Friday, August 22, 2014

Penny Dreadful Release Dates & The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death

The hit series Penny Dreadful finally has a release date: the series will be available on a 3-disc version via Amazon for $41.38 plus shipping ($46.74 for Blu-ray, plus shipping); shortly before that, it will probably be released on iTunes and you can purchase the episodes individually. For an unspecified limited time, you can download, for freethe Penny Dreadful Multipack Illustrated/Annotated set featuring Wehr-Wolf, Varney the Vampyr, and The Mysteries of London Vol 1. Again, this is a free download for Kindle; if you don't have a Kindle, go to this link to download the free app, then download--literally--hundreds of free classics to read. Most of the books upon which the series has been based, such as the Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeBram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein can all be downloaded for free (along with lots of others).
Ethan (Josh Hartnett) has been a rather secretive character throughout Season 1, although numerous hints have been dropped. I haven't seen episodes 6-8, where Ethan changes, so I am not quite ready to post my thoughts on the series (this is why doing TV shows is so hard: you are always waiting for the artists' final word on what they want to say about something).  What I am most concerned about, knowing that Ethan is a werewolf and not a priest, is the "exorcism" he "performs" in Episode 6, Possession, on Vanessa (Eva Green). Given that Ethan is a werewolf, he, too, is possessed, and as the Bible tells us in Mark 3:24, "a house divided cannot stand," that is, a demon cannot cast out a demon from another possessed person. This leads us to two possibilities: first, the demon within Ethan is stronger than the demon possessing Vanessa, and that's why Ethan "has authority" over Vanessa's tormentor, and why Ethan can cast it out (i.e., Ethan is essentially possessed by a greater evil than is Vanessa). The other possibility is that, since God is outside of time (and we as mortals, are "inside" or subject to time) God took the prayers He didn't answer for Vanessa in Episode 5, Closer Than Sisters, and answered Ethan's and Vanessa's prayers with Vanessa's Grace from when she said those initial prayers (God exists outside of time, so He can take a prayer that we say in the past, and apply it to the future when He knows we will need that Grace more). One of the most important clues to Ethan being a werewolf comes from Brona when, at the theater, with her heavy accent, she called him "Eat-ing" rather than "Ethan," and Ethan points it out to her (it's easier to read it in the subtitles than listen for it), because Brona understands that Ethan is a man of the appetites and his appetites rule over him. This leads us to Ethan's werewolf teeth: do they remind you of a vampire? This could be a sign that Ethan is a stronger demon than the "Master" vampire that was possessing (or trying to possess) Vanessa: Ethan is both wolf and vampire, the master and the slave, the ruler and the one who can kill a vampire (there have been legends that only werewolves can kill dominant vampires because those vampires are strong enough to rule over the undisciplined werewolf; if the werewolf is desirous enough to break the bond, he can kill the vampire, we saw this in Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman). Another interpretation is that the demon holding possession over Ethan has only a "topical possession," that is, Ethan's soul is battling the beast but Ethan is NOT possessed: he is being allowed to battle this demon so his soul can become stronger; I don't really buy this, though, at least not at this point in the story, because Ethan just doesn't strike me as a strong character; this does, however, highlight for all of us the nature of sin, namely, that whatever our temptations, they are at the door of the soul, and if we don't open the door--regardless of how hard they push to get through--we have protected our soul. The strength, then, comes from recognizing that it's an evil spirit at the door trying to get in, then not letting the evil spirit in; when we sin, this is what we do, we either fail to properly discern, or we fail to stand strong against the temptation. Regarding Ethan, he recognizes his tendency to "wolf out" as we witness when he's with Dorian Gray at the dog vs rat ring: we can say that, in spite of Dorian's offer to become someone else, Dorian has pointed out to Ethan exactly who he is: a raging animal. The question is, then, why does this image appeal to Dorian, and how does Dorian's guess of the number of rats the dog would kill emphasize the Dorian really has an accurate idea of who, and what, Ethan really is? Later, at Dorian's house, when Ethan kisses Dorian and engages him in sex, is this a part of Ethan's appetites, or is this the fulfillment of Dorian's promise to "be someone else?" In having sex with Dorian, in other words, Ethan kind of becomes Dorian and ceases to be Ethan for a bit? Remember, these are both men with serious and mounting sins that are literally destroying their souls and even their temporal identities (Dorian casting all his sins onto the hidden portrait, and Ethan accumulating his sins of the murders within the hidden part of his animal nature). 
It's my understanding the following film is going straight to DVD, regrettable, because the film makers also made The Devil Inside, which I thought was brilliant, but earned a 6% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes,.... either they are wrong, or I am, we both can't be right. Anyway, the film makers have put together this film called Wer and features some of their stylistic signatures:
I think it was last summer, I had gone to the library to look for a book, and I passed the Information Desk; a little, white-haired lady was asking a young man, "What's a zombie?" She lucked out that I refrained from stopping to fully answer her question, because we would have been there awhile. What we can and should do, like her, is ask, "What's a werewolf?" I don't mean the man who turns into a wolf by the light of the full moon, but I do mean, "Why was the werewolf invented?" What cultural and social need does the monster fulfill, to not only enter society, but stay as a main part of the vocabulary of moral diction? A werewolf, simply put, is a man who cannot/will not control his appetites and thereby loses the dignity of his humanity by indulging his need for sex. Heretofore, if there was a female equivalent for a "werewolf," it probably would have been a Bride of Dracula (something like Mina in Penny Dreadful; please see caption notes below for more details).
This is a great scene, actually; why? Talan, the werewolf is "reaching for her," and why does he think he can drag her into his vortex of sexuality? She's wearing a leather jacket, she has a few strands of hair loose and we only see half of her profile. The leather jacket denotes her "animal" tendencies (like Talan's body hair--Talan is the name of the main character, the wolf man--she has part of an animal she is showing/wearing, probably because she herself is sexually active and therefore, just as likely for her sexual passions to get out of hand as Talan's passions). We know that hair symbolizes thoughts, so even though her hair is pulled back--a sign she disciplines herself and she tends to be logical--there are some strands loose, meaning she herself is "loose" about her approach to sexuality. Lastly, we see her in profile, so there is an entire part of her that is "hidden" just as Talan's animal nature appears to be hidden. We don't see Talan's face--his hair covers his face most of the time--and that symbolizes that his thoughts have "erased" his identity--our face is the seat of our identity, so to speak, people identify who we are by our face--so for his hair, i.e., his thoughts, to be covering his face, something about his thoughts tells us that they are destroying who he is. Simply put, even if we never see him commit any kind of an act of impurity or sexuality, he is always thinking about sex--he doesn't discipline his thoughts, which is why his hair hangs down and is so long and greasy--he is constantly thinking about sex that in turn is destroying his humanity and identity because he acts like an animal who only tends to his physical needs, rather than a human with a soul who has spiritual needs.  Another important aspect of the trailer is that they attempt to "diagnose" Talan as having a "condition," and that doesn't work out so well; why is this important? Not everything is the realm of science: just as science tends to reduce us to animals, and everything about us either falls into the normal or abnormal category, according to how it has been observed by scientists, so science thinks it can handle every "condition" by classifying it and monitoring it; some things, however, belong to the realm of the soul and the Church. As I noted above, women generally have not been likened to werewolves because the sexual appetite has always been something men generally have dealt with but women haven't been burdened by; that's changed. Films such as Dark Shadows, The Cabin In the Woods, Underworld: Awakening, and probably several TV programs, have demonstrated how women have started becoming werewolves, too. This is a devastating development and we can blame this, squarely, with the Left because of their preaching of promiscuity, abortion, contraceptives and denigration of marriage. Again, ten years ago, there were no female werewolves, now there are several, and they represent that a change has taken place in society, and not for the better. 
I am rather confident that Wer follows the general theme of the classic An American Werewolf in London: in the trailer, for example, the middle class family on vacation gets attacked by the werewolf. Throughout AAWIL, men and women from all classes were being attacked by the werewolf who refused to to kill his sexual appetites and, therefore, his bad, explicit sexual behavior was having a bad effect on everyone (which is why part of the film takes place in a porn theater, the main character is "living a life of porn"). Wer, likewise, probably depicts the disintegration of various parts of society due to this one man's disintegration into sexual oblivion; the question is, how does the film depict this? On a different note, but maybe not so different, the sequel to The Woman in Black has finally released their first trailer (you might recall another trailer being released last summer, that was perfectly hideous, and taking place in a more modern day sense; that is not what this film is about):
This is something of an important film: The Woman In Black (the first one of 2012) is the highest grossing British horror film in 20 years. The film was so well made, I actually wrote two very different posts on it, from different critical perspectives (please see Queen Victoria, Monkeys and the Catholic Church: The Woman In Black and Naming the Harlot: The Woman In Black for more). The synopsis is that, during World War I, children are sent out from London to the countryside and a group take residence at Eel Marsh House, awakening the Woman In Black who haunts there. Originally, the narrative made Eel Marsh House a temporary hospital for convalescing soldiers injured before they returned home or back to the front. The ominous rocking chair in the trailer is familiar to those of us who have seen the film--I almost screamed in the theater, it scared me so much!--so that it re-appears confirms, I suppose, that this will be the narrative we are familiar with; it will be released in the UK next year.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Posted via Twitter, the hand that holds the note is NOT the robotic hand of Luke Skywalker, rather, the hand of the villain, who was initially described as being a "Sith Witch" on the net. What's important about this is the symbolic correlation that will be made to Luke's robotic hand, vs the robotic hand of the villain. The hands, especially the right hand, symbolizes our strength, our ability to defend ourselves and what we believe (even if that is believing in something bad). The grand question this image poses is, "Is the hatred and anger of the Sith Inquisitor greater than Luke's love and devotion to freedom and righteousness?" It's possible that Luke will die, we can even say, it's probable: whether he's slain--even by his nephew (more on Adam Driver's character below)--or he willingly sacrifices himself like Obi-Wan in Star Wars, it's likely Luke dies in this film. "Death," however, is different for a Jedi Knight, so even if Luke Skywalker does die, he will be a great hero for it.
This is a huge spoiler alert (well, nothing that probably won't show up in some way in the first or second trailer) but I have warned you: if you want to go into Star Wars VII December 2015 totally tabula rasa, then stop reading, like, now.
This might seem like a petty thing, however, Mark Hamill, portraying Luke Skywalker, has grown quite the beard for his character, and I think we can deduce quite a bit about Luke from this. We must remember: Luke hasn't been seen since Return Of the Jedi, about 30 years ago from the present day the film takes place; what circumstances would permit Leia to not see her twin brother in 30 years? The beard helps to explain: he's been in retreat, as in, a spiritual retreat from the rest of the world. As always, I don't mean to insult any men by this comment: this is art, which is absolute, not your personal style. Facial hair on a man denotes "the wild man" or the "uncivilized man," which has a positive and a negative spin: the civilized men of Rome shaved their faces to show their culture and learning, whereas the barbarians on the frontier retained their facial hair, so on the negative side, a man who has facial hair has given into his appetites and has given himself over to his baser, animal nature; on the positive side, a man with facial hair has "renounced the world" and has turned inwards to overcome all his desires and appetites. Knowing that Luke is a Jedi, the last option is most likely, so Luke grew a beard when he retired from the world at the end of Return Of the Jedi, which he did to become even stronger with the Force. Something happens, though, when you make this spiritual retreat: you become weaker before you become stronger, because without purging yourself of all the appetites and base desires, you can't progress (something that has been a point of contention in Catholic academic circles is whether or not really good people have base desires: it is my personal position that the really good people--like those who become saints--have just as many base desires as the rest of us, they just manage to overcome them, which not only makes them saints because of the strength they have, but because of all the good left within them after the bad has been removed; I imagine it's like that for Jedis, too). So, it's my theory, at this point, that while Luke was off in retreat, meditating and working with the Force, he allowed himself to become weak in his self-purification, and during this weakness, the Sith caught him. Now, the obvious question: Luke was the best Jedi alive, why bother with self-purification? For two reasons: first, because if  you don't keep progressing, then you digress and, secondly, because Luke knew there would always be threats in the universe that he would have to battle, so he was working on becoming stronger so he would be able to meet that challenge; it appears, though, that Luke either underestimated their strength, when the Sith would be strong enough to rise again or how much personal baggage he would have to overcome (I mean, his dad was Darth Vader, when he left his aunt and uncle's house, the storm troopers came and killed them, and he fell in love with his sister).  
The main villain is a Sith Inquisitor.
This is a massive bit of news and, primarily, it means, that director/writer JJ Abrams is going to deliver an incredible film. Why should we all be excited about this? An "Inquisitor" is one who is likened to a thought police, they insure everyone thinks the same thing. One of the places we can look to in order to find Inquisitors is, my home, the Catholic Church, which have the most (in)famous Inquisitions (but have been largely mis-aligned by modern feminists and Wicca members). In some ways, an Inquisitor is good: with large numbers of converts from other religions, the Church wanted to insure they were genuinely converting and not just hiding behind some creeds and prayers, endangering the rest of the populace depending on the Church to teach them solid doctrine. In other ways, Inquisitors are bad, and it really depends on which side of the fence you are on. How we know which side to take is that Luke Skywalker, the great American hero, is the hostage of the Sith Inquisitor in Star Wars VII.
This isn't a great image, but this is supposed to be the Sith Inquisitor, with red eyes, a red lightsaber and some robotic upgrades; he holds the damaged armor of Darth Vader, and it's unclear if this was from the funeral pyre Luke had built or if the Sith recovered it some other way, and what he's doing with it now (someone has suggested that they intend to clone Vader's DNA). Tellingly, there is a huge hole in the head of the mask of Vader, suggesting that, what was in Vader's head--Vader's thoughts and ideas--have been salvaged. Again, as regular readers know, red (like all the colors) has a positive and a negative meaning: red either means we love someone enough to shed our (red) blood for them, or we hate them enough to shed their (red) blood to appease our wrath, so it's easy to figure out why the Sith would have red eyes, they see the object/subject of their anger in all that they see and want to take vengeance on it all.
So, it's not just the body, i.e., the person of Luke Skywalker who is hostage, but everything that Luke Skywalker symbolizes: the good use of the Force, sacrifice, heroism and freedom (remember, he, Leia and Han fought for freedom from the evil empire and Darth Vader)--not only to live as one chooses--but to fulfill and reach your maximum potential as an individual. Knowing this, we can say, definitely, that the Sith Inquisitor is a thought police, and--quite simply--no other movement is more famous for its thought police than socialism and its re-education camps (we have all ready seen them in the re-make of Red Dawn with Chris Hemsworth). Now, let's be fair: I can clearly see some liberal (a socialist in hippie clothes) accusing me of twisting the plot with just these scanty details and forcing it into my own world view. Before 2008, however, were there any "mind police?" Political correctness, yes, but that is the weaponized speech of liberals and socialists, not conservatives and capitalists: did anyone get dragged off to a re-education camp when Reagan was president? Did the federal government force states to implement a "common core" education curriculum advocating that the president is a "messiah?"
No, but socialists have done that.
It's rather difficult to see in this image, but Han appears to be now carrying a second holster, in other words, he carries two guns instead of just one as formerly. It could be that he feels the threats in the universe have doubled, or that he in particular is threatened. It would be possible to deduce that Han is now handicapped, by age and natural digression (whereas Luke had gone on retreat--I am speculating--to advance his spirituality, Han has stayed in the world and become ever a greater part of it) and because Han has "lost his mojo," he now needs two guns instead of one; it would be possible to deduce that, however, I don't think that's accurate (please note, this may not be an actual costume we see Han wearing, but it gives us an idea about his character development heretofore). First, the shirt Han wears sports a high collar: our neck symbolizes that to which we allow ourselves to become yoked, like a leash, good things and bad things. The high collar suggests that Han has been selective in what he allows himself to become attached to (we have to attach ourselves to certain things and people, otherwise we aimlessly drift) without becoming attached to bad things (since his shirt is white, that suggests he is alive in faith and hope).  The long brown trench coat, however, is the most telling piece: brown is the color of earth, so that either means Han has become humble as the earth (we are created from dirt) or he has become as dirty as the earth (filthy); given Han's stature as a criminal and rogue, this isn't inconceivable, however, given that he is working, and it appears to be humble work, especially when he and Leia could have been living it up, the brown coat covering him suggests that he has spent thirty years being humbled by circumstances, which has made him stronger, and details of the next image below confirm this as well.
Another aspect of the plot we know is that one of the children of Han and Leia (presumably the son played by Adam Driver) is going to turn to the Dark Side, which is the event triggering the next installments of Star Wars. There is another plot point that has come to light: when the young heroes who find Luke's robotic hand, Han and Chewie are not in the Millennium Falcon, but in a Super Star Destroyer (whatever that is). The most famous spaceship in the universe, it turns out, is in possession of Oscar Isaac's character (Inside Llewyn Davis which Adam Driver was also in). Why is this important:? For at least two reasons. First, even though he married a princess, Han and Leia are still working-class folk, not relying on her inheritance or royal position (read: entitlement) for their means (which validates the virtue of work); secondly, Han and Leia have probably had some hard financial times, knowing how Han tends to lose the MF when he has money troubles. So, we can say, in other words, that Star Wars VII is going to be an accurate reflection of America today, which is exactly what we would expect.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
It appears that one of the places where Han searches for Luke is cold, like, really cold. Arguably, when they were all hiding out on Hoth (the cold planet in The Empire Strikes Back) it was cold then and Han wasn't much more than a criminal at that point, so what's the issue? The cold can symbolize the meditative state, or an advanced spiritual state (as in the 7th Sphere of Dante's Paradiso in The Divine Comedy where the Contemplatives are (because they have forsaken the physical pleasures in life to take up the pleasures/pursuits of the mind, it's cold to reveal that their bodies are cold [unresponsive] to desires). One of the most important lessons my spiritual director has taught me is that we often have to go down the same path more than once: each time we go down a path, we learn a deeper lesson, we strengthen our inner-eyesight, so we can overcome the lingering faults that we weren't strong enough to overcome earlier; every fault symbolizes a battle, but we have to build up our strength to win each battle. IF Han goes back to Hoth in search of Luke, that will remind us of the first time Han had to go in search of Luke on the frozen planet and Abrams will be intentionally reminding us of that for a specific purpose, so we will be the "implied reader" since we will have remembered it and be thinking of it, if it comes up.

Monday, August 11, 2014

TRAILERS: The Book Of Life, The Theory Of Everything, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel & The Penguins Of Madagascar

Click on the image to enlarge. This list of all the super-hero films coming out through 2020 comes from Yahoo! Why are all these genre-specific films coming out, with huge budgets spent on them, at this time in history? These are pertinent questions, in fact, many film theorists would say these are the questions forming the only real basis for studying film at all (I wouldn't say that but some would). We didn't see films like this, or with the audience response, prior to 2008 (Marvel was in the garbage can, to put it mildly, until Iron Man came out in 2008, describing a United States that no longer exists; granted, Batman Begins came out in 2005, but that was more of a hero film, rather than a "super-hero" film, not the kind of films being made today).  So, what happened, crossing that 2008-threshold? Not only do the super-heroes remind us of the "super-power" stature that America was--hopefully so we can try to rise to that again, as the world falls to pieces--but so Americans can be reminded of who we are and why we are what we are:  there's not point in having a Captain America that Americans can't relate to, or a Super Man we can't aspire to become ourselves, or a Thor who doesn't exhibit heroic virtues, or a Wonder Woman that doesn't know what leadership is about or a Wolverine who won't sacrifice everything to save the world. We have to be reminded of these (essentially) morality issues because the actual leadership of this country isn't doing it. These super-hero films remind Americas that, we not only have standards, we have "super standards." On an entirely different note, I have no intention of making this a blog solely about trailers being released, even though the only posts I have managed to get up lately have been those. I saw Guardians Of the Galaxy and loved it, EXCELLENT film, but haven't made it to either Hercules or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which had a fantastic opening weekend, so TMNT 2 is all ready in the pipes with a reserved release date). Writing on a sustained topic has just become so difficult, I can't seem to write anything nor complete that which I can write. Sigh. Thank you for always stopping by to check for a new post.
About three years ago, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came out (this was also the year I started the blog and I was having to pick films to write about carefully); along with Captain America: the First Avenger, the narratives were too advanced for me to fully comprehend what was going on to really understand the dialogue taking place; so what was the film about? Resurrecting capitalism in England. Yes, the film largely takes place in India, but it's also largely a lesson to the English about what works and why. They have now come out with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the whole gang is back (well, except Tom Wilkinson):
Now, the last film I saw Richard Gere in was Arbitrage, a decidedly pro-socialist, rabidly anti-capitalist film (come on, Susan Sarandon was in it, I did get the post up on that one: Capitalizing On Imbalance: Arbitrage). I don't know for sure, but it seems, given the overt pro-capitalist message of the first film, that Gere's appearance might be like Robert Redford's in Captain America: the Winter Soldier, or Ben Affleck in Batman vs Superman, Julianne Moore in Mockingjay or Whoopi Goldberg in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Josh Brolin as Thanatos in Guardians Of the Galaxy, namely, a way to demonstrate to the audience that the actor they are seeing is the villain of the film, the actor and what they stand for and advocate. I could be wrong, but there are quite a few films we know doing this so it's worth our consideration.
Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) as she appeared in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire; on the far right is her poster for Mockingjay (due out in November). 
Somehow, I missed the first trailer for the upcoming animated film The Book Of Life, so we will watch both of them:
Again, Channing Tatum is the voice of the villain, the bad friend, and Channing Tatum just happens to be a big-time liberal. In-and-of-itself, that doesn't mean a whole lot, but what we can cobble together of the narrative seems to indicate that The Book Of Life is neither the Communist Manifesto, nor Rules For Radicals:
So, like Into the Woods (and the multitude of other fairy tales being released) The Book Of Life suggests that our stories contain the wisdom that enlivens our lives (as opposed to letting us walk around like zombies); why is this important? This underscores individuality, which socialists deny (on the surface they may act like they support it, but in their world of twister and perverted nature, no, they don't, because even one individual--in the true sense of the word--is too much competition for a socialist government, so it can't be allowed). Our next trailer is what could be an Oscar-nom for young Eddie Redmayne (Black Death, My Week With Marilyn) as he portrays young Stephen Hawking:
I am fascinated by theoretical physics, and were I able to do math, I definitely would have gone into this field, so it is interesting to me. Hawking is an atheist even though Jane, the woman he married, was/is a devout Christian. This film may rather be like the newest Benedict Cumberbatch film, The Imitation Game, reminding Britons of their great accomplishments and spirit and not to give in, not to surrender, but I can only hope; it certainly communicates hope, doesn't it? Speaking of Mr. Cumberbatch, my favorite "looking-forward-to-film" has released their second trailer!
What song plays in the background? No, not Riverdance, Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone, which was featured in Tom Cruise's 1986 hit Top Gun,  the ultimate movie about competition; so, why would they bring this in? Skipper and Classified (the wolf, Cumberbatch) are like Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in Top Gun, they are busy competing with each other, instead of working with each other. Part of the conflict--and rightly so--stems from North Wind's task to "help animals who can't help themselves," which is a worthy and noble task, but--as Skipper points out--"If anyone's going to save us, it's us." Self-sufficiency and personal responsibility are not points of the socialist gospel.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, August 4, 2014

TRAILERS: The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies, Mockingjay, Mad Max, Interstellar & Night At the Museum 2

We all know Captain America's shield is indestructible,... until it isn't. We have actually analyzed the meaning of Cap's shield before, but seeing it busted into three pieces from last week's Comic-Con, perhaps we should re-visit it. There are two bands of red, so that suggests that, somehow, both the meanings of red exist within this one shield: red either means we love something so much we are willing to shed our (red) blood for it, or we are so angry with someone/thing, we are willing to shed their (red) blood over it. The outer red band probably refers to Cap's anger he gets when he sees acts of injustice and corruption, because that spurs him onto action (please recall, in Dante's Inferno, Dante gets angry with the soul of the wrathful and is blessed for it, the reason being that anger can be a good emotion when properly used, by Dante and Captain America, but just like everything else, it can be abused and used for harmful purposes. Separating the two circles of red is the circle of silver, and this shouldn't give us any problems: just as silver has to be purified in fire, and the smith be able to see his/her face in the silver to know when it's "done," so Captain America has to discern--not only the situation calling him to action--but also his own heart and motivation for doing what he feels compelled to do. After Captain America discerns his heart and mind, he then comes to the second circle of red, love. Remember, Steve Rogers became Captain America because he was the only one who dived on a "live" grenade to save his fellow Americans. The center of the shield is where the true strength lies: we know that blue symbolizes both depression and wisdom, because the gaining of wisdom often comes at the expense of great sadness, and Captain knows both, but because he has so self-lessly sacrificed himself to fight the Nazis in Germany and the socialists in America, he is a star, a legend, one whose devotion and courage will never be forgotten,... until it is. Seeing the shield broken and busted isn't just a shield, it's Captain America himself broken and busted, because the shield symbolizes his heart and who he is; for the shield to be busted, means he himself is busted (it appears that we will see something similar to this in Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice with Superman going through a similar experience).  To see Captain America broken and beaten is, ultimately, to see America broken and beaten (America having believed we were indestructible like the shield until our enemy smuggled himself into the White House). So, why 3 pieces? That's an excellent question, and my answer may be wrong, but it will at least offer a starting platform for us: the nation is divided in two parts right now, the conservatives and the liberals, which probably represents the biggest breakage in the shield--we haven't been so divided since the Civil War--but the third break is probably the past (then again, it could be the future, but I think it's the past) because Captain America himself largely symbolizes America's past as a super-power after World War II (the serum he took to build him up is very similar to what happened to America to become a dominant player in world politics). So conservatives are destroyed, liberals are destroyed and the past making up America's identity is destroyed. It has been revealed that Ultron (James Spader) is not going to put in motion events to just rule the world, rather, he accepts that the world will have to get worse before he can make it better, so that's why so many people will have to die,.... sound familiar to anyone?
Three big trailers have been released this week: the long-awaited The Hobbit: the Battle Of Five Armies, the first official trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and a re-boot of Mad Max: Fury Road. In trailers that have been shown and put together for official events, one trailer for the final The Hobbit supposedly had Gandalf saying, "The time has come for each to choose a side," and, in a different trailer, only five words were said in the entire two minutes. It appears that Peter Jackson is still editing the film--there is a massive battle scene--and that's why this trailer looks the way it does, so keep that in mind:
What we will witness is the ultimate tragedy: Smaug's words come true. In the last film, Smaug told Bilbo he was tempted to let Bilbo take the Arkenstone so Smaug could see the ruin it would bring on Thorin, and that is exactly what happens, Thorin proves he is no king (in the truest sense of the word). The song in the trailer is from Pippin singing about Bilbo's journey, which Pippin sings before the big battle that takes place in The Lord Of the Rings: Return Of the King; the song reminds us that others will remember Bilbo because of what he did and be inspired themselves to make great acts of heroism, but that's not all that is going on here; of course, the trailer starts out with Bilbo saying that he will "remember" so why is "memory" being invoked? For at least two reasons: one, because Thorin forgets, and, two, because of the oral tradition carrying their history. Thorin both forgets how his grandfather acted before him (going crazy with the gold) and how a real king is supposed to behave; because Bilbo vows he won't forget anything of his journey, Bilbo where succeed where Thorin fails (in learning life's lessons). It's a subtle reminder that we don't just watch films for entertainment, but--as well--the inherent morality contained within.
When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey begins, Bilbo Baggins had just finally begun remembering his journey, and committing it to paper for Frodo (and anyone else interested). These two posters look entirely different, yet they invoke the same concept: Bard, on the left, will fulfill his destiny by killing Smaug; Bilbo, on the right, will be a part of Bard fulfilling his destiny by humility--him kneeling down--courage (his little but powerful sword Sting) and understanding (his head bowed in an act of meditation). As I have put forth (though the post isn't done yet, sorry) Bard is the main character of the book and films, Bilbo is a psychoanalytic double, so what happens to Bilbo, happens to Bard: what ever virtues Bilbo accumulates, Bard receives those so he can do what he has to do: kill the dragon. Thorin is also a psychoanalytic double for Bard: the bad traits exhibited by Thorin are temptations Bard has to overcome in himself so he doesn't fall prey to them himself (vicariously, this is the basic approach of readers/viewers to anything we encounter: we have to have some relationship with the characters so we feel their pain, their joy and triumphs so we can learn from them and change the course of our own lives so we can fulfill our own destinies, just like Bard). Ultimately, we can say, because Bilbo has been looking inward throughout his journey (as he does in the poster) Bard can look outward at Smaug; because Bilbo has used Sting (think of "stinging pain") on the monsters within himself (remember that nasty creature he killed when he had momentarily lost The Ring in Mirkwood? Yea, those monsters) Bard can now face the fiery pain of Smaug and live. In the poster on the right, Bilbo's gesture and the environment--including the sold of the snow--suggest that Bilbo has ascended to the highest possible level of consciousness and virtue Bilbo was destined to; Bilbo's journey, while not complete (because passing on what we have learned so others can learn is also part of our journey) has climaxed in terms of personal accomplishments; because that which is small and child-like in Bard--what Bilbo symbolizes in us all--has come to full fruition, Bard can face his greatest fear, which is not just a terrible fire-breathing dragon (symbolic of the devil) but also the fear of failing as his ancestor Gideon failed. The interior temple of the right-sided poster is replaced with the exterior public square in the left poster, because everything we accomplish within ourselves is meant to be translated into larger and greater actions for society as a whole, which is exactly what Bard 
So, what do we have? Thorin Oakenshield proves he only remembers the bad things everyone has done and it going to get even with everyone, even those in Lake Town who helped him get to the Lonely Mountain (which is what the war is about to begin with). The "war" that Thorin chooses isn't a surprise because he's been at war with himself the entire journey; Pippin's song, then, isn't to draw our attention to the idea that there was a really big battle in TLOR and now, if you can believe it, there is going to be a really big battle in The Battle of Five Armies,... wow! No, that's not what this is about: if we don't win our inner-battles, we certainly are not going to win our daily battles, or even bigger battles.
Why is Pippin's song played in the trailer? As we said, to remind us of The Lord Of the Rings, and the direction that all the consequences all the events in The Hobbit will have on the future, but also, specifically, to compare Aragorn (Vigo Mortenson) to Thorin Oakenshield, the good king, and the bad king. You should ask, "How can we say that Thorin is bad? We have been with him this whole journey and he hasn't done anything unjust or cruel?" There are three definite ways we can say that Thorin is bad: first, the way he treats Thranduil (Legolas' father) when Thranduil offers to help him get to the Lonely Mountain. Thorin's refusal to forgive--even for the sake of his own immediate advantage!--is a sign that Thorin has a hard heart wherein virtue cannot grow (we see, for example, Bilbo forgive Thorin for Thorin's mean treatment of him and lack of faith in Bilbo).  Secondly, we can say that Thorin is bad because of what Smaug says: Smaug symbolizes the devil, so it's not that we can "trust" Smaug because Smaug is telling the truth, rather, because Smaug is telling Bilbo how Smaug "knows" Thorin (this is the reason Gandalf wanted to bring Bilbo: Smaug doesn't "know" hobbits because hobbits don't commit the kinds of sins and crimes of the soul that dwarfs do).  Thirdly, we can say that Thorin is bad because of Azog the Defiler. The qualities we see in Azog exist because Azog is a psychoanalytic double for Thorin, the way Gollum is a psychoanalytic double for Bilbo (our vices are physically manifested in the forms the villains take). Azog has become stronger throughout the journey--he's been promoted to the head of Sauron's army--so instead of Thorin's virtue being able to weaken, even overcome and destroy Azog, Azog has become stronger because of Thorin's vices. 
This lesson doesn't apply just to Thorin: Sauron/the Necromancer has become strong enough to attack because everyone has allowed themselves to become weak (what Galadriel refers to as "their blindness"). Each character must overcome their own blindness in order to overcome the evil threatening--not only them as individuals--but all of Middle Earth as well.
Chris Hemsworth as Eric the Huntsman in Snow White and the Huntsman; due to her affair with the director during filming, Kristen Stewart has not been asked back, and that's probably why they decided not to do a sequel, they are, instead, making a pre-quel with Hemsworth and Charlize Theron reprising their roles that will, supposedly, center on how the two of them met before the events depicted in SWH
Another highly-anticipated trailer was just released: the new Mockingjay Part 1 from The Hunger Games: as I have mentioned elsewhere, significant changes have taken place since The Hunger Games was initially released some two years ago (change in director and scripts) which means, instead of reflecting pro-socialist ties as the first film did, The Hunger Games Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 both appear to be more capitalist in their nature, especially with the messages being released by President Snow before this trailer came out:
The point I would most like to make about this trailer is,... Julianne Moore. Captain America: the Winter Soldier had Robert Redford--a notorious liberal--playing the villain in that film, and--knowing Moore's character is a villain and she's a liberal like Redford--we might deduce that they are casting liberals as villains so we don't miss their point (two other films possibly taking this stance are Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice with Ben Affleck playing Batman, and Whoopi Goldberg in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). When Moore's character says, "The Games destroyed her," she's referring to Katniss becoming capitalist, becoming good at killing others for her own advancement (which is how socialists see capitalism, or at least want others to see capitalism) and so,... this is where it gets complicated.
Yea, that looks really bad. In trying to depict the inhabitants of the Capitol as perfect, untouchable and flawless, they have instead turned out to look like albino zombies (check out how dark Peeta's and Johanna's eyes are). The total white-scape, however, also emphasizes another aspect of socialism we might not pick up on without an image such as this: sameness. Socialism seeks to destroy everything that resists socialism, which is one way of rooting out difference, but it also seeks to make each "unit' (how human beings are described in socialist states) as efficient as possible, and as obedient as possible, so anyone who isn't as strong, beautiful, mindless, etc., will be destroyed, and only certain strands of DNA mined for future generations; we have all ready seen this in Man Of Steel and Clark Kent's home planet.
Because this might be the point where the original socialist intents of the author of the books "poisons" the attempts of the director to provide us with a less pro-socialist film, and, in stead, revolt against the government that has become tyrannical (Obama). Towards the end of the trailer, who are all the people looking to Katniss? The young, kids, teenagers, the early-twenty-soemthings, in a word: the Millennials. The very group Obama claims supported him in the election are being shown as leading the revolution against the Obama figure, Snow. How's that for a "reversal of fortune?"
Speaking of Clark Kent, here is a scene from Superman v Batman being filmed in Detroit. Maybe it's just me, but the Wayne Enterprises sign in mid-screen looks like Wolverine's claws,...? Anyone else get that idea? It's going to be interesting because Wayne Enterprises will be going up against Lex Luthor's (Jesse Eisenberg) "Google-like" company.
Liberals being cast as villains might not be a good approach to take towards understanding a film's position, but--as we shall see in this new trailer with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp--it certainly carries a point with it, and with the near-fanatic level of fairy tale revivals taking place means that this is important: fairy tales are the secular morality plays for a culture, so with all the fairy tales being re-examined in films--major, expensive cinematic productions--we are consciously being led to a re-examination of those very morals contained in the tales, either to be indoctrinated into believing that they are something other than what we thought they were, as with Jack the Giant Slayer and Maleficent, or to remind us of the morality that has preserved and protected us for so long, and that we need to embrace it again (such as Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman).
"I wish," "I wish," "I wish," these are important statements with which to introduce a new film: I wish. THere is a clear "I" (it's Jack of the Bean Stalk, Rapunzel with the hair and Cinderella with the glass slippers, we know who they are and what happens to them, they are individuals who overcome their circumstances, which is not supported by socialism: only the government can help you and "you" as an "I" don't exist). We have no idea how faithful--if at all--the film will be to the original tales, but there are a couple of hints and, as always, I could be wrong, so this is just speculation. First, Johnny Depp is well-known for being a liberal and his support of socialism, so when he's advertised as being in the film, but they only show his hand, and clearly the hand of a villain (he plays the Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood), then that suggests this film--like Captain America the Winter Soldier casting Redford as a villain--wants us to see these actors and what we associate with them as villainy. We can clearly say the same thing of Meryl Streep being cast as a witch. Again, I could be wrong, but only in a free society are we allowed to wish and to follow our dreams, with all their consequences and demands for our personal growth.
Oh, by the way, Into the Woods is a musical, which introduces its own set of artistic variables (which moments contain songs and which don't) so that will add a further dimension to be explored. In this scene, Chris Pine is Cinderella's Prince Charming, and I can't tell you how happy I am! We know Pine, he is Captain Kirk and Jack Ryan, he's a masculine, physical actor, unlike Brandon Thwaites who was the Prince in Maleficent and was made to look to effeminate. The casting of a "real man" in the role of the Prince supports my hopes that this will be a great film!
The voices stating, "I wish" opening Into the Woods is similar to the voices opening this trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, but these voices resemble more of the (artistic) noise we have started becoming familiar with: "guzzling gasoline" and "wasting water" are some of the catch phrases we are meant to pick up and, if we didn't, then the two-headed lizard should signal that something is really wrong. In spite of--again, I could be wrong, this is just a guess--a film that appears to be going down the socialist road and identifying "Mad Max" with Obama, this is a spectacular trailer:
Again, I could be wrong about the Mad Max (we will get some more answers with the next trailer), but this one is far more definite, and I am quite looking forward to it, anything from Edgar Allan Poe is going to be powerful, and the metaphor this turns out being aptly demonstrates what is going on in our society and government today!
For most people, the last time they saw Ben Kingsley, he was portraying the dependent and villainous role of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. When Micheal Caine says, "All games must end," it certainly puts the Democrats' socialist revolution in a childish, but deadly, context, as the Democrats/socialists are trying to put non-Americans in charge of the American government (like with all the Muslim Brotherhood members who are in the Dept of Homeland Security) and put non-Americans before Americans (as with the government catering to sick, illegal aliens instead of American veterans). The question the film will have to answer is, how did the events happen, and we can see something like that metaphorical unfolding in Night At the Museum 2.
"No one is what they seem" is a theme running rampant through films the last year: GI Joe Retaliation, Captain America, Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel, etc. There is not only the "Animal Farm-esque" plot of the patients running the asylum with all the doctors locked up, but also that the ones running the institution are crazy and spreading the very insanity that the institution was created to keep from entering society; sound like the Democrats and socialism to anyone? This is also the second Poe film to be made in just two years (The Raven was the other).
The original Night At the Museum came out in 2006, five years after 9/11 (2001) and was, like The Incredibles (2004), exploring America as a super-power and why the world hated us so much (now we know it's really just the Muslims who hate us). Ben Stiller plays Larry, a new night security guard who watches over the displays in the history museum when they come alive; metaphorically, Larry's generation were the security guards of American power and prestige (Larry is taller and smarter than everyone else in the night museum) when things got bad (everything coming alive at night, and night symbolizing trouble and hard times) but when things do get bad, history "comes alive" (we understand it as a living teacher and the lessons to be learned from it so we can apply them to now). So, here is the trailer for Night at the Museum 3:
I need to get this post up, so I am not going to spend extra time on this one, we are just going to move on, but I am sure you can connect the dots yourself. Christopher Nolan's project, Interstellar has released it's newest trailer, and it's impressive, to say the least.
It takes a tremendous artist to balance the most intimate love with those grand-scale objects beyond our world, but I am confident Nolan will do that, he always does. Inevitably, Interstellar will be compared to both Gravity and Prometheus, and even Star Trek Into Darkness (there were two "umbilical cords" in STID and we can see one clearly tying Matthew McConnaughey's character back to earth) and that's because Nolan wants to engage these films in dialogue, so we will probably need to watch them again before November to make sure we can recognize the references!
The Fine Art Diner,
 Eat Your Art Out
P.S.--I am off to see Guardians Of the Galaxy now!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

TRAILERS: Whiplash, Penguins Clip, Wonder Woman

Benedict Cumberbatch, who does the voice for the Wolf in Penguins Of Madagascar, poses with one of the penguins at the Penguins gallery at Comic-Con.
I have to tell you, I laughed out loud over this clip; I am so excited to see this film, I will definitely enjoy it more than all the kids put together:
There is quite a bit going on in this short clip, but we're going to wait to go over it, just be thinking about it (for example: Rico keeps "spitting out" things like the chips and now the Medusa serum; why? Why does David not know how to work the computer?).
This is what I am really excited about,....
Whiplash won the US Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and won the prize Audience Award: US Dramatic at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival; it's also scheduled for viewing at the Toronto Film Festival. Why is this important? Film makers know what their peers are doing and working on, so referencing a film like this is a heads up for us, the viewers to also view the film. 
If you will recall, and I know you do because you are the educated viewer at films, when Quicksilver was breaking Magneto out of the Pentagon, Quicksilver held the back of Magneto's head because Quicksilver knew that, when the door opened, he would dash out of there with Magneto but Magneto would not be able to stand the gravitational force; Magneto doesn't know what is going to happen and asks Quicksilver what he's doing: "Whiplash."
"Whhhhhiiiiipppppp-llllaaaaassssshhh," Quicksilver repeats, with a heavy, slow emphasis (the only thing Quicksilver does slow in the film, by the way, adding an extra dash of importance to the scene). This bothered me. I can't explain it, it just seemed really odd the way they would take this much time out during the film to be redundant about "whiplash," until I saw the trailer for this film, called Whiplash, and now it all makes sense:
Perhaps you recognized J.K. Simmons, the nice man from the Farmers Insurance commercials, which might be the reason he was cast in this role: being used to seeing him in such a placid, happy-go-lucky-helpful role, his violent behavior in this role is even more shocking and abrasive (this is an example of Reader Response criticism: film makers know we watch TV--even someone like myself who doesn't "watch TV," I still see TV, especially the commercials which seems to be all that is on) and by tapping into what film makers know we the viewers know, they can exploit that for some advantage in the film they are making, in this case, to take a usually pleasant actor and turn him into a monster so they transformation seems even bolder and even frightening.
Now, we could look at this as Terrence Fletcher (Simmons) is "beating" Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) the way he wants Andrew to beat the drums; symbolically, however, it might be more fruitful to see Fletcher as the "drum set" and Andrew as the "beater." Each time Andrew fails to play the right notes, the "instrument of perfection," Fletcher, bangs out a response like the beat of the drum, in other words, Fletcher as a teacher is the instrument of Andrew's perfection, because Fletcher doesn't get anything out of abusing Andrew but Andrew, if he chooses, will get everything out of the beating Fletcher gives him. Here is the proof: look at what they are wearing. Don't read the next line, stop and look at the picture and see what they are wearing and pull what you know from what you have read in the past and try to make an analysis based on their clothing,..... Okay, Fletcher wears all black, including his shoes and socks; why? Black is the color of death: you can die to the spirit and live in the world for pleasure, or you can die to the world and its pleasures and live in the spirit and gain the life of the spirit; everything about Fletcher, even his bald head (symbolic of no thoughts, no thoughts of anything but music, we might deduce), symbolizes DEATH, and it's because he has gone through dying to the world that he can, like Charon the Ferryman of the River Styx, ferry others across to the other side and artistic immortality. What does Andrew wear? His shirt is black, so Andrew has started the painful process of death-to-the-world (like breaking up with his girlfriend) but he has only started the journey. He wears blue jeans (instead of black, white or khaki pants) so blue is the color of wisdom and the color of depression because the road to wisdom is burdened with sorrow and hardship; because the blue covers his legs, i.e., his "standing" in the class and with Fletcher (his reputation), Andrew experiences a lack of respect from his band-mates, maybe even bullying? On Andrew's feet, however, are tennis shoes, which are athletic shoes, meaning, he is ready to "run the race," to go through what he has to in order to reach his goal and attain the prize. On a different "note," ha ha, you might have recognized another famous actor at about the one minute point: Paul Reiser (Mad About You, also TV). Like applying Reader Response theory above, those who know Reiser's characters know he tends to play a soft guy, kind of a liberal male who is a wimp (he's likeable, but kind of a wimp). There will be a point when Andrew will have to choose between his "soft-hearted father" sticking up for him, and Fletcher also sticking up for him, but with a heavy hand and a great deal of true, but "tough love" that Fletcher himself has undoubtedly experienced. This is a timely film because we ourselves, as a nation, are having to make the same decisions.
Two artistic devices were used in X-Men Days Of Future Past to communicate the importance of Whiplash to us: first, there was redundancy. Redundancy itself, the same thing happening over and over and over again, is actually the absence of information: what is going to happen is an accurate reflection of what just happened, so there is nothing new or exciting to look forward to; usually, when redundancy is broken--what you expect to happen suddenly doesn't happen--that's where the information and excitement comes in. In X-Men, however, it's that there is redundancy which conveys information (I would have missed it had Quicksilver said it only once); in this case, because the character took the time to say it again, the importance he places on it means we, too, should place importance on it. The second device employed is the opposite behavior. Quicksilver does everything super-humanly fast so that he does something slow--his exact opposite characteristic is introduced--also highlights this scene as requiring our further attention. But, ultimately, the question, as usual, is, why?
Just tweeted today by director Zack Snyder, this is our first image of Gal Gadot (Fast and Furious 6) as Wonder Woman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. At first look I was like,... what? She looks more like the Queen of the Amazons than Wonder Woman, I mean, where is the colors of America? But, having seen Whiplash--I know this is going to sound strange--and the antiquated sword she holds in this image--I couldn't help but think of Sparta, and how, in Whiplash, Fletcher is doing to Andrew what the Spartans did to their sons and citizens, and Gadot looks like a Spartan warrior, even with her shin-guards on. Again, just as we are the "informed readers" for the release of the Whiplash trailer because we saw X-Men, we are also the informed viewers of the new Wonder Woman outfit because we have seen 300 and 300 Rise Of An Empire: we know that Sparta has been resurrected as a metaphor for capitalism and freedom (from government dependency) in America. We understand the "tough love" of the Agoge training in ancient Sparta because capitalism functions the same way: we are allowed to fail so we learn out lessons. It's not, then, that the new Wonder Woman outfit forgets America, but remembers Sparta. 
Why should X-Men Days Of Future Past go to the trouble of promoting another film, specifically this one? For at least two reasons: first, X-Men recognizes that Whiplash will extend the artistic vocabulary X-Men wants to employ but can't because it would break their stride (mutants suffer in the film, but not exactly the way Andrew is going to suffer, who obviously has talent, but will have to go through the fire of suffering to refine it). Secondly, lest we have any doubts as to how to understand and interpret X-Men, Whiplash should be used as an extra-textual reference. I'm glad that mystery is now solved. Just a few hours ago, Warner Brothers--perhaps in competition with Star Wars VII--posted this contest announcement from director Peter Jackson; of course, all the comments below were screams and passionate pleas for the trailer to be posted, but this is all we have for now:
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, July 25, 2014

NEWS: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Hobbit, Mockingjay

Pirates Of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales is now set for a July 8, 2017 release; even though the fourth film, At World's End grossed over a $1 billion dollars, Disney has been slow to re-vamp the franchise; probably for the exact same reasons that I liked At World's End so much, the producers don't want to make another film like that (little things like, "Parents should die for their kids, not kids dying for their parents," and Sparrow's hope of getting into heaven with the "goodie-goodies," were some poignant tales of morality some audience members--maybe Planned Parenthood--complained about). Regardless, Johnny Depp is supposedly helping to re-write the script (the same actor who, while in China, said, ""I could live here easily"). The newest film was supposed to start shooting,... last month? Needless to say, they have granted themselves another year to come up with the script and schedule all the actors.
I am getting Transformers IV up, tonight, so I can go see Hercules tomorrow; I just needed to take a break from it and get some fresh air. Besides, even though this isn't a "film news" blog--there are much better sites that do that kind of important service--it helps us to know the trends and what is coming out; this weekend is Comi-Con in San Diego, so lots of news and information is being released, although the "big day" won't be until Saturday. So, what has been discussed so far thus?
The summer viewing season will officially "end" soon and not pick back up until November; September is seen as a rather "dead" month for the box office, because people are tied up with back to school and changing family schedules, so studios don't release their great films during this time, rather, they wait until closer to the holidays when people will be visiting friends and family and want to catch a flick. So, after Expendables 3 comes out in mid-August, that's really the last new release that's important that we will be seeing for quite awhile (and many would argue that Expendables 3 isn't even a "big film" but is picking up on the last days of summer). Penguins of Madagascar is one of the films I am highly anticipating for the remainder of the 2014 viewing season: not only am I confident it will be an over-overwhelmingly pro-capitalist, pro-American film,... I expect it to be seriously witty to boot. Just because it's animated, do NOT assume it's just for kids: when jokes are made about "Bolsheviks" and the French having only a 4 day work week, that's not something kids will understand (as was the case in Madagascar 3 Europe's Most Wanted). It has just been released through Comi-Con that there is an important cameo made in Penguins and I want you to know so you can be the "implied viewer" when this important part of the film comes up: Werner Herzog! We're all pretty excited about this; if you don't know who he is, you might drop these films into your Netflix queue, preferably in this order: The Enigma Of Kaspar HauserAguirre, the Wrath Of God and Fitzcarraldo; if you want to be taken seriously for your knowledge of films, yes, you need to see all three of these. Now, the film Penguins references is the documentary Encounters At the End of the World from 2007; according to Comi-Con participants, there is a significant scene involving Herzog and why the Penguins become the team they become (I have seen this one yet, so it's on my watch list). 
While The Hobbit: the Battle Of Five Armies director Peter Jackson has submitted a full-length trailer for the "defining chapter" (as the poster below calls the film), he has all but confirmed that the trailer won't be released until October (the film will be released December 17). A new poster (below) featuring Smaug and the back of Luke Evans' hero Bard is quite revealing in terms of the character development we will see for Bard and what he faces  in that film--which will be epic. Truly. It will be epic.
Bard, on a bridge, in the middle, is stuck between fire from Smaug, and the ice of Lake Town (the floating bits on top of the water). In The Desolation Of Smaug, the ice first appears when Bard takes the group towards Lake Town. Does this remind you of another film we have seen? Well, like the Disney film Frozen, Lake Town seems to be frozen from a lack of trade (including industry, food, restrictive tariffs--as we see when Bard tries to get past the toll gate with the barrels of fish--and a corrupt government that is self-serving; sound like America today?). So Bard who has seen better days himself, is stuck between the "frozen" state of his home Lake Town, and the fiery, destructive force of Smaug who will kill them all; what is Bard going to do? Fulfill his destiny. When I FINALLY get the post up on Smaug, we will discuss the critical importance of why Gideon was able to loosen the scale and why he couldn't kill Smaug, but Bard must.
What else? Well, as of this moment, there is not much else (the first day is a slow day), but we do know that Zack Snyder has skipped the event this year, not promoting Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, nor is Christopher Nolan there promoting Interstellar (before I finished this post, some news came in about Nolan showing up unannounced and debuting a new trailer; please see below for details). there are some trailers which have been released that we need to mention, because--I have to say--I have truly been impressed with not only the movies to which some of these trailers have been attached (Prometheus, X-Men Days Of Future Past) but the new developments in advertising (the expansion of capitalism in Hollywood, rather than the increasing dependence upon socialism) coming out, like this teaser for Mockingjay Part 1 (the official first trailer is scheduled to be released on Monday). They have spent considerable time, money and talent on releasing these "pre-trailers" to provide additional commentary and character analysis for the film and alert us to what's going on and why:
The female before Peeta is Johanna Mason, from District 7 (the timber district), who you might recall stripped in front of Peeta and Haymitch in the elevator in The Hunger Games Catching Fire, and was willing to sacrifice herself to save Katniss and aid the revolution against Panem; she was highly critical of the Capitol and openly vocal about it. It appears that, like Peeta, she, too, has been "highjacked" (brainwashed, like what happens to Bucky Barnes in Captain America: the Winter Soldier). How do we know this? Well, it's possible to say that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has made Johanna a very lucrative promise, or given her something she really wants or, even, just flat out threatened her; if, however, you notice the scarf she wears tightly around her head, so that none of her hair shows, you know that's the symbol of her brainwashing; how?
Johanna's hair is not only piled up, it's piled forward, as in, it's right there for all to see. Just as her stripping in front of Haymitch and Peeta in the elevator suggests Johanna has "nothing to hide," and doesn't fear being "exposed," her bare right arm (in spite of all the rest of her being completely covered) suggests that her strength (what the right arm symbols) is exactly her lack of fear at being exposed and everyone seeing her as she truly is (you might contrast this with the "act" Katniss and Peeta keep up regarding their love and getting married). The problem is, her not being afraid of being exposed has exposed her as possibly dangerous so Snow has targeted her as needing to be silenced, which he has obviously successfully accomplished. In the image on the right, Johanna points to her throat, with her bare right arm; some might suggest this is supposed to be a provocative, sexy pose, however, we know that the throat symbolizes what leads us, what we are willing to be guided by; Johanna's dress is gold, so she has a definite gold "collar" on (a collar for a leash, what will guide her and reign her in) and that suggests a most noble idea, the very highest ideal will be what Johanna pledges her loyalty to, like bringing down the corrupt government, which Johanna tries to do in protecting Katniss. Her eyes, of course, have been accentuated, symbolic of "deeper sight," suggesting that she knows what the Capitol is capable of doing, and what it will mean for the revolution (her eye make-up is missing in the pre-trailer above, which also contributes to the idea that she has been brainwashed). Now, please contrast the left arm (in the image on the right): it's completely covered and resting on her hip. In the video above, this is the stance she assumes, however, her arms are bare; how is this, if at all, a change from this image? A hand--male or female--resting on the hip-- is a sign of sexuality (because the hand points towards the genitals), so Johanna seems to be suggesting her sexual power (again, she undressed in the elevator, was this the main reason Haymitch choose her as Kat's ally?) but a power she knows how to "expose" when it's going to benefit her (again, the arm is covered with the gold fabric).  In the video, both her arms are bare, including her back, and the skin from her navel up to her throat, but she still strikes the same pose with her hand on her hip. With her hair completely "under wraps" with that scarf, Johanna has, basically, become a mindless sex object on display. Both her and Peeta wear white, which we know, has two meanings: either someone is alive in their spirit with faith, hope, charity, purity and innocence or they are dead in the spirit because they lack these very qualities. Peeta and Johanna are "dead in the spirit," not necessarily because of any sin they have committed, but because they now lack the free will and individuality to be able to make the choices which acquiring virtue prerequisites: if Peeta and Johanna have are now just a step above zombies, they don't have free will, and without free will to exercise, there can be no acquiring of virtue. The Left wants us to believe that virtue doesn't exist, we are animals with no free will and no souls, so in this case, Snow having Peeta and Johanna dressed in all the white makes them look "untouchable," pristine and glamorous, which he hopes will make others want to look and be the same way; we can bet it doesn't work.
The head symbolizes that which governs us, but, specifically, our hair symbolizes our thoughts--because our hair is what is closet to our brain, which is where our thoughts originate. If you notice in the images of Johanna above (you may click on the images to enlarge them for viewing) her hair is piled on top of her head; her hair being "piled up" like that suggests that Johanna thinks she is better than everyone else, she is "higher up" than others; in the video-poster above, her hair is completely covered, meaning, she doesn't have any thoughts: the scarf acts as a barrier, preventing anything from getting in, or getting out (she can't take in what is happening to her and formulate a reaction to it, she just "is"). So what does this "trailer" mean? Well, we have actually all ready seen this in three different films.
What do you most notice about Effie Trinket in this picture? Her long, pink lashes, and maybe the gold in her hair? What about her incredibly sad expression? Have you seen Effie look so sad? Like Johanna's make-up that accentuated her eyes, the false eyelashes (and her deadpan gaze) suggests Effie is "seeing" something; the problem is, the eyelashes are false and even the fuchsia coloring of them is false, too, suggesting that Effie "sees in an unnatural way," she's not seeing things how they truly are and might make the wrong decision. Whereas Johanna's hair on top of her head piled up can be deduced that she places herself higher than everyone else, I don't know that feel comfortable with that regarding Effie, and this is why: Effie's thick hair is distributed fairly evenly all around and her bangs are cut unusually short, revealing her forehead:  I think Effie's hairstyle is more designed to show us that she tries to "block out" thoughts and her bangs are short because, as she starts to have a thought, maybe about something she has seen, she "cuts it short" and doesn't carry the thought out to its logical conclusion; the gold dust throughout her hair, then, is almost like sugar, sweetening and brightening the thoughts that she does have and, like the hair product keeping every strand in place, she forces herself to keep all her thoughts "in place," in the heart of the Capitol. If, however, we notice Effie's lips, that suggests there is hope for her: the lips/mouth have no color on them, suggesting that her appetites (which the mouth symbolizes [such as money, fame, luxury, etc.]) have died and she doesn't enjoy the rich foods and drinks, the fashions and parties anymore; it's possible, in other words, that Effie's soul has begun to detox. 
The Collection had human-monstrosities on display in glass cases (it's okay, I'm getting to it; remember, I was like the only person who saw this film, but you can read my review HERE). There was "the collector" (Benecio del Toro) in the end credits scene of Thor the Dark World, who had alien beings in glass cases as well; in the Amazing Spider Man 2, the bio-genetic weaponry is kept in a museum like space behind glass containers (I haven't seen Dawn Of the Planet of the Apes, so I don't know if there is anything comparable in that film or not); so, how does this relate to the video above? Increasingly, humans are becoming separated from ourselves (we are becoming an audience to watch our own species, perhaps even dying out or because we are dying out) but you can't deny the "perfection" of Johanna and Peeta who look impeccable and act impeccably obedient to Snow as well. These pre-trailers are promises that the film makers have gone to great lengths--and great depths--to insure a well-thought-out film and characters.
A scene from Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. For Nolan, when he was growing up, "every child" wanted to be an astronaut, and Matthew McConnaughey's character is a pilot wanting to go into space. Another trailer has been released at Comi-Com; because it's a Paramount film, it's possible that the trailer will be attached to another Paramount film opening this weekend, Hercules, but I wouldn't count on it. But maybe. 
Now, onto some trailers.
A third trailer has been released for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and there are four items I would like to discuss in this film: the line Donnie says at 0:18 (Donatello wears the purple mask/glasses), the song in the background, Splinter (their rat mentor) and Shredder (the villain) and,... the skateboard:
Why, at 0:18, does Donnie say, "Allow me to be the bad-ass for once?" Because things have gotten so bad, all of us who are usually the "good guys" and rather pedestrian, are ready to bust out a side of ourselves that maybe we didn't even know existed, which leads us to our next point: shell-shocked. The main theme of the film is a clever pun: it references the turtle shells of the ninjas, as well as ammunition shells and the psychological damage they can do. The turtles discovering they are bullet-proof is important (but I will wait to expound upon it further until after I have seen the film) but mostly "shell-shocked" references what we discussed two posts ago: turtles are a symbol of wisdom because of their "retreating" into their shells as a sign of meditation and self-searching. "Shell-shocked" suggests that this wisdom and self-knowledge the teenagers posses is their source of their strength and what their enemies should fear (especially if these enemies end up being against individuality, personal expression and freedom; now, where would I get ideas like that?).
Shredder, the villain, and Splinter, the master. "Shredder" obviously denotes destruction, but "splinter" is like,... how tiny is that? We could say, however, that "splinter" is an act of destruction just like "shredder": "to splinter off" and to "shred" aren't all that different, but we would expect a villain named Shredder would attempt to "shred" his enemies, hence, all the knives. What about Splinter? If he's a master, he must be wise, so we could deduce that Master Splinter wants to "shred" himself, because his greatest enemy will be his own self, and my shredding his self, over and over again, he's "splintering off" and all that remains is a tiny little "splinter," but it's a splinter that is fully concentrated with all his wisdom, love and virtue, so Shredder is doomed. The question is, though, why doesn't Splinter defeat Shredder? The Turtles have to learn for themselves who this enemy is and what is required to defeat him because this won't be their last enemy, and they--like the Millennials--will have the same foe return over and over again. 
Why is the skateboard important?
Do you remember the 1985 hit Back To the Future? Like the TMNT being from the 1980s, so, too is Back to the Future, in which Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) rode a skateboard, which were becoming increasingly popular during this time. It's not just that Americans invented skateboarding, but that it has grown from a past-time into a full-blown job, even producing millionaires and top-rate athletes (please recall, we saw this noted in the film Dredd with Karl Urban). So, yea, when we see the turtles skateboarding, they are teenagers and that's what teenagers do, but it's also a realization that skateboarding has become, today a $4.8 billion dollar industry and that's not just a "hobby" status.
Donnie, the one in purple on the far right, is named for Donatello, and Donnie wears glasses in addition to his mask; why him? It might be a reference to Donatello being the first of the Renaissance artists--the Renaissance was in full-swing when Michelangelo and Leonardo were artists, and giving way to the Baroque period during Raphael's--but Donatello "saw" how art could be changed from the stylizations of the Medieval era to the natural depictions that signaled the Renaissance. Symbolically, we know turtles represent meditation, but Donnie wearing glasses takes his "wisdom" even further because his eyes are being highlighted, which denote that he sees and we should try to see what he sees, or how he sees; it appears, further, that he is taken hostage, so whatever "sight" power he symbolizes, something has happened at that point in the narrative between the two remaining turtles that they have to amend something within themselves to get the other two back.
The next two trailers, we're going to compare. The first one is Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman, who you will remember portrayed Jackie Robinson in 42; his newest film is about the life of James Brown, who was born in poverty, went to jail and rose up, on his own merits and will-power--as he says in the trailer when his "mother" comes to see him:
The next video is from the most infamous 50 Shades of Gray film, yes, the sexual bondage and torture, etc., film. I had a terrible suspicion that the novel would be used for a specific purpose and, sadly, I think I am right:
"To what do you owe your success?" "I exercise control in all things, Ms. Steele," he replies. On the surface, this probably seems as if James Brown, in the trailer above, and Mr. Grey, are a lot alike; they are not. Anastasia (which means, "resurrection" in Greek) symbolizes the middle-class, being perversely screwed-over by the billionaire Grey; it's not a school newspaper interview that is being done, it's a "documentary" about the relationship between the 1% and the rest of us (contrast, if you will, the relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in Iron Man: Tony is the 1% and Pepper is like the rest of us, but they need each other and the other helps them to grow individually and as a couple; that's productivity, whereas 50 Shades Of Grey is perversity) and, if you don't believe me, then consider the answer to the question of why the film makers would have wanted Obama's BFF Beyonce to make the sound track?
Speaking of Robert Downey Jr:
Remember: men in child-bearing age symbolize the economy, the active principle of production; older men symbolize the founding father, the tradition; so, what do we have? Capitalism defending the Founding Fathers. What is the charge of "murder?" Well, if you have seen The Hunger Games, you know the Games are a metaphor for the free market, where a group of businesses compete for consumers (the viewing audience) and in order to get those sponsorships (customer loyalty) they have to defeat the other businesses, which has been translated as children killing children. The Founding Fathers, to socialists, have killed women (because women feel they have been victimized), all miniorities who are not white male (Black, like James Brown and Jackie Robinson, Hispanic, mixed, etc.) and anyone else who has ever not become a multi-millionaire, that's the fault of the Founding Fathers, according to socialists, which appears to be translated by The Judge as Robert Duvall's character killing someone with his car (cars are, after all, a evil of capitalism). So, to summarize, the real-life drama we see in our culture, especially among the liberal media, is putting the Founding Fathers on trial for all the people who got "run over" by capitalism and never made it in America; this film looks awesome! Last, but not least, a new film from Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch:
There are two things that concern me about this film. First, The Weinstein Company has helped create it; they also created the very pro-capitalist The Artist a couple of years ago, but the second thing that concerns me is Alan Turning (Cumberbatch) was gay, when homosexuality was still criminal and Prime Minister Brown made a public apology for how Mr. Turning was treated. Keira Knight's character certainly appears to take a dominant role in the film, but we'll have to see what way this goes. Okay, back to Transformers IV (it's not that long of a post, just one I am being very careful about) and then I am off to Hercules!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner