One of the afflictions of being a cinetrix is that invariably, even my light, impulse reading trends toward the filmic. Case in point: last week I'm at the library to pick up two books. With some time to kill, I find myself drifting over to the new arrivals shelves. You know, just to check the PN 1994-1996 stuff for anything interesting. Moments later, I'm leaving with twice as many books as I came for.
One of those Tic Tac impulse borrows was the Glenn Kenny-edited collection, A Galaxy Not So Far Away: Writers and Artists on Twenty-Five Years of Star Wars. Apparently, when bright boy authors* aren't waxing nostalgic about comic books, you can get them going on the role the Force has played in their lives. I'm not exaggerating: Contributors include Jonathan Lethem, Neal Pollack, Harry Allen, Tom Bissell, Joe Queenan--even the greatest living American writer Neal Pollack, who weighs in with a Catcher in the Rye take on Episode IV: A New Goddamn Hope. There's a piece on Boba Fett, and one on the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Some of the chapters read like testimonials [resembling entries in Continuum's 3 1/3 series on individual albums]: Star Wars saved my life, got me to study martial arts, helped me stand up to a bully, let me forgive my father/mother/myself. It's a pretty good read, one that bears up under the strain of appearing in the immediate wake of 9/11 [in fact, several contributors bowed out after the attacks, no longer able to find the heart to write about a galaxy far far away].
Of course, no such collection would be complete without an entry from filmdom's biggest fanboy, Kevin Smith. The cinetrix will give it to the guy, he's pretty self-aware for a man who got married at Skywalker Ranch.
...the very French journo I was sitting across from... seemed as though he was prepared to charge me as a charlatan and spend the next few minutes lecturing me on the visual language of film and dressing me down in Franglais for shittng all over that language with the potty-mouthed antics of our convenience-store confection [Clerks].
After staring at me for a long beat, this is what he said:
"The foul-mouth boy an' ze fat man outside ze shop... are zey the Artoo De-too an' See-Threepio of zis strange universe you 'ave created?"
"I hadn't... really thought of them as such," I said, though it was probably far less well worded at the time. "But... I guess they could be constructed as Artoo and Threepio, yeah."
"No one has said zis to you yet?" he inquired, kinda pleased with himself.
"No one who's not a friend has talked to me about Star Wars since 1983," I volunteered.
And thus began the start of a half hour conversation with this very excited boulangerie regular not just about the parallels between Clerks and Star Wars, but about how great the Star Wars saga was in general, including our favorite moments and characters....
The lead of Elvis Mitchell's essay, "Works Every Time," about--who else?--Lando Calrissian, reminds the cinetrix how much she misses his free-associations in the Times:
When The Empire Strikes Back was rereleased in its Special Edition in 1997, Lando Calrissian's first line to Princess Leia, "What have we here?"--delivered with a cooled-out, I'll-see-you-in-my-room-for-a-Romulan-Rum-and-Coke assurance--got the same reaction as the piece of dialogue received during the picture's initial release in 1980: the standing ovation due the first interstellar Mack ever spotted on-screen. And Billy Dee Williams's ridiculously suave rogue-trader is given a lavish entrance, striding across the screen in his full swerve-on, 47-degree-angle walk, trailed by a cape and an entourage; all that was missing was James Brown's manager snatching the cloak off Lando's shoulders and proclaiming the brother The Hardest Working Man in Space Business.
And a few throw-aways for the secret Jedis in the crowd, who may be on the fence about outing themselves [given the awfulness of the last two flicks] by seeking out this title:
"I wouldn't be surprised to learn that somewhere there exists a rigorous calculus for determining the number of Wookies that can dance on the head of a pin--cavoting that is undoubtedly choreographed to 'The Life Day Song'."--Webster Younce on The Star Wars Holiday Special
"In his Star Wars/music business matrix, 'the Stormtroopers would be the A&Rs, the CEOs would be the higher-ranked officers, and, at this point, there's too many Darth Vaders. Me, being well trained in the ways of hip-hop by the masters, such as [hip-hop founder] Afrika Bambaataa and [b-boy legend] Crazy Legs--who I would look at as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda--I just gotta keep on going up against these evil industry people and mving with the rebellion.'"--Q-Unique, quoted by Harry Allen on Star Wars and hip-hop
And this one's for the ladies:
"I had a whole new layer added to this early Princess Leia fantasy-imprint in my early twenties, when I learned that, in real life, in 1977 Carrie Fisher was a nineteen-year-old hard-partying Hollywood Wild Child who, when told by Lucas she had to tape her breasts down to keep them from jiggling too much on the set, rebelled by starting a tradition, at the end of each shooting day, of letting a different guy from the crew rip the tape off--hoo-mama, help me.--Todd Hanson on struggling to cope with The Phantom Menace
The cinetrix, reading so you don't have to.
*To be fair, there are some lady contributors, too.