Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Weekly Batch

Wednesday's Bad Batch wasn't so bad, it had some good points. It was written by Jennifer Corbett and Matt Michnovetz and directed by Saul Ruiz.

The action sequences were highlights. The story begins with Rex and his crew rescuing some imprisoned clones. It's a decent, exciting scene, though I find it a bit silly that the clones have their blasters on a stun setting all the time. The one time we see that setting in the movies, it's used against Leia, who's not wearing any armour, which might explain why we never see it again. It really feels like Disney tampering that it's used all the time now.

I also liked Crosshair's escape attempt. There was real tension as he manages to grab a blaster and stumble out into the corridors, drugged up.

Meanwhile, back on Pabu. the rest of the Batch are still cooling their heels. It was nice seeing Omega reunite with Echo but mostly the scene felt like setup for next week's finale.

The Bad Batch is available on Disney+.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Everything is Safe in Star Wars!

Another week, another poorly written episode of The Mandalorian. But this time, director Carl Weathers actually made a mediocre script by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni into something at times genuinely exciting.

The recap reminds us of the kid whose head's been newly imprisoned by the the Mandalorian helmet for no reason. Really, doesn't anyone ever ask, "Why?" This week, the kid's nabbed by a cool alien pterodactyl.

Bo Katan managed to follow it to its nest. She does nothing else, returning to base so everyone can convene, draw up plans, and mount a coordinated effort to rescue the kid, and for some reason no-one seems to think the kid's been killed already. They decide not to use their jetpacks at first for fear of making too much noise and upsetting the monster. "It would kill the child," the Armourer explains as though the kid's being held for ransom.

They make camp upon reaching the nest at nightfall, apparently deciding the nightvision capabilities on their helmets grant them no advantage against the apparently diurnal monster.

And they needn't have rushed because the monster coughs up the kid for his own babies and the kid's just fine.

I know, I know. Beskar armour. But no broken limbs? No saliva? For whatever reason, the monster decided not to feed its babies right away, so the kid was just sleeping in its gullet all night? Was he even in any danger from the babies? Is anyone really in any danger from anything?

The episode ends with the three monster babies being adopted by the tribe. A sure sign this section of the story was written by Dave Filoni whose depictions of animals in Rebels and Tales of the Jedi make me think he was the kind of kid who'd have climbed into the tiger enclosure at the zoo expecting to be able to pet the animals after a perfunctory round of harmless rough and tumble.

Weathers deserves a lot of credit for making the sky battle truly exciting.

Meanwhile, Grogu has a flashback of his rescue and flight from the Jedi Temple with the assistance of none other than Ahmed Best.

Best isn't bad as a badass Jedi and Weathers makes him look good. Certainly better than he looks on the show where Best originated the role of Jedi Master Kelleran Beq two years ago:

The Mandalorian is available on Disney+ and Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge is available on YouTube.

Looking for Clues in Clueless

Somehow I ended up watching 1995's Clueless last night. I don't think I'd seen it all the way through since it came out though I must have seen bits and pieces whenever my sister watched it. It's certainly a relic of a bygone era, isn't it? Could you make a movie about a dumb rich blonde girl to-day? I mean, one who's supposed to be sympathetic? Maybe there are examples among movies and TV series I haven't seen.

I find myself watching it through two lenses--a nostalgic lens, for '90s America and my youth, and an English teacher in Japan lens. Japanese teachers have asked me more than once, "What's school like in the US?" Usually I recommend The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink. I suppose Clueless and Mean Girls should be on the list, too. Clueless might be perfect to show kids in Japan because Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is so positive, and positivity is a message that's vigorously pressed on students.

Wikipedia quotes writer/director Amy Heckerling as saying,

"The most successful character in anything I'd ever done was Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times. People think that's because he was stoned and a surfer. But that's not it. It's because he's positive. So I thought, 'I'm going to write a character who's positive and happy.' And that was Cher."

