Monday, February 20, 2017

King Arthur Trailer #2

This is going to be so awesome.
My top priority right now is finishing John Wick Chapter 2, but we are going to revisit this trailer immediately. I am also going to try and get X-Men Days Of Future Past up (yea, we all know what happens when I make plans) but this was the last time we really saw Wolverine and with Logan being released March 3, it will be a good time for us to consider what has happened and will happen when we look at Logan. Word on the street is: there is a post-credits scene for Logan, so be prepared!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--the song in the trailer is Babe, I'm Going To Leave You performed by Led Zeppelin from 1969.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ex Communicatio: John Wick Chapter 2, Or, Reflections On the Soul

N.B.--I am posting this post, but it's not done; there is ample material still left to add to the captions of images, but I wanted to at least get something up. When you no longer see this note, the post is as finished as I will be capable of finishing it. Thank you for your patience, and I am sorry it's taking so long.
Welcome to the spiritual life, my friend. Every film operates on at least two levels all or most of the time: the physical world and the spiritual world. Few films, however, are as intensely aware of operating on both levels, and do it so consistently throughout their narrative--and take great pains to communicate to its audience that it is doing so--as John Wick Chapter 2. Why is this important? Because it validates there is a message within the film, and validates our effort of engagement to decode what that message is. In this particular poster, for example, all guns are pointed at Wick's head; why? The head symbolizes our "governing function," such as the "head of government," and the head is the most important part of the body. The guns point to Wick's head because Wick has been able to "govern himself," as Abram says in the opening sequence regarding Wick's focus, commitment and sheer will power, and those virtues means the forces of evil can't overcome Wick because Wick has fortressed himself with those virtues. On the spiritual level, all demons (the assassins) want to kill John Wick because there is a $7 million dollar reward for him; "7 million" is divided into two different symbolic numbers: there is the "7" and there is the "million." Seven always symbolizes perfection, or, in opposite terms, total depravity. Since John Wick survives to the end of the film, instead of dying, and because he is the hero, then the $7 million contract Santino puts out on John Wick means that Santino recognizes John Wick as "perfection" and it will take "perfection" from the demons to destroy John Wick. The assassins, of course, are not literal demons, they are, however, metaphorical demons, or "tools" used by Satan to break down John Wick so the devil can collect Wick's soul (it's okay, all this is explained below). So, what does the "million" represent? Any multiple of "10" is divine perfection, it means the work of God has been brought to completion. By the end of the film, there is a $14 million contract on Wick, which means God has opened another work he He is going to bring to completion (Chapter 3). It takes me a while to get to this in the body of the post, but, as you read, note that John Wick makes two important mistakes at the start of the film: he doesn't kill Abram (the uncle of the kid who stole Wick's car in JW, and then Wick buries his clothes, coins and guns in the basement again (more on that below). Why? In case Wick needs them again, and that's "an open door policy," in other words, a part of Wick is ready to go back to the life, although he would rather not. 
Ex communicatio.
"Out of communication."
There is significant word play in this phrase, because it's a sentence, as in, a punishment, but the "sentence" is a form of communication which has now been outlawed with that person who has so been sentenced. Please note, every spoiler is contained in this post, and you do not want to know the spoilers before seeing John Wick Chapter 2, so please, for yourself, see the film first, then read the post, then go see the film again,... and again,.... because no matter how many times any of us see it, we will pick up something new we didn't catch the last time, it's that good.
(Please click on this, or any of the other images below to enlarge). It's imperative to the understanding of the film that we notice that the art exhibit in the museum towards the end, the place of the final battle, is called Reflections On the Soul.  The exhibit is all glass and lights; why? Because glass symbolizes "reflection" (our ability to meditate on our actions and interior life) and light symbolizes inspiration and wisdom (knowledge which we attain but could not be obtained on our own merits or understanding). What we see in this climatic scene then, is the not-so-subtle translation of spiritual warfare within our souls: we have to "kill them, kill them all" as Wick says at the end of the film; who are we killing? Those forces of evil who lurk in our souls, like the assassins lurking in the exhibit. Reflection and light are there to both help us, but also there to wound us: unless we understand how reflection/meditation can go bad (not seeing ourselves correctly, but exaggerating our traits, for example) and how we can be mislead by light rather than led by light (for example, thinking God has inspired us to do something when it was actually coming from the devil) then we can become trapped and lose the battle. EVERYTHING IN THE FILM IS AN EXTENSION OF THIS ART EXHIBIT, which is why we hear the computerized female narrator at the museum twice saying, Welcome to the Reflections On the Soul. What exactly does Wick prove/learn from this experience? That each of the assassins hunting him is a part of him, that's the purpose of the mirrors, so that as Wick sees the assassins, he's seeing himself and the man he used to be, but is trying not to be anymore. John Wick (just like the rest of us) continually has to undergo a process of "conversion," the recognition that, "I haven't come far enough, there is still so far to go, and if I don't go further, I'm going to start falling behind." The spiritual life is an active life, it's not a life about "retirement" (which is what everyone wants John Wick to do), rather, if we are not fighting the spiritual battle, we are losing the spiritual battle.
On a slightly different note, apart from Wick himself, the most important character in the film is Winston; why? It's not that Winston is a "God figure," rather, it's through Winston that we learn the grand scheme of what's going on, we get, in other words, a "God's Eye perspective." For example, when Winston collects Wick's payment confirmation from Santino for Wick's marker, Winston tells Santino how Wick had a glimpse of what was on the other side of the assassin's life, and Santino took it away from Wick. This is true, but it's not also entirely true. God always works in "pairs," the first which is presented to us by God  is good, but the second which God presents is far better (I could provide examples, but I'm not going to digress more). Wick's life with Helen was the "good" which Jesus Christ tempted Wick, but Jesus will offer Wick something even better after Wick fulfills these trials, so yes, Santino took it away from Wick (when Wick asked Santino not to collect his marker--more on this below) but God allowed Santino to do it. Remember, Jesus (and we see both the cross tattooed on Wick's back, and the mural on the soup kitchen wall at the Bowery King's that says, "Jesus Saves," so this is a relevant point) Jesus Christ is a "fisher of men," and like any fisherman going to catch fish, Jesus uses bait, and the bait to hook Wick was Helen. Wick "got out"of the assassins' lifestyle, but Wick left an "open door" to go back by giving that marker to Santino and Wick promising he would help Santino do something in exchange. God knew all this was happening, and so Helen dying was God's punishment on Wick for not trusting in God to get Wick out of the assassins' life where Wick was when God called Wick to conversion and instead Wick relying on Santino.
On a very different note, the lights, mirrors and art in this exhibit validate the encoding mechanisms being used throughout the film: there aren't any actual souls on display in the exhibit, but the light and mirrors are metaphors to discovering the soul within us; likewise, different elements of the film will also provide means by which we can reflect upon our souls through the journey of John Wick.
Most people are going to assume that the status of ex communicatio is the same as ex communication, and deduce it means "to be cut off from or put out of the community," and that John Wick is no longer a member of the assassin's guild, league, union, or whatever structured organization it is, but that phrase describing that state is ex communicare; ex communicatio is, however, more severe, for at least two reasons.
(Please click on this, or any of the other images, to enlarge). When Wick makes it to his car, the gestures Wick uses, the way he walks and "gets by" the thugs standing guard, is echoed in Rome after Wick finished with Gianna and Wick gets back to the Catacombs where his escape route is; why? As I explain below, because Wick didn't do what he was supposed to do in getting his car back with Abram, Wick now has to endure the far greater trial of killing Gianna, and by mirroring these two scenes, the film makers want us to keep that in mind. When Wick finds his car, covered with the tarp (lower left image) it's like a body bag covering it; why? Because Wick is dead like a cadaver covered with a body bag in the morgue (don't believe me? Remember when Wick wakes up after telling Earl to take him to see the Bowery King, and the guys Earl killed are in bags beside Wick, but Wick is alive and bandaged; again, that scene is being played out because Wick fails to kill Abram, so Wick has to go through it all again with Santino). There are a few important visual elements we have in this opening fight sequence which we must note. First, the assassins working for Abram drive taxis, as we see in the lower-right image. Wick owns the Mustang he retrieves, it's his car, but a taxi--like a hotel room--is a temporary vehicle you don't own, you just use. This is one indication that the assassins working for Abram, and hence, working against John Wick, are demons: the world evil builds here on earth is temporary, whereas the world of the Christian, the world of the spiritual warrior, is being built in the next world, where there is eternal permanence. Please remember this point as we discuss Gianna and Santino below, because they have built up a world of temporary power at the expense of their immortal souls (remember, it's Gianna who asks Wick if he's afraid of "damnation," and Wick replies, "Yes"). In this warehouse fight scene, the numerous windows signal "reflection" and meditation, that is, not just Wick's own meditation upon what he's doing, but for us, the audience, to reflect on what is truly happening in the narrative as well. Then, there is all the water we see, especially on the floor where the character's feet are in the water (again, lower-right image, we can see the assassin and Wick, as well as the yellow taxis reflecting in the ground water). When Abram tells his right hand man about John Wick, and describes how awesome Wick is, Abram uses the description about Wick's "focus, commitment and sheer will" to achieve whatever it is Wick sets himself out upon to accomplish, and these are the same virtues required of the spiritual life. So, if we fail to engage with the opening scene, we aren't going to be capable of engaging with the rest of the film.
When the film first opens, we look at the city from numerous angles; we then see what looks to be like an old, silent film playing on the side of one of the buildings, with noise added for the crashing effects, but then we realize that the sound is "off" and the noises aren't aligning with the action sequences,.... then we see the real car chase taking place. What's the point of that silent film moment? That's a proper introduction to how to watch the film: part of the film is going to be "off," or not make sense, unless we realize that we are seeing one thing (like the silent film on the building) and hearing something different (the real car chase taking place). This was a favorite device of Alfred Hitchcock's in some of his mid-career films, such as North By Northwest and Torn Curtain: we are watching one show, like in the art auction in North By Northwest, but the "real drama" is taking place with what is happening to Cary Grant's character. So, in JWC2, what the "sub-text" denoting the real drama taking place? First, it's the religious meaning: people are far more willing to "take in" a religious sermon if they don't realize they are taking in a religious sermon. Wick's journey in the film is about the spiritual warfare in which his soul is engaged, yet there is also the additional political commentary we can find, specifically regarding Gianna's coronation and murder by her brother (which we discuss below).
Now, we see a car hit the motorcyclist, and a pair of men's feet, in black shoes, socks and pants, get out and walk to the downed cyclist and take out an entry card. Why is this the first image we see of John Wick? Feet, as we know, symbolize the will, because our feet take us to where we want to go the way our will drives us towards what it is we want in life. We also know that the color black signifies death: there is good death and bad death. Good death is being dead to things of the world, to our appetites and worldly ambitions, but alive in faith, hope and charity. Bad death is when we are dead in our souls to faith, hope and charity, but we are alive to our worldly ambitions and appetites. We know John Wick is trying to "get out" of the assassin life where he was the best of the best, so John being "alive" to his worldly appetites isn't a fitting interpretation. Because of what we do see Wick do, it makes better sense that Wick is alive to the spiritual life, and it's because he is alive to the spiritual life that the demons trying to take down his soul attack him.
It's fitting that we see Wick's feet first because Wick's car, like his feet, symbolizes (somewhat) his will: any vehicle in any time period will symbolize the Holy Spirit "energizing" you to follow your path in life. In other words, we become the vehicle for the Holy Spirit, so when those thugs steal Wick's car in John Wick, what has symbolically happened is that they have stolen the Holy Spirit's ride. Wick's wife has died, and so Wick is ripe for a spiritual battle because he's down, and the demons come to collect. The Holy Spirit has a different plan, because Helen was never the Holy Spirit's final reward for Wick, rather, Helen was just the bait (we discuss this further below, too).  Did you notice, dear reader how, when Wick drives the car that Wick looks too big for the car? Or, rather, the car looks too small for Wick? That is an incredible detail that all ready tells us what is going to happen: because John Wick has so successfully won the war being waged against him, the Holy Spirit all ready has the next battle prepared because John Wick has "grown" so much during the events we have seen heretofore, so the Holy Spirit can make John Wick an even better man, even as Wick has all ready decided he will establish peace with Abram (more on this in this same caption, but a bit below).
THIS IS REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT: how do we know that the assassins in the film are "demons" and not just assassins? There are two ways: first, the way the assassins themselves are presented, and secondly, because the art exhibit towards the end is called Reflections On the Soul, and it's upon the soul that demons wage war. First of all, the motorcyclist Wick crashes into in the opening sequence has no face: he wears a helmet, covering his identity, and the curse of demons is that, because they were enslaved to their appetites, they lost their identity, as opposed to angels who, because of their love for God being greater than love of self, they enhanced their identity even more so they became even more differentiated from one another, thereby, gaining a greater sense of dignity and individuality (this is important for the very last scene of the film, so please keep this on your back burner). But not all the assassins are faceless, you object, and you are right in pointing that out; however, art--in all of its forms, especially in film--economizes quite well, which means that the symbolic nature of a character need be established only once, and that is done throughout John Wick and at the start and ending of John Wick Chapter 2. Remember in John Wick what the tagline was? "That nobody!?" "That 'nobody' was John Wick." "Nobody" refers to somebody with no identity; "John Wick" refers to someone with a singular identity. Do you remember the names of the Russians who stole Wick's car in the first film? No, no one does, but do you remember the name "John Wick?" Of course you do. In still more other words, the demons in the first film (the ones without a memorable identity) have now becomes demons with no identity because the demons are more severe and difficult to overcome (we'll discuss this below with Wick's house blowing up).
As stated above, the devil has robbed Wick of his direction in life (cars and other vehicles are to us what horses were in Biblical and Medieval times when they were also metaphors of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit carries us through life, and provides us with the path we are to take) so when Wick walks into Abram's office and drinks a peace offering with him, Wick "makes peace with his demons" and that is a mistake for which Wick pays throughout the entire film. How do we know? There are at least two ways: first, because of what the name "Abram" means, and secondly, because Santino accuses Wick of thinking Wick is "Old Testament" towards the end of the film, right before Wick blows Santino's forehead off. First, "Abram refers to the Biblical patriarch Abraham before God called him "Abraham." So, "Abram" means "high father," not because the character Abram himself is a "high father," but because that is what Wick would have earned for himself had he vanquished the one who contributed to stealing his car, in other words, by completing the "holy war" in which Wick had to engage to once again get his car/direction in life back, Wick would have "assumed" being the "high father" for himself (so the exact opposite of being assumed to the "High Table" like what Santino wants for himself). This is a tricky metaphor to offer, but at least on a shallow level, think of spiritual warfare like this: just as in a video game, the "hero" will get points when the hero vanquishes different degrees of enemies, so, too, in the spiritual life, when we vanquish temptations and demons trying to kill us, we gain strength and resources we can use in future battles against even more difficult demons and temptations; it's not that life and spiritual warfare mimic video games, rather, video games mimic and codify the spiritual life and the battles of the soul. Because Wick failed to vanquish Abram, he is like King Saul of the Old Testament who failed to vanquish the enemies of God in holy way which is why, as we shall see, that Winston calls Wick "Jonathan," because Jonathan was the son of Saul, the king who was rejected by God. All of this has been so perfectly intertwined, if you don't understand something, I assure you, dear, good reader, it's my fault for not being as smart as the film and failing to properly communicate.
First, it's through his ability to communicate with people that helped John Wick get through the ordeals we as the audience witness in JWC2. Everyone in this line of work knows everything immediately, from their cell phones regularly giving them updates, to the good old stand-by carrier pigeon and the homeless security system of corner beggars. Communication is knowledge and knowledge is its own form of currency in this world (whether it's his friend calling to find out where Wick's car is, or the Bowery King knowing that Santino is at the museum, communication is key to survival).
Yea, bad day. Okay, so what is happening between John Wick and John Wick Chapter 2? Opening John Wick, Wick buries his wife, Helen (there is more on Helen below) and then he loses his car; JWC2, Wick gets his car back, then loses his house; why? We saw in The Conjuring II: the Enfield Poltergeist how the demons attacked the Hodgson family in London after the father and husband, Mr. Hodgson, left for another woman; Ed Warren explains to Mrs Hodgson that demons like to get us when we are down because the misery we feel makes it easier to distance us from God because our faith is wavering and we are all ready taking it upon ourselves to distance us from God because we have lost faith because God allowed something so bad to happen to us. In other words, we help the demons drag ourselves into hell willingly. That is exactly what happens in JW and JWC2 (please see Valak: The Conjuring 2 & the Demonizing Of White Men for more). The visualization of this image is perfection: remember, later in the film, when the Bowery King escorts Wick to the elevator and tells Wick that his "descent into hell begins here,"? That line echoes what happens right here, with Wick's house getting blown up during the night. It's night, and "night" symbolizes the Dark Night of the Soul when the soul journeys to union with God. REMEMBER, dear and gracious reader, that the art exhibit is called Reflections On the Soul and the mural we see in the soup kitchen when Wick is with the Bowery King that says, "Jesus Saves" on it, so this reading is not "out of line" with the narrative, rather, because of the silent film we see at the very beginning, the film encourages us to look for the "sub-text" within itself to understand the real drama taking place. Regarding this scene, we can rely upon the poetry of St John of the Cross to "ferry us" like Charon does with Wick at the end when Charon takes Wick to see Winston in the park. "In an obscure night/Fevered with love's anxiety/(O hapless, happy plight!)/I went, none seeing me/Forth from my house/where all things quiet be." You probably see a number of problems with lining up this poem to the events taking place in the image above, but we just need to talk through it. First of all, Wick's soul is indeed in a state of "obscurity" because of his retirement and no one thinking he's back (consider Jimmy the police officer asking Wick about him being "back") and "night" we can be sure of because the film makers have Santino enter the house when it's still light outside (please see the images below) but Wick's house explodes when it's night. There are two parts to the next line: "fevered" and "love's anxiety," because "love's anxiety" refers to what Wick will do without Helen filling his life, and the "fevered" refers to the sickness God allows to come over Wick so Wick will be led away from his temporal dependence upon Helen and her memory, and to God Himself (yea, we discuss this more with Helen below when Wick sits in the burned down house and he has the bracelet he had given her). The "happy plight" refers to the difficult situation souls discover: if they don't leave the house in which they are, they are bound to stay in the house and never achieve their union with God; if they want the union with God, they have to leave the house, and so it's a "happy plight," like the Children of Israel wandering the Wilderness for 40 years, because without that hardship, a greater reward and advantage could not be achieved. When Wick goes out, "none seeing me," we can argue that Jimmy the policeman sees Wick leaving the house, and of course, the pitbull is with him; but none see John Wick as God sees John Wick, what John Wick still has to become in order to fulfill himself. Wick goes "forth from my house" because hell still grows and lingers within Wick's soul. When John of the Cross writes, "where all things quiet be," we might think, yea, there is no way this relates to John Wick, look at the explosion of his house, right? Wrong. Before Santino arrives, it is all quiet: the car guy comes by and picks up the Mustang, Wick plays with the dog on the lawn and a tennis ball,... all is quiet as Wick's retirement (?) is going to be honored,... but it's not. There is a second condition to this "all is quiet" perception, namely, the rule of thumb in the spiritual life: if "all is quiet" it means one of two things: God provides the soul with a temporary respite to rest before the next battle, or the person has ceased fighting their demons and the demons win because they are allowed to make small, but steady gains over the soul that refuses to defend itself against them. When Wick makes peace with Abram, Wick quits before finishing the job and allows the rest of the demons to linger (which means we might see Abram later in the series). Santino later argues with Winston when Winston comes to collect Wick's marker that "Wick was all ready back in" the assassin's life, and, as we discuss below, this was only partially true.
When John goes to see someone, he communicates his needs and they help him: consider his acquaintances in Rome, the tailor, the sommelier, the keeper of the maps and Julius (owner of the Roman Continental Hotel) as well as Winston and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). So, even with just this first part of the sentence of ex communicatio, John Wick is in serious trouble,...
But it gets worse,...
Aurelio, the car guy who is friends with Wick and helped Wick locate the Mustang, details for the audience everything wrong with Wick's car: "And I don't know if you noticed, but there's a crack in your windshield," because the crack in the car windshield signifies that Wick can't properly see where the Holy Spirit wants to lead him; this isn't Wick's fault, it's human nature. We tend to resist the incredible journey of transformation God demands of us all, and the validation for this interpretation is when Aurelio says, "I can fix it. It'll be ready by Christmas,... 2029." Christmas, is of course, the birth of Christ, and the arrival of New Life and the Messiah; that Aurelio links the restoration of Wick's car to Christmas means that Wick himself should be fine by Christmas 2029, indicating the long process in his journey which Wick is to undergo.
John Wick Chapter 2 clearly operates on both a mundane/political level, as well as a spiritual: John's sentence of no longer being able to communicate with allies in the world of assassins points to the real-world censorship taking place among white, heterosexual men in the US today who are the targets of Liberals and seek to dethrone white men as the dominant power-holders in the country (even the world) and the reason for that is just as spiritual: Liberals also want to overthrow God, and that's why John Wick's sentence of ex communicatio is so severe: it's a sentence against John praying. But wait, you may think, John Wick never prays, not even once; I would like to suggest that, indeed, he does pray,...
What is "prayer?"
It's our communication with God, His angels and His saints. When we use certain words and direct our thoughts and actions accordingly, "prayer" is a form of worship, as well as a means of request for help, guidance and intercession for prayers from others who have gone before us (such as the saints). If Winston were an ordained priest (or possibly he would have to be a bishop to perform the ex communicatio sentence religiously) Wick, then, would be cut off from prayer: his prayers would not be allowed to reach heaven and entreat the Almighty for favor and forgiveness (I could be wrong about this, I know it's almost never used, even in the days when "standard" ex communication was used, ex communicatio wasn't used then because it's so severe). Since Winston isn't an ordained priest, this doesn't apply, but Wick is in the opposite position: Wick now must pray, because a prayer is the only thing he has left.
We saw this "ritual" of John's in John Wick as well: his showering before going to kill someone, as if he's cleaning his hands of the bloodshed to come before he sheds the blood because the spilling of the blood is "not on his hands," his hands are clean, and this is a sentence they have brought upon themselves (this is a bit different with Gianna slitting her wrists and getting into her bath, but we will discuss that in the caption below). It's important to remember that on Wick's left shoulder, he has another tattoo: the Cross (please see Specialized Waste Disposal: John Wick for an image and more details). The shoulders and back are usually taken together symbolically, and yet they have their own roles in communication: the back symbolizes our burdens, either those placed upon us or that we take upon ourselves, while the shoulders, as part of the arms, symbolize whether or not we receive strength from our burdens (on our back) or are weakened by them. In the case of John Wick, he's strengthened by them, because he has the cross on his shoulder and on his back (since they are tattoos, he has placed them there himself) however, the problem is, there are two other tattoos: the woman wearing the mask on his left shoulder, and the howling wolf on his right shoulder. (This caption isn't finished yet, sorry).
How do we pray?
Only by the Power of the Holy Spirit, in other words, God Himself, as the Third Member of the Trinity, gives us His own Life (commonly called "Grace") so that we may offer our prayers to Him. How does the Holy Spirit appear to us? In many forms, but most commonly He appears as a bird, as when Jesus was Baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. (If you haven't done so all ready, please make sure you read the caption above this paragraph before proceeding, as that will help to establish the context for this discussion). Granted, we don't actually see Wick praying in the film, and that's why the second form of the ex communicatio is so severe: John Wick will now be forced to pray, because, like Moses being cast out of Egypt into the desert, so, too, has Wick been cast out with nothing but what is in his heart but Wick is not alone: he has the dog (his animal nature) and he has the Holy Spirit. There are at least three places in the narrative where birds are important, which means there are three places where the Holy Spirit is guiding Wick and helping him.
Obviously, the Bowery King and his carrier pigeons are important; why? John Wik--as is the audience rooting for Wick--are nervous the whole time Wick is in the presence of the Bowery King that the $7 million contract on Wick's head is going to win over and, instead of helping Wick, the Bowery King will help himself; that's the power of the Holy Spirit at work, that the Bowery King is able to be an instrument of God rather than a hindrance to God's work (I know, you are asking how is John Wick killing all those people the work of God, but give me a moment and we will get to it). Then, there is also the scene when Winston tells Wick that Wick is ex communicatio and a flock of birds fly up from behind Wick, signifying that this is the Will of the Holy Spirit and God is with Wick and everything will be okay. If it weren't for the Bowery King giving Wick a leg up and getting him into the museum, John would have failed; if it weren't for Winston giving Wick an hour before the ex communicatio goes into effect, Wick would have died right there. The third important bird reference?
Duck fat.
When Santino goes to Winston and tells him to revoke John Wick's membership to the Continental, and Winston refuses, Winston reminds Santino that he, too, enjoys the privileges of the hotel; why does Winston do this? So that John won't do what John did at the start of the film, which was make a big mistake. Don't make peace with your demons.
Ever.
In the opening sequence, after John has his car back, he goes into the office of Abram (Peter Stormare), and Abram--as well as the audience--is confident that Abram is going to die at the hands of John Wick,... instead, John pours them both a glass, and they drink to peace. This is John's mistake for which he pays throughout the whole film. No, Abram doesn't come after John Wick, but Abram participated in the offenses against John Wick by holding onto Wick's car (please see the commentary in the caption below the images of Wick and his car at the top for more on this topic) and in not killing Abram as Wick should have done, Wick allows the seed of sin to remain and, in only hours, it has grown with a vengeance and Santino comes knocking on John's door. 
So, back to the duck fat,....
In the lounge at the Continental, when Wick walks in with his gun, all of us know (because we saw John Wick and how Ms. Perkins was executed for breaking the neutral grounds in her attempted hit on John himself) that John is in for it if he pulls that trigger,.... and he pulls it anyway. Why? Because the Holy Spirit told him to. How? What does Santino tell John? That he could stay there a long time and not eat the same thing twice. There is a double meaning to this, a warning, but also an invitation, and fortunately for Wick, he refuses both, and it's because of the symbolism of the duck fat (I'm getting to it, I promise).
"Whoever comes, I'll kill them. I'll kill them all." "Of course you will." These are, definitely, the two most important lines of dialogue in the film; why? Because it gives us a choice, just as Wick gives the Bowery King a choice: either we think Winston insane for letting all those assassins line up to get killed by John Wick (because the definition of "insanity" is doing something over and over thinking you will get a different result and, by now, doesn't everyone realize that none of them are going to be able to kill John Wick?) or we realize that Winston has sent Wick upon the great challenge, the battle which will move Wick beyond, "The man, the myth, the legend," to being, quite frankly, a saint. John Wick will kill whoever comes because he's got back his focus, commitment and will, in spite of having lost about everything. Why does Winston do this to Wick? Doesn't Winston like Wick? The first word we hear Winston say in the film is, "Impeccable." The gold coins used in the John Wick universe open up the introductory credits: why? Gold does not tarnish, and it is the most valuable substance on earth, worthy of kings and an apt metaphor of the soul because our soul's are worth far more than gold, but, like gold, our souls must be purified in the fires of trial and purgation, and Winston telling the Numismatic (the man with the coins at the start of the film) that the coins brought are "Impeccable," means that is what John Wick is to become himself, "Impeccable," a soul without blemish.  (This caption is not yet finished, sorry).
Santino puts some food in his mouth, which has supposedly been fried in duck fat; because ducks are birds, like the birds we have discussed, this means, symbolically, that this is the food of the Holy Spirit, compelling Santino to tell the truth (which, in this situation, isn't difficult to do) but it also helps Wick to see the truth: Santino isn't going to go away, so then, Santino will be able to get control over New York City AND get Wick killed or have constant attacks carried out on him by other assassins (unless Wick stays in the hotel, too, which wouldn't be very comfortable for either of them). In other words, God communicates to Wick what is going to happen if Wick doesn't finish Santino right then and there it's going to be war for everyone. So, the duck fat is a means of Wick recognizing what the future holds for all of them. This actually leads us back to the Bowery King and the "deal" Wick describes to him.
Wick explains to the Bowery King, if I don't kill Santino, then Santino is going to take over NYC, so, give me a gun and then I will take upon myself the wrath of the High Table and the Camorra, (the Italian mafia, which Santino was part of, and will seek vengeance for Santino's death). Again, as Wick is led to see the Bowery King, he passes through a soup kitchen, where people are being fed, and sees the large picture on the wall with a cross and the words, "Jesus Saves"; what does this conjunction of symbols mean?
As the Bowery King feeds the people there soup and the message that Jesus Saves, so Wick will feed the Bowery King the message that Wick will save New York City from the take-over by Santino and from the wrath of the Comorra by paying the debt for Santino's death, just as Jesus saved us from God the Father's Wrath by paying the debt of Original Sin for us. This transition in Wick--from letting Abram go in peace at the start of the show to going to great lengths to insure he doesn't make the same mistake again--is the "conversion" process at work in Wick. Why? Because Wick learned his lesson and that leads us to our last point:
WHO IS "JOHN WICK?"
A light favored by God.
We know names are important in this narrative universe, and we know that the name "John" means God has been gracious or, more often, favored by God. We also know that a "wick" is like a fuse: there is the "wick" on a stick of dynamite, for example, or there is also a wick on a lamp (like the old fashioned gas lamps) which can be lit and give off light. We might assume that the "wick" in John Wick denotes a short fuse and he has a bad temper, but at the start of the film, Abram enumerates for us that John Wick is focused, committed and achieves his ends through sheer will power, so there is nothing about a bad temper, and stealing the guy's car and killing his puppy, then blowing up his house, all after he has just buried this wife, is really a lot for a person to take, so that leads us with the interpretation of "wick" as a light,... There is, however, still a problem.
The dog.
We know John Wick has the tattoo of the howling wolf on his right shoulder, and then there is the pitbull who "doesn't have a name yet." That's rather ominous. Even though he's been a "good dog," throughout John Wick 2, we know (again) that names are important in the John Wick universe, so when the dog does get a name, it's probably going to be terrifying, and a direct result of what Wick is going through at the time (please see caption below for more).
By now, we should know the answer to the question about the John Wick Chapter 2 body count: why are there so many dead bodies at the end of a John Wick film, and why does it matter? For those who are materialists and don't believe in the spiritual life (and trust, me, I've argued with them before on this very topic), all they see are dead bodies, not realizing that those aren't "dead bodies" of "real people," rather, the metaphors of spiritual warfare and trophies of eternal combat. John Wick's body count, then, is not only a sign of his masculinity in that he's been able to master himself with his "focus, commitment and will," but he has also built up his soul to be the dwelling place of the ultimate man, Jesus Christ. Without the example of Christ, there is no Love, and we do not know how to better ourselves or overcome the demons enslaving us, which is why we see the banner, "Jesus Saves" in the soup kitchen; then the question becomes, are we willing to be saved?
In conclusion, JWC2 is a dense film, filled with the golden nuggets of wisdom that only those who have trudged the depths of hell can possibly begin to acquire for themselves, and disperse for others; in other words, the film is by far smarter than I am, and if there are "obvious" things you feel I missed, dear reader, it's because I did, in fact, miss them (and because I am posting this before I am actually finished writing it :o). This is one we will be able to go back and watch countless times, and still be "catching something new" with each viewing. Enjoy, because films of this quality don't come around often.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, February 10, 2017

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2: A WORK OF ART

The film makers' handling of Ares (Ruby Rose) is expert. That they chose to handle her in this way, and that it looks so effortless, demonstrates how much talent was poured into this film. 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Readers, both regular and new,
I have seriously thought about this and I am definitely advising: IF THIS IS THE ONLY FILM YOU GO SEE THIS YEAR, GO SEE JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2. It is my great happiness to announce this film is way smarter than I am: the film is a work of art, and just as a masterpiece does not fail to be ever mysterious, like a fathomless well of the sweetest, life-granting water, so, too, John Wick Chapter 2 will never be exhausted, I will never be capable of mining all the gold nor of harvesting all the pearls this mother lode contains.
Here is why I'm suggesting that John Wick Chapter 2 is THE film to go see this year, even though it is only February. Star Wars VIII, opening in December, probably isn't going to be that good, not as good as The Force Awakens and definitely not as good as Rogue One. Beauty and the Beast isn't very good, even in the trailers and clips that have been released, the quality just isn't there, and it's definitely pro-socialist. Fast and Furious 8 is going to be phenomenal, it might even rack up Oscar nominations (of course, sadly, those will only be technical awards, but they will be Oscars, nonetheless) but it's not as deep as JWC2; it's going to be excellent, but the film makers just have a better handle on the material of John Wick. Dunkirk, by Christopher Nolan, is going to be amazing, and I can't wait to see it, because I know Nolan has poured his heart into it, and it will be the very standard of excellence, but because of the World War II subject matter, it's also going to be incredibly sad--an epic work of epic heroism, no doubt--but not everyone will be able to enjoy it. Then there are films such as The Kingsman the Golden Circle, The Mummy and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword; these are going to be GREAT films, and King Arthur is the only film I think can which will meet and possibly exceed JWC2's standard, and I will, honestly, and justifiably, be just as excited about King Arthur as I am JWC2, but King Arthur is still several months away, but this weekend is here now. 
I vow to you that I will get this post up this weekend, I promise you. Even if I just get a mini-post up, then go see it again, come back and flush it out, I promise, there will be a post up for this film. I promise. The film wasn't even half-way over and I was all ready to watch it again, and by the time it was three-fourths of the way through, I knew I hadn't caught nearly half of everything going on and I would have to see it again. So, let's make a deal: I will get this post up, and you go see it; do not, under any circumstances, read the post before you see the film: you have to be in the situation to appreciate why John Wick makes the choices he makes. In exchange for your cooperation, let me provide you with some advice on how to watch the film, as a professional courtesy.
Winston is definitely the second most important character in the film (second only to Wick himself) so ask yourself why and what exactly does he do in the film? Also note, please, names, and not just the names of people, but how those names are said and why emphasis is given to names in the film. 
Every single second of this film is information. There are only a couple of films which can be elevated to that lofty compliment: Skyfall, Spectre, The Man From UNCLE, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and maybe one or two others; you aren't going to be able to take it all in. This is something we haven't been able to get into yet: information is the opposite of noise, and we know how important noise is in art. The film expertly employs silence, foreign language and marginal speakers as sources of information; for example, the scenes in the art museum are imperative. The first time we go to the museum, we see paintings of the American Civil War, and there are two of them; the redundancy (that there are two of them instead of just one, and that they are both taking up the entire walls upon which they hang is also redundant in drawing attention to themselves) so, ask yourself, "What are the two civil wars (because there are two paintings) which are going to take place?" Then, at the end, when Wick goes back to the museum, notice the name of the exhibit which is taking place and how they communicate to you the name of the exhibit, then ask yourself, "What does this have to do with the action taking place?" Use all of the tools which you have gathered from your reading of these humble posts at this trading post of the internet universe, and you will be richly rewarded for your efforts.
In the opening scene, there is an act of marginalization that is total genius: on a brick wall, an old, silent movie plays of a crash, and you hear sounds that sound like they go with the silent film, but they are just a bit off,... I will let you gnaw on that before you read the post. In this scene, note the reflection of the men in the water on the ground, because the whole film is "reflecting" to us what it is we need to be "reflecting" upon. You are absolutely NOT going to regret seeing this film at all.
Last, but certainly not least, I went to the 11:50 am showing and it was sold out. Decide when you are going to see it, and then get your tickets early, because they will be gone by the time you get there. It's Valentine's Day weekend, everyone is taking in dinner and a movie, or even brunch and a movie; see it on the best screen you can (Batman the Lego Movie is opening in IMAX, which is disappointing, but don't bother to see that, because it's massively pro-socialist, and of course you wouldn't even consider going to see Fifty Shades Darker because that's pornography and, from what reviewers have said, even worse than the first one). Enjoy the film but expect to want to see it immediately again after it's over because it is THAT GOOD.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Super Bowl Trailers

Watch the trailer before you read this snippet. The opening invokes the Rime Of the Ancient Mariner, with the dead bird, but also with the Johnny Cash song, Ain't No Grave: in the Rime, the Mariner tells a Wedding Guest his woeful tale, and it's to the great banquet of the Wedding Feast in heaven in Matthew 22 the guest goes to, just as Cash's soul will rise with the angels' trumpets to go to heaven and join that wedding banquet as well. So what's the point? Captain Salazaar and his crew didn't make it into the wedding banquet. When the pirate in the opening scene sees the bird, then pours water over his head, he is both recognizing the sign of the dead bird as a bad omen like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and the pirate, effectively, baptizes himself with the water against the evil the bird portends. Now, why is the face of the pirate and Barbossa so incredibly sunburned? It's possible that's a subliminal global warming message, but it's possible that it's also a sign of life within them: they are alive so they can be burned by the sun, as opposed to the dead crew of Salazaar. Why is this important? The crew that is still living can still atone for their sins (the "burning"  by the sun is like the burning of hell or purgatory) and by means of which they can, if they so choose, be purged of their sins and NOT end up like the dead crew. Captain Jack Sparrow, being covered with mud, either conveys to viewers that he is covered in sin--the ways of the world--or that he has greatly humbled himself, remembering that, from dust he came and to dust he shall return. My bet is on the former because his only line is, "A pirate's life," as if he relishes it. Further, we see his compass, and knowing that his compass pints to the direction of whatever it is his heart desires, and we know Sparrow desires to live, the compass is pointing to the Trident of Poseidon, not the nearest church where Jack can confess his sins).
I could spend a lot of time going on about the juxtaposition of film trailers and the Super Bowl, but I won't. Suffice to say, these are supposed to be the BEST of the BEST films coming out this year (the films the studios are putting their money on that is going to bring money back to them, because they are willing to put money down to showcase these trailers in the most expensive ad spots of the year,... yea, it's not even this expensive to buy ad time for the Oscars because #NoOneWatchesTheOscarsAnymore); so here we go. BTW, if you can watch these on a TV screen rather than your computer, I highly recommended it:
The opening scene should take you back to high school English when you learned about Coleridge's poem Rime Of the Ancient Mariner when an Albatross lands on a boat and the sailors think it helps to guide them out of Arctic waters they have accidentally wandered into, when one of the sailors, our narrator, kills the albatross, and then brings ruin and misfortune upon all the others because of his deed. So, why would Dead Men Tell No Tales open their primary, real trailer with a quote from a poem that most of the viewers don't remember, and probably didn't like when they did read it? Because the "tale" told of the albatross, for those who liked the poem and will be rewarded for it, is probably going to mirror the adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), whose name invokes a bird and, therefore, can be taken as the "zombie bird" we see in the opening scene; how? Sparrow is a "dead bird flying," so to speak, and just as the albatross brings death and misfortune to all the crew, so knowing Sparrow may bring the same ill winds to those who know him (Elizabeth Swann, who was swimming up on the beach, and Will Turner who has started growing the green sea fungus on his face, as well as Barbossa who has gone English and has his ship boarded by dead pirates who he can identify with having started the series out as dead). Our next trailer doesn't show us much new material, however, there is some:
You have probably noticed how Cipher (Charlize Theron) barely opens her mouth when she speaks, and seems to be keeping her eyes open as wide as they will go. Her wide open eyes are meant to invoke surveillance, and her "big brother" approach to getting things done. Her mouth barely moving is supposed to make her more stoic: the mouth symbolizes our appetites, and she doesn't want to appear to have any appetites, so she keeps her mouth closed (but she does have an appetite for something: have you noticed how "wide" she opens her mouth to kiss Dom? Also note how she "screams" "Fire!" in the trailer; the unnatural combination of both fire and ice in this scene suggests a Game Of Thrones connection, although, since I don't watch it, I wouldn't know what that would be).
Just to contextualize how important TransFormers: The Last Knight will be, Star Wars VIII took it's subtitle from the Michael Bay film: The Last Jedi. Bear in mind, please, that these films all went into production at least two years ago, so the world looked quite different two years ago then today. However, because of the election, I saw a figure that said, 42% of people in the US claimed the results harmed a close relationship (that is, liberals are taking the results out on family members). The broken bond between Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, and even the broken bond between Dom and his family, including Hobbs, in F & F 8, mirrors what is happening today. We have no idea what happens in these films yet, but they are highly conscious of what has been going on. On a lighter, but still serious note,...
Why does Baby Groot say only, "I am Groot?" Because, ultimately, whenever you or I say anything, we say it from the unique singlurlar perspective that we are: for example, you know that when I write, "For at least two reasons," I am going to go into a long, verbose explanation that probably no one really cares about, but none of that information is included in the phrase, "For at least two reasons," but you know that's what I mean when I write that. There are things you and your family/friends say that no one else understands except you (maybe you throw favorite movie lines around each other) and so, when we hear, "I am Groot," it means at least two things. First, the film cares about individuality, even hyper-individuality (what kind of being is Groot, anyway?) and second, that we will have to decode and interpret that which the film communicates, just as Rocket Raccoon interprets what Groot says. Even Rocket's interpretations, though, have to be interpreted, and we have to fill in the spaces ("Except he didn't use 'frick'in'").
Earlier this week, a false synopsis was released about Logan, and several film sites publishing the story had to retract; not like it made headline news anywhere, but it did lead to quite a bit of confusion. The scene where X-23, the little girl who is most likely--but not definitely--Wolverine's own daughter is running with other children is important because we know that all the other mutants who were around after Days Of Future Past have died (somehow) and the only mutants left are children like X-23, and Professor X is trying to get to them and Logan is trying to help Professor X to help them (I think, but this might still be some of the 'fake news" about the film floating around). Whereas hyper-individuality is emphasized in Guardians Of the Galaxy, being "like" others (and not just the "like" of a Facebook post) is being emphasized in Logan; why? Community. Individuality and community are both important and both are good. You may be aware that, this being the pre-weekend to Valentine's Day, Fifty Shades Darker, the pornographic sequel to the pornographic Fifty Shades of Gray opens, and John Wick 2 opens with it:
If you plan on seeing John Wick 2 this weekend--and I certainly do--get your tickets in advance because they are going to go super fast. Why, when Wick replies, "Rough night," does he have all those marks on his face? The face is the seat of our identity, so that his face has been marked means that John Wick is "losing face" and finding it difficult to live up to his reputation against Ares (Ruby Rose). Opening February 17 is a film I am seriously looking forward to, The Cure For Wellness:
There is just a ton to write about this, and I am tempted to write it all, but then,... I won't have much motivation to get the post up. I will point out these two things, however: first, the studio spent a lot of money to advertise this film during Super Bowl, so they obviously think it's good and they want to make sure people get to see it; second, the hospital this film takes place in (it's not in the script that it's this way, it just happened to work out this way) is the same hospital where Adolf Hitler recovered from his injuries after World War I. Do I need to say much more? Well, there always has to be a stinker in the bunch, doesn't there? And of course, Ryan Reynolds is in it, because that's what he does.
You remember that great Ridley Scott film, The Martian, where Matt Damon's character battled to stay alive on Mars to get back home, and how uplifting and self-affirming that was, and how proud that the crew saved him and then there were all those young astronauts ready to go and bravely face the same possible dangers he went through? Yea, well, Life is about killing The Martian, and wants totally to undermine what was accomplished by that film, because, if we think we are strong enough and smart enough and determined enough to survive those conditions, and life is worth living for, then we are a menace to earth, and the socialists want to eradicate us, because nothing is worth suffering for. We just all need to lost and die. Speaking of "losing," see if you can spot the socialist-Obama era mentality in this short clip:
The school has a tradition of losing, just like Obama and the socialists, and just unlike Trump and the capitalists. Now, I have to say, Fist Fight seems to really be confusing the two sides, but I'm not surprised because that "disinformation" is important to confuse people what they believe and who stands for the values they think they hold. So now that that is perfectly clear,....
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Fist Fight, Catfight, Gotham Cribs & Powerless

This is actually an interesting poster. We know that blue, the background color, denotes both wisdom and depression, because it's from the sadness in life that we obtain wisdom; we know Campbell (Charlie Day) isn't able to control his class or anyone else at the school, in spite of being a teacher who should be capable of such things; we know Strickland (Ice Cube) who is capable of controlling the students, loses his job (we aren't exactly sure of why he loses his job at this point, but he does). The blue background, therefore, IS the background of the story: Strickland loses his job. The red title, Fist Fight, denotes Strickland's hunger for revenge against Campbell because Strickland is willing to spill Campbell's "red blood" to appease his wrath. What about the two men? They are in a typical "dominance showdown" with Strickland proving he's the bigger of the two of the two of them; looking down on Campbell, he's also metaphorically "looking down" on the little guy who, basically, isn't strong enough to defend himself (so, from the narrative's point of view, if it weren't for the principal, Campbell wouldn't have any one in his corner to help/protect him, Strickland is, literally and metaphorically, a bully, as he tells the 911 operator). Now notice their hair (on their heads): Strickland's is quite short while Campbell has a full-head; since hair symbolizes our thoughts, Strickland--who has little hair--is being made out to be a simple-ton, one not giving much thought, whereas Campbell is depicted as "thoughtful," especially since we see him thinking about the fight through the entire film. What about their facial hair? Facial hair--in art, and this isn't meant to offend any of you men, this is just the artistic interpretation--usually denotes a man who lives by his appetites, is uncivilized, whereas men who are clean-shaven are men who live according to higher principles and discipline themselves. That both men have facial hair means that we are dealing with very raw, basic masculinity issues: Strickland's is a nicer, fuller beard, whereas Campbell's is scraggy and patchy, so--because we know Campbell is the "hero" of the film because it's his point of view through which we experience the plot and narrative--Campbell, in not being as masculine as Strickland because he can't successfully grow a beard, is therefore less masculine, and therefore, more of a "modern man" than is Strickland. What about their clothes? We see a lot of Campbell's neck, his top button undone and we don't see a tie, unlike with Strickland who has his top button closed and a black tie on. Necks symbolize that by which we are led in life, so we can interpret Strickland as being led by tradition (the traditional way men dress with a shirt and tie) and strutured, whereas Campbell is "open" to being led by whatever comes along and tradition doesn't "tie" him down, rather, he's free to go wherever he wants, meaning, Campbell is more "open-minded" in what leads him in life than is Strickland. Strickland's dark gray shirt is revealing, as well: gray is the color of ashes, so gray denotes a pilgrim (sometimes a novice, but rarely) or a penitent, sometimes both simultaneously. Strickland, we know, has no regrets about what he has done, because he believes action has consequences, and that's what he wants to instill in his students; Campbell, however, doesn't share that philosophy, which is why his shirt isn't white, but it isn't dark either (no penance), so he isn't a good man, but he doesn't believe he needs to be sorry for anything he has done; isn't that what liberals believe about themselves?   
If you are watching the Super Bowl this weekend, I hope you have a great time! Of course, since so many people will be watching the exact same program, at the exact same moment in America, companies splurge on incredibly expensive ads to get people's attention (at the exact moments when everyone has gotten up off the couch to get more dip, more beer and use the bathroom before the game starts again), and during those incredibly expensive moments that no one is watching, an ad for Hulu's dystopian post-Trump America called The Handmaid's Tale will air. What is the tale this woman is going to tell? Well, there is a bible fanatic, okay, and he gets the whole US to vote for him, except for all the women, who hate him, and then he tells men that if their wives aren't fertile, they can have any of the "handmaids," who are given value based on how fertile they are, and these fertile women will have children in place of the infertile wives! With Hulu buying a story like that, and paying to have it aired during the ultimate day of patriarchy in the US (Super Bowl), the "plot" of revenge and "resistance" the handmaids are working up against these horrible men are sure to sweep the Left right into a tizzy of ideas about their own rebellion.
So, anyway,...
We see Strickland with at least three phallic symbols (symbols invoking the penis and, thus, male dominance): first, the ax in the trailer with which he shreds the student's desk; the baseball bat (pictured above) and the switchblade knife held by Christina Hendrick's character while he sits at his desk. Axes are used for that manly chore of chopping wood; bats in that manly game of baseball and, knives, of course, in street fights. All three of these activities are traditionally masculine, so they are being associated with the "neanderthal" villain liberals want to distance themselves from, and want to indoctrinate audiences into believing represents what they describe as "toxic masculinity." 
We've talked a bit about the upcoming Fist Fight and how it will probably be a very pro-liberal, anti-masculine film (what is, after all, more masculine than a fist fight? Well, yes, King Arthur, a white horse and big broad sword, but an old-fashioned fist fight is at least second to that).
Now, you MIGHT be saying, "But Campbell is going down. He's obviously going to lose the fight, and like the guy said, he's a worm" and no one respects him. It's Ice Cube's Strickland that everyone's rooting for and afraid of,..? You've totally gone off the reservation on this one, Fine Art Diner,.... and perhaps I have. However, Campbell is the "hero," in a non-heroic way: it's his side of the story we are hearing and he's the one with whom we are being forced to identify,... why would we have a cowardly hero? Aren't those opposite states of existence? They are, unless, of course, you want to turn everyone into a coward, and then, you have weak men being the sensitive, intelligent, superior man compared to the brutish, harsh, uneducated and extremist villain who uses violence to achieve his petty revenge.
Strickland doesn't appear to be married, but Campbell is; why is this important? What Fist Fight will basically prove to be is a reversal of The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, with Ichabod Crane (Campbell's weakling character) getting the girl and his children (symbolizing the future) recognizing him as the father (his pregnant wife pictured above The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow and the Battle For America for more); yes, of course a weak man would have a daughter, he can't have a son because, heaven forbid, he might have an urge to play baseball with his son, or go fishing, or,... watch a football game together! No, he has a daughter, like Obama, so there is no more sperm being produced in the world). Please note the wife wearing green: green has come to symbolize socialism because it acts like it offers hope--which green symbolizes, like the new life at spring, the new life the women carries in her womb--but it also symbolizes that something is rotten, molded, as in Warcraft and the fel magic (please see To Kill a Demon: Warcraft for more). 
Now enter the new trailer for Anne Heche's and Sandra Oh's new film, Catfight. As you watch this, remember the symbolism for women: women of child-bearing age, which both women are in this film, symbolism the "motherland" the land which gave birth to us, so we have two different "versions" of the "motherland" competing for dominance against each other:
Veronica (Sandra Oh) can be seen as the prosperous Americans before 2008, who had success and everything going their way, while Ashley (Anne Heche) can be seen as Liberals who didn't have anything going for them. The fight they get into at Veronica's party takes place in a stairwell, so we need to both "ascend" to a higher level of consciousness (look at the fight in metaphorical terms) and "descend" to the level of the appetites and see what motivates both women. Veronica's two-year coma is analogous to conservatives "waking up" around 2010, 2011 when Obama's un-Constitutional executive orders started coming to light, and there wasn't really anything we could do about it. It's also important to note how it was a doctor telling Veronica she was "out of money" and she's turned out of the hospital because that's how conservatives viewed Obamacare and the changes it brought to hospital care.
So then what happens?
"Catfight" is one way to describe the current civil war taking place in America.Notice that both women have bloody noses. The nose symbolizes our character, because it's a dominant feature on our face, which is the anchor of our identity (it's by our face that people recognize who we are). That blood (a symbol of life itself) comes out of the symbol of the character of each woman translates to each side (liberals and conservatives) having lost their character during the 2008 election (which is what this particular fight in the film symbolizes, as opposed to other fights the two women have). 
Things are going pretty well for Ashley, as they were for everyone in the so-called gay, transgendered, etc., community. The baby Ashley and Lisa (Alicia Silverstone) have together (like the one above) symbolizes the future, that the gay, etc., community has a future with liberalism under Obama. Then, Veronica shows up and wipes out the art show, and that's like the 2016 election when conservatives "wiped out" all the hard work the liberals had done to transform America into Sodom and Gomorrah. Now, if you think me describing the transformation of America into Sodom and Gomorrah is harsh, remember, Veronica's last name in the film is "Salt," and it was on the plains, fleeing the destruction of Sodom that Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt (please see below).
The pillar is known as "Lot's Wife," just outside the plain where ancient Sodom was in Israel. The story of Lot fleeing Sodom, but his wife looking back at the ruin, then turning to a pillar of salt is uniquely associated with gays because of the threat of the town's men and the sin of sodomy which they practiced. But why did Lot's wife turn into a pillar of salt? Salt was an absolutely essential ingredient for life in ancient times because it was necessary for the preservation of food. We can say with certainty that Lot's wife was a bad woman because she has no name, and those without a name in the Bible have followed the path of the devil, who had been the highest angel in heaven, until his rebellion, and then his name was stricken from the Book of Life; likewise for all who follow him. As is the case with typology, when we find an example of a bad person in the Old Testament, it's because they serve as a foreshadowing of the good accomplished in Jesus and Mary. In this case, we can see how Lot's wife, who--in looking back and disobeying the angel's command to not turn around anyway--has chosen to "preserve" the memories of Sodom rather than the angel's command to preserve her life; Mary, on the other hand, "preserved" the teachings of her Son as she and the Apostle John left Jerusalem, so Mary became the "good salt" of which Jesus spoke in Luke 14:34 because the Words of Jesus flavored her life and understanding of what she was to do and why. So, what does this have to do with Catfight? The name "Veronica" means "true image" because of the saint who, during the Passion of Jesus, gave Him a towel with which to wipe the blood and sweat from His face, and He left the exact image of His face upon the towel which is preserved at the Vatican. So, Sandra Oh's character, Veronica Salt, is supposed to be the "true image" of the "good salt" (remember, in the trailer, Veronica  mentions that Jesus drank wine, but Veronica appears to be drinking too much wine). She's supposed to be, but that doesn't mean she is. In the woods, when she tells Ashley that she will make her breakfast, the woods symbolize their sins, but Veronica wears a gold-colored jacket, which means she has learned about her true dignity, which means she is in a position to appreciate the true dignity of others. On the other hand, Ashley, as a homosexual, has completely lost her "savor" (as Jesus would say) because she has traded the teachings of Jesus for her worldly appetites, specifically, her sexual appetites, and that has killed her ability to give up everything and follow Jesus Christ. Ashley is, then, the salt that should be thrown out. I am not going to say that Veronica is the hero of the story, I have no idea what happens, but this does make for an interesting situation.
On an entirely different note, do you remember that Lego film I hated so much? Yea, well, they have done and made one with Batman, a Lego Batman, and as a promo for the socialist film, they give us an MTV style Gotham Cribs tour of Wayne Mansion meant to make you absolutely hate rich people and their pet dolphins because you don't have pet dolphins.
What's the purpose of this promotion, you may ask? Well, I think it's rather like The Handmaids Tale, to make people want to revolt. In this case, Wayne Mansion isn't meant as a means of inspiring people to achieve great things, rather, it's meant to make you "sick" of ultra wealthy people,... like Donald Trump. Why? Because that's what the Left does, they cause dissension, because they don't know how to do anything else but ruin things. Okay, a new TV show called Powerless is starting, and this is deceptively harmful.
The same premise as Lego Batman Gotham Cribs promo applies here: if you aren't rich, something is wrong with the rich; if you don't have a super-power, something is wrong with those who have super-powers. Anyone who isn't "mediocre," normal, plain and average, is a problem for society, and those who are exceptional and different, those who are better than others--in whatever capacity--have to be done away with so the mediocre will finally triumph. So what about those super-hero battles that cause so many casualties? Maybe you remember the end of The Avengers (when Loki came and tried to take over NYC, yea, big mistake) and there were two people interviewed: one man complained about the damage and who was going to pay for it, while the woman said, "Captain America saved my life." The buildings that get damaged, the wrecks, the debris, etc., is all a metaphor of our own life when we make choices to behave in certain ways--like heroically--and we battle and defeat the temptations, urges and mediocrity in our own soul. Liberals don't want us fighting spiritual battles, they want us to be mediocre and they want us to be weak like Campbell. So, as you watch the Super Bowl this weekend, be inspired, be inspired to be great and awesome and the best you can be in whatever it is you do, and piss off a liberal.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Symbol Analysis: King Arthur Legend Of the Sword Teaser

Well, well, well,... This is one tough looking villain. Clearly, this is a demon, a devil, a spirit of pure evil; why is this important? Because we live in a time when such a villain is called for. Ten years ago, it would not have been so practical of a film pitch to have a demon at the axis of a political drama--which is what King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword really is, because Arthur was the political king who lightened the darkness in the Dark Ages--but it is appropriate today: not only because of the nightmarish public revelations of "leaders" like Hillary Clinton and high-ranking members of Congress in relation to the occult and child sex circles, and not only because of public schools in the US allowing "After School Satan" programs, but also because of the very Americans who voted for Hillary how demonic they have behaved in the proliferation  of sin and immoral behavior. (If you haven't seen the full-length trailer, or need to watch it again, it's at the very end of this post). So, what is the most striking feature of this demon above? Perhaps the fiery cape. A cape is a part of the back, so capes act as metaphors of the load a person is carrying or willing to carry: for example, heroes like Superman and Thor have red capes because they love humanity and are willing to carry humanity on their super-strong backs. Fire symbolizes, on the other hand, either the fire of damnation or the fire of purgation; the figure above is clearly demonic, so he carries the burden of spreading damnation across the earth (we will compare this to Vortigern's cape below). There is also the notable feature that there are no eyes to this demon, which makes perfect sense, because eyes are the windows of the soul (the soul houses the body the way the body houses the soul) and demons give up their souls to darkness and depravity, losing the ability to "see" reality accurately. Arthur, on the other hand, with his striking blue eyes, has a greater ability to see than do most: at the moment he pulls the sword, he "sees" the consequences and what is going to happen because he has pulled the sword (this will be compared to Guinevere, who is a magician/wizard in the film and has her own "sight" because she has yellow eyes). At one point in the full-length trailer, Vortigern says, "I know what kind of man you are," and what he's basically saying is, "I can see what drives you and what demons haunt you, and I see how to use that against you for my own ends." When Arthur sets in Vortigern's prison, and Arthur asks, "What happens now?" Arthur confesses he can't see what is going to happen next, even though Vortigern insists, "You know what happens now," you die at my hands because I am a tyrant and that's what I do. So, "sight" and who can see what, will be an important part of power in the film. 
One of the great qualities of Guy Ritchie films is his ability to take a story we are quite familiar with and, some how, actually make it better than the original: Sherlock Holmes, The Man From UNCLE and now King Arthur Legend Of the Sword. Ritchie's newest epic to hit theaters must be good, because it was moved from a lackluster opened in March, to Mother's Day weekend in May, so the studio has had its expectations surpassed with this one. For us film-goers, even though we are going to have to wait longer to see the 3D film, it validates the building anticipation that this is definitely one to look forward to. This isn't much of a trailer, only about 0:45 seconds, however, we do get a better look at some things we have all ready seen, and this provides an opportunity to discuss some of the details we didn't in our post on the full-length trailer. (For those who are new to this blog, I would like to mention for the sake of the discussion below, that I am female, but I have never, not for one single minute, ever, ever been a feminist):
At least to some degree, we can all ready see Ritchie using demarcations: the divine and the earthly, the rich and the poor, the fated and the usurper. These demarcations are radically important political signposts; how? Once upon a time, in an era when women burned bras and men sang folk songs, "minorities" (those who identified themselves as suffering from the inherent racism of America) got a hold of Jacques Derrida's work and decided that Western civilization's tendency to create binary oppositions--man and woman, black and white, rich and poor, right and wrong, straight and queer--meant one side of the opposition was always all ready in a losing position (woman, black, poor, wrong, queer), while the other side was always all ready in a winning position (man, white, rich, right, straight); what we are beginning to see slowly re-emerge (e.g., in Marvel films, especially those directed by the Russo brothers) is the re-introduction into public discourse of these binaries; why? Because people now realize how foolish we were to let the Left censor us (political correctness) into abandoning them in favor of some fuzzy gray area which gives them all the power and robs us of our own freedom of speech and expression. SO, how does this relate to King Arthur Legend Of the Sword?
In at least two ways.
Why, in the teaser above, do the letters slowly appear, in a seeming array of nonsense, like a puzzle on Wheel Of Fortune? Because the film is a puzzle. That is how the narrative will "come" to us. Just as one letter appears here, and another, seemingly unrelated letter appears over there, so, too, with events, characters and details of the narrative, until we can make sense of it; why? As usual, dear reader, there are at least two reasons. First, we know the story of Arthur, so we are the implied audience (we have the necessary background required to watch the film and know what is going on) as such, Ritchie needs to make sure we don't get bored with the film, so he has to use a creative editing technique--both narratively and visually--to keep us engaged with his story (an example of narrative editing is, in the main trailer, when Arthur asks the man questioning him about his nightmare if he's writing a book; we engage with that as viewers because we know lots of books about Arthur have been written; an example of visual editing is when Arthur is fighting and Ritchie rewinds the action when GooseFat Jack says, "Back up," and the events, literally, back up. We don't see that technique often--if at all--employed in film, yet it's visual enticement which will hold our interest). The second reason is because this method reflects life: we don't always have the whole answer before us, we only a part of what might be an answer, but we have to act anyway, by a leap of faith--and we have all ready seen plenty of those in the trailers--and that is what will be the basis of the film. Now, on an entirely different note, let's go back and add some additional commentary to the long explanation we have all ready gathered. As we stated previously, the idea of a "sword in the stone" is very much a phallic one: Uther Pendragon, the father of Arthur, lusted for the wife of another man, and so he planted his "hard phallus" within her; just before dying, Uther plants his sword into a stone realizing that, just as a sword does not belong in a stone, neither does a man's penis belong in the wife of another man. The long period of lawlessness and darkness reigning over the land during that time, was England paying the price for Uther's sin, as Israel paid the price for David lusting for Bathsheba. Making a film about knights and King Arthur is possibly the most masculine subject matter Guy Ritchie could have picked: is there anything more masculine than a knight, who was, by very definition, supposed to represent manhood? When colleges begin offering classes as "safe spaces" to discuss "toxic masculinity" there is a war against masculinity in general. King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword could instead be rightfully entitled, King Arthur: Legend of the White Man and His Manifold Accomplishments For Civilization. And that is a good thing! With King Arthur being brought into the public forum of discourse, Ritchie re-introduces three major topics for discussion: "Englishness," masculinity, and the law. First, is there any single person who embodies being English more so than King Arthur? Why is this important? Brexit. The English wish to remain English and not be swallowed up, either by the European Union or, even more so, the flood of immigrants surging throughout European countries and the US (which is caused by EU laws on immigration and Obama's policies on following the EU). Secondly, there is masculinity, and the order of chivalry which Arthur creates to embody masculinity and structure it so men have an ideal and standard by which to measure themselves. Thirdly, there is the law. The last eight years, in the world and especially the United States, has seen an unprecedented break-down in law enforcement: from the war crimes of people like Obama (remember, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine, Benghazi, and no telling where else), the heads of the Department of Justice Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder, the heads of the IRS, Hillary's constant lying and obstruction of justice, and crimes against law enforcement officers, there has never been less law in the civilized world than today. Why? Because "the law" is largely seen to be an extension of white male rule, not the "laws" of those identifying themselves as minorities. By committing crimes and getting away with it, the Left is slowly but surely undermining the law of the Founding Fathers and the rule of "logic" in the West in general. Ritchie, then, in being himself the man "who pulled sword from stone" by reminding audiences of what we all ready know, as it is, once again, "embodied" in King Arthur, is the man who wants to re-establish order
First, we see clear examples of such oppositions in play in these two trailers in spite of the "ban" by the Left; secondly, all the values which have suffered because of this "ban" are being highlighted by what we see in the trailers (the Divine, for example, as well as white men with big swords). The opening scene of the sword tip dragging across the floor is a perfect example: that sword tip is THE sword (I don't know if they will refer to the sword in the film as "Excalibur" or not, as we saw in the first trailer, Arthur is introduced with the words, "Behold, the man who who pulled sword from stone," not as the chosen of Excalibur or something like that,.. anyway). The sword is an instrument of the divine, because without the divine, Arthur would not have been able to pull out the sword from the stone, when every one else struggled but was unable to budge it. So the sword tip is the divine, and it's touching the mundane, the earth, the floor upon which Arthur walks, and this intersection of the divine and mundane illustrates one of the highest (if not THE highest) opposition which can exist: God and man.
This is an interesting scene for at least two reasons: first, Vortigern (Jude Law) acts like he's blessing the people by extending his hand out over them; given that Vortigern has sold his soul to the devil to have power (this is my interpretation, we don't know this for sure, but it certainly looks like it), this isn't the act of blessing, it's cursing. The curse upon his soul which Vortigern has accepted in exchange for power will now be passed onto the people he rules over. Secondly, Vortigern acts as if he's in a position to bless, but as the voice over of the teaser demonstrates, it's Arthur who is actually in a position to bless: since we can never give that we have not first received, Arthur acknowledges that, in blessing Vortigern (for creating him, by being such an oppressive dictator that the people revolted and accepted Arthur, a basic street punk, as their king), Arthur, too, has been blessed, even with all the battles, problems and demons he has to face in the story. Vortigern, on the other hand, brings all the war, problems and demons upon the people, because Vortigern's power is a source of destruction for all the people of the kingdom. And now for something completely different: please notice Vortigern's cape: it's fur. This is an important comparison with the first image at the top (the demon with the fiery cape): as we said, the shoulders and back symbolize what burdens we carry, how we carry them and why; Vortigern has a cape made of white fur. White, we know, symbolizes the soul alive with faith, hope, charity, purity, innocence; white also symbolizes when the soul is dead to these virtues because a corpse--the house of the soul--turns white in decomposition. Animals and animal fur symbolizes the "animal appetites" within us: the lust for sex, opulence, gluttony, greed, power, any sin that erodes the dignity of our own soul and our ability to see the inherent dignity of others and reduces us to animals rather than elevating us as the children of God. So, knowing that Vortigern has likely sold his soul to the devil to gain power, Vortigern's white fur cape symbolizes the how the burden of his animal appetites has led to a loss of faith in him that he is now spreading throughout the kingdom. Arthur, on the other hand, will have to demonstrate incredible faith in order to overcome Vortigern.
This is terribly important because there is obviously a demon involved in this narrative, but we shouldn't be surprised: from Devil's Due, Ghostbusters, Independence Day, The Witch, The Circle and at least one other film I can't think of, the accusation about "devil worshiping" and the Left joining the devil to overcome and undo the Christian Right. So, we have the traditional opposition of "good and evil" as well (another way we will see the opposition of "good and evil" play out will probably be in the opposition of "light and darkness," which is noticeable as we watch the surrounding scenery of Arthur's feet as he walks). We know Arthur is on the side of good, not just because he drew the sword, but because of the wisdom he exhibits in the voice over of this teaser: "I bless you," he says, and then we see the startling words spelled out for us on the screen: FROM NOTHING COMES A KING. That is actually pretty awesome!
There are two types of "nothing": there is, first of all, the "nothing" that is evil: evil is the absence of virtue, the swarming of vice. The reason "nothing" can be allied to evil is because evil cannot create anything (the act of creation is a role for God, and for those to whom He bestows creativity; likewise, "life" is a virtue which evil cannot mimic). But wait, says you, dear and wise reader, in the teaser above, Arthur himself says that Vortigern created him, so you are wrong.  It's not that Arthur is wrong, rather, it's that Arthur argues from his "nothing," (the second example of "nothing" we haven't yet spoken about). Think of evil as being a black hole that is a complete and total vacuum, and emits nothing (yes, I know black holes emit radiation, but take even that out of the equation of this metaphor, and don't think about wormholes, either, or event horizons, just a plain, basic... black... hole...). "Nothing," on the other hand, is quite different. The "nothing" from which Arthur, the king, comes, is the "nothing but virtue." Arthur will be reduced to nothing, all his sins will be purged from him (maybe not all of his sins, there is quite a bit of talk of a franchise with this film, so there will probably be some "leftover sins" that will populate future installments) but Arthur will be sufficiently purged to overcome Vortigern. How can we tell that this is a correct definition of "nothing" for both Vortigern and for Arthur? The darkness of the demon reveals the "nothingness" into which Vortigern has fallen, while the gold in the lettering (a sample in the image above) for Arthur: gold must be tried by fire to lose its impurities and the same will happen to Arthur, making him worthy to be king. Without this "nothingness" Arthur will undergo, it's impossible to become a good king. This is, essentially, why Arthur blesses Vortigern: had Vortigern not acted so unjustly in killing Arthur's parents and, later brother (I read the synopsis), Arthur most likely would not have gone down the path of righteousness, remaining, instead, on his own gently sloping, sinful path to hell. In other words, Arthur would have become like Vortigern had Vortigern not been an important element in bringing England to the brink of devastation.
What might be most memorable about this teaser visually is the scene of the man jumping the white horse across a dead-end bridge into the abyss (about 0:35). There appears to be quite a bit to the "abyss" from what we have seen: the two men who run off the cliff and jump into the water, men fighting on that extremely tall bridge and falling off, into the abyss below and even the "abyss" of nothingness from which Arthur will emerge, and bring England with him.  
As we said earlier, the sword in the stone is an instrument of the divine, and the opening of the teaser is where we see the divine (the sword) touching our mundane existence (the earth/floor). Bear with me, if you will, as we take a little trip. In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jyn wears a crystal around her neck that is used in making light sabers (which is very much like a sword). Jyn, however, dies, she does not go on in the story (she gives up her life in sacrifice to help save the universe, so she is a hero) but Jyn is a common vessel because the crystal she wears has not been refined. Princess Leia, on the other hand, is a light saber: her all white gown we see her wearing is the same color as the light saber which Obi Wan gives Luke a few scenes later. As Leia speaks to Darth Vader and then Grand Moff Tarkin, when they question her about the Rebel Alliance and base, she is unflinching in her bravery and her harsh words. Leia, then has been through the fire which Jyn would not have been able to pass through. Now, back to King Arthur: just as Leia is a light saber, so Arthur will become the sword,...or, at least he's meant to. No one is perfect, but this is Arthur's destiny, as it is the destiny of each of us. As Scripture tells us in 2 Timothy 2-22, there are vessels of gold and vessels of clay. We can see this in the image above: we see the sword, and to the right of the sword is a vessel: the vessel isn't as grand as the sword, but the vessel serves a purpose, just as you and I might not be president someday, but we serve a purpose still. 
Last point: why do we see a bleeding chess piece? Chess, as we know from Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, is an important game for Ritchie, and the game will undoubtedly be important in King Arthur as well. The piece we see bleeding is the knight, so it's likely this foreshadows how the knights of Arthur will be called to sacrifice themselves for the kingdom and Arthur, which is what men have always been called upon to do. When, however, men fail in their duty, when they behave in ways which fail to earn them respect so that they even don't respect themselves (like sleeping around, getting women pregnant and then not helping to raise the child(ren), divorce, pornography, drugs, etc.) not only are men not happy, but they instead earn the scorn of all society and fall in the estimation of the people, as with what is happening today.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Here is the link to the original post discussing the first trailer that was released and here is the original, full-length trailer: