Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blood Car, Resident Evil, Black Gold and Adopted

This is the newest Avengers trailer (release date May 4), wow there is some serious conflict here, which probably refers to the political landscape in America:
I am responding to some comments that have been posted, including on Chronicle: A Death Foretold, and I am going to try and get in that second screening of Gone. Here are a few more trailers I just found today, and two of these are really rather important. The first is Blood Carit appears the film was made in 2007 but is just being released this month in the U.K. In the near future, gas is over $35 a gallon and no one can afford to drive. Vegan geek Archie accidentally invents a car that runs on blood; since he can drive, he gets the attention of Denise, and will resort to killing to keep his car running (there is some foul language in this trailer and some suggestions of nudity):
Blood Car, like Resident Evil: Retribution hinges on what we discussed about in the last Mission Impossible: entropy.
I am confident it's not an accident that Resident Evil has an opening date of 9/14, invoking the anniversary of 9/11 and the consequences. Entropy, in different branches of science has different meanings, but in chaos theory entropy regards the ratio of a society's advancing complexity with its inevitable downfall (please see Nuclear Endgames: Mission Impossible). In Blood Car, the escalation of something like the price of oil has untold consequences for all of society, and in Resident Evil, while the exact triggering mechanism of "blacking out" civilization isn't relayed in the trailer (as in The Darkest Hour, for example) it offers us an apocalyptic forecast. In the same vein of entropy is the Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong film about the 1930s Arab oil boom and how two warring princes will fight over a small strip of desert: Black Gold.
Now that we have taken a look at how the smallest incidents in other parts of the world can have huge impacts on our own lives, we can understand a little better this next trailer, Adopted:
We have not really had a chance to talk about comedy, heretofore, but as I said in relation to The Dictator, comedy is actually a unique form of censorship, because it talks about certain things to avoid talking about other things; it targets discontinuity, for example, in Adopted, the idea that life in the West is better, but would it be better with a guy like Pauly Shore? Would it be better with a guy who is dehumanizing you because you are from Africa? While we think comedy is cathartic, it actually keeps our thoughts in by releasing some pent up energy (nervousness, anxiety, fear) only to help us hold in the most important part of it.
Keeping that in mind is the Neighborhood Watch trialer just released today. (I wasn't able to find a version I could upload directly, sorry). What does the background rap music and the stylized filming of Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn in a mini van convey to us? Fears about gangs patrolling neighborhoods. Supposedly these suburban dads uncover a plot to destroy the world, and this may be very close to truth: would destruction of the middle class, and their ability to retain their middle class identity be the end of the world? Well, it could certainly mean the collapse of the economy, and if anyone would know what was happening, that would be the bread-winners of the middle class and what is keeping them from being able to win that bread.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In Valor There Is Hope: Act Of Valor

Mike McCoy's and Scott Waugh's Act Of Valor is definitely an aesthetic experience: a story line and characters that reach into your heart and inspire you with honor, patriotism and the very deepest gratitude for the unfailing line of defense protecting this country and it should be required viewing. At this time of election, when President Barak Hussein Obama (that's how his name appears on his birth certificate) wants to cut the military and veteran's benefits, Act Of Valor makes you realize what an "act of insanity" Obama wants to make. While there is plenty of focus on the great shoot-outs and technical marvels the Navy uses, there is also the story of the families who get left behind, the brotherhood the SEALS share and the incredible feats of heroism they have to pull off several times in every mission.
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.
When the film opens, one of the SEALS talks about his father liking abstract paintings, and the father would say, just as their is a body hidden in the painting, so there are threats hidden all around, and the world is covered in camouflage. By the end of the film, you believe that this is the gospel truth. Just as the deceased father says, "The worse thing about growing old is that others stop seeing you as dangerous," is really true about the United States: the older we grow in our role as a superpower (if we still are or are going to remain so) is that no one cares if they defy us and what the consequences will be, because one, politicians are afraid of what military action will do to their political careers and two, the media will decide to make a story out of something and do anything to get readers, regardless of what has to be said so the enemies of this country know all ready that they can count on the media to be on their side.
Shabel, wearing a mask, is a convert to Islam and has just driven an ice cream truck into a school with children, under the pretense of selling them ice cream, when a female suicide bomber, serving the kids, detonates her bomb and the resulting explosion is what you see behind him in the photo above.
When we are introduced into the conflict of the film (Jihadists who want to collapse the American economy through a series of acts of suicide bombing so the media will whip up panic and society will come to a stand-still) with Shabel driving an ice cream truck furiously down the road, a female suicide bomber in the back, sweating and nervous. He pulls into a school yard and children surround the truck; the girl in the back starts handing out ice cream while Shabel, still wearing his mask, acts like he's going to "get the kids," and then he walks off. He isn't wearing the mask to protect his identity, he isn't protecting himself from deadly fumes or even the stench in the air from burning bodies; Shabel wears a mask so he won't "take in" what he has done, so he won't reflect on the people he has killed and the methods he has used to do it.
CIA agent Dr. Morales. She is really an important character because she brings out in dramatic relief the differences in attitude about life and women between Jihadists and Americans. We see at least two women blown up (not to mention all the others put in harms way) and others who have volunteered for suicide bombing, but the SEALS are going into a highly protected compound to rescue this woman and save her. The comparison is even more dramatic when Morales tells Christo, "I save women who give birth to men like you," and she does.
The children running up to the ice cream truck, are like dumb people running after peace with Jihadists and willing to take whatever they offer (the word "dumb" appears in a following scene in a scrabble game between two CIA agents) because children are young--they don't have the age that provides experience--those who claim that there can be peace with Jihadists are those who haven't learned anything.
Just before Morales is kidnapped in the Philippines, one of the SEALS mentions that his dad died flying a B-24 Liberator bomber during World War II, which is when the United States lost control in the Philippines, so the symbol of his father dying acts as a political commentary that (perhaps) if we had maintained a greater presence, or at least been more concerned with the radical democracy developing there over the years, we wouldn't be in this mess now, or at least the mess wouldn't be as bad.
You know the SEAL whose wife is pregnant is the one who will die, and that holds true. Why? New life cannot come into being without sacrifice. The son he and his wife have, symbolizes the future of America, for which Rourke gave his life, and can only be guaranteed because of sacrifice, not just by the brave men and women of the military, but each one of us in our own ways.
When thugs break in on CIA agent Morales and her partner, the thugs wrap Morales in a carpet to carry her out. This clearly references Elizabeth Taylor's iconic role as Cleopatra (1963) and means to invoke in the audience's mind a history of women putting themselves in danger for the sake of their country's welfare.
Christo, the smuggler who swaps cocaine for weapons and makes sure the suicide bombers get across the border into America so that he can make money. He's the one Morales has been tracking and has her tortured. He's a really great example of someone who really hates Americans: he could care less who gets hurt or suffers, but he can't bear te thought of anything happening to his own family. A female suicide bomber is told by Sharbel that she will be re-united with her husband in heaven, but she doesn't think about the husbands and fathers she's taking away by blowing up the bomb strapped to her body.
There's another dimension to Morales' torture that should not be overlooked. First, the thugs holding her drill holes, with an electric drill, into each hand and both feet, branding her a Christian after the Crucified Jesus. But her swollen eye, bloodied face, her weak limbs and chapped lips also symbolize America: America isn't being targeted for being Christian, we are no longer a Christian nation, but the enemy is drilling holes into our defenses: the holes in her hand symbolize holes in our strength, and with our military being cut and our outrageous deficit, that is certain. The holes in our feet are symbolic of our will: politician's, our so-called national leaders, are willing to pull our troops out of Afghanistan and other areas needing patrol because they are losing their will against the press and media. A swollen eye out of which we cannot see means we are "seeing only half" of what is going on in the world, because of reduced intelligence and because of the enemy's ability to hide and the chapped lips mean that our words are weak.
Seeing how unified and respectful, how dedicated and loyal these men are to their country, really brought out my contempt for cowardly, self-serving politicians. There aren't any of those in the film, we get a glimpse of only the very best this country has to offer, and it was nice seeing America the strong, America the proud, and not having any cynical liberals throwing tomatoes at you and calling you a fanatic because you love your country. One of the shots done particularly well is the spider in its web eating a bug. As the SEALS are moving in on the compound where Morales is being held, they work together and all their power, strength, intelligence and energy is put into one unified effort to save this woman, and they accomplish it as easily as the spider catching the bug.
If the threats and dangers of the world are in camouflage, then so are the US Navy SEALS, and as the world tries to tear us apart, the SEALS will be there to keep us together, no matter how little the Liberals appreciate them and Obama takes credit for their work.
One of the striking aspects of the film is the way it brings out how all these terrorists are driving American cars and using American weapons. But we see a small factory where vests for suicide bombers is made like an assembly line while some guy plays Brahms on his violin (read: great Western music, music of the very civilization they are trying to bring down). Whereas American ingenuinty has gone into the production of Fords and Chevys, Jihadist intelligence goes into weapons of mass destruction, suffering and terror.
In the back of an American truck from the terrorist camp.
The last thing I will discuss that the film does really well, is highlight the difference between men like the SEALS and the press. The Jihadists know that all they have to do is harness the power of the press, and the press will cause the American economy to collapse because the press won't think about what they are doing, or the consequences of it, they will only think of themselves and what they want to achieve. On the other hand, are the SEALS, the men of the very, very, very highest code of honor, conduct and sacrifice, who know why they make every move and every move is to achieve a unified goal for the safety of this country. When Rourke jumps on the grenade at the end, to protect his company, he is the one who is going to be a dad, he's the one who knows his wife is pregnant and needs him, and he knows he will die instantly by saving his fellow SEALS' lives, and he does it without thinking.
Reading the snide and shallow reviews of the film reveals the problem with Americans today: the very benefits of having been a superpower for so long have turned us into ungrateful brats. At the end of the film, a list of all the SEALS who have died just since 9/11 comes up on the screen, and I realized that professional critics weren't paying any attention to the FACT that those men died preserving the freedom the audience enjoys, those critics were thinking about imaginary standards of acting, or bizarre story lines changes they wanted, or entertaining the idea that the Navy was using this as a recruiting propaganda tool to get them to join up (who would never--even on the Navy's worst day--begin to qualify for service). With the loss of gratitude comes the loss of reality, and that's the battle the enemies of America are winning. The only real valor left in this country is in our military, which means that the only hope left for this country is with our military; our politicians certainly can't lead us anymore because they are too busy about re-election.
The reason the American CIA calls Christo Crisco instead, is because in Hebrew (which Christo is Jewish) Christo means "messiah." The agent calls him Crisco instead because he's really just greasy and slimy.

A Few Quick Notes

I saw Act Of Valor and Gone  yesterday and loved them both; I expected Act of Valor  to be powerful, but I wasn't expecting as much depth in the story as what was delivered, so if you see ONLY ONE MOVIE this month, make it Act Of Valor  (posting on that today). I was shocked at the depth and width of Gone's message, so much so, that before the film was even over, I realized I was going to have to watch it again because it was creating a subtext that I missed. Honestly, you can probably wait for Gone to come out on DVD; the psychoanalysis is really done well, but that doesn't necessarily translate to entertainment value... for me, the psychoanalysis is the entertainment value, so you have been given fair warning. I have to see it again so I hope to post on Gone around Thursday or Friday.
A girl thrown into a dirty pit,... remind you of Silence of the Lambs? Just as the boys in Chronicle found a secret in the bottom of an earthen hole, so does Amanda Seyfried's Jill Conway in Gone.
I just found this new trailer today; you know what I was talking about yesterday in my post on Chronicle, about the person videotaping having power in a situation that the person being taped doesn't have?... yea, watch this:
Right now, Playback  is scheduled for release on March 9. Finally, The Moth Diaries  serves up my kind of English class:
Just a few notes on this, one of the main girls in the story is named Lucie (played by Sarah Gadon) and those who read my posts from October on vampires should recall our discussion on Lucy and Renfield from Children Of the Night: Dracula 1931. Secondly, like Jill Conway in Amanda Seyfried's Gone, Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) has lost both parents (given that her mother is a "wreck" she's at least absent) and that always translates as both a loss of the feelings of patriotism and one's faith.
Thirdly, the dominant role of the English teacher in the trailer, Mr. Davies (Scott Speedman) means that we are "being educated" by the film itself on what vampires are, but we aren't being educated by True Blood, Being Human, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, Underworld or any other modern source; rather, The Moth Diaries goes back to the beginning, the origin from which these contemporary versions grew, the Gothic novel and whenever a movie sets out to educate its viewers about something, it's really setting out to re-educate its viewers. In other words, I am hoping that The Moth Diaries will make an attempt to debunk the popularity of vampires and show them for what they really are (and, if you can't wait until April 20 for its release, you can jump to For the Dead Travel Fast: Dracula which begins the series I did in October regarding the enemies of humanity).
This newest trailer for Pixar's Brave, being released in June, invokes the cult of the princess warrior, one of the most mis-understood and twisted literary devices ever. It's quite possible that Brave will continue this mis-representation, however, it's also possible that, given the subtle yet definite undercurrents trying to change how femininity is understood, Brave will contribute to to the traditional understanding rather than the Feminist political agenda (there is also both Snow Whites from Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman coming out which will also utilize this device).
What's the traditional view?
Woman, as the pinnacle of God's creation, is a spiritual warrior because she was created from spirit so she is uniquely capable of holding the Spirit, Grace and that's why God created her, to be man's help mate because man, being made from the earth, would not be able to hold Grace as well, but his rib is what binds the two together. A woman portrayed as a warrior is supposed to mean a woman battling the spiritual evils besitting her so she will make a virtuous wife and be a glowing example to other woman; we don't really see that, do we? Instead, we see women demanding to be men's equals, and this reveals that women know not from whence they come, hence, not where they are destined to go. It could be very much the same from Brave, but I do have hopes.
And now for a bit of news about the economy:
Opening at the end of August, 7500, like the plane crash in The Grey, probably acts as a metaphor for the economy: the idea of the "ups" and the "downs" and the "crashes" and the "climbs" makes an airplane an apt vehicle for discussing capitalism, especially since that plane is destined for Tokyo, the capitol of a country with as much debt as we have.
Disney has finally given the green light to The Lone Ranger project, with big name Johnny Depp and Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, but it's Armie Hammer (J. Edgar and Mirror, Mirror) who will play the masked cowboy and Depp will portray Tonto; Disney hopes to release the film in 2013. I may have spoken too soon. While I believed I had really reliable information for Paradise Lost being canceled due to the high costs of production, it's possible that Bradley Cooper may still pull it off (he's wanting to play Lucifer). I will keep you posted, as this sounds like it would be a theological disaster.
Lastly, The Weinstein company has made a deal with Netflix that when films such as The Artist and Coriolanus debut on TV, it won't be on cable first, it will go straight to Netflix streaming.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On the Menu...