Plus, Cher's a virgin, which is valued much more highly in Japan than in the US. Cher and her friends are all wealthy but no-one in the movie mentions it, there are no class issues present, which would also make it ideal. Two of the American movies that have clearly gone through committees to be officially endorsed at schools I've worked at, Wonder and Back to the Future, both show characters living comfortably and economic disparity is never mentioned (so maybe I shouldn't be recommending Pretty In Pink). The only real problem with Clueless is that it features two characters who smoke pot. Drugs are talked about casually and sometimes approvingly in the movie. Oh, well.

Anyway. I enjoyed Clueless. The moment at the climax when Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd are staring at each other is so sweet and really made me want to watch more romantic films. Why do those two work? All of the moments meant to prove that Cher isn't so dumb are very circumstantial and ultimately meaningless, like when she knows the Hamlet quote better than the supposedly smart girl. There's no real indication that Cher is as interested as Josh is in exploring concepts. She just likes being nice. She can be manipulative but only to please her father and her friends. The fact that her manipulations are transparent and sometimes clumsy adds to her charm. She and Josh adore each other, each kind of pities the other, which would be a red flag if Josh bothered consulting Nietzsche on the subject.

If you zoom in on that book, you can see the name "Friedrich Nietzsche" is taped onto the back. Heckerling really wanted you to know who Josh was reading. Nietzsche considered pity a demeaning and ultimately harmful thing, for both the one who pities and the one who is pitied.

Josh pities Cher because she's dumb and Cher pities Josh because he's unfashionable. Is that good enough? I can't help thinking about . . .

You see that? You can't kill Woody Allen, he's in our heads forever . . .

Clueless is available on Paramount.

Twitter Sonnet #1680

With icing lost behind the crash we ate.
With frozen food we made a home at large.
And wandered out across the tundra late.
We saw the gathered flakes of blizzard charge.
Confusion clouds the rink before the freeze.
Above the falling skate a beauty cries.
A frosted glass contains a thousand seas.
Preserved in glacier ice, her lonesome sighs.
Combining cherry red with fuchsia wins.
But phantom dates revolve the living room.
To make the grade, she seeks the aid of sins.
Effective colours break the party tomb.
Mistakes allowed the lace to top dessert.
And now the tea and coffee might invert.

Monday, March 20, 2023

She Likes Trees, Big Trees

Several unscrupulous men vie for the affections of a free-spirited young woman in 1932's Wild Girl. I was expecting a diverting, salacious pre-code film but was pleasantly surprised to discover it's one of the best Western melodramas ever made by the great director Raoul Walsh.

The film was the third adaptation of the 1889 story Salomy Jane and, as you might imagine, it also plays off of the biblical story of Salome. Accordingly, the coveted damsel does remove her seven veils at one point and does demand the death of a certain man. Though in this case, she doesn't mark out any John the Baptist but a slimy politician with a history of sexual assault. He's maintained his good reputation with bribery and murder but that won't stop a mysterious stranger (Charles Farell) from exacting revenge for what the politician did to his sister.

22 year old Joan Bennett plays Salomy as a barefoot girl in a gingham blouse, her daily life consisting of giddy romps through the sequoias with the neighbourhood children. It was a stroke of genius to shoot the picture among the redwoods for absolutely no reason. Why not? They make every shot fantastic.

There are four men after Salomy. The politician (Morgan Wallace), a cowardly businessman (Irving Pichel), a card sharp (Ralph Bellamy), and the stranger himself, whom Salomy affectionately calls, "Man."

The politician and the businessman are both slimeballs, though the businessman's cowardice shows itself a little more slowly. He's the one Salomy asks to kill the politician after he's watched her bathing and manhandled her. It introduces the difficult question--is the businessman a coward for not killing the politician, or is it really better that he doesn't? It's a troublesome question and I'm delighted the movie leaves it in the audience's mind.

