Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Destabilization: Reality and Identity

I've touched upon this in "Destablization of reality/identity" in How To Eat Art, but there are so many films coming out that are not stopping at pulling the rug out from under us, but they pull whatever it is under the rug out from under us. They all seem to disguise destabilization with a very savvy insistence on certain aspects of time and place (consider, for example, in Contagion, where there is constantly the name of a location, such as "China," and then the population, "96.1 million," and we are given this over and over within an exact timeline of the virus' incubation, creating the illusion that we are rooted in truth--through an abundance of facts--and yet the truth about this virus is spinning us out of control (please see Contagion: Bats and Pigs). Consider this trailer for the upcoming Margin Call being released October 21: note how exact times are being given, exact equations of complex mathematics are used (and math never lies, right?) and obvious moral choices are... mentioned.
While Margin Call presents us with a "viral" view of the first twelve hours of a stock market crash, it's employing "stability" (or things we traditionally associate as being stable, like equations, time, places and even morality) with things inherently "unstable," like Wall Street, relationships, jobs (or they were stable at some point in time), and producing the effect of a whirlwind.
What Margin Call depends upon is an economic class structure (those who invest in the stock market and those who don't). Being released on October 28, In Time does away with the traditional lines defining "class structure" to destabilize our economic identities with our biological identities:
"You put enough time in the wrong hands, you upset the whole system," and the makers of this film know that when you put a film into the world that upsets the whole system... maybe someone will notice.
What's so radical about In Time is that "time" and "location" are two essential factors of existence: a being exists within a certain time frame (you "are" at this particular moment, which for me is 11:20 p.m., to the left side of the apple-green, over-sized coffee mug, 3/4 full of cold coffee, and to the right of a scribbled notepad and some wadded steno paper) and my "coordinates" within time and space help to define me, I cannot exist outside of time and place (only God does that). In Time challenges (or at least presents an alternative to) this most fundamental understanding of our life (so fundamental, you probably never even stopped to think of it, did you?).
If In Time isn't radical enough for you, then you can choose to see Anonymous on October 28 instead. There seems to have always been a question regarding who wrote the works of Shakespeare, but what is serious is that now, one of the most famous writers of all time, a name that is known by every member of every generation of every society, is being questioned.
In How To Eat Art, under "History," I contend--and I am sticking to it--that historical films are never, ever about a time-period in history, there is a reason why the historical subject appeals to us today and the event from history is merely a vehicle to encode a modern message within a set of historical symbols; I hold that the same will be true of Anonymous, but additionally, there is a reason why this film was not made five years ago, and why it wouldn't wait for another five years to be made: there is something about this moment in our lives, this coordinate of "time" and "place" which begs that our art be filled with the stuff that shakes to the very foundations our understanding of what reality is, of what identity is, and that is the question we must ask: why? What or how or why have we erected a construction of reality that we are now tearing apart? What do we hope to find, what do we hope to achieve? Even my fervently awaited film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (whose release date has been moved from November to December 9) is presenting us with the de-stabilized identity of a "mole" within the British secret service, someone trusted who has been working for the enemy:
(Yes, that's Tom Hardy who just appeared in Warrior as a buffed mixed-martial arts fighter [Warrior: Competing Modes of Masculinity] and was Eames in Inception [Inception: Power, Revenge and Frustrated Staircases]).
For Christians, this may be a very good sign: society is realizing it isn't built upon a rock. By holding up a mirror to the "relative" society and culture we have created, film--in its greatest agenda--is showing us the consequences of secularization and ignoring the soul (or, even, holding the soul hostage to the appetites of the body). For those of us firmly rooted in God, we have nothing to fear, but can look forward to some great films coming out and very artistically rendered arguments of society against its very self.