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."
"What?"
"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

Monday, July 21, 2014

NEWS: Star Wars VII & the Hand That Falls

This is the updated poster for Star Wars VII (the original poster can be seen below). We don't have to say much to say something important: for example, the bright yellow in the original has been replaced with gold in the new version. Why is this important? It looks better, someone might say; true, however, aesthetics generally--not always, but generally--the beauty or visual appeal exists because its foundation is a moral appeal. With the "first" Star Wars released in 1977, it was befitting that the words STAR WARS be written in yellow because yellow is the sign of royalty (it resembles gold which always invokes royalty): either someone becomes regal because of their bravery in battle, or someone loses their dignity because of cowardice in battle (refusal to fight for non-legitimate reasons). Consider that in those first three films (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return Of the Jedi) the three young heroes of Luke, Leia and Han had everything to prove, they were nothing, and every single encounter was a battle, they had no reason to have any confidence in themselves or each other (this is important and a theme we will elaborate upon below). So, for the first three films, they all could have been proven to be cowards (remember, Luke didn't have to go in search of Obi-Wan or in search of Leia; Han "leaves" the final battle in Star Wars to go pay off Jabba the Hutt, then comes back to cover for Luke so Luke can sink the winning shot, not to mention, they totally could have died in that trash compactor; it's never the authority you have won because of the last battle, rather, it's always what is at stake in the upcoming battle) but that's not what happens, even though they have two more films wherein they must prove themselves worthy of being some of the highest grossing heroes of cinematic history, and they do prove it. So, STAR WARS being written in yellow conveyed the dubious stakes the three heroes were fighting for in those first three films; now, however, it's definitely written in gold, which is appealing, because the original three are back and the gold verifies that they have, indeed, earned their places, and the gold of the poster is meant to convey this to us (these are some of the greatest heroes in the history of cinema!). Additionally, there is the "reflective" quality of the gold: if the gold is turned to the light, it shines even brighter, reflecting that light. Symbolically, we are meant to "catch the light" and reflect upon the poster and the characters it summons to our minds (as well as the plot of the film and the reflecting the characters will be doing themselves: that's the thing about the Star Wars films, they were all about free will: it would have been easy for Luke to choose the Dark Side, with his dad Darth Vader, but he resisted and made the tougher decision to go with the rebels). There's another detail added which one would have thought was contained in the original poster but is not: the stars. Why did they choose to have little glimmers like stars in the new poster? I think there are at least two reasons. First, an act of heroism stands out against the darkness like a star against the night sky, and seeing the reality of this in a tangible way encourages us in our own small, daily efforts, as unglamorous as Luke repairing droids on the farm on Tatooine. Secondly, the acts of courage, bravery and heroism that are made are immortalized in art and culture, just as the stars are set in the sky, not just for those who performed the deeds, but for us to be reminded of the standards of what a hero is, and aim to achieve that in our own lives. Lastly, there is a thin, but definite "red line" (it could be a red light saber); why is that there? Red, as we know, denotes blood: either we love someone enough to shed our life's blood for them, or we hate them enough to shed their life's blood to appease our wrath against them; I am guessing that we will see both.   
If you don't want to know anything about JJ Abrams' upcoming Star Wars VII, please, stop reading right now and just skip this post: it doesn't include any spoilers (none have been released), but does include solid "rumors" about the opening of the film from sources that have proven reliable in the past (and yes, it's to Abrams' credit that he's releasing teasers because bloggers and news sources--like me--are giving him tons of publicity as we analyze and write away and that's only a good thing for Abrams and company). So, you have been warned.
"It's an elegant weapon," as Obi-Wan comments, not because of the rhythmic humming noise it makes, or the color of the beam, but because of the inner-strength of the one yielding it and the testimony it provides. Please, recall, the light saber is a update of the sword, the ultimate symbol of the knight. Feminists and queer theorists (no, really, it's called Queer theory) will say this is a phallic symbol imposing "Might is right," and of course, might is never right, etc. This is a perfect example of the spread of dis-information. It's not the kind of physical might they want you to believe, rather, it's the moral might that is always right (and, perhaps they don't want you to believe in that, either, they really only want us to believe what they themselves have been programmed to believe) and this interpretation is only validated by the "light" aspect of the saber (the "sword of truth" and the "light in the darkness" combing symbolic force into one, tangible material object). The color of the light of the saber is also important, for example, in the image below, when Luke loses his hand and his saber, it's a pale blue: blue is the color of wisdom and sadness, because of the path of wisdom is the painful lessons of life. Luke has wisdom, however, Vader's saber is red and, we can say, it is so because of the hate and malice he has nurtured in his soul; in this case, Luke's pale wisdom (after all, it's not a deep blue saber, but a pale blue) is insufficient to overcome the depths of Vader's evil. This, however, changes in Return Of the Jedi.
Everyone who has anything to do with film is venting about the "opening" (or the rumored opening) of the Star Wars VII film: a hand falls to a desert planet and it's holding a light saber. Two characters find it and decide to return it to the owner, so they travel off planet and encounter Hans and Chewie who are not flying the Millennium Falcon, but something else; Hans instantly recognize that it's Luke's, but he hasn't seen Luke in 30 years, not since the events of The Return Of the Jedi. Everyone else seems to think this is a terrible opening, but I think it's perfect: the hand, his right hand, the hand Vader cut off, has been cut off again, and we are called to remember the events of Luke losing it the first time, which is awesome!
Let's compare Luke losing his hand to a similar situation in another iconic work of art, JRR Tolkien's The Lord Of the Ring. Frodo is at the edge of Mount Doom, but he can't let go of the Ring; Gollum appears (and you just have to take my word for it, Gollum is a manifestation of Bilbo's and Frodo's own souls that wants the Ring; Frodo isn't struggling against something else, i.e., Gollum, he's struggling against himself); Gollum bites off Frodo's finger to get the Ring and, in so doing, falls into Mount Doom, with the Ring and the finger. This is something like what happens to Luke fighting Vader: in both instances, the commandment from Jesus in Mark 9:43 that "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire is unquenchable." This is certainly the case of the fires of Mount Doom in TLOR, and, I think, of Luke. Throughout the film, Luke has thought well of his powers and his ability to use them, but he's not a real Jedi, but he thinks he is (note his outfit, it's gray, and gray is always the color of the pilgrim, either because they are doing penance or because they are in a state of the novitiate). Just as Frodo has to lose the part of him that wants to hold onto the Ring so the rest of him can be saved and return to the Shire; Luke has to be willing to lose the "power" that his right hand symbolizes in order to resist Vader's--his father's--invitation to combine their power and rule the universe. This act of sacrifice is what makes Luke a Jedi knight, he would rather be maimed than risk becoming evil or being used by evil for evil's own end (remember in the first film, Obi-Wan sacrifices himself to Vader so he can "become more powerful than you can possibly imagine" because Obi-Wan would then be free of his body and earthly form which causes/leads us astray, and being free of his "weaker self" of course makes him stronger in every way). Luke accepts the sacrifice of his hand, his power, and then, in Return Of the Jedi, he is a Jedi, he wears all black because he is "dead to the world" and the power the Dark Side might have had over him before now doesn't have anything in Luke to "act upon," there is no vengefulness or power-hunger or vanity, just Luke knowing what he has to do and wanting to do it. SO, when we see Luke's hand fall to the desert like this, these are some of the things we should be thinking of.
You don't think that's awesome?
Let me clarify. Luke makes an ultimate statement of, not only free will, but also of individuality. Vader wears the black mask and suit because he has lost all his individuality and free will, he does the bidding of the Emperor who uses Vader's wrath against him to control him; Luke won't  be controlled, even by the worst news he has ever received (Vader is his father), but stands against it and refuses to give in even if it means losing his life. Now, given today's entitlement wave of brainwashing and victim-hood, culture trying to tell us that everyone is gay--or if they are not gay, they are sleeping with anyone and everyone--Luke's loss of his right hand is a profound reminder of what he gained when he sacrificed it: his own self.
In a very real sense, we can compare the "falling hand with a light saber" to the glass slipper depicted in Cinderella (2015) which you can watch here. Luke is known for his biopic hand, Cinderella for her glass slipper: it's not a matter of "reducing" a person's identity to an object or just one item, rather, recognizing the power objects have to communicate to us about our individuality and how an entire story can be summoned by the mind with just the slightest hint.
 Now, on a different level, when we see that hand drop into a desert, the hand of the one who went to save others and defeat the evil empire, are we supposed to see that as the state of the United States? The right hand symbolizes strength, and the light saber is the ability to carry out justice--not only the moral ability, but the legal and political ability as well--but when was the last time the Obama Administration made an act of justice or followed the law? Is the desert the hand falls in like the wilderness through which we will see the Israelites wander through in this December's Exodus: Gods and Kings, the place of the soul's purgation? The one who was there to save others, now needs to be saved, just like the United States.
The original title card and poster. Hans hasn't seen his brother-in-law in 30 years? That would be 1985, the year Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term of office and Mikhail Gorbachev became the Chairman of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, i.e., the two men who would end the Soviet Union stepped onto the global stage and made choices that changed the world for the better, forever,... until 2008. 
