All Star Wars Movies Ranked

Star Wars is the most iconic film franchise of all-time. The franchise’s fanbase is so diverse it doesn’t even need to market its movies. They just need to know the date of the release and fans will flock the cinemas in droves. With the 9th installment of the franchise showing this December, it’s only fitting we rank the movies from worst to best.

Image source: wikimedia.org

Many of you will agree to this list but if you disagree, let me know in the comments section.

8. Episode I: The Phantom Menace

7. Episode II – Attack of the Clones

6. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII)

3. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

2. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

1. Episode IV – A New Hope

There’s no doubt the first three movies (episodes 4-6) were the best of the bunch. The special effects at the time were out of this world. And the whole world was put in commotion in the reveal of the Darth Vader’s relationship with Luke Skywalker.

Image source: oust-france.fr

The worst were episodes 1-3. They weren’t bad per se, but the casting and acting weren’t as good as the first three movies. The two new movies, Rogue One and episode 7 are great.

Hi, my name’s David Berkowitz. I’m a production designer for indie films. I’m a huge Star Wars fan with a huge toy collection to show for it. Visit my page to know more.

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We all Need Totoro for a Neighbor

Nowadays, it’s no surprise that anime has such a huge following. But the road to its success is paved by classics in the genre like Akira and Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro.

Though casual Hollywood buffs would probably be more familiar with the Japanese director

Image source: simonandschuster.com

’s other award-winning films like Spirited Away and Grave of the Fireflies, Totoro has become the face of Studio Ghibli, the director’s film outfit.

But what makes My Neighbor Totoro so appealing and loved by those who’ve seen it? One easy answer is that, while the narrative is driven by the fantastic, it offers a very human, realist take on family values, as well as tackles concepts like sibling rivalry, loyalty, devotion, and hope.

The plot revolves around sisters Mei and Satsuki, who moves to the country with their dad, a university professor in Tokyo. Soon Mei encounters the guardian of the forest near their new house, Totoro. The huge, cuddly, and magical creature proceeds to help the sisters cope with their situation and solve their problems, burdens which otherwise might be too great for children to bear.

This film is very poignant; while we might be wondering where their mother is, the film takes its time to give

Image source: koobazaur.com

us the reveal. It plays up its central themes of innocence and coming of age very well, leaving us haunted at the end.

My Neighbor Totoro is a must-watch, not only for fans of anime, but for the family and maybe even the entire neighborhood.

Hello! David Berkowitz here. I am a production designer for an independent film production company in Los Angeles, California. This job has been one of my wildest dreams since childhood. Do check out my Facebook page..

Chicago’s Finest: Best Movies Filmed in the Windy City

Chicago has provided numerous movies a great backdrop and setting for their story. Even the late director John Hughes made a career out of writing and directing many of his films in this great city.

Here are some of the best movies that were filmed in Chicago:

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Image source: liveforfilm.com

This 1986 classic told the story of a high school student named Ferris Bueller who decided to skip school to spend a day with his friends in downtown Chicago. The movie gave us great shots of Chicago’s iconic landmarks, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley Field, Sears (now Willis) Tower, Lake Shore Drive, and many more.

Scarface

This 1932 film is different from the Al Pacino starrer most of us already know, although the latter is actually based on this movie. Scarface is a story about the rise and fall of an American Gangster during the time when Chicago’s very own Al Capone rose to fame for his exploits in the city. The movie also reenacted the infamous Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, which had just happened three years before the movie’s production.

Image source: altscreen.com

The Blues Brothers

An homage to the great city, the musical crime comedy film starred Chicago native John Belushi, together with another great comedian Dan Aykroyd. The movie showed the wonderful sights of city, authentic Chicago accents, and a soundtrack that featured the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown.

Hello, I’m David Berkowitz, a movie buff from Chicago. If you want to read more articles about films, subscribe to this blog.

