Oh boy, the longer we go into the quarantine, the more the fact unfolds that we are very, very unprepared as a country, or as a society, to face the pandemic conditions. While the at-risk group, the elder folk, are the ones taking the physical brunt of the virus, the mental brunt goes to the children, who are torn off from the schools and expected to follow their curriculum at home, at their own time, guided by either the parents, or teachers over the Skype, or classmates – nobody really knows who, and as there’s no general guidelines that the schools follow. Each teacher has their own method of teaching, some share the homework at Wilma or similar school systems, some through Whatsapp, some using Teams; some prefer distance learning, some have video sessions… It’s all a big mess, and no wonder – the whole school system has had to reinvent itself in less than a week, but one thing is already clear: those who suffer, are the kids. Too much is expected of them and their parents, who are by no means teachers or have any pedagocic skills, leading to even deeper mess – and conflicts at home, too. This generation will be remembered from the fact that our kids come half a year behind everyone else, if even more.
The quarantine requirements are slowly sitting down in my head, too. While few days ago I was still defiant, ready to challenge the guidelines and thinking they really apply to the big masses, not individuals, I’m starting to realize it really means each individual. This also means, my son won’t be traveling to see me to Helsinki from Tampere any time soon most likely, which sucks big time. We do keep contact over Skype but well, it’s like I’m in China and he’s in Finland, like it used to be few years back when I was shooting The Ark.
At work, we’ve been working hard trying to find digital solutions to physical plans we have, and have succeeded with some cases. President’s words – when we distance socially, we need mental proximity more than ever – work in many levels. We humans can’t be expected to stay away from others for too long, and while we Finns are pretty well known for our preference of isolation, there’s only so long we can really practice that. Thus, we need encounters, and while we can’t have them physically, luckily we do have the Internet.
Many others have noticed this, too. All kinds of co-working space software – Teams, Skype Pro and many others – are barely holding up the traffic. Just a few months ago I hadn’t even heard of Teams, and look at it now, how important it is not just for companies doing work from home, but also to kids studying, and more.
And boy, streaming services must have their servers overloaded these days. When there’s nothing else to do, that’s where we turn to and yeah, I’ve been catching up with loads of horror films I’ve missed and TV shows I’ve neglected. Not sure what kind of world we crawl back into in a few month’s time when this all starts to (hopefully) blow over, but I’m sure we’re going to really want to meet others.
While the response to everything is pretty rigid, and some instructions from higher up are conflicting (I still don’t know can we go to gym or film theater or not, have a birthday party or not, etc.), so far I think the current government has done the right moves. Having said that, we also know that this is most likely just the beginning of the lockdown – some suggest this all is gonna take at least another 188 days before things start to ease up.
Luckily, we are living in these times, not say 25 years earlier – nowadays, we have Netflix, Internet and multiple online communication methods, 25 years ago it was nothing but MTV3 and puzzles.
The purpose of a company is to generate profit, year after year. But when the crisis hits, all that profit seems to evaporate in thin air – the idea, that the company would produce negative profit for a couple of months *because* the workers have done such a great job for the past years, paying back for their contribution, seems to be a completely unimaginable situation. Looking at how many companies are doing major layoffs two *days* after the prime minister called in for crisis maneuvers is ridiculous. This I understand in small companies who struggle day-by-day to get by, but sizeable airlines, state-owned railway companies, and the likes – where is that profit when it’s actually needed for the good of the workers? What Corona-virus does it exposes the ugly side of capitalism for us all to see and observe and experience.
But there are those who are winning, thanks to the virus. The obvious ones – streaming services, the company that eventually comes up with the vaccine and online gaming companies rake in the profits, but again, capitalism reels its ugly head as the bottom-feeders march to the front line.
Take quickie loan companies, for example; now, that people are getting laid off, or want to stack up, or small businesses who struggle to stay in business, – nothing easier than selling a quickie for a bunch of panicking, desperate people who’ll pay whatever interest to get by.
Or what about telemarketers? They’re in seventh heaven: working from the confines of their quarantine, one thing they can be sure of: they’ll never catch anyone at a bad time, as nobody is doing anything, nor do they ever have a lack of common topics to start off their sales pitch – the virus and the social distancing unite us. But even worse, the people are thirsty for communication, especially the elder folk, who are locked in their homes – and as we know, the elder folk are easy prey for magazine salesmen. All the old and lonely, and possibly even scared want is to talk with somebody, and boy the telemarketers take advantage of that. And after talking a couple of minutes with someone, saying “no” to a very nice offer is very hard.
But there’s also something good in it. Finland has been struggling for low birth rates, but now that the people are at home – and bored – this side of things should be fixed in say 9 month time.
Well, things got serious really fast here in Finland. From “well, let’s just not go to China for a while” to “close the borders” in just one month – but starting Wednesday, Finland is in full lockdown mode. The borders are closed, most of the government establishments are down, recreational spaces are closed, all sports are out and any gathering of 10 or more people is forbidden. Yeah, these are very peculiar times, every time I open the newspaper website, it’s like history is being written in front of my eyes. Yet, it’s strange how human mind works: instead of people panicking and going crazy – yeah, some do, but they are still a very small percentage amongst us all – we keep it calm and carry on.
The prolonged lockdown, including social distancing and all the other measures that are being taken by the Finnish government do create a unique situation: instead of us being able to go bascially anywhere, we need to stay put, in our homes, go outside as little as possible and try to cope with ourselves – with our immediate family and all the demons inside our heads. Suddenly, the parents stay in, instead of heading out to work every morning; the kids stay at home, instead of going to the school, or even play with friends. Suddenly, we have to face our family, day in, day out, with nowhere to run. While hopefully for the most people, this is good news, it’s also bound to unearth some pretty nasty things, too.
For sure, each country copes differently in the face of the crisis – interestingly, Finland seems to cope by hoarding wine boxes and toilet paper. Not really sure what to think of that… But what the full lockdown means for me is more home-time, more movies (I’ve started my Horror Quarantine month, more of that later) and a lot more walking in the Lauttasaari nature, now that there’s really nowhere to go. I’m pretty lucky for living in such a beautiful plot of land – there’s a lot to explore here. Also, my gym started to post home WODs (Workout Of the Day) online, so we can keep fit without risking spreading the disease all over.
