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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Photos #4: Rising with Skywalkers

Colbert Abrams Kennedy!

Our host Stephen Colbert., director J.J. Abrams, and producer Kathleen Kennedy, streaming to us live from a galaxy far, far away.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…

The centerpiece of the entire weekend, its biggest event, its most anticipated breaking news story, was the long-awaited first trailer for Star Wars Episode IX, as yet un-subtitled when the convention began. The trailer’s release was scheduled as part of an hour-long presentation which would star director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, at the very least. Additional unnamed guests were promised. It was fair to assume these surprise pop-ins would be the big, big-name costars from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, almost none of whom were on the show’s main guest list.

Everyone wanted in on that event. Everyone wanted to be part of that live magic. Everyone wanted to count their first viewing of the trailer among their greatest SWCC 2019 memories. Not everyone got their wish.

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The Heartland Film Festival 2016 Preview Night

Heartland Film Festival!

Tickets to their Preview Night were $5 and included fine table settings and miniature buffet offerings packed with foodie-approved flavor. Strongly recommended.

Since 1992 Indianapolis has held its own celebration of cinema with the Heartland Film Festival, a ten-day, multi-theater marathon every October of documentaries, shorts, narrative features, and animated works made across multiple continents from myriad points of the human experience, usually with an emphasis on uplift and positivity. Several have aired previously at other festivals; at least one will be its their American theatrical debuts; I think there may even be a world premiere, but my notes are sketchy on that point. For the 25th annual event, dozens of volunteers screened 2,535 submissions from dozens of countries and narrowed them down to 135 entrants, several of which will be vying for official festival prizes.

Last month my wife and I had our second annual date night attending Heartland’s Preview Night at the Athenaeum Theatre downtown, at which the staff announced their official selections and competition finalists, and released this year’s schedule in a very nice, silver booklet for their milestone anniversary. For said occasion, the Festival will also include encore presentations of entrants from previous years such as Rudy and Lars and the Real Girl.

Among the numerous films coming to Indianapolis in October, the following is a partial list of what jumped out at one or both of us, some of whose stars will be in town appearing at their screenings. If we can make time to see one of these during one of our busiest months of the year, the results will be reported here on MCC. Trailers are enclosed where existent.

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The Only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Shot-by-Shot Trailer Analysis You’ll Need

The Force Awakens!

John Boyega. Daisy Ridley. STAR WARS. Canon. Cope.

In the past 24 hours eight hundred million other internet users have posted their thoughts on the all-new Official Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer that premiered Monday night during ESPN’s Monday Night Football and was released online seconds later for those of us who don’t do sports. Hardcore fans have devoted every hour since then freezing every frame, enhancing every pixel, scrutinizing every living being or moving object, collating the data, and sharing results in hopes of extrapolating the plots of the next six Star Wars films, or at least guessing which toys they’ll buy next.

Now…it’s my turn.

Right this way for the greatest film study that matters only to me ever!

The Heartland Film Festival 2015 Preview Night

Heartland FF Snacks!

Low-cost admission, free hors d’oeuvre, big-screen trailers, a chance to support the arts and to hang out with adults. Tonight had all the best qualities we needed in a diversion from the week’s events.

Since 1992 Indianapolis has held its own celebration of cinema with the Heartland Film Festival, a ten-day, multi-theater marathon every October of documentaries, shorts, narrative features, and a few animated works made across multiple continents from myriad points of the human experience. Several have aired previously at other festivals; three will be making their American theatrical debuts; two have elected Heartland as the site for their world premieres.

In the early years Heartland concentrated on works of pure uplift and positivity, while today their keyword is “transformative” as the breadth and technical proficiency of entries has grown by leaps and bounds. For the 24th annual event, dozens of volunteers screened 1,756 submissions from 96 countries and together culled them to a more manageable 175+ official selections, several of which will be vying for official festival prizes.

My wife and I been fans of the Heartland concept for years, but so far we’ve shamefully managed to attend just one, a 2011 screening of Emilio Estevez’ The Way at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Last May, Anne signed up for Heartland’s mailing list at their Indy Pop Con booth. This week she was notified of tonight’s special preview presentation at the Athenaeum Theatre downtown, at which the Heartland staff announced their official selections and competition finalists, and released the 99%-finalized schedule for 2015. We had the time, we sorely needed to get out of the house, we’d been hoping for a chance to jump into the Heartland experience, and we loved the idea of having more information at our fingertips about our future viewing options.

Among the numerous films coming to Indianapolis in October, the following is a partial list of what jumped out at one or both of us, either during the presentation or in the detailed festival guides they handed us as we exited. Trailers and links to official sites are provided where available. We’d like to see at least a few of these, time and location permitting. Naturally the results will be reported here on MCC.

Right this way for titles, trailers, and more!

Space Makes Every Movie Better

The Martian!

Matt Damon had no idea how far he’d have to drive to track down Minnie Driver.

I’d never heard of Andy Weir’s novel The Martian until the first trailer for director Ridley Scott’s movie adaptation surprised the internet last week. I had no idea what to expect, and the name “Ridley Scott” told me things could go either way. Fortunately what I saw seemed somewhat different enough from Interstellar, Contact, Armageddon, and all those ’90s Martian disaster films (Mission to Mars, Red Planet, Total Recall, Mars Attacks!) that I considered myself somewhat impressed and a bit hopeful that some of the reviews end with hyperbole such as “Ridley Scott’s boldest vision of the future since Alien and Blade Runner!” or “Isn’t it time we forgave him for The Counselor?”.

That was my first thought. My second thought regarding this trailer in which Matt Damon, super-genius, defies expectations and accomplishes nigh-impossible doctorate-level feats under improbable circumstances while everyone else stands back and watches in befuddlement…my second thought is we’re about to see the long-awaited sequel Will Hunting, Good King of NASA. I don’t think I’m complaining, though. In fact, maybe more movie characters should buy tickets to go see the Final Frontier up close and rake in a few extra hundred billion bucks worldwide. Or on an interplanetary scale, even.

Right this way for Pitches! In! SPAAACE!

Five Days, Five Big Trailers, Four Sequels and a Reboot

Star Wars: the Force Awakens!

When blockbuster trailers come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions!

It’s been busy, busy times these past five days in the world of watching previews for mega-budget movies that won’t be here for a while, speculating on same, prejudging them all and assigning our Tomatometer ratings in advance so our opinions won’t be skewed later by the movies themselves. If you haven’t see all five of the latest hopeful super-sized moneymakers, now’s your chance to catch up and revisit worlds we haven’t seen in a long time. There’s a world where dinosaurs are reborn and man is the least dangerous game; a world where “hero” is a word they keep using, but I do not think it means what they think it means; and that one rediscovered world with the lightsabers and the Force and whatnot.

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