The Last of “Star Wars”?


Why in the name of Jar Jar Binks am I not more excited about “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”?

The sci-fi flick coming to theaters December 20 is the ninth – and supposedly final – entry in what was conceived as a triple trilogy by George Lucas 40-plus years ago. But the results of the third trilogy have been mixed.

It began well enough with “The Force Awakens,” then too many characters, leading to nowhere subplots for the sake of inclusion, and the questionable treatment of the seminal Luke Skywalker character hurt No. 8, “The Last Jedi.” Still, I promise to gather enthusiasm for the big finale.

Except that “The Rise of Skywalker” isn’t really a finale. The franchise will carry on with a new big-screen trilogy slated to start release in 2022, And, of course, besides the standalone spinoff movies we’ve been seeing lately, there’s “The Mandalorian,” a new streaming series newly available on the much-hyped Disney+ app. Yes, thanks to the Mickey Mouse company’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, “Star Wars” has been Disneyfied. Talk about a force!

If I can’t get full enjoyment out of “Star Wars,” there will be other holiday movie treats in wide December release. None of them, I expect, will be “Cats,” which was an overrated Andrew Lloyd Webber musical when I saw it 30 years ago and looks even creepier in its screen trailers. Should you dare, the humanized felines are coming December 20.

By the time you read this, I will have likely seen Tom Hanks as Fred (“Mr.”) Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Matt Damon and Christian Bale in “Ford vs. Ferrari.” Hopes are high. Another real person is the subject of Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” (coming December 13), about the security officer who was accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

“Bombshell” (December 13) stars Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron as recent Fox News personalities subjected to sexual harassment. Another piece of history is “1917” (December 25), in which director Sam Mendes recalls what was once known as “the Great War.”

“Little Women” (December 25) always has been good big-screen fodder. The latest telling, with Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Meryl Streep, will have to work hard to surpass the excellent 1994 film version, but new director Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) may have it in her.

At the Flint Institute of Arts, we’ll be presenting an Oscar contender in the acclaimed Chinese-American comedy-drama “The Farewell,” playing December 13-15. The Friends of Modern Art film series also includes “Official Secrets” (December 6-8), a spy drama with Keira Knightley, and “Echo in the Canyon” (December 20-22), which recalls the 1960s pop music scene in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon and the likes of the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and the Mamas and the Papas. Their tunes are already ringing in my ears.

As usual, information on all screenings at the FIA is available by visiting or calling 810.234.1695. Enjoy your holidays!



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