The man who shaped New Hollywood: Some interesting facts about Francis Ford Copolla

It is hard to examine the persona of Francis Ford Copolla and not tremble at the echo that accompanies the name, spanning a reputation for excellence in the art of filmmaking. Known for his sensitivities towards the cutting subtleties in real life, and how he is able to strike a chord in the hearts of many through a brilliant transference into film, FFC is truly a man who has been exposed to such realities. Here are some interesting facts about him.

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Image source: liberatum.org

1. Francis Ford Coppola is a native of Detroit, Michigan, but he grew up in the suburbs of New York.

2. He contracted polio at a young age. The lack of mobility during his quarantine gave him time to let his ideas brew, as he practiced puppetry and spent time watching movies.

3. After getting a drama degree from Hofstra University, the young and mentally energetic Copolla went on to receive an MFA in Film Production in UCLA in 1967.

4. Francis Ford Coppolla is one of the pillars of the vaunted New Hollywood wave of filmmaking, which includes names like Scorsese, Kubrick, Nichols, Spielberg, Polanski and Lucas. These filmmakers raised the bar high up in Hollywood.

5. He belongs to a family of filmmakers and actors who have made solid names for themselves. Among them are Nicolas Cage, Jason Schwartzman, and Sofia Copolla.

6. He is the owner of a very famous winery, simply named after himself, Francis Ford Copolla.

7. Hollywood legend has it that the character of Han Solo in George Lucas’ Star Wars is based on the persona of Francis Ford Copolla.

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Image source: tasteofcinema.com

Hello, David Berkowitz here. I am a production designer for an indie film production company. To learn more about film, follow me on Facebook.

‘King Of Pigs:’ Why More People Should See This Underrated Korean Anime

In 2011, a short Korean anime called King of Pigs was released. It gained popularity in the local scene and was awarded several international awards for its gritty commentary on school life and bullying. Unfortunately, it never really hit the global market and has generally been unknown by Western moviegoers for some years now.

Image Source: hollywoodreporter.com

However, with the growing problem of political unrest and troubled teenagers, more people are turning to cartoons not only as a means of escape but also as a way to vicariously understand other people’s lives. One beautiful aspect of cartoons is that there is a sense of detachment. Most moviegoers see the film with the understanding that it is not real – even if the subject is relevant today. This is further exemplified in anime, where most scenes are exaggerated either through drawing or movement. Yet, anime can talk about topics that would otherwise be unpalatable in a real-life motion picture.

The “King of Pigs” is an excellent example of this. There are no big effects here, and the topic itself is quite disturbing. However, because it is a cartoon, moviegoers are not immediately turned off by it. At the end of the film, though, it does raise very serious questions about how people treat each other and the cumulative effects of interpersonal relationships. The movie provides an escape from the real world by delving into the mindset of a group of disturbed people. It sounds like a paradox, but there is a sense of catharsis in seeing other people’s lives and then applying it to one’s experiences.

It must be stressed that the “King of Pigs” is not a children’s film nor is the topic light and funny. Even on a visceral level, its entertainment value is one of violence and paranoia. Yet it is a wonderfully-made film and should be watched for what it shows of the human nature.

Image Source: liveforfilms.com

Hello, David Berkowitz here, Chicago Bulls fan and huge movie aficionado. Working in a film production company allows me to live out my passion for movies. I love to watch films, regardless of genre. Join me on a Twitter as I share my insights on various films (and sometimes basketball).

Star Wars Episode VIII: Will the Force be Stronger With this One?

Although Rogue One: A Star Wars story is set to be released a year earlier than Star Wars Episode VIII, the latter is already making more buzz because of recent storyline leaks, making fans excited and hopeful at the same time.

Well, hopeful simply because The Force Awakens didn’t really live up to the hype. The movie has been, and still is, criticized for its lack of newer elements, saying everything looked familiar – from the costumes to the storyline. Its latest critic is Avatar director James Cameron who said that the movie very much lacked in the visual imagination department, which is basically the selling point of the six-movie installments prior to it.

That said, everyone seems to have high expectations for the upcoming movie, which is set to be released in December of 2017. Adding up to the excitement are the latest plot teasers from a press conference attended by Iain McCaig, concept artist of Star Wars.

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Image source: Cinemablend.com

As expected, Episode VIII will shed light on the origin of Rey. Is she the daughter of Luke Skywalker? It is said that George Lucas never intended for Luke Skywalker to marry, however, he didn’t say anything about never having children. Because Rey exhibited the force in the last movie, this theory is not far-fetched at all.

Another thing to watch out for in Episode VIII is the reappearance of Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker. True-blue fans of this franchise are curious how Darth Vader will reappear. The hint is that he will appear as an apparition to control the Dark Side through Kylo Ren. How will the character be stretched in the new installments? Also, there’s been news that Darth Maul will also be back in the cinematic world either in Episode 8 or 9. Does this mean the Sith Army will be back, as well?

Meanwhile, another plot twist that people think will happen in Episode VIII is the death of Luke Skywalker. Either it’s a slip of the tongue or happening for real, Mark Hamill’s statement, “I finish Episode VIII, and then I’m out of work,” created the buzz of his death in the coming installment. However, before people continue to assume, he tried to clear things up, telling everyone not to overthink.

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Image source: Moviepilot.com

Everyone likes a good flashback, a surprise comeback from a well-loved (or well-loathed) character, and even an unforeseen turn of events. Are these things going to happen? No one knows for sure, except the creators. Plus, December 2017 is still far far away, so keeping the anticipation at the minimum is probably the best way to go, besides there’s Rogue One to keep the excitement for Episode VIII at bay.

Hi, I’m David Berkowitz. I work in a film production company. I love watching movies of various genres. If you love movies too, and want to read articles like this one, subscribe to my blog site.

The Life Lesson Learned From Howl’s Moving Castle

          Image Source: buzzfeed.com

One of the less popular films by Hayao Miyazaki is Howls’s Moving Castle. The lack of praise is mainly due to the plot being fanciful and strange. Unlike Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro, there is no innocence in the movie. The protagonists are likeable to a certain degree, but definitely not warranting pity or tender feelings. Despite all the criticism, this movie remains one of my favorites. Here’s why.

Howl’s Moving Castle teaches us a very realistic view on love. It’s never rational and it doesn’t make sense most of the time. In most of our daydreams about love, we imagine both parties being wonderful and sweet. We expect the two to end up together because they deserve each other and the world conspires to make it so. However, in Howl’s Moving Castle, this isn’t the case.

As I’ve mentioned before, both protagonists have their faults. Sophie is meek and accepts things as they are. When she is turned into an old woman, she just leaves without telling her family. She doesn’t fight for anything. Howl, on the other hand, is vain, impulsive, and childish. He believes that the whole world revolves around him. He doesn’t fight for anything either – and not because he is incapable (the whole film shows him to be a skilled magician) but because he is lazy and self-centered.

                        Image Source: fact.co.uk

As the two get to know each other, you can see how they slightly change. Sophie becomes more assertive and Howl more forgiving. But let me make this absolutely clear: they still maintain their personalities. Love does not change their core personalities–it allows them to adapt to each other instead.

This is why I like the movie very much. It still has the signature Miyazaki “lightness” to it. Audience members can still criticize the movie for pure entertainment only, but I love the portrayal of the characters; inflexible yet adaptive. Or maybe I read too much into the film.

Hayao Miyazaki has always been one of my favorite filmmakers. Learn more about why I think so by liking this Facebook page. David Berkowitz here.

Star Wars for the Uninitiated

In a galaxy far, far away, there are still people who are unaware of The Force. I know it’s hard to believe but I’ve met a few who don’t understand what’s so good about ‘Star Wars’. For friends of these uninitiated few, here are the three most important things they must know about the series:

The Force
“May the Force be with you” sometimes sounds like a religious benediction. However, The Force really is the omnipotent power in the Star Wars galaxy. According to Obi-Wan, it’s the energy field that binds the galaxy and all living things together.

Image source: Starwars.com
Image source: Starwars.com

Jedis and Siths
Basically, Jedis are the peacekeeping warriors who learned how to fight using the good side of The Force while the Siths are those from the dark side. The Jedis are the good guys while the Siths are the baddies. Not so difficult, right?

The timeline
This epic movie boasts a long timeline beginning from the first movie that came out during the 70’s. With three movies each from the first three installments to the prequel trilogy, beginners might not know where to start. To prevent your friends from being thrown off guard with old-school effects, perhaps it would be good to start with ‘The Phantom Menace’ (1999). This installment is officially the start of the timeline.

 

Image source: Starwars.com
Image source: Starwars.com

 

The ‘Star Wars’ universe has a lot more to offer. If Yoda were to speak with these newbies, he’ll say, “Watch all movies, you must.”

Hello! David Berkowitz here. I am a production designer for an independent film production company in Los Angeles, California. This job has been one of my wildest dreams since childhood. I’m also a fan of the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. If you share my interests, follow me on Twitter.

The Daily Grind: My Life as a Production Designer

People assume that when you work for the film and TV industry, you’re either an actor, a director, or an assistant. I currently work as a production designer–and being one is no easy task.

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Being a production designer means working for the art department. Together with other production designers and consultants, I help in conceptualizing a film, TV, or theater production.

My role at a certain project starts during pre-production. I meet with directors, director of photography, and scriptwriters to create a strategic visual backdrop for each scene. After this has been established, production designers will go into research and design. How does a salon in the 1950s look like? What were fashion trends during the Motown era? These details are important to make a set believable. After we’re done with the research, we come up with a stage or set plan for the art department. The rest of the art department will materialize this vision that we came up with.

As a production designer, I work long hours. There’s no such thing as a 9-to-5 shift. I also travel a lot, if the script or if the design I made requires me to. Most production designers have finished a degree in architecture, technical theater arts, fine arts, or interior design.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a production designer? The work may be tough, but it’s all worth it.

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David Berkowitz here, a Chicago Bulls fan and production designer for indie films. Know more about my love for basketball and filmmaking when you follow me on Twitter.

Off the Shelves: Effective Improvisation in Old School Filmmaking

The impressive starships shown in the opening sequence of the first “Star Wars” film in 1977 was seen by many as a triumph of cinema. The extremely detailed craft was the first time the audience ever saw spacecraft that impressive, a far cry from the saucers and rockets that dominated the era before.

Princess Leia’s Tantive IV and Darth Vader’s Devastator of that opening sequence were matched in geometric grandeur and impression of scale only by its television counterpart, the Enterprise from “Star Trek.” These are what we have come to expect from spacecraft, and they manage to impress us even today.
Also, all three crafts were miniature models set in a studio. Darth Vader’s personal space limo was, in fact, a last minute hack job that ended up creating some of the most impressive visuals in cinematic history.

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Image source: starwars.wikia.com

In the nascent time before CGI, science fiction films and television series were pretty much running on next to nothing, and due to the need to create a futuristic fantasy, the constant demand for special effects ate through their budgets. To cut costs, sometimes creators quite literally decided to go to the toy store and told their creative team to take things apart and get to work.

Known as kitbashing, this form of bargain bin special effects allows filmmakers to create impressive models on the cheap by mixing and matching elements from preexisting models. And in the hands of a particularly skillful design team, the results can be brilliant. “Star Wars” remains the shining example of impressive kitbashes, with the trenches of the Death Star being the most triumphant expressions of the art.

In more contemporaneous settings, effective kitbashes can add a sense of believability as well. The Ecto-One of “Ghostbusters” had decals that were taken from commercially available odds and ends—not an unreasonable thing to do when you’re as strapped for cash as the Ghostbusters were in the film.

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Image source: blastr.com

Kitbashing and other off-the-shelf props continue to be popular today due to budgetary constraints and are often the first course of action for science fiction indie filmmakers.

I’m David Berkowitz, ChicagoBulls fan and California-based production designer. Catch me on Twitter for more on my thoughts on film and filmmaking.