Memorial Day weekend means a slowing down of live A&E offerings. But that leaves room for cookouts, game time, a big race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and, yes, a new Star Wars movie.

Oh, and Jenny DeVoe.



I sort of caught a sneak preview of “Solo,” the new Star Wars film last night.

I say “sort of” because the projection at the Regal Village Park theater in Carmel was so bad that, for a moment, I wasn’t sure if director Ron Howard had made a science fiction adventure or a sequel to “The Blair Witch Project.”

Solo-Featured-020918Once I accepted that I would only be losing a fair amount of the visuals–especially in the opening sequences–I settled in for a fun addition to the franchise, one that skillfully avoids the prequelitis problem, also know as “we know what’s going to happen, just get on with it”-itis.

SoloI’d hate to tell too much, since pleasure here is likely to be enhanced by going in with only the knowledge you have from Solo’s previous–well, future–adventures. Suffice it to say that the screenwriters raise the stakes pretty high from the get go. Rather than a lark, Solo is wrestling with some real stuff in the first third of the film. And rather than being laissez-faire about it all, he’s proactively involved. Oh, he’s still got his patented charm/smarm, but the filmmakers seem to have learned from “Valerian,” in which the alleged heroes self-centeredness did irreparable damage to what could have been a kick of a film.

“Solo” is strengthened, too, by its supporting characters. Chewbacca gets more screen time than he has in the past and its made good use of here. After a parade of superhero villains and mystical menaces, it’s a relief to find a human-scale villain in Drydon Vos (Paul Bettany). L3-37 is a distinct and well-used droid. I wanted more of multi-armed alien Rio Durant. And, based on what I’ve seen here, I’m looking Rio_Durant_Databankforward to the inevitable stand-alone Lando film starring Donald Glover. “Solo” also continues the welcome trend of strong female characters all along the good-to-evil spectrum.

For me, this makes three solid, very different films in a row for the over-40-year-old franchise. That’s a pretty remarkable achievement, given the pressure to deliver. I wasn’t a fan of episode seven–I like a little originality even in my popcorn films–but I’m comfortable saying that Star Wars is in better hands now than it was under its creator.  Opening May 25 at the theater near you.

500 Festival Parade

Is seeing celebrities a form of entertainment? I’m not quite sure. But if you like to see famous and semi-famous folks waving, then this pre-race event is the place for you. I’ll skip over the reality show celebs of the moment and sports stars and, instead, tell you that “The Shape of Water” star Doug Jones will be making the journey. Why more Hollywood types don’t come along for the ride, I’ll never quite understand.  May 26 in downtown Indy.


Jennie DeVoe

It’s hard to think of another presenter in Central Indiana that so deftly programs local, national, and international talent as The Jazz Kitchen. Here, prior to a few days DeVoeoff for Memorial Day weekend, it puts the spotlight on one of the region’s strongest singer/songwriters.   May 26 at the Jazz Kitchen