|STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKERTHE RISE OF SKYWALKERRISE OF SKYWALKERFINN AND POESKYWALKERSTAR WARSFRIENDS|
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: New Girl
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: Charming weirdo Jess Zooey Deschanel moves into a new apartment with three male roommates after a devastating break-up. It turns out that her new roomies played by Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris are also charming weirdos. Quirky friendship ensues and it is all very, very funny.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: On paper, there is literally nothing special about New Girl, which ran on Fox from 2011 through 2018. In fact, it sounds downright hacky and tired: a quirky girl has three male roommates?! What is this, 1972? But while that concept may be a tough pitch in an age where television comedy has grown increasingly experimental and daring, New Girl has something you cannot fake or manufacture: lead actors with undeniable, unmistakable chemistry that works no matter which combination of characters share the screen in a given scene.
Honestly, it was that basic concept that kept me away from New Girl for a long time, even as my significant other insisted I watch it. And damn it, they were right. Now that the entire series is finished and streaming on Netflix, I’m hooked. While I certainly would’ve been hooked during another time, the show feels especially right for this given moment. During a literal pandemic where I cannot see any of my real friends, being able to hang out with Jess and Nick and Schmidt and Winston and Cece has genuinely cleansing for the soul. Sure, they’re not my real friends, but they are close enough for now. The show’s agreeable tone and chilled-out, laid-back, friendly vibe makes them welcome visitors in your living room.
At this point during my first time through the series I just completed the first season as I write this, New Girl‘s greatest strength remains its cast, which elevates the weaker episodes while super-charging the more inspired entries. Deschanel, Johnson, Greenfield, Morris and Hannah Simone as Jess’ best friend and eventual member of the group are talented, funny folks in a vacuum, but when put in the same room, the electricity between all of them could power a dozen lesser sitcoms. It’s a triumph of casting, acting, and character development, the kind of lightning in a bottle ensemble that every comedy series wishes it could taste.
I imagine New Girl will have its highs and lows as I watch it. I imagine there will be the rough patches and inspired streaks. But I know these are my new television friends and right now, I treasure them....