Saturday, May 21, 2005

"Execrable" - or, Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Charlies

As I prepare to join the legions of Charlie Browns running to kick that football one last time, I try to tell myself I'm going into it with my eyes open. After all, everything that can be said pretty much has been said on the topic, some of it with a fair amount of wit.

Yes, we all downloaded the trailer. Yes, it looked great and made us think that this time the movie will be a good one.

Yes, the last two trailers looked great, too, and yes both times it was just George "Lucy Van Peltz" Lucas just getting our hopes up, promising to hold that football, or, to mix metaphors, dangling us with an evil Sith cackle before dropping us in the steaming pile of doo.

The NYT's review goes a bit further than most in telling us what we want to hear: this movie isn't only "not a disappointment" but is even better than the first Star Wars (you know: the one that was retroactively and Orwellianly renamed "A New Hope"). I don't know who I heard on NPR on my way in to work just after reading that review (it wasn't Kenneth Turan or Mark Jordan Legan) but I already know from my furlings that he wasn't the first or last to twig that maybe it was George's plan all along to lower our expectations so much that no matter what he did for the finale, it would seem like a work of art. It would appear that the majority of the other reviews seem to be positive, although even those criticize the dialog and the acting (not a great stretch), and no-one denies that the humour of the first film is still nowhere to be found. The usual suspects (such as the delightfully vicious Anthony Lane -- link here, but see the rest of my furlings on the subect) aren't quite so pleased, but again there's no great surprise there.

So, I'll go hoping for the best, and not really being able to bring myself to expect the worst (though of course there has never been anything to expect from any Star Wars offering beyond just good old plain wholesome nerdy entertainment: let's not even try to beat the Bill Moyers/Joseph Campbell archetypal "mythology" dead horse).

What I did find most remarkable, however, while trolling the ether for commentary on Star Wars, was the extraordinarily common use of the word "execrable" to describe Episodes I and II (try it). Here I was patting the Boston Globe on the back for their use of the term (see my furl archive above), and it turns out that there is virtually no-one on earth who has failed to use the word "execrable" to describe the previous two installments.

Nonetheless, I still find the word particularly appealing in this context. Let's face it: "le mot juste" is precisely le mot juste to apply to the supremely satisfying applicability of this particular word to the last two Star Wars films. They were so bad, they weren't just bad, they were insultingly bad. What word better than "execrable" could possibly fit the bill? Perhaps that's what accounts for its popularity in this connection: or at least that, and its unpronounceability. (Oh, and don't even try here, by the way. It doesn't help.)

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