It looks like my state will be opening up within the next week - not full-blown, mind you, but opening up all the same. Outside of this little cinematic experiment, it means so much to so many people. It's practically impossible for me to put into words these past three months. So many lives lost and families and friends forever changed. I won't dwell on that here - I simply want to acknowledge that I know there's more to my life than film. Yet, thankfully, there is film for us to focus on - or should I say, take our focus away from reality, for just a little bit now and then. This blog was created over a decade ago to encourage Star Wars fans and moviegoers to watch classic movies - as well as to seek connections between films, other great works of art and even life. My Personal Film Festival During This Time breaks our normal format but also sticks close to our mission. Plus, it's been a healthy distraction from the pressures of working from home, overseeing a family of 8 with only one router and just keeping my chin up. When things open up for our state on June 5, I do not anticipate any struggles to simply go away. What will go away is My Personal Film Festival During This Time. It's been a fun ride, but I'll slip back into monthly posts tying something else to Star Wars. Oh, I may recap My Personal Film Fest or revisit it down the line. But when things change, so must the blog.

Week 11 began smack dab in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend. I bet you're expecting War movies - at least a few. Yeah, I thought about that. But Memorial Day Weekend the past few years also meant my son Peter and I volunteering at the Museum of Science Fiction (MOSF) convention Escape Velocity (EV).  As we approached Memorial Day, both of us had a longing to pack up and head to Washington, DC for the convention. It saddened us that it didn't happen this year. And so, this past week, I watched a sci-fi film a day. Here's everything I watched and their ratings via my 5-star system (0 = "Forget it" * 1 ="It's a movie." * 2 = "Well, no promises." * 3 = "Worth Watching" * 4 = "So Good" * 5 = "Must See").

Sunday, May 24, 2020 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
For the record, I was never one of those "Close Encounters kids" [listen to the previous Digging Star Wars Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) review below featuring Scott Prestwood]. However, I can't deny that it's a powerful film that forever changed cinema and science fiction. Weeks ago, when I realized there was no MOSF EV this year, I picked up Ray Morton's book Close Encounters of the Third Kind - The Making of Steven Spielberg's Classic Film. I finished the book the first few minutes of Sunday and decided to watch the film throughout the day. No spoilers here other than a plug for Morton's book. Read it and then rewatch (or see for the first time) the movie - and you'll be even more impressed with this work of art. Shout out to guest writer Peter Fey for loaning me Morton's impressive book.
Rating: 4.5 STAR

Monday, May 25, 2020 - The Omega Man (1971)
May 25th is a special date for me. It's the day I saw my first Star Wars film in the theater when the cool kids in 5th Grade asked me if I wanted to join them to see Return of the Jedi (1983). That screening inspired me to pursue a career in media and I would graduate from The University of the Arts with a bachelor's degree in film on the same day in 1994. But, since I watched Jedi already during this Personal Film Fest, I watched something new: The Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston. The reason I chose The Omega Man? Bob McKenzie (Rick Moranis) mentions it during Strange Brew (1983) [for the record, Bob McKenzie ALSO mentions Return of the Jedi in Strange Brew]. Like the post-apocalyptic film that Bob and Doug McKenzie are making in Strange Brew, The Omega Man is equally ridiculous. Heston as scientist-turned-one-man-wrecking-crew Neville is macho, mainly shirtless and full of one-liners. His delivery is the great grandpa to the acting styles of Schwarzenegger, Willis and whoever else likes to shoot somebody and then say something punny. Omega has a decent idea at it's core and it's certainly entertaining to watch in an MST3K kinda way. I just can't guarantee you'll find it worth your time.
Rating: 1.5 STARS

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)
Digging Star Wars has already written a pretty extensive entry on Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001) in which we compare/contrast it to Disney's Star Wars Rebels. That said, visiting the anime table at MOSF EV is always one of my favorite parts of our annual trip to the con, so I wanted to watch this. I have to say: this wasn't my favorite screening. To be fair, I decided to watch it subtitled with the original Japanese cast (which I have never done with Bebop) and it felt longer than usual. BTW, the voiceover cast was great but so is the ENGLISH VO cast. In the film, the quirkiness of the TV characters is still there and the story is decent. More importantly, the action scenes are top-notch - some of the best ever animated. It just lacks the vibe and fun feel of the show. This is due to the omission of the opening theme song "Tank!", end credits theme song "The Real Folk Blues", graphic sign off "See You Space Cowboy" and other playful details that make Bebop - well, Bebop.
Rating: 2.5 STARS

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 
On this day, Facebook notified me of the 1 year anniversary of my posting of the photo below and the Deconstructing Star Wars panel I was on at the Museum of Science Fiction's 2019 Escape Velocity at the Marriott in Washington, DC's National Harbor. To celebrate, my son Peter and I watched Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). #ESB40 
Rating: 4.5 STARS

MOSF EV19 select panel of Star Wars experts: Kylos Brannon, Charles de Lauzirika, Chris Mich (yours truly), and Charles Hildebrandt.

Thursday, May 28, 2020 - Flight of the Navigator (1986)
A new-to-me film, Flight of the Navigator (1986) would have been much better I had seen it back in 1986 and had a nostalgia factor to this screening. The film isn't bad per se, it's just that it straddles being a straight-up good science fiction film (the first half of the movie) and a kiddie Disney 1980s live-action flick (the second half of the movie). The main reason I watched the movie was due to its reference (and obvious inspiration for) in Ernest Cline's book Armada. Like Ready Player One, Armada is chockful of pop culture sci-fi films, TV shows, comics and whatnot. I enjoyed watching this movie, but feel it's too slow in the beginning for my little kids and too corny on the back end for my wife and teenagers. So, as a family film: meh.
Rating: 2 STARS

Nominee for the "Best Science Fiction Film" in the 2008 Saturn Awards.

Friday, May 29, 2020 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
I know what you're thinking: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)?! As a sci-fi film?! Well, yes. As a matter of fact, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror nominated Indy IV for "Best Science Fiction Film" in 2008 and awarded it their Saturn Award for Best Costumes (Mary Zophres). Friday was a tough day and I really needed a comfort film. Indy IV fit the bill. Ridiculous in parts, Indy IV has a lot of good things going for it and will have a place of honor in my heart since it references the Young Indiana Jones TV series.
Rating: 2.5 STARS

Saturday, May 30, 2020 - Flora (2017)
With the NASA and SpaceX successful launch earlier today, I was happy and in the mood to conclude my sci-fi week. To wrap it up: Flora (2017) - fantastic film that I was introduced to as Head Judge of the Museum of Science Fiction's Escape Velocity film festival back in 2017. As a judge in a film fest, I know you're not supposed to have favorites - but I can't lie: Flora is one of the best films I saw in the fest my 3 years as Head Judge. It's beautifully shot, well acted, solid script and an amazing concept to be put on film. The trailer below doesn't do the film justice - but it gives you snippets of the story set in the woods circa 1929.
Rating: 4 STARS

That concludes Week 11. Since my area is officially reopening June 5th (by moving into "yellow phase"), Week 12 will be the last blog entry of My Personal Film Festival During This Time. This has been a pleasant escape for me from the stress of this pandemic. I hope you've enjoyed reading along. Please visit Digging Star Wars next weekend for the last week of a movie a day.

IMDB links to what I watched so far (most recent entries listed at the top):

And here's links to my previous week recaps of


  1. Great stuff. Sounds like varying degrees of quality in there!


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