Abrams has commented that he wants Star Wars VII to be like that first film, intentionally: so the finding of the hand is like Luke finding Leia's message on R2D2; the two characters finding Hans and Chewie is like when Luke went in search of "Old Ben" and Ben not having heard his name "Obi-Wan" in many years is like Hans not having seen his old friend for 30 years. Why do it this way? Does Abrams not have any good ideas of his own? Absolutely not, this is a good idea, because, just like I have been beating the drums, the films that defeated socialism/communism in the 1980s, will defeat socialism/communism today, and this is the instilling in a "new generation" the same values, the courage, the same hope as we first experienced so long ago.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, July 18, 2014

TRAILERS: Into the Storm, Jessebelle, Annabelle, As Above, So Below, Hercules, Expendables 3

Well, if you haven't heard, the comic book company Marvel--not the film industry--has relayed that Thor the god of thunder is no longer able to carry the hammer, so a woman is going to take up his identity. Marvel has also announced that Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, has lost the super-human serum and has rapidly aged 65 years, so he is no longer to carry the shield so Sam Wilson, aka, Falcon, takes over as Captain America. Again, this isn't likely to affect the films, however, this clearly validates what I have been saying about the attack on white males in America (I am a white female myself): in order for women of the Left to feel like they have really achieved "equality" with men, they demand that all their power and possessions be stripped of them; this is the same with minorities. The obvious route to take, if Marvel was truly only interested in gaining a female audience, would have been to explore the role of Lady Sif, or another female, or just create a new female character, but no, that's not what they did, they took a white male and have completely castrated him. Gender, in other words, has no become an arbitrary factor of identity, and this is exactly what the decadent Left wants, because being "assigned" a gender when we are born is what God does, and the Left wants to subvert His authority completely in their drive to making the state god, so they support trans-gender and eventually bestiality and incest and pedophilia--yes, they will support all this, just wait--and this is to drive people further and further away from God and religion so people will be less resistant about embracing the state and dependency.
Again, I do apologize, but Grandma is finally well and I can return to my rightful post; I am sorry, this was a serious bout for her. A number of films have released trailers; maybe not all making to a theater near you, but some of are interest and you might pick them up one night at the local rent-a-film-kiosk near you, but first, let's discuss the newest news circulating about The Avengers: Age Of Ultron because this is big.
Some of you may be surprised about the characters of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch; who is who? The problem stems from them being "cross-over" characters in the Marvel universe, meaning they appear in more than one series, in this case, X-Men and The Avengers. On the left is Evan Peters portrayal of Quicksilver which we just saw in X-Men: Days Of Future Past--and it has been verified that he's returning for X-Men: Apocalypse--and the little girl is his sister, Scarlet Witch. On the right is Aaron Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch in The Avengers: the Age Of Ultron.   Yes, this is confusing. The Avengers seems to be keeping the siblings as twins, whereas X-Men seems to make Peter older but that might be his advanced aging as a result of his speed (note his gray hair). In X-Men, Peter helps the X-Men break Magneto out of the Pentagon--and it's possible Magneto is his father--but in The Avengers, the twins start out at least on the side of evil. If you saw the post-credits scene for Captain America: the Winter Soldier, you saw the twins in cages and, supposedly, this is the exact point at which The Avengers: the Age Of Ultron starts, with the Avengers breaking in and shooting up everything. An additional difference between the two sets of siblings is that the X-Men has them being very middle-class America; the Avengers, however, has them being Gypsies from Romania who just wander and travel, and, consequently, haven't had anyone to help them and teach them to use their gifts.
Supposedly, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), ha built a robot with his intelligence and personality (oh, yea, I bet the Avengers just love this) to lead an "Iron Legion" that protects the world; this robot is, ultimately, Ultron (James Spader) who has some of Stark's traits, but none of Stark's humanity (there is a switch here between the comic books and film, but this is how The Avengers 2 is going to play out). So, why is this important? Well, we just saw two perfect examples of this, one is Transformers IV and X-Men Days Of Future Past (and we can probably throw in Robocop). The Galvatron model was based on Optimus Prime, but had Megatron's conscience and broke protocol of what he was supposed to be like. In X-Men, the Sentinels have all the qualities of the mutants, but none of their humanity. So, where are these films leading the dialogue?
Simon West (The Expendables 2, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Con Air) has been signed to direct the Tolkien & Lewis project, about the two Oxford dons who wrote The Lord Of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, respectively. The film will explore their friendship and similarities, but also their ultimate falling-out.
The strains between human and machine have been explored since the beginnings of cinema; today, however, I think it's more of what's going to happen to us if personal identity--such as gender and religion--are removed from us and we are forced to become more like machines by a government who rules over us like animals. Gender and religion are two of the identity factors which make us human, compassionate and adaptable, whenever someone tries to replicate humanity but make humanity "more human than human" (to use the line from Blade Runner) these are aspects often left out, but they also prove to be the essentials: that which makes us emotionally and psychologically vulnerable.
Speaking of Iron Man, Disney has found its Mowgli for their new release of The Jungle Book, which is really only important for one reason: Jon Favreau is directing. There have been numerous films the Progressives have put out, calling for a return to nature and a disavow of technology, and a new edition of The Jungle Book could easily fall into that category; however, with Favreau directing, I'm not concerned about it, and am fairly confident we can count on the director/actor to deliver the perfect punch to films such as Moonrise Kingdom and Gravity who advocate digressing.
Again, several trailers have been released for films that are coming out which you may or may not get a chance to watch (more likely rent) but they are worth a glimpse. First, Into the Storm, which, granted, might end up being a global warming propaganda film, however, please listen to the speaker and who he is quoting as the rain begins pouring down on the graduates:
Did you recognize Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield)? The speaker at the commencement is quoting American essayist Henry David Thoreau, who is best known for his essay Resistance to Civil Government, also known as Civil Disobedience, in which he contends "The government is not just a little corrupt or unjust in the course of doing its otherwise-important work, but in fact the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice. Because of this, it is 'not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize (Wikipedia).'" Now, the speaker quoting Thoreau about living your dream, just as a devastating storm comes along and destroys the school, begs comparison: is there a "storm" that has "destroyed" the schools in America so that students won't be able to live out their dreams? Well, if you know anything about Common Core Curriculum--that, basically, any answer a student gives is correct if they can explain how they arrived at that answer, and puts more emphasis on emotions over logic--then a storm destroying a school makes perfect sense (not to mention the students who are "trapped under water," that being a financial term for being in debt, which the Millennials are, $17 trillion, because of Obama). I could be wrong about the film, New Line cinema tends to be pretty liberal, and so, too, is Focus Films, the newest Jeremy Renner film also looks like it's making a political point:
Now, when was the last time a reporter in this era (i.e., since 2008) risked their life to do their job? Michael Hastings, apparently, gave his life to expose something, and so, too did Sheryl Adkinson in leaving MSNBC because they wouldn't let her report the news she wanted to talk about; these reporters are rare in today's America, however, so Kill the Messenger is like a slap-in-the-face to everyone in the journalist world because none of them today can say they are doing what this journalist did. This next film, Jessabelle, is probably going to be liberal, however, it's worth stretching our minds over. Remember, a mother will symbolize "the motherland."
Given the list of pro-socialist films these film makers are associated with, and the girl (Jessabelle) who is going to die a horrible death was born during the Reagan Administration, yea, the woman on the video she thought was her mother is supposed to symbolize capitalism, etc. Speaking of pro-socialist horror films, Warner Brothers has overcome their legal problems with The Conjuring to finally release Annabelle, the story of the haunted doll.
Now, the song Cherish plays the woman who is given the doll has "cherished" the doll or the idea of having the doll, so this is materialism and that, so socialists, is the ultimate evil, so bad, that the materials themselves will rise up to destroy you, as is the case with this doll. Secondly, there is the issue with the neighbors: "I like your doll," and this is supposed to relate back to The Purge, the story of having neighbors who are jealous of your success to the point they kill you because of it, and this film appears to be no different. Thirdly, the doll, Annabelle, doesn't look anything like the original Raggity-Ann type doll that was the original Annabelle (upon which the story is based from Ed and Lorraine Warren's case studies) which means the studio totally did her up this way to make a point: blond hair and blue eyes, she's meant to be a horror image of what Western civilization values in terms of beauty (never mind Hitler's Aryan agenda). So, that pretty much takes care of that film.
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This probably won't be released in a theater near you, but I have a minor in archaeology so it struck a cord with me (a thankful cord that I never went on a expedition like this one).  As above, So Below contains a very interesting New Historicism detail, that is, a date which triggers an association we are supposed to make so we can better understand the premise of the film; can you find what it is?
At 0:31 seconds, the title card says the mass grave was built in 1785, which isn't true (although they did get the number of bodies, about 6 million correct) so this isn't an over-sight, rather, it's a lead (there was a mini-cave-in in 1774, but the graves had been built since Paris was first established in the 5th century) so, what is it about 1775? Two things happened which the film might be wanting to comment upon. First, Cardinal de Rohan is arrested for the affair of the diamond necklace involving Marie Antoinette, one of the events leading to the French Revolution; secondly, the the Pantheism controversy broke out, which was a serious atheist  issue during the Enlightenment. Given the film is about finding the gates of hell, this could be what the film is targeting. So, our next selection is called Ouija:
It's interesting to see so many films that are emphasizing the "inexplicable." The mysterious is employed... why? Yes, it's scary and scary films can make big bucks, but we also know these films have agendas (like Oculus, which was an extremely well-done pro-socialist film and I was writing the post and got on a Lacan tangent then didn't get the thing done, I will try to) and, in this case, those agendas revolve around "material objects": if there wasn't the material object of the Ouija board, none of this would have happened. Now, it's time for some pro-capitalism:
Actually, I'm not quite sure about anything with the storyline, but they are kicking-ass and that must mean it's pro-capitalist. Next weekend, Hercules opens, and we know that men symbolize the economy, so as you watch Hercules fight and rally warriors with special skill sets to his side, be thinking of that:
"You cannot deny what you are, the gods will punish you for it," which is a line of thought/reasoning we may very well be seeing in Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods & Kings as Moses, like Hercules, searches for his identity. Now, those "descendants of Hades" who "cannot be killed by an ordinary mortal" are surely Liberals, because--just like the Necromancer in The Hobbit raising his Wraiths from the dead--so these soldiers have been long-dead but are coming back for more, just like the Cold War soldiers of socialism. "Save these people, restore order to this world," doesn't that sound like what a lot of people would like to say about the United States right now?
