Monday, January 26, 2015

The Kingsmen: Secret Service & a Great Suit

I think I have mentioned this before: a dear friend of mine's husband had Alzheimer's, and I would look after him when she went out of town for rest, so I became very close to him; Frank passed away last weekend, complications from pneumonia, and I have had a difficult time dealing with it.  Your prayers for Carol, Frank and their family would be deeply appreciated, as your never-ending patience with me always is.
It's not "Manners maketh the man," rather, "Manners maketh man." This is utterly important; why? Harry (Colin Firth) is a white male, and who is it that has been so heavily targeted as of late in films and politics? White men. The so-called "Progressive Party" in America is more aptly described as the "Digressive Party" because they seek an end to the free market and all technological advances; literally, they want to see everyone living in a village, with no communication with anyone outside that village, and each village controlled by a local party member (why, yes, it was called feudalism in the Middle Ages, and that's exactly what they want to bring back). So far, then, we have an unabashed celebration of "the white male," the greatest enemy of Western liberalism. From a clip we have seen in a trailer, we know that--at least part of--Valentine's plan to "cure" humanity is the outbreak of violent fighting, which we see in America today in the Ferguson riots and Al Sharpton marching and calling for the instant death of cops (these things would have been unthinkable in America before 2008). Most importantly, what The Kingsman appears to be doing, is advocating that white men become even whiter, rather than try to compromise or surrender their identity because it is inconvenient for some (this discussion continues below). 
So, if you are lucky enough to be in London-town, The Kingsmen: The Secret Service opens for you Thursday (I am terribly jealous!!); stateside, it doesn't open until February 13 (so for those of us not wanting to see Fifty Shades Of Grey, we, too, have something to look forward to), but they have been kind enough to "throw us a bone":

According to "The Gentleman's Guide" on the film's official website, "The Rules" of a Kingsman Gentleman are as follows: 
(1) A gentleman never tells about conquests, private matters, or dealings. His business is nobody else's. 
(2) A gentleman doesn't clash in public with enemies or exes, or worse, with out-of-fashion contrasts, colors or styles. 
(3) A gentleman is always happy to serve, whether it's opening the door, picking up the bill, or merely calling a cab the next morning. Ask him for help and he cannot refuse. 
(4) A gentleman never reacts to rudeness. He pretends he doesn't recognize it and moves on like it never happened, because it never should have. 
(5) A gentleman is always on target with witty remarks, interesting facts, and conversation starters that bring the best out of everyone. And,... 
(6) A gentleman asks non-invasive questions to keep a conversation going and attention focused on others. He makes them feel like the most interesting person he's ever met, whether that's true or not.
Eggsy says a lot in this poster. First, he looks much more like Valentine (below) than Harry (above). "Eggsy" is definitely a strange name, but it consciously invokes the new life symbolized by the "egg." This is consciously referred to when Harry tells Eggsy he can re-invent himself as in Pretty Woman, and Eggsy chimes in, "Like in My Fair Lady?" Eggsy is going to trade in one style of dress--the jacket and hat he wears in this poster--for another style of dress, the suit of the Kingsmen. The suit, then, becomes a kind of uniform of identity that translates to the exterior world the interior transformation that Eggsy has achieved. With this transformation also comes his purpose, and giving Eggsy a purpose is what will save him from ending up like a hooligan. 
Why are there all these rules on being a gentleman? Because the opposite behavior denotes villainy, which means we will see Valentine behaving in the opposite way of being a gentleman; if you are going to defend civilized society, you must be civilized yourself, and anyone (read: villain) wanting to destroy civilized society (as Valentine does, portrayed by Samuel L Jackson) inherently lacks "civilization" within them. What's the big deal about that? In the era when a certain President of the United States has gone out of his way to create strife and fan the flames of class and ethnic warfare in the country, calling upon Millennial white men (symbolized by Eggsy) to take up their talents and defend the civilization being handed down to them is quite bold.
You probably know by now what an important part costumes play in developing character for the audience, but I really like to provide "hard evidence" when available so I don't push your faith in me too much: Fashion editior, consultant and Net-a-porter empire founder Natalie Massenet has said of this film to show-business trade paper 'The Hollywood Reporter': "I knew the clothese had to really serve the plot - and do in our film. An elite secret group of gentleman spies camouflage their identity by holding meetings in a Savile Row tailor's shop. It's not like the clothes are an added benefit or not utterly functional to the story. They are a bigger part of the story. Colin [Firth] is grooming a young man to be the next gentleman spy - and in this case, the clothes do make the man." If the clothes "make the man," the wrong clothes "un-make the man." With Valentine, his clothes are not custom tailored (or, if they are, they don't look it) and he does not wear a suit, but clothes "ready-made" and worn sloppily compared to Harry (his shirt not tucked in, for example). Savile Row isn't an accident, that it takes place here is a statement of wealth, lifestyle and individuality. 
