|Most famous scene from Le Voyage dans la lune (1902).|
Every film that comes out contributes to the total body of work that cinema is, it's very identity, and what it says about us as individuals, a people and a culture. Some of the films I was looking forward to, namely Margin Call and Anonymous, have not opened anywhere within 25 miles of me and so I haven't been able to see them and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was scheduled to open and has now been taken off the "coming soon" list (although Margin Call has finally opened in town this weekend and, if Grandma's new pacemaker is holding out, I might get into see it! This is one of the lessons of Margin Call: the very economic crisis that the film explores is itself subjecting the film to the economic crisis because it can't afford to open in very many places!) There are a number of films I am anticipating and there is a number of films I am not anticipating. Here are the trailers and the reasons why:
Loosely based on the 1951 film Fourteen Hours starring my favorite actress Agnes Moorehead and one of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite actresses, Barbara Bel Geddes (it was the basis for the 1958 classic Vertigo), Asger Leth's Man on a Ledge obviously adds an edge to the story. "How far would you go to take down the man who stole everything from you?" This is going to be a film which, culturally, re-defines what "innocent" is: is revenge "innocent?" Is the law of America, "Do unto others as they have done unto you?" The millions spent and the talent amassed to create a film has far-reaching ramifications of the mere suggestion that a movie is re-defining our moral codes. Films such as Man on a Ledge (and Tower Heist) propose a very specific situation and re-invent an entire moral system, making previously unacceptable behavior... acceptable. I hope this isn't the situation when this film is released in 2012.
Peter Berg's 2012 release for Battleship could prove interesting. From the trailer at least, it appears that aliens are attacking; why would an alien film be made at this time? In the trailer, before the battleship sails, there are Japanese Imperial flags flying; the battleship discovers the alien craft in the Pacific; it was in the the Battle for the Pacific that America discovered itself in World War II and what Americans really are. I, personally, not believing in aliens, feel it's because our government has become alien to us that this film is being made and is relevant for today; a film like Battleship (which was also the great weapon of World War II) is reminding us, like Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens, what this country has been through to get where we are and what we need to do to get out of "it" (please see Captain America: A Movie Of Movies and Cowboys and Aliens: the US-British Alliance for more on this trend). We are being ruled by a government that is not representative of the people who voted it in, and is not acting according to our best interests. This has the potential to be (socially and politically) very interesting.
Lynne Ramsey's We Need To Talk About Kevin is probably long-overdue. It's difficult to say what's for real in the Twitterverse of hype, but after so long, even the most aware skeptics become brainwashed: this is probably going to be a pretty big film when it's released in January 2012. Why? Who would have imagined the Columbine High School massacre? I had a second cousin, an only child, shot to death in an Illinois college shooting spree just like Columbine. What I am drawn to about this film, is the "web" of culture supposedly being spun around Kevin (the noise, the television watching, the watching people watching television, the idea that what we have created has created monsters), that will make him an accusation about harmful influences in culture and open up a potential for conversion about the way we live and culture created values. Hopefully, but doubtful.
Permit me to put all my biases on the table: I love Edgar Allan Poe and I love the novels of Matthew Pearl which is similar to this storyline. In fact, I would not hesitate, even in a room of Hemingway and Fitzgerald scholars, to declare that Poe is the greatest of all American writers/poets. But that is not the reason why James McTeigue's 2012 release of The Raven is going to be important. Let me confess something else: someone told me the other day that a hacker broke into the CIA's mainframe, and, I hate to admit it, my first thought was, "Wow, they must be pretty good,..." there is but a blurry line between the gift of genius and the dark control that can take hold of it. What The Raven points out to us is one, that in our destabilized world, only great fiction has any meaning anymore (like We Need To Talk About Kevin is suggesting: human life doesn't have meaning, but television does; and the apparent phenomena surrounding the Twilight series). Secondly, it's about "leaving clues," and I think the film itself will leave us with clues about the dark side of our own imaginations.
Avenge: "To take vengeance on someone."
As mentioned above with Battleship, the alien invaders in The Avengers want to rule over people and, at least from the trailer, it seems to be a pretty solid United States kind of take-over, leading me to suspect that this, too, is more about how our political leaders have become alien to us in their over-lordship of how they run the country rather than actual extraterrestrials. Given the emphasis on the talents and leadership of the heroes involved, yea, this is about getting leadership back where it needs to be in this country.
If you get scared easily, if you are easily freaked out, please DO NOT watch the trailer for The Devil Inside: this came on before I watched Paranormal Activity 3, and it freaked me out so much, (ha ha) I was ready to leave the theater without seeing the movie! If these things don't bother you, go right ahead.
In some ways, it's good for culture and society to explore the "unseen," it breaks the ever-tightening grip of our material world. In some ways, it's bad to explore, because either there is a unbalanced perception of the devil or an unbalanced perception of God (I am thinking right now of the 1999 film Stigmata). In a film such as The Exorcist, there is the authority of the Church and, even though there is also the failings of individual humans, the presence of the Church as well. In The Devil Inside, it appears that the exorcisms are unauthorized. This is the same kind of situation as in the 2005 film Constantine. What appears to be at stake, is the definition of "possessed" and "demonic": because Maria Rossi has crosses inside her mouth--which, traditionally, a demon would probably not want--it's blurring what is "evil" and what is "holy." That the exorcisms are unauthorized is probably a direct challenge to the Church's authority. While I have read that real, authorized exorcisms have been on the rise, the Church chooses to remain silent about it; a film such as The Devil Inside appears to alter the foundation of the very force which causes demon's to be cast out: the Power given to the Apostles by Christ Himself.
A film I am not looking forward to is David Fincher's upcoming release The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. When deviant sexuality is explicitly paraded in the trailers, I won't go to see it. I am a huge fan of Mr. Daniel Craig, however, Mr. Fincher has a reputation and I am confident he will live up to it. If I were going to watch this, I would focus on the line that Mikael (Daniel Craig) tells Lisbeth (Mara Rooney): "I want you to help me catch a killer of women." The woman who has died is Lisbeth, just look at her and how she lives. Harriet, and how Harriet dies, is the psychoanalytic double for Lisbeth, and that's the angle to focus on. Lisbeth, hopefully, will find her own destroyed self in this film.
This is the problem with everything in the Underworld franchise: the audience (of humans) is asked to identify with vampires, our natural enemy (symbolically, and if you don't believe me, please read For the Dead Travel Fast: Dracula to find out why). In any story, we are asked to identify with a "hero," and that's part of what being a hero is, someone with whom the audience can identify on some level (for example, probably not many of us could identify with Captain America, but we can when it comes to his weakness and when he doesn't have the power to do what he wants to do). We should not identify ourselves with vampires, under any circumstances. Probably the reason we have people like Kevin (We Need To Talk About Kevin) is because we are a culture that puts vampires out as heroes. It's the same reason that we have criminals like the one in The Raven who wants to be a famous criminal and turns his crimes into some kind of "art." We identify ourselves with unacceptable role models and Underworld is a prime example of the way film works to do that (the Twilight series is another, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo appears to be one as well).
|The Raven. I hope to post on Poe before the film opens.|