‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: Rian Johnson Talks Filming Rey & Kylo Ren’s Force Connection Scenes

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Warring Jedi, Marvel superheroes and an iconic stoner are all on tap for the 2018 season of Film on the Rocks.

The popular screening series, which is programmed by the Denver Film Society each summer at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, unleashes roughly two movies per month, May 15-Aug. 13, with live music and comedy acts to be announced later.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” begins the season on May 15, and programmers could hardly have chosen a bigger or more locally relevant title.

“Kicking off with ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi,’ directed by Denver’s homegrown talent in Rian Johnson, is the perfect way to take audiences on exciting adventures in the most scenic of places,” said Britta Erickson, director of festivals for the Denver Film Society, in a press statement.

That’s not idle chatter. Johnson was raised and went to school in Denver until sixth grade, and as he told The Denver Post before the film’s premiere last year, he could not discount the influence Colorado’s geography had on the script and settings for “The Last Jedi.”

The climax (spoiler alert) takes place on a flat, treeless, arid plain against a wall of rocks that jut out of the earth and into a cloudless blue sky. Screening the film along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains — which bear more than a passing resemblance to the mineral planet of Crait — will feel like a homecoming.

A scene from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” featuring hero Rey (Daisy Ridley). (Provided by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

“Denver, in my head, is defined by one horizon always being the mountains,” Johnson said via phone shortly before the Dec. 15 release last year. “There was always something about looking at those mountains, and this is a little cheesy, but it’s a little like Luke Skywalker looking at the distant two suns in the original (1977 ‘Star Wars’). I’d stare at those mountains and feel like there was adventure out there.”

“The Last Jedi,” a.k.a. Episode VIII, made more than $1 billion at the global box office. But Film on the Rocks’ next film — director Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which follows on June 11 — is a tonal head-snap.

The mannered and immaculately rendered comedy was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four of them. It’s one of Anderson’s best works, particularly compared to this year’s cute but middling “Isle of Dogs,” and deserves to be seen in the grandest setting possible.

Director Michael Lehmann’s dark teen comedy “Heathers,” which is turning 30 years old, arrives June 18. Perpetually relevant and influential, “Heathers” has lately been adapted to a Broadway musical and, soon, a TV series. However, Paramount Network pushed back its February premiere due to the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, given the subject matter of “Heathers” (a proto-“Mean Girls” satire that takes on school violence with sardonic wit).

“When it came out a lot of people were very upset and there was a big politically correct backlash saying, ‘How dare you make fun of teenage suicide!’ ” Lehmann said during a 2016 Denver Post interview. “But Columbine hadn’t happened yet. And anyway, we weren’t making fun of teenage suicide, we were making a comedy about the way teenagers are perceived by adults and how they behave to each other.”

Returning to the Film on the Rocks roster, modern stoner-classic “The Big Lebowski” (our pick for the best stoner comedy of all time) is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a July 19 screening. The institutionalized cult that has sprung up around the sprawling, noir-ish comedy often seems to be missing the point of its laid-back protaganist, but regardless: “Lebowski” is the definition of a film you can watch dozens of times and still find something new to appreciate on each go-round.

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Adam Sandler’s gloriously dumb “Happy Gilmore” screens July 23, with the deeply ’80s kid-adventure “The Goonies,” another Film on the Rocks veteran, returning on Aug. 7. Finally, the season will close with the critically acclaimed box-office juggernaut “Black Panther” on Aug. 13.

The inclusion of essentially brand-new films such as “The Last Jedi” and “Black Panther” signal a willingness on programmers’ parts to embrace big-budget spectacle, although crowd-pleasers are usually the word at Film on the Rocks anyway.

But using “Black Panther” as the season-closer also nods toward the film’s social relevance, as incidents of racial injustice have seemingly dominated news cycles every week since its release. It’s both “uniquely satisfying popcorn entertainment” and “a triumphant trifecta of subject matter, talent and timing,” as we wrote in our February review.

Stay tuned in the coming days for the bands and comics that round out the lineup.

Tickets go on sale Friday, April 20 and are $15 for general admission via denverfilm.org.

FILM ON THE ROCKS 2018 LINEUP

Tuesday, May 15

“STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI”

Monday, June 11

“THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL”

Monday, June 18

“HEATHERS”

Monday, July 9

“THE BIG LEBOWSKI”

Monday, July 23

“HAPPY GILMORE”

Tuesday, Aug. 7

“THE GOONIES”

Monday, Aug. 13

“BLACK PANTHER”

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Source : https://theknow.denverpost.com/2018/04/16/film-on-the-rocks-2018/182168/

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