The rules of being a gentleman are not just about the individual man exhibiting socially acceptable behavior: it's about him bringing out his own individuality in the manners socially acceptable to society, and contributing to the individuality of others as well ("conversation starters that bring out the best in everyone"). The "front" of The Kingsmen is a tailor shop in Savile Row; big deal. But it is. These suits are hand-cut and tailored for the individual man: even though Eggsy might look like every other Kingsmen in his suit (a loss of individuality) the suit is made just for him that no one else can wear (rather like the gun Q gives Bond in Skyfall that is registered to his palm print so only he can fire it).
We know that many of the items in this wardrobe--if not all of them--double as weapons, and that's because the suit and accessory itself is the weapon.  In America today, there is a "trend" of young men wearing their jeans half-way around their underwear: I thin, unconsciously, this might be a statement of quickly society is "pulling the pants off young men" to sexualize them before they are ready (because there is no rational reason for them to wear their pants like this, therefore, there must be an emotional/psychological reason); it is my understanding that, men in prison who wear their pants like this are advertising they are available for sex to other men,. I could be wrong. Anyway, dressing like the gentleman insinuated by the wardrobe above, is literally a weapon to becoming one of those "baggy jeans" boys who looks as if he has no self-respect in the world. It's not just that a knife blade comes out of the toe of the well-crafted shoe, but that the well-crafted shoe must be polished and cared for, and that, in turn, is a sign you care about yourself: that "caring for yourself" is a weapon for the young, white men in today's world who need strong male examples of what it means to respect yourself and why you are worth fighting for. 
Additionally, one of the arguments socialists use (not very often, just when they think they can get away with it) is when they contend that work is meaningless today because the craftsman is removed from the product they make since everything is made in a factory. The 1% (and far more than that, quite frankly) who can afford and want suits of such bespoke quality are the ones targeted by socialists but who make it possible for fine craftsmen--like those on Savile Row--to earn a highly respectable wage for their wares.
This fine book is but one example of the numerous studies done on the excellent artistry of the English suit; this link contains an impressive number of other such books about Savile Row and its key role in British culture.
There is nothing but depth and layers of meaning in what I have so far seen in released footage for The Kingsmen: The Secret Service; we haven't even begun to touch on it here, but we shall once the film is released, because I think it's going to be, truly, fun and significant commentary on culture and white men today.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eastwood's Anti-War Statement in American Sniper

I try.
I am human, but I genuinely try to give the best interpretation of a film's values that I can. I want every film to validate the proud and strong tradition of my country, America, as citizens of other countries love their homeland and want art that reflects their beliefs and traditions, not to run us down and mock us because there is a buck to be made and those criticizing the country of their birth feel superior to their fellow citizens when they bully them. An article has been published in which Mr. Eastwood calls American Sniper his "biggest anti-war statement" of his career. The problem is, this isn't an "anti-war" statement, because the War on Terror wasn't an American act of aggression, it was an act of self-defense. If I punched Clint Eastwood in the face, by his own standards of conduct he lays down in the film, he has no right to retaliate or defend himself against me hitting him in the face again (Mr. Eastwood is not a Christian, so "turning the other cheek" doesn't need to figure into this discussion). This second weekend of the film makes it the biggest-ever opening weekend for a Clint Eastwood film. I am confident that Americans going to see the film want to support Chris Kyle and the men and women in uniform, but--sadly--it's supporting a film mocking them and the very people and ideals they support. The good news is, so many Americans have been to see the film that liberal Hollywood hates it. There is a silver lining,....
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--John kindly tweeted me this review of Foxcatcher with Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell; if you think I am hard on films, or that I go too far into economics and values, read this explosive review, ouch! Foxcatcher Is 2014's Worst Movie.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TRAILERS: The Woman In Gold & Kidnapping Mr. Heineken

I saw Blackhat with Chris Hemsworth yesterday and it was totally pro-socialist; I got stuck at work and haven't been able to get the post up; I am sorry. My mom is nearly devastated that I didn't "like" American Sniper: "Is there any chance you're wrong?" she asks me this when she's really disappointed, and it makes me feel like I robbed her of Christmas or something. Dracula Untold and Annabelle are both now available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, by the way. There are two trailers I would like to briefly discuss: the first stars Helen Mirren, the second, Anthony Hopkins. The Woman In Gold really touches my heart because I was originally going to go into International Law with an emphasis on art and artifact reclamation:
"We should be re-united with what is rightfully ours," it's a nice line, isn't it? I have a bad feeling about this film: there are several points which makes this rather murky: the aunt's family would have undoubtedly been in the top 1% of Vienna's rich elite, and the Nazis kicked them out and took their possessions and drove them out of the country or put them in concentration camps--so why am I not obviously thrilled about this film?
