New York City may be the capital of the world, but it’s also home to a diverse population, many of whom live in vibrant street culture. One of the mainstays of this scene is the movie theater, where moviegoers can experience new stories, performances, and personalities. One of the most exciting times in the movie theater world is the fall season. The big-budget blockbuster movies stop coming out every two weeks, and the theaters become quiet, allowing for a deeper dive into the art of storytelling. One of the best things about the fall season is that it’s filled with movies that are destined to become classics. Now is the perfect time to start a movie collection, whether you watch anime or not, as there are so many amazing titles to choose from!
If you’ve been following the career of French writer and director, Michel Houllet, you’ll know that he’s recently become well-known for making unconventional movies. Houllet’s latest movie, Cosmopolis, is no different. Set in a near future where technology has reached an all-time high, the movie focuses on the elite who live above the ground-level city of Cosmopolis. The upper echelon’s lavish lifestyle is funded by a combination of micro-transactions and government surveillance, resulting in a high-stakes struggle for power plays, corporate takeovers, and government corruption. If you’ve never heard of Cosmopolis, it’s probably because it was only shown at Cannes, and not in US theaters. But now that it is available to watch on home video, it’s a movie that you must see, if you’re a fan of sci-fi thrillers.
The Last Jedi
Speaking of movies becoming classics, another fantastic year in cinematic history is now behind us, and one of the most interesting films of last year was Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now. This latest installment in the Star Wars saga takes the storytelling back to basics – with no fancy special effects or CGI, our heroes journey back to a purer form of film-making. It’s a bold move by Lucasfilm, and one that paid off, as The Last Jedi won the hearts of moviegoers around the world, despite the mixed reviews, averaging 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. This is largely thanks to its intriguing take on nostalgia, as well as the stunning visuals.
But what is this movie really about? Let’s dive into this topic more in-depth.
In a nutshell, The Last Jedi is about nostalgia. And not just any nostalgia, but an elaborate and cinematic nostalgia. The Last Jedi doesn’t hold back in terms of the emotions it summons up: you’ll cry, you’ll laugh, and you’ll feel nostalgic, as this film takes us on a trip down memory lane, populated by memorable cameos, and featuring a soundtrack that will transport you back in time. Director, Rian Johnson, puts it perfectly:
“There’s something incredibly powerful when an artist taps into that well of nostalgia that we all feel when we watch their work. As I look back on the journey that was The Last Jedi, I’m overwhelmed by gratitude to the fans who’ve supported me throughout this adventure, and even more so for those who’ve taken the time to re-watch the film, and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did when I first saw it.”
What is Nostalgia?
For those unfamiliar, nostalgia is a feeling of longing or discomfort that arises when you think of times, places, or events from your past. If you’ve ever heard of the ‘molecule of memory’, nostalgia is what makes that substance so valuable. Without it, we’d have a hard time recalling the good ol’ days, and even then, we’d probably have to resort to something like Google Search, which, let’s be honest, isn’t ideal. But nostalgia is more than a feeling: it’s also a cinematic perspective, as we look back on the past with rose-colored glasses, seeing things in a more favorable light, due to familiarity. This is why nostalgia is often associated with youth, or at least with a certain kind of mindset. A movie can evoke powerful emotions and nostalgia alike. Here’s a short excerpt from a piece written by Mariella Pasciuti, titled ‘Why Are Film Critics Still Afraid of Nostalgia?’:
“The most common reaction to a movie like The Artist, Broken Arrow, or Shrek, when they were first released, was that they felt like a long-forgotten relic of an era that never was. These films were, in fact, a vivid illustration of the nostalgia that infects us all. A sickness, really. In the middle of a pandora’s box of new gadgets and innovations, we can’t seem to break the grip of the past. Everything becomes a remix of what came before. Even love.”
The Importance of Sound
“The importance of sound is difficult to overstate; without it, films could be a pretty dull affair. To begin with, you wouldn’t be able to tell what’s going on in the movie, as there’d be no dialogue to give the story context. But more importantly, sound is integral to evoking nostalgia. Take a band like Arcade Fire, for example: with their unique combination of rock, indie, and electronic music, they’re able to evoke a wide array of emotions, from joy to heartbreak, with their songs. One of the things that makes Arcade Fire such a special band is that they don’t rely on one sound to evoke an emotion; instead, they use a variety of music, often sampled from old classics, to capture the nostalgia of audiences, past and present.
‘It Has Never Been Done”
This brings us to one of the most interesting topics in The Last Jedi: the idea of not just recalling the past, but living in the present, and changing the future. This is, of course, an impossible feat, and it’s something that the film constantly questions. When Rey is asked about her motivation for wanting to meet Luke Skywalker, she replies ‘It has never been done’, indicating that she believes it to be an impossible feat. We might argue that she’s right. What Rey and the rest of the characters in The Last Jedi desire is something that has never been done, and something that is sure to change the future, whether they like it or not.
An Alternate History
The alternate history trope as we know it was first introduced to us in 1941, with the publication of Robert Heinlein’s Golfers’ High. In the novel, the author posits an alternative 1940s, where Hitler did not succumb to depression after his failed attempt at world domination, but instead went on to found a dynasty, ruling over Europe, and eventually the United States, as an admiral named ‘Hermann Golfwer’ (yes, really). As you may have guessed, this is what makes The Last Jedi such an interesting film; although set in the present day, it questions the nature of the narrative we’re currently living in, and posits an alternate version of it. And this is probably why it will continue to be talked about, 20, 40, or 60 years from now.