One last detail that's important: "My time's not come yet, I'm not sure about yours," that line comes from Braveheart, when the crazy Irish guy tells William Wallace (Mel Gibson) that same thing, which means, the makers of Hercules wanted to quote a film leading a rebellion against an unjust government in that scene (when films "quote" or "borrow" something from another film, it's not just an homage, but also a expansion of vocabulary to make you think of that other film and the events that took place in it so a reference is created). So, when we watch that scene, we will need to think of ways it reminds us of events in Braveheart. This leads us to a trailer that surprises me, but really, just watch this, because I am quite impressed with what they have done (so far, at least, in the trailers):
There are actually several details worthy of our attention. First, at 0:17-19, "Let's rock-n-roll," what does that remind you of? Rock and roll? Good, because Rock Of Ages, with Tom Cruise, is about that exactly, how rock-n-roll saved America from socialism (yea, really). Then, they are comparing themselves to "shadows in the night," and bragging--not that everyone saw them--rather, that no one saw them, and that's how they encounter April O'Neill who got a photo. They don't want to be famous. "Oh, he's using his Batman voice," what does that tell you? They watch Batman! Even though Bruce Wayne is a billionaire, and these turtles live in the sewer, they look up to Batman because he's a standard upon which they can model their own behavior.
You have to admit, regardless of what you think of them, they do always look like they are having fun; why? Why not have super serious turtles? To begin with, a turtle actually is a good symbol for a ninja because turtles are often employed as symbols of the meditative life: just as a turtle retreats into himself when he goes into his shell, so we are supposed to retreat into ourselves away from the world, and that ability to focus and know who you are are essential characteristics for good ninjas. They have fun because "seriousness" is part of the enemy they are fighting, and, again, we have all ready seen this in Rise Of the Guardians with Jack Frost (Chris Pine) when he finds his "core" is fun and fun is able to bring dreams back and defeat Pitch (Jude Law). So this aspect of the Turtles is a serious one to consider.
Next, we hear Shredder telling them, I have trainer you your whole lives to protect the city above, so even though no one knows you exist, and you live in the sewer, and you'll never get any recognition, save the city anyway. That is pretty heroic in my book. But, in spite of all their training, there is a villain so bad, that we have all ready seen him in The Wolverine: the samurai. On another note, Whoopi Goldberg will probably serve, like Robert Redford in Captain America: the Winter Soldier, as a mouth piece of socialism and it will be quite rewarding getting to see her eat her own words, even if it is only on screen.
Just as we commented upon the role of journalists above with Kill the Messenger, so April O'Neil's role in getting a story and what she's willing to do to get it should remind journalists what their calling is and how they haven't been doing it.
Really, I'm almost done with Transformers IV, and I will get that up!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Synopsis & Trailer Release: The Hobbit 3: Battle Of the Five Armies

Luke Evans as Bard the boatman. In the forthcoming posts (that is, those posts I still have not finished) I demonstrate that all the characters in the book and films are actually doubles for Bard who, I contend, is the real hero of the story, whereas Bilbo Baggins and the wizard Gandalf are actually representations of Bard himself, divided so that we can understand his soul and that his "destiny" isn't to kill Smaug, rather, his destiny is to become virtuous in all his endeavors so that he is strong enough to kill Smaug. In The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug, the mayor of the town (Stephen Fry) contends that it was Gideon, Bard's ancestor, who failed to kill the dragon when Smaug first came to occupy the Lonely Mountain; from the very first scene--when there is the cameo of director Peter Jackson himself stepping out into the rain, taking a bite out of a carrot, a perfect, deep cameo!--to the last scene we saw in the second film, everything has accumulated to support that Smaug the destroyer is the ravage of socialism which the previously generation (the "Greatest Generation" and the baby boomers) have not been able to kill, so it falls to the younger generation to finally complete the deed. This is most dramatically demonstrated in the rise of Sauron, the "Necromancer" who, like socialism coming to America, all thought was "dead," but who has built up his strength in the blindness of his enemies and now seeks to take over the world. As we see in the image above, Bard prepares to shoot an ordinary arrow from his bow; all the strength of his virtue, however, will be gathered to make the Black Arrow hit its mark and that, we shall detail, is the very same task each and every single one of us is called to make our own as well. On a slightly different note, when the second Hobbit film opened, Thorin had been searching for his father, and originally, from the research I have been able to do, Billy Connolly was cast to play Thorin's father who shows up at the battle of the Lonely Mountain, but that was changed, and Connolly is now cast as Dain II; symbolically, this is important, because Thorin's father would be a symbol of "founding fathers" but Dain II has an imperative role to play, and I am confident it will be political so we will have a chance to compare Connolly's role to his would-be role.
Well, it has certainly taken a long time for this tidbit to be released. It has been officially announced that the first trailer for The Hobbit: the Battle Of Five Armies will not be released until October (again, this is partly due to new theatrical rules instituting the guideline that trailers cannot be released more than 5 months ahead of the anticipated release date for the film, and they cannot be more than 2 minutes--many films were two-and-a-half, some even three minutes long--and production companies cannot display marketing materials for a film more than four months ahead of the release date. Here, finally, is the official synopsis for the final installment of The Hobbit 3 film, due out in December:

The final installment of "The Hobbit" series will bring to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, and the Company of Dwarves [sic]. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.

Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo's frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.

As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves [sic], Elves and Men must decide - unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.

This is off-topic, however, Ian aMcKellen is in both films. There is now word on when the film is due out, merely referred to as Mr. Holmes at this point, but we do have a bit of a synopsis: Based on a novel by Mitch Cullin, the film details the story of a long-retired Sherlock Holmes haunted by an unsolved case from fifty years ago. He remembers only fragments: a confrontation with an angry husband, a secret bond with his beautiful but unstable wife. With his legendary mental powers on the wane, and without his old sidekick Watson, Holmes is faced with the toughest case of his life. (N.B.: fans of the series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman--both who are also in The Hobbit films--will be getting a treat from the series: a Christmas special. The producers have announced they will have a one-show special to release in-between the last season 3 episode and the upcoming season 4 just to help fans until they can get the next season out).
For those of us who have read the book, this sounds very much like what we would expect (with the exception, of course of some additional characters and part of the company of dwarfs still being in the town). Fans of JRR Tolkien have been divided between saying that director Peter Jackson has "largely" kept to the original story, or has "largely" deviated from the original story; I believe, unlike with what I felt were some gross liberties he took in The Lord Of the Rings, that he has remained remarkably true to Tolkien's The Hobbit. Why is this important? The homage to "the written word" which we have seen with all the stories being brought back to life as of late (Mirror, Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman, I, Frankenstein, Maleficent, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful based on literary works of the Victorian era, Sherlock, based on the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and the up-coming Dracula Untold and Cinderella, to name a few). Why is this important?
Deconstruction.
The official poster for The Hobbit 3 (you may click on it to enlarge it for better viewing). It is simple, but that doesn't mean it isn't profound.  Two colors, black and gold, and two fonts, the chiseled look of the words "The Hobbit" and then the clean, simple font of the sub-title. Black, as we know, is the color of death: either a person is "dead to the world" and alive to the spirit, or they are "dead to the spirit" and alive to the things of the world (as a part of the "organic nature" of symbols, black--in elaborating upon the means of achieving the "death of the spirit," also refers to the "dark night of the soul" when one has been seemingly abandoned to horrible circumstances and there is no light of hope to guide you, although that's when the spirit rids itself of all its weakness and becomes strongest; we can easily see this concept at work through the novel and the two installments of the film so far thus released). Against this backdrop of death, "Hobbit" takes up nearly the entire width, suggesting that Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit in The Hobbit, is enlarging himself and is finding himself expanding in this black area (there is also the detail of "Black Speech," the language of the Orcs and other foul creatures which we shall discuss in a moment). The words, "The Hobbit" appear to be chiseled out of some strong substance, perhaps stone, and because the words reference Bilbo Baggins, we can take the words to be a symbol for Bilbo Baggins (the way the glass slipper is a symbol for Cinderella in Kenneth Branaugh's trailer for the film). Just as the words appear to be chiseled out of stone, so Bilbo Baggins has been "chiseled" out of the events of his adventure, and, as Gandalf says, he's "not the same hobbit who left the shire," and we can see that in the letter "T" at the end of "Hobbit." A small chunk has been removed from that letter, right about where the heart is, and that might reference the innocence--not the purity--but the innocence Bilbo has lost which the shelter of the shire maintained. The letter "O," after the "H," we know can also stand for the ring, the ring that is The Ring, and it has become a part of Bilbo, too, not only because he finds it and uses it, but also because he becomes one of its keepers (as Frodo does in The Lord Of the Rings). We can't, however, overlook the obvious fact that this is written in gold: the gold could refer to the gold that Bilbo was promised at the start of his journey by Thorin's Company, or it could refer to the gold of The Ring, or the gold over which Smaug keeps watch, or even the little chest of gold from the Trolls' cave,... or it could refer to something else entirely. While the gold most certainly invokes monetary gold, the kind that will be the ruin of Thorin Oakenshield, and the gold of The Ring that has all ready nearly been the ruin of Bilbo in Mirkwood Forest when they battle the spiders and Bilbo drops The Ring and has to kill some bizarre beast (a beast that crawls out of a hole and "threatens" to take The Ring from Bilbo is actually a "double" for Bilbo, a part of Bilbo's character that has been made tangible for us to see so we can understand how his soul is in jeopardy because of what The Ring is doing to him, and so Bilbo can see it as well). Because we know that Bilbo has faced every challenge and danger with courage, fortitude and honor, we can say that the gold letting demonstrates the achievement of Bilbo's advance in virtue, that his soul has been purged of the weakness and impurities he had before he started out on the journey, so Bilbo is approaching a state of perfection. Now, by "perfection," we do not mean he is going to become perfect, rather, as the words "The Hobbit" take up the expanse of black--the gold "comes out of the black" because Bilbo's virtue comes out of the suffering and troubles and hardship he experiences upon the journey--so the golden virtues are taking up the entirety of Bilbo's character and making it less and less likely that he will do anything that is less than honorable, less than virtuous, less than heroic. Now, the comparatively plain font in which "The Battle Of the Five Armies" is written is a contradiction: a battle in which there are five armies fighting is hardly anything most people would consider "plain," so the smaller and plainer font in which this epic ordeal is written communicates to us that that's how we are supposed to read it beside the larger and more elaborately written "The Hobbit":  the hobbit in the story is more important and bigger than the five armies or the battle that is going to take place in the film and while it forms as it were the foundation ("Hobbit" almost rests or sits on top of The Battle Of the Five Armies) it's the story of Bilbo that will rise above the battle the film will depict.
One of the primary contributions to literary theory made by the father of Deconstruction theory Jacques Derrida, as the recognition that Western civilization is largely constructed upon dichotomies of opposites: man and woman, white and black, right and wrong, rich and poor, etc., but the most important of these opposites is present and absent. Western civilization places a greater emphasis--a greater value and priority--on that which is present, rather than absent, hence, we place a greater emphasis also on the spoken word--you have to be present to speak--rather than on writing which is a sign of absence (you cannot be there so you write a note in place of your presence and ability to speak on your own behalf). This is all nice, but why is it important? There are two reasons.
This is an image of one of the dinosaurs that will be featured in Jurassic Park IV. Why discuss it here? It's an on-going symbol we are seeing in numerous films. Reptiles, as a group, will almost always refer back to the Serpent in Eden, unless the work in which the reptile is being represented takes pains to establish an alternative reading for the symbol (the perfect case in point is The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who are reptiles but obviously do not symbolize the serpent, rather, how to overcome the serpent: turtles are often seen as symbols of meditation and wisdom, because they "retreat within themselves" the way a wise person will retreat within themselves and away from the world). Whether it's the alligator Hushpuppy's mother shoots in Beasts Of the Southern Wild, the T-Rex Optimus Prime tames in Transformers 4, the fire-breathing dragons of Maleficent or Smaug, or the serpent depicted in Noah, or the gargantuan Godzilla, all these reptiles in some way summon to our mind the imagery of the Serpent and Original Sin (some more than others).  Smaug, in The Hobbit films, is most definitely a Serpent figure because the gold over which he guards as his own is the virtue of Thorin's and the company's souls that such an adventure would help them acquire but Smaug will see that they don't because then he would lose their souls (recall, if you will, the initial conversation between Bilbo and Smaug when Smaug thinks about letting Thorin have the gold to watch it destroy him, more on that below). Each of the representations need to be discussed in their unique contexts, however, we have to keep awares that all these various and differing films are incorporating the same symbols and symbolic vehicles, begging for comparisons between them.
First, all these films and shows named above, acknowledge that there is a written source, a primary beginning, an original; even as changes are made to the "adaptation," as they are called, it pays homage to the original that gave the adaptation birth because it demonstrates that the original was true, and reflecting the truth. Secondly, in a work like the pro-socialist film Maleficent, when the narrator tells you that "Now you are going to learn what really happened," they acknowledge the original, but blame the original for falsifying "the truth," and the truth can only be learned here and now as we are being told the truth. On the other hand, a film based upon a book like The Hobbit, uses the written word as a validation of the story itself, i.e., because there is an original written source, it cannot be disputed and the past which the written word invokes becomes its own value, e.g., because it's old, and we still look to it, that in and of itself demonstrates value (Exodus: Gods and Kings, the newest Ridley Scott film, also coming out in December, puts the name of the Biblical book in the very title because it's so important--regardless of which way the film will go--the film makes sure that we know there is a written source of this story that gives it validation and accreditation); so why is this important?
The tables have been turned.
Permit me to make an important note: while Derrida himself was rather radical in his politics, what certain groups did with Deconstruction and other aspects of his philosophy in applying it to social conditions is not necessarily keeping with what Derrida's formal works were actually researching: if you read Of Grammatology or Differance, you won't necessarily see what has become the vehicle of the Left because of how they have molded it to fit their needs; this is imperative because, just like the original story of Sleeping Beauty and the massive changes film makers applied to Maleficent, the Left will do this with anything.  On an entirely different note, another theme running throughout films, which bears political importance, is the searching for the makers, the creators. In Ridley Scott's Prometheus, the film ends with Noomi Rapace's character going in search of the "creators" and we can safely assume we will see the same with Moses (Christian Bale) in Exodus: Gods and Kings when Moses goes in search of his true identity and relationship to the people of Israel and their God. Likewise, at the end of Transformers IV, Optimus Prime leaves earth to go in search of the Transformers' creators to challenge them (I hope to go see Dinesh D'Souza's America tomorrow or Tuesday, and I expect, from the cast list, that there will be a search for the American founding fathers, which is what all this is really about; it's also possible that with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there will be discussion about their creation as well). The reason conservatives embrace the Founding Fathers is not because they were white; not because they were rich; not because they were Protestants; the reason we embrace the Founding Fathers is because they heroically reacted to a repeating tyranny in history, namely, that a few should rule the many through force. Remembering what they stood for, and against, reminds us that we will face this repeatedly throughout history those same struggles in one form or another and for the sake of our rights, enshrined in the Constitution--the written word, the original, the one from which all the others come--and the Bill of Rights, we unite ourselves to them and the same cause.
Deconstruction is seen as a philosophical position whereby minorities--ethic minorities and women--can undermine the political power of rich white men who keep all the resources for themselves; now, however, with the advancing political doctrines of socialism (the so-called "system of the poor" which women and minorities espouse) attempting to indoctrinate Americans in an ever-more public discourse, capitalists have re-grouped around the "old dichotomies" that liberals started policing in the 1960s, demonstrating the fallacies of deconstruction in its social applications: if writing is an example of Western Civilization investing an inherently negative meaning (for lack of a better phrase, but the Left would agree with the phrase) into "writing," by continuously citing the original texts in modern adaptations, it demonstrates that capitalists habitually bring the past--the original writings, as with The Hobbit--and fuse it with the contemporary interpretations and adaptation for the modern need, thereby, neither present (the modern interpretation of the work) having any greater value over the past (the written word) because it's made clear that, without the past, the lesser-valued written article, the contemporary article could not be fashioned. So, what does this mean?
We will thoroughly explore Thorin Oakenshield in the upcoming posts, however, the poster above is most revealing about what we can expect of Thorin's fate and why. As described above with Bilbo and the gold over which Smaug guards, Thorin, too, is called to cultivate virtue and nobility; we know this because, when (in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) the story of Thorin is related to Bilbo, the Dwarfs were failing but Thorin's bravery was commemorated with a new name, "Oakenshield," displaying his new vocation that he had taken upon himself in protecting his people; the thing is, however, you can't protect others unless you are protected yourself. For example, throughout the entire journey, Thorin has spoken and thought badly of Bilbo--he's thanked him a couple of times, but Smaug reveals that Thorin prefers the Arkenstone to Bilbo's safety--and that is the great downfall of Thorin: he's not just greedy, he's proud. Thorin's two greatest moments are when he fights Azog in the battle and then, in The Desolation Of Smaug, when Thorin stands on the golden dwarf king statue and orders it melted to try and kill Smaug; that golden dwarf king statue is a depiction of Thorin's soul at that moment, his glorious, brave and shining moment. What happens? The eye begins melting first, then it all gives way, and I predict this is exactly what will happen, Thorin will "fail to see" what he must, and because of that, he will lose everything.
Any separation touted by the Left--such as we see demonstrated in Attorney General Eric Holder's "Nation of cowards" speech--as being a value system designed to keep minorities out of government is imagined and created by the Left to further their attack on the status quo, it's not actually practiced by those the Left labels as their political enemies; in other words, the Left has completely fabricated their own version of reality; hard to believe? No, of course not. The Left claims to be politically abandoned by the system, but the system has demonstrated that is not the case, rather, the Left is imagining that the system does something it does not do, both exclude minorities--there are lots of women and minorities in government and business--and falsely valuing one dichotomy over another for their sake of maintaining a power base of rich white men. It might seem that I am making much ado about nothing, however, the gross re-writing of the story of Noah in Darren Aronofsky's last film and Sleeping Beauty by Maleficent film makers, and the adherence to original texts by pro-capitalist works, reflects the true image of who is closer to reality and who maligns the truth for their own political ends.
The document most under threat currently is the Constitution and Bill Of Rights, two written works the Left wants to do away with (just like Maleficent directors did away with the written original of Sleeping Beauty, and Aronofsky with the original story of Noah) but conservatives and patriots want to preserve and protect. While the first, official trailer for The Hobbit: the Battle Of the Five Armies is not supposed to come out until October, it is expected that some material--perhaps images or a few snippets?--might appear at the upcoming Comi-Con starting next week in San Diego. We know from a report of someone who has seen something like a trailer presented at one of the other conventions, that Gandalf announces the time has come for each to choose which side they are on, and there could certainly be no more accurate statement of the political atmosphere in America right now.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner