10 thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi film poster

Unlike in the last two years, when I attended midnight screenings of The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I didn’t see Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi until 2pm on opening day. But I decided to continue my tradition of posting 10 (hopefully spoiler-free) thoughts on the movie (some of which, admittedly, aren’t actually about the movie itself).

Disney could be making Star Wars movies every year until the end of time, so I don’t know if I’ll still be doing these posts a decade from now, but obviously I am this year because you’re reading it. So without further ado, here are 10 thoughts I had while watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi film poster
Star Wars: The Last Jedi film poster (LucasFilm Ltd.)
  1. I asked for a regular Coke but this feels like an extra large super size or something. The movie is 2.5 hours long so I’m going to have to ration this because there’s no way I’m leaving my seat to take a bathroom break.
  2. Leia… I’m getting emotional just looking at her. RIP Carrie Fisher. Nice touch giving Lieutenant Connix a couple of little buns.
  3. YAAAASSSS! Asian representation! Welcome to the galaxy, Rose Tico. Also, great surname (Tico, like Tico Torres, the drummer for Bon Jovi.)
  4. Luke Skywalker sure got grumpy and cynical in his old age, but it makes sense here. Rey is like a young Luke.
  5. Thanks Artoo, now I have something in my eye.
  6. People ragged on George Lucas for the Ewoks and Gungans, but at least both of those served a purpose to the story beyond making puppy dog eyes at Chewbacca. I have no issue with the porgs; there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be birds on Ahch-To. I’m just saying.
  8. The Force Awakens was basically A New Hope, and The Last Jedi takes a darker turn like The Empire Strikes Back.
  9. Kylo Ren is way cooler this time around. Not as cool as his grandfather, but cool enough. I’m liking Hux more too.
  10. Oh man. I haven’t cried this much in a Star Wars movie since… well, ever.

The Last Jedi official trailer:

10,000 review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed 10,000 — presented by by the Perth Theatre Trust and Umbrella Works Inc. as part of the Subiaco Theatre Festival — for Perth Walkabout:

In 10,000, we are introduced to Edie and AJ through the characters they are playing in a video game. The game, which AJ bought when he and Edie first got together, acts as a metaphor for their troubled relationship. 10 years on, they are married with a three-year-old daughter, but Edie has recently moved out. A keen gamer, AJ hopes to repair their marriage by sharing one of his passions with his sceptical wife. But before long, the lines between reality and the game’s science fiction adventure world become blurred, and Edie and AJ find themselves fighting for their very survival.

Read the full review on Perth Walkabout.

Enoch Arden review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed Enoch Arden, performed by John Bell and Simon Tedeschi, for Perth Walkabout:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed into His Majesty’s Theatre on June 14 for Perth Theatre Trust’s one-night-only presentation of Enoch Arden. The night began with acclaimed classical pianist Simon Tedeschi introducing the show, setting the mood by performing two pieces by Schubert and Brahms, before award-winning actor and Bell Shakespeare founder John Bell entered the stage.

Read the full review on Perth Walkabout.

The Lighthouse Girl review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of The Lighthouse Girl for Perth Walkabout:

As I waited for the Perth premiere of The Lighthouse Girl to begin, I felt like I was on a boat drifting towards an island, with the sound of waves crashing around the intimate theatre, the rocky landscape on the stage in front of me, and even the way my chair shook as the audience walked down the steps to find their seats.

Adapted by Hellie Turner from Dianne Wolfer’s award-winning books, The Lighthouse Girl and The Light Horse Boy, the play is set during the outbreak of World War I. Fay lives an isolated existence on Breaksea Island, south-east of Albany, with her father and old Joe. Fay’s father is Breaksea’s lighthouse keeper; her mother died several months earlier, and her only other companions are her donkey and her diary. Meanwhile, in country Victoria, best friends Charlie and Jim lie about their age to enlist as soldiers, anticipating a great overseas adventure together.

