Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Upcoming Films & Why They Are Important


Happy Valentine's Day!
It really is important, the films that are coming out, not just because so much money is spent in making films, but because we spend so much money watching films, even for those who don't go to the theater, even if you only have basic cable, these films end up there at some point in their life and you spend a part of your life watching them. But films are also time capsules, social documents of anthropological importance that measures our values (or lack of values) and our fears. Having said that, let's start (the trailer and discussion for Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer can be found here).
The Dictator is set to be released May 11.
We really have to consider this as a serious film.
The tagline reads: "The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed." Why is The Dictator important? In the old days of the Soviet Union, we had clearly defined and politically correct (or at least acceptable) villains, political "others" that we could explore our own identity against in art; today, we really don't have that ready-made villain we can all unite against. What The Dictator is giving us by surpassing politically correct barbed wire alerts is an understanding of how we understand Middle East dictators to be and why we... don't like them.
I didn't say it wasn't painful, I just said it's going to be important, and why? Because of this impeccable film, Act Of Valor being released next weekend starring real-live active duty Navy SEALS.
What do the two films have in common?
American fear.
The Dictator isn't going to be pulling any punches, especially since it's invoking the 1940 Charlie Chaplain classic The Great Dictator about Adolf Hitler. For example, the "dictator" says, "Ah, America, the birthplace of AIDS," which of course refers to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome which genetic research indicates was born in west-central Africa, not the United States, although it was the Center for Disease Control that recognized the virus first in 1981. The Dictator will be playing off of both why they--jihadists--hate us and why we fear them. Act Of Valor will work with our fears and the confidence that we should have in our exemplary military forces.
Everyone knows I am a huge fan of Mr. Tom Hardy; what is important about This Means War  is the invoking of Fight Club and a re-establishment of masculinity and men's rights in the mating ritual.What Tuck and Foster are doing in This Means War is fighting over mating rights, a long-established right and tradition for men that was made ridiculous by the Feminists movement and the notion that a woman's right to decide who she will mate with is more important than a man's worth. That's probably why Feminists never end up with the really good guys.
I've talked about The Hunger Games, being released March 23, before, but let's take one more look at it:
What if this were really a new and different way of examining the American Idols, the America's Got Talent, the Fame Game in Hollywood and Reality TV Star? Given the death of Whitney Houston this week, the deaths of Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, River Phonenix, Jim Belushi, Michael Jackson, and countless others, when someone becomes famous in the United States, it's like we're sending them on a death mission, into an arena where "We just want a good show," but very few--if any--will survive. What are the "hunger games," and what do American's "hunger" for? Fame. Fortune. Glory. I have not read the books, and have only seen the trailers, but, as I mentioned last fall, this film will say far more about us as a culture than it will about some distant, far-off science fiction land. Which brings us to this one:
For those of us who lived through the 80s we won't know if we should laugh or hide our heads in shame. BUT, that's not the point, the point is, fame became an industry in the 1980s and it focused on music and we are living with the consequences of it today (whether that will come through in The Hunger Games is just a hunch and could be entirely unfounded). Rock of Ages will obviously set up a stage that will battle between religion and fame as a religion (or, music as a religion, if you prefer that), but that will be a serious undertone, but knowing what we know about history, we also know that religion doesn't win. On the same note of fame, but of a different kind, we go from Tom Cruise to Robert De Niro:
There's quite a bit going on in this trailer. Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger were interesting choices for the two "classic" American writers named. Does he mean they were the best American writers, or just that their writing communicates something that is particularly classic about America and the American experience, in a way other America writers have not? "My father has been manifested as an absence," is a great line, also a deeply philosophical one, because there is a strong dichotomy between presence and absence; there is another strong dichotomy between speaking and writing. Jacques Derrida has said that Western civilization prefers speaking to writing because speaking means presence, whereas writing means absence; so for Jonathan (Robert De Niro) to be a writer but always absent is in keeping to his character. Being Flynn opens March 2, and among these tensions, I will also be looking for any possible references to the founding fathers; I don't know that this will be a very "class conscious" film as I am expecting to see in other films throughout this year, but his constant run-ins with the police and that they find each other in a homeless shelter may surprise me.
Opening March 9, A Thousand Words might be the kind of film a lot of us need to see. Granted, it's in the same vein as many films, such as Liar, Liar, but who is to say that's a bad thing, especially when no one goes to church anymore? In a world full of "idle talk," where we are likely talking just to be talking, saying anything regardless of whether it has value, the premise of the film is a welcomed spiritual reminder of how our speech, what we say and how we say it, forms an intricate and paramount aspect of our identity and our character.
Coming March 9 is Silent House and I just don't know if I will be able to watch this, it just looks too scary for me!
