Saturday, October 25, 2014

Specialized Waste Disposal: John Wick

This post is full of spoilers; you have been warned. If you're wondering what cool song is playing in the background of this trailer, it's The Sonics, Have Love, Will Travel. If you are wondering what John Wick's back tattoo means, Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat, menas, "Fortune favors the bold," or brave, depending on your translation. So, what can we make of John Wick? A great deal. Not only does the film have a heavy body count, but a heavy symbol count as well, with the simplest aspects of character and action invested with a ton of meaning, exactly the kind of narrative I love; something else I love? "Self-awareness" in art, when a work of art knows it's a work of art and knows there are people watching it.
What do I mean by that?
Without a doubt, John Wick is a formula film: a reformed criminal gets sucked back in for one more job, one more heist, and he's just as good today as when he left, and he's still the best. There might be aspects of this genre that I am missing, being female, however, I think we can make at least a one generalization: there's an element of immortality for masculinity. There is an element of immortality, not only because of the reputation that male hero has earned in this position that all his associates hold up as a standard, but throughout the events and inevitable violence of the narrative, the hero also doesn't die (you can put in nearly any male hero into this category: Arnold, Bruce Willis, Eastwood, Van Damme, Stallone, etc.). This is the weird element of the genre that, the more death there is, the more immortal the hero seems, and, therefore, the audience identifying with the hero. A central theme in these films, is can a person change? Until the band of baddies show up at John's house to steal the car and beat him up, we had no reason to believe that John was going back to "that life." That's not the question the film poses: there are moments when the "conflict" of the stolen car could be resolved in a civilized manner; John doesn't choose those options, so does that make him violent? No, it makes him self-sufficient because he is still enough of a man  to carry out justice himself.  I know this is controversial, and the controversy of it somewhat proves my point: art is a metaphor to say those things we can't say in everyday conversation (either because we don't know to say them, don't know how to say them or are not allowed to say them), so a guy "sorting out some personal issues" on his own is a guy who can take care of himself and what he values. The social contract by which we abide is nice and all, but as liberals insist men--especially the white heterosexual man--becomes less and less of a man and more like a woman, there are going to be revolts against this social change and John Wick is one of them: he doesn't need anyone or anything to carry out justice, he is completely capable of that on his own (the rest of the review will be exploring the facets of this). Now, what about the poster itself? The color scheme, green and blue and purple, is used throughout the film and suggests a kaleidoscope of hope, suffering and depression.  If you'll notice, the words JOHN WICK are slightly skewed, the bottom and top being disjointed. That's one way of looking at it, not everything "lining up," like Wick and Helen not spending long lives together being in love in spite of the sacrifices he made to have that happen. His name, one of the most personal and intimate expressions of our individual identities, is what is skewed (and accented with the barrel of a gun, suggesting it's "just a part of him") but it's the gun that seems to be the focal point "straightening out" the rest that has gotten messed up.
For example, when the main villain of the film speaks in Russian, assuming John Wick (Keanu Reeves) won't understand him, and Wick responds back in Russian, that "other language" becomes a metaphor for the film itself: the English language we understand. The character Avi--played by Dean Winters from the All State "Mayhem" commercials you will recognize--keeps asking his boss to say it "In English, please?" because there is always the surface language of a film (plot, action, narrative) but then there is the sub-text, the "other language" in the film (metaphor, simile, symbols) and John Wick wants you to be alert to it so you can enter in and engage with the film's meaning and purpose. There is also the text "written on the body" of John Wick in his tattoo that becomes a commentary on the film: Fortune favors the bold, not the weak and domesticated male in Iosef (Alfie Allen) who ends up dead in spite of all the men who die trying to protect him from Wick.
But there's still more.
It's been raining for days, and it appears that Helen has been buried in the same cemetery we see Gwen (Emma Stone) buried in for The Amazing Spider Man II. Even as Helen is buried, there will be a part of Wick that becomes "unburied," and this theme of resurrection is one we have seen in Iron Man 3 (with Pepper having fallen to the fiery pit then coming back again), Skyfall (with Bond falling off the bridge but surviving) and Star Trek Into Darkness with Kirk dying from radiation poisoning but being brought back with Kahn's blood. It's not, however, the resurrection of John Wick the Bogeyman that is the "resurrection" theme of the film, rather, the John Wick who, at the end of the film, can walk away with a new dog and chooses life, even without Helen. 
There's the "code" that Winston (Ian McShane) mentions that they live by, as well as the unspoken rules of his hotel, The Continental (which got a face-lift--read, it has a new surface that is hiding something beneath, like the room waaaaayyyy in the back that Wick goes to in order to speak to Winston); there is the "double-talk" Marcus (William Dafoe) uses when he agrees to take the contract to kill Wick without intending to kill Wick at all. There's the code phrase, "Dinner reservation," which means removal of a dead body and incriminating evidence; there are the mysterious gold coins used as currency, rather than cash; there's the Church in Little Russia that hides the head-mobster's vault. Why enumerate all this? Each one is an example of literary devices, propelling the film from mere entertainment to a work of art intent on making a statement; the more of the tools of the trade we can recognize at work, the clearer the film's statement becomes.
What is that statement?
Before she dies, Helen has made arrangements that, on the day of her funeral, this tri-color beagle puppy should be delivered to Wick, along with a final card of her encouraging words to him. The card has a white daisy on it, the collar has a daisy on it, the dog's name is daisy and, for their anniversary, Wick had given Helen a gold, daisy bracelet. The gold of the bracelet contrasts with the gold coins used throughout the film (discussed below) but "daisy" plays into New Jersey being the Garden State on Wick's Mustang license plate. What does the daisy symbolize and mean? The Bellis perennis, the common lawn daisy, in Latin means "pretty" and "everlasting," and we know from the name of his wife (Helen, as in Helen of Troy) and what Wick says, that he thinks Helen is beautiful, but also that his appreciation of her beauty and the beauty of their love and friendship will be everlasting. It's important that it's a dog Helen gives because this symbolizes Wick's animal appetite for love: when we see Wick looking at Helen's unused coffee mug, her sink at the vanity in the bathroom, the absence of her in his life now, that is part of our immature, appetite for love that we all experience: I want someone to love and someone to love me because of all the wonderful happiness it will mean. That's not sufficient, however, and in signing the card, "Your Friend, Helen" instead of "the love of your life", or "your loving wife," she signs it friend because, in the events of the plot that follows, Wick releases all the friends that he still has: Marcus, Winston, Aurelio (the car guy), Francis the doorman who lost all that weight, the girl at the bar who fixed Wick "the usual," Charon at The Continental, Harry, and realizing that he has friends still, not only helps Wick get past the animal appetite of love, the immature phase, but to appreciate friendship as an absolute value in his life, which is why he avenges Marcus' death (more on that below). So, the daisy symbolizes a love that goes from being transitory, like a spring time flower, to a friendship that is everlasting.
There is a political message to John Wick, but let's take a moment to appraise the psychoanalysis provided by the events. The events at the beginning of the film unfold pretty much like the opening of the trailer: Wick's wife dies, there is the funeral, the puppy is delivered, he gets to know the dog for a day, Ioseph offers to by the car, Wick refuses, they show up that night and beat up John, kill the dog (because it's wimpering), put a bat through his dead wife's SUV and bust out all the windows. Now, when the guys show up, it's night, and Daisy (the dog) wakes Wick up from sleeping; Wick goes into the dark living room and sees the guys wearing hoods and, from behind, he gets hit with a metal bar. What is there about this that is psychoanalytic?
I don't know that there is a formal symbol for a man's tie, but it's an important part of his wardrobe--women generally don't wear ties, neither do children (generally)--so it's a sign of both masculinity (a phallic symbol) and being of the professional class (please see the very last poster of Wick at the end of the page); likewise, I don't think there is really a symbol for a man's scarf worn around the neck like a tie, but inside the shirt, as we see with Winston (Ian McShane) above. The scarf is generally worn by more upper-class men but, most importantly from my perspective, is what it hides rather than reveals. Now, "men hiding things" is an established theme in the film: for example, until he's in the shower, we don't know that Wick has all those tattoos; until he's breaking the cement floor with the sledge hammer, we don't know that he has all those weapons hidden. Marcus hides his true intentions from Viggo when Viggo asks Marcus to kill Wick for him; Ioseph hides his face from Wick when he's stealing the car (then reveals it when he pulls his mask down); towards the end, Viggo tells Wick he wants to fight him man-to-man, but then pulls out a knife he was hiding. Winston isn't above hiding, either (like luring Ms. Perkins to the meeting place of her death) but I think the formal wear of the scarf around his neck is interesting. Even though Winston is a part of this seedy world, somehow, he's also above it, warning Wick that, if he dips so much as a pinky in, there will be something to drag him back in (so in this facet, Winston is a prophet). Being the owner of The Continental, with the manager at the front desk being called Charon (more on this below) means that Winston is like a Hades figure, especially when he executes justice on Perkins for breaking the rules of the hotel.
ANY TIME a character has been sleeping, in a coma, experiences death or has a dream/memory sequence, this state is an invitation to explore the workings of the mind. Three times (I think) we see Wick waking up in his bed in the morning, but at the very opening of the film, Wick was dying, the black SUV he was in crashing against a concrete retaining wall, and him rolling out of the car, bleeding profusely, watching a video of him and Helen on the beach, then "falling asleep" then we return to this sequence at the end and watch it play out in its entirety. My suggestion is, that the day after Wick buries his wife, sees Marcus and receives the dog, and the night of Ioseph asking him how much he would sell his car for, Wick slips into a dream sequence that night of Ioseph breaking into the house and from that point on to the very end, Wick is dreaming. What, if anything, substantiates this interpretation?
It's "just" a car, it's "just" a dog, people keep saying throughout the film, so how does the dead body count justify Wick loosing his car and dog? If you listen carefully to what Wick says in this exchange is "She's not for sale," attributing a personal pronoun to the car (I know other languages habitually do this, however, objects in English do not have a feminine or masculine attribute). It's not so much that Wick puts his car on the same level as his wife Helen, but that the car means as much to him Helen (again, this supports the interpretation of the dog Daisy as being part of the immature understanding of what love is, and Daisy is a part of this conversation). The car just disappears in the storyline: Ioseph doesn't ride the car around anymore, it's not returned to Wick, he doesn't recover it in anyway; Winston does give Wick a new car towards the end, which acts as a reward for how far Wick has come in his understanding what friendship and real love is about. That car getting totaled signals that Wick hasn't learned everything he's supposed to learn during this lesson, even though he's making progress. 
According to Viggo, Ioseph's father and the Big Boss of the Russian mafia, as well as Wick's former boss when he was a hitman, it was because of Wick that Viggo and his family had built themselves up so successfully. If Wick had only been out of the business four or five years, wouldn't he know the only son of his boss? Wouldn't Ioseph at least recognize Wick, or the name of John Wick when he's told that at the auto house he takes the car to after stealing it? The way the mind forms dreams, according to Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams, is the mind gathers and collects bits of reality from the last two-three days of a person's interactions with the world, then re-arranges them to express the deepest levels of unconsciousness to the person so, this is what I am suggesting happens to John Wick (this doesn't mean it's the only interpretation possible, but that there is a strong framework for this interpretation).  What point of the narrative does this solve?
Viggo disciplines his son for taking Wick's car, but not sufficiently. The knife we see Viggo use on his son Ioseph in this scene will be brought out again in his last fight scene with Wick. To Viggo's credit, he understands the crime his son has committed against Wick--even though he becomes overwhelmed by it towards the end--but Viggo sacrificing Ioseph to save himself is why Viggo won't survive the show; you can argue that, had the film ended after Wick kills Ioseph, Viggo would have lived, but that's not accurate. Marcus lied to Viggo, this is true, but had Viggo not felt so guilty for handing his son over to Wick to be killed, instead of letting Wick kill him, Viggo wouldn't have wanting to taste revenge against Wick and so Marcus might have lived. That Viggo uses the same knife on both Ioseph and Wick illustrates the necessary comparison between these two scenes. 
There is no indication that Ioseph and the other guys with him will break into his house to steal his car, neither is there any indication that Wick is going to return to his hitman life. If John Wick is such a badass, why isn't he better able to defend himself when the bad guys break into his house? Having heard Ioseph speaking Russian during the day would have been enough to trigger those long-buried memories of Wick's former life and, after going to sleep that night, his mind easily could have woven a narrative like the one we see on the screen to explain to himself what he was going to do now that he didn't have the reason why he left that life to begin with. Even though Wick tells Viggo towards the end, "People keep asking me if I'm back and I'm thinking, yea, I'm back," Wick walking off with the gray Pit Bull (?) at the end, into the darkness, is the indication that he's done and, as Helen says in the video playing on his phone, "Let's go home, John," you know Wick's going home. Walking into the darkness is the psychoanalytic John Wick of the dream retreating back into the darkness of his subconscious, and him choosing the dog is the affirmation that he would rather stay with the life of a normal civilian, even without Helen, then go back to being "The Bogeyman," which leads us to another point.
Usually a "cleansing scene" takes place after all the blood has been spilled but, in cleansing himself of the blood beforehand, John Wick is making the statement that their blood is not on his hands because they have brought down the wrath on themselves and they are getting what they deserve. Please note the Cross on Wick's arm, that is important for later in the discussion as well as the hands held in prayer (after the Albrecht Durer drawing). One aspect of  the 1969 Mustang is the license tag: New Jersey, Garden State. We get shots of the license plate several times, and it's a viable point to question, "Why would we need to know that John Wick lives in the Garden State?" The soul is often compared to a garden, where either the flowers of virtue grow, or the weeds of sin flourish. Because of the tattoos on Wick's back, and the plate on his car, we know there is more to John Wick than just what we see "on the surface."
Wick gets the nickname of "The Bogeyman" from Viggo, when he explains to Ioseph whose car Ioseph has stolen: Wick wasn't the Bogeyman, Wick was the guy you sent to kill the Bogeyman. This nickname (and this is always true in art) introduces an "alter ego" for John Wick into the plot and it's this alter ego that is the "John Wick" of the dream, not the suburban husband of a sweet woman who liked daisies and died after a long illness. There is one more imperative aspect that must be addressed, however, for this interpretation to work.
Why does Wick go out on the plane runway and drive his Mustang so recklessly, and come so close to hitting those dump trucks? It verifies that, in spite of feeling out of control of his life, Wick is still in (some) control, and if we entertain the possibility of the dream sequence of the rest of the film, this verifies it, because a dream is the best way for us to experience being out of control regarding the events taking place in the dream and yet, because we are in control of when we wake up, we are still in control of the dream. Just as the Mustang is Wick's "vehicle" for getting around, the dream then becomes the "vehicle" of the film in getting through the plot and narrative.
Freud postulates, "All dreams are a fulfillment of a wish." Does Wick want his car stolen? Does he want his dog killed? Does he want to kill dozens of people? Does he want Marcus killed? No, to all these. Want John Wick does want, however, is revenge, and a way to release his anger and, most importantly, a way to resolve his loss and feel like he's in control over his life again. This makes Viggo a "god-figure" in Wick's "dream" (the plot sequence); what is it that verifies this? The church in Little Russia being used as a front for Viggo's vault (Viggo, as owner of the Church, becomes a "god-figure" because the Church is set-up to work for him, not for God Himself) and that makes his son, Ioseph, a Christ-figure. In the violence that Wick deals out to both Viggo and Ioseph, does that make John Wick an anti-Christian film?
No, just the opposite.
In addition to Viggo having the church in Little Russia as a front for his vault, in this scene, when Wick has been captured by Viggo's men and Viggo talks to John (Viggo's back is to us, he faces Wick) Viggo tells Wick that God took Wick's wife away from Wick as justice for Wick's crimes, and that both of them are cursed men for what they have done. That's a pretty bold statement for Viggo to make because it testifies that Viggo believes in God, even though he has mocked the Church and Priesthood by using them for his own corrupt ends. We could say that John Wick is an example of Matthew 21: 28-32 and the parable of the two sons: a father asks one son to go work in his vineyard, and the first son says no, but later goes and does the work; the father asks the second son to go and work in the vineyard and that son says yes, but never goes to do the work; which son has done the father's will? Wick is upset with losing Helen, and experiences a complete crisis, but that "dark night of the soul" is something we are all going to go through, and it's meant to break us, so He can make us stronger when He puts us back together. At the end of the film, you know Wick is back on the right path. Please remember, as noted above, Wick has a tattoo of a Cross on his shoulder and the Praying Hands on his back (and there was a priest officiating at Helen's funeral) so, even if he is not a practicing Christian, he has a chamber of faith somewhere in his heart. This scene is interesting because it suggests Viggo intends this to be the place where Wick dies (he gives the order for Wick to be killed): there is a cement mixer and the place is under construction with scaffolding and tarps. Then again, these construction tools are probably literary devices indicating that this scene is meant to "build up" and finish the construction of the narrative, specifically, putting in place Marcus and his "illegal" helping of Wick and Viggo's revenge against him.
We have all been mad at God for things that have happened to us in our life, we have all had deep feelings of suffering and grief, of feeling lost and abandoned. Wick, having been a violent man, plays out what he knows in his unconscious mind (uncensored mind) but Viggo and Ioseph are just "figures," scapegoats who are conveniently incorporated by Wick's mind to bear the guilt and responsibility for what has happened to him. At the end of the film, John Wick chooses life, he chooses to go on living in spite of what has happened to him, and that indicates that, after the natural turmoil of Wick's emotions have played out, he has gotten through and re-affirms his relationship to God, again, in spite of what has happened to him. So, moving onto the more political interpretations.
There are several interesting symbols regarding Marcus. When Viggo comes to ask Marcus to kill Wick, Viggo sits and Marcus stands, the opposite of the scene when Viggo is ready to kill Marcus. Marcus wears a robe in this scene, suggesting he has just gotten out of bed (which can be used as a symbol of a coffin, the bed being temporary "sleep" but the coffin being the bed of "everlasting sleep") so by the robe Marcus wears, we could guess that he's a "dead man walking." After Viggo leaves, Marcus goes to a secret door under his stairs and pulls out his weapon cache. The stairs, and rich decor of the house, suggests that Marcus' weapons (and ability to use them) has been the foundation of his wealth and "climb" of social status (the staircase) so much so, that Viggo thinks Marcus is the only one really capable of taking out Wick, which is why Viggo comes to Marcus to begin with. After Marcus pulls out his weapons, he lays them on top of the piano to put them together, because, just as the piano is an instrument of skill, for Marcus, his gun is an instrument for his skill. It's important to establish this so we know, when Marcus watches Wick through the scope of his rifle in the hotel room, and Marcus hits the pillow instead of Wick, we know it's not from a lacking of skills on Marcus' part, but intent to just fire a warning shot to protect Wick.
When Ioseph sees Wick's car at the gas station, he asks Wick if it's a 1970? "'69," Wick cooly replies. Why is this important? 1970 was a pretty good year for the Soviet Union (Ioseph is Russian): they were still manning space missions, unions and communists in the US were causing havoc, and the USSR completed the Aswan High Dam. In recognizing the beauty and "muscle" of Wick's Mustang, Ioseph wants the car to reflect the glories of the Russian past; Wick's retort, "'69," however, confirms that the Mustang reflects the glories of the American past: in 1969, America won the Space Race with the USSR, which has also been alluded to in Men In Black 3 (and this is the year of the Charles Manson murders, which was alluded to in Annabelle). In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Chris Pine, Kenneth Branaugh), the conflict of the film is between Russian and American business, also involving a violent father-son vendetta. This is nice, but is that all John Wick is about?
Definitely not.
I like the edginess of this poster because of the ink and smudges, the "writerly" and "graphic art" nature it communicates. John Wick is a creation of ink and paper, which is what this image accentuates, but his story is about the most vulnerable piece of each person: our heart, and our heart's need for love, and what happens when that love is taken from us. Wick finally evolves past the bad circumstances to achieve inner-peace; for being a character of ink and paper, he reminds us of how fragile flesh and blood can be.
John Wick is THE MAN, and in the highly anti-white-heterosexual-male atmosphere of America today, making a film glorifying a white man with very traditional values of masculinity is an act of political sabotage. John Wick doesn't depend on anyone to take care of him, he takes care of his own business. Helen succumbs to a lengthy illness after collapsing one night, (in Guardians Of the Galaxy, Peter Quill's mother died of a similar circumstance) reflecting the slow disease eating America right now and the financial "collapse" of 2008. The gold coins and Wick's stash of weapons also offer political commentary.
The character of Charon, the hotel manager who assists Wick throughout the film, is an important one because, even though Charon is a figure from mythology, he symbolizes the division between the living and the dead, being the ferryman who takes souls to their eternal destination. This half-way-world of the hotel adds not only to the Christian symbolism of the film (when Viggo talks about God taking Helen) but also the journey that Wick's own soul is on to find redemption and get his "personal issues" resolved. In the scene above, when Wick asks Charon, "How good is your laundry?" and Charon replies, "No one is that good," it's Wick realizing that he has spilled more blood than he had intended, and he needs to atone for what he has done (cleanse his soul of the blood he has spilled). Charon's reply validates that Wick will have to atone for the blood, not just wash it away.
Why do all those associated with the mafia in the film pay for everything with gold coins (Wick has a couple of rolls of them stored with his weapons)? Gold is king, for one thing, so accepting payment with gold means you're investing in your future by accepting payment in gold; secondly, and far more interesting, gold doesn't tarnish, so in this ultra-corrupt world of murderers and bosses, you might not be able to trust him, but you can trust his gold, which brings us to the last point: Ms. Perkins.
Why is a church used as a front for Viggo's vault? For at least two reasons. First, it articulates how this lifestyle this group of people have chosen is their "religion," (as Christ warned Peter, those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword). What Viggo reveals was in the vault also better reveals Viggo's identity: "his leverage" for blackmail and influence was in the vault, which, we can argue, is what the devil does to us in keeping a record of all our sins. Wick has, essentially, freed all the people who were under Viggo's thumb because he had something on them, and by freeing them, he has come a step closer to freeing himself. This is just one of the connections to an earlier Reeves film Constantine
I had hopes that Perkins would prove to be a conversion figure, that perhaps Wick would be able to save her from her path of self-destruction; that didn't happen. Perkins isn't just a contract murderer, she is willing to disobey any of the codes of conduct in their "business," and it's proper that Harry, another hit man helping Wick, tells Perkins, "You're no lady." In addition to Harry spelling it out for us, we know the film makers agree with Harry because there is something Perkins lacks: a first name. Not having a first name in the film, she's only referred to as Perkins, means that she has forfeited her identity to commit acts of evil: compare the awe people are in of the name "John Wick," and the symbolic importance of the dog being named "Daisy," so that Perkins missing her name reveals that she is a "doomed" character, but she does do one thing right: she tells Wick the truth, which leads us to Marcus.
What does Perkins symbolize? What Helen is not: the Dark Woman. Helen is a woman of love, Perkins is a woman for hire. Helen reminds us of the "ultimate woman" Helen of Troy, whereas Perkins will slip into an abyss and no one will mourn or remember her. Perkins, then, is an image of self-sabotage, choosing to live the dangerous life and forego the warning signs of impending disaster--like the fine she will have to pay for breaking the hotel rules--for a quick buck. 
Granted, Wick has a gun to Perkins' head when he "persuades" her to give him something to have cause to keep her alive, even though Wick probably knows that Winston, the owner of The Continental will have her killed for breaking the rules; Perkins delivers, and Wick is so confident that Perkins tells him the truth of the church in Little Russia being a front for Viggo's vault, that he goes into the church shooting the "priest." When, then, Viggo shows up at Marcus' house and asks in person (rather than calling on the phone) for Marcus to kill Wick, and Marcus lies and tells Viggo he will, Marcus has, sadly, committed a greater crime than even Perkins committed. Marcus didn't have to lie, he could have said, "Thank you for offering me the contract, but I can't do it, we are friends," because there is no indication that Viggo would have had him killed for saying "no thanks." But Marcus lying, even for his friend Wick, and then paying for his lie with his life validates the rigid structure of the film's self-imposed morality scale.
Why does Viggo kill Marcus (or is getting ready to have Marcus killed?) and then call Wick to let him know? First of all, it appears that Marcus wants to "go out on his own terms," and we can say that is accurate, but Marcus arranged his death when he lied to Viggo instead of telling Viggo he couldn't take a contract on Wick. To some people, in the grand scheme of the film's violence, they may be asking, what's one lie? That's because we have lost our understanding of what sin is and what it does to us. Again, Marcus still could have protected Wick because the contract wasn't exclusive to Marcus, so there were plenty of people after Wick. Viggo feels so guilty, though, about having offered his son up in his own place, that Viggo wants retaliation against Wick and Marcus' lie is the "vehicle" to accomplish that. Note that Viggo wears a purple shirt in this scene and purple is the color of suffering. When Wick retaliates against Viggo, it's not so much that he's entering into an old-fashioned blood feud with Viggo over Marcus' death, rather, instead of doing penance and facing up to how cowardly he's been, he's forcing Wick into a position to make Wick come and kill him; in effect, Viggo won't take responsibility for his own actions, and is passing the buck onto Wick.
In conclusion, John Wick is a great film on several levels, and the kind of film Americans need to be seeing right now to remind us of individuality, pain and suffering, the importance of free will, Divine Retribution and Divine Forgiveness. When Wick calls to make dinner reservations for 12, and Charlie's Specialized Waste Disposal truck arrives, Wick has indeed removed waste from his life in terms of the emotional turmoil the men breaking in symbolize to his psyche, and the film calls for us to be willing to do the same in our own unconsious minds, reminding us that even a "action-flick" can aspire to the status of art when the proper tools are used so that we be thoroughly engaged and come out, like the hero, better for it in the end.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
This poster could be a picture of any one of us, as you or I could, at any moment, lose all that we hold most dear, and become emotionally volatile and take it out on anything. Let us use the film to remember, not only how delicate we ourselves are, but everyone else, too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

John Wick: Loved It!

This is a great poster: note the ink-y feel, especially around his right leg and right shoulder, as well as the smudge marks: this style emphasizes that he's a creation, not a real person, but that he's been made from ink and paper so that means he's an idea and, as we discover, he's the standard of the ideal of masculinity and the exact opposite of the wimped-out idea of the politically liberal male; he has emotions and feelings, he can feel vulnerable and human, he has a set of values but he's also a man who is going to do what he's got to do, and he expects that of other men as well. I really liked it!
I am nearly done with the post, but it will still be an hour or two before I get it up, so I just wanted to assure you: John Wick is worthy of the great reviews it has been getting! There weren't many people in the theater last night, but we all enjoyed it! There was quite a bit of profanity, and, of course, massive amounts of violence and bloodshed, but there was no nudity or sex. If you have a moment, you might scroll through this list of events in 1969, which is the year of John's Mustang--a central focus of my post--because this is the year the Charles Manson murders also took place (yes, as in Annabelle). Just scroll through it and see what an epic year that was.
I had hoped to get to see Ouija today, but probably won't unless it's a really late showing. The reviews haven't been good, but these are also from people who, basically, don't know anything about films. Before you go see it, or any Halloween movie on TV this week, you might want to re-read last year's Halloween post on Lessons From Horror Films: Why People Do Dumb Things because Ouija, and most other horror films, are full of these "lessons" you will be able to pick up on if you know what to look for!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Strings: The Avengers Age Of Ultron Trailer #1

Well, this was unexpected.
Rumor had it that the first trailer of Hollywood's MOST ANTICIPATED FILM of 2015 was going to be featured at the start of Interstellar, then it was announced it would be on Agents of SHIELD Thursday night, when in fact, it was released last night (sorry, the router died and I had to have some one come out and fix it, so I just got back a few minutes ago). So, here is the full trailer:
Like any great narrative, conflict is a central theme in this trailer. If you listen closely, in the background is the theme song of Walt Disney's Pinocchio, There Are No Strings On Me; why on earth would James Spader's Ultron, the biggest, baddest and meanest villain in the universe, be identifying with Pinocchio? If you know the song, then you know that the little wooden boy is indeed "string-free" when he sings it, but by the end of the song, he has gotten himself tangled in the strings that were part of the props. This may be foreshadowing that the very boast Ultron makes in why he is stronger than the Avengers is the same boast that will bring him down (those strings could end up being, for example, Scarlet Witch [Elizabeth Olsen] and Quicksilver [Aaron Johnson] who start out fighting on the side with Ultron, but change allegiance to the Avengers).
I am going to predict that the other theme of The Avengers II will be the difference between Pinocchio being a "wooden boy" and then becoming a "real boy." Why? Ultron might start out as a real man--I am just speculating, I don't know--and then turn himself into a Iron Man rip-off, which would make him think that his power freed him from being beholden to anyone; the Avengers, however, all being human, have certain obligations so they don't become inhuman, like valuing life and using the powers, skills and talents they have for good rather than evil. This might be a lesson Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver are learning as the film progresses. 
What are the strings on the Avengers? Nick Fury didn't stay "dead" long, did he? Seeing Fury, we might be led to believe that the strings attached to the super-heroes are those that SHIELD puts on them, namely, having limitations on what they can and cannot do. Then again, a more compelling story line would be the strings the Avengers put upon themselves, what they will and will not do (like kill innocent people, or save themselves instead of being willing to sacrifice themselves). Why would this be an important theme?
This is supposedly a shot of the opening with several of the Avengers gathered at Stark's penthouse having a few drinks (the very first opening sequence is the shot at the end of Captain America the Winter Soldier when Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were in their cells, that's where the film starts). There is a contest to see if any of the other Avengers can pick up Thor's hammer; only Steve Rogers can budge it, a little. This is a telling scene of the god of thunder, so in the trailer, when we see Thor picking up Stark by the throat and lifting him high in the air, we know from the start of the film that Thor has the unquestionable (moral) authority to do so. 
Depending on the exact angle it takes, validating the importance of a culturally-upheld morality would demonstrate that, without morality, we aren't human, and that would lead us to a terrible world of power-struggles. Please note the image below: what do you notice? You probably recognize the Avengers: Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, etc., but you recognize them because they have being, they have presence, whereas the vast number of robots trying to overwhelm and take them down have no individuality and identity. What is it exactly, that gives us an identity, or that causes us to lose our identity? The film is going to answer that.
"You want to protect the world, but you don't want it to change." Well, basically. A "change" in the world would probably be for the worst, especially instituted by someone like Ultron. Why? (Keep in mind, we might be seeing this same theme with Lex Luthor in Batman vs Superman). Ultron would make changes that would be best for him and him alone, whereas the world is (supposed to be) designed for the best for the greatest possible number of people. Ultron likes the idea of people begging him for mercy, but anyone who likes that idea is probably void of mercy to begin with, otherwise, why usher in a world like that? On a last note, we could see the deaths of some of the Avengers, because rumor has it that Captain America has to assemble a new team by the end of the film,....
Why is Steve Rogers only able to budge Thor's hammer? Is there anyone better or more virtuous than Captain America? Well, remember, there is quite a bit of darkness in Steve's heart over having spent fifty years frozen, and seeing all his friends die or age (like Peggy) and him not fit in anywhere (we might also throw in SHIELD turning on him in the last film, and the horrible things that happened to Bucky). So while Steve's heart is virtuous, and he will always do the right thing, there are unresolved painful issues that keep him from being as strong as he might be, the way Thor is, but I doubt Thor discovers what has happened on Asgard after he left (Loki taking over Odin's throne) but I do know that the first movements have started for the work on Thor 3 and I can't wait!
Tonight, I am going to see John Wick, and I am totally excited about that! As soon as I get the post up for it (by Friday, keep your fingers crossed) I am then going to see Ouija, I think a number of important themes are going to be in that film, so I am definitely going to see it!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--Just in case anyone is confused, you have a right to be. Evan Peters portrayed Quicksilver in X-Men Days Of Future Past this spring, and now Aaron Johnson is portraying the same character in The Avengers II. Quicksilver and his sister Scarlet Witch are cross-over characters inhabiting both Marvel universes. By the way, it's being hinted that Peters' Quicksilver may be getting a solo film,...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's Mandatory: Mockingjay Part 1 District Voices (#1-3)

This is actually a big deal: director James Wan (The Conjuring, Fast and Furious 7) has been signed to do The Conjuring II: The Enfield Poltergeist, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga returning in their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren. New Line Cinema was so desperate to get Wan back as the director, they changed the release date from October 2015 to sometime in 2016. Further, Wan has signed a deal with the studio and Warner Brothers to continue making low-budget films (in the neighborhood of $20 million) for release, The Conjuring was made on that same budget and grossed over $320 million worldwide which is what Hollywood calls, "success." What is the "Enfield Poltergeist?" Enfield is a suburb north of London, and during 1977, a woman with her four children experienced regular, unaccountable movements of objects and furniture with Janet, the eleven year old upon whom the events centered, would even regularly levitate above her bed. The interesting aspect that is different between the events of The Conjuring and the Enfield Poltergeist is the doubt that exists with the poltergeist because of the two girls involved; it's unclear whether or not Wan and company will include the doubt and skepticism as part of the official story line or not.
Once again, I am impressed with what The Hunger Games franchise has done with both its advertising push and its push for a clear, anti-socialist agenda. Two new "District Voices" videos have been released (and one will be released for the next three days) and, if this doesn't remind you of the Soviet Union, you probably don't know anything about communism. Now, remember, they don't make any money off these videos--which probably don't cost the studios that much to produce--but these are like gifts (and, of course, the more cynical writers would instead call it free publicity, but I don't look at it that way at all) and Hollywood is getting the hang of it. We had an extra video with Prometheus with Guy Pierce in character giving a kind of future pep talk, and, given how little we interacted with his character, that proved invaluable. Likewise, for X-Men Days Of Future Past, a rather extensive Magneto and the "Bent Bullet Theory" that played right into the plot. So, here's the first video:
To demonstrate how cool this is, the actors in these videos are Youtube stars who each have their own channels and subscribers; why is this important? I would call it the American Dream: putting in what you have with what you have access to, hard work, and being discovered. Each of the people in these videos are using their real-life talents to contribute to the film, so I am quite pleased with this advertising campaign:
And here is the third; yes, it will remind you of Divergent, and no, I'm not sure if The Hunger Games film makers are being influenced by Divergent or if Divergent was influenced by THG books, but the important aspect here is, they are obviously sharing a dialogue, and we need to find a way to tap into it (which won't be difficult at all):
With the third video, comparing this to Divergent, the Dauntless (the brave warriors) are there to protect the people from whatever it is lurking outside of the city walls (even though they are drugged and turned into something else, that's their founding purpose); in THG, the peacekeepers are there to make sure people don't revolt, it's a police state and the peacekeepers work for the Capitol, not the people. Why then, in all three videos, is part of the salutation, "Our future is in your hands," keep getting repeated? The people have to agree to keep going along with this system; if they revolt (and we know these "announcements" are being made to discourage that because this is taking place in the post-Katniss-blew-up-the-arena-episode) Panem falls apart and is dissolved, so the Capitol wants people to believe that everyone else is happy with the system, and if you revolt against the Capitol, you are taking away the lives of the people in these videos. This is a dependency-enabling system, which is what we see in America with the Democrats and illegal aliens, Obamaphones and food stamps.
Isn't this odd? Not so much, if you know anything about socialism. As we have stated previously, socialists don't want strict lines between what is feminine and what is masculine, they want women to become men and for men to become women because  then the State controls morality and by taking away "nature" (and how nature has pre-determined what we will be) the State can then do things like mandatory abortions and sterilizations without a second thought. The face of the person in the poster above looks more masculine to me, but this person has breasts, so it must be a female, unless, this being the technology district, they have started changing sexuality (like trans-gender people now) so they can account for population deficits and abundance. For example, please look at the "3" in the upper-right hand corner;turn it to the left and it becomes an "M," which is exactly what socialists do: you might be a male now, but we need you to be female, so start taking this hormone to develop breasts so that then you can fulfill your tasks to the Capitol. This scenario actually plays out in the book World War Z, when one woman who survived the "zombie infestation" (or their being normal people in the world who were all murdered) and she went from being a member of the Russian military to being a "breeder," a woman who does nothing but has babies; when she can't have babies anymore, her usefulness will be over with and so will she. 
These videos embody the primary functions of propaganda; why? So we get used to hearing what propaganda is and we can recognize it and reject it (if THG were still being pro-socialist the way they started out, we wouldn't have any of these videos and the films would take a radically different view than what is presented). What does each video say at the end? "Register, it's mandatory." Why? Because if you aren't receiving propaganda, you might start thinking for yourself. The main formula of a work of the "state" is to take a simple truth and keep repeating it and repeating it and repeating it and repeating it because then, it wears down your senses and you eventually start to believe it. That's why propaganda is so simplistic in how it operates: it has to reach and grab the greatest number of people. so it can't be too intellectually advanced (socialist states always want dumb citizens so they can't think for themselves, or become smart enough to find a way to overthrow the system).
This is a really incredible poster because it gets to the heart of how socialism makes citizens dependent upon the system. This poor man lost his leg; what job is he going to do if the government doesn't hire him to cut wood? Just as he is dependent upon his "wooden leg," he becomes dependent upon the task of chopping wood and the hand that pays him to do it. On a different note, however, are his tattoos: losing his leg wasn't his choice, but getting the tattoos were. Now NO OFFENCE to anyone who has tattoos, but you know this is a concern: when someone has tattoos all over them, like this man, what are the chances a company is going to hire him for a business position? The Capitol likes citizens like him because no one else will hire him but the Capitol, so he's as dependent upon the Capitol as the Capitol is upon him to keep them in power. Again, look at the "7" in the upper-right hand corner; it looks like a right angle, or one of those things I used in geometry class that I barely passed. By employing these means of taking one thing, in this case, the number seven, and making it to where it potentially fills another role as well, the film makers are inviting us to see everything about the film in this same light, so we have increased our engagement with the narrative and we are better understanding what they are saying, which is the exact opposite of what propaganda does: make it seem like they understand, but make sure they are totally confused about everything.
Sometimes, however, a piece of propaganda can become so simple, it actually deconstructs itself (or backfires). Note how people in the videos talk about the Capitol's generosity (and the next three will probably do the same, if not more so) and that's to make it seem like the Capitol only keeps what it needs and is necessary, the people are the ones really benefiting from the system, but it's the Capitol that decides it doesn't need the scraps anymore, you don't get to make that--or any other--decision yourself. Everyone to the Capitol is, like the woman modeling the outfit, nothing but a "live form model," not a model, not a woman, but a "live form" model, who looks dead. This is linguistic control, what we call in the US, "political correctness," because one a political group can control your language, it controls you, and can force you to say exactly what they do or do not want to hear. Again, this woman modeling isn't a woman, or a human, but a "live form model." We need to seriously think about the implications being introduced and, since we have been promised more, we'll have the chance to do so.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Here is the first poster out for the newest Jurassic Park film, due out next year: The Park Is Open. I'm sure they spared no expense.

Monday, October 20, 2014

TRAILERS & NEWS: John Wick, Unbroken, Black Hat, In the Heart Of the Sea, The Theory Of Everything

Opening this weekend is Keanu Reeves' John Wick, which I am quite looking forward to. What is so surprising is, even my sister is looking forward to this. Please see below for the discussion on the trailer and why this is going to be such a great film! 
There has been significant discussion--and even more false reporting--regarding Pope Francis changing the Church's official position on homosexual and divorced families and everyone I know is asking about what is happening. The liberal media, as always, is doing everything it can to make the Church look cold and heartless, but I would like to take a moment and discuss this, because it's the same device being used politically with illegal immigrants. In the Church, any homosexual or divorced person is welcomed, the only condition is, as with any sinner coming into the Church (and we all know we are all sinners), you have to be committed to turning away from your sin. Again, any homosexual can enter into the Church, as long as they do their best to not act upon their homosexuality in engaging in sexual acts; the exact same condition is true of myself, a single heterosexual female, I vow not to act on sexual temptations in exchange for the Sacraments of the Church. What the supposed measures suggest is that homosexuals be allowed into the Church without repenting of their sins. This is severely problematic because it basically wipes out the Suffering and Sacrifice Christ endured to pay for our sins and His Commandment, "Go and sin no more." Families where the parents aren't married, just have to go to confession, and get married! If they don't want to get married, they are intentionally choosing to live in sin over living in Christ, and that's their choice. With divorced families, it's the same situation: all they have to do is get an annulment from their first marriage, even if they are all ready in their second marriage, and they can receive Communion again. If the person chooses not to get an annulment, that is that person's decision, but the point, for both divorced families and homosexuals is this: the Church has made concessions for you and wants you to come back, but you have to choose Christ over the world; if you choose the world, you cannot also choose Christ, He made it clear, it's Him or the world, but not both. God gave us free will so we can freely choose to love Him, not be forced to love Him. Pope Francis, like Obama granting amnesty even though there are laws in place to allow immigrants all ready here to legally become citizens, is undoing the law by pretending that there is no law (or accessible means) and that's not the case at all. Every Christian wants as many people to be saved as possible, we ALL want people to leave their sins and come to Christ, but it's their choice to do so, they have to choose Christ. To suggest that people aren't capable of making decisions for themselves, is--like socialists--to deny that we are human, rather, nothing more than animals with no soul.
Thank you for permitting me that rant, moving on,....
Is it true? Warwick Davis (Willow) has officially signed on for Star Wars VII and, since he originally played the loveable Ewok, everyone is speculating that JJ Abrams may be bringing them back to Star Wars VII; there's a lot of rumors going around, most of which I don't even bother to circulate here, but it would be interesting. Pacific Rim is getting a second and third film, in spite of what most people said was a less-than-expected box office debut (I really liked the film personally).  
The second trailer for Angelina Jolie's film Unbroken has been released (it comes out December 25) and, I have to tell you, this is the kind of story I want to see, not Fury; again, this is based on a true story, the man whose life is being re-told just recently past away:
What is the difference between Unbroken and Fury? There is a clear since of victory in Unbroken and no sense of anything but despair in Fury. Christopher Nolan's Interstellar comes out in just a few weeks and Matthew McConnaughey's character saying, "We've always found a way," could be echoed in Unbroken (the script having been written by the Coen Brothers who did Fargo, Raising Arizona and, most recently, Inside Llweyn Davis). Why is a film like Unbroken important? For Americans, it's a lot like what we saw in Emperor with Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox: it's not the equipment Americans have, or our engineering or resources, it's our spirit that keeps us going, and Unbroken promises to deliver complete validation of that. Opening February 2015 is the newest Chris Hemsworth film, Black Hat, and I think I am going to like this:
One of the recurring themes in films as of late, such as Fast and Furious 6 and The Dark Knight Rises, is that America is the land of second chances: you mess up, you get a second chance, this isn't (at least, not yet, a police state). If "it's not about money, it's not about politics," then what is it about? Being God. If nearly everything in the world and to the individual is put online, and someone can manipulate that, you have the greatest power in the world, it's really that simple. So what's the point of Hemsworth's character? Conversion. This is kind of a missionary story, you could say, because anyone out there who could (and there are people who can) need to realize what the consequences of their actions will lead to and how, in spite of that kind of power, it's still more important to have friends (the people he's working with) and trust, a sense of self and purpose, then to yield that kind of inconceivable power. On the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe I will like this "Moby Dick" tale and maybe I won't, but this seems more like Fury to me than Unbroken:
Now, I would like to pick a bone, and this is going to make it seem like I am in a really bad mood, but I'm not: Stephen Hawking did not invent the Big Bang Theory, Mon. Georges Lemaitre,  a Catholic priest and scientist, did, Hawking just proved what Lemaitre came up with, but this trailer is highly misleading. You should be aware that Mr. Eddie Redmayne is indeed all ready coming out strong with accolades (including Oscar baiting) for The Theory Of Everything:
Part of the reason I have a problem with this is it divorces the religious origins of the Big Bang (which is compatible with Christian teaching) and makes it look like science came up with it, so therefore, that must disprove God's existence. On a different note entirely, let's revisit John Wick, opening this weekend along with Ouija:
By 0:22, four things should be sticking out in your mind: first, he was asleep and then he woke up, the dog, the Rock music and the Mustang. John Wick (Reeves) has retired from his hitman lifestyle (in this sense, it's like the Clint Eastwood film Unforgiven).  But us seeing him being "asleep," (which is symbolic for death or even a part of a person being in "hibernation" until the right time for it to awaken) is a sign that he's been dormant. Secondly, the dog, which was a gift from his wife, symbolizes loyalty; so why do the thugs kill the dog (remember Kevin Spacey's character burying the dog at the end of Margin Call)? Because, in America, thugs (as in, politicians) have killed the loyalty of many Americans and stolen our vehicle (the Mustang)--the force of the economy and our own, independent free will ("free will" as in both not pre-fated by God, nor governed by a police state). On a deeper level, the Mustang reminds us of, anyone? Anyone?.... Hidalgo, when Viggo Mortenson's character rode a Mustang and everyone else had fancy horses. The car is a symbol of the economy and American will power, while the brand of the car, Mustang, symbolizes the Wild West and a part of us that is "unbroken."
At one part in the trailer, Wick asks the hotel manager, "How good is your laundry?" to which he replies, looking at his dirty, bloody shirt, "Nobody is that good." His blood-stained clothes, of course, symbolizes the sin of murder on his soul, and in asking about the laundry, we will probably be at a point in the film when Wick realizes how much blood he has shed and how he's going to do penance for it (because what goes around, comes around). The woman in the trailer, the "I just thought I would let myself in" chick, is the wild card, she might end up being a figure of conversion herself (if she ends up helping John instead of trying to kill him), but we don't really know.
What about the Rock music? In Rock Of Ages (Tom Cruise), the film makers made it clear that Rock-n-Roll was a genre of music symbolizing rebellion that was acceptable in the US but would not be allowed in the USSR, so listening to Rock music is also a form of rebellion. The dying wife is a traditional symbol you are well-familiar with: women are the passive principle of the motherland, men are the active principle of production, so the "dying wife" is a dying America and her last gift of the dog was loyalty to the country, in spite of what the politicians' are doing; Wick, then, is the active force of the economy, the driving will (capitalism) that is coming back, and with a vengeance. The part of the trailer when the guy says, "It's not what you took, it's who you took it from," is a reminder to America of what we once were before Obama turned us into a hashtag-sign holding country of wimps.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, October 17, 2014

Best Job I Ever Had: Fury

The acting is really incredible, especially for Mr. Logan Lehrman, the true degree of his talent genuinely shines in this film; I would not be the least bit surprised to see anyone of the actors nominated for Oscars; additionally, the directing and cinematography was superb; it's a technical masterpiece, it's done incredibly well. However, we always reveal what it is we believe because we act (we express our will) in the morality we uphold and the choices we make; art is no exception. An American soldier named Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal), who has harshly hazed Norman (Logan Lehrman) up to that point, lights a cigarette and tells Norman, "I think you're a good man. Maybe we aren't, but you are" referring to the rest of the men in the tank. This is an important moment in the film because "Coon-Ass" is a character the character you like least, so for the dumbest character to deliver the film's thesis is a direct message to the audience: only the boy who falls in love with the German girl is good, all the rest of the Americans are bad, and this is from the very start of the film to the very last scene.
The film follows two important rules that all other films follow: first, history films are never ever ever about history; they are always about the here and the now. Secondly, anyone who dies in a film, dies because they are all ready "dead." Fury is essentially a Saving Private Ryan that isn't nearly as likable. There are five Americans in this group, and only one of them lives, Norman, who is a border-line Nazi sympathizer. the Americans in this film are portrayed as ignorant and murderous. At the end of the film, even though the war will be over in just 2-3 weeks, the film chooses to make the sacrifice of the men appear totally in vain and that the war was never won and they didn't do any good because there were no concentration camps to deliver, political criminals were not brought to justice, and no one under German rule was actually being oppressed. Fury is a totally different film from Valkyrie (Tom Cruise) or The Book Thief, or Schindler's List: these films aren't about making Germany continue to pay a never-ending debt of public shame for World War II, those films are explorations of the Third Reich and how it happened and why, and what was being done about it; Fury, though, absolves the Nazis and essentially DENIES THAT THE HOLOCAUST TOOK PLACE because there are no concentration camps, there is not even a mention of that, or of the horrors that had taken place, EVEN THOUGH the film specifies that it takes place at the exact same time the camps were being liberated. This is the second film Brad Pitt has been in that has publicly spit in the face of Jews and Israel, the other was World War Z, when--in spite of their intelligent for-planning--Jerusalem was singled out for destruction so we could see the zombies attacking the ancient city and start getting used to the idea of Israel not existing. Someone really needs to publicly call him out on this and make him answer for the films he is making because this is absolutely unacceptable (after all, the press did it to Mel Gibson when he denied the Holocaust took place, and that seems to be exactly what Pitt is doing). 
When the film first opens, we hear noise: conflicting radio signals and static block out what anyone might be able to communicate; everyone is talking, but no one is listening. Noise is an effective artistic device meant to convey conflicting signals: in the case of Fury, even though the main characters are all Americans, they are anti-heroes (with the exception of Norman) because, like the noise at the start of the film, it's difficult to hear and understand what they are saying, because of their accents, their mutterings, their slang, etc. In other words, Americans are just full of noise. There are a number of countries that would agree with this. Just as noise is important, so silence is important as well: there is no talk about what the Nazis have done to drag the Americans across Africa, France, Belgium and into Germany; by the accounting of the film, the Nazis are completely innocent, never having a single one of their crimes articulated, which makes it look like America just invited herself over there for the sole purpose of murder.
Throughout the film, we learn how much Dan Collier (Pitt) hates the Nazis and especially the SS (Hitler's elite battalion of body guard and soldiers) but he never says why he hates them, he never enumerates the horrors socialism has brought to the world, or the concentration camps--in spite of the film taking place during April 1945 when the US army began liberating the concentration camps, the film makers made a conscious decision to ignore this and leave it out of the film--or that war was inflicted upon the US; Collier hates Nazis because he hates them, and that simple-mindedness extends to every American in the film. The US was in Germany because, according to the film, we like killing and that's what we are good at. In the scene depicted above, a German SS POW is being led through the camp because he's going to be questioned, and, seeing the SS German, Collier goes crazy and wants to kill him in cold blood, so his men have to hold him back to keep Collier from killing the German POW; Collier, "like all Americans," just wants to kill the man because he's a German and that's the only reason why America came across the Atlantic, was to kill people who were not Americans.
Several typed-out notations come up on the screen after the noisy radio communications, including the information that German military tanks were superior to American tanks; that's fine, we hadn't prepared for war the way the German state had, so sure, our tanks weren't ready for war; that's not the point the film is making, however, it wants you to know that the Germans were superior to Americans, and it spells this out in a number of scenes. To begin with, with Dan Collier (Brad Pitt) has to teach Norman how to kill, he explains it in the simplistic terms of, "They are Nazis and you are here to kill Nazis." There is no explanation, or reminder, of what Nazism and socialism were doing to the world, of the Jews and others who were dying in concentration camps, or the death and destruction the Nazis had caused throughout all Europe; kill them because they are Nazis.
But it gets worse.
Norman (Lehrman) failed to fire upon a teenager in the trees who attacked a tank, causing an American soldier, burning to death, to put his gun to his head and commit suicide as his body flamed. Collier blames Norman directly for the destroyed tank and dead soldier, so he's going to force Norman to kill a German soldier (the man on his knees in the bottom, right corner of the image above), with everyone watching. Norman refuses, Collier forces him by wrestling him to the ground and forcing his finger to pull the trigger, thereby killing the German (who was unarmed, pleading for mercy and not to be killed,) in the back just to do it. Norman is, of course, terribly upset; moments later, Collier says, "I haven't seen you eat all day, be sure to get something," which initially sounds as if Collier cares about Norman, but that's not what is being communicated: moments after killing a man, Collier now expects him to eat, because he wants killing to become as common to Norman as eating is.
The opening scene shows us a rider on a white horse, coming out of the fog, the smoke, and slowly walking across a barren field, then through the carnage and decay of a battlefield; out of nowhere, Collier springs out from behind his tank and attacks the German soldier and kills him with a knife. Collier takes the bridle off the horse and, after petting the horse, sets it free. Why is this important? The first scene is always the most important scene of a film, because good film makers are going to use it to foreshadow (they will fill the role of prophet) what happens later. Quite briefly, for perhaps a second, at the end, all the Americans are dead except Norman who escaped through the tank floor hatch and he fell asleep in the mud; when the light comes, we see the hooves of a white horse walk past the tank and then Norman is saved by the American ground troops arriving.
What does this mean?
This was really clever casting by the film makers. Shia LaBeouf plays Boyd "Bible" Swan, and his nickname (or "war name") is "Bible" because he is always asking men if they have been saved by Jesus Christ and going over to dying men and reciting the Lord's Prayer with them, as well as randomly quoting Scripture verse. Why is this clever casting? Shia has achieved the reputation for himself in Hollywood of being crazy. In this article, "The Many Faces Of Shia LaBeouf," the author recognizes how "dangerously close" the actor has come to wrecking his career for good because of his off-screen craziness and arrest-record (I am not arguing with the quality of Shia's performance, which is, I will say, exceptional acting and, again, is also a definite credit to the director); but I am arguing that they wanted someone that everyone would associate with "being crazy" to play the Christian so the film could cast a ugly light on anyone practicing the religion, especially as the Obama Administration is trying to squeeze our Christianity in the military completely, while making all member of the military take Islam-sensitivity courses and participate in their holidays and fasts. There are two important scenes involving Boyd: first, the scene where one of the guys wants to touch his mustache and Boyd won't let him. Hair on the upper-lip like this indicates animal appetites, and we see him killing Nazis with gusto (he's the tank's gunner) and is grateful for being able to kill them. As Americans, we are grateful to his character as well, however, the film ends with no victory, no purpose, no moral, everything they have done is just a speck in a giant void; in other words, there was no end to the war, and the Allies and America, according to the film makers, certainly didn't win the war. So Boyd's mustache is a symbol of his hypocrisy, that if God loves everyone, even Hitler, then why is Boyd killing them? The second incident involving Boyd is his quoting of both 1 John 2:16 ("Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world. The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever") and Isaiah 6 ("Who shall we send? Here am I Lord, I come to do your will"). Boyd quoting the Bible is meant, just as we saw in The Conjuring, to challenge Christians that, if you actually believe what you say you believe, then why are you fighting wars? What is the difference between doing what your invisible, non-proven God tells you to do, and what the State tells you to do? Everything is passing away in the world, you shouldn't own or have anything (which is the same argument form The Conjuring; please see The Devil's Hour: The Conjuring for more). The way Boyd dies verifies that this is how the film makers feel about Christianity: Boyd gets shot in the back of the head and it goes through his eye, symbolizing that Boyd "didn't see correctly," he was seeing the Scripture's backwards (the bullet going in through the back of his head and coming out the front) because Jesus Christ didn't intend for people to worship God, but to serve Cesar and the State (sot he film makers are arguing). When Boyd quotes Isaiah 6, Collier knows the Book and verse number and says so; this knowledge, is ultimately the reason Collier dies: it's not his slavery (symbolized by his whipped back, discussed below), nor is it even his harsh treatment of Norman because he tries to make up for it and at the dinner with the two German women, tries to show that he is better than other Americans because he speaks German. No, Collier could have been spared death but Collier knew the verse of the Bible, suggesting that he has some belief in God and anyone who believes in God, according to the socialist film makers, has to die. We saw this, again, in World War Z: the only reason why that androgynous girl Seneg survives is because she sublimates her identity and she doesn't talk about her Jewish identity or God. This is political propaganda in its purest and most raw form.
Horses usually symbolize "spirit" (usually the Holy Spirit but, in spite of the Biblical references in the film, I really don't think that's what it symbolizes because there is nothing religious that happens, this is discussed in the caption above) and that spirit (the horse) wandering over the barren field, is supposed to symbolize the spirit of socialism that was spreading across Europe; had America (symbolized by Collier jumping out and killing the German) not become involved in the conflict and killed all the Germans, the Germans would have spread socialism "peaceably" and then the whole world would be socialist all ready.
The Americans have taken over a German town and Collier and Norman entered an apartment with two German women hiding. Instead of raping and looting, as the other Americans are clearly doing below in the town, Collier hands Emma (in the blue dress) some eggs he has wrapped up in the box so they will fix them for him). In not raping, looting and vandalizing, like the other Americans, and because Collier can speak German, he forms a bond with the two women as they bring him hot water and Norman plays the piano. The eggs, very importantly, symbolize "new life," and Collier's ability to speak German suggests that he knows the language of the "enemy" (I know German as well, there's nothing wrong with German, but the film makes such a big deal about "killing Nazis" that, as Guardo asks, "How did you learn German before you got here?" which is never explained). Anyway, Collier is in a supreme position to be "baptized" into socialism, because he's sharing the eggs with everyone there (spreading new life); Collier also takes a sponge bath and shaves, so this symbolizes Baptism (Norman had been asked earlier if he was saved and he mentions that he had been baptized; the film, however, isn't interested in spiritual cleansing, but in political cleansing, so Collier, in being in the German apartment, with the German women and speaking German, is being initiated into socialism). Collier also shaves, so the removing of the beard suggests he's going to overcome his "animal appetites" to kill for the sake of killing (as opposed to the other tank members who, when they join Collier and Norman, make it clear they are very much living out their appetites by the way they treat the women, Norman and behave in general). As Collier washes himself, Norma plays the piano and Emma sings, but then stops when she sees Collier's bare back in the mirror: it's covered in terrible scar tissue. What happened to Collier we don't know but it almost looks as if he had been severely whipped like an escaped slave; these scars are the indications of why Collier is not "allowed" to live by the film makers: he is a slave to his way of life and he won't give it up
Norman still being alive, and the hooves waking him up, is a metaphor that the "gentle one" (Norman, who didn't want to kill Nazis just to kill them) who survived is now "awake" to the spirit that is coming and that's why he survived. There was a part of Norman that did die, that's why he covered himself in dirt and fell asleep in the cold mud, as an act of death and maybe even penance, but just the bad, American part of Norman died. An American Red Cross worker checks Norman over and tells him, "You're a hero," and it's not because they held the cross-road, it's because Norman has overcome his lesser-self and will become a socialist,.... no, it doesn't make any sense, but that's what they want the audience to believe. Remember, a character lives because they are the film makers' ideal type, and Coon-Ass told Norman that they aren't good men, and the reason is because they are Americans but Norman hates everything they are, even if that is within himself.
Collier threatens Norman that, if Norman doesn't take Emma into the bedroom (to have sex with her), then he himself will, so Norman and Emma go into the bedroom and make out; before that, however, Norman reads her palm, which his grandmother taught him, and points out that Emma has the "Ring of Solomon" sign on her hand, which is rare, but he has it, too.  "You like to help people," he tells her; this ties in with Germany being superior because it was socialist: in America, "you're on your own," as Pitt's character says in Killing Them Softly, but in Nazi Germany, you can have someone like Emma help you. Most people would consider Palmistry to be superstitious because there is no science to it, whereas Christianity has endured for 20 years; the film makers, on the other hand, appear to be arguing that because you can physically see and touch the Ring Of Solomon on someone's hand, that is not superstition but, because Christianity cannot be touched, that is superstition and must be done away with. When Collier and Norman first entered the apartment, Emma was under the bed hiding for fear they would rape her (her skirt was hiked up on her leg, though, and her blouse wasn't tied up at the top, so she looked loose anyway). Just as Emma was under the bed hiding from the Americans, so Norman will be under the tank hiding from the Germans. 
At one point in the film, Collier tells Norman, "Ideas are peaceful, history is violent." This makes no sense at all. He's suggesting, again, like in the opening sequence with the white horse and German soldier, that the Nazis were doing nothing but spreading the Gospel of Socialism, and the Allied Forces violently attacked them simply for "spreading an idea." AGAIN, there is NEVER mention of the horrors of what the Nazis were doing, and err by omission is tantamount to lying. Someone might say though, what about the children that were hung for not fighting for Germany?
Collier, Norman and the two women in the picture were going to have dinner together and then the other three men from the tank found them and, without being invited, joined them (because that is what Americans do, and America, the film makers would argue, wasn't even invited to join the war, they just came over and started murdering everyone). This dinner is a very painful scene, with Coon-Ass licking Emma's egg then putting it back on her plate and acting like nothing was wrong. Guardo, who is drunk, tells Norman the story of when they got past the beaches on D-Day and had to get over all the hedge-rows (I can't believe they got that part right, so they know the history, they just intentionally changed it) and after the fighting, there were all these horses. "Do you like horses, Norman?" Guardo asks, because for days, they did nothing but kill horses because there were so many of them. Instantly, your mind is going to think of Steven Spielberg's World War I film, War Horse, and you are probably going to ask why the horses couldn't be put to some use. The horses couldn't be used because Americans like to murder things (this is another argument why Collier might have escaped death had he not known the verse for Isaiah 6, because in the opening scene, he could have killed the horse, but he let the horse go instead). Guardo describes how you have to pet the horse on the head and then put a bullet in its spine, and then ends by telling Norman that he wasn't there with them when they went through that, so it's not fair that Collier is having dinner with him, when Norman hasn't earned the right because Norman ins't a ignorant butcher the way the other three are. This is the "logic" of the film.
When Collier's group reaches the town they are supposed to siege, they see young people and even children who are hanging (as in dead) publicly with signs written in German saying, I refused to fight for the motherland of Germany. A group of kids surrenders, and Collier sees an SS officer among them; he asks a teacher if that officer was responsible for what happened to the kids and the teacher responds yes, so Collier shoots the SS officer. This is the thing though: what Collier does, is what an American would do, and the film makers disagree with it because children don't belong to their parents, children don't even belong to themselves: everyone belongs to the State. You have no will of your own, you have to do whatever it is the State tells you. So, in being socialists, the film makers believe the SS officer was right to hang the children for "treason," and if you are an American who is happy that Collier shot the SS officer, that just proves that you are a blood-thirsty American who was an aggressor. If you are an American, however, the exact opposite is true.
Often in art, a tangible object will become a character in the narrative, like the Ring in The Hobbit, or the landscape, or the tank Fury in the film. Special attention is given to the tracks of the tank and there are three specific scenes when the director focuses our attention there: the first scene is Norman's first time in the tank, just before the ambush, and the tank is rolling over trees and small forest brush; the second scene is when there has been a dead body in a very muddy road for a long time, flattened, and the tank tracks go right over it without even noticing; the third is when the tank goes over a mine and the tracks fall off. As a vehicle, the tank symbolizes the American will and will power: the first two examples, the tank is crushing into the ground whatever it wants to crush (the earth and a dead person); in the third instance, the ground rebels against the tank and the ground (the mine) pushes and crushes the tank instead of letting the tank crush it; this is supposed to symbolize what a rebellion against American "imperialism" should be like. Collier calls the tank "home" and that's probably another reason why he dies, Collier identifies with the American attitude the film makers want to vilify so the villains have to die, all of them, including the tank.
At the end, Collier (severely wounded) and Norman are the only ones still alive; Norman tells Collier he wants to surrender, he doesn't want to die, and Collier asks him not to surrender because they will treat him badly and he will die a bad death; Norman wants to surrender so he escapes through the hatch and survives. Had Norman been a German wanting to surrender, his officer probably would have shot him dead; but since Norman is an American wanting to surrender, that's a different issue entirely; why? Socialism is intent on the "wussification" (the degrading and erosion) of the white, American male; in wussing out on his brothers-in-arms who died, Norman is supporting the socialists by not doing the macho thing and dying like a man, so he's allowed to live because an American like Norman is never going to be a threat to the socialist world order. To support this, there is one last detail: the ending.
When Logan first meets the tank crew, they tell him to clean up the mess in the gunner's seat (their gunner had just been killed), so Norman is in the tank, cleaning up the human carnage inside and, to his horror, he sees the entire side of the gunner's face laying on the floor of the tank. What does this mean? The face symbolizes our most basic form of identity, so the scene is a foreshadowing that, if Norman stays in the tank (instead of surrendering), he will lose his face, i.e., his identity, as "Norman," which is a symbol for the "Normal Man." So Norman will cease to be Norman and, instead, become like Coon-Ass, Bible and Wardaddy Collier. This is just about to happen when, in the scene before the fighting begins, Coon-Ass tells Norman he's a "drinking and killing machine," and the crew decides that Norman's "war name" is "Machine," and that's supposed to be a sign that he's one of them. The blown-off face refers to Norman being a machine--i.e., the tank itself--instead of a human, a "normal man." 
Collier has died and Norman has slipped out through the hatch and hides under the tank in the mud (this is his metaphorical death and burial scene) but a German soldier looks under the tank with his flashlight and Norman looks up at him, shaking his head "No," pleading not to be turned in; after several tense moments, the German turns his flashlight off and marches off, Norman not being turned in. Why does the German soldier not turn Norman in? This scene is the exact opposite of the scene at the beginning when Collier forced Norman to shoot the German who was begging for mercy because he had a wife and family (Norman does not) so Norman not being turned in is to show how merciful the Nazis were compared to the Americans.
Under immense pressure to do something "respectable" about ISIS, at least pretend as if he has a strategy, Obama responded in part that he would "degrade" ISIS. America has never "degraded" our enemies in the past, because we never had anyone using Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals in place of the Constitution; Alinsky, however, calls for enemies to be degraded, and that's what we see happening to America by the film makers.  The film makers hate America so much, they show a painful sequence of total incompetence where 4 American tanks are incapable of taking out 1 German tank. (the scene depicted above). A scene like this exists solely to degrade the vets of all the Allied forces, but specifically America. This was the opposite situation in Battleship where the veterans were celebrated and honored (please see In God We Trust, All Others We Track: Battleship for more). 
Fury is just one of several liberal films attempting to re-write history: War Horse, Gangster Squad, The Monuments Men, The Lone Ranger and even The Conjuring with our understanding of the Salem Witch Trials; however, they weren't nearly as bold as Fury is. Please remember the example provided to us by the Tom Cruise film Edge Of Tomorrow: every time his character re-sets the day, it's because he got the skill from the alpha male he killed (who symbolizes a liberal) because that's what liberals do, they re-set history every time they can't answer for something, so they are never accountable for the historical record proving what a disaster socialism is (please see Beneath the Louvre: Edge Of Tomorrow & Mimicry for more).
One small bright spot in the film: Scott Eastwood, son of Clint, has a small part.
The men in Collier's group often joke that, being in the tank during the war is "The best job I've ever had." It might seem like a desperate attempt to make light of a black situation, but because the film so consistently criticizes these Americans, they actually mean it, because, again, THE ONLY REASON Collier gives for them being there is, "They are Nazis and either you kill them or they kill you," that's all there is, so being able to murder people as they please, is the best job Americans can have because that's what we do. I am ashamed this film was made, and my deepest sorrow and regret goes out to every veteran and their family from England, France, Australia, Canada, the US and every other country that so valiantly fought to stop the spread of this evil; no apology could be sufficient for the lie this film wants to spread for a political agenda of Hollywood elites.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner