'The Last Jedi' Is A Beautiful And Confounding Conundrum

'The Last Jedi' Is A Beautiful And Confounding Conundrum

My entire opinion of this movie relies on one tiny question.
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Even as I sit down to write this review, I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to The Last Jedi. The crowd hit the sidewalk after the screening in Italy babbling away, but I'm still struggling to figure out exactly what my opinion of this movie was. It was exciting, that's for sure. It changed the game for several characters. It was beautiful and entrancing. Something about just doesn't sit right with me, though. My thoughts all revolve around one plot detail.

Warning: This review is going to remain spoiler-free for the most part, but there may be some minor implications about what is/isn't revealed in this movie. Read at your own risk.

It's no secret that Kylo Ren and Rey's plotlines are converging in this movie. Whether or not this convergence really worked goes hand in hand with Rey's parentage. Without spoiling too much of how Rey's family is discussed in this movie, I will say if Kylo and Rey are related, I would love a good portion of this movie. That's not just me being a hardcore Rey Skywalker enthusiast, it's a genuine belief in the way this movie played out. Whether they're siblings or cousins, Rey and Kylo's storyline in a familial context was exciting to see. The parallels between them, Luke, and Leia were so clear and neat. I would have cashed in on my Rey Parentage Theory right then and there halfway through the film. It's an enticing dynamic that I would be thrilled to see play out in the next film.

This dynamic all relies on that familial connection already being there as a foundation for what happens in this film, though. If Rey is not a Skywalker, their relationship is incredibly weak. Whatever connection they form is forced and unbelievable. The entire dynamic moves too quickly and is utterly unconvincing based on Rey's opinion of Kylo in The Force Awakens. What could be an exciting development between these characters feels like Rian Johnson's awkward attempt at mimicking Luke's ability to see good in Vader. Rey's character is fundamentally different from Luke's, so if they are not related, any doubt she has about Kylo's nature has to be warranted. This film didn't convince me that it was.

Outside of my Schrödinger's Film Critique, my opinions on the film's strange treatment of other characters is a little more sturdy. Luke, especially, moves in and out of character like it's his job. There were moments where my heart jumped at seeing Mark Hamill say or do something that was so undeniably Luke. And others made it hard to reconcile the original trilogy's characterization with this new one.

The rest of the resistance is handed a plot that feels like it was crafted simply because Rian Johnson's focus on Rey and Kylo left him at a loss when it came to figuring out something for the other characters to do. Rose is a wonderful and instantly-lovable addition to the franchise. Most of her journey with Finn felt unnecessary until the very end. The movie's strong points are mainly found in Leia and Poe, both of whom really step up from their roles in The Force Awakens. It adds some essential love and life to this film's more edgy take on the franchise. Overall, the Resistance feels like a backdrop for Johnson's fixation on Rey and Kylo.

This film is competing with The Empire Strikes Back, so I'll give it points for trying, but it goes about combating that film in the wrong way. The paralleled training montage and rebellion mission storylines do not have the same urgency or power behind them. It features some incredible and beautiful moments worthy of Empire, but the characters behind them often feel off or like they haven't earned them.

While I know my stance on these aspects of the film, I almost feel like I have to withhold judgment on this movie's central plotline until Episode IX comes out. I have the full story for all of these characters. Until then, The Last Jedi remains a giant, possibly entertaining bundle of questions to analyze for the next two years.

Cover Image Credit: Vimeo

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact
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Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Cover Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Writer%27s_Block_I.jpg

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4 Steps To Writing a Haiku

It's Fun I Promise
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You've probably had to write a haiku for English sometime in your school career. You most likely found it boring, or difficult, or just plain stupid. I am going to try and show you a more fun way to write a haiku.

1. The Basics: What You Should Know

In case you don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. It is usually taught that the syllables in each line should go 5-7-5. But really, as long as there are 17 syllables or less in the three lines, it's a haiku.

2. Write to Get a Reaction

When you write a haiku, you are aiming to get one of three reactions: Aaaahhh, aha!, or ha ha! For example...

Aaahhh: Laying in bed/dog next to me under blanket/my furry heater

Aha!: Life is too short to love people/who do not deserve/your whole heart

Ha ha!: I'm on the toilet/and my stomach drops/the roll is empty

3. Create an Image

In your writing, you want to create a new image in your readers mind with each line. Take my first haiku for example. I first talk about laying in bed. Then, I say there is a dog next to me under the blanket, so you picture a lump under the covers. In my last line, I call him a furry heater so you imagine a heater covered in fur. The image you create is more important than the syllables.

4. Performing

Lastly, you need to think about performing your haiku. As always, when you're speaking in front of a room of people, you need to project so the whole room can hear you and you need to make eye contact. Another thing to remember is the tone of your voice while you are saying your poem. Dramatic pauses can keep people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what you're going to say next. You also have to remember to be confident! And if you're not confident, fake it till you make it!

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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