What do we know?
We know the house is a symbol for the soul, and Sarah and her father being there after not being there for a while, may have a family secret that is causing them to "die" spiritually and psychologically. That the "noise" which first alerts Sarah that something is in the house comes from upstairs could mean that "something is hanging over them," but all this is pure speculation. Why? Last year was a great year for film, and so far it really looks like Silent House is the only one keeping p with the momentum and that means anything is possible with this film. If they are willing to go to the trouble to film it in "real time," who knows what else they have the guts to do and I will just have to make myself sit this.
On a completely different note, I give you Butter: there is a contest in Iowa of who is the best butter sculptor and it comes down to Laura (Jennifer Garner) wife of the former champion, Brooke (Olivia de Wilde) a stripper, Destiny, a disadvantaged little girl, and Laura's step-daughter Kaitlyn (Ashley Green).
This is deadly serious, because this greatly reflects how Americans do things and, like The Dictator, hiding it beneath a veneer of "funny" doesn't dampen the message, if anything, it makes it more potent. What is Iowa known for? The Iowa political primary, and the competition, the "vote casting" discussed in this film is about who we want to "shape and sculpt" this country; no, no, this isn't only about butter, ladies and gentlemen, this is about the fabric of America itself! (Ha ha, just a bit of drama). I said that 2012 was going to be a year of class warfare, and (snicker, snicker) Butter may be bringing it to us as social class warfare. I can hardly wait to see this one.
For these next two films, let's just watch the trailers first:

What does Jeff, Who Lives At Home (March 16) and 21 Jump Street (also March 16) have in common? It takes good adults to make good children, and if we are not good adults, we can't expect our children to be good. That thesis is what is at work in the highly anticipated Detachment (no US release date scheduled yet):
I really disliked the remake of Clash of the Titans, I loved the original, but wouldn't even have made it through the first thirty mnutes but that I was watching it with my dad who has horrible taste in films and he made me watch all of it... however, Wrath of the Titans, with new director and writers, could be a different scenario, and I am hoping it will be:
The "titans" are making their second appearance in less than a year in a major action film (Immortals of last fall) and that could possibly have some genuine spiritual leanings... we'll see. But the cyclops is very much like the giants in Jack the Giant Killer coming out this summer, and at least in the later film, I am expecting the giants to be those in American society who are of "giant stature," i.e., the wealthy to be the target of that film. Will Wrath of the Titans take some valuable lessons from Immortals, or re-do what it did so unsuccessfully in Clash of the Titans? We'll see, but with a new staff, I am willing to give it a try.
This is causing quite a stir: "A horror/thriller centered on the origin of the monsters that are born in childhood and are passed on by the family."
A little more information: "Two children living in different countries are visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them." The US release date for this has not been set, but like Jeff, Who Lives At Home and 21 Jump Street, this is a film illustrating for us that traumatic and delicate stage where childhood and adulthood bridge and all the things that go wrong. Without a doubt, this will be a psychoanalytic film and possibly very spiritual.
Did you know that Jason Statham was an Olympic swimmer?
Invoking the famous Alfred Hitchcock film The 39 Steps, one of the greatest British films ever made, it also invokes Daren Aronofsky's Pi, because what we learned in Pi makes us willing to accept that a very very very long number can be more than just a boring long number and it has a useful role in the universe. Why is Statham in the film? The film opens April 27 and that's when we will find out who the corrupt people are that the "safe" combination is protecting the world from.
For some of us, this has all ready happened:
I am sure this doesn't really have anything to do with the White House betraying this country, or trying to sabotage the military and make America helpless and incapable of defending itself against all our debtors who are going to come wanting their money after the downgrading to our credit standing; and I am sure that the White House would never lie to the American people. Surely none of those things are in this film and surely it's not going to be anything politically motivated in any way but just some good, old-fashioned, American military might on display... but hey, I'm game for that right now!
Speaking of the conspiracy-that-isn't, here is another installment in The Bourne Identity series:
Specifically, The Bourne Legacy is coming August 3. Before this comes out, I will be going through the Bourne Identity series because they are highly politically motivated and there is a reason they are dove-tailing this one off that series instead of coming up with a new premise; even just the way that trailer is edited should tell us that something is "being kept hidden" and we aren't going to know everything until we see the film.
Some of the films that are coming out this year I have all ready gone through, but will be preparing us for as needed; for example, before Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsnman, we will be going through, not only the original written tales by the Brothers Grimm, but the Disney version as well, since that is what most people are familiar with. Likewise, before the release of The Raven, we will be exploring the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe so that we can sit back in the theater and know that we are the informed audience! Thank you, as always, and stay tuned!