While the coronavirus is and will remain to be a huge, worldwide health and economics challenge, I’m also sensing a slight bit of relief from many of us churning the daily treadmill – wake up, take the kid to school, go to work, get back from the work, make dinner, take the kid to practice, go to gym, get back from the gym, make evening snack, watch Netflix, go to bed. Coronavirus breaks this rhythm up and offers a much-needed relief from all this. While we all hope this will soon blow over, I bet a lot are happy to have a chance to spend few weeks at home, with the family, without the constant pressure of the modern world that demands you to do something, whether professionally or recreationally.
I find myself suddenly taking long walks in the nature, watching a long list of films I’ve missed and writing scripts I’ve forgotten about now that there’s no office to go to, film theaters are a bit out of question, too, bars and restaurants are either closed or empty. There’s nothing anywhere, but your own circles and somehow it feels like I’ve suddenly sat down after a long walk to catch a breather.
Today we went for a long walk around Lauttasaari and the rest of the islands outside Espoo with my friend, long-time collaborator and partner-in-crime Pekka Ollula. He’s one of a kind of a guy, man who has gone through quite a lot and came back out alive. His point of view to things is always valuable to me, and I’m super happy that he now lives also close by so even during quarantine time, it’s easy to reconnect.
With Pekka, we’ve been doing quite a lot of projects together. We hired him originally to work as an intern at Energia Productions, after meeting him in Berlin when we were promoting the first Iron Sky (long before it was done, maybe in 2008), and he sort of stuck around in Iron Sky universe, working as a marketing manager, community manager and event planner throughout the years. He also created few businesses of his own, and even a film festival to Huhtamo, his home town (Huhtamo International Film Festival). We’ve been even thinking about setting up a film theater here in Lauttasaari, if only we were to find a good place, but wouldn’t that be fun! We even have a name for it – Lautta-Kino, according to the classical old cinema now long forgotten in Huittinen.
I’m currently working on four different scripts I’m hoping to produce into a movie, in addition for finishing The Ark for the Chinese release. There’s two interesting franchises I’ve been working on, both of which would turn into a great film if the stars were to align right, a script I’m developing with my wife, and two TV-shows, a sketch show and one for my German producer Oliver Damian. All this, plus I’m also reading shitload about Communism, because of the subject matter of the next Iron Sky. Still hard to predict what will move forward, and when, but now is the perfect time to push these productions forward, as there’s nothing else much to do.
Anyway, I’ll keep on blogging since I have nothing better to do, and it’s a good way to re-organize my thoughts – and probably worth something, coming back to these strange times years from now.
So, the all-out pandemic is true. Just a few weeks ago, it all felt so far away, but today, it’s quite tangible and real. Everyone takes in the situation differently, I find myself bearing this constant feeling of impending looming somewhere above me, not really scared but observing everything with a bit of a worry in my mind, probably because I’ve seen way too many zombie/pandemia scifi movies in my time.
I’m also starting to feel the impact of things to come and things that are happening around us. Personally, the company I work for now has sent everyone home to work out of office for the next two weeks. I’m doing experiential event production gig currently, and you can imagine it’s not a business that’s really taking the whole Corona too well. Many of the events we’ve been building for the last few months are cancelled, many more will be.
At home, my son’s school is also shutting the doors down – not completely, but enough so that the kids get to choose whether they study from home or show up at the school. One can imagine what the most choose – at least at this point. Few weeks at home, I think they’ll be happy getting back to civilization, though.
In my film work, the impact is quite strong. My film, the Chinese one “The Ark” has been delayed due to our VFX company not being able to work. Nowadays, they are slowly getting back to work, but it’s still far from really moving along, all the films in China have been postponed, so to even start finding a release date at this point is impossible – there’s quite a long backlog of things to release before “new” ones come out.
Another film I’m pushing to get off the ground has also been halted, the reason being that it’s impossible to get insurances to film crews and films at this point, so no films are really being shot. Netflix and Disney just shut down all their productions (hats off to Netflix for paying the crew nevertheless), and I assume quite a many films get pushed, rescheduled – and quite probably some even cancelled due to scheduling problems.
So, I’m staying home for the next two weeks. It’s great time to focus on writing something new, which I’m *planning* to do – although truth be told, most likely I’ll just watch Netflix shows instead, emerging out of the quarantine time like a troll with long hair and beard and completely alienated from the society.
This year’s Oscar race is yet again at the doorsteps of us mere mortals, who only can dream of one day holding the golden statue in our hands and dreaming who we’d be telling to suck it now that we made it this far. Instead of hanging around in LA, I’m currently in Lauttasaari, winter storm whistling outside, rain pattering against the window. It’s fine here, though, and I’m not even thinking really staying up for the show, but nevertheless, here’s my predictions for 2020!
LEADING ROLE / ACTRESS
Renée Zellweger (JUDY)
I mean, she was quite friggin’ perfect in the role, right?
LEADING ROLE / ACTOR
Joaquin Phoenix (JOKER)
There’s was no real competition here, was there?
SUPPORTING ROLE / ACTRESS
Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
I didn’t think too much of the movie, but I could’ve watched a whole spinoff TV series, full seven seasons big budget and whatnot about Laura Dern and Ray Liotta’s characters!
SUPPORTING ROLE / ACTOR
Joe Pesci (THE IRISHMAN)
Sometimes, doing nothing and looking slightly sad about it is the best thing to do.
I LOST MY BODY (Jérémy Clapin, Marc du Pontavice)
Such a beautiful and melancholic piece, amidst all the crashing, banging, wailing and fuzzing about the other nominees are all about.
THE LIGHTHOUSE (Jarin Blaschke)
I mean, it’s black and white. Of course it gets the Oscar. Also, it’s really beautiful.
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD (Arianne Phillips)
Every character has a jacket so amazing it’s just pure pleasure to watch.
Martin Scorsese (THE IRISHMAN)
It was the best film of the year, and I’m one of those who tend to think director has a bit to do with that, so…
FOR SAMA (Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts)
The only real reason for Oscars to exist is to list a bunch of docs everyone else has missed, which actually talk about stuff that matters. Both The Cave and For Sama did this, both broke my heart and I wish I could give Oscar to both. And fuck you Putin and Al-Assad, too.
ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN (Smriti Mundhra, Sami Khan)
Didn’t watch any, so this one goes out random.
THE IRISHMAN (Thelma Schoonmaker)
It’s a monster of a movie, but the pacing never gets boring. Other than that, you rarely notice the editing, which is the best compliment an edit can have.
PARASITE (Bong Joon Ho)
It’s really nice to see fresh films that go borderline genre actually make their mark internationally.
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL (Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten, David White)
Just the sheer amount of work they’ve done for this one is … mind-blowing.
1917 (Thomas Newman)
I know everybody says this should go to The Joker, but frankly, I can’t remember anything from Joker’s score, maybe that’s a good sign since I thought the film was terrific, but for me, 1917’s music perfectly fit the picture and really kept the film flowing.
(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again (Elton John, Bernie Taupin)
It’s Elton John. Of course he wins..
THE IRISHMAN (Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Emma Tillinger Koskoff)
I’m pretty split between Irishman, Joker and Parasite, but chose The Irishman as I thought it was such a strong, long-lasting and well-crafted, beautiful movie with so much appeal and rewatchability that it just deserves to be the best picture of 2019.
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD (Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh)
Recreating the old-time Hollywood charm is something many have tried, but Once Upon A Time… did it so well I feel like I had visited there.
HAIR LOVE (Matthew A. Cherry, Karen Rupert Toliver)
Again, no idea. Just a random pick.
LIVE ACTION SHORT
A SISTER (Delphine Girard)
Another random pick.
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (Matthew Wood and David Acord)
It’s so. Much. Work. And it never, ever felt artificial, every sound was in its’ rightful place.
AD ASTRA (Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano)
I remember not liking the movie that much, but walking out and saying out I thought the sound mixing was spectacular. I can’t remember anymore exactly why, but I trust my then-me.
LION KING (Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Elliot Newman)
Irishman’s de-aging was revolutionary, but not remarkably well made. We’ll see much better takes on the same gimmick in the future. But Lion King was flawless, and that’s a big one. Turning an animated, beloved legend into “reality” and making it work.
THE IRISHMAN (Steven Zaillian)
Best picture kinda demands best screenplay, dontchathink?
PARASITE (Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Won)
Just the fact that a gory home-invasion film from South Korea even made it to the list itself is worth the award, but it’s also really, really well, written. And director’s original story, too.
The Irishman is Martin Scorsese closing books on his mob quadrology, which started with Mean Streets (1973), followed by Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995) and the 2013 spinoff The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), which stuns with its’ tranquil pacing, subtle acting and a sad undertone of watching an old criminal rotting away in a retirement home, reminiscing his past life and crimes to nobody in particular. If this turns out to be also Scorsese’s last film, it’s a fine way to leave the field, saying: try topping this. We’ll never have stars like AlPacino, Joe Pesci, and Robert DeNiro again, and we’ll never get another Scorsese.
2. Joker (Todd Philllips)
DC understood that in order to compete against Marvel, one has to come up with a bit of a different angle. They did it already with Christopher Nolan’s Batman, bringing a darker, grittier and harder-hitting version of their favorite superhero, and now they decided to do the same with a villain. Not to say they hadn’t tried, but Suicide Squad didn’t really work. And even more so, they tried two impossible things at the same time: to do a superhero film about mental illness and to challenge the greatness of Heath Ledger, who still is the best Joker out there. Somehow, they managed to do both, and while Joaquin Phoenix may not be better than Heath as Joker, he’s just as good.
3. Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams)
What a way to end the saga! The film, which was plagued by production problems with directors and writers going in an out of it, delivered a perfect ending for the Skywalkers! JJ Abrams managed to run the story with such precision, pacing and scale that it felt constantly fresh and new, while never forgetting its’ roots. Daisy Ridley’s Rey grows from a pretty bland character into a proper hero, and Adam Driver’s sheer charisma makes the connection between the two characters feel natural and organic. It’s a huge film and knows its’ duty: to end the 40+ years of film history with dignity.
4. Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller)
Apollo 11 is a gripping documentary that keeps you on the edge of your seat, crunching the armrests, knuckles white, breathing short, shallow gasps as in to make sure your presence would in no way alter the course of the tender wheels of human history unfolding in front of your eyes. Every school should include Apollo 11 into their curriculum, for it is not only an accurate documentary of events that changed the history of our race forever but also a hugely inspiring film, too, one that pushes you to reach beyond the limits of possibility in order to achieve something great.
5. Booksmart (Olivia Wilde)
In its’ core, Booksmart is very simply Superbad but with girls. It’s also every other teen comedy ever made; two girls who’ve spent their days getting straight As and missed all the high school parties decide to have one night of fun, for the first time, before moving away to different colleges across the country. The story has been told a thousand times, and we all can imagine what happens: they get drunk for the first time, they fall in love, they go crazy. It’s not really the story that works so well, but the whole execution of the film, the unhinged love which director Olivia Wilde, an actress herself, has managed to pull out of the shining duo Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Felster, both bound to hit big stardom in the ’20s.
6. Mestari Cheng (Mika Kaurismäki)
A charming story of a Chinese cook who comes to rural, northern Finland with his son to find a long-lost friend and ends up setting up a restaurant serving rare Chinese delicacies to the grumpy Finns who probably never even seen a foreigner in their lives, but on TV maybe. Master Cheng, as the English title is, charms with its’ beautiful cinematography, cinematic scale and awesome, strange Finnish characters, whom Cheng interacts with his own, bull-headed style. Kaurismäki manages to make the story more than its’ parts and the feel-good nature of the film makes it a lovely watch.
7. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (Alex Gibney)
2019 was all about fake news, and the order our world was established on – that if anything, the news are true – was shaken. This happened also in the unbeatable field of business, and The Inventor is a great dive into the world where wealth and money is everything. We have grown to believe that the business decisions made by the multi-billionaires have been established on their genial understanding of the business and the products they build, but with clear, sharp slashes, Alex Gibney’s documentary goes to destroy that belief. The Inventor both an uncovering of a fraud and a documentary of the person behind the fraud, a self-proclaimed Silicon Valley med tech goddess who sets on a mission to change the world.
8. Leaving Neverland (Dan Reed)
Unearthing the old claims of Michael Jackson’s pedophilia relationships with kids who stayed at his mansion and toured with him wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard of. In Finland, we’ve had our own Michael Jackson -jokes (“väärä nappula”), as probably everywhere in the world and the fact that Wacko-Jacko, a revered musician, had this dark side was accepted as part of his myth, rather than the actual, life-destroying crime spree it actually was. While Leaving Neverland isn’t a tremendously built documentary, it fails to really build the characters of its’ subjects and tends to be scandalous and sometimes not that believable, but what it does it gives faces and history to the victims and shows the extent Jackson’s actions, and, interestingly, also challenges the families of the victims: why didn’t you do anything? We know the answer: they liked basking in Jackson’s starlight way too much to really stop what they for sure suspected was going on.
9. Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher)
Now this is the right way to do a rock biopic! Pushing the envelope much further than Rocketman’s predecessor Bohemian Rhapsody did, the film goes to town with sex and drugs and rocks and rolls. Taron Egerton crashes the Oscar party with an impeccable show of force as an actor and Dexter Fletcher manages to keep the film that keeps on bouncing all over the room in some kind of leash to deliver a story that actually tells a story of Elton John‘s crazy years. Drawing connections between BoRap and Rocketman is easy, as the films are essentially the same. Where BoRap is simply better rock film because of Queen’s amazing music, Rocketman is probably a better film.
10. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)
The star-studded cast and crazy intriguing premise delivered Tarantino a huge hit with Once Upon A Time, and rightly so. The beautifully crafted film takes one of the big Hollywood tragedies and re-writes the history, but does so with childish dream to crush the bullies, and while we know the events didn’t go that way, it’s an alternative history take, done mostly with respect (yes, Bruce Lee‘s depiction was not fair, but hey, it’s a fantasy movie). It’s fun and powerful film that leaves you gasping for air by the time you roll out of the theatre. Might not be Tarantino’s best, but is definitely on the top five.
For over 40 years, Star Wars has ruled the box office. What started off as an insane dream by George Lucas, a young filmmaker from Modesto, California turned into anything but “modest”. Spanning at first through three movies, the first trilogy which begun from the fourth episode, followed by an extensive toy industry with animated series, a bunch of TV movies in the ’80s, finally petered out somewhere in turn of the ’90s. By that time, everyone knew Luke, Leia, Han, and Darth Vader, we knew what a lightsaber would be, how it sounded like and knew exactly what color saber they all had.
The story was kept alive through the ’90s by a bunch of very successful games – both tabletop roleplaying ones and a good selection of PC game titles, such as X-Wing and TIE Fighter, Rebel Assault and Jedi Knight – while, unbeknownst to anyone, Lucas was writing his prequels.
When Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) hit the cinemas in the late ’90s., it was a major cinematic event. Followed by two more Episodes, the much-beloved franchise got its’ first serious fan backlash, too. While the cinema tickets sold like hotcakes, fans were not that in love with new elements, such as the Midi-chlorians, an attempt to explain the force through weird physics, and while some of the new characters were welcomed, like Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), some were loathed: Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) soon became the most hated character of the series, and once Lucas let go of the franchise after Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005), Jar-Jar (along with the Midi-chlorians) disappeared like fart in Sahara.
After Episode III, it took quite a while for Star Wars to come back – ten years, to be exact. Again, during that time the story was kept alive by the toys and gaming industry, but the savior came from a surprising new place: Lego started to produce Star Wars toys, introducing the franchise to a third new generation. The Lego sets were followed by Lego Star Wars -games, which became hugely popular and the first stepping stone to the generation who had missed the first two trilogies. Simultaneously, animated Star Wars series, first Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-2005) and later Star Wars: Rebels (2014-2018) kept filling in the gaps between the trilogies.
When Lucas finally sold his Star Wars empire to Disney, the third series was inevitable. J.J. Abrams, who had successfully rejuvenated Star Trek back in 2009, was hired to produce the first of the upcoming trilogy. When Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) hit the theatres, it crushed all the previous records and brought the story back to life with full power. Introducing a set of new characters, of which all managed to strike the right chords among the fanbase and the new viewers, Star Wars was again the biggest and the best in the cinema.
Fans did notice, though, that Abrams’ Star Wars was doing a disservice to itself by over-serving the fans: to some, it felt like a best-of of the original trilogy, bringing very little new to the scenario. The same elements were still there – The Empire, only now known as The First Order versus the Rebels, planet-size weapons capable of destroying other planets and the new Emperor/Darth Vader -characters – Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) with his apprentice, the troubled young Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) – ruling over the galaxy. Still, it was clear that the Star Wars universe was welcomed warmly, and yet another generation was able to jump onboard the fun.
The Force Awakens was followed by a spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, directed by Gareth Edwards), which served as a film to tie one of the open ends of the original trilogy, telling where did the Rebels learn about the weakness in the Death Star. The film was grittier than Star Wars had been before, and after its’ success, a whole universe of Star Wars Stories was planned.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2018, directed by Rian Johnson), the second part in the latest trilogy, was received with even more fan backlash. While the critics revered it, the fans were less enamored. The film was more ponderous than its’ predecessors, but the problems were more script-related: some of the timelines the film presented didn’t seem to make sense and it didn’t take seriously enough some of the rampant fan theories and some of the setups The Force Awakens had put in place. Still, the film was a big hit in box offices around the world, and people were attuned to wait for the final part of the trilogy.
Before that, though, Star Wars experienced probably the biggest slap in the face of the franchise in decades, when they ventured in the history of the most beloved character of the series, Han Solo. Solo: A Star Wars Story (directed by Ron Howard), which came out in 2018, wasn’t loved by the critics, the fans or the box office. It technically killed the Star Wars Stories -spinoff-series, trashing the plans of a Boba Fett -movie that was rumored to follow. It showed that the fans are willing to watch Star Wars movies, as long as the films take themselves serious enough, don’t tamper with old characters, and give us the adventure we are looking for, the good versus evil -battle in its’ true, pure form. Solo went against the grain, being maybe a bit too self-aware, too cocky and – unfortunately – too general to find a proper place in Star Wars universe.
Meanwhile, the games and toys industry grew bigger and bigger. EA brought Star Wars: Battlefront -franchise back to life and served two greatly loved Star Wars games to the gamers, while selling Lego sets, plushies, helmets… you name it, they had it. They did, though, find out the unfortunate fact of the Star Wars series – the most beloved characters, events, and elements were still the ones from the original trilogy. Nothing the follow-ups had brought up – save maybe Darth Maul (played by Ray Park) – could ever rival Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) or Boba Fett (first played by Jeremy Bulloch) or Jabba The Hutt (voiced by Larry Ward) or Han Solo (Harrison Ford), not to mention Darth Vader (David Prowse and James Earl Jones).
Finally, as the second decade of the 2000s was about to wrap up and the world was about to step in the Cyberpunk era of the 2020s, the last and final episode of the Skywalker saga hit the theatres. Not before The Mandalorian (2019-, created by Jon Favreau), a TV-series set in the Star Wars universe, another spinoff patching up some of the blank holes in the backstory, would premiere at the newly-established Disney+ streaming service.
The Mandalorian brought in rave reviews. Suddenly, the whole Internet was going crazy over a character named Baby Yoda (who, of course, can’t be Yoda since, well, Yoda is dead Jedi ghost these days). One would think that such a great response would pave the way for the grand finale of the film series, but again, the fan backlash was waiting just around the corner.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019, directed by J.J. Abrams) was received with an extremely divided audience and critical response – the worst one in the series since the days of Lucas. To some, the fast pace J.J. Abrams, who returned to the helm after Rian Johnson’s previous “disaster” (as so many fans put it), was too much. To some, important characters were played in and out quickly, and the plot felt rushed and incoherent. Probably many just didn’t want the Skywalker saga to end, and had already chosen their side: this can not, should not, and will not be the end of it.
Simultaneously, The Mandalorianwas continuing the story. It was beloved by the fans, and it had the first new, greatly beloved character in it – the mysterious Yoda-like child, whom we know very little of as of now. In some way, The Mandalorian‘s success could’ve even turned against The Rise of Skywalker. It was the Star Wars the fans wanted, not the film that tried to end it all.
The biggest problem with Star Wars, from the very beginning on, has been the fact that it’s not really built to follow an arc. Each of the trilogies is written independently and even each film within the trilogy is written independently, often directed by different directors, each with a strong need to bring a new angle to the ages-old Star Wars franchise. All this while Disney, the new owner of the franchise, is trying to keep the fans happy and buying the toys, paying the tickets to the films and the theme park rides. But still, for over 40 years, the series has leaned on characters and events devised by George Lucas in the ’70s, and nothing any of the new installments have brought on has stuck as hard as the stories and characters of the original trilogy.
And boy, they have tried. There was Darth Maul and the Pod Race in the second trilogy, loaded with huge galactic plotting schemes and backstabbings, but all of that was too confusing to really fall in love with. Then, there was Kylo Ren and Snoke, both of whom were just too much like Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader to really kick in hard. There was BB-8, the new robot – practically, a new R2-D2, and even bigger battles, none of which were able to outdo what Battle of Hoth did in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980, directed by Irvin Kershner). Now, we have Baby Yoda, while most of the characters of the original series are either dead or ghosts floating around in Jediversum.
The whole Skywalker saga said what it had to say in its’ first three outings, and nothing that was added to it, later on, was really needed to make the already epic story any stronger. Still, I’m really happy Star Wars has always been there, all through my life, in different forms, shapes, and formats. And now, as I watch the excellent The Rise of Skywalker ending the whole saga, I do feel sad and nostalgic. It’s not necessarily an end of an era – Star Wars, if you ask from Disney, is just gettings started – but it’s an end of a set of beloved characters whom I’ve known nearly better than any other characters from any other franchises, save The Lord of the Rings.
Looking back, I think the biggest mistake the series did was that it kept Lucas on for as long as it did in the director’s seat. I think he should’ve been kept as a guardian of the storyline, one through whom all the scripts would pass, one who would give guidance and direction to where the story would go – more like a showrunner – while leaving directing to others. This way, Episodes I-III could have stood the test of time better, and the whole series would feel more together. Also, I don’t think the Star Wars Stories were necessary additions since while I did like Rogue One, Solo did show the fact that Star Wars just isn’t for every director, and not every character needs to have a carefully laid backstory that’s force-fed to the audience; we like to make up the untold histories ourselves.
But all in all, Star Wars – The Skywalker Saga is an important franchise that deserves the acknowledgment in the annals of great sagas of modern times. It’s may not be the Lord of the Rings, but it’s the about the second best thing from that.
There’s a lot of directions the series can go from here, but I do hope they first focus on creating a big story arc and finding a franchise runner who can carry it through a series of upcoming trilogies/TV-shows/whatever it is they have in mind. Maybe it’s worthwhile to consult George Lucas once more since it’s from him where the most valuable assets the series has have sprung from. I’m excitedly waiting for the future, and will definitely be coming back to the 12+ movies and TV-series Skywalker Saga has to offer.
Thank you, George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, and others. You’ve given a lot to us.
Stars? Should I give a star rating to these 40+ years of Star Wars? How could I, even? It’s such a mixed bag… But it is a review, and I like giving stars, so here we go:
In short: A convoluted and mixed franchise, which relies heavily on the original trilogy, but manages to keep us entertained and grow and involve new viewers, generation after generation.
And here’s the film-by-film order:
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977, George Lucas)
The beginning of the most epic adventure we’ll see, possibly ever, Episode V is a stunning work of art and adventure. To think, one film brought us characters like Darth Vader, C3-PO, R2-D2, Luke Skywalker, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca… Again, all in just one film. This was a momentous movie, like The Beatles coming together for the first time, which changed the whole film industry forever.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Irvin Kershner)
Darker in the tone, and grander in the scale, The Empire Strikes Back nailed Star Wars into history, making it more than a one-hit-wonder, but a franchise to look out for. Introducing special effect techniques never seen before, even more unforgettable characters like Yoda, and continuing the adventures of the original heroes in such ease, the film is what every sequel should be.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983, Richard Marquand)
Maybe just a bit too childish with the lovely, furry Ewoks, Return of the Jedi manages to bring in even more intriguing characters and making this grand adventure feel not just a story, but mythology, to which one just simply can’t stop falling in love with. The new set pieces – this time, jungle – give it a fresh breath of air, and the ending of the first trilogy is pure magic.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999, George Lucas)
George Lucas couldn’t keep his hands off the Star Wars and returned 15 years later to his creation, only this time, unfortunately, the magic was lost. The film has some amazing set pieces like the Pod Race, and a wealth of new characters, but the script stumbles trying to get us interested in the birth of the Empire and the internal struggles of the Senate. Not only that, but it also ages terribly – the VFX are nowadays sub-par, but they must’ve been that already back then – Terminator 2 had come out in 1992, that’s seven years earlier, and first Lord of the Rings was already in the making.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002, George Lucas)
Casting Hayden Christensen asAnakin Skywalker was a mistake. While probably not a terrible actor, when he jumped onboard Star Wars franchise, he was way overshadowed by everyone else. He could not muster enough interest in the character, which, in its’ inner struggle would’ve needed a much stronger actor (luckily they did choose Adam Driver to play Kylo Ren to patch this up). The story itself introduces interesting concepts, like the Clones, but the film, while managing to rekindle some of the original Star Wars flame, was still too crappy to really have a character of its’ own.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005, George Lucas)
While definitely the best of the second trilogy, not even the big space battles and the huge set pieces in the arena, or terrific Count Dooku (played by Christopher Lee) can save us from the mopy glances of Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker, or such plot twists like “I have the high ground”. The visuals are better than in two earlier ones, but there’s way too much of everything for the film to look like anything but a mess.
Star Wars: Clone Wars (2008, Dave Filoni)
The Clone Wars is the first animated feature film of the Star Wars series, based on the popular and liked TV series, which maps the time between episodes I and II. The film has a strong, unique visual style and has some very likable characters, but ultimately, it doesn’t feel like it really belongs in the saga instrumentally.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015, J.J. Abrams)
Just like he did with Star Trek, J.J. Abrams managed to walk into Star Wars franchise and blow some fresh air into it, without ruining it. The Force Awakens is a really strong, new start which brings back old legends and introduces new, interesting characters. It looks amazing, sounds amazing and rolls on with a fast but never rushed pace – just like the original trilogy did. The film does succumb to a lot of fan service and finds itself playing the best-of of the original trilogy, but hey, that’s what we came in here for, right?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, Gareth Edwards)
Darker than its’ predecessors, and the first of the Story -spinoffs, Rogue One manages to feel like a grittier version of the Star Wars saga, bleaker and more grown-up story which, firstly, doesn’t have a happy ending, and secondly, tells a story that’s not really part of the trilogies. The film goes to tell the backstory of the Death Star and introduces several quite dark set pieces, and while it does feel like it doesn’t belong really anywhere, it’s a great watch and a strong movie all in all.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017, Rian Johnson)
The Last Jedi is more ponderous and talky than its predecessors, with beautiful concept artwork sequences, but it’s a script that’s lacking: the story is incoherent, the timeline seems to be off and the film feels too serious in a wrong sense, too. We stay way too long with Luke in a forlorn island, while the Rebels are running away – quite boringly – from the New Order fleet. The story feels like a mashup of the new Battlestar Galactica and some weird Samurai movie of the 80’s. In addition to this, for some reason the visual effects seem more glowy and smooth compared to Abrams’ takes, and while the vistas are beautiful, they do feel like someone drew a beautiful concept art of a sequence which was then attempted to bring to life.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018, Ron Howard)
Solo was doomed to fail from the beginning: nobody can replace Harrison Ford, just like you can’t replace Arnold Schwarzenegger. He created possibly one of the most iconic characters of film history with Han Solo, and while Alden Ehrenreich does his best, he’s nowhere near the same ballpark as Ford is. In addition to this, the story feels like it’s not taking itself seriously enough; the film stumbles on as a gangster movie and a space opera, without being able to decide which one it actually is. Also, the backstory it gives to Solo is a pretty lame one.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (201, J.J. Abrams)
What a way to end the saga! The film, which was plagued by production problems with directors and writers going in an out of it, delivered a perfect ending for the Skywalkers! J. J. Abrams managed to run the story with such precision, pacing and scale that it felt constantly fresh and new, while never forgetting its’ roots. Daisy Ridley’s Rey grows from a pretty bland character into a proper hero, and Adam Driver’s sheer charisma makes the connection between the two characters feel natural and organic. It’s a huge film and knows its’ duty: to end the 40+ years of film history with dignity.
What a crazy decade it has been indeed. We’ve seen a nearly complete overhaul of a whole business in the last ten years. There’s been ups and downs, but the film as a way of storytelling has survived: the rise of mobile hasn’t killed it. Videogames haven’t killed it. Netflix hasn’t killed it – actually, it only made it stronger. The only thing that’s gotten close was the ever-strengthening TV industry, but even that is still but a shadow in comparison to the best films out there.
Below, I’ve tried listing my top films of the last 20 years. Not too easy, and many films I’ve loved were left out of the list, unfortunately, but if anything, this list serves as a cross-cut through the film industry, all of these being films that one way or another have left a mark at least in me as a filmmaker from the last decade.
20. Killer Joe (William Friedkin, 2011)
What Killer Joe did to me was it re-introduced me to Matthew McConaughey, an actor who I had thought did a handful of romcoms back in the 90’s and then disappeared (not true at all, but memory works in a funny way). With Killer Joe, William Friedkin, at 75 when the film was released, managed to pull off a snarky, snappy and vibrant little movie full of violent and sexual tensions. Killer Joe which might very well be his last fiction film, a nice little reminder of the momentous career the director has had.
19. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)
“Not quite my tempo”, says Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the abusive drum teacher to his young pupil, at the doorsteps of the greatest events in film history that were to take place: the #metoo movement. Whiplash tells a strong, relentless story about power abuse. Yeah, not sexual, but the abuse of a position where one gets and is willing to push others to the brink of insanity by using the powers vested upon themselves to elevate their own excellency. I’ve been a student of such a person a long time ago, and I could feel old traumas creep back in.
18. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
The Holiday season is a great time to stop and look around the family you have and appreciate it in its’ full strange, complicated weirdness. Toni Erdmann manages to capture the disconnection and the complexity of families in this strange but awesome German comedy. Toni Erdmann follows a pretty eccentric father trying to reconnect with his daughter, a go-getter who’s trying to run away from herself in order to become something better. During the course of the story, she learns that an apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
17. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
Oh, the blissful boredom of having nothing to do on a beautiful summer day, under a scorching sun. Our kids will never experience that again: they can always dig out their cellphones and drift away in the always-connected world of the Internet, but hopefully one day they’ll accidentally click on Call Me By Your Name on Netflix or whatever the streaming giant on their phones will be and watch this peek into the times before every minute of your potentially free brain-time was sold in micro-moments to companies trying to get you to consume more of their products.
16. Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
Apollo 11 is a gripping documentary that keeps you on the edge of your seat, crunching the armrests, knuckles white, breathing short, shallow gasps as in to make sure your presence would in no way alter the course of the tender wheels of human history unfolding in front of your eyes. Every school should include Apollo 11 into their curriculum, for it is not only an accurate documentary of events that changed the history of our race forever but also a hugely inspiring film, too, one that pushes you to reach beyond the limits of possibility in order to achieve something great.
15. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, 2010)
The best in the Toy Story quadrology, Toy Story 3 talks to kids about things that really matter – about friendship and about losing your loved ones – in such a way I as a father could only hope to achieve. The clarity of the language is important, and yes, it’s wrapped in the clothes of an action-comedy, but unlike others in the business, Pixar never forgets the big, important and heartfelt story that’s needed to make a movie into something more than just a bunch of beautifully animated scenes. Toy Story 3 is Pixar at its’ best, most touching and also, most fun.
14. Melancholia (Lars Von Trier, 2011)
In yet another outburst of Lars Von Trier’s self-loathing depression depiction, Melancholia manages to be simultaneously hauntingly beautiful, extremely funny and sharp and clear in its’ description of what I imagine depression actually being like, feeling like, looking like. It may not be Lars Von Trier’s greatest work – one can argue whether that would be either Dancer in the Dark, Dogville or Europa (of which I haven’t seen the last one) – it’s still a great and honest film.
13. Intouchables (Olivie Nakache, Eric Toledano, 2011)
A feel-good film of the decade, Intouchables, a French film about a paraplegic multi-millionaire and his streetwise personal assistant became a huge hit, and was even remade into an American picture The Upside (2017) with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston (which I haven’t seen). No idea whether or not the remake made any sense, but I can tell that Intouchables is pretty close to a perfect movie: the writing is impeccable, the film runs on full steam right from the start and the stars – Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy – and their chemistry together – make the film a pure bliss to enjoy.
12. Five Broken Cameras (Emad Burant and Guy Davidi, 2011)
A conflict of the century, the Palestinian struggle of independence, is a narrative that’s easily shifted depending on the point of view of the teller. Five Broken Cameras brings the argument on a new level, telling the story from the point of view of a person right in the middle of it all, a Palestinian observing the Israeli settlers making their way into their small strip of land. Not only is the strength of the film in the circumstances and unique vantage point of the filmmakers Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, it’s also an excellent work of art.
11. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Things we know about Iranian culture: fuck all. A Separation is both a slap in the faces of western film audience, showing that shit, it’s not just people walking around in burqas and bomb vests, but actually a highly complex culture which has its’ own pitfalls and bureaucracies and that yes, religion is important part of that culture, but so it is in ours. We are actually pretty much the same. But that aside, it’s a terrifically acted and directed film about a very complicated breakup, a film that A Marriage Story should’ve been.
10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson, 2012)
After the success of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit attempted to repeat the impossible, turning J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic into films that can proudly stand next to their literary versions. The Lord of the Rings were a slam dunk; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was just as great. Unfortunately, the following two movies fell off the tracks and ruined the second trilogy but nevertheless, An Unexpected Journey is a beautiful, perfect fantasy movie.
9. Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)
Huge, sweeping landscapes, a story that runs back in history millions of years with religious thematics and aliens that gave birth to mankind but realized they had created a beast too dangerous to exist and created an antidote, but failed to deliver it. It’s a big story, one which does have some holes in it, I bet, but I never understood the Reddit backlash the film suffered from. To me, it’s one of the best SciFi films ever, and a great inspiration of how to take a franchise to a completely new level.
8. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn, 2012)
A documentary about Indonesian mass killings in the mid-’60s, or actually, the people behind those killings goes off the rails quite quickly. The film sets the actual killers to recount the murders on-camera, turning them into films made in style of their favorite film genres – western, crime, musical. It’s quite a mind-bender, to see the real people recounting their actual crimes and not really understanding how fucked-up it has been – until someone actually does. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping documentaries ever made and leaves you disgusted and in disbelief for a long time.
7. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)
The sheer energy and unhinged power of The Wolf of Wall Street alone make it hard to believe it’s directed by a 70-something-years old. The film moves on like a coke-snorting Wall Street dealer, playing the Scorsese top hits, power-crazy men and their just-crazy women, big-spending, mob-flirting assholes shouldering their way on the top while waving the big middle finger to the law enforcement, finally stumbling and spending the rest of their lives in comfortable obscurity, outside of the limelight, reminiscing their past lives with affection.
6. Amy (Asif Kapadia, 2015)
Crafting a documentary is storytelling at its’ most complicated level since you are forced to stick with the truth at least in some capacity. Asking a documentarian to do a story about you – or your daughter, as it was the case with Amy – is like Russian roulette: one of you will die. In this case, it was Amy’s father (and immediate family) who got the bullet, who turned out to be a nasty hog riding on his daughter’s money and fame, pushing her deeper into her alcohol-fueled life. She died a sad, skeletal shadow of her former self, but most importantly, she died so that her father could fulfill his dreams of living large and important. Sad shit, great doc.
5. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
What must’ve been one of the shitties productions to pull off, given all the delays, the almost-starting-but-calling-it-off-two-weeks-before-the-first-shooting-day -things and all, Mad Max: Fury Road managed to pull out of the development hell stronger, grittier, nastier and dirtier than ever. Crazy star-studded cast with Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy riding the carriage, and post-apocalypse veteran George Miller running the whole show, it’s a perfect action film: simple-enough plot, high production values and a killer soundtrack to go with it.
4. Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018)
Talking about a tricky production, director getting fired weeks before finishing the shoot must be pretty high on the list of hardships a production has to endure. Still, Bohemian Rhapsody pulled it off and did that with style. The film became one of the highest-grossing films of the year, rivaling even the superhero flicks. Now, it’s not a flawless movie – not by a long shot – but neither are some of my favorite films of all time. What it is, is a pure joy: a film that’s so full of great moments and scenes that even if it does come off a bit shaky as a whole in the end, it’s such a pleasure to watch. And yeah, I’ve been a huge Queen fan all my life, so there’s that, too.
3. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
DC understood that in order to compete against Marvel, one has to come up with a bit of a different angle. They did it already with Nolan’s Batman, bringing a darker, grittier and harder-hitting version of their favorite superhero, and now they decided to do the same with a villain. Not to say they hadn’t tried, but Suicide Squad didn’t really work. And even more so, they tried two impossible things at the same time: to do a superhero film about mental illness and to challenge the greatness of Heath Ledger, who still is the best Joker out there. Somehow, they managed to do both, and while Joaquin Phoenix may not be better than Heath Ledger’s Joker, he’s just as good.
2. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
The Irishman is Martin Scorsese closing books on his mob quadrology, which started with Mean Streets (1973), followed by Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995) and the 2013 spinoff The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), which stuns with its’ tranquil pacing, subtle acting and a sad undertone of watching an old criminal rotting away in a retirement home, reminiscing his past life and crimes to nobody in particular. If this turns out to be also Scorsese’s last film, it’s a fine way to leave the field, saying: try topping this. We’ll never have stars like Pacino, Pesci, and DeNiro again, and we’ll never get another Scorsese.
1. Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, 2014)
Funny thing, when Interstellar came out in 2014, I wasn’t that smitten by it. It took me another viewing to really start appreciating it, but it needed a full IMAX experience to truly fall in love with it. A film that captures what movies are supposed to be, at least in my mind, Interstellar is defining science fiction film of the decade. Stepping into the hall of fame, populated by the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator 2, Moon and maybe a handful of others, Interstellar brings what only a science fiction greatness can: a cinematic masterpiece, a visual behemoth of a story that simply doesn’t fit into the screen of any size, really, and a soundtrack and soundscapes that truly take you to a different vantage point to observe our current reality.
Turning 40 today, I feel like taking a quick peek back at how my life was back 20 years ago.
The year was 1999 and the biggest topic was y2k. Everyone was sure that when we turn the digits from 99 to 00, systems reset, data gets screwed up and everything will be shut down. Spoiler alert: didn’t happen. But the world was quite a different back then. 9/11 hadn’t happened and Leonardo DiCaprio was still the annoying brat from Titanic. That’s about as much as I can remember from those times from the top of my head, but let’s do a quick Google 20 years back, at the year 1999.
Not one but two of the most influential presidents of the time were going through the impeachment process in their countries – Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Bill Clinton of USA both had their troubles, but neither of the impeachment processes was successful. The war in Kosovo had started – and recently ended, with war criminals either on the loose or getting caught and dragged to trials. Columbine mass shooting sparked the first big gun debate across the USA that I can remember personally.
So the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In my own life, I had recently moved in with my then-girlfriend, the to-be-mother-of-my-child, and I was working on a film I didn’t know would end up changing my whole life. Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, the sixth installment of a long series of scifi comedies created by Samuli Torssonen, had recently released its’ first teaser, which claimed the film would come out in the year 2000 (or with some luck, even a bit earlier!), and I was signed up as the director. Little did we know, it would take another 6 years before the film would be finished, and almost none of the footage we had shot by then would end up in the movie (if I’m not mistaken, there’s one clip, the bit where Info calculates the probability of the losses, which made it to the final film).
I didn’t have personally any dreams or hopes of becoming a filmmaker back then – as you can see from the teaser above, Star Wreck became much more serious only after the release of the teaser, which prompted us to revisit the VFX and the material we had shot.
Having said that, prying back into my head 20 years ago is much harder than one would think. What was important to me back then? I loved metal music, I had just recently discovered David Bowie, I enjoyed roleplaying games back then. My operating system was Windows NT, phone Nokia 3310 and I loved Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I was working at a telemarketeering company, I think I was still in high school. My brother was still alive.
Nowadays, well, he’s dead. I miss him. I know I would have invited him over for my birthday bash, we would have talked about things 20 years ago. He would’ve remembered how I was a dumb kid back then. I would have said the same of him. He would’ve commented I’ve gained some weight. He probably would still be the skinny old him. We would have laughed, he had a very infectious laugh. I can hear it now in the back of my head.
Since twenty years, I’ve made a bunch of movies which I’m proud of – I’ve made some use of my time, I guess. I’m still working at marketing – when not making movies, or marketing them to either financiers or the end users, I’m working at an advertisement company, doing ads for other products. I enjoy it, it’s fun and creative enough to keep my mind busy.
Health is one thing that takes a hit. Twenty years ago, I wasn’t in a great shape, but I wasn’t hurting. Now, my left knee and ankle both hurt and I need to take three different kind of pill every morning to keep my blood pressure in check. I try to do sports few times a week, but it’s not always possible.
Nowadays, I’m running a Macbook Pro with Catalina operating system. My phone is Huawei, I play God of War, I’ve sold all my CDs I was so proud back then after Spotify came onboard, but find myself collecting LPs today instead. I have a wife now and I love her. She’s the funniest dumbass I know, and I can’t spend one day with her without her making me laugh out uncontrollably. And I have a son, he’s 14 years old, turning out to be a charming little champion.
And just like 20 years ago, the vibe of the upcoming decade change is anxious. Twenty years ago, I used to play roleplaying games, a hobby I sadly have forgotten since then. One of my favorite games was R. Talsorian Games’ Cyberpunk 2020 (released originally in 1990). It painted a picture of the future in my head, one which has stayed etched there clearly.
In Cyberpunk 2020, cars were flying, supercorporations running the world and everything was grimy, dark, sexy and dangerous. People had mini cellphones, everyone was toting an arsenal of guns with them, the techies were jacking on to the Net and mechanical chrome additions made bodies better, stronger – and prone to cyber psychosis.
They didn’t hit that far off the mark; guns are a huge problem in the US, Internet is everywhere, cars are not flying but Tesla (with their new Cybertruck – remains to be seen if it actually sticks or not) is definitely headed that direction and the supercorporations are getting more and more powerful, extending their grasp into governments like never before. Cellphones rule our world, our eyes are glued to their screens day and night, the real-life cyber psychosis is going on all around.
I’m looking forward for my next 20 years with the same anxiety as 20 years ago. I have no idea what’s coming up next. Will I make more films in the future? I bet I will; I was down that road 20 years ago, although I wasn’t that serious about it back then. But me, looking back at me 20 years from now will probably have just as hard time getting really into my mindset as I have when remembering myself 20 years ago.
Today, I’m 40. It’s been quite a ride so far, looking forward for the next 20 years!