The stranger is a likable lug but I found myself partial to Ralph Belamy's top hatted card sharp. He's portrayed as having a sense of honour on top of his unrequited yearnings and, even better, he exhibits self-control. There's a lad I'd approve of my daughter bringing home. Though I'd ask him to stop cheating at cards.

The twists and turns in the melodramatic plot are always satisfying and credible enough. Eugene Pallette is very good in a supporting role.

Wild Girl is available on The Criterion Channel until the end of the month.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Where Pink Petals Go

Where art thy vim and vigor, Mrs. Bear? She's not, as they say in Japan, genki. I saw her in Uda last week.

It's been very warm for March, leading to some early blossoming.

I'm wondering if I should make a trip down to Yoshino, where there's a magnificent valley of cherry trees. Last time I went in March, it was too early and I saw just cobwebs of skinny grey branches. But this year maybe it's different. The train was full of elderly people in hiking attire coming from the south, the direction of Yoshino, yesterday. I guess there's no harm in waiting a little longer.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Serial Killer Movie

Someone strangles several women in Boston, earning him the name of "Boston Strangler" in 2023's Boston Strangler. Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon star as the two reporters who broke this real life story of serial murders. It's a decent enough procedural with little to distinguish it other than the fact that it's never annoying. Knightley and Coon both give good performances.

Loretta (Knightley) is stuck in the lifestyles section of her paper but she really wants to report on murder. She gets her big chance when a number of women turn up dead with silk stockings tied around their throats.

She partners with the more experienced Jean (Carrie Coon) and soon she's learning the ropes, dealing with cops and coroners, landlords and relatives of victims. Sometimes Loretta feels a little too modern, as in one scene where she doesn't flinch when a landlord tells her one victim had a broomstick shoved up her vagina, and he doesn't seem surprised that she doesn't flinch.

I watched the movie because Paul Schrader recommended the movie on his Facebook but he complained about the "immaculate period cars". I'd say that problem of artificial cleanliness extends to the sets, costumes, hair, and makeup, too.

I was a little distracted by the presence of David Dastmalchian. I'm unable to see him as anyone but Polka Dot Man now.

Boston Strangler is available on Hulu in the US and on Disney+ in other countries.

Twitter Sonnet #1679

The falling snow included rolls of tape.
With sound design, the meeting came a blast.
Congrats were due to ev'ry happy ape.
But please consult the other folks we cast.
With wavy heads the troop for barbers ran.
Against the blowing wind ye've never walked.
Approach and change the flat and useless van.
Sure there's a decent man as all could talk.
The night was soft about the spoiled Spam.
In paper beds, the ladies slept in peace.
But paper hats have proved a famous scam.
No captain ranks above the royal geese.
Abnormal lists can prompt a normal blink.
Tornado dreams collect the morning ink.

Friday, March 17, 2023

In a Neat Little Town They Call Belfast

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone, although it's already the 18th here in Japan. This year I bought a bottle of Jameson and watched Darby O'Gill and the Little People and Mike Leigh's 1984 film Four Days in July, the latter of which I'd never seen before. It was surprisingly relaxing for a movie about the Troubles though there is an underlying tension throughout the picture.

It's set in Belfast and follows a young Protestant family and a young Catholic family. The women in both families are pregnant for the first time.

Most of the film consists of slices of life. We listen in on conversations between the couples and friends visiting. Stephen Rea has a small role as a window cleaner for the Catholic family. He stops work to chat with them a while.

All the time, I was listening for some reflection of political or religious partisanship in the dialogue. Anything of that sort, though, seems to be incidental as when the Catholic wife (Brid Brennan) sings a revolutionary song in bed as a lullaby for her husband (Des McAleer), successfully putting him to sleep.

The loyalty to both sides is there. The Protestant husband (Charles Lawson) is with the British security forces and he has a clear enough contempt for terrorists. But he seems more concerned with swapping old stories about drunken bets or trivia about Northern Ireland.

The dialogue feels so authentic, it really felt like I was just hanging out with all these nice folks. Surely they needn't start killing each other.

