Star Wars Celebration Bits: The Best of SWCO, Hayden Christensen’s Thoughts on Sand, Vader’s Spa, and More

Star Wars Celebration 2017

In this Celebration-centric edition of Star Wars Bits:

  • An official video recapping the best moments of Celebration 2017.
  • Hayden Christensen’s true feelings about sand.
  • An announcement about the return of the Vintage Collection of toys.
  • Darth Vader nearly had his own spa on Mustafar in Rogue One.
  • And more!

Star Wars Celebration Orlando was a huge success, and while you can read our news recap of everything you need to know, this slickly-produced official video from the Star Wars YouTube channel is a heartwarming reminder of the joyful fandom that loves these movies so dearly.

Star Wars Celebration crowd 2017

Speaking of Celebration, JediNews reports that this year’s event has set a new record as the most highly-attended Star Wars Celebration ever with more than 70,000 attendees. That’s more than the average attendance of an NFL football game. Nice going, fellow nerds!

During an interview, erstwhile Anakin Skywalker actor Hayden Christensen was asked about his true feelings about sand, since his character famously whined about how “irritating” it is in Attack of the Clones. But Christensen was game to answer, and seemed like he had a good sense of humor about it.

If you like original Star Wars radio dramas (and honestly, who doesn’t?), GeekTyrant points us to the full performance of Smuggler’s Revenge, which filmmaker Kyle Newman (Fanboys) directed a live reading of on stage at Celebration. Cast members included David Collins, Catherine Taber, Tom Kane, Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Mathew Wood, Sam Witwer, and Warwick Davis himself in a story about Han Solo set between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

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/Film

/Answers: The Best Television Episodes of All Time

breaking bad ozymandias

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. This week’s edition asks “What is your favorite television episode of all time?” As always, we have submissions from the /Film writing crew and podcast team, along with a special guest. This week, we are joined by The Leftovers and Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof.

If you’d like to share your favorite TV episode, please send your thoughts to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the site. Find our favorite episodes below!

Damon Lindelof: “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” M*A*S*H

I feel like there’s so many [shows] that have incredible sticking power, but the first thing that popped into my head when you asked the question was M*A*S*H finale. That made a massive impression on me when I saw it for the first time. I felt like I was watching something incredibly adult, and I was still a kid. I was also watching something at the same time that 60 million other human beings were watching it. I had a very profound experience watching that episode, and every time I’ve revisited it over the years, it takes me back to exactly what I was wearing and what I was eating, and where I was sitting in my childhood living room when it was on.

Is that the best episode of television ever? Who knows. But all I can do is answer the question you asked, in terms of what my mind immediately leapt to. There’s a bunch. In the modern era, I think the greatest single episode of television produced is probably the “Ozymandias” episode of Breaking Bad. I sat there watching it, and when it was over I couldn’t move for, like, five minutes. It was just staggering.

Hoai-Tran Bui: “Zuko Alone,” Avatar: The Last Airbender

Antiheroes are a dime a dozen in today’s pop culture landscape, as are their obligatory redemption arcs. But try as many shows might, they will rarely best the character development of Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender. That’s right, a Nickelodeon animated series does character work better than your favorite cable prestige drama. And that pristine character work is fully realized in the breakout season 2 standalone episode, “Zuko Alone.”

In an episode that forgoes the main protagonists in favor of the show’s resident villain-turned-antihero, “Zuko Alone” is a miraculous homage to iconic “ronin” films like Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars, condensed into a 25-minute episode. The episode follows Zuko after he has parted ways with his wise, tea-drinking uncle, in an attempt to make it on his own as the disgraced outcast prince of the Fire Nation. He runs into a poor boy being terrorized by Earth Kingdom military thugs and — in an uncharacteristic moment of chivalry — decides to help him and the village under the sway of the brutal soldiers. What follows is your classic antihero grappling with identity, the horrors of war and poverty, intercut with flashbacks to Zuko’s unhappy upbringing alongside his psychotic sister. But brief moments of nobility and compassion thanks to the kindness of his mother in his past are reflected in Zuko’s own journey of self-discovery, as he clumsily tries to do good by the villagers.

It’s the bitter ending of the episode that sets this episode apart from other “lone noble warrior” stories, however. Backed into a corner, Zuko ends up revealing and reveling in his identity as the crown prince of the Fire Nation, the object of both the villagers’ and the soldiers’ hatred. He’s cast out again, despite his small, baby steps toward doing a good deed, and hurt, he retreats back into his proud, antihero shell. The episode is a fantastic piece of storytelling and character work, and while “Zuko Alone” does nothing new, it does it with such aplomb that it deserves to be ranked up there with the movies it pays homage to.

Ben Pearson: “Ozymandias,” Breaking Bad

I think Breaking Bad is the greatest television show of all time, so naturally my pick for this category is the best episode of that show: “Ozymandias,” the third-to-last episode of the show’s five season run. As great as the pilot is, I think “Ozymandias” is the best hour of television I’ve ever seen. Directed by Rian Johnson and written by Moira Walley-Beckett, it contains the heart-wrenching murder of a major character, the gorgeous cinematography the series was known for, and an absolute masterclass in tension with a knife fight sequence that still gets my heart racing just by thinking about it.

Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston deliver titanic performances here (they both won Emmys for their work in this episode), and the scene in which Cranston’s Walter White drives away with his daughter Holly as Gunn’s Skyler screams in despair is one of the most guttural, powerful things I’ve seen on any screen, big or small. It’s the culmination of years’ worth of secrets and lies, all coming to a head as the show speeds into its finale. It’s riveting, breathtaking television, and in a show full of fantastic episodes, this is the pinnacle of its achievements.

Jacob Hall: “Once More With Feeling,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“Once More With Feeling” isn’t the best episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because it employs a cute gimmick where the entire story is presented as a musical. It’s the best episode of the series because creator, showrunner, writer, and director Joss Whedon uses that gimmick to actually push the season’s larger plot in incredible directions, taking advantage of the song-and-dance format to let characters bare their souls and have the kinds of conversations they’d normally avoid. It’s a spectacularly entertaining break from format that refuses to be a monster-of-the-week episode – everything that occurs here hurts and lingers and matters.

In true Buffy fashion, there’s a malevolent reason for everyone suddenly breaking into song. A demon named Sweet has arrived in Sunnydale and his mere presence causes the population to break into song and dance, singing their darkest truths, sharing lovely romantic ballads with their partners, and getting all Busy Berkeley over mustard stains. Some people literally burst into flames after singing and dancing too much, so naturally, it’s up to Buffy and her crew to deal with the problem. While some members of the cast are much better at singing and dancing than the others, that’s part of the charm. Even the less talented singers throw themselves into each scene with gusto, as if they were, you know, compelled to do so by a supernatural force.

And while those songs are great and the series’ trademark wit and winking camp are on full display, it’s the final scenes that seal the deal here. Whedon uses this very silly, potentially gimmicky episode to finally deal with the ramifications of the fifth season finale and the season six premiere. Only through song can Buffy be honest with her friends about what they’ve done to her and what she has gone through. It’s heartbreaking and catchy and bold and yeah, this is the best hour of TV ever made.

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/Film

The Best & Worst Sketches from Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Saturday Night Live’

Jimmy Fallon Hosted Saturday Night Live

Last night, Saturday Night Live went live coast-to-coast for the first time in the show’s 42-year history with host Jimmy Fallon. The late night sketch series seems anxious to capitalize on all the buzz their political satire has been getting lately with all the Donald Trump presidency fueling the writers room for a couple sketches each week, and they want everyone to experience the show at the same time rather than having half the country on a tape delay.

Though last night’s episode did offer some amusing moments lampooning the headlines that came from the White House this week, SNL was strongest with their non-political sketches, and that’s despite the fact that both Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy returned as Donald Trump and Sean Spicer respectively. In fact, the best sketch mocked another headline-making even that had nothing to do with politics at all.

Check out the best and worst sketches from the Jimmy Fallon hosted Saturday Night Live last night.

The Best

Take Me Back – Normally I’d offer my commentary as to why this sketch was the best, but I can’t do that without spoiling the double punchline twist that comes with this sketch. If you start watching and you end up wondering where the hell this is going (like I did when I watched), just wait, and let it unfold. It’s worth it for the two huge laughs that come at the end, one of which features a surprising callback to another recent sketch from last week.

Before the Show – Anyone who has willingly participated in any middle school stage production knows how the expectations of students are nowhere near the final product of the performance that ends up on the stage. The dichotomy between the excitement these tween girls feel about their production of Legally Blonde: The Musical and the disaster that is the real show is both adorable and hilarious. Seeing how confident and happy they all are even after it fails spectacularly is also as funny as it is cute.

Basketball Scene – There have been plenty of instances where background extras are used to create humor by ruining a scene being shot for a movie, TV show or commercial. It’s an easy gag. But sometimes, there’s just no substitute for great physical comedy. In this case, seeing Jimmy Fallon and Mikey Day as trained actors who are trying to pretend to play basketball is just plain funny. I also love that line about studying “sports movement” at Julliard.

Continue Reading Jimmy Fallon’s SNL Review >>

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/Film

Remote watch parties are the best thing to ever happen to introverts

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Streaming videos in your room just got a whole lot less lonely. 

Binging for hours on Netflix has long been an inherently isolating experience: You’re solo, it’s late, and you definitely should have gone to bed by now. It’s the ideal setup for introverts and people just generally afraid of the world, but it’s also possibly the fastest route to spending an unhealthy amount of time alone — Doritos dust piling on your chest like a neon monument to social anxiety. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. Thankfully, the same tech that feeds our desire to stay in for the night (and the next night, and the next) can also be used to turn tumbling down a YouTube rabbit hole into a shared group adventure.  Read more…

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Best father ever creates unbelievable cardboard armor for his son

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Get ready for some serious childhood envy.

