The eve of the New Year is inevitably a time to cherish old friends, and for the last two weeks movie audiences have been taking that cue by turning out in droves for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For fans of the original trilogy, it plays like a long awaited reunion with cherished characters from the past, whilst introducing a new roster of charismatic heroes for the younger generation.
Truthfully, J.J. Abrams and company deserve a lot of credit for pulling it together. He has an innate first-person understanding of the appeal of Star Wars, from the wondrous special effects to the intangible camaraderie of its players. That same underlying spirit that has made the property a 38 year old cultural phenomenon is omnipresent in this new outing, and for that, how can we deem it anything other than a resounding success? Kudos to all.
On a more small-scale, though no less ostentatious note, Paolo Sorrentino's Youth examines some auld acquaintances chilling out in the Swiss Alps, reflecting on their lives and careers and the ramifications of old age. Michael Caine stars as a retired composer, and Harvey Keitel his film director friend aiming to make one more picture (his "Testament") before calling it quits.
Anyway, a new year lies ahead. Though I still have numerous films to catch up on before announcing my preferences, I've at least started cobbling together a top ten. Stay tuned in February. As for the immediate future, a whirlwind of guild nominations will start next week, leading up to Oscar nominations on the 14th. The season is truly upon us!