Four Days in July is available on The Criterion Channel.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Batch Drips

Wednesday also brought an exceptionally bland episode of The Bad Batch. It had kind of an interesting concept but it never got off the ground.

The episode begins with Phee Genoa (Wanda Sykes) once again referencing Indiana Jones, in this case the opening of Temple of Doom. But Phee is able to spot the poisoned drink and several other traps. That makes us like her more, right? I seriously think some writers think of these things as a kind of competition, forgetting viewers aren't necessarily more attracted to prowess than they are to vulnerability.

Sykes' delivery is still weirdly slow, like she's reading a book to two year olds. And maybe that's on purpose, maybe she thinks that's her audience. It doesn't stop other voice actors from speaking at a normal pace, though.

From the Indiana Jones scene, the episode moves to another kind of blandness, imitating Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I'm a fan of TNG but one of the problems that show had, stemming from a low budget, was a constant series of "alien" planets and peoples that looked like Earth and humans. We get one of those with Pabu, where the people wear the same kinds of generic tunics and trousers that humanoid civilisations tended always to wear on TNG.

We're a long way from the cantina scene now.

The people of Pabu exhibit a bland friendliness that complements their wardrobe. Things start to get interesting when there's a sea surge and there's a sudden need to evacuate to higher ground. But no-one's killed or injured. So, gentle viewer, you may yawn and blissfully drop into slumber.

The Bad Batch is available on Disney+.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Official Mando Dandyism

I really, really wish last night's Mandalorian was better than it was. The locations I loved, the action sequences I loved, some of the premise I loved, the performances I liked. But, damnit, the writing was perplexingly sloppy again. How long have they had to work on this thing? Why, why is it like this?

It started with something good, some dog fighting in which Bo Katan and Din Djarin deal with some TIE Interceptors. In my day, TIE Interceptors didn't have hyperdrives, but whatever. It was a cool scene.

And then we cut to Coruscant for a completely different plot. I'm guessing this whole section was written by inexperienced screenwriter Noah Kloor, who's credited along with Jon Favreau for writing the episode. He had a staff writing credit on Book of Boba Fett, though none of that series' scripts are actually credited to him. In 2020, he co-wrote a stop motion Christmas special with two other writers. And that brings us to the sum total of his imdb credits.

I love Coruscant. When I was a kid, before the prequels came out, I used to love the old Expanded Universe stories set on Coruscant. And I loved Coruscant in the prequels and on Clone Wars, though it never seemed quite as sinister as it did in those old books. The idea of a neverending city with a vast murky underbelly appealed to me and I liked how last night's episode gave us some little infodumps on the lore which most of us Star Wars geeks already know. It was amusing that Doctor Pershing (Omid Abtahi) seemed a little like a tourist.

The segment begins with Pershing doing a sort of TED Talk at the familiar opera house from Revenge of the Sith. I liked seeing the location again, but it made no sense for him to be giving this big speech about the potential in genetic research only for it to be followed by him sidelined by a bureaucratic policy and talking only reluctantly about the possibility of attempting such research again. Like the alligator fight in the first episode, it felt like the opera house scene was tacked on by someone who didn't actually understand the rest of the episode.

I liked the idea of former Imperials being rehabilitated and reintegrated, and it's nicely chilling how many echos we see from Andor. It looks like Pershing is even working in a cubicle similar to the one Karn worked in. It goes to show, the ideology of the regime may change but uprooting the habits of a bureaucracy may be another thing altogether. Of course, anyone who was pissed off by Luke Skywalker becoming a bitter old man in Last Jedi may not enjoy this stuff, either.

I liked Katy M. O'Brian's performance as Ella Kane, Pershing's duplicitous new friend. Though the elaborateness of her scheme to entrap him didn't make a lot of sense. She could have at least gotten tickets for the tram.

