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Daily Reads: Why the ‘Star Wars’ Trailer is So Satisfying, ‘Mockingjay’ and Ferguson and More

Daily Reads: Why the 'Star Wars' Trailer is So Satisfying, 'Mockingjay' and Ferguson and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Why the “Star Wars” Trailer is So Satisfying. You saw the “Star Wars” trailer. I saw the “Star Wars” trailer. We all saw the “Star Wars” trailer (well, maybe not all of us). Reactions have been wildly positive, and with reason. Graeme McMillan of The Hollywood Reporter wrote about why the trailer was so satisfying.

It’s both familiar and new; that shot of the Falcon and TIE Fighters in the air, with the audience quickly realizing that we’re upside down, is far more kinetic than anything we’ve seen in “Star Wars” before, born of a cinema that became mainstream after George Lucas‘ original movies. It’s dizzying, exciting — and, like the R2-ball or the slightly different Stormtrooper helmets, or the mysterious Sith with the new lightsaber, a sign that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is very purposefully the same-but-different, informed by the same nostalgia that it very intentionally plays on here, but not beholden to it. It’s the perfect shot to end on. Read more.

2. The Humane Side of “The Babadook.” “The Babadook” is one of the best-reviewed horror movies in ages and, hearteningly, a film that’s building an audience. In an interview with The Mary Sue, director Jennifer Kent talked about making the film, its look at motherhood, and empathizing with a character who might want harm her own child.

Kent: I really had to go there in my mind and try to have compassion for a person like that. Often when you hear stories like that about parents killing their kids or murder-suicides, immediately we think they are monsters. And yes, it is an awful abomination to do that, it is terrible, but I was trying to understand how someone could get to that state. And trying to elicit compassion. And with the character of Amelia, it wouldn’t have worked for the story if she started out as just some kind of crazy woman from start to finish. I really wanted audiences to feel for her, go on the journey with her, and not make judgments. Read more.

3. “Mockingjay” and Ferguson. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” won the box office again this weekend, and the film may have gained greater cultural relevance over the past week thanks to the Darren Wilson verdict. Sonia Saraiya of Salon wrote about how the film echoes real life horrors in Ferguson.

It is satisfying to believe that “The Hunger Games” tells the story of a dystopia—a fractured fantasy world, either far in the past or far in the future. It’s not. Turn on the television: We are witnessing an hour of struggle between those without power and those who are eager to hold onto their own. The struggle is played to win. Robert McCulloch is playing the game. President Obama is playing the game. Every news network is playing this game. Officer Darren Wilson’s sitdown interview with George Stephanopoulous is eerily reminiscent of Peeta’s interviews with Caesar Flickerman in “Mockingjay”; McCulloch’s indictment of social media in warping the “true” story of what happened that day is President Snow decrying the lies of the District 13. Ferguson, a forgotten suburb in a flyover state, is this story’s District 12; an impoverished area reduced to rubble, while the population is told that it is their own fault for the destruction. Read more.

4. The Year’s Best First Features. 2014 is coming to a close, and many have noted how strong a year for movies it was. Perhaps most exciting was how good a year it was for first films, directorial debuts that ranked alongside the best of established auteurs. Kevin B. Lee picked the year’s ten best for Fandor. Read more.

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