Friday, September 14, 2012

Trailers: Lincoln, Arbitrage, The Master

The highly-anticipated trailer for the latest release from Steven Spielberg due out (early) in November is Lincoln which takes place as the Civil War draws to an end and President Lincoln argues with his cabinet about abolishing slavery:
The release was originally set for December but has been moved to November, perhaps to off-set the Chris Hemsworth film Red Dawn about communist North Koreans invading the United States and Daniel Craig's Skyfall about MI6 coming under fire and Bond has to defend it at all costs (at least the structure sounds pro-capitalist). Before I let loose the gate on Lincoln, let's take a look at Richard Gere's and Susan Sarandon's newest film, opening today, Arbitrage, about a zillionaire who tries to sell his troubled company as he wrecks with his mistress in the car, creating a nasty situation for himself and his family:
Long-time readers haven't heard me say this in awhile, but they'll remember it: history films are never ever never ever never EVER about history; they are always and always only about the here and the now. The attraction to a historical period in time only happens because of current events which we liken to things which have happened in our past and can serve as a vehicle for discussion our own situations and problems today. Looking at Lincoln, this isn't about President Lincoln, this is about President Obama; what is the "war on slavery" being discussed? The slavery to capitalism which Arbitrage is painting for us. Films such as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Dark Shadows, Ice Age 4 and The Hunger Games, are desperate to convince us that capitalism is slavery and only Obama can free us from it. If this were a more patriotic and pro-America film, Daniel Day Lewis wouldn't be reciting the Gettysburg Address like he was reading a grocery list, rather, there would be fire and brimstone in his voice instead of this pathetic defeatism I am hearing.
On the other hand,... Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, while reputedly about the founder of Scientology, might be a reference to Obama and his brainwashing of the American worker to tell us that we are enslaved and should be freed to live off the government (it opens next week):
First and foremost, this is a story about World War II and what happened to soldiers. Haven't I been harking on the importance of World War II for months now? We come to a large issue in art with the similarites to Scientology because, firstly, Anderson has denied it's about L. Ron Hubbard--the founder--but, secondly and more importantly, how would audience members know about either Scientology or that Anderson denied those rumors? This is the basic problem regarding "authorial intent," that if there is anything outside the artwork (in whatever medium) which the artist wanted the audience to know in order to understand the work of art, then the artist has failed if that information is not included within the art and accessible to the audience (e.g., you don't go to the theater and after you hand the usher your ticket, they give you a brochure with everything you need to know about the director, producer and actors and what you should "get" out of the film experience; it just doesn't happen that way because it's not supposed  to happen that way, we are supposed to engage with what is in the film, on the film's terms, which is often a difficult enough job to manage). Going off this, it makes sense that Anderson would deny those rumors and possibly--just from the looks of the trailer--create a sense of Americans (Democrats) who have followed Obama like he's a messiah (this, of course, reminds me of Martha Marcy May Marlene).
While The Master doesn't open until next week, and I am really looking forward to it regardless of Anderson's politics (he's a master at all things cinematic), we can count on a  powerful narrative for whichever side he decides to take in the current landscape of political unrest. I am seeing Resident Evil today, as well as finishing The Possession (I went last Friday and the electricity in the theater went out ten minutes before the end so I have to re-do the whole film,...) and I am really interested to see The Cold Light Of Day. Really, I am nearly done with my post on Lawless that has taken simply forever for me to get done, and I can only say that it is so anti-capitalist, my heart just hasn't been in it, but it's nearly done. Then I will post on films I am seeing today and then get done with The Expendables 2 (fabulous film), Paranorman, The Possession, and the other films that I have seen. Really. I will. Promise.