I hope everyone enjoyed the Oscars last night, it was so good to have Billy Crystal back! I am nearly done with my post for Chronicle, I just loved that film, there is so much to it! I will be getting that up today and then I plan on watching Act of Valor and Gone tonight. The reason I am interested in Gone is because it involves a serial killer specifically targeting women, so in this it echoes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, finding a killer of women. But this killer of women, I am predicting, with be a cultural indictment rather than a person, a critique about behavior and not just a police report. I have no plans to see Project X opening this weekend, but I am interested to see The Lorax: films always encode their real message, if a story isn't using symbols to communicate, then it is a documentary. Despite everyone saying that The Lorax is about "saving the trees," I actually don't think that's what it's going to be about.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

And the Oscar Goes To...

The 84th Annual Academy Awards are tonight. Below is a listing of all the nominees in all the categories, with the exception of Best Master of Ceremonies, which has been awarded to Mr. Billy Crystal. As the awards progress throughout the night, I will be posting the winners, which means we will be starting at the bottom of this list and working our way up to Best Picture. As you can see, each entry is linked to its own profile page at the Internet Movie Database, so if there is a film you are unfamiliar with, just click on the link and you will be directed to the singular profile page. Again, the Oscars are important because the films and film makers who win, shape the films which will be produced for at least the next two years, which directly effects not only our choices for entertainment, but various groups which may/may not benefit from Hollywood attention. Have fun and good luck with your own Oscar ballots!

Best Motion Picture of the Year

WINNER: THE ARTIST

The Artist (2011): Thomas Langmann (my review: BANG! The Artist & the New Agenda In Film)
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011): Scott Rudin (I chose not to see this one because it's so much like Hugo, but I might watch it next week)
The Help (2011): Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan  (my review: The Help: Of Chocolate Pies)
Hugo (2011/II): Graham King, Martin Scorsese (my review: Hugo & Worlds Within Worlds)
War Horse (2011): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy (my review: War Horse & the Importance Of Pacing)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

WINNER: OCTAVIO SPENCER, THE HELP

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Writing, Screenplay Written for the Screen

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

WINNER: A SEPARATION

Bullhead (2011): Michael R. Roskam(Belgium)
Footnote (2011): Joseph Cedar(Israel)

Best Achievement in Editing

Best Achievement in Costume Design

WINNER: THE ARTIST

Anonymous (2011/I): Lisy Christl (my review:  Words, Words, Words: Anonymous)
Hugo (2011/II): Sandy Powell

Best Achievement, Original Score

Best Achievement in Music, Original Song

WINNER: THE MUPPETS

The Muppets (2011): Bret McKenzie("Man or Muppet")