Read the full review at Perth Walkabout.

10 thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film poster

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film poster
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie poster (LucasFilm Ltd.)
This morning, I attended a midnight premiere of Rogue One, the first movie in the “standalone” Star Wars Anthology Series. I’m not going to post a proper review because there have already been plenty of those, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to come. But like I did for The Force Awakens last year, I’ve decided to post 10 thoughts I had while watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (I’ve tried to keep it spoiler-free, but if you haven’t seen it and are concerned about potential spoilers, please look away now.)

  1. I attempted to pay homage to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia and Rey in one hairstyle… I don’t think anyone gets it.

    A photo posted by Lee-Ann Khoh (@leeannkhoh) on

  2. No yellow opening text crawl. 😮 That’s how you know it’s not an Episode.
  3. I remember watching Felicity Jones as Ethel Hallow on The Worst Witch when I was a kid. Now she’s the star of a freaking Star Wars movie. The circle is now complete.
  4. K-2SO is like a badass C-3PO. He deserves his own spin-off.
  5. Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus make a great pair.
  6. Slightly disappointed that Ben Mendelsohn didn’t play Krennic a little more “Australian”. I think a Wolf Creek-inspired Aussie accent is long overdue in the Star Wars universe. 😉
  7. They did a fantastic job bringing Tarkin back to life.
  8. I know it’s a space opera, but there’s something very realistic about this.
  9. Noooo Bail Organa, don’t go back to Alderaan!
  10. OH MY GOD. OH. MY. GOD. Even if the rest of the movie had sucked (which it didn’t), it would’ve been worth it just for that last scene.

[PORTO] review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed The Blue Room Theatre’s production of [PORTO] for Perth Walkabout:

Entering the theatre for The Blue Room’s production of [PORTO] felt more like walking into a cosy laneway bar than a play. I was immediately drawn in by the set – the unassuming bar counter next to a stage with a microphone, and the funky little couch in the corner. When [], the omniscient, fourth wall-breaking narrator stepped up to the mic in his ostentatious red outfit, I knew this was going to be an intriguing show.

Read the full review at Perth Walkabout.

A Perfect Specimen review on Perth Walkabout

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I reviewed Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of A Perfect Specimen for Perth Walkabout:

Haunting squeals and whistles echoed around the room as the audience descended into the theatre for the opening night of A Perfect Specimen. On a dimly lit, two-tiered circular stage stood three A-frames, featuring provocative headlines like Behold! The Monkey Woman. Then Theodore Lent emerged from the curtains, tapped his cane sharply on the ground and – in an ominous, booming voice – invited us to the show.

A Perfect Specimen, by Perth-born award-winning playwright Nathaniel Moncrieff, is inspired by the true story of Julia Pastrana. She was born in the 1830s with hypertrichosis and gingival hyperplasia, which resulted in hair that covered her body, as well as enlarged gums and irregular teeth. Dubbed the “Bear Woman” and an “ape”, among other things, Julia travelled the world as part of a freak show managed by her husband – Theodore Lent.

Read the full review at Perth Walkabout.

10 thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie poster

Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie poster
Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie poster
As you’ve probably heard, Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens just came out. As a Star Wars fan who went by the pseudonym Kenobi in high school and now has Princess Leia tattooed on her thigh, I was counting down the days until I finally got to see this highly anticipated movie at a midnight screening in Perth today.

I decided against doing a proper review because a) that would likely include spoilers, which most people who are planning to see the movie are trying to avoid, and b) there are already plenty of reviews by actual movie reviewers.

Instead, here are 10 thoughts I had while watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’ve tried not to give too much away, but if you’d like to be completely surprised and you haven’t seen it yet, then stop reading:

  1. Got my stormtrooper 3D glasses on and a Padawan braid in my hair. I feel like a little kid again. This is gonna be great!
  2. That score, that yellow opening crawl… It’s like coming home.
  3. Jakku looks a lot like Tatooine. And Lor San Tekka reminds me of old Ben Kenobi. And I see the old “hide it in the droid” tactic is still in play.
  4. Finn is an intriguing character. I wouldn’t mind an origin story about the new generation of stormtroopers.
  5. It’s the Millennium Falcon! We are home.
  6. Rey kicks some major butt. I think she’s my new idol.
  7. That blue lightsaber is the one Obi-Wan Kenobi gave to Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, right? The one Luke lost in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader cut his arm off? Did someone go scavenging around Bespin and find it? Was Luke’s dead arm there with it?!
  8. There’s a lot of deja vu in this movie.
  9. The acting is pretty damn good, though.
  10. Did they really make Mark Hamill lose weight for this? He’s in a robe, not a catsuit!

I’m not sure you can tell by those 10 thoughts, but I actually loved The Force Awakens. Then again, I loved the prequels (Revenge of the Sith is my favourite Star Wars film) and the fourth Indiana Jones movie, so make of that what you will. 🙂

4 out of 5 stars.

Review of Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman
Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee. Photo: Hannah McKay/PA Wire/AP
I was in a hotel room in Melbourne when the news broke that a sequel to Harper Lee’s literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird was being published. I was equally excited and nervous, and pre-ordered Go Set a Watchman despite my misgivings:

  • Almost as soon as the announcement was made about a new book, there were allegations that Harper Lee was being taken advantage of in her old age and failing health. The manuscript conveniently resurfaced after the death of Lee’s sister Alice, who had protected Harper for years. (EDIT: Jamie Ford has blogged about the timeline of events leading to this new book’s publication.)
  • Although promoted as a sequel, Go Set a Watchman was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Upon reading this manuscript, Lee’s editor suggested she write a more interesting novel from the young Scout Finch’s perspective, and thus Mockingbird was born.
  • Go Set a Watchman has been published as originally written, without revisions. As a writer myself, I can tell you that if I published a novel without revising it a few times, it would be far from the best it could be.
  • In the week leading up to Go Set a Watchman’s release, reports began to emerge that Atticus Finch had grown into a racist old man.

Go Set a Watchman, set in the 1950s, takes place some two decades after To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout, who now goes by her birth name of Jean Louise Finch, is returning home from New York to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her elderly father Atticus. She is greeted by Henry “Hank” Clinton, who courts Jean Louise during her trips home and wants to marry her. Hank has become a surrogate son to Atticus since working with him at his law firm. Jem Finch, Scout’s brother, died two years earlier.

At times the manuscript takes a meandering path to get to the point. It’s not until Chapter 8 that Jean Louise discovers a racist pamphlet in Atticus’ house and learns that both Atticus and Hank are members of the local White Citizens’ Council. This is where the story really begins. It’s a story of loss and disillusionment — Jem and Dill are gone (except in flashback), and the people Jean Louise has left have betrayed her idealistic notions of them.

Unlike Mockingbird — which sizzled with Scout as its sharp, wide-eyed narrator — Watchman is told in the third person, creating a certain distance between the characters and the readers. Watchman is not badly written, but it lacks the magic that made Mockingbird so memorable and engaging. I believe Watchman is a gathering of Lee’s ideas, which were yet to be crafted and polished. There are references to events in Mockingbird, but also discrepancies (such as the verdict of Tom Robinson’s rape trial), indicating that Mockingbird’s plot was yet to take shape.

It’s also worth nothing that characters change as the stories we write evolve, and Watchman represents a story in its infancy, before the author was even sure what story she wanted to tell. I’ve just completed the first draft of a novel, and by the time I’m ready to pitch it to agents and publishers and pray for a contract, it will probably look very different. Kate Grenville, one of Australia’s most successful authors, has been known to redraft her manuscripts 27 times.

So my advice — should you choose to read Go Set a Watchman — would be to read it not as a sequel, but for an insight into the writing process. It’s basically an early draft of what was, and is, a great book.

3 out of 5 stars.

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