As will likely come up a great deal over the next few weeks, it’s Hugo season here at the IO. Specifically, this means I’m busy reading and watching and listening so as to be an informed voter. (Voting closes July 15!)
Friday night, The Big Man and I watched Rogue One again. It’s up for a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation – Long Form, and we hadn’t seen it since we saw it opening weekend in the theater, so it was time to watch it again. That first night, I was absolutely willing to be swept away by the scenery and the music and the deep familiarity of the world of Star Wars. Even though the story has a tragic ending (sorry, spoilers don’t apply on films from last year!) the heroism and the characters worked for me – I was blind to the errors and problems, and was excited to see how a real female lead would be handled. (I have a Jyn Erso action figure on my desk, so it clearly worked for me!)
Are there issues? Sure. Is the CGI for two key characters a little weird? Yes, although it works – on first watch, I barely noticed it. In the bright light of my lounge, a little more obvious (and I knew to look for it), but still, not overly disturbing. Is it a little slow in places because of backstory? Sure. But for me, the greatest tragedy is that we’re introduced to a half-dozen really interesting and excellent characters, and now they’re all gone, so unless someone makes Star Wars 3.5 (assuming this is something like Star Wars 3.95) we’ll never see them again. And that makes me sad.
To round out a Star-Warsy weekend, last night we went to see the NSO conducted by the delicious Steven Reineke doing a program of the music of John Williams. (Happy 85th birthday, Maestro Williams – may you have many more!) Reineke is an energetic and enthusiastic conductor and he clearly loves his work. The program he selected opened with the Jaws ‘shark theme’ which, heard live, is very, very scary! The rest of the first half included pieces from other films (Harry Potter, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, ET, War Horse) as well as a piece Williams wrote for the Olympics in 2002 (I think). I love how Williams uses the entire orchestra – the French horn and trumpet got a good workout last night, along with the flute and a lot of percussion work (nice style tympani player!) There was also some excellent work by the Choral Arts Society on several pieces. The second half began with the Star Wars overture, then did one piece from each of the seven films. It was excellent, and I’d almost forgotten how good the music is for some of the really terrible films (I’m looking at you, episodes 1-3). For an encore, they did the Cantina theme which had the audience in stitches.
This is the second time this spring I’ve seen Reineke conduct and would love to some more – we’re already eyeing next season’s programme.