The episode is bookended by segments with the Mandalorian characters. Just last week, I mentioned how nice it was Katee Sackoff gets to act with her face. The moment I saw last night's episode was called "The Convert" I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. And sure enough, at the end, we had Bo Katan getting accepted into the tribe. Ugh. Well, maybe next week's episode will finally convince me it's interesting for these characters never to take their helmets off. But next week's is co-written by Dave Filoni so I kind of doubt it.

The Mandalorian is available on Disney+.

Twitter Sonnet #1678

A dappled pie delayed the party guests.
Asleep at home a foolish clerk resides.
To-night the eyes'll close on twenty tests.
A dozen bellies pulled computer tides.
A broken thought was gliding over sky.
The winter wind was all contained at home.
Removing ghosts resume a banshee's cry.
Again, the agent's forced to widely roam.
A harmless action set the party's tone.
A gentle gun deserved a heavy drink.
Abhorrence firmly banned the hollow bone.
And now the guests are past the very brink.
Returning houses hold a talk to none.
The day belongs to homes that lack a sun.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Another Irrevocable Change

Yesterday was a long, bittersweet experience. It was graduation day here in Japan and I watched students graduate from junior high school whom I met in their first year when I came to Japan in 2020. Junior high school is three years in Japan, and it's the last period of compulsory education. So it's regarded as much more important here than in the US. I recently saw some video from my own junior high school graduation back in 1993.

I'm the blonde in the middle with glasses. To my left is my friend Tim. Everyone in the video looks restless and bored, a far cry from the formal series of bows and singing and speeches I witnessed yesterday.

After the ceremony, the teachers and staff make the "flower road" in the field outside, lining up in two rows for the departing students to walk through. Then everyone mills around, taking pictures and making final farewells before the students finally exit, officially no longer junior high school students. I spoke to as many students as I could. Some of them I'm really going to miss and am bitterly sorry I'll never be able to see again. I work at several schools but they all hold their graduation ceremonies on the same day, so I can only go to one. I went to the school at which I'd spent the most time but that still left out a lot of students I dearly wished I could have seen.

After lunch, I went to the mall and was delighted to see and talk to many students from many schools. Many of the girls were wearing tiaras and sashes. One girl, a kick boxing champion, had done her hair and nails to perfection, her nails having little silver flowers glued to them. I saw some students I hadn't seen since 2021, whose school I wasn't assigned to last year. That was an unexpected treat.

Even after all that, there were still several students I was disappointed not to see. In previous years, some of them flagged me down later throughout the year at train stations. Getting closure seems to be very important to people here. I can only hope I will eventually see some of these students. In particular, there were two I worked with after school, teaching them how to read Edgar Allan Poe and Ray Bradbury. I sure I hope I see them eventually. But there's every possibility I never will.

Monday, March 13, 2023

The Short Road to the Party

It's a nice day, everyone's having a good time, there's a picnic. Some strangers show up to play some "jokes" that seem suspiciously like an ideological coup in 1966's A Report on the Party and the Guests (O slavnosti a hostech). Banned in its home country of Czechoslovakia for many years due to its perceived criticism of Communism, the film is very simple but very sly.

A group of bourgeois friends are enjoying a lazy lunch in the grass when they spot a distant group of revellers. Thinking they're heading to the same banquet they are, the picnickers stumble towards the main road. One of them finds an aggressively smiling stranger (Jan Klusak) suddenly locking arms with him.

He's with a group of sullen faced young men in ties. The amiable picnickers are reluctantly ushered into lines hastily drawn in the dirt. They're told they're now in a room and two dashes on the ground mark the door. One man among the picnickers of a certain disposition encourages everyone to play along. Another becomes angry and marches straight through a "wall".

It's hard to say exactly what philosophy the interlopers espouse only that they're very keen on controlling everyone under a flagrantly false veneer of good fellowship. The film successfully boils down a large political phenomenon to a more personal situation. You see, quite credibly, the process through which authority establishes itself while constantly protesting that it isn't authority at all. And you can see how flagrant, unchallenged hypocrisy gives it infinite license.

A Report on the Part and the Guests is available on The Criterion Channel.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Where Many Have Gone Before

I couldn't get past the second episode of Star Trek: Picard season one. But I heard the new season, season three, was actually pretty good so far so I skipped right to it. And it is pretty good. What a nice surprise.

It's not perfect. It has a few dumb things and just poorly considered lines of dialogue. Like when one character meets Worf and says, "Picard talks about you all the time!" No, no, Picard wouldn't talk about Worf all the time. Can you imagine? "Lieutenant, come to my ready room. You know, Worf used to visit my ready room. Would like some prune juice? You know who likes prune juice?"

"I'm guessing Worf?"

There are lots of those little auto-pilot lines that sound like the writer just wasn't considering--wait. Was this show written by an AI? . . . Well, it has the same credited writers as season two, which I hear was even worse than season one. The key difference is that Akiva Goldsman and Michael Chabon are absent from season three. I guess sometimes a show just needs fewer writers, not different writers.

Maybe they ought to have credited Nicholas Meyer and Jack B. Sowards, director and screenwriter, respectively, of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which the first four episodes of Picard season three gratuitously and unabashedly ape. The fourth episode is even called "No Win Scenario".

It's not the first time, or even the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixteenth time a Star Trek series or movie has tried to do Star Trek II again. Even the last Next Generation movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, borrowed heavily from Star Trek II, featuring Tom Hardy as Picard's clone/son figure. Picard season three more closely follows the the Star Trek II model.

The famous Captain Picard/Kirk, now an admiral, feeling his age a little, goes on an inspection tour of a Starfleet vessel. It turns out his old flame, though, Beverly Crusher/Carol Marcus, who's involved with a scientific project outside Federation jurisdiction, is in trouble. Working alongside her is her son, Jack Crusher/David Marcus, whose true identity as Picard's/Kirk's son she's kept hidden since his conception. But there's a villain afoot unconnected with all this family drama and pursues our heroes into a nebula where the two ships play a blind game of cat and mouse. And the whole thing ends with the witnessing of a remarkable birth that symbolises a new youth for Picard/Kirk.

Despite all this obvious copying and pasting, the four episodes are genuinely good. The writers have finally taken the hint that fans want their old familiar characters back along with logical problem-solving plots. Riker, Crusher, and Worf are all back in the mix. I wonder, too, if the writers are trying to woo back more conservative viewers by relegating most of the female characters to support roles, which would be cynical and, I think, a misreading of what said fans actually want.

But anyway. Three new cast members really shine; Todd Stashwick as Captain Shaw, commanding the ship Riker and Picard end up commandeering, Ed Speelers as Jack Crusher, and Amanda Plummer as Vadic, a character not unlike the one Plummer's father played in Star Trek VI.

Once again, Patrick Stewart is back as Picard, but I find myself saddened by how feeble he is now. I miss his strong, stern delivery. There are a couple scenes where you can see a fire kindled inside him, particularly the scene where he confronts Beverly about keeping their son a secret from him. Suddenly, he's alive and animated again. In other scenes, though, Stewart really seems checked out. He even slurs his words together a lot. I wonder how much of it is his age and how much of it is just him being so damned tired of Star Trek at this point. It's too bad the showrunners have burned their bridges with William Shatner. Nine years older than Patrick Stewart, he nonetheless seems a lot livelier.

The mechanics of the space battles and the character relationships work well enough that I was truly invested in the finale of episode four. So I guess I'll stick with this thing for now.

Star Trek: Picard is available on Paramount+.

