I’m always accusing George Lucas of being a terrible director and yet I love American Graffiti. Why does this deeply nostalgic film continue to shine?

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by Avaggdu

    on 16 Apr 2014 00:47

    It's called getting older and having a different perspective on things you may have had a fixed view on you formulated in your younger, less-enlightened years. It happens. It's called "life".

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  • Comment number 39. Posted by MargeGunderson

    on 3 Apr 2014 11:27

    It's the Richard Dreyfuss factor ;)

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  • Comment number 38. Posted by Jim Bob

    on 1 Apr 2014 12:41

    Personally, I think George Lucas is a better story teller, look at Willow, a great film, always overlooked..... Indiana Jones films....ok....may be not the Crystal Skull..... but he has had his hand in some of the greatest films of the last 30 odd years

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  • Comment number 37. Posted by Berba_Was_King

    on 1 Apr 2014 10:40

    I like JJ and think he can do a good job with Episode VII although already thinking he should produce the other ones and look to younger directors like Gareth Edwards for example, to continue the story.

    It IS fashionable and 'cool' to hate on him though just like it's cool to love Marvel's Avengers films but slate everything related to WB/DC. Pretty sad really.

    I think Episode VII will be good, not great, but once they have this difficult film out of the way it will be all systems go!

    Alien? Nah, let Scott make one more then let it die, don't let it go the way of Terminator.

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  • Comment number 36. Posted by Aaryk Noctivagus

    on 31 Mar 2014 22:28

    Place JJ gently on the floor, and walk slowly away.

    Do not expose him to lens flares.

    Do not get him work.

    And whatever you do, do not feed him a franchise after Midnight, or between Midnight and the next Midnight.

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  • Comment number 35. Posted by Ian Thackray

    on 31 Mar 2014 11:04

    Different subject related to Star Wars & George Lucas: the fact JJ Abrams is going to give this franchise the Midas touch, as with Star Trek, and give us a truly epic new Star Wars movie.

    Question 1) Is their 100% optimistic anticipation regarding this move among fans?

    Question 2) What, if any, other franchises should be revived with the injection of fresh creative talent such as JJ Abrams?

    Personally I've often wondered if JJ could work some magic with the Alien franchise?

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  • Comment number 34. Posted by Brian - New Forest

    on 31 Mar 2014 09:00

    # 22.ApogeeUK Sorry to rain on your age theory. I turned 50 last year a couple of weeks after Mark (Where was I in '62? -- in utero). I saw the original Star Wars the week it came out (and this was before wide release existed, I had to beg my mom to drive me to a neighboring state to see it at one of the first purpose built multiplexes -- 2 Screens!). I loved it and its first sequel (now, erm Episodes 4 & 5, grrr) which I saw dozens of times. Jedi (the long teddy bear and merchandise commercial) I've seen twice, once the first show the day it was released, and again during the '90's re-release with my wife who'd missed the original trilogy.

    The prequels I've seen once each with increasing boredom annoyance and despair. I find them unforgivable given that Lucas with enormous resources was more concerned with getting the special effects right than script and direction. The Apex of the franchise: The Empire Strikes Back was penned by science fiction and hollywood veteran Leigh Brackett and Big Chill director and Raiders of the Lost Ark scribe Lawrence Kasdan, and directed by safe pair of hands Irvin Kirschner. From Jedi onwards Lucas has written them all, clearly not his strong point.

    So, age isn't the problem. Kermode is just (partially) wrong. He's utterly and completely wrong about Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately Lucas has lived down to Mark's opinion on the rest.

    American Graffiti is a pretty good film with an incredible generational cast. It's unfair to suggest that it needs to bear the weight of everything that was going on at that moment in history, or to fault it due to its success which hit the sweet spot of first wave baby boomer nostalgia. I did once jokingly argue that AG was The Last Picture Show as colourized by Ted Turner, but that is both harsh and inaccurate (although, I hope, amusing in its original context).

    I'll also add The Wanderers (directed by Philip Kauffman) to the list of alternative takes on the times in this thread. It's a bit uneven but worth a watch.

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  • Comment number 33. Posted by Chris

    on 31 Mar 2014 02:09

    Of course, the thing about Star Wars is that it was pretty much taken out of Lucas's hands at the eleventh hour, and reworked into the finished product by other people (which is perhaps why he's so insistent on tweaking it endlessly). Empire is widely regarded as being the best of the franchise, and yet it is the instalment that George had he least to do with. Those two things probably aren't mutually exclusive.

    To give him his due, he's a brilliant ideas man. But for the prequels, he needed a capable producing team who could guide him towards creating something that wasn't just the product of a megalomaniac's whim, as opposed to a team of people who were forced not to challenge any bad ideas so as to avoid being replaced.

    We often place a film's director on some sort of artistic pedestal, and take their side when we hear about their battles with the studios. But you know what? Sometimes the constraints are actually a good thing. The director isn't always right.

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  • Comment number 32. Posted by Joel_Cooney

    on 30 Mar 2014 17:59

    p.s. have you ever seen "Catholic Boys"? It was called "Heaven Help Us" in the US. Notable for featuring Andrew McCarthy, Mary Stewart Masterson and Kevin Dillon (pre-"Platoon").

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  • Comment number 31. Posted by Joel_Cooney

    on 30 Mar 2014 17:57

    29: Jay

    Ah right. Sounds more like "Diner" perhaps, with a wee bit of "The Outsiders" thrown in for good measure (appreciate that both of them were later). I just thought it was interesting that Ron Howard was in AG - 50s nostalgia was obviously about to become a big deal with Happy Days just round the corner.

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