Wednesday, February 10, 2016

TRAILER: The Purge Election Year

I woke up Sunday feeling terrible and I have ever since. This has been so humbling. A blessed Ash Wednesday to each of you. After seeing this trailer, I feel even worse.
Try and tell me that, by the end of this trailer, and after the words, KEEP AMERICA GREAT, and the people in church praying, that this isn't election propaganda for Hillary Clinton? 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hail Caesar!

The Coen Brothers utilize the double entendre throughout the film, especially in this scene so, if it looks like they are talking about homosexuality,... they are, and the film confirms this later on. Is this supposed to be Gene Kelly? Is Scarlet Johannson supposed to be Esther Williams? Is George Clooney supposed to be John Wayne? Well, the characters they play are supposed to be knock off characters of original actors, meaning, that no, Gene Kelly was not gay nor a communist, but communists don't have original art, they are always borrowing or stealing art from others, so the liberal actors in the film portraying characters who are supposed to be substitutes for singular actors is the Coens' telling commentary about the lack of socialists' creativity and  how being a liberal is a dead-end in art.  
I'm back, dear readers.
Thank you for your incredible patience and loyalty: it has indeed been humbling being so sick for so long and being unable to do so much, but I am fully recovered, finally, and grateful to be posting again!
I have been to see Hail, Caesar! today, the Coen Brothers new film opening this weekend: when I say, "It's the film of the year," I don't necessarily mean that in the colloquial sense, rather, it's the film of 2016 that I will be referring to unceasingly throughout the rest of the year; why? The Coens have validated everything I have been saying for the last four years, that communists in Hollywood have been filling films with their commie propaganda and trying to brainwash Americans into accepting it. We know, going in, that the vehicle plot is, "Who kidnapped Baird Whitlock (George Clooney)?" and it ends up being a group of Hollywood writers who are all communists. No, I haven't given away a spoiler: as the Coens set up the scene, watch the elements and details they use to characterize them. Why would ultra-liberal stars like Channing Tatum, George Clooney, Jonah Hill and Scarlet Johannson be in a commie-bashing film? For at least two reasons: one, they are dumb (Clooney isn't dumb, though, but the others are, and vain) and, two, they want to make money. They don't want to live like everyone else--they like Beverly Hills and mansions in London--and they don't want to be everyone else, they want to be stars, higher and better than the run-of-the-mill Joe like myself. In going through the multitude of kind and endearing emails you have sent, several of you have asked me about the Oscars, and I promise to say something, because there is a lot that needs to be said, and Hail, Caesar! is a perfect illustration of it.
So,  if you are watching the football game Sunday--there are several new trailers that will be dropping--go see the film Saturday because we will be referencing this one a lot. Again, thank you so much for your patience and loyalty, you don't know what it means to me!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, January 22, 2016

Thank You!

Dear Readers,
Thank you so much for all the beautiful emails you have sent! I am terribly sorry: I had a nasty set-back, but am nearly recovered,... again. Thank you for your outpouring of concern and love, your prayers and wishes, it means more than I can tell you. I am trying to respond to them all, so, as always, be patient, but thank you so very, very much for your kindness and concern. The next post that will be up will be Spectre, promise. In the meantime, here is a little quiz for you: the song Donna Lucia (Monica Belluci) plays when she arrives home and pours herself a glass (just before Bond dispatches her would-be assassins) is Antonio Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus (Largo) performed by Andreas Scholl, a German countertenor. Why, at this moment in the narrative, would director Sam Mendes have Psalm 126 playing in the background just before she is saved by Bond?
All my love and gratitude,
The Fine Art Diner

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Trailers: 13 Hours, The Witch, Hail Caesar, Penny Dreadful Season 3

Michael Bay is no stranger to sophisticated narrative devices, and given the massive risk he's taking in making this film--directly contradicting both (then) Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton's denial and the White House's denial that there was any stand-down order--he's going to use every resource he has to make an impact on the audience. Sadly, 13 Hours has some rather serious competition this weekend: Ride Along 2. When Ride Along opened, it had sold out showings and an impressive opening weekend. I don't want to begrudge Ride Along 2, however, I worry for my fellow Americans that, rather than get eyewitness accounts of what happened at this horrific act of war and terrorism, and see the revelations of who is lying and how, people going to the theater this weekend will rather get laughs and entertainment than examine what has happened. I don't think it's ANY coincidence that Bay choose to open it the same week as Obama's State of the Union Address, which will definitely be his most difficult one after seven years of destroying this country. Anyway, I am feeling better and am going to see the film Friday at an early showing. As always, I will be tweeting my initial reactions and working as hard as possible to get up the review, even if it's not as in-depth as I would like.
Yea, I'm still alive.
I can say that I am finally getting better and feel like I have come through the worst of it. I am so terribly sorry, thank you for your incredible patience. Several new trailers have dropped, so let's just run through them real quick. First, the last trailer for 13 Hours which opens this weekend:
Remember Zero Dark Thirty? I think Bay has been influenced by that--excellent choice--and we will be graced with seeing quite a bit of "noise" as well as erasure. What's even more difficult about a film like this is, it appears that the story is going to be straight forward, but that's when symbols and sub-texts come into play even more, because of what can't be said but only implied. This is going to be a great film, and I really can't wait to see it. You might remember a film called The Witch that we looked at several months ago, they have released a second trailer:
Again, a "witch hunt" in America is a not-so-secretive way of saying "communist hunt," because of the "witch hunts" led by Senator Joe McCarthy during the 1950s (and, obviously, he was right). I have no idea how The Witch is going to play out, but I'm quite confident there is going to be a massive political subtext at work. Now, maybe you need a good laugh?
Being the smart viewer you are, you know they are talking about the film, right? The film isn't going to be simple, but I am confident that the Coen Brothers, just as they are juxtaposing the Western accent and English accent (a Western accent simply can't say what an English can, much the same way that a Western country simply can't become socialist the way England is doing). Anyway, this has certainly made my day: the first trailer for Season 3 of Penny Dreadful has been released, with a premiere date of May 1:
Okay, I will be posting this weekend. Thank you for your incredible patience with me while I recover!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Theory About the Second Funeral in Captain America: Civil War

I hope you enjoyed the Sherlock special, I certainly did, and immediately started working on a post which I fell asleep during. Here is a bit of news, however. As of today, you can purchase The Abominable Bride on iTunes, and it will be available to order via Amazon on DVD and Blu Ray January 12. Yea, that's pretty cool! I can't believe it's so fast! Anyway, there are some huge questions the film leaves us with (Why is Mycroft so fat? Why does the bride say, "You!" before killing people? Why does Molly dress as a man? What's the "list" Mycroft is really after from Sherlock? Among many others). 
Several films open this week, but I'm not interested in any of them. I'm still sick, probably until next week at least, which gives me time (still) to finish Spectre, which is truly a masterpiece, as well as the Sherlock episode that was so much fun. Next weekend, however, I am determined to get to see 13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. In the meantime, just to let you know that I haven't kicked the bucket yet, here are the latest trailers that have been released. First is the highly anticipated The Conjuring 2: the Enfield Poltergeist from returning director James Wan:
Long-time readers will recognize the importance of the children's toys being used: the idea of "possession" is that, for those who have "possessions," as in, material objects, property and other goods belonging to them, they will in turn be "possessed." We tend to think of children's toys as being innocent, but the film wants to instill in us that the desire to own and possess toys begins and is encouraged at a young age (according to the socialist position). The film Annabelle, on the other hand, while about the same topic, was written and directed by a different group, and that film demonstrated how toys teach and instruct children on how to behave and what is expected of them. The second trailer for High Rise with Tom Hiddleston has been released, and now, I'm thinking this is probably going to be more pro-socialist rather than my initial viewing of only the first trailer.
Now, it's possible, and I do hope so, that I am also wrong about Zootopia (please, note, however, that incorporating "utopia" into a title is begging for a political interpretation,.... thank you. For noting that).
Okay, I'm worn out. There was a rumor that The Jungle Book had released a new trailer today, but I haven't been able to find it. This next bit is some news regarding Captain America Civil War, and it's the last of the post, but containing potential spoilers; if you don't want to have any idea of what is going to happen (this is just my conjecture) then stop reading now, otherwise, go ahead.
One of the new looks at Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Stephen Strange. According to a brief synopsis being released, Strange, a neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands after a surgery accident. He travels to Tibet and encounters the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who gives him great wizardy powers to fight against evil. Dr. Strange will be released Nov. 4.
News has leaked that Captain America 3: Civil War begins with a funeral and ends with a funeral; we knew, when filming basically began, that Agent Peggy Carter, Steve Rogers' love from the first film, passes away, and that's the opening funeral (which will have incredibly deep symbolic ramifications for the film). It is being speculated that the funeral ending the film will be that of Captain America himself, given that, in the comic book version, Steve Rogers does die in the Civil War series. I would like to suggest another possible person for whom the final funeral might be held:  War Machine.
Here is the supposed funeral booklet for the start of the film. Part of what I am going to base my theory off of, that it's not Steve Rogers' turn to die just yet, is that Chris Evans has signed a six-movie deal with Marvel. Captain AmericaThe Avenges, Captain America Winter Soldier, The Avengers 2 Age Of Ultron and Captain America 3 Civil War tallies to five films (and no, I'm not counting that three-second cameo in Thor: The Dark World where Loki has just been released from the dungeon by Thor and pretends to be Captain America for a few brief, hilarious seconds; if that was one of the "movie deals," either Evans got took, or Marvel paid out a huge sum for that cameo,...). So, my point is, while we know that Sebastian Stan, who plays the Winter Soldier, aka, Bucky Barns, has signed like an 8 movie deal contract with Marvel, Chris' contract is running out, but it's not out yet. Yea, it's possible that the "movie contract" is only to appear in a flashback or something of that order, however, that, again, would be a pretty shady film deal. For fans as well as for Evans. So, I am going to predict that Steve Rogers makes it out of CA3, but probably doesn't make it out of The Avengers 3: Infinity Wars Part 1.
Rhodie (Don Cheadle) is seen in the trailer lying on his back with Tony Stark holding him and Stark looking pretty dismal; while it's possible Rhodie just has a black out session, it's possible that he's also dead. The purpose of Civil War mirrors that of Ragnarok, which Thor will be undergoing: to purge the heroes as deeply as possible so they will be as strong as possible to face Thanos. Could we really expect there to be a smooth transition for Bucky Barnes becoming an Avenger?
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

In Bed, 1878, Federico Zandomeneghi. While this girl isn't necessarily labeled as being "ill," the motif of the sick girl in bed was gaining in popularity at this time, building up to the political crisis known as World War I. While the subject isn't particularly unusual--American Impressionist painter Mary Cassat and French painter Edgar Degas (and sometimes Renoir), were popularizing the details of daily routines and life "behind the scenes," such as getting ready to go into public, or relaxing after one had been in public--the pose of the woman is unusual. We know that women symbolize "the motherland," and younger women in particular denote the future of the motherland, that land which "gives birth" to us and is responsible for us being the way we are, so the subject of young women who were ill (mostly terminally ill with a malaise or some undiagnoseable disease) offered a quiet but definite political commentary on the social and cultural state of the state. In this particular image, the coverlet is blue: blue, as we know, symbolizes both depression and wisdom; given the small blue flower bouquets on the duvet, we can deduct that the girl/woman has grown in maturity and reaped the "benefits" of her experiences (another possible interpretation is the sexual: the young woman has not yet been "de-flowered," i.e., is still a virgin, but her languorous pose suggests a sexual awakening; that her face is turned objectifies her, that is, she is understanding the role of sex in relationships, however, she sees herself as an object to be desired, not a sexual being in her own right). Let's pause at this point to look at the frame of the bed: black. Beds are traditionally associated with coffins, not only because there was a long-standing tradition of religious sleeping in coffins for beds, to remind them they would soon be leaving earth, but because our nightly repose mimics the permanent repose of the body in death. Another important detail of the painting is the sun: please notice all the light in the image, with bright light reflecting off the wall. It's well into the day, as opposed to early in the morning, and still, the woman stays in bed, not getting up and being productive. With these two details, we can now understand the white bed sheets and her gown: white is either the color of faith, purity and innocence, or it's the color of a corpse who has no faith, purity and innocence. If we interpret the bed to be a coffin, and the woman's reluctance to leave in spite of the advancing day, then we have an image of a young woman resigned to death, being held up artificially by the bolster pillow behind her (this would translate to some social norm or political mechanization "holding up" the Belle Epoque in France at the time). There is a great deal more to the interpretation of this image, however, I myself need to be getting back to bed.
I have had viral pneumonia since Monday, December 21, which means I have been confined to bed and have felt horrible. I am terribly sorry. It's really no fun at all, especially at Christmas and New Year's. I have been so sick, my mom had to remind me that tonight is the airing of the Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman Sherlock Holmes Victorian Christmas special, The Abominable Bride. If you don't get PBS, on which it shall be airing, you should be able to watch it online at PBS at this link.
Unfortunately, the virus appears to be taking 3-4 weeks to run its course, but I am not feeling as badly as I was, so I hope to work on a post this weekend. I am terribly sorry. Please accept my warmest wishes for your joyous and prosperous New Year, that our Lord will shine His Face upon you and all you love, and give you the peace that is His alone to give. Happy New Year!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Luke Skywalker: Star Wars VII the Force Awakens & the New Jedi

When the film opens, we see the iconic background of the round star lights, the yellow, slanted story lines opening with the familiar words with the theme gloriously playing in the background; why? To begin with, it pays homage to the original, as we all know, but demonstrates--in so doing--that it wants to continue with the original, not change it, and that is important (for example, in the opening of Spectre, the classic James Bond entrance and theme play as well, reminding us of the same thing). Just as the original Star Wars trilogy was designed during the Cold War to be anti-socialist and anti-communist, so, too, today's Star Wars would follow. But even the most sentimental fan couldn't help but notice how dated such a opening is, which leads us to a second point: the advances in technology due to the free market and demand for ever greater special effects in movies. It's always interesting to hear how a small film made due on the proverbial "shoe string budget," and such feats earn admiration, however, films have become massively more impressive in terms of their special effects and seeing the opening lines, while emotional and thrilling, also make you realize how far Hollywood and film makers have come in delivering ever greater narratives backed by incredible inventions and effects. This is just one of two references to the free market we will find in the film.
If you have not seen the movie, please, do not read this post until you have because I spend the greatest amount of time talking about the role of Luke Skywalker in the film and why he is so important. If you haven't seen the film and want to read the post anyway, Wikipedia has a good synopsis that will explain the plot of the film so you can get caught up.
We know that voice over about the Force is Luke Skywalker talking, but he doesn't actually say anything in the film, so why do they have it in the trailer? Because when Luke says, "You have that power, too," he's addressing us, the audience. There's no one else he can be addressing but us. So why would he do that? To remind us of how powerful each and everyone of us are in our individuality, which is what the film is truly about: being an individual, being you and who you really are and are meant to become (which is why Finn [John  Boyega] is so important). So, why does arguably one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history not get more film time? I think there are at least two reasons.
When the movie ends, Finn is in a coma and unconscious, alive, but unresponsive. Why? Finn has to go through a "resurrection" in order to become completely divorced from the First Order and fully become a member of the Resistance. For example, Finn should have known that when he helped Poe escape in a TIE fighter, the TIE fighter would still be TIEd up; that's an example of the "umbilical cord" complex, when a character tries to free themselves from something, however, something still holds them back. We saw JJ Abrams use this in Star Trek Into Darkness during the opening sequence with Spock being dropped into the volcano and the cord which attached him to the "mother ship" was snapped: this invoked the destruction of Spock's home planet and how, no longer having a real home to call his own, Spock felt like an orphan so he was willing to die in order to save this other planet while he couldn't save his own. The TIE fighter still being tied to the First Order dock is a sign that, while Finn wants to leave, there are things still holding him back: everything he knows he has been taught by the First Order, which has raised him and been "his family" (we also see this in action in the opening newsreel sequence for The Man From UNCLE: a man is escaping through the barbed wire of the Berlin Wall and his wool sweater gets caught and lifts up over his face so he can't see; he has had the "wool pulled over his eyes" about freedom in the West and he wonders if he will be able to really make it when the government isn't giving him everything he needs).  Does Finn and Rey have a romantic connection with each other? I don't think so, I think it's actually deeper than that: they are more like family to each other. Neither has ever known what it's like to have a family and Rey and Finn go through a lot together, very quickly, giving them a shared identity and memories unique to the other. Each of the character posters released for the film shows the character with a weapon covering one eye; what does Finn see and what does Finn not see? Finn doesn't realize how important he is. When he tells Han Solo he's a "Big deal" in the Resistance, Han knows better and kids him about it later on; the truth is, Finn will become a big deal, but he--just like Rey--has a significant amount of personal development they have to go through in order to be what they can. We know Finn doesn't have blue eyes (Maz Kanata looks deep into his eyes and we clearly see them are a dark brown) so why are his eyes blue in this poster? If the eyes are the windows of the soul, his soul has experienced a great deal of sadness in his lifetime. But that sadness also gave birth to wisdom, specifically at the village his unit attacks and his realizing that what they were doing was wrong. What about Poe's jacket, why does Poe let Finn keep it? As we will see with Luke below, when people do something bad to us, we lose a part of ourselves, but when someone does something good for us, we give them a part of ourselves, or we gain a part of them. The First Order gave FN-2187 his outfit, his mask, id number and code of conduct (non-conformity) but Poe giving Finn his jacket was Finn receiving a medal: everyone will know that Finn defected and saved their best pilot, and that puts Finn in the same category as Poe himself. Rather than a mask to hide his true identity like the Storm Trooper uniform, the fighter pilot jacket testifies to Finn's courage and paves the way for him to gain a new identity for himself.
One, because if we saw Luke even half way through the film, the mystery of who the Last Jedi Knight is would be diminished. Even though Luke has been in isolation (more on this below) he has obviously been through a ton, and that comes through in this brief moment when we see him: for Rey and us the audience, who also haven't seen Luke Skywalker in thirty years, the man is epic, and that comes through in this last shot. Secondly, where would Rey be if Luke had shown up and stopped Kylo Ren and Snoke all by himself? She would be back on Jakku, waiting for a family that was never going to show up. This second point is what feeds the theme of "individuality" throughout the film.
My vote for best entrance goes to C3PO. Perhaps you noticed, during the course of the film, a particular Storm Trooper who had a red shoulder pad on his left side? C3PO's red right arm operates in much the same way, but the mirror opposite. C3PO is a robot; the Storm Trooper is a human, but he's trying to become like a robot in his strict conformity to the First Order. Even though he's only a droid, and sometimes unbearable, C3PO is also incredibly loyal and devoted to those he serves (like Leia, Han and Luke). The Storm Trooper is also loyal; so, why do we the audience favor C3PO and despise the Storm Trooper? Arms symbolize strength, and as we will see with Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren, arms represent an important symbol throughout the film in their ability to distinguish the characters' spiritual states from one another. For C3PO, his strength is love. Even though he is a droid, he knows more about love than the human Storm Trooper with the red plate on his shoulder; what does that symbolize? The old saying, "A chip on his shoulder," is probably accurate. He has advanced throughout the ranks of being a Storm Trooper because he has hatred for the Resistance in one form or another. His hatred of someone or something is what those in the First Order believes makes them strong (like Kylo Ren's hatred of his father, Han Solo), but it's what makes them weak because hatred is a poison.
We know, that Abrams himself revealed the First Order existing on the same premise and operating on the same principles as the Nazis, so the storm troopers and Kylo Ren all symbolize aspects of socialism (and we shouldn't be surprised because the film Abrams--who is Jewish--did before Star Wars VII was Star Trek Into Darkness, and that was also a thoroughly and explicitly anti-socialist film as well). So, Star Wars VII: the Force Awakens provides us with three basic kinds of "lack of identity," three of which can be said to be good, and the other inherently bad.
The chaos of democracy is going to be destroyed by the First Order as Storm Troopers gather to watch the First Order destroy the Republic. Yes, there is a chaos to America and democracy, to individuality and free will. Do you know who Justin Bieber is? What about Kim Kardashian? Steven Spielberg? Regardless of what you think or don't think about these people, they are individuals, and they have made a mark--for better, or worse--upon culture and society. One of those Storm Troopers could be Daniel Craig, and none of us would know unless we were told, and even then, we would have to take someone's word for it. Even though I don't like Miley Cyrus and her twerking, she is a part of the chaos of democracy and freedom in the West which we endure so we, too, can have freedom: not just to say what we please, to worship, to bear arms, to choose our own career path, to wear the clothes we prefer, but also to make mistakes, to learn, to question and experiment. None of those things exist in the First Order. The priveldges which are denied to Storm Troopers are granted to the elite of the First Order. Remember Kylo Ren tearing apart the torture chair Rey had been strapped to when he discovered she had escaped, and two Storm Troopers hear him, turn around and walk away? None of them would be allowed to exhibit "chaotic" emotions like that, but Kylo Ren is because he is of the elite. Kylo Ren can take off his helmet/mask whenever he wants, but none of the other Storm Troopers are allowed to. This is what happens in socialist/communist societies, as the book Animal Farm detailed and Star Wars VII backs up. 
First, the bad example of loss of identity, Finn, who was given the name FN-2187 when Storm Troopers stole him from his family to raise him as a First Order Storm Trooper, When FN-2187 helps Poe (Oscar Isaac) escape, Poe asks his name and he replies, "FN-2187," the only name he has ever known. Poe replies that he won't call him that, instead, he will call him "Finn." What has Poe done? He has given Finn an "i," or, better, an "I." The "I" is what the First Order took from him, and it's what the Resistance gave back to him, and what he cherishes about himself. What about the other two examples?
This is an important scene: as Rey cleans some of the junk she has found that day, she looks up and sees an old woman doing exactly what she's doing and, Rey realizes, this is her fate: she will be that old woman one day if her family doesn't come for her (but they are all ready dead). This is the best image I could find of Rey's arms. As demonstrated above with C3PO, arms are important and symbolize strength; Rey's arms are covered up with fabric, so what does that mean? Her real strength is still hidden and has not yet been revealed. There's another important detail about Rey's costume: her hairstyle. When Rey has the flashback to her childhood when she is at Maz's, we see Rey and know it's her because her hairstyle hasn't changed since she was a little girl (she wears it pinned and pulled back). So, since hair symbolizes our thoughts, we can say that Rey's thoughts haven't changed since she was a little girl, namely, that her family is coming back for her. We can expect her to be sporting  a new hairstyle in the next episode, I'm sure. There's one more thing that's important: the alien being to whom she has to sell her junk. Since there is no free market on Jakku, she has only one place where she can receive wages and that varies according to the mood (or corrupt desires) of the alien in charge of giving out rations, which is exactly what happens when the government is put in charge of central planning and distribution: you have to pay an exorbitant price for basic necessities because the government never plans on making enough, so you have to create a black market where things like toilet paper are really valuable because there's never enough to go around; why not? Because it's not "the government" who owns all the industries, but favorites of the Party chairman who allows them to "own" in the name of the government the different factories necessary for people to live, and they do whatever they want to do to make their lives comfortable. If you don't believe me, read a book on the Soviet Union, or how China came to have so many billionaires, or how the elite in North Korea live.
Rey also has a lack of identity, but this isn't necessarily bad. Not knowing her family or where she came from is hard on a person, it creates a void, but Rey has actually become stronger because of this void in her life: she's self-sufficient. The third example is Luke Skywalker. He has become a myth, and so no one knows his real identity any more, even people like Han and Leia, because thirty years (especially in isolation) greatly changes a person). Luke's mythic stature inspires courage in Rey and Finn because, if Luke Skywalker is really real, anything is possible. His mistake with Kylo Ren, however, reminds us, the audience, that even the great Luke Skywalker, last Jedi Knight, is still only human just like us (please see caption below for further illustration of this point).  Are there any other examples?
Yes, Poe.
If we are supposed to know that Luke is human, in spite of his mythic stature, we--and everyone else in the universe--are supposed to know that Kylo Ren is not human (even though he is) but very real and threatening (remember when he has Rey in the torture chair and she calls him an animal hunting her). What is Kylo Ren? He's a human boy who was basically a mediocrity--he had failures and couldn't live with it--so he decided to get even with fate and join the Dark Side, just like all communists (we saw this character in the persona of Uncle Rudy in The Man From UNCLE). Like all communists and socialists, Kylo Ren likes to use methods on others to have complete control over them, but hates it when they are used on himself (consider the surveillance used by Mr. White on Blofeld in Spectre). Every socialist/communist wants to get "in the mind" of the people they control so they have complete control over them, but heaven forbid that someone (like Rey) should be able to do that to Kylo Ren and see what his fears are. Was Luke using the Force to be present during this moment when Kylo Ren was trying to extract the information from Rey's mind? I don't think he was, but I am confident he is aware of what happened, namely, that Rey was able to use the Force, but she used it only to defend herself and save herself, not to actually hurt Kylo Ren.  Like his grandfather, Kylo Ren uses a mouthpiece to talk; why? Because he himself is a mouthpiece for the Emperor, in this case, Snoke (which means "snake" if you replace the vowel). We saw this in The Dark Knight Rises with Bane (Tom Hardy) who had a large mouth piece over his face because he was a mouth piece for someone else. This is part of the loss of identity and individuality which socialists and communists are willing to trade for a small share of the power over others they hope they will have. 
Most people, at least in America, when they hear "Poe," think of the famed writer Edgar Allan Poe; is this accurate and what we should be doing? Sure. E.A. Poe had significant talent, but had even more significant struggles in his  life and didn't receive (hardly any) recognition for his talents while he was alive. This is a lesson in fame. However, for Poe Dameron  (who will also be in Star Wars VIII) he offers us the good example of how we should be the best at whatever it is we do--as he is the best pilot in the Resistance--and that which we are the best at, should be at the service of all humanity to preserve freedom and end tyranny. Poe is how we should all be, more or less. "Poe" might also refer to another film, however, specifically, the 1964 classic, Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. "POE" is used throughout the film as standing for "Peace On Earth," which could be a viable reference Abrams is making because the Dark Side (i.e., resurrected Nazis ransacking the world) are trying to bring us to the brink of war, either Civil War in America, a third World War in the Middle East or both.
Now, back to Luke Skywalker.
The image on top is from the earlier Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back when, battling Darth Vader, Vader tells Luke that he is Luke's father and wants Luke to join him on the Dark Side and Vader slices off Luke's right hand. This happened because Luke lost a piece of himself that his father was a traitor to the Empire, rather than dying honorably for the Resistance. In Star Wars VII, we see in the image on the bottom that Luke now has a mechanical hand placed atop R2 (and confirmed when Luke turns to Rey and pulls back his hood). Why did Luke switch hands? He probably didn't. When Kylo Ren left Luke to join the Dark Side, it's possible they fought and Kylo Ren cut off the hand of Luke, causing him to replace his right hand again. Why? We know Kylo Ren's real name is "Ben," which could have been after Ben Kanobe (Alec Guinness), but Abrams being Jewish, he probably was also aware that the name "Benjamin" means "Son of my right hand," so Luke having lost his right hand (again) would be related symbolically to what he lost when his nephew Ben severed his relations with Luke, the rest of his family and the Light and went to the Dark Side. Something similar to this happens in The Lord Of the Rings when Frodo (Elijah Wood) is at Mount Doom and is supposed to throw the One Ring into the volcano but can't, and Gollum runs at him, biting his finger off that has the Ring so Gollum can have the Ring again. Frodo lost a part of himself (his finger) as a symbol of what the Ring meant to him emotionally, but also what he had to sacrifice in saving Middle Earth. Luke, likewise, keeps loosing his right hand as his sacrifice of what he must suffer emotionally because of different members of his family.
Without a doubt, Luke Skywalker is the most important character in the whole film; why? Everyone is looking for him, which is why he has stayed in hiding,... or is it? What Abrams has done in withholding Luke's presence from the film--which, let's admit it, is quite a bummer and a let down--is incredibly brave and highly charged with symbolism, so what does it mean? As stated above, if Luke had come out of hiding and defeated Kylo Ren himself--a rumored plot point which was possible--other members of the Resistance would not have had the chance to step up and prove their worth. This has important political dimensions, namely, women in today's world (symbolized by Rey) and minorities in today's world (symbolized by Finn) have every opportunity to make something great of themselves, if they will accept the challenge, because that's the only way to make something of yourself; they can't sit around and accuse white heterosexual men of ruling the world when they themselves would rather be part of a self-entitlement culture. This is the reason why there is a map to find Luke Skywalker.
I have done a rather extensive analysis of Luke's costume here all ready, but let's recap some items, shall we? The image on the left is taken from Star Wars: a New Hope, when young Luke was quite young and he blurted out whatever came into his mind (note the wind tossing his hair about, which symbolizes his thoughts blowing in the wind). The image on the right is a costume test for Luke and what he wears in the last scene; why a hood? Since our thoughts originate in our head, hair and hats (or anything worn on top of the head) can symbolize what it is we are thinking. Wearing a hood usually means that someone is keeping their thoughts "under cover," or to themselves. The beard? in ancient times, only the barbarians--the uncivilized--wore beards, whereas the Romans who were civilized were clean shaven, so the beard came to symbolize a man who lived by his appetites rather than a code of conduct (such as social norms or religious principles). Beards, however, can also denote wisdom because a man has detached himself from worldly affairs (the vanity of being clean shaven) to pursue affairs not of the world, and this applies to Luke. The colors of his robe are earth tones and that denotes humility, unlike Kylo Ren who thinks he is so strong and invincible (in spite of his fear he won't be as powerful as Vader). Luke, then is humble and knows the Force is greater than he is and he's not going to fall for the vanity of the Dark Side the way other members of his family have. The belt Luke wears denotes both chastity (he hasn't been consorting with whores in his exile) as well as a vow he has taken, which we don't know what that is (maybe something like always serving the Light, or trying to convert Kylo Ren back, etc.). The outfit, while all the same color scheme, is several different colors; why? If it were pure white, then Luke would have arrived at where he needs to be, the summit of his training and powers within the Force, but even after thirty years of exile, Luke still has power that he doesn't know he has because he is so strong in the Force, his ability to use it is nearly limitless. 
If you are going into hiding, why on earth (or any other planet) would you leave a map telling people where you are in case they want to find you? The map isn't so much a map as to "where Luke is hiding," as to "how he got to where he is." That is, how Luke Skywalker, a simple no-body from nowhere, came to be the Last Jedi Knight; yes, there is a map for that. This answers the questions other bloggers and reviewers are asking: why is it that Rey, of everyone, is the one who goes to find Luke when they have never even met before? Because her trip she takes to find him is really a foreshadowing of the events to come in Star Wars VIII which demonstrate how Rey is really going to find herself. When she's climbing all those steps on Skellig Michael, and passing all that barrenness, that is what she herself will have to go through interiorly in order to fulfill her potential to become the new Jedi. Next question: does Luke Skywalker want to be found?
This is a photo of Skellig Michael in Ireland where the scene with Luke was shot, i.e., Luke's place of exile. Why? Of all the places in the universe where Luke could have hidden, why here? Because it's surrounded by water, and it's a rock. Brilliant, huh? We know that water is an important symbol in its three stages. Water in liquid form means that someone has just begun to think about something; we see this when Han, Finn and Rey land at Maz Kanata's, and there is all this water: Han has started to think of having Rey has his second mate, Rey has begun thinking of what it would be like to have Han for a father (Kylo Ren divulges this to us) and Finn has started thinking about what he has to do to escape punishment by the First Order. So, what is it that Luke has been thinking about for thirty years but hasn't thought through completely? The existence of the Jedis. Who will be the next Jedi? When will they make themselves known? Will they turn to the Dark Side? The Force has revealed to Luke that Rey is supposed to, in some way if not straight out, be a Jedi or at least learn to use the Force. As stated elsewhere in the post, when Rey arrives, the steps she goes up, the quiet and solitude, the barrenness, foreshadows the journey and its hardships which lie ahead of her. Why is Luke on a giant rock? Because he himself is "a rock," solid and sturdy, unwavering in his dedication to the Light and fight against the Dark Side. There is another symbol for water that isn't as well known, but may very well be applicable, and that is water as a symbol for the emotional life. Rather than be locked up in a library and reading ancient texts, Luke is surrounded by his emotions (the water) and trying to steady himself (the rock) so his emotions can't be used against him in an upcoming battle (the way his emotions have been used against him with his father, for example). 
Other critics have contended that, when Luke turns around and sees Rey standing there, he doesn't want her, or anyone else, to be there, and I disagree with this. Why is it that R2D2 suddenly wakes up from his dormant slumber to deliver the rest of the map? Luke did that. Bear with me, if you will. Recall how, in Star Wars: A New Hope (the very first Star Wars film released when they were all young) Ben (Alec Guinness) is killed by Vader and while Luke is standing there, Ben says, "Run, Luke, run!" and how Ben is always "there" to help Luke along and guide him when to "Use the Force." Luke does the exact same thing for Rey in Episode VII which we have seen Ben and Yoda do for Luke. Luke all ready knows Han Solo is dead and that Kylo Ren did it; he also knows that Snoke has taken Kylo Ren to "complete his training." It's Luke using the Force at Maz Kanata's pit stop to open Rey's mind so she will begin to understand what she has to do, and find his light saber (it's undecidable if Luke guided Han to Maz's to get his light saber, or--knowing Han as Luke does--Luke originally left his light saber at Maz's because he knew Han stops there and could have someone retrieve it for him when he was ready for it; this point doesn't matter so much because, honestly, it's probably a combination of the two). Can we prove that Luke is using the Force to call to Rey at Maz's? Yes.
Why does Han Solo die? I have two responses. First, as you know, I believe that a character never dies unless they are "all ready dead," something about them is dead and that's why they can't go on and be crowned a hero. In the case of Han Solo, Maz Kanata tells us why he's "dead": he wouldn't fight the Dark Side. Han didn't join the Dark Side, even his estranged son Kylo Ren knew better than to offer his father to come join him on the Dark Side of the Force (the way Vader hoped Luke would join him) because Kylo Ren knew Han wasn't bad. But Han also had to be bribed and given a guilt trip to fight for the Resistance and do good from the very start of the story (remember Luke whispering to Han, "She's rich," as to why Han should help Luke save Leia?). Han was in his own world, into his own problems and while he believed in what the Resistance was doing and wouldn't do anything to help the Dark Side, he also didn't want to risk his neck helping the Resistance unless he had to. That is my first response; my second response is, did you notice how closely the death of Han resembled the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Vader tells Luke, "I am your father," and cuts off Luke's hand, and Luke drops down the air vent? I will confess up and front that I am probably wrong about this, however, knowing that Luke escaped that debacle alive, and with Luke knowing that Snoke would demand Kylo Ren kill Han (more on that in a moment) I think Luke might have done something to use the Force to try and save Han in Episode VII. How many times was Han there to save Luke? It doesn't seem right and balanced that Luke wouldn't be able to save Han; a light saber through the torso, however, is serious damage. Remember: Finn thought Poe had been killed when their stolen TIE fighter crashed, but he showed up later on; the scene with Han and Kylo Ren is just too eerily similar to the scene with Vader and Luke for fans not to notice and draw some conclusions. Furthermore, if you will recall, even before the first trailer came out, there was a serious rumor that Han would die, one, because he had been begging George Lucas since the beginning to kill off Han Solo, and two, because Luke would decide he needed to kill Kylo Ren (who was unredeemable) and accidentally killed Han when Han got in the way to try and save his son; that was a serious rumor, and it had no validity whatsoever; so what am I saying? I think the studios and Abrams have gone to a lot of trouble to hide narrative elements and keep surprises (like Luke actually not being in the film until the last scene) a secret because of the next episodes coming. So, now, why does Snoke insist on Kylo Ren killing Han? Han doesn't have the Force the way Leia or Luke does, so it's not like Han poses a real threat to Kylo Ren the way Luke's powers posed a threat to Vader. Snoke knows that Kylo Ren loves Han and wants Han to be proud of him and love him in return, and that's why Kylo Ren has to kill Han, because Han is the only one who really challenges Snoke's authority over Kylo Ren's allegiance. Remember, Han didn't have to go and try to save Kylo Ren; he could have set the charges and blown up the Starkiller without risking his own neck, but Han laid down his life for his son (probably also because Leia asked him to bring him back to them) and an act of love like this is a strong moving of the Force. It's possible that Han is dead, but I think's it possible--even if it's not probable--that Han is still alive.
In the sequence of events which Rey sees flash through her mind, one of them is briefly the image (posted up above earlier) when Luke puts his mechanical hand upon R2D2; that could not have come from within Rey herself--like the buried image of the First Order taking her family away from her did--Luke "gave" her that image, and communicated a part of his plan to her (Rey can't "remember" something she never saw, and she didn't see Luke putting his hand on R2, so it must have come from outside of her). So, if Luke did that, what other events has he controlled in the film? That's the thing, the utmost important lesson of the Force: you don't control it, you allow it to work within you. That's why Kylo Ren turned Dark: he wanted to control the Force rather than be an instrument of the Light. So how does Luke know Rey will not turn against him the way Kylo Ren did? There are two examples.
This scene, while bizarre, is also quite enlightening: Kylo Ren prays to Vader's melted mask like a holy relic. Why would Kylo Ren do that, seeing how Vader met his end and knowing that Vader turned back to the Light before dying? Kylo Ren probably doesn't know that. Liberals change history to suit their own ends and agenda, so Snoke probably lied to Kylo Ren about what happened and told Kylo Ren that Luke was the one lying: if someone as strong as Vader went to the Light, why is the Light so weak? The Dark Side is much stronger, more powerful. Remember the scene when Kylo Ren fights Finn and Rey in the snowy forest, and he keeps banging on his side where he's wounded? That was odd, because that is how Kylo Ren stays connected to the Dark Side: banging on his wounds. Aggravating what others have done to him, and the wrongs he has suffered makes Kylo Ren think he is stronger, but, again, he's drinking poison that embitters him against those who really love him. On a different note, we have seen a disenchanted young person trying to awaken their grandfather in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monster, and also in Wrath Of the Titans, and this theme goes hand in hand with unleashing chaos into the world and destroying everything that has been built up so a "new and better world" can be built upon the ashes, just like what we have seen so far in the trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse
First, when Rey frees BB8 from the scavenger and helps the droid, and she validates her choice when she could sell it for 60 rations and she doesn't because she realizes it's not hers to sell, it belongs to Poe. Rey has put others before herself when no one was really there to notice and she had a lot to gain for herself, but she did the right thing, simply to do the right thing. Secondly, when she fights Kylo Ren and he tells her that he would train her and be her teacher, so rejects him. Rejecting Kylo Ren is rejecting the Dark Side; Rey still has a lot she must do and learn, but Luke knows after this she can be trusted in a way that his nephew cannot.
Of all the character posters, this is the only one where the character can see with both eyes; there is something blocking the vision, but she can still see. As Han points out when he sees her, "You've changed your hair," and that's because she has changed her way of thinking. Leia has become quite motherly and nurturing. This is why Leia has become "General": she was born a princess, but she earned being a general, through every military, emotional and psychological battle she has fought, she has earned that title every step of the way. From this poster, we know that Leia sees something no one else sees; what? Probably the last thing she says to Rey, "May the Force be with you." Leia knows that Rey is being called to the Jedi, even Rey probably doesn't know, which is why she holds out Luke's light saber to him. Rey thinks she is there to bring Luke back to fight, but Luke wants her there to receive training to defeat the Dark Side. I think something we need to address is the odd way Leia's mouth looks in the film: did Carrie Fisher have so much Botox done that she can't move her mouth? Well, that's possible, however, I think JJ Abrams is trying to communicate that, in all the disappointments through her life, Leia has developed a "stiff upper lip," and while she doesn't let her emotions show, that doesn't mean that she doesn't feel them, and deeply. Back to this poster, we know that green symbolizes either hope (like the new life that is blooming at spring) or something rotten (like the green mold growing on old food inside your fridge). Leia is as honorable and noble as ever, so we should interpret the green to be that she has hope that no one else can see. What, that Luke will come and save them from the Dark Side? That Kylo Ren will come home to her? That Han isn't really dead? That they will be able to put down the Dark Side once and for all? I think all these are possibilities, because that what hope is, seeing the possibilities and wanting the best to happen.  
Leia and Han deduce that Luke felt bad about Kylo Ren turning to the Dark Side and so Luke went into exile, but we don't know that for sure because we haven't heard anything from the mouth of Luke himself. We can be sure that the next episode, due out May 2017, will pick up where Episode VII leaves off and many questions will be answered (Mark Hamill is all ready listed in the cast for the next film). In conclusion, this is an excellent start to the continuing saga, which demonstrates how the individual choices each and every single one of us makes in our day to day lives, are connected to everyone else, and when we make good decisions, everyone benefits, and when we make bad decisions, everyone of us suffers for it.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
The very last note: whenever you see two actors who have been in a film together before, doing a scene together in another film, it's because the director is, in some way, paying homage to that film where he saw those two actors, in this case, JJ Abrams is paying homage to the Coen Brothers and their film Inside Llewyn Davis, and the scene where Oscar Isaac (who plays Poe) and Adam Driver (who plays Al Cody) are singing a song with Justin Timberlake's character, Please Mr. Kennedy, about not getting sent into outer space (you can watch a clip of the scene on YouTube here).. Why? Abrams seems to be making the comment that, without space travel, we wouldn't have the saga of the Skywalker family, and all the great works of art which space exploration has given rise to (like Abrams' other pet project, Star Trek). Like the Coen Brothers, Abrams wants liberals to think about cutting our exploration of space because it has brought us so enormous benefits and helped to push ourselves to achieve great success.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Actually, it was glorious.
I know there have been many who have expressed to me their doubts regarding the quality of the story and whether or not it would be,... "good enough." Without a doubt, it's a huge,... no, a HUGE task JJ Abrams and company took upon themselves to continue this saga and they have done so in an incredibly appropriate way. Please, do not read the post before you see it: it will contain the two big spoilers which you will not want to know about before you see it.

By the way,... I thought I had a "off time" ticket for my show today: people had been there for two hours waiting to get into that showing. Get there with plenty of time, and get your seats first, especially if you are seeing it in 3D. We were so cramped in there, people were sitting on the floor. Enjoy the show and may,... well, I won't say that.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner