieving and the hopeful. Not discounting Perrotta’s original work, The Leftovers has become something more than a mere adaptation. Never has a television show taught me more about myself and others, than I have learned here. Jumping off the premise that 2% of the world disappeared without explanation, we are plunged into a murky cold sea of confusion, tension and as we follow the lives of a select few, we find ourselves clawing for the surface in tandem. Though the world of The Leftovers is rife with doubt and darkness, it allows for the comforting discomfort of less approached themes in most modern television. There is no singular answer to the very real question posed again and again, here, and in life: How do we grieve? What does it take to move on?

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Three seasons, a short collection of twenty-eight episodes, and three major location changes is rare for any television show, let alone such a short lived project. The juxtaposition of expanse and brevity has served very well. Starting in the invented town of Mapleton NY, we watch as a single family is ripped apart by the silent and profound change the Sudden Departure (October 14th, 2011) has wrought without much incident. From something as common as divorce, to the world-bending aim to eliminate all dogs (They’re not ours anymore), we see the Garvey family and others cling to what is real in the unreal, coping in a myriad of ways. Reverend Jamison takes to the streets with a vicious smear campaign in order to correct the seemingly random removal of the 2%, adhering it to the Christian idea of the Rapture, come to remove the damned. Nora Durst collapses inward, seeking comfort in a bullet-proof vests and sharp-eyed prostitutes. Further still, Laurie Garvey joins the Guilty Remnant, a silent, cigarette smoking cult, dead set on being a constant reminder of what was lost.

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Season 2 opens with a beautifully tragic account of a prehistoric woman giving birth and making every effort to protect her newborn in the chaos of the world in a more natural state. Earthquakes, axis mundis, the world moves on, the world remains the same. Introduced to the Murphy family, residents of Miracle, formerly Jarden Texas, a town where not one person departed on the 14th of October. This turn from the Garvey family opens the world of the Sudden Departure, shifting perspective toward relief from the ultimate unknowable tragedy just before something changes for the worse. From the point of the disappearance of Evie Murphy, we see a facing off between the Murphys and the Garveys that reaches far beyond the scope of simple neighborly woes. Meanwhile, Kevin begins losing his grip upon reality sinking further and further into depression. Rife with suicidal tendencies and the consistent plague of a most powerful adversary who has returned in a seemingly divine manner, Kevin finds himself questioning what is real, and how exactly to proceed. As we arrive at the culmination of this season, Lindelof, Perrotta and company take what we know television to be and turn it on it’s head yet again in what should go down as one of the best episodes of television in it’s history.

In this second season, we see the injection of further strangeness, as well as some much needed, though still grave levity. The micro has been blown out and we see the further unravelling of how we relate not only to our immediate circle, but those around us, suffering as well, but in wholly different ways. The drive of this season is Kevin’s journey and the grand Grieve Off between the two families, culminating in a striking and powerful exchange between Carrie Coon’s Nora Durst and Regina King’s Erika Murphy. This is the height of tension and at its apex a release of rage and quiet desperation between the two that has to be experienced first hand. The Leftovers often cuts to the quick and allows the initial sting to remain long after the incident has ended.

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Rounding out the third season, we are slowly transported to Australia, nearing the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure. Seven being a number of biblical significance, there is a general consensus that something, possibly the end of the world itself will come on the anniversary, and the people the world over prepare in their own ways, for the worst. Others seem to think there will be a Sudden Return of sorts, making way for all those lost so many years ago (Gary Busey in particular). The patchwork family we have watched form and reform throughout the past two seasons are on one final push to the grand finale of the show and perhaps the world as they know it. Kevin has been exalted by some as a possible messianic figure, Nora has found solace in the promise of a machine that could return her to her Departed family, and the world tenses up for the coming crest of a seven year long wave in the making.

Without getting too into the finer details, The Leftovers makes it’s final feats expand even further to focus on an even smaller, oft overlooked important part of our lives. The stories we tell each other and ourselves, and how they weigh on our decisions as well as those around us. More than ever we see the blending of Science and Faith here at end of a modern fable, filled with holy men, scientific analysis and perhaps even a ghost or two. The show has become an axis mundi unto itself, finding the link between what we know and what we question, either in defiance or reverence. There is layer upon layer of the nature of our existence, how we process the world at large, and the ways in which the defined and the undefinable color our experiences.

As consumers of media, in particular what is now known as “Peak TV”, we are very familiar with the series finale as a concept. Often we find ourselves feverishly awaiting the final chapter, only to come away dissatisfied, vaguely content, or perhaps left in a lurch to question the entire body of work. Those that come to mind may seem obvious, ‘The Sopranos’ infamous smash cut, Lindelof’s own ‘Lost’ church gathering that divides fans to this very day, the mammoth ‘M*A*S*H’ send-off that still dominates ratings records, all remembered and revered for different aspects of what we search for when we look to television as an artistic medium.

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‘The Book of Nora’, our final entry into the world wrought forth by Lindelof, Perrotta and in just as many ways director Mimi Leder,  both drains the lake and refills it almost immediately. A shift in focus from where we leave everyone in the penultimate episode, there is a time jump and we are given exactly what we need, we are told stories, the stories we want to hear, and the ones we need. Lindelof and company leave the world of The Leftovers on a masterstroke of ambiguity that is also a perfectly recognizable finality. Both the question and answer are presented with such precision that neither is the point inherently, but rather whether or not one has their faith in check. “Do you believe what you’ve been told?” is a daring but effective and well earned note to finish on.

The Leftovers, for all it has given me, and so many others, deserves a bevy of recognition that it has not gotten in it’s short span. With any hope as years wear on, others will find it to be a haven for processing and even rejoicing in our darker recesses, relating to one another on a more human level and calling into question those fringe moments where the heavens and the earth seem to meet. A hymn worthy of eternal reprise, a true work of immense depth and beauty, The Leftovers will be hard to top, and even harder to let go.

Video: Twin Peaks Part 7 Review

Here’s my review and analysis of Twin Peaks: The Return part 7! We learned a little more about Diane played by the incomparable Laura Dern, and her sordid, dark history with Evil Cooper. Hawk talks about the missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary. We learn a couple things about the decapitated corpse of (possibly) General Garland Briggs. Then we have the unnerving blackmail scene between Evil Cooper and the Warden. So much to discuss…always so much.

New Twin Peaks Funko Two-Pack Debuting At San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Coming to San Diego Comic-Con in 2017, Black Lodge Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer! This box set will go on sale at at Funko’s SDCC booth this year, but according to WelcomeToTwinPeaks.com, it’s likely the box set will be sold in stores as well after comic con. Hot Topic is an official retailer of Twin Peaks merchandise so it’s likely you’ll be able to find them there first.

Meanwhile…

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Rumor: Pokemon GO – What’s Coming Next?

Do you remember Pokemon GO? The smash hit for mobile gaming that echoed around the world? Chances are, you probably pop open the app when you’re walking to a friends house or if you’re bored during a commute. Believe it or not, Pokemon GO is still being played by millions daily. According to IGN, Pokemon GO still has about 65 million daily active users trotting around the globe trying to catch them all. So don’t count the game out just yet, there are updates coming soon that are going to drastically change the game. The Pokemon GO we’ve all been waiting for isn’t behind us, it’s ahead. That’s if the developers keep their word, and rollout updates to make the game truly immersive and competitive once again.

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We’re going through a list of upcoming update rumors that definitely have us excited to venture into the great outdoors again. Let’s just hope these see the light of day…

TRADING

Seems like an obvious addition, I know. Trading has been a staple in Pokemon since the beginning. Trading in Pokemon GO has been eluded to since the first trailer, but there hasn’t been a single inkling of it coming as an actual usable mechanic in the game (besides in the initial beta.) That might be changing in the next big update. Of course this is just a rumor, but according to senior product manager of Niantic, Tatso Namura, “it won’t be through the internet,” when it’s released.

Now some people feel that this defeats the purpose of the game, but think about it, if there are added mechanics to the game, the actual purpose of the gameplay changes. There will be more challenges besides catching Pokemon, picking up Pokestops and fighting over gyms. Trading makes absolute sense, it’s time.

PVP (Player VS Player)

Again, another staple of Pokemon games since the beginning. It seems odd that they’re making these two decade old mechanics seem like an exciting new prospect. Trading and battling should have been something included on day one. Most of us remember that time thought; failing servers, crashing apps, and for a lot of us, insanely hot summer days to contend with. The time for PVP was in 2016, but I myself am excited to see how the developers are going to integrate it. What will the reward system look like if there is one? How will battle be initiated? Not holding my breath just yet, but I think Niantic is finally getting the ball rolling with this game. They have my faith for now.

Legendaries

We’ve had implications of legendary events since the first trailer with the elusive Mewtwo in Times Square. We’ve also had hacking issues involving the three original legendary birds which led to accounts being apparently banned. Now we’re seeing hints at upcoming legendary events in the upcoming months. An actual schedule and official announcements are yet to be see, but Niantic really has to do something to entice users to return.

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Events

So, it seems like Niantic is really committing to their first even July 22nd, 2017 in Chicago’s Grant Park. At the time of writing this it’s uncertain what the event actually entails, but we’ll find out soon enough. Right now it seems just like a large networking even for Pokemon lovers throughout the city, and tourists driving, training or flying in. This sets a pretty cool precedent for Pokemon related events, something I haven’t really attended for almost 20 years. These events might be reminiscent of all the meet-ups that took place during the summer of 2016. Now that the user-base has shrunken it might take actual, official events to get people to congregate the way they did at its peak.

(Tickets go on sale for this event tomorrow, June 19th (by the way.)

It seems there isn’t too groundbreaking going on in the Pokemon GO universe right now. It would be fantastic to see unexpected updates and additions included in the next version. Pokemon GO at its core is a truly fun game that brought people together, and I’m not quite sure lightning will strike twice in this case. It will forever go down in pop culture history as making the summer of 2016 one of the best summers of an angsty millennial’s adult life. I’m all for the phenomenon to pickup again, but like I said before, I’m not holding my breath.

What do you think of the update rumors coming to Pokemon GO? Is it enough to get you playing again or have you been playing every day since release?

E3 2017: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Details

8:30 PM EST – E3 is in full swing, currently WB Games is streaming new gameplay from the highly anticipated Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. The sequel to the 2014 games takes place in between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring (for context.) The game reintroduces mechanics very similar to Shadow of Mordor, and improves on them. Not only this, but their hierarchy system has received a huge upgrade, and may be the best new feature of the game completely.

The new mechanic allows orc commanders to expand, and strengthen their army with every victory called “The Nemesis System”. Not only that, but each orc commander will be able to team up with other orc commanders making their army stronger, and much more difficult to defeat. Additionally, these orc commanders will bring special traits to their armies. These Legendary orc commanders will inhabit their own unique lairs which will come with their own set of challenges.

Shadow of Mordor seems to bring the compelling, addictive gameplay from Shadow of War and amplifies it. The battles are bigger, the enemies more grotesque, and the stakes that much higher. Sauron’s army seems like it has gained greater hold of the land, and those of us familiar will the books and films know how it all plays out. Nonetheless, Talion’s story is one that’s as compelling and as immersive as the films and books themselves.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is set to be released October 10th, 2017

David Firth shows us the dangerous wonders of “Cream”

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Mixed-media artist David Firth (@DAVID_FIRTH) perhaps most well known for his bizarre, unsettling yet endearing “Salad Fingers” series is still at it and taking the strange to new, chilling heights. His latest released project, a short animated film entitled “Cream”.

The short is animated in a style that will be familiar to fans of Firth’s previous works, but it has taken on a starkly realistic quality, utilizing actual faces, natural textures and drab yet shocking color to truly drive home an atmosphere of strange normalcy. We are first introduced to a new miracle product, a cream, branded as Cream, that appears to be limitless in it’s uses. Cream cures acne, it can cure all ailments major and minor, it can regrow your lawn, it can even (when injected directly into the brain) increase your I.Q.

Our main character, Dr. Bellifer, has struck gold and watches as his invention soars in popularity and cosmic power. There is no stopping Cream. Cream becomes so much more than was originally intended, much to the chagrin of the good doctor. Go on and see for yourself what horrible wonders Cream can commit.

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David Firth is a master of his craft, distorting reality with enough finesse to disturb yet equally draw one into his underlying message. Though the meaning may seem as clear as the blemish on one’s face (there’s a Cream for that.), we are privy to a multi-layered commentary on consumption, medicine, advertising, the ever present menace that can be the media and even our own personal connection to the world outside. Whether intended or not, Firth has command of imagery and dialogue, that when married together generates the reflective surface we so often forget to peer into when making purchases, large and small decisions and most importantly what we put our trust and faith into. Who can we truly say has our best interest at heart?

There is much to be gleaned from this twelve minute meditation on the human condition and how each of us can be manipulated into any reaction given the right circumstance, only to be led back into the fold for another go around.

I can only hope we will see more from Mr. Firth in the very near future, as he continues to terrify, sicken and delight me in good measure.

You can watch ‘Cream’ and many of his other polarizing projects on David’s YouTube Channel here: http://bit.ly/2rVrnRQ

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