Because of another line in the trailer.
You can find information about the true story, and the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I here.  Rather like The Monuments Men and Fury (and I could be wrong), I think the Left, again, is trying to re-write the history of the Nazis and make them appear to be "other than the socialists they really were" so Americans will be more embracing of socialism. 
"People see a masterpiece by one of Austria's finest artists. But I see a picture of my aunt. A woman who used to talk to me about life. We should be reunited with what is rightfully ours." This shift from masterpiece to a picture of my aunt, doesn't really seem to reflect the object itself, rather, a shift in how we perceive Gustav Klimt (I don't want to get into a discussion/debate about  Phenomenology  or  Ontology). Is Klimt a great artist, or a craftsman of the intimate? The reason this bothers me--because this film isn't about justice, this film is a vehicle--is because of The Lego Movie, and how the class of "Master Builders" (Michelangelo, Donatello, Abraham Lincoln, all these great historical heroes) were lowered so the "proletariat" could be exalted; one of the arguments of capitalism is that we see the great builders and inventors being able to freely work and pursue their passions for a free market, and this doesn't happen in socialism, so that's why I fear this might be a ruse. On the other hand, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken looks quite promising:
I could be wrong, but it appears that this is rather a morality lesson about wealth redistribution, because this group of friends that want to get themselves set-up for life by threatening the life of someone else will ruin the life they had. Why yes, he is the owner of Heineken beer and, this is also a true story, like the trailer above. There are two more films I am going to try to see this week: The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch, and Strange Magic, opening this weekend. I'm going to get the review of Blackhat up real quick because there are some interesting devices used, and then finish The Woman In Black 2 (it's nearly done, really, I just needed to walk away from it a bit).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Gift Of Aggression: American Sniper & an Anti-War Statement

If you have all ready seen Clint Eastwood's American Sniper and liked it, please, stop reading: I am glad you enjoyed it and I truly wish not to ruin it for you. If you haven't seen the film, and have been thinking about it, I would discourage you. At this point in history, do you really think Hollywood would nominate a film for Best Picture that was pro-America, pro-tradition, pro-men and women in the military and pro-protecting ourselves from those who want to annihilate us? Mr. Eastwood--whose films I have not liked since Unforgiven--indulges in the luxury of utopia: "The moral ruler is set at 10, and any actions in the real world are going to be set against it, and I will show them all for how ugly they are, if I think they are ugly." Perhaps you've seen the article of Michael Moore saying he was "taught snipers were cowards?" Mr. Eastwood appears to agree with him: in this article, Eastwood says that this film is his "biggest anti-war statement," and it's sad that he "used" Kyle as a vehicle for his own disguised agenda.
I'm sure you're saying, "But Eastwood spoke at the Republican National Convention, he hates Obama!" Anyone with 1/10th working brain capacity hates Obama. Eastwood might talk like a Republican, but he makes films like a liberal. I don't know where he gets such a tub-full of self-righteousness, but I don't support holding up a standard to which no one can meet, and then kicking them for it, and spitting on all those who support the one who is fallen. The scene where we are told that Kyle was killed, a title card comes up and says that Kyle was killed by a "veteran." Instead of saying, Kyle was killed by someone heavily medicated on anti-depressants (and who knows what else) Mr. Eastwood, in his self-righteousness, decides to implicate all military men and women as murderers, and I can't abide by that. Ben Affleck, using the same device of "leaving out something" to make his point, left out that the Iranian hostages were freed the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President in his film Argo, and we see Eastwood imitating him in that. Another item I would like to point out is Eastwood's mocking of cowboys: the film briefly shows us Kyle's cowboy days and it's clear that Eastwood looks at them as being "hicks" or "hillbillies," (the word "redneck" is even used).  Who made his career out of portraying cowboys, Mr. Eastwood? This is the kind of superior self-righteousness running throughout the film, that Mr. Eastwood considers himself irreproachable in all things, but everyone else is guilty. 
I was ready to walk out of the theater after the first five minutes of the film. Mr. Kyle, Chris Kyle's father, instructs his two boys when they are young that there are three type of people in the world: sheep, wolves and sheep dogs. Sheep cannot defend themselves; wolves prey on the helpless, but those born with the "gift of aggression," are the sheepdogs and should use that gift to protect the sheep from the wolves. Mr. Kyle then says there won't be any sheep in their family and takes off his belt in a threatening gesture (I know that gesture, because my dad took his belt off to give me a well-deserved licking plenty of times in my childhood).  This "gift of aggression" haunts the image of Chris Kyle throughout the film: he's not a strong, white, traditional, patriotic, heterosexual male defending his country and family, Eastwood paints him as the symbol of American super-powerism that is aggressive for the sake of being aggressive, and here are the ways.
As in all our discussions, women of child-bearing age, like Taya who is pregnant above, symbolizes "the motherland." What does she do? Like most women, she wants her husband to come home, but in this film, it's different. It's like she becomes American policy wanting the troops to come home, and the troops (Kyle) keep returning and leaving their families makes it look like they are going to Iraq just to be bullies, just to kill people, just to take out their aggression. Taya's (in the film) constant complaints about not knowing him anymore start to turn you against Kyle because he causes her so much grief and this is part of the film's agenda. On a different note, when Kyle does call his wife and tell her he is ready to come home, Eastwood makes it look like a "competition" with the Muslim sniper Mustafa. Having been in the Olympics, Mustafa is the best sniper for the Iraqis, and Kyle is determined to kill him. We see a clip of Mustafa in his home, his wife holding their baby, drawing a (simplistic) comparison between Kyle's own family and Mustafa's; after finally killing Mustafa, so he can't do to Americans what Kyle has done to Iraqis (Eastwood wants you to know), then Kyle is ready to come home, THEN--now that the "competition is over and he has won the "glory" of killing their best sniper--he's ready to leave, he won't stay to continue protecting Americans, he just wanted to stay there to kill Mustafa for his own personal glory. 
The opening scene is the disembodied noise of the Muslim call to prayer, juxtaposed against the sound of a tank: the Muslims, then, are symbolized by prayer throughout the film, while the US is symbolized by a tank crushing all the rubble in its path. We have just seen another film do this exact same thing: Fury, with Brad Pitt, and identifying the US with a merciless tank is not the only thing Eastwood employs from Fury. Even though we see a Muslim woman give her child a tank grenade to throw, and Kyle has to kill the kid--who obviously is in the process of trying to kill Marines--and the Muslim woman runs over to the body of her dead boy but--instead of embracing her dead child, or lamenting him in anyway--without hesitation, she picks up the grenade to throw it herself: her hatred of the US is greater than any love for her son, or herself.
But, it gets worse,...
There is another film American Sniper borrows from, the most excellent The Hurt Locker: you can't see the war-torn streets without thinking of Kathryn Bigelow's amazing film. When The Hurt Locker came out, America was confident that we had the right to defend ourselves against terrorists--doesn't everyone?--but in American Sniper, we are the terrorists, and it makes me sick. In The Hurt Locker, America was there making a difference, but in American Sniper, America was making it worse, not only for the people there (who had us to hell and back), but even for Americans at home. 
Not only does Eastwood apparently take the side of the Muslims after 9/11--which the attack is clearly shown in the film--but he even seems to try and sneak in a comparison of Chris Kyle, the Marines and Seals to Nazis: when questioned about the people he has killed, Kyle says, I was just doing my job and following orders to protect our own. I will say, this might just be me, I may be exaggerating this point, but that was the first thought that came to my mind when I heard it, and like Fury--never articulating why the US was in World War II to fight the Nazis because of how evil they were--Eastwood never articulates why America is over in Iraq; rather, he turns it into a personal competition between Kyle and Mustafa the assassin. This isn't patriotism, and this certainly isn't an honor to the great hero and legend, Chris Kyle; this isn't even good story-telling, which leads us back to our opening point.
Marc is one of Kyle's best friends, and in this scene, Marc confesses that he really doesn't know any longer why they are there fighting; he dies, and after his funeral, Taya asks about the letter he had written to his mom, lamenting the glory America was seeking after being over there. The impact that letter has on the film--while it might have been written by Marc--becomes the mouthpiece of Eastwood because it's obvious that he doesn't think America had the right--even with the backing of the international community--to go and protect ourselves against future terror attacks. Chris Kyle tells his wife that, when Marc wrote that letter, that's when he died because he gave up; this makes it look like Kyle has been brainwashed, and can't think for himself, and that "the legend" Kyle becomes to all the men over there, is just as vainglorious as the glory seeking Marc lamented in his letter that his weeping mother read at his funeral. 
Why would the Academy, who is only nominating pro-socialist and anti-capitalist films, nominate American Sniper for Best Picture? Because the film isn't a tribute to Chris Kyle, or any of our brave men and women in uniform, and to their families, rather, it's a form of propaganda to undermine American confidence, tradition and position in the world. In other words, Eastwood has sunk to using Obama's own tactic of "degrading ISIS" to defeat them by degrading America to defeat us. Why? Eastwood isn't a conservative, and if you didn't realize that watching J. Edgar with Leonardo DiCaprio, I don't know how much more he will have to do to prove that, just because he will speak out against Obama, doesn't mean he will speak for America.
May God bless you, Chris Kyle, and your loved ones you left behind.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, January 16, 2015

TRAILER: Penny Dreadful Season 2 & Al Sharpton's Oscar Stance

Really, I will get The Woman In Black post up; it's just really good, and I keep getting lost in all the different threads and have had a lot of editing to do on it so it's palatable for you; tomorrow I am going to see Blackhat with Chris Hemsworth (more on that below) so I will get WIB2 done by tomorrow. Maybe you've noticed: I haven't said anything about this awards season. For one, it's so pro-socialist that I just can't stomach it, but two, it's going to be hosted, once again, by a spokesperson for the gay and lesbian community, Neil Patrick Harris, and I will not be watching it. Al Sharpton, better known in America today as a "race-baiter" than anything else, has announced he's going to hold an "emergency meeting" to consider what actions to take against the Academy Awards for nominating "all whites." Am I wrong? Is this not an example of affirmative action and forcing awards recognition based on something other than talent and worthiness? Actually, it doesn't matter, because now, the monster Hollywood has created, has come knocking on its own door, and boy, do they look white and rich.
Why don't big-budget action thrillers like Captain America the Winter Soldier, or Skyfall, win Oscars? There are numerous reasons for this and we might as well take a moment to review. First, the actors lucky enough to get franchise roles, like Captain America, are guaranteed fame and fortune; so what about the thousands of other Hollywood actors who didn't get franchise roles? They get roles in indy films, and have a shot at an Oscar, even though they don't get fame/fortune. This balance helps to insure that good actors have a reason to do small, tiny budget films so there will be (according to theory)greater diversity in films and talent coming out each year. Additionally, Hollywood doesn't want to get stuck in a bad equation of, "The more money you throw at a film, the more Oscars you will win." (It does appear to be true that the more liberalism you throw at a film, the more Oscars you get, however). On the other hand, if Hollywood was really being fair, films like The Avengers and Skyfall should have equal chances of winning (acting) Oscars and not just for special effects, make-up, costume and sound editing.  What it comes down to, then, is a discrimination against actors who get those lucky breaks the others didn't. Likewise, people are more apt to go see films such as The Avengers and Skyfall, not because they are big-budget, but because they still retain the values that Americans retain; not awarding these films Oscars is a way of punishing them for leaning conservative rather than liberal; awarding smaller, liberal films with Oscars is a way to tempt audiences to watch films that probably don't go with their traditional value base. 
"This call for an emergency meeting," in the words of Sharpton, because Hollywood failed to nominate black actors according to Sharpton's standards (and make no mistakes, this is according to 1 individual's standards, because it's not written down anywhere that Hollywood has to make a quota of minority nominees) indicates severe in-fighting in the liberal group; and why shouldn't there be? They are all arrogant and going after their own individual agendas. Is Sharpton going to turn LA into Ferguson? He might threaten that. He's feeling awfully powerful right now, having gotten cops murdered, so what will he not try to get what he wants because he wants it? For conservatives, this is good, because Sharpton criticizing Hollywood means that Hollywood is going to bite him back, in one way or another, I guarantee it, and the bastion of power is starting to crumble. Onto other issues. Blackhat with Chris Hemsworth opens tonight, and I am very interested to see the film, not only with literary devices being employed (such as noise in various ways), but also who the villain is going to be and what his motivation is.
Did you catch it, at 1:35?
Him wrapping magazines around himself. Where was the last place we saw that? World War Z. Why did Brad Pitt's character do that? He was going to battle the zombies. Linking Blackhat to WWZ like this suggests that they want us to be thinking about zombies (or zombie-behavior) and the type of character that Pitt played in that film. This is one of the devices that films use in order to expand its vocabulary and communication platform with the audience. Opening next weekend is Strange Magic and I'm excited to see that as well (not as excited over that as I am The Kingsmen: Secret Service) but we'll talk about Strange Magic next week. In the meantime, a new horror film trailer has been released for Unfriended, and this looks good:
This does present an interesting dilemma: all of us, without exception, have something in our past we did that we would like to forget, and even though it might not be forgotten--by ourselves or others who happen to know what happened--it's still "contained," it's in the mind or the heart, but it's not published. The video being online, and still being online, and everyone becoming a participant in it to some degree or another so it's never buried, is an unnatural aspect of social interaction. This reminds me of Ouija, which I really enjoyed, and the main characters all appearing to be Millennials suggests the two films will have quite a bit in common. Now, the first trailer for the second season of Penny Dreadful has been released and, unlike this past year, I will be watching it each week so I can post on the newest episode which will air for my birthday, April 26 (my birthday is the 27th, but close enough):
The lovely song is The Unquiet Grave. Like any good teaser trailer, this leaves us with lots of questions: who is that blind girl touching Caliban's face? It's possible (but I am probably wrong on this, it's just a  guess) that it's Sarah Greene who is reported as portraying Hecate, the daughter of Madame Kali, you know, the one soaking in her blood bath, a reference to Elizabeth Bathory, a kind of Dorian Grey without the portrait  (did you notice the feet of the skeletons hanging down from her wall?). Who is the man at 1:19, with the leather across his face? It could be the Phantom Of the Opera. In an interview, Helen McCrory, Madame Kali, aka, Evelyn Poole, has said that Madame Kali is more powerful than anyone suspected, and it's probably in the realm of black magic (to me, "black magic" is redundant, and if you are a member of Wicca, and feel you need to explain the difference to me,... don't.).  The part at 0:47, where a woman's hands part clothing and we see a pentagram branded on a person's flesh, I am guessing that is Ethan (Josh Hartnett), again, I could be wrong about this (it might be a character we haven't even met yet) however, like most forces of evil, werewolves are closely aligned with the devil and the mark is a brand, which is what is done to animals (a werewolf). So, now the big question,...
"When Lucifer fell, he did not fall alone."
What does THAT mean?
Pretty much what we were taught in Bible school: Lucifer led a rebellion of angels against God, and they were defeated and all fell to hell where they have been kept and work to lead us poor humans in rebellion against God also. This seems off the subject, but it's not: why do I like this series? Because all these sins--promiscuity, homosexuality, magic, seances, adultery, etc.--are all being done by monsters. If that is not a clear indication of what the moral position of the film is, I don't know what we can say (although we can say the same about SALEM, when the girls get abortions and sell their souls to the devil in the process, and become witches, that's pretty bold writing in this liberal country nowadays). So, I am very excited and can't wait and, anything else that gets posted--which it will--I will be posting asap.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron Trailer #3 & Ant Man Trailer #1

I had hoped to have The Woman In Black Angel Of Death post up tonight, but there are so many layers I am getting lost in it! Ugh. So, I just wanted to let you know that I have not abandoned the blog and I am still working, the fruits of which just aren't ready to share as of yet. Here is the promised third trailer for The Avengers:
Now, let's consider the first trailer for Ant Man (2015 release):
There is an enormous gulf between the approaches of these two movies: The Avengers are the very best, biggest, toughest and most powerful icons of "the good guys" in America today,... Ant Man? You mean, like,... an,...ant? There is a reason for this. Remember, Marvel has planned films for the next five years, so these new trailers are "old news" in the place where they are coming from. Why stay with the name "Ant Man" and then point out the desire to change it in the introductory trailer (but still not change it?)????? Because they wanted to keep it. And they wanted to keep it for a reason. And that is a reason I have been seriously pondering since they announced they were going to make this film. And I think the reason they kept the name is because,....
This is my built-in "noise" quotient to build-up anticipation in lieu of a drum roll,...
They are citing another movie.
Which movie?
The greatest movie ever made about ants.
Which movie is that?
I can totally understand you not believing me, but I would expect you to believe the greatest living directors in Hollywood right now. In Turner Classic Movies' Watch the Skies! documentary about the sci-fi films of giant creatures made in the late 1940s and 1950s, TCM interviewed the directors who grew up watching those films, and they talk about how important they were to them (this is just the first part, but Them! is on there, and Spielberg talks about how it impacted him):
(To watch the rest, click on the video to go to YouTube and the rest of the episodes are there). I agree with the directors on how important Them! is, but I disagree with them on what it means (big surprise there). No, "them" wasn't "them" the communists, "them" was actually "us" the Americans turning into communists because we were losing contact with who we were, we were becoming a bunch of worker ants like those in the Soviet Union, and that's why Them! is such a powerful film, even today (it was one of the first films we watched in my first film criticism class I took).  Just as Them! was desperately trying to save our world from the ants, from the bad tendencies we ourselves were exhibiting and possibly destroying the world with, Ant Man's trailer seems to be building up to the same thing. I could be wrong, but I am willing to risk it. I could be wrong. Maybe. We'll see. In the meantime, watch Them! and here's my post on it: And the Beasts Shall Reign Over the Earth: Them! and Finding the Political Other Within.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

TRAILER: The Lazarus Effect & Penny Dreadful; SPECTRE and Pirates 5 News

Here it is: the trailer for The Lazarus Effect I saw yesterday at the theater that had not been released online yet; we also have a season 2 snippet for Penny Dreadful, but more on that in a moment. As I pointed out yesterday, there have been lots of films touching on or directly employing the theme of "resurrection," so I am not the least bit surprised to see an entire film about it.
There are several important elements about this poster, but I am going to let you have at it. Here are some hints: her eyes, the strand of hair, the color on the poster/her face, and the reflection in the black of her eye. Good luck!
We have seen "resurrection" used in Skyfall, when Bond tells Silva that his hobby is "Resurrection." We see resurrection at the start of and the end of Star Trek into Darkness: the little girl at the start of the film is given a rabbit by her parents (the rabbit being a symbol of Easter and the resurrection of Christ they hope for their daughter, more on that in a moment) and then we see Captain Kirk resurrected from radiation poisoning at the end of the film; we can also say that Kahn is resurrected from his deep sleep and not supposed to be disturbed. In Iron Man 3, Tony gives Pepper a huge stuffed rabbit for Christmas, again, a symbol of the resurrection that she herself will undergo later in the film after she falls into the inferno, and then rises again; the same themes are prevalent in Silent Hill: Revelation. There is also the evil demon in Evil Dead, and Charles Xavier in X-Men Days Of Future Past. We can say that the Dark Elves are resurrected in Thor: the Dark World, having woken up from a long sleep from which they were not supposed to awaken (and Loki's faked death); we may also include the Nine and Sauron from The Hobbit (all three of them) because the Necromancer had caused them to become resurrected, as well as Matt Damon's character in Interstellar.  We also see in in Brona Croft for Penny Dreadful (well, we haven't technically seen it yet).
On the left, the very first released image for Spectre, the Bond 24 film. Rather bleak, eh? At the top on the right is Dave Battista, from Guardians of the Galaxy (Drax), Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, whom you might remember as the blonde assassin who wanted to be paid in diamonds in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The Bond team are in the Austrian Alps where they are filming a sequence (middle shot of the hotel/restaurant) and Craig at the bottom. Spectre will be released in November in the US and October in the UK.
Again, the similarity to the 1990 film Flatliners isn't important (except that we are seeing a film that did quite well then be "somewhat remade because the vocabulary has something in common with events going on today). What's important is the pattern we have been seeing with resurrection being mentioned and enacted so many times recently (just as we saw with Godzilla, being referenced and then there being a Godzilla film). So, with all these examples, what does "resurrection" mean as a cultural "tag" for 2012-2015?
At 2:02, maybe you caught it?
John: 11.
What happens in John Chapter 11? Lazarus is brought back from the dead. This is important for two reasons. First, that blip we saw, along with the initial blips at the start of the trailer, are a way of saying something without saying something. We will be seeing more of that in the film, in one visual way or another. Secondly, by specifically citing John 11, the film is not just casually using the name "Lazarus," but specifically in a Christian context, which is why the film is going to be so interesting. As the verses in the chapter tell us, Lazarus died for God's glorification,... not Lazarus'. Or man's. Or anyone else's, just for God's glory. That's why Zoe (Olivia Wilde) goes to hell: in Greek, "zoe" means "life," or "alive," so she has abused her life she was given in "playing God," as the  woman in the trailer says, and not living, rather, directing her life towards death.
But it's even more serious than this.
The first released image of the set for Pirates of the Caribbean 5. Rumors are circulating about Orlando Bloom returning and, when pressed, he weighed in that they are filming them all at the same time, and he may be contacted to return, even though he's Davey Jones now, but Bloom also let slip that the new Davey Jones has a son, and that his Will Turner's role would focus on something having to do with his son. 
"Evil will rise," is the tagline, and that's because the power that was the glory of God's--the matter of life and death--has now been consecrated to the devil. How? Well, let's ask ourselves this: is there any place in America today, where there is the power to decide who lives or who dies? Yes, not only with Obamacare and the rationing of health care (the decision of who is most worthy to live and who is not) but also with the outrageous Veteran's Administration scandal and the putting of veterans on lists to receive operations and medicine with no intention of getting them that care, because they are veterans. That is playing God. Only God can decide who lives and who dies, but these examples of Obama's policies clearly link him to the Nazis who did the same things with party members receiving care and those who were "undesirable" being allowed to die or sent to concentration camps.  Now, onto Penny Dreadful Season 2. There is still no start date for the second season, but word leaks out now and then that certain episodes are finished (there are ten in all for season 2).
Vanessa Ives' (Eva Green) monologue is important in that, she has basically answered the cliffhanger question for us at the end of the last episode: do you want to be cured? The second scene is of Ethan, supposedly after his last werewolf outbreak, and it's possible the question Vanessa asks is directed at him, hoping he will use his "werewolfism" for something good (it's interesting though, because he really should have used it against that vampire controlling Mina in Season 1, because it takes a werewolf to kill a vampire; I'm so upset that Van Helsing is dead, that's a real bummer). It almost seems that a kind of "Monster Squad" is being put together by Vanessa; why? Helen McCrory, who plays Madame Kali, is much more powerful than we were led to believe, and if she is going after Sir Malcolm (this is just speculation) or going to try and unleash the evil that wasn't unleashed in the last season, than Vanessa is going to need help to stop her, if that's what is going to happen.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
The first released image of season 2 for Penny Dreadful fans. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Lazarus Effect & News

My deepest apology.
I have taken far more time off than I should have, and I am sorry. I just needed some vegetation time, and I have had it and am now working again. Sorry, but--as always--THANK YOU for putting up with me and still checking in and having faith that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death was released this week--like, two months early--and being so thrown off guard, I went and saw that today.
This poster not only summarizes the film perfectly, but all horror films. Essentially, we are the enemy, the ghost, the specter, the evil in a horror film and ascending staircases--as in this poster--or descending into the cellar is the way we find the ghost and find our truest, deepest selves--but also our highest, most heroic selves. Every single scene and image in the film is packed with symbols and imagery that needs unpacking, so this is going to be a lot of fun. If you go, be on the look out for "quotes" from The Conjuring and Annabelle. You do not need to have seen the first film in order to see this one, however, I do reccommend the first film highly; I saw it and had to go back and see it again, I thought it was so good, and wrote two different posts on it (Naming the Harlot and Queen Victoria, Monkeys and the Catholic Church).  There was a different team working on film #2, and it's decidedly anti-socialist. 
You know that my standard of "entertainment" relies solely on the degree of brain play involved with watching the film: given that, this was a sophisticated screenplay, well-acted and intimate little story that I will be thinking about for weeks. I am working on the post, which will be full of spoilers, so if you haven't seen it, or don't want to know what happens prior to seeing it, then don't read the post until after you've gotten to the cinema. One of the trailers attached to TWIB2 was this one with Olivia Wilde, The Lazarus Effect, opening February 27:
As always, it's not about originality or new story lines, that we are interested in, rather PATTERNS. RESURRECTION has been one of the dominant themes of the last two years (Captain America being resurrected from the ice, James Bond saying his hobby is "Resurrection," in Skyfall, the themes of resurrection in both Iron Man 3 [with Tony giving Pepper the big bunny, Easter symbol] and in Star Trek: Into Darkness with Kirk dying then coming back to life, and the rabbit at the start of the show in that as well; there is always the "resurrection of Charles Xavier in X-Men Days Of Future Past and probably others I am forgetting).  It doesn't matter if this is like Flatliners, what matters is that this is the chosen vocabulary these artists are using to describe the cultural events happening today; so, all we have to ask is, what is it students and young people have "resurrected" today that is evil?........
Even though the trailer is on the big screen, it's not on YouTube, or any where else on the internet. This film looks good. And I mean good. Olivia Wilde (above) is part of a student research team who has developed the Lazarus serum which--trial tested on animals--allows them to bring them back from the dead. So they do these experiments with a dog and let the dog die, then try to bring him back to life. They successfully bring the dog back to life, but the dog isn't a normal dog and has way too much brain wave action. They are doing another experiment and Wilde's character gets electrocuted and dies; her husband, a member of the team, decides to use the serum to bring her back. As you can see from the picture above, it's not the same woman who died. As soon as the trailer makes its way on line, I will post it.
Two films have just been released on video that I am interested in seeing: Stonehearst Asylum and As Above Below, the story of the archaeologists who go under the Paris streets to search the catacombs and find the gates of hell. I'm normally not at all into scary movies, however, this one peeked my interest (it's out at Redbox, by the way). Originally called Eliza Graves, Stoneheart Asylum is the film where the patients take over and imprison the original hospital staff, based upon the Edgar Allan Poe story, The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather.  Ouija is also out now. Speaking of Michael Caine, he's in Now You See Me 2, but he has stated that it will be his last film, as he's ready to retire. That's quite a career, Alfie. 
It has been confirmed that James Wan, director of The Conjuring and Fast and Furious 7, is doing The Conjuring 2. It also appears, due to a casting call being put out, that The Amazing Spider Man 3, with Andrew Garfield in the lead, is happening. After the Sony hacks, and evidence from leaked emails about a deal to have Spider Man (played by a different actor) appear in a Captain America film with a 60/40 profit sharing between Marvel and Sony, the deal wasn't signed. Garfield reportedly angered the upper-management at Sony after reportedly blaming them for the lowest box office haul of any Spider Man film. Marvel has announced that, on January 12, there will be a new trailer for The Avengers 2. 
A trailer that isn't making news is Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. It was rumored to be attached to The Hobbit 3, and wasn't (in fact, The Hobbit 3 had some pretty dismal trailers). In all actuality, this was probably a smart move. BvS doesn't happen for another 16 months, and the early Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer "disaster" was probably a lesson Zach Snyder took seriously, given that everyone was talking about the lightsaber, rather than the film. So, time to get to work, thank you for your patience!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner