As I write, the Black Hills are burning: over 70 square miles in the Legion Lake Fire, with a second fire starting at the French Creek horse camp and spreading through Wind Cave National Park toward the town of Buffalo Gap. For South Dakota’s national forest, the fire has proved devastating. But it’s just a blip when compared with the nearly 400 square miles now burning in California. The Thomas Fire, as it has been named, is already the fourth largest wildfire in California history, with a good chance to move up the rankings—and it follows the Tubbs Fire that blackened northern California and spread into the city of Santa Rosa at the end of October. The West, in other words, is a tinderbox, and this season the flames took hold.
The Last Jedi feels cobbled together from bits and pieces of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi: we get training sequences in a remote location headed by a reticent Jedi master; we get trench battles featuring hopelessly outnumbered rebels facing down AT-ATs; we get a final duel in the throne room of a star ship as a hero of the Alliance watches her fleet be destroyed, her allies snuffed out hundreds at a time. And I probably could have lived with that, to be totally honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that writer/director Rian Johnson also borrows from the prequel trilogy’s shoddier storytelling impulses and action set pieces.
In the latest Substandard (subscribe/review, unless you want Vic to quit; if we don’t make it to 500 reviews by the end of the year I can’t see him signing up for another tour), Vic, JVL, and I discuss, um, watches, before moving on to Darkest Hour (I liked it; JVL did not; Vic was mixed) and Gary Oldman. I’ve made my case for Oldman in Darkest Hour elsewhere, but what I’d like to do here is use the medium of the blog post to more fully praise his career. What I mean by this is, rather than writing an essay or putting up some listicle with capsule reviews from his years onscreen, I think we can use the form of the blog post a bit more creatively to take a tour through his career—to fully experience his range and the breadth of his transformations. When people say “character actor” they sometimes mean “that guy I recognize from a bunch of movies.” But Oldman is rarely recognizable. And he’s never the same twice.
(Notably absent from this montage: Tiptoes.)
So, after the embed, let’s take a peek at Gary Oldman: A Career in Gifs.