7:00 PM, 25th February, 2017
‘It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR.’ – Opening crawl from A New Hope.
Did you ever wonder about that battle? Or how the spies managed to steal the plans and why they were vital enough to risk such a mission? Well come along and find out. Rogue One tells this tale, and tells it well. Being a new story we get introduced to a whole range of characters led by the plucky survivor Jyn Erso (Jones). Jyn hasn’t had the easiest of lives, but her father’s role within the Empire leads the Rebellion to track her down to help their head of intelligence Cassian Andor (Luna) on a vital mission. He brings the delightful droid K-2SO (Tudyk) who is fantastic. I also loved the blind Force user Chirrut Imwe (Yen) who joins the team during the first part of their mission.
It’s visually spectacular and the final scenes are something you have to watch on the big screen. There are a few familiar faces from the franchise who are great to see included, but overall it’s the story that makes Rogue One work and you don’t even have to be a mad fan to enjoy it. The Force is strong in this one.
9:24 PM, 25th February, 2017
The latest from German director Tom Tykwer (best known for Run Lola Run and Perfume), this film follows Alan (Hanks), a salesman struggling with heat and local indifference and a pervasive sense of failure as he and his team wait in the middle of the desert for an audience with the King of Saudi Arabia. They hope to get the IT contract for the new city he’s building, and they hope their state-of-the-art holographic conferencing technology will get it for them. Or rather, Alan himself doesn’t hope for much, but he goes through the motions. And he also does something else: he starts exploring – and Tykwer knows how to make his exploration magical, without making it seem as though he’s making it magical.
I have to admit: something about Saudi Arabia terrifies me, and probably you, too – it is a repressive, totalitarian, terrorism-exporting theocracy, after all. But iron curtains tend to magnify fears beyond reason. An illustration: I was in a plane flying over the country I saw nothing but grim red deserts and grim black mountains and enormous, eerily perfect round circles dotting the landscape. Those circles creeped me out; I assumed they had something to do with oil, and that if you stood next to them it would be like being in Mordor. But it turns out they are in fact sewerage treatment plants, converting waste to agriculture. Up close, they’re green.
This is the journey of Alan as he looks at Arabia up close.