Best Short Film, Animated

Best Short Film, Live Action

WINNER: THE SHORE

Tuba Atlantic (2010):  
POST SCRIPTUM: my next post is on Chronicle, the film is so rich in detail that I have spent considerable time thinking of it, but hope to have that up tomorrow!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Gentlemen's Agreement: This Means War

Everyone knows that I really like Tom Hardy, but I don't like This Means War because I like Tom Hardy, I like Tom Hardy because he takes roles like Tuck in This Means War. It's a very subtle message, not until the very last scene, but it's a terribly important message: sexual promiscuity hurts people and damages relationships.
Towards the very end, after Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) has chosen FDR Foster (Chris Pines) and Tuck has reunited with his ex-wife Katie and their son Joe, Tuck and FDR are about to jump out of an airplane on a mission, and FDR mentions to Tuck that he had slept with Katie before Tuck knew her; Tuck explodes in disbelief, "You slept with my wife?" and that's all he can say, even when FDR repeats that it was before Tuck even knew her, "You slept with my wife?" This is the moment that makes this movie, that frames everything we need to know about the characters and the direction they are headed.
After you get past the first thirty minutes or so of the film, it gets much better, but the opening introductions to the characters are rather formulaic, so after the obligatory run-in with the ex-boyfriend and the assassin scene in a ritzy place with guns going off and two sexy men fighting a bad guy, the real purpose of the story disengages itself and starts engaging the audience.
There is a two-fold purpose to abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage: the first is, that the intimacy is intended for a man and woman who have bound themselves in a covenant with God, and their physical intimacy is not only necessary for the procreation of children, but their love as well; the second is, the virtues of virginity help to prepare one for either their vocation in the married life, or in the religious state. When Tuck says, "You slept with my wife?" even though he and Katie didn't know each other at the time, Tuck is correct, Katie had been called to be his wife but, by having sexual relations with her, FDR temporarily took her as his wife and then, basically, disavowed her. Tuck, then, is correct in holding Katie has his wife even though they didn't know each other when FDR slept with her.
Posing as a travel agent, Tuck and his wife Katie got divorced, so he goes on an online dating site and finds Lauren's profile; they meet at a bar a couple of blocks away and after she leaves Tuck, whom she really likes, she goes into a store to rent a movie and bumps into FDR Foster, who tries picking up on her , not realizing that this was his best friend's online date a few minutes ago. Both men fall for her although she doesn't know they are best friends.
Now that we know the ending, we can consider the beginning.
When Tuck and FDR realize they are both falling for Lauren, they make some rules, including, as Tuck puts it, "No hanky-panky," no physical relationship with her until she decides who she wants to be with; FDR scoffs and mentions how long it has been since Tuck had dated, but agrees. Later, when Lauren can't decide between the two, she decides that she needs a sex tie-breaker; having sex with both of them will help her to decide which is the better man.
FDR breaks the agreement. It's important that FDR and Lauren do this in the kitchen because, of course, that, more than any other place in a home, symbolizes the appetites, and their sexual intercourse tells us that for both of them, the "other" is about feeding their appetites and that's what they like about the other. Lauren would refuse to admit this, however, because she steadfastly gets turned off by FDR when he takes her to a nightclub and tries to impress her there and she walks out on him, but  regardless of the woman Lauren would like to think of herself as being, she's not.
Tuck and FDR have Lauren under video surveillance and know the moment she tells her best friend (the most annoying character ever in a film) that she's going to get them both to have sex with her. They then re-new their gentlemen's agreement that, no matter how hard she tries to get them into bed, they will not sleep with her. FDR sleeps with her. When Tuck finds out, FDR says, "I'm no gentlemen!" and he's absolutely right. Then again, Lauren is no lady, and we know this from two other moments in the film.
Tuck with his son Joe after Joe's martial arts class. Tuck asks Katie, his ex-wife, if they can go to dinner and she turns him down. Things change, however, when she realizes that he's not the travel agent he's been posing to be, and things change for Joe, too. Knowing that Tuck is a CIA agent and better (read: more masculine) than what she previously thought makes Katie want him back AND makes Joe more self-confident in his own growing masculine identity. Is this random? No, this is a definite, deliberate social commentary on masculinity and the direct impact it has on femininity and children.
When Lauren is talking to her friend, and has decided to sleep with both of them, Lauren says, "I'm going to hell," and her friend replies that Gloria Steinem didn't go to jail so Lauren would have to be wimpy about sleeping around, but Lauren knows that this behavior is not only wrong, it's morally wrong, and she does it anyway. After she has all ready slept with FDR, and she is supposedly going to entice Tuck into sleeping with her, she stops Tuck and says, "I'm not the kind of girl," although she has just proven that she is indeed that "kind" of girl.
