Of Love and Layovers

Photo by Abe LevyThe Aviary, the recently released feature film lovingly crafted by my pals Silver Tree and Abe Levy (writer and director respectively) is proving to be the “little plane that could.” Inspired by Silver’s experience as a flight attendant, the duo has created a romantic comedy that both takes wing and remains grounded in what truly makes a flight attendants’ world go ’round — even when they’re 30,000 feet above it.

Expertly directed by Levy (for the love of god, man, how many films is it now?) The Aviary is a marvelous ode to those airborne angels of the aisles, who, we are reminded in this charming peek at their here-there-and-everywhere lives, are more than over-ogled dispensers of peanuts and little bottles of booze.

Online DVD sales from the film’s official website ( http://theaviarymovie.com ) are in steep ascent, creating an upsurge of interest that bodes well for an upcoming engagement at the toney Lark Theater in Marin County later this summer (more on that as it comes).

Industry forums are abuzz with good word and suggest the film will continue to soar. One message board wank, however, had the audacity to claim that he had seen the DVD and called into question the film’s authenticity and whether or not Silver was a real flight attendant. This, of course, took a tremendous flight of fancy on his part seeing as, at the time, the DVDs hadn’t even been shipped yet.

This groundling probably learned everything he ever wanted to know about flight attendants from other airline-themed, ahem, films that lacked The Aviary’s verisimilitude and rightfully crashed and burned.

“Soul Plane” came and went, or more specifically went all over itself. “The Terminal” lived up to its name and was D.O.A. at the B.O. “View from the Top” was an Al Qaeda plot that was accidentally made into a movie. And what of the German gem “Die Kessen Stewardessen” (mysteriously translated as “Flying Sex” when released stateside )? Nein, I say, nein.

The ONLY movie about flight attendants penned by an actual, real deal, working flight attendant is The Aviary (if I’m wrong you can give my co-producer credit to Mitch Altieri).

This fact was not lost on critic Christopher Lee (no, not the Sith) who raved in JumpSeatNews, an online hub for flight attendants, “This is a wonderfully entertaining movie and I couldn’t help seeing The Aviary as a celebration of F/A life. And we all need that now. We need some fun to revisit why we do what we do.”

Here, here.

The review is reprinted in its entirety here http://theaviarymovie.com/jumpseatreview.htm

Purchase The Aviary here http://theaviarymovie.com/buydvd.htm

Up, up and away

Six Characters Not in Search of an Author

Revolving MadnessThe house lights dim, the stage lights come up. Six actors stand onstage without a single clue about what is going to occur next. They didn’t rehearse, they don’t even know their lines. In point of fact, they don’t even have lines. What sounds like imminent theatrical disaster is actually the perfect setting for a night of improvised comedy — the specialty of Bay Area-based theater troupe Revolving Madness.

Next Friday at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station, the sextet of twenty-somethings (Christina Daly, Mike Michalske, Michael Phillis, Lauren Pizzi, Elizabeth Rawls and Andreas Riter) perform on-the-spot, long-form comedy that has never been seen before and will never be seen again.

“If you do a play your script is always there and it never changes, that’s your script, that’s what you go with. For this, when it’s over it’s done, it’s gone forever. We don’t repeat things. It’s like a big taboo — we just do not repeat things,” said Michalske, during a recent group interview at a downtown San Francisco diner. The actors had wrangled a rehearsal studio for the week near the city’s theater district — a long way from the University of California at Santa Barbara where the six studied theater together as undergraduates.

There, the fledgling group had the good fortune of studying with Monty Python alumnus John Cleese, a veritable god to fans of sketch comedy, who proved to be a generous mentor to the group he called “a very funny, talented bunch of ruffians.”

“It was scary, I spent the first two days with an ear to ear grin. John worked closely with us, often one on one. He was very encouraging and always had positive feedback. We were his first real teaching experience,” says Rawls, who grew up in Sonoma. “John told me I was funny and I haven’t been the same since.”

After graduating, the group mustered the gumption to pack up their belongings and collectively move to San Francisco with the aim of starting the theater company that would become Revolving Madness, which celebrates its first birthday this summer.

“Our delusions of grandeur got us up here. We were naive that’s why we had the guts to do it,” says dark-haired Daly.

Now the group manages to rehearse twice a week despite day jobs and other obligations. Their hard won commitment rivals that of most new rock bands, which, as Rawls explains is sometimes seems like an analogous endeavor.

“It’s like a band staring out — that’ kind of the model. Some bands develop a cult following by playing shows in their friends’ apartments. That’s what I want — I want a cult following,” she snickers. “That’s something we can do with acting — but with the spirit of a rock band.”

“You want to be a cult leader,” Michalske lobs and the gang breaks into laughter over platters of French fries and a cruet of malt vinegar.

The easy camaraderie between the troupe members is the result of the concentrated hours they have spent honing their craft. They joke that had they not become an acting troupe it’s very likely they would not have mixed socially.

“What’s attractive about working together is that we spent three years working everyday, all day long we have a common vocabulary and language. I know Andreas’ training, I know the journey that Elizabeth went through over those three years there’s a short hand. It’s easy to get going,” says Pizzi, a native of San Rafael. “We come from the same mutated gene pool.”

Gene pool or small pond? The question looms as to why the group forewent setting up shop in Los Angeles or New York, locales better known as entertainment epicenters.

“We’d been to LA and lot of us are from the Bay Area or near the Bay Area. We had talk about Chicago and New York and those kinds of places, but I think the main reason San Francisco appealed to us is because it is such and eclectic and accepting city in terms of the arts,” says Riter, whose matinee idol looks bring the tune “You Oughta’ Be in Pictures” to mind.

Michalske reminds that the group has long fostered a do-it-yourself attitude, which has enabled them to not only persevere in an admittedly difficult trade, but flourish. Since its inception Revolving Madness has performed several shows including the occasional corporate gig.

“The one thing that people told us repeatedly in college ‘If you want to work, start your own theater company. If you want to be an actor you have to make your own work — it’s the only way you’re going to have success.’ We had a great thing going. It just seemed to stupid to have come so far and not continue,” says Michalske. “None of us wanted to be waiters who were trying to be actors. We wanted to be actors who happened to be waiters in our spare time.”

The diligence has paid off. Revolving Madness onstage antics are so well-hewn many audience members refuse to believe the performances are unscripted.

“A lot of people just don’t think that it’s improv. They will be watching it and laughing, but the shock comes afterward when they say ‘So, you came up with that idea before, right? You knew who you were going to play,’ and we say ‘No, it’s all improvised.’ We’ve never played those characters, we never talk before hand,” says Phillis. “A lot of times you’ll get grabbed onstage and not know who you are at first but you just trust that whoever does the grabbing knows what to do. There’s a give and take — but we also have ‘fall and catch.’ Just fall and somebody will catch you.”

Moreover, the “cardinal rule” of improv, explains Pizzi is to “Never say no.”

“You have to say ‘yes’ to everything even if it comes out verbally as ‘no.’ That’s the idea.”

As Michalske says, by way of an example, “I like to add color to scenes and Andreas likes to come straight out of left field and throw you a curve ball to see how you handle it. It’s fun for the actor and it’s really fun for the audience to watch. ‘Ooh, he got it good!”

“But you hit it back,” says Daly.

“Then I mumble dry one-liners under my breath,” says Rawls, eliciting laughter from the group.

One of the hazards of being funny is that the players themselves often come to the verge of cracking up during a performance.

“That’s one of the beautiful things about improv — you’re not necessarily breaking character because it’s so ridiculous and the fact that it’s live in that moment — the audience is with you and it makes them laugh even harder,” says Phillis. “It reminds them that this is all new to us too. We’re always onstage, always on the sidelines, we never go backstage or hide. We’re present in that moment. And you never know when you’re going to go on.”

The troupe’s Friday performance is bookended by appearances in San Francisco the Thursday prior and Saturday after. The group is excited to be performing back to back shows, but reminds it’s not as glamorous as simply taking to the stage.

The members of Revolving Madness have to each wear several hats when producing a show.

“We are the show,” says Daly. “We are the producers, directors, actors and concessionaires. We’re going to mop the floor up afterwards.”

Her expression turns reflective as she sighs “These are times we’ll remark on ten years down the road when were successful and doing what we want to be doing.”

To which Rawls dryly adds “And I’ll have my cult and my groupies.”

“And a business manager,” says Michalske, eyeballing the check.

Revolving Madness will present “Once…Twice…Three Times the Improv”,
an evening of Improvisation as part of a three day, three venue tour, May 26-28. “Once, Twice, Three Times the Improv” plays at the C.A.F.E off Market Theater Thursday May 26th at 8:00pm, The Point Reyes Dance Palace Friday May 27th at 8:00pm and the Phoenix Theater Saturday May 28th at 10:30pm. For reservations or more information call 415-246-3241.

http://revolvingmadness.com

A version of this article was originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Golden Boy

“We’re doomed!”

With these two words, Anthony Daniels became one of the most recognized actors in the world. But it was the actor’s voice that movie fans grew to know and love; Daniels’ face was, of course, concealed in the uncomfortable gold costume known as C-3PO. Despite being the only actor to appear in all six Star Wars films, Daniels can still stroll the streets of Europe – he splits his time between southern France and his native London – in complete anonymity. We caught up with Daniels recently to ask him about the halcyon days when “human-cyborg relations” sounded like the skill set of a protocol droid, not the subject of a fetish website.

Daedalus Howell: As a young actor, nearly 30 years ago, you weren’t initially interested in taking on the Golden Droid, were you?

Anthony Daniels: I didn’t even want the interview. I refused to meet George [Lucas] and my agent made me go. I didn’t want to be in a sci-fi movie, I didn’t want to play a robot… I thought it was a 12-week job that was an absolute nightmare. They disappeared for months, then the phone rang for me to go to L.A. to do the voice.

DH: But you weren’t the first choice to perform C-3P0’s voice?

AD: I was the last choice, which is better than no choice. You can’t imagine it differently, because you have now been programmed to believe that is what, and indeed, that is who, Threepio is. If you had received another image at the beginning you would now say, “What do you mean your voice? You couldn’t have used your voice, it’s much better with an Inuit accent” or whatever. You’re already conditioned.

DH: Now that we’re conditioned, are you ever recognized when you’re not gold-plated?

AD: I’ll have people come up and ask, “Can you do the voice for my kid?” And I’ll ask the kid, “What’s Threepio sound like? Does he sound like this? ‘Hello, I am C-3P0, human-cyborg relations, and this is my counterpart, R2-D2.’” And you see their face – and that is magic, really lovely.

DH: C-3P0 has fans everywhere. Even Pittsburgh, we hear. What were you doing there?

AD: I was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame at Carnegie Mellon, which was just the best experience. I thought it would be some tacky wax museum, and I didn’t really think about what I was going to say. Fortunately, during one flight of many, I kind of realized and wrote not a bad speech. The audience was professors of science and robotics – clever people, who just weren’t interested in the, “Was it hot in the costume?” kind of thing. I met so many scientists and roboticists who were there because of Star Wars. One was from MIT and is a major roboticist because of C-3P0. She’s a 30-year-old professor who just wanted Threepio to exist and is very close to doing that.

DH: Was it hot in the costume?

AD: It’s a very heavy costume. The arms are aluminum; most of it is fiberglass, which actually is very heavy. If you made it these days, like the Jango Fett costume, you can lift that with one finger; it weighs nothing. But they weren’t about to redesign mine, just for me.

DH: When did you realize you had arrived?

AD: Years and years ago, I was in New York and a producer who gave me my second job and invited me to join the national theater in England, I met him in New York, picked him up in my limousine and took him up to top of the World Trade Center and sat at the restaurant that was on top, and we had drinks. I said, “Do you realize these drinks cost more than what I earned per week in that play?” Maybe that was the first time I thought I had come along. I really do like to think that I don’t spend money foolishly, because it’s not that easy to gain it. It’s probably not going to come again. I don’t enjoy waste, no matter who is paying. Doesn’t matter if it’s a big company paying – if it’s wasteful, don’t do it. It’s great to have what you want – within reason. I don’t have a yacht. Okay, a couple of homes, but my car is nearly 20 years old, because I never use it. When I was a young actor, I’d be waiting for buses and that kind of thing. Now when a bus comes along I’ll hop onto it if it’s going my way. Except now in London, they’ve started putting doors on the buses so you can’t jump on and off like in the old days. Old habits die very, very slowly. Sometimes The Post comes with rubber bands round it to keep it all together – hey, free rubber bands! It makes my day.

Kepler’s Bookstore Turns 50

Courtesy San Francisco Chronicle / Photo by Michael MaloneyLong a haven for literary outlaws, the Peninsula’s cognoscenti and readers just interested in a good browse, Kepler’s Books and Magazines celebrates its 50th anniversary on Saturday .

Founder Roy Kepler opened the bookstore on May 14, 1955, and four locations later, the store continues to flourish as part of Menlo Park’s cultural scene .

“He was looking for an opportunity for him to have a livelihood that didn’t require him to compromise everything in working for somebody else,” said Clark Kepler of his father, who was a lifelong activist.

“His passion in life was social activism and nonviolence. In the ’50s, he was working for different causes, he was a founding staff member at KPFA radio, he was involved in doing a lot of things that weren’t career-oriented and didn’t pay much,” Kepler said. “When he married and started to have a family, I think he recognized that he needed a career to sustain a family.”

The senior Kepler had done some research on the publishing business and found that bookselling matched his interest in the exchange and flow of ideas. Roy Kepler opened his bookstore with only a few thousand dollars, but it soon blossomed into a cultural epicenter and attracted loyal customers from the students and faculty of Stanford University and from other members of the surrounding communities who were interested in serious books and ideas.

“There was a perfect storm of occurrences that happened right when Kepler’s opened,” Clark Kepler said, not least of which being what he terms the “paperback revolution.”

The notion of selling texts in inexpensive paperbound volumes was a revolutionary notion in the publishing trade, making Kepler’s one of the vanguard of booksellers on the West Coast doing the same, including spiritual siblings City Lights Books in San Francisco and Cody’s Books in Berkeley.

“After the Second World War, trade paperback books suddenly became available. There was a reaction from the book industry — traditional booksellers didn’t view paperbacks as real books,” Clark Kepler said. “It was a time when literature was available in paperback very inexpensively and publishers were making classics available that heretofore you could only find in a library, if at all.

“(Roy Kepler’s) objective was to have a bookstore that offered a full range of ideas and information so people could decide for themselves what they wanted to read and want they wanted to believe,” Clark Kepler said. (This philosophy is pithily preserved on T-shirts commemorating the store’s 50th anniversary with a quote from Kepler describing the store’s stock: “You’ll find the views of communists, socialists, conservatives, know nothings, humanists, pacifists, libertarians, semanticists, scientists, etc.”).

“He always had his own beliefs and they were present in what Kepler’s did and presented. The people that he employed, especially in the ’60s, were a lot of Stanford students, draft resisters, people in ‘the cause’ — the bookstore took that on very rapidly.”

Kepler describes the original location (opened in 1955 next to the Guild Theatre) as a “hole in the wall” at under 1,000 square feet. The bookstore’s legend took root, however, at its 825 El Camino Real address, where it began to grow exponentially in the hothouse of the 1960s.

In fact, in 1962 Roy Kepler opened a second store in south Palo Alto. Two years later, it moved to the Village Court Shopping Center is Los Altos. (The store was sold in 1981, changed names and went out of business a few years later.)

By the 1980s, the main store had moved to a Victoria Drive development (off El Camino) and expanded to about 5,200 square feet, until transplanting to its current 10,000-square-foot location, back on El Camino Real, replete with large windows and a layout that suggests something of a garden of literary delights.

Clark Kepler vividly remembers being a child surrounded by the posters lining the walls and ceiling of the store and the fact that customers often smoked indoors and put their cigarettes out on the concrete floor.

“It was very reflective of what was going on in the counterculture,” he said.

Though the bookstore found immediate fans and steady patronage, it also received some backlash from more conservative elements of the community.

“As much as there were a lot of supporters, there were some people who didn’t like what was going on there,” Clark Kepler recalls.

“When I came to work at the bookstore in ’79 as a young man, I talked with customers that were middle-aged at that point, and I got these reflective stories of what it was like for them, what Kepler’s meant to them in their formative years and how important it was.”

It was apparently important enough to disobey parents and other authority figures who forbade their children from going to the store.

“There was a theme that emerged from each one that sort of went like, ‘When I was kid my mom told me never to go to Kepler’s, it was forbidden.’ Or, ‘My rabbi told me never to go to Kepler’s’ or ‘My principal told me never to go to Kepler’s.’ They had these authority figures telling them to stay away from Kepler’s and the punch line to every story was ‘So I came.’ ”

Clark Kepler, now in his late 40s, grew up in the store and learned the business from the bottom up — he began in the receiving department at age 21 after studying environmental ethics in college. “I had that passion of youth to save the world and that sort of thing,” he said, with a laugh.

He had little idea at the time, however, that he would later take over the store. It wasn’t until his father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that the younger Kepler was faced with the possibility of running the family business. He was initially reluctant, and his father briefly entertained an offer to sell Kepler’s.

“It was one of those moments — sitting around with my mom and dad, the CPA and the lawyer having this discussion. As Dad was describing how he needs to do this, I was thinking ‘Here I am trying to save the world and I have this opportunity to do something real here,’ ” Clark Kepler said.

“It’s been 26 years since then. I care deeply about books and enjoy reading. My passion is about bookselling and knowing what a good independent bookstore can do for a community and the importance of the written word.”

Clark Kepler’s commitment and accomplishment in the trade eventually garnered him recognition as Bookseller of the Year by Publishers Weekly. Kepler’s success can be attributed, in part, to his ability to remain versatile and dynamic in the face of a rapidly changing media landscape where he faces competition not only from online point-and-click bookselling but the new way in which the written word is distributed.

“Independent bookselling is very different than it was in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. It changes every year almost,” Clark Kepler said. “Our job is to remain vibrant and relevant. What I’ve endeavored to do is maintain the best of the Kepler’s history and tradition in terms of our connectedness to the community and our service and, at the same time, not lose sight of the fact that we’re in a business and need to be profitable.”

Kepler also continues the tradition of live author readings with a series that spans the gamut from fiction writers to politicos and even the occasional movie star.

“We hosted Jane Fonda a couple weeks ago and Lauren Bacall the month before. It seemed like we had a celebrity season,” he said. “We don’t say that we’re trying to do an ‘actresses month’ or anything like that, but it does evolve in a certain way, it seems. Right before the elections, we had a whole political season where we had Al Franken, Molly Ivins and Barbara Bush.”

The bookstore also remains vigilant about bringing new voices to the fore — authors who often reach their first audiences through independent bookstores only to be appropriated later by the larger chain stores.

“What we endeavor to do is bring in established writers and those who are pre-eminent in their time, as well as up-and-coming writers — new voices that we believe have written something relevant and may be at the beginning of a literary career,” Kepler said.

“That’s one of the strengths that independent booksellers have and one of the things that the publishing world values — we have our fingers on the pulse of what America is reading. We break out new books that become literary phenomena. Independents will often be selling them before the chains are aware of them. Once they get established, the chains are all over them and have them in spades.”

In the meantime, Clark Kepler and the bookstore that bears his family name will continue to fight the good fight.

“As challenging as the industry and the economy is, the value of what we do is intrinsic. I feel honored to be in a career that has that much meaning to me,” he said.

Kepler’s Books and Magazines celebrates its 50th Anniversary 1-4 p.m. Saturday, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. Live music, performances, games and prizes. All items are 20 percent off all day. (650) 324-4321; www.keplers.com.

C3P0: The Droid You’re Looking For

Next week sees the release of the final installment of George Lucas’ space opera sextet, “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.” And C- 3PO, ever the nebbish, returns to fret, kvetch and backseat-drive the story to galaxies far, far away.

Actor Anthony Daniels, unmasked, is surprisingly spry and bright-eyed — certainly far more animated than the staid expression of his C-3P0 mask. An Englishman, Daniels has a natural penchant for understatement and drollery, which he demonstrates when a reporter confesses to a Napa-induced hangover acquired before arriving at Daniel’s suite at the Marigold Spa and Beach in Santa Monica.

“I do get hangovers. A lot. And it’s not always to do with the amount. Sometimes it is. A lot of stuff gets put into wine that we don’t necessarily know about,” Daniels commiserates, then adds ruefully, “I don’t drink things like brandy anymore. It’s definitely a young person’s occupation.”

Daniels, 59, splits his time between London and a home 40 minutes from Avignon, near the Chateauneuf-du-Pape area of France’s southern Rhone Valley vineyard region. He was in Los Angeles shooting segments as C-3PO for a Discovery Channel program about tech innovations explored in the “Star Wars” movies. Such is the half-life of the golden droid. Likewise, Daniels has been the only actor to portray C-3PO, whereas five performers, including James Earl Jones, have gone into the character resulting in Darth Vader.

Given the success of the “Star Wars” franchise, it is ironic that Daniels initially bristled at playing C-3PO.

“I didn’t even want the interview. I refused to meet George, and my agent made me go. I didn’t want to be in a sci-fi movie, I didn’t want to play a robot,” says Daniels, smiling at the memory of it. Daniels didn’t warm to the notion of playing the droid until he had a near-mystical experience with the character’s concept art.

In the painting, a proto-C-3PO, bearing a resemblance to the android agent provocateur of Fritz Lang’s 1927 “Metropolis, ” looks out from the desert terrain of Tattoine with a pitiful look on his face.

“It was solely that painting — he looked out at me very forlorn. It was weird. I’m very fond of Threepio,” says Daniels. “Threepio was always somewhere just waiting to arrive through me. He even surprises me sometimes. Yes, I make myself laugh, which is a bit sad, really.”

Much has changed in filmmaking in the 16 years between the last of the old trilogy (“Return of the Jedi”) and the first of the new (“The Phantom Menace”). Thanks to advances in digital effects, R2-D2 no longer requires the presence of Kenny Baker, the diminutive actor inside the pint-size robot for the first trilogy. Consequently, Daniels is essentially working on his own during his scenes with his comic counterpart.

“I say something, pause, then say my next line. It was a very lonely experience. To do a double act on your own is tough.” But then life has been something of double act for Daniels ever since “Star Wars” broke box office records in the summer of 1977. Die-hard fans frequently recognize him, even without his costume, and entreat him to perform the droid’s signature voice. Graciously, Daniels becomes C-3PO on the spot.

“I’ll have people come up and ask, ‘Can you do the voice for my kid?’ And I’ll ask the kid, ‘What’s Threepio sound like? Does he sound like this? Hello, I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations, and this is my counterpart R2-D2.’ And you see their face — and that is magic, really lovely,” he says beaming.

The transformation is indeed beguiling, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the known universe bringing the character to life. Lucas, however, did have others in mind when casting the voice of the character.

“I was the last choice, which is better than no choice,” says Daniels, whose competition at one time included Richard Dreyfuss, the lead in Lucas’ “American Graffiti.” In the minds of “Star Wars” fans, of course, Daniels’ twee English butler, coupled with seven milliseconds of delay, is unmistakably, irreplaceably C-3PO. “If you had received another image at the beginning, you would now say, ‘What do you mean your voice? You couldn’t have used your voice, it’s much better with an Inuit accent’ or whatever. You’re already conditioned,” says Daniels, who reshaped the character from Lucas’ original conception of C-3PO as a kind of fast-talking android used-car salesman.

Daniels’ interpretation of C-3PO, however, recalls the twittering maiden aunts of E.M. Forster novels, always in a hullabaloo about the condition of the heroine’s virtue and mortal fears about everything under the sun.

“The craven aspect, I suspect, is actually a kind of childlike honesty. He doesn’t bull. If he’s afraid, if he doesn’t like something, he says, ‘I’m afraid I don’t like this,’ ” says Daniels, tipping slightly into the iconic voice.

With the release of “Revenge of the Sith,” Daniels’ schedule is brimming with appearances and speaking engagements that he attends either as himself or as his android doppelganger, as when he was recently inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame at Carnegie Mellon University. Outside the “Star Wars” universe, Daniels plans to content himself with remodeling and landscaping projects at home in France, where he lives with his girlfriend.

“It’s lovely. We have a huge garden — we have a gym in the house, but I never use it because the garden is partly on a hill — pushing a half- barrel of earth is great for the thighs,” he says, laughing.

“For an evening stroll we walk through the vineyards. It’s lovely,” he says, adding with relish that he often picks grapes right off the vine. “Of course, they taste like blaaa. I’m just amazed at the skill of a vintner who can work out that that rather foul-tasting thing is going to end up as something rather delicious.”

The same might be said of Lucas’ new trilogy. The first two episodes, “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones,” were critically panned, and those old enough to have seen the original movies in the theaters — fans who had collected all the merchandise and had waited with bated breath for new episodes to be announced — turned on Lucas as if he had done something inappropriate to their inner child.

However, the latest and last installment ends with the advent of everyone’s favorite villain, Darth Vader, and promises, in many ways, to redeem Lucas’ recent foibles.

Daniels, of course, is tight-lipped about the inner workings of the franchise but lets it slip that he’s a fan of the final movie.

“How clever, how thoughtful, how sensitive, how tear-making. And guess who has the last line in the movie?” he teases. “Well, I have the first line in the next one,” he says, referring back to where it all started. “That may be a secret. I don’t know.”

It is no secret, however, that resistance to the final “Star Wars” installment is futile. Besides the delicious schadenfreude of watching pretty- boy Anakin devolve into the leather-clad lord of the dark side, there’s a rumor that a befuddled C-3PO serves drinks in this film, which is somehow a recommendation in and of itself. Regardless, millions will line up around multiplex blocks, eager to see the thing through to the end and perhaps heal the psychic wounds inflicted by the previous two films.

While in line, Daniels suggests, bring Champagne to ease the wait. “But it would be quite fun with sake as well,” he says dryly. When asked what to pair the film itself with, Daniels sees red.

“I think it would be a rather heavy Merlot or Syrah — though maybe Syrah would be too rounded. It’s got very spiky moments, so maybe something with a bit more tannin — a rather tannic red, I think. Slightly uncomfortable, this film, rather dark. Yes, so I think a rather heavy, tannic red. Mmm,” Daniels says sagely, then reconsiders his answer. “But then a rather delicious Champagne to begin or a Chardonnay would be nice. But isn’t it sad everybody got sick of Chardonnay around the same time? Unless it’s the Champagne, which is a fine way to drink the Chardonnay grape, I think. I would start with a little Champagne, then about halfway through, hit the red in a major way and leave it there.”

Daniels reflects for a minute, his eyes drifting out past the hotel’s courtyard to a slim vista of beachhead. For a moment, his thoughts return to the final “Star Wars” film, the story of which seamlessly dovetails into the first film. As Darth Vader might say, “The circle is now complete.”

“I saw the end the other day,” says Daniels, a wistful note coming into his voice. “There was something about the completeness of dubbing with George, then watching (composer) John Williams put some of the music on at Abbey Road . .. The ending just made me cry. It was not because it was the end of it all for me, it’s just so redolent of the good feeling that was in the original movie. I think you will get quite a strange feeling yourself. I certainly did. The good thing is, it does complete it. You will feel satisfied.”

Daniels lets the thought trail, sighs, then composes himself: “When you’re crying at the end, what would you drink when you’re in tears? A cup of tea, I suppose. Yes, hot sweet tea at the end to cheer yourself up.

“The Champagne would help you also.”