This is NOT a film review.

“Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish……..what you started.”

To begin, there will be NO mention of plot points or scenes, if you want spoilers, jog on. Remember, this is not a film review.

Wow. What an emotional experience.
As the deadline approached, I found myself getting more and more excited, the force was truly awakening and JJ had seemingly, possibly, maybe, hopefully pulled off a coup; to make a sequel that honoured the originals yet managed to remain in the present (as far as film-making goes). Could this be true?

Everybody is feeling The Force at the moment.

Sat in the foyer on Thursday 17th December, 2015 in Sydney, Australia, the tension was palpable. We took our seats and waited, sat through some god-awful adverts and trailers and then It began (yes, I capitalized the I in it). No Fox fanfare as Lucasfilm is now owned by Disney, simply the Lucasfilm logo and then the opening crawl accompanied by THE music. Shit, it’s been a long time since I felt this. As excited as I may have been in 1999 when The Phantom Menace came out, this far superseded that feeling. I remember leaving the cinema back then sort of making excuses for it in my mind but a second viewing cemented my feelings about it, it was shit. Not so, here.

Could JJ Abrams really pull it off, after the travesty that was Eps 1,2 and 3, they shall, for me, remain in the depths of unneccessary along with the tv movies: Caravan of Courage-The Ewok adventure (which I never saw) and The Star Wars Holiday Special (2.5 on IMDB), mere distractions that came nowhere near close to the greatness of Star Wars, Empire and Jedi.
In my mind, I have erased the inclusion of 1,2 and 3. They are appendices, written badly, at best.

I can say, with confidence that JJ with The Force Awakens has done what Lucas (maybe/hopefully) wishes he could have achieved with 1,2 and 3.

And then some.

By selling the company and passing it along George Lucas has allowed the Star Wars universe to grow and become more relevant to today’s audiences as opposed to some outdated idea of what passes for entertainment these days.

That’s what it needed, a fresh approach from a skilled director who loved the originals as much as we did.

I never expected to have tears in my eyes at various moments during the watching of TFA, but they happened, I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m proud to say it. JJ hooks the audience emotionally by playing on the narrative themes of A New Hope and twisting them in a way that doesn’t seem plagiaristic (is that a word? Just looked it up, it is…..yes). The simpler, the better; gone are the overblown CGI that manages, like most 3d films, to distance you from the film and back are the creatures built by hand, the human touch. There are CGI characters in the film but never do you feel they are not real and a grounded part of this world (stand up and bow-the creators of Maz Kanata, brilliantly played by Lupita Nyong’o). Gone are the overblown, confusing messy politics and gone is Jar Jar Binks (mesa says thank goodness). What is left is the real essential elements of the originals, mythology, a bad-ass bad guy, an Empire that is stronger than it ever was, new characters that belong in the universe and a narrative that follows the rules add a pinch of seasoning and we may have an award winner, ladies and gentlemen.


I’m currently listening to John Williams’ incredible score and still reeling from the experience of what I have just seen, it hit me emotionally. It is brilliant.



JJ has done the seemingly impossible and made a film that is both current and manages to directly link to the originals. All I know is I’m looking to see it again and soon, like in the next day or so. I never thought after all these years that the magic could be revived, let me tell you, it can.

I could just go on and on and on (I KNOW I already have), I just can’t help it. I’ve written a lot and said little but my enjoyment of the film is like MANY others’; an emotional one. Mark Kermode said recently how easy and how much of a joy it is to write about great films. He’s not wrong at least on an emotional level.

Shit, what can I say without spoiling anything?

The cast are all great, the set pieces are tight, exciting and tense, there are quotes, the appearances of old characters get the tingles going, new characters surprise and entertain, there are laughs, tears, heart in mouth moments and more than a touch of humanity.
Excitement, adventure, drama, emotion; this has it all.

Hats off Mr Abrams, you rock.

For me, the film of the year.

Go see it.


TANGERINES-‘Mandariinid’ (2013)


Set in Georgia in 1990 during the war, this quiet, powerful film tells the story of Iwo (Lembit Ulfsak), an Estonian man who has stayed behind in the region to harvest his crop of tangerines, and his neighbor, Juhan (Raivo Trass), also a tangerine farmer. The Georgian civil war has forced the rest of the locals to flee back to Estonia for safety in this tumultuous time.

After a bloody battle ensues nearby, Iwo takes in a Chechen soldier, Ahmed (Giorgi Nakashidze), a Muslim, and a Georgian soldier, Niko (Misha Meskhi), a Christian, who were both injured in the battle. These two sworn enemies promise not to kill each other as long as they are in Iwo’s house. Their performances are rooted in a palpable history.

This anti-war film leans towards the things that connect us as opposed to the those that separate us. What it has to say about current conditions between various religious factions all over the world is incredibly pertinent. Sit two humans next to each other and have them discover their commonalities and before long a bond can be formed.

Zara Urushadze directs this film with a quiet intimacy and humanity that is rarely seen in a war film. This is not strictly a war movie, merely a story set during a violent time in Georgia’s recent history. The quietness is its greatest strength, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars (2015) and losing out to Pawel Pawlikowski’s ‘Ida’, it is well deserving of acclaim and worth seeking out.

The acting is brilliant, quiet and grounded; the cinematography by Rein Kotov is beautiful, capturing the village and the surrounding mountainous areas with simplicity and is more powerful because of it. The music is both haunting and filled with memories composed by Niaz Diasamidze. The motif theme for the film is below:


This is a film that many will not see and more’s the shame; it’s Georgian, subtitled, has very little in the way of action but is more powerful and important than a hundred studio movies put together; it is a deep, moving, anti-war film underpins the drama with the unsettling threat of battle always round the corner.

I want to see more of these; well-made, intelligent films that tackle serious subjects with subtlety and sensitivity.