Twitter Sonnet #1677

A stranger's face replaced an empty mug.
The oil fathoms wait for falling souls.
A devil scoops them down an iron jug.
As screaming fish abide in prison bowls.
Between the bubbles, eyes were hidden well.
A time of stars has warped the golden fleece.
Beneath the sea, an oyster hides a bell.
A signal lost in time denies us peace.
A captive lung rebounds against the cage.
Ascending steam refined a laser cloud.
Amounting sky condensed the stars to rage.
Descending suns announced the doom aloud.
Remembered ships were fat before the town.
A vicious crew emerged to tear it down.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

I Just Have a Few Notes

I got home late from Osaka last night and didn't feel like watching a movie. In the morning I watched the second episode of Robert Blake's YouTube series. Recorded within the last couple years, the episodes are just him at home going through boxes of old photos. So far he's talked almost exclusively about his roles as a child. Apparently he didn't think too much of Lost Highway at that point in his life, something seemingly confirmed by David Lynch in this interview:

Although, this interview from the time of the film's release shows him being more positive about it--and also somewhat derisive of his body of work previous to it:

I guess people change. Which is a pretty good summary of Lost Highway, actually.

I didn't realise Lost Highway, in 1997, was Blake's last movie. I wonder why. His arrest didn't happen until 2002.

Speaking of performers with strong personalities, lately I've been reading about how Jenna Ortega rewrote a lot of her own dialogue on Wednesday.

“There was times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional in a sense, where I just started changing lines … I would have to sit down with the writers, and they would be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things."

Ortega went on to give specific examples, quoting stereotypical “teenage” dialogue that clashed with Wednesday’s dark, brooding persona.

“Everything that she does, everything that I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all,” Ortega said. “Her being in a love triangle made no sense. There was a line about like, this dress that she has to wear for a school dance and she said, ‘Oh, my God, I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No, there’s no way.’”

Ortega even mentioned choreographing her own dance, the most iconic scene from the show, after discovering that Wednesday was originally meant to inspire a flash-mob, stating: “why would [Wednesday] be okay with that?”

Ortega implied that she had completely reshaped her character to give Wednesday more of an arc, saying, “I grew very, very protective of her, but you can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you.”

I don't agree that arcs are essential to creating good characters or stories but, for the most part, it sounds like she was definitely a better writer than the show's credited scribes. The fact that Tim Burton has just cast her in Beetlejuice 2 suggests it wasn't Burton she was clashing with, either, and that Burton had a relatively small creative role for a director on Wednesday. If they do another season, I hope they get better writers. Maybe they should just have Jenna Ortega do the writing.

Speaking of publicised rewrites, I've been amused by this ongoing story about Dave Filoni's supposed involvement in the filming of the Vader hallway scene at the end of Rogue One. Freddie Prinze Jr., star of Filoni's Rebels, recently claimed the Rogue One scene was 100% conceived and executed by Filoni even though Filoni himself claimed in an earlier interview that he'd never filmed any live action before his work on The Mandalorian. Then, finally, Gary Whitta, one of the original writers on Rogue One, said the scene was filmed by the film's original director, Gareth Edwards. It wasn't even part of the reshoots by the second unit director.

Which sounds a lot more plausible to me. I remember when Filoni imitated the sequence in the final episode of Rebels where it made absolutely no sense.

I bet at some point Filoni, or one of Filoni's people, told Freddie Prinze that story about Filoni making the scene for Rogue One, just like Filoni has successfully convinced people he created Ahsoka Tano. The guy's career is taking credit for things at this point. Meanwhile, what has he done since George Lucas sold Star Wars that wasn't running off fumes from Lucas and Jon Favreau? I suspect the upcoming Ahsoka Tano series will be the make or break point. When that show ends up sucking, everyone's going to stop buying into his PR except his most virulent stans. And that'll be yet another headache Disney can't afford.

I'm reminded again how Bob Dolman complained about Disney execs tampering in the writers room on the Willow series. And the stories going around about how the ending to the latest Ant-Man movie was changed to its current lame incarnation. And I'm reminded of the Disney Dark Ages of the 1970s and early 1980s, when a lack of a strong creative vision and too many unimaginative cooks in the kitchen nearly sunk the studio. And here we go again.