Klimt is Lauren's favorite artist, so in this clip, they are viewing Klimt's.
What are the other two moments in the film that demonstrate for us Lauren's sexual promiscuity?
The first is when FDR and Lauren meet at the video rental store. FDR suggests she check out Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 masterpiece The Lady Vanishes which is still considered (as FDR points out) a brilliant example of Hitchcock using mystery, comedy, action and a love story all at the same time. There is also a pun on the title: the lady has vanished, Lauren is supposed to be a lady and she is not.
The second moment that alerts us to Lauren's promiscuous behavior is when she's in her apartment, making popcorn, and both Tuck and FDR have broken in (using their CIA skills) to look around and take note of things she likes; while this is going on, Lauren is singing loudly, totally unaware that there are strangers in her house. What's important is her strange clothes she wears: she has on a knit sweater and no pants of any kind. The sweater symbolizes how she's wanting to protect her emotions (the thick material acts as a barrier to keep her warm) and that her lower body is naked means that her reproductive organs are "exposed." In other words, she cares far more about her emotions and psychological well-being than her sexual well-being, and, because "This is the way she does it" (in reference to the song she's singing) she doesn't realize that a woman protecting her sexuality is protecting her emotions (even though Lauren's last boyfriend was caught sleeping with someone else, and she's been burned by an other's promiscuity, she doesn't consider her responsibility, only her appetites).
There is also a third foreshadowing technique employed.
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt is Lauren's favorite painting (pictured below) and the way Klimt arranged it, we can tell by the woman being inched closer and closer to the edge that she's about to "fall" (please see my complete analysis The Kiss and the Soul: Gustav Klimt for more). When FDR takes Lauren to the "warehouse" to view the collection of Klimts he has assembled to impress her, he has one of his CIA friends feeding him information about the paintings that FDR repeats to Lauren to further impress her with his knowledge of the artist. Tuck breaks in on this line of communication and starts feeding FDR erroneous and absurd information that makes FDR look ridiculous before Lauren. Is the only point of this to demonstrate that FDR can't think on his own? No, it's to show that both FDR and Lauren can have the image of themselves before them and still not recognize themselves in it. Both FDR and Lauren are fooling themselves with what they think they want, and that comes out in the painting, but they take no heed (please see my analysis of the painting linked above for more).
There is one last device This Means War utilizes and it's definitely worth our time to consider. This Means War constantly references other films, and not arbitrarily. I mentioned all ready The Lady Vanishes: in that film, Iris Henderson is, like Lauren, faced with a choice between two men; in Young Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein is faced with choosing between two women, and in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Etta Place loves both Butch and Sundance and Rose has to choose in Titanic of 1997. So This Means War intentionally invokes other films where a leading actor has to make a choice between two love interests.
But there is literally "another side" to the films being mentioned.
Tuck is the one who mentions they should make "a gentlemen''s agreement" which is from Gregory Peck's 1947 Oscar winning film Gentlemen's Agreement where Peck plays a reporter posing as a Jew to discover prejudice in America; likewise, Hitchcock's 1940 Rebecca is about dual personality (or at least psychoanalytic doubles) and Notorious of 1946 is about Ingrid Bergman being an agent but posing as a wife. Even Superman's Clark Kent is a reporter by day and superhero when danger calls.  The introducing of these great films into This Means War creates another dimension of dialogue and understanding of what the characters are going through and what the storyline wants us to consider: the loss of identity.
All three of the leading characters are compromising their identities and this angle is brought out by the siting of other films; why? A relationship should help us to find who we are, it should hold up a mirror to our deeper self, the part of our self that only an "other" can bring out, that's why they are so important; in these relationships, the falsity of each character is being brought out, not their singular genuineness. FDR and Tuck are assassins, but one poses as a travel agent and the other as a captain of a cruise liner; Lauren poses as a loyal girlfriend, but she's two-timing and she seems like a smart woman but the truth is, she only gets the man she is worthy of, FDR who is no gentlemen because she is no lady. But this is exacerbated by both FDR and Tuck using their CIA skills (and resources) to "track" Lauren and treat her--the way Lauren treats both of them like products she's testing at work--as a "case instead of a human.
The film's tagline, "Make war not love" is quite accurate: we should be making war on making love outside of marriage because of the consequences to our identities and emotions such behavior leads to, which in turns, leads us to not making the right choices about our mates and needlessly complicating our identities.