Warren King is a full-time father and artist with a pretty unconventional product: cardboard sculptures.

«I started by making different helmets and toys for my kids, just for fun…  mostly Star Wars stuff, Lord of the Rings, and superhero costumes,» the artist said. «All with cardboard, because it was free!»

«Then one day my oldest kid challenged me to make something ‘more realistic.’ It all started from there.»

Now, King is going viral for this unbelievable medieval-style cardboard armor he built for his son. Read more…

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The Best & Worst Sketches from Louis C.K.’s ‘Saturday Night Live’

Louis CK Hosted Saturday Night Live

This weekend brought Louis C.K. back to Saturday Night Live as host for a fourth time. There hadn’t been a new episode in nearly a month since Scarlett Johansson hit the stage in Studio 8H last month, so the writers and cast were refreshed and ready to go. The wait for a new episode was worth it, because with Louis C.K. on board as host, they delivered a fantastic episode where even the average sketches had more laughs than the usual middling ones and there were only two sketches that didn’t really work.

After the jump, we run through the best and worst sketches from the Louis CK hosted Saturday Night Live.

The Best

Birthday Clown – The way Louis C.K. plays this so straight is a huge part of what makes this work so well, but Bobby Moynihan does an amazing job of being on the verge of being scared and just going on with his show in this weird situation. Even though having Ernest turn out to be a weird killer is a solid ending, I was hoping it would go in an even stranger direction eventually. But despite that, the sketch was still the best of the night.

Pepsi Commercial – After all the uproar about this commercial, you knew that SNL was going to have their own take on the situation. Instead of taking the easy way out and making a new commercial in the same vein of the real tone deaf Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner, they followed the ad’s writer and director as he slowly realizes just how bad this commercial is going to be just before he shoots it. Finally, the sketch goes out with a bang by taking one final swipe at the clueless Kendall Jenner. Great stuff.

Soda Shop – The constant chipper 1950s tone of voice in this entire sketch makes the inappropriate advances by Louis C.K. and the manipulative, passive aggressive flirting from Cecily Strong is what brings the laughs. Even as Cecily Strong is slowly creeped out in the beginning of the sketch, her face looks uneasy, but her voice still keeps that upbeat attitude. Louis C.K. takes it to another level though when he keeps turning down the advances of Vanessa Bayer in a way that’s mean but sounds kind as ever.

Tenement Museum – With any other host, Tenement Museum may have just been an average sketch. It’s hard to know how funny the final sketch of the night really would have been if it was relying only on the jokes themselves, though the writing here is provocative and hilarious. But what really makes this sketch hilarious in this instance is Louis C.K. completely botching his Polish accent. I do wonder how much he’s intentionally leaning into making the accent bad (especially when he says “my wife” like Borat), but it doesn’t make it any less funny, especially with Kate McKinnon (who rarely breaks) unable to keep her composure. Louis C.K. even mocked himself in the goodbye at the end of the episode by doing the accent again.

Continue Reading Louis CK’s SNL Review >>

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/Film

Cakes that look like succulents are the best way to eat your greens

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Is eating cupcakes that look like plants the same as eating plants? Nope. Do we care? Not necessarily.

Enter Ivenoven, a baker in Jakarta, Indonesia who makes desserts inspired by plant life — bouquets, terrariums, and even the ever-trendy succulent. 

All the cakes’ exquisite details are piped by hand, and Ivenoven carefully mixes powdered sugar, butter, and food coloring to achieve the perfect hue for each petal and leaf. No two plants — and no two cupcakes — turn out exactly alike. Read more…

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‘A Bad Idea Gone Wrong’: How Last-Minute Casting Led to SXSW’s Best Ensemble

A week before production started on his feature film debut, and with Thanksgiving only two days away, writer/director Jason Headley still hadn’t cast one of his three leads.

Most filmmakers will tell you that pre-production is the key to a successful shoot. But sometimes, things just don’t line up that way. Writer/director Jason Headley knows this all too well. A Bad Idea Gone Wrong is Headley’s feature debut, a comedy about two not-so-bright guys determined to find one great heist to set them up for life, even though neither of them has experience with theft of any kind. This dynamic duo breaks into a house in an exclusive gated community and manages to set the house alarm from inside, trapping themselves inside. Soon, they discover they are not alone.

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Why is the world’s best golfer missing the Masters? A very serious investigation.

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The Masters golf tournament was rocked on its opening day Thursday when Dustin Johnson — the world’s top-ranked golfer — was forced to pull out of the competition. 

Here’s where it gets weird: Johnson injured his back falling down a small staircase in the house he was renting near August National Golf Club. (Don’t worry — Johnson’s not mortally wounded or anything. He took some practice swings Thursday before deciding his back was too «tight» to compete.)

Now, we don’t yet know exactly how or why Johnson fell down those stairs.  Read more…

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