My son and I went along to an opening-day screening of The Last Jedi last week. Even though we were craning our necks in front-row seats to stare at a giant distorted parallelogram, we loved it: it had so many great moments, so many genuinely funny moments, and the scene in Snoke’s chamber was utterly breathtaking in a way that took me back to watching Luke and Vader at the end of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. The Force Awakens and Rogue One each, in their own ways, provided everything I wanted in a Star Wars movie, far more than the prequels ever did, but this gave us things I didn’t even know I wanted in a Star Wars movie. I loved the direction Rian Johnson took on key plot points, away from the prequel-like need to over-explain every detail, and towards, at every step, the heart of the new trilogy: the struggle between Ren and Rey for one another’s souls, and their conflicting instincts about what it means to bring balance to the Force. He’s set the bar very, very high for Episode IX; I hope J. J. Abrams can clear it.
As a big Armando Iannucci fan, I was looking forward to The Death of Stalin, and saw it last night. It was an odd experience: I didn’t laugh much, but still thought it an excellent film. I think the fact that it’s Iannucci and that half the cast are recognisable comedians (not only the leads, but people like Justin Edwards in minor roles) lulls us into expecting boffo comedy when really what we have here is, as the tagline has it, terror. It certainly contains comedic moments, but I spent most of the film feeling viscerally terrified of the story and (some of) the characters—which is exactly as it should be.