Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mother Russia: A Good Day To Die Hard Trailer 2

This is the trailer from the latest Bruce Willis Die Hard that I have been waiting for; yea, Brucie goes to Moscow, (so he does the opposite of what they did in The Chernobyl Diaries) and guess what he finds there?
John McClane (Willis) goes to Moscow to aid his wayward son Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative trying to prevent a robbery of nuclear weapons, so the father and son team up (it's rumored that Patrick Stewart plays a Russian general in the film). This is where I must confess that I have done nothing but dis-service to you, dear reader, because I totally dropped the ball on Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol and I still haven't gotten up the reviews for Expendables 2 and Arbitrage (but we might also reference The Chernobyl Diaries in February when this comes out, so one more reason for you to see that one); yet God brings good from all things, so knowing A Good Day to Die Hard 5 is also about Soviet era nukes, will make it easier for all of us to see the "communist radiation" coming our way as a result of current economic policies under the Obama administration.
"Mother Russia" begs the question, to what has Russia given birth? The demons of communism still lurking throughout the world, or a new dawn of capitalism and freedom? If you stop the trailer above at 0:35, you will see, on the taxi driver's rear view mirror, an image of Jesus Christ and at 0:41 a man in gas suit blessing himself by making the sign of the Cross; why is this important? The Communist government of the USSR expressly forbade any religious worship because teachings of the church (regardless of creed or denomination) might interfere with the teachings and practices of the state, for example, birth control and abortions. That two such obviously religious signs are employed in the trailer is meant to communicate that (regardless of your own beliefs or lack of beliefs involving God) those who wish to worship have the right to worship freely and openly now whereas in the past they did not (which is why, at 0:35 we see the driver looking in the rear view mirror, symbolic of "reflecting on the past" and his invitation for us to do the same). As with the tiger Vitaly in Madagascar 3, this insight into the advances of Russian society into personal freedom and liberty, means that they are our allies now who once (during the Cold War) were our enemies.
What is different about A Good Day To Die Hard's plot is Jack (Jai Courtney, John McClaine Jr., technically speaking). We all know younger generations tend to be rebellious and go for liberal policies and ideas (this was the bedrock of Disney's Brave), so--like his father--audiences will probably be shocked to discover that Junior is fighting on the same side as his dad, against the destructive post-Soviet-era influences working to take over America,... once again. Why are these films (Expendables 2, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, The Chernobyl Diaries, A Good Day To Die Hard) important? They draw our attention to the the enemy that, like a possum, is only "playing dead," but quite alive and fatal. Now that we have all this information, let's consider the first trailer that was released (I don't think I posted it because there wasn't any information in it) because now, a minor joke becomes an important thesis on the history of the cinema:
At 1:00, McClane jokes, "The 007 of Plainville, New Jersey," and that is the critical statement for, not only AGDTDH, but the entire James Bond franchise: one of the greatest action heroes of all time's identity was the fighting of the Cold War and the stopping of Communism's spread; McClane of Small Town, USA, is taking up that fight and calling upon each of us to do the same, just as his son is, symbolic of the future generations of America (more specifically, of the economic future of America). Linking James Bond to the Cold War, especially days before the international opening of Skyfall, puts Bond (possibly) in a difficult position: does Skyfall go socialist or capitalist? If Skyfall breaks with the Bond tradition of being anti-socialist, such a dramatic twist in history would completely undermine every previous James Bond film, even Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace.
Jack driving the car re-enforces his role as a symbol of the future of the American economy because young men (the "active nature") symbolize the active force of the future, the economy (whereas young women, by virtue of the "passive nature" symbolize the future of the land of America in general). Driving the car substantiates this idea linked to Jack because of the current debates of whether socialism or capitalism will be the "vehicle" of the economy; as an older male (57 years old) McClane symbolizes the "founding father" who sits comfortably in the passenger's seat, not driving, but still a part of what is taking place. At 1:28 in the trailer at the top (technically trailer #2) McClane asks his son, "Need a hug?" and Jack responds, "We're not a hugging family," and McClane responds, "Damn straight." Why? This could be called the "tough love" of capitalism, that (unlike the kind of baby-sitting government figure for which the socialists advocate) in America, you have to grow up and accept responsibility and learn, in the words of England's Queen Elizabeth the II that the world isn't a nice place and you're going to get hurt but you'll be okay. This brief exchange between father-son is a direct refutation of the "big government" of a socialist society. AGDTDH, like another Bruce Willis film, In the Cold Light Of Day, argues that the younger generation (Generation X, my generation) is "good to go" and is going on the straight path whereas Expendables 2 (also with Brucie) argues that Generation X is "in love with the French" (with the character played by Liam Hemsworth) and bound to become socialist. So that's the question, not only for Baby Boomers, but Gen-Xers as well: which are we, American capitalists or French socialists?
At 0:32-34, when McClane is in the elevator and hears the ding signaling he has arrived at his "intended destination," that has to be taken symbolically, because--with his gun loaded--he fights a war on a "higher level" (an abstract war, or a war of intellects) and McClane is being raised up to fight the battle above the mere daily drudgery of reality. "Ascending" (in whatever manner) in a film always means that a character enters a higher form of reality/a higher level of consciousness and ideals, whereas descent means a digression into the primal unconscious and the realm of the unrestricted animal appetites. There are more films I am looking forward to now in 2013 than the rest of this year (Skyfall and Red Dawn being the only two I anticipate). 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas

Hugh Grant in Cloud Atlas. Each actor portrays several different roles at different points in history; each of Hugh Grant's characters are capitalists; why would Grant be cast as a capitalist? It's hard not to see Hugh Grant and think of what he did to long-time girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley in 1995 with his prostitution scandal, and linking Grant with the sex industry would definitely be to the advantage of socialists wanting to cast as black of a shadow on every facet of capitalist society possible. In this particular clip, Grant plays a cannibal, literally, a human flesh eating cannibal.
Permit me to put it this way: if someone wanted to make Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto into a film, they would make Cloud Atlas. I have heard the mutterings of, "Why do you think everything is about communism or capitalism?" and trust me, I am totally sick of this, I want something new, but films are generally 1 1/2 to 2 years behind cultural events (it takes that long to make a film, and sometimes longer, with delays like G.I. Joe Retaliation and Hansel and Gretl Witch Hunters) so the film industry is really just now dealing with the communist in the White House. Cloud Atlas is a total, full-scale assault against capitalists--like myself--and on every level it wages war against the virtues of the economic system to which people like myself cling to; what Cloud Atlas fails to achieve, like every other pro-socialist film, is a positive, convincing view of a socialist society,...why?
Because it can't.
Hugo Weaving as several characters, all bad, and all the "long arm" of capitalists, in this scene, an assassin who works for Grant's character that wants to prove nuclear energy is unstable so Americans will stay addicted to oil and continue making the oil industry filthy rich. Why would Weaving be cast in this role? As we have discussed in Captain America, we can't help but recall him saying, "Mr. Anderson," from The Matrix, his break-out film. Reader response theory is drastically under-rated by the critical establishment, primarily because it focuses on the masses instead of academia; even though Alfred Hitchcock wouldn't have recognized the name, he whole-heartedly agreed with the principles, because who and why his audience recognized an actor is how he made his decisions to cast who in which roles. Knowing what we have seen, that we the audience do not exist in a cultural vacuum, but we see other films, we listen to music, we watch television and the news, we hear gossip about the private lives of stars, etc., is employed to increase our interaction with the film and its characters, our knowledge database activated when we identify an actor or a situation reflecting those in the news, gives the film makers an enormous amount of "extra data" with which to work with at very little expenditure on its part; casting certain actors with whom the audience has a strong database of knowledge with, enhances what we all ready know or expect from a character without the film having to spend time developing that aspect. For example, Ben Whishaw, who plays a bi-sexual male prostitute in Cloud Atlas, may have that recent image haunting audience members while watching him play "Q" in Skyfall.
I am getting that review up asap, and responding to emails that have so kindly been sent and reader comments (including a very interesting one left regarding Snow White and the Huntsman and paganism which I am determined to discuss this weekend). I am wanting to see Silent Hill: Revelation, Sinister and Pitch Perfect, but before October is over and gone, I want to get The Blair Witch Project done; that film was too revolutionary not for us to discuss, as it was the "mother" of the "found footage" genre that films being released this month--Paranormal Activity 4, Sinister, V/H/S--are all dependent upon for their aesthetic and this is a marvelous chance to discuss the "philosophy" of what it means to be live on camera and what it has done to us as a culture and why films more than a decade later are still employing the techniques created by this independent, block-buster hit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Iron Man 3 Official Trailer Released Today!

Who is that, dressed in the red, white and blue of the American flag (and, if we miss it, the flag happens to be flying behind him to make sure we don't miss it)? Is that the "teacher" who some people call a terrorist and has been "bringing down" the "house of American lords," the upper 1% of billionaires? Has a Chinese enemy disguised himself as the all-American Iron Man and is he pretending to be the "new Iron Man," while demonizing the original? I had high hopes for this one, but it easily exceeded my expectations!
In other words, and these are only hints and suggestions at this point, does Tony Stark--like Aaron Cross from The Bourne Legacy and James Bond in Skyfall--symbolize the American economy that has been "replaced" by an enemy dressed to look "American" but is, in fact, communism? Stark's "fall from grace" is more than the typical spiritual fall and conversion we are used to in all artistic mediums, but Stark's fall (like the many falls it looks Bond will take in Skyfall) is an economic collapse. Because a man's body usually symbolizes the economy (because of his active nature) Tony Stark pulling a dog sled at the end of the trailer reveals how slowed-down "economic growth" has become in America while Pepper, obviously being taken as a hostage, symbolizes the future of America "trapped" and being held against her will,... now, where on earth did they come up with this storyline? It can't be an accident that, of all the days and times this trailer was released (I thoroughly expected it to not be released until Skyfall, as one of those opening trailers, another reason to drive people to go see it), why was it released just hours after the final presidential campaign debates?
An important aspect of this trailer lies in the final seconds, when the "heart" generator (another good sign of the "engines" of the economy) have gone dark, then it comes back on again after we see Stark and the "dog sled" of his worldly possessions. Why? This might be a "resurrection" of Stark (a word seductively thrown around by Bond in Skyfall teasers) and which we have seen with Bruce Wayne after his time in The Pit in The Dark Knight Rises and Aaron Cross' illness and massive recovery in The Bourne Legacy. In other words, I fully expect Iron Man 3 to be a "teacher" and "lesson number 1" on how the economy should really be run, and what it means to be an American, not just dressing the role.
Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin in Iron Man 3.
This appears strange in the trailer: at 0:22 seconds, Stark stands in his "lab," and a piece of the Iron Man armor flies through the air and fits itself onto his arm; why? Technically speaking, it's part of the plot that Stark has been able to modify his suit to remotely assemble and fit itself to him from anywhere; symbolically, it is rather like that old saying (Warren Buffet, perhaps?) that even if one did take all the wealth in America, divide it equally, it would still pretty much end up in the same place as from where it was taken because of those who have the knack for making money and investing it, and those who don't. In other words, the armor being in a sense magnetically attracted to Stark demonstrates that Stark isn't just a playboy billionaire philanthropist, but someone who actually has a head on his shoulders in being able to make money because he has "capitalized" on his skills and talents (his making the Iron Man suit) and is, in his very essence, a hero, maybe a flawed hero, but that's the whole point of a story--any story--so we, too, can overcome our own falls and become heroes in our lives and protect those without whom we can't live.
This is a memorial wall from the trailer, suggesting New York City, and those who perished in the battle depicted in The Avengers (probably American civilians). The shadows act like ghosts "haunting" the current story, or, the battle for New York--the financial "capital" of the world (as in "capitalism")--is still the driving force of today's battles. What was The Avengers about? The 2008 economic collapse and whether that was going to be the "death blow" to American identity as a capitalist country, or the beginning of America--or whatever it might come to be called---as a socialist country.
At 0:53, we see Stark in a hospital setting; this might be a reference that he, like Aaron Cross and Steve Rogers in Captain America, is going to receive a serum, an injection to enhance his body's performance,... there have been rumors and this part of the teaser might have been put in to substantiate or just further tease those rumors, but it is certainly a possibility that this will figure into the plot. So what is the difference in the government injecting a "stimulus" into the economy, which we saw being symbolically done in The Bourne Legacy, and a billionaire injecting his capital into the economy? Socialists argue that government does it better because no one loses anything; capitalists argue that capitalists do it better because capitalists have everything to lose: only the ambiguous "taxpayer" dollar is lost when the American government invests in Solyndra, Solar Trust Of America and Solar Power (among a long list of other billion dollar failures), but private enterprise is better at taking risks because it's better at judging the market and knowing what people want, instead of forcing people to start buying what it has invested in; whereas capitalists usually enter on joint ventures to minimize investment risks, the government just throws money at something. These are embedded economic issues we will see being played out for us in Iron Man 3 and I can't wait! (Please recall in The Avengers that Stark had invested in green energy to run Stark Industries and that was turned against America and used by Loki, likewise, in The Dark Knight Rises, Wayne's fusion energy was turned against all Gotham).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
The accomplishments and contributions of America's upper class being destroyed, blown apart and used against them; what had been an advantage is now a liability.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Iron Man 3 & Skyfall

Like Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises, it looks like the press wants to talk to Tony Stark, a member of the 1% of America's billionaires. We do know that, post-The Avengers' battle with Loki, Stark becomes disenchanted and closes in on himself; Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) get into a fight; the Malibu mansion of Stark's is razed to the ground/sinks into the ocean (is his mansion "under water" like mortgages across the nation? Bruce Wayne went bankrupt and nearly lost his house) and Stark has to go back to the way it was in Iron Man in the cave where he used all his skills to create the fab Iron Man machine for which he became so famous. Most importantly, we also know that his arch-enemy the Mandarin (Ben Kinglsey) is from China and poses the world-wide threat in this narrative,... and this will set up Stark's role in The Avengers 2.
This is the new era of advertising, and cinema's ability to adapt to the hyper-speeds of the news world and social media shows it's in healthy shape. Like Prometheus earlier this year, Iron Man 3 is launching teasers for teasers, that is, posters on Facebook and the web to peak interest in the first official trailer to be released early tomorrow morning! (Thank you, Lord, the wait is nearly over! Yes, it will be posted here asap!); in the meantime, here is a sample (eighteen seconds) of the full-length sample (one to two minutes) we will be treated to tomorrow!
What has the Mandarin done?
Mandarin has destroyed Stark's "personal world," according to Marvel, and that's a story line many of us can understand and sympathize with. Stark will have to track down Mandarin using only his personal capabilities (again, Bruce Wayne climbing his way out of The Pit). Is it good that the two billionaire super hero story lines are so closely woven together? It depends on who you will be voting for in the next couple of weeks; since Iron Man 3 isn't due out until May, either Mitt Romney will have been in office a few more months, or President Obama will be launching his Obamacare and redistribution of wealth program aimed at people just like Tony Stark, so it will be interesting, to say the least.
I have decided that, when Skyfall comes out, I am buying two tickets: one to see the first show, and one to turn around and immediately see the second show... watch, this has "new material" in it:
One of many striking aspects of this narrative--in addition to ones all ready discussed and those to be discussed before the film's release--is Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) and his blond hair. Why would that be an issue? Hair symbolizes/reveals our thoughts, (we know, outside of the film, that Mr. Bardem has naturally dark hair, but we can also deduce that within the context of the film) so, with Silva's dark eyes, eyebrows and facial stubble, the bond is an artificial hair color; it's so blond, in fact, it's almost bleached, and that color can mean either he is a man of faith (a man of lofty thoughts and belief in the metaphysical laws of the universe, so to speak) or a man whose thoughts and thinking is dead or of death, and given he is the villain, I will bank on the later. We have also seen him dressed in police uniform (won't that be a fun twist to explore) but, there are those who think I read too much into films (they usually don't stick around long) so here is the clip where Bond meets Q and it is delightful in a dry, British sort of way!
Yes, I am delighted that Q interprets the painting of the old ship (read "the ship of state," England itself, which made its fame through its navy and merchant ships) and that they meet within an art museum because Q engages with the art the same as we are meant to engage with the art; does Bond engage with the art? He engages the enemy, by pulling or not pulling the trigger, as he points out, but this is truly a tasty little morsel--at least for me--because you know how I love art and this really boosts my confidence in the film makers that every single aspect of the film has been carefully considered for our most in-depth discussion!
I really can't wait,... I can't,...
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Re-Runs...

My sister had a crisis this week and I have been helping her and now I am sick. I am terribly sorry I haven't been able to get anything new up, but I thought I might draw your attention to some of my favorite posts that perhaps you haven't read! The 1981 hit The Clash Of the Titans is the ultimate film about relationships. The riddle Andromeda asks of Perseus is a riddle every woman asks of every man, and the contents of that riddle is the key to all the strife in our relationships (please see The Medusa Within: Clash Of the Titans).
Washington Irving's tale The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow about a school master and his rival Brom Bones is widely recognized in American literature as being the first genuine tale that represents a purely American art form of narration; besides that, I demonstrate its importance as being a path for two conflicting pathways America could take, represented by Ichabod and Brom and why it was imperative to colonial Americans who the identity of the Headless Horseman really was (and it is not Brom Bones!) Please see The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow and the Battle For America.
It might appear to be an innocent portrait of two sisters, but John Everett Millais' Leisure Hours is a full-scale assault against Victorian society and the future his contemporaries were creating for their children. Please see my favorite painting analysis that I have done so far thus in Leisure Hours and Victorian Consumption.
In 1981, the Australian rock group Men At Work came up with this #1 single, Land Down Under:
The song is actually an apocalyptic warning to fellow Australians about narcotic addiction and the extravagant lifestyle they were living ("where women glow and men plunder"); please see Australian Apocalypse: Men At Work.
I will get back to posting asap! Thank you for your patience!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trailers: Zero Dark Thirty, Gangster Squad, Cloud Atlas

My understanding is that, while casting still isn't complete, they have started filming some of the battle scenes for the second installment of Thor: The Dark World, and Chris Hemsworth was slightly injured.
I decided to wait and see the box office results for the weekend before posting on Argo (Taken 2 still held onto the top position over this week's new releases with $22.5 million over Argo's $20.1 million, which actually surprised me and speaks volumes about Americans' view on our position in the Middle East; so, I will be getting Argo up today).
A teaser shot of what Tony Stark has been working on for Iron Man 3.
Big news for Marvel fans: both Thor 2: The Dark World (release date November 8, 2013) and Iron Man 3 (release date May 3, 2013) will be released in 3D! Given the effects in The Avengers were done so artfully and, let's be honest, worth the extra money, we can only hope these next two will be as thrilling (the second Captain America: The Winter Soldier appears to be in regular 2D to be released on April 4, 2014 [yes, that's right, 2014]; sorry, Chris Evans' fans!).
Out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week, HOORAY! Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (I can hardly wait to see it again!). This is a solid capitalist film so if you missed it in the theater, try to see it because it is well-done (please see Trapeze Americano: the Capitalist Circus & Madagascar 3). Also out this week is Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. If you are a fan of The Royal Tennenbaums and The Life Aquatic, you will probably enjoy Anderson's latest film which is a support of socialism, so on the opposite side of Madagascar 3 (please see Moonrise Kingdom & Communications Technology, especially the comments section below the post where I added more commentary).
Now for trailers.
Poster for Zero Dark Thirty employing methods of erasure, discussed in Without Baggage: Erasure & Identity In The Cold Light Of Day. Perfect example of how the different sides of the political debates going on in the country employ the same method while conveying radically different messages and how the same ideas are always a part of the current artistic scene, regardless of how similar or dissimilar they may appear to be in subject matter and technique.
Opening December 19 is Kathryn Bigelow's newest (The Hurt Locker); this is the first trailer released months ago, but if you read my post on The Cold Light Of Day, look for the "erasure" and what you think it means!
In this trailer, we didn't see any faces, no one we recognize (the opposite of what trailers typically do, they give you the A-List star to tease you into wanting to see the film because you have seen their face). This is the latest trailer for Zero Dark Thirty:
One way of understanding the erasure is in terms of the figures in the trailer above cloaked in the black robes, that the traditional dress of the Middle East is itself an "erased identity" intentionally created for political sabotage; but who are we kidding? We know Ms. Bigelow is a liberal, as well as Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton, although it is possible that the hunt for Bin Laden and the methods utilized by his "army" of supporters carry a greater political weight in terms of philosophy rather than cultural orientation. Well, we don't have long to wait to find out, it opens December 19.
Denzel Washington's Flight opens November 2:
I saw my mom one day and she told me she had seen this trailer and she starting getting all upset: "It's obviously about Obama and the economy and how everyone thinks he's the only one that could save us, and the ship being the Bush economy everyone thinks was in such bad shape!" and I was really proud of her for being able to see that! The key to the film will probably be the last five minutes, which has been called "messy" and filled with "platitudes" by mainstream critics in New York, but could make me very happy; the key will be if the pilot on alcohol and cocaine ("drunk on power" and napping in the cock pit) goes to prison, that will be the political cincher there.
Here is the second trailer for Gangster Squad, opening January 11, 2013:
The most important detail regarding this film is a detail not in the trailer, but which I snooped out: 1949.
On the brink of the 1950s and mass consumerism in America post-World War II, Gangster Squad looks to be rooting out all capitalists who consider themselves God and destroy their employees, like the opening seconds of the trailer above. When Nick Nolte's character says "This is enemy occupation," Gangster Squad echoes Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and all the Time Burton films which suggest that America was intended to be a socialist country, but the likes of such rogues as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Patrick Smith, and, above all, Alexander Hamilton, turned the country from wholesome and socialist, to corrupt and filthy capitalist. This is just the trailer, and I could be wrong, but we can see Josh Brolin's private squad as a group of "communists" during the 1950s McCarthyism that was trying to uproot capitalism.
Permit me to start with the good news.
Cloud Atlas undermines a Darwinian universe in support of a chaotic universe (specifically dealing with "patterns" and changes or initial conditions); why is this such a big deal? In a Darwinian universe, there is no possibility of God existing, nature is the author of humanity, not God; in a chaotic universe, there is an understood "equilibrium" or "zero balance" which holds everything together mysteriously (and which means the strongest or best adapted do not always survive; there is actually more archaeological evidence in support of this than in support of Darwin's theories, however modified they have become). Anyway, with films like Men In Black III and The Avengers, the chaos model is better for Christians like myself; now the bad news. Obviously, the film is based on re-incarnation, like we just saw in The Master, which is not good for Christians like myself and, rather like Gangster Squad above, is probably going to suggest that, in one life, America was capitalist, but in our next life, we should be socialists.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, October 12, 2012

Argo + Trailers: Hitchcock, Django Unchained

Mr. Affleck's Argo is certainly worthy of praise, for his directing and acting; the pacing of the film and Mr. Affleck's realization of an entire vision. For a story with so many sides and angles, Mr. Affleck not only achieved harmony but that sought-after prize: suspense. It is certainly an excellent story, one which richly honors the courage and risks of our Canadian allies in harboring the six refugee Americans, as well as the faith and creativity of the Americans working to get them out. Similarly, in the opening sequences, he makes it clear that America had it coming. I will go into all this more in my review, however, it is clear that the film makers believe that--while individual Americans are not to blame for Middle Eastern retaliation against us--we as a country are to blame for what has happened and we should pack up our bags and get out. Particular skill was used in communicating this, the very best of cinematic devices, and it was artfully employed. Of course, as always, I will go further into it in my full review.
In the meantime,...
What does the information within this trailer remind us of?
The Academy's Best Picture of the Year, The Artist. The clip of Sir Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, writing out a check to make the film he believed in, the film that would change the way we would watch movies, the first blockbuster hit--that is capitalism! This film, this statement will be an old-fashioned canon ball right through the enemy lines of those arguing that art is better off under socialism. In and of itself, it might not be a good film, but it will be important.
Does that matter?
Yes and no.
It's rather like the releasing of The Lord Of the Rings, I thought the adaptation was perfectly awful yet it introduced author J.R.R. Tolkien to a new generation of readers and (I guess) blew many of them away with the story, and the same is bound to happen with a new generation unfamiliar with Hitchcock. Hitchcock will be released in 2013.
The second of Quentin Tarantino's trailers for Django Unchained (opening in December) has been released:
Essentially, it's the same premise as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter: the attack on plantation owners is really an attack on any business owner in America (if you employ even one person, even if they are your spouse or child, you have "enslaved" them and you are a KKK member); the problem with this, as I have taken pains to reveal the obvious in so many of these anti-capitalists works, is that THE PLANTATION OWNERS WERE ALL DEMOCRATS, and they were the ones refusing blacks their freedom and the ones wanting to withdraw from the union. Tidy, isn't it, forgetting history? That makes everything so much cleaner,...
Reviews will be forthcoming!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Master: Art For Art's Sake?

Why was this movie made?
Usually, when I disagree with the mainstream critics, it's because I have found a gold mine they have overlooked; Paul Thomas Anderson's two-and-a-half-hour drama The Master has received fabulous reviews; I do understand the praise for the acting, however, it seems everything in the plot is meant as an exercise for the actors, and naught else. What point there is seems to never exceed that everyone has appetites and we can curb them a little, but not extinguish them. Okay,... in other words, The Master seems to be masterful only at contriving situations to rack up Oscar nominations.
The group is at the house of a follower and Dodd starts singing A Roving; during his song, Freddie, a sex addict, imagines all the women naked as Dodd dances around them. I mean, we can say that Freddie sees Dodd as a genuine man, but "sees through" the facade of the women making over him. The problem is, that interpretation is a real stretch because throughout Freddie is so obsessed with sex that it's just a pit stop in his mind for the audience to see how sexually focused Freddie is in every situation; there was little artistry in this film but a lot of ego.
When Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) first meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Freddie has awakened from a drunken stupor and is taken in to meet Dodd who wears red pajamas (pictured below); Dodd informs Freddie that Freddie had been drinking all night then reveals that Dodd sampled the alcohol in Freddie's flask and drank the whole thing, then wants to know if Freddie can make more. Red is a strong color, and for a character to be wearing that when we first meet them and it means one of two things: either they are strong in their ability to love and they will love to death (red is the color of blood which is shed for the one we love) or they are a person of the appetites (love is the opposite of the appetites because love is given yet the appetites take). Since he emptied a flask of strong alcohol, we can assume Dodd is a man of the appetites and he doesn't disappoint us.
Dodd loves the drinks Freddie mixes, and drinks them up the way Freddie drinks up the questions Dodd asks him, especially about Freddie having sex with his Aunt Bertha. We see Freddie mixing the drinks and at least one time he includes paint thinner in the brew; why? It's a commentary on what drinking does to us all, it thins down the paint of the facade/mask we wear in society and reveals what is really there. I can go to a bar to find that out, thank you.
But this is the only real conflict of the narrative: even as Dodd's writing condemns the appetites, and he focuses his energy and "wisdom" on trying to save Freddie from Freddie's boozing and lust, Dodd gives into his own appetites. Each member of the Dodd family wants to ex-communicate Freddie from their midst because he brings out the worst in each of them, specifically, the lust and greed each thinks they are above: Lancaster Dodd, on the other hand, wants to keep Freddie because he thinks he can cure him (which is Dodd's ego appetite). By the end of the film, when Freddie engages in casual sex with an English girl, and repeats like a stumbling parrot questions Dodd asked of him, it appears that his time with "The Master" has changed him, but not significantly so.
And that's about it.
Am I being too hard?
No.
There is such a notion as Art For Art's Sake which posits that art is not bound to serve any purpose, it exists merely for the sake of being beautiful, bound in no way to serve politics, religion or any agenda but beauty (Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde strongly believed in this). I can adhere to this ideal completely, but it begs the question, "What is beauty?" and "How does one communicate beauty?" which beings us to the question of the role of the artist and issues of "quality." (I'm really sticking my foot in it today, aren't I?).
This brings us to another question: is it morally acceptable for a film maker to make a film based on their bet they can get an Oscar for it? On par with that could be a politician who changes or adopts a certain platform to get votes from a particular segment of society so they can hold office.
 This is a worthwhile discussion because there are times when we don't like certain films, various songs or other works of art, like painting and poetry, and it's just as important and personally fulfilling to be capable of articulating why you don't like something as why you do like it. An artist has a duty and a responsibility, regardless of their medium, to communicate with their audience. They have the exemplary calling in life to hold up a mirror to society and attempt to show us what we need to see but can't or won't; during the 2.5 hours I was watching The Master, I never felt Anderson acknowledged me as his audience, I never felt the actors considered me their audience, but were, rather, performing for other actors. In other words, I felt the whole film was phony, just like Freddie finally figures out that "The Master" is phony.
This is the best shot I can find of it, but Freddie has a tendency, throughout the whole film, to keep his hands placed on his hips. In terms of body language, it's meant to accentuate the penis and his male dominance over others in the situations in which he finds himself (it might also be a subliminal message that he is thinking of his sexual needs more than the situation he's in, which was antithetical to "The Cause" of the group) but Freddie can't dominate anyone, rather, everyone dominates him (which may be why he resorts to violence so often. Freddie also has incredibly small, hunched shoulders, revealing that he is unable to carry the basic burdens of life (everything "weighs down" on him). Freddie always talking out of the side of his mouth indicates that his appetites are crooked (the mouth is the primary location for the appetites).
Even if The Master is an exercise in Art For Art's Sake, it has failed to deliver anything of beauty or knowledge. Again, the characters seem more like hook lines for accolades than characters (Mrs. Dodd jerking her husband, Freddie making it with a sand woman on the beach, then jerking off or Elizabeth fondling his leg or a room of naked women... what am I supposed to say? Isn't that edgy? Wasn't that daring? Fearless performance! I won't say any of that about contrived circumstances for someone to show-off what they think is acting with no regard for their real audience). There is a tension in the narrative that is always there but just haunts instead of propelling events; if Anderson's point is so subtle that we can't discern it, he has failed to communicate with his audience.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whore Houses & Soccer Stars: The Hurt Locker

Why do this now?
Besides my love of fabulous films, as 2010's Best Picture of the Year, The Hurt Locker is not only in the mind of a film maker like Ben Affleck, releasing his Argo Friday, but as well, in the minds of viewers during films such as Expendables 2, Taken 2 and potentially Skyfall; because The Hurt Locker is by far the most complete statement of the War on Terror, and what it has done to us as a country, and the brave soldiers fighting, we can't help but somehow mentally reference the film that visually gave us the the metaphor of the Middle East as a bomb, and the costs of disarming it. Whether we realize it or not, The Hurt Locker provided us with an education regarding the war we are fighting, who we are fighting, and how they are fighting us back, and--most of all--when we see real-life images of anti-American protests in the Middle East, we seek solace in knowledge, specifically that knowledge of the war  which has come to us through this film.
With the opening quote, "The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug," the second half of the quote, "for war is a drug," is broken away and left lingering as its own statement on the screen for viewers' meditation (War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, 2002, Chris Hedges). Does this automatically make The Hurt Locker an anti-war film? No. There are too many elements of undecidability to make a definite statement, which means, more than most films, The Hurt Locker aptly mirrors what the audience all ready believes about war and solidifies, rather than converts, the viewers' perception about what war is (whether it's a drug or not).
It does several things well, and one of those things is inversion: whereas the big star usually survives the film and takes the lead as the hero, both "big stars" of the film, Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce, have only one scene and die in that scene, shifting the binary scales to the "unknown actors" and giving them the stage. It is possible, as numerous other interpretations of the film, that one can see that as a statement of international politics, i.e., the big players, such as the US and Great Britain, are going to have "regulated roles" in the future of global politics, while leaders heretofore unknown will take the center stage and save the day. Again, another liberal, anti-American way to view the opening scene with Staff Sergeant Thompson (Guy Pearce) is that the American Army sends out a wagon with disarming explosives and the wheel falls off, suggesting that the entire Army is a "flat tire." If you are a liberal, that is something you would pick up on as a reason for being against the war, you despise the military and the broken wagon symbolizes the "broken vehicle" of war and American power; on the other hand, if you are like me, and believe in the honor and dignity of our soldiers, and the incalculable sacrifices they (and their families) make for the safety of the country and the world, you might see a brave soldier going to do his duty regardless of the risk involved to protect innocent people in the path of the explosion because he is man enough to do it.
When we first meet William James (Jeremy Renner) he plays loud rock music and even though the musical genres are different, it reminded me of Lt. Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) playing Ride Of the Valkyries after a napalm strike in Apocalypse Now. This, along with Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) calling James "red-neck trailer trash," can be taken as a visual image on Teddy Roosevelt era foreign policy and America becoming a super-power on the world stage. The argument is, the American military is only as good as its soldiers, and liberals can easily see James being their poster child for doing away with the military, while conservatives, such as myself, can site the expertise in James' fulfilling his duty fearlessly and his relationship with little Beckham as typical of military personnel and why they, as individuals and representatives of America, make such an important difference wherever they are called to serve.
As usual, a mature female symbolizes the motherland, America, and James' complex relationship with his wife/ex-wife reflects Bigelow's view of the military and the homeland it protects. Her coldness and indifference to his experiences in war can be taken as an example of how we should act towards the mission of the War on Terror, but it can be a chilling lesson of what not to do and how not to act. Why does James seem to say he loves disarming bombs more than his wife/ex-wife and son? Well, if you were in a "relationship" with her, would you be fulfilled? There is really no other way to describe it but her "interior poverty" of love and nurturing lacking to aid James' healing from his war wounds perpetuating his emotional and psychological damage, so, for the sake of his sanity, it's easier to be in a war that is exterior to you, than to be stuck in a war inside you from which you can't escape. Its not that James doesn't love her and his son, but the "home front" is a losing battle for him and to survive, he needs to be able to have a shot at overcoming his battles.
While we experience intense and thrilling sequences of James disarming bombs and "saving the day," it's the bombs he can't disarm that liberals see as indicative of flaws embedded within American foreign policy: for example, when Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) gets shot in the leg and has to go "to the hurt locker," (off duty due to injury), Eldridge "explodes" at James for his reckless need for an adrenaline rush which liberals would certainly seize upon as using war as a drug which brings only harm and damage to all. On the other hand, we can see Eldridge as a soldier psychologically troubled by the demands of combat and his "explosion" at James is really the anger and guilt transference within himself onto a scapegoat.
The other bomb James can't disarm is the vest of the forced suicide bomber: "There are too many bombs, there are too many wires!" Given the man has four children, we can look at him symbolically as being an elder or "founding father" of the country who has been forced into this role of suicide bomber with re-enforced steel locking him into the vest, and that vest symbolizes the bombs waiting to go off throughout the Middle East they themselves are responsible for (including religious powder kegs). Seeing this imagery, understanding this Gordian Knot, do we leave the powder kegs unattended, as liberals would have it, or do we make the best attempts we can at disarming it? Because of your politics and your morals, you all ready have your opinion formulated when you watch this scene, but the scene "arms you" with the reasons you believe what you believe.
The box of things that almost killed him could be a sign of why James went into bomb disarmament: everything else in his life was exploding (like his relationship with his girlfriend/wife/ex-wife) so he transfers the emotional and psychological bombs in his life to the real bombs he learned how to disarm because that provides a sense of control on the battlefield he doesn't have in his inter-personal relationships.
What is most likable about James (besides his incredible confidence level when it comes to disarming the bombs) is his interactions with the young boy who wants to be called Beckham. This creates an interesting situation because, whether or not he actually wants to grow up to be a professional soccer player, he has identified himself with that role, creating a dual identity for himself so that, when James mis-identifies the dead boy with the body bomb as Beckham, it reveals James' own inner-psychology and what he thinks of the situation in the War. The boy with the body bomb doesn't look anything like Beckham, but just as Eldridge does some psychological transference later in the film, James does it now: he mistakens the boy with the body bomb for Beckham because he sees Beckham "exploding" as he gets older. Whether it's some personal defect in the boy, or the situation the boy is in where he is growing up is not clear but it doesn't have to be. It could also be James' fatalism that, since he has bonded with the boy and his personal relationships haven't worked out, Beckham--like everyone else in his life--is going to "explode" on him and that is why James actually explodes on Beckham later to pre-empt "losing" Beckham's friendship twice (the first time being with the young boy with the body bomb).
Technically, "the hurt locker" is a term used to describe when someone has been put on the injured list and is out of active duty; we could easily identify all kinds of "hurt lockers" in the film. We know Eldridge is, technically, but is Sanborn, as we see him in his pain after Thompson's death? How often do we see James experiencing pain in the film? Is the whole country of Afghanistan in "the hurt locker?" What about all of America? Locating the hurt locker(s) in the film, and who belongs there or who has ended up there, and what was the cause?
Another important point about Beckham is the relationship to personal fulfillment and the realization of the American Dream for everyone. David Beckham typifies a person who has skill and talent, works hard and achieves--not only success--but also the personal enjoyment of doing what one does best. This is another way in which Beckham is a dual personality since he works harder at selling cheap, pirated DVDs instead of playing soccer. The Hurt Locker seems to offer the viewer a choice: either we can see Beckham as a future filled with potential and promise, or he's going to rip us off.
More revealing than possibly any other moment of the film is when James goes on his solo mission to find out what happened to Beckham (after mis-identifying him) and ends up at the house of Dr. Nabil; when James returns to base, he tells a soldier he was at a whore house. Does James lie about where , was? No, I don't think so. Psychologically, when Dr. Nabil realizes he is there, Nabil is kind and welcoming then his wife comes out and starts getting hysterical; in terms of policy, we can see this as being an accurate depiction of how some countries in the Middle East seem to be welcoming us one minute, and then getting wild and protesting the next. The question is, how exactly does James see the country prostituting itself? By pretending to like us when it really wants us to get out, or by really wanting us there to help maintain order but it prostitutes itself to hysteria and irrationality? 
This is a bit of a stretch, however, I think it is something to consider: the bomb suits Thompson and James wear, and how they move in them, resembles--to me--the Apollo astronauts moon suits when they first landed on the lunar surface, winning the Cold War era's Space Race. Is this a legitimate interpretation? Given technological dominance propelling America ahead of other countries during that historical period, and the global leadership position we have taken because of technological superiority in innovation, yes, we can say that we have a duty--as international leaders--to "diffuse the bombs" of regional instability the best we can for the safety of the world. Liberals, on the other hand, can scoff and claim that we are no longer that country and, even if we were, we would have no right making such an ethnocentric boast and "assume" we are best to lead the world; what egomaniacs, they would think.
 In conclusion, we can't conclude: the film challenges us on every level, and while I have only scratched the surface, I hope it will help you in your engagement with the film and foreign policy. Currently, President Obama has accused Romney of wanting a "chest-pounding" and "sabre rattling" foreign policy
in relation to the attacks on the US Consulate in Libya. Since James can stand-in for that kind of American machismo, The Hurt Locker could be a timely lesson for all of us regarding the direction we think foreign policy should take and why. War can be a drug, but war can also be medicinal and teach us  what we have done in the past and why we have done what we have done and make us into better Americans and better people.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saw Looper

I saw Looper.
It's just discouraging--and it is meant to be--when Hollywood continually depicts you as a drug addict, slut, criminal, greedy, soul-less murderer because you don't want the government to control your life. It's the same styled thesis as The Hunger Games with the same time travel--but inverted-- as we saw in Men In Black III. Like all the other pro-Obama, pro-socialist films, all it does is hack away at how terrible capitalism and capitalists (like myself) are without being able to offer any substantial advantage to socialism except that it's not capitalism. But, I promised you a break, and I will keep to that, and will get the The Hurt Locker up next, but I wanted to let you know about Looper in case you were thinking about going to see it and wanted to know (I will be getting a complete post up asap).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Without Baggage: Erasure & Identity In The Cold Light Of Day

The tagline, "Be careful who you trust," fits the film and its purpose quite well: we have trusted our allies and we need to continue trusting them, but the film makes the point in the generation gap between Will and his father Martin that with a new generation of Americans, the old alliances aren't necessarily going to hold, unless the new generation goes to war itself. As the villain Jean Carrack (Sigourney Weaver), we have a government official more concerned about personal profit than the ideals of helping our global friends and, seeing the type of person Carrack is, Will slowly starts to make the right decision. Please remember this seemingly innocent discussion on Will not having a change of clothes with him (he does have clothes on the boat from last time and that's important) because it figures into our discussion on erasure.
I'm am impressed with this film, politically and aesthetically.
You are probably saying that you have no interest in this film: it only scored a 6% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it did terrible in the theaters, so why am I even bothering to post on it when, as you all know, I am seriously behind as it is? The film takes an outside approach to the current political and economic troubles plaguing America right now to draw our attention away from ourselves and towards the greater world stage, and it does so very convincingly. Further, it has artistic moments of visual vocabulary expansion that is well worth our time to discuss.
Although the trailer sets up the family reunion on the boat as a happy occasion, that's far from the truth of the narrative: Martin (Bruce Willis) and Will (Henry Cavill) are at absolute odds with each other, so much so that Will even refers to his father as "Godzilla." While Will has agreed to meet his family in Spain for sailing, he doesn't want to be there. Let's start at the very beginning because that is where director Mabrouk El Mechri starts with Will.
Will arriving with Martin at the family boat after a disagreeable car ride from the airport and without his luggage. Before we see his face, we discover that Will's luggage never left San Francisco. Why? There are a number of ways to understand it, all valid and all displaying facets of a character who becomes very deep by the end of the film. One way is to ask, What else has been left in San Francisco? The famous Tony Bennett song from 1954 goes, "I left my heart in San Francisco," and that is a viable understanding not only because of the fame of the song, but because it's apparent as the scenes with his family in the boat go on, that Will, too, left his heart, his business and his attention span in San Francisco along with his change of clothes. Another angle is Will is ready for the upcoming adventure because "he doesn't have any baggage," in other words, after the failure of his company, besides saving what remains of his family, Will has nothing to lose. Still another way--among many other still possible understandings--is that Will has to "put on the new man," and he can't do that if he has an identity to which he clings
When we first meet Will we don't meet him. Director El Mechri takes his time to let us see Will's back, the bars of the service desk crossing out the features of his face and the sunglasses blocking his eyes, the windows of his soul (a similar device is used in the opening sequence of The Words with Dennis Quaid's Clayton Hammond not being shown as he gathers up some objects and we don't see his face). It's during this visual commentary that we learn his baggage never left San Francisco and, in conjunction with the physical lack of identity El Mechri makes in these imperative first seconds of the film, we are shown volumes of the philosophy of identity and metaphysics.
Will and his mother talk about Martin. The film supplies us with the standard symbols were used to:  a mature woman symbolizing the motherland (America) and a man of mature age symbolizing the founding fathers (and, in this case, Martin symbolizes the "fathers of American foreign policy" after the lessons of World War II--Will calls him "Godzilla," and we'll discuss this below) so Martin dying actually is not a bad thing in the film, he must die in order for the next generation (Will) to learn the lesson itself of why that which was done, was done for the greatest good and should continue to be done. Yes, we discussed this in Taken 2 and we will continue the same dialogue in Expendables 2 but it's my estimation that The Cold Light Of Day does it best and most thoroughly.
At this point, we don't even know his name, we just see the back of his head and what El Mechri wants to draw our attention to is that which he is not showing us. In theory, when a philosopher wants to let his/her reader know that a word is "necessary but inadequate" for what the writer desires to communicate, such as "being," they will write "being" and then draw a line through the word leaving "being" legible yet in a state "under erasure," or sous rature. Physically speaking, this is exactly what El Mechri does with Will's character, placing his physical features "under erasure," because Will is necessary as a hero and a future founding father but at of the start of the film he is wholly inadequate, and discovering his inadequacies and how he is converted into an adequate hero is the job of the viewer.
Why are they on a sail boat? It symbolizes the "ship of state," and Zahir's men coming aboard, putting a gun to Martin's head and kidnapping his family (minus Will who is not "on board" with Martin because he "jumped ship," and these are political connotations) is possibly how Will's generation thinks of Israel, not much more than terrorists (Zahir works for Mossad, Israeli Intelligence) and how the current US political administration has painted our long-time ally in its siding with the Arab states instead of our friend (please see Israeli lawmaker states that President Obama has not been a friend to Israel). While Will thinks Zahir is the threat to his family, and he's willing to trust Carrack or at least the police, as events escalate, he realizes that isn't enough and his family is actually safe only with Zahir as well as the world (the terrible things that will happen to global stability if Carrack succeeds in selling the briefcase, symbolic of the selling of Israel to the Arabs).
The reason Will "jumps ship" and leaves the boat (is thereby absent when his family is taken hostage) is because, symbolically, there is a disagreement over what the "ship of state" is and the best way to steer it. Martin gives Will command of the ship, but as the narrative relates, Will's business is bankrupt; while he's on the phone discovering that he can't recover his lost business (symbolically, a part of his "lost luggage" [and I apologize for this part, I am not familiar with ships so I know I am mis-using terminology!]) the ship's mast he should be watching instead of texting/talking comes around and nearly knocks out Dara, Will's brother's girlfriend that he saves at the last second, but she gets a cut on her head. Martin gets so angry, he throws Will's phone into the ocean. This is what we can call "the heart" of the film.
Why is this an important shot of Will? After he's left the "ship of state" it shows that he's "all washed up" yet his shirt and shoes in the bag means something has been saved, preserved. This would be a good time to discuss "the call," and why phones are so symbolically important in films. Everyone has a destiny, a purpose in life, and most of our lives are spent preparing ourselves to "answer the call" to duty we are meant to fulfill; if one hasn't prepared themselves to fulfill their destiny, their destiny still calls, but they are inadequate to do what must be done. This conflict is a favorite device in horror films, such as Scream, Night Of the Living Dead and Invasion Of the Body Snatchers (the original and the re-make). In The Cold Light Of Day, Will constantly being on his phone means he is willing to answer the call, but he's answering the wrong call (this is the case with Kim Mills in Taken 2) and Martin demonstrates this to him by throwing Will's phone "overboard." Importantly, it will be his father's phone, after Martin is murdered, that Will takes up as his own because he realizes his father's calling is also his calling (discussed below).
Will, like many Americans today, is more concerned with the economy (his lost business) than the larger "business" of steering a proper course for the government (international affairs, why they are on the ocean) and the future of America (Dara, as a young female can symbolize a possible future for the country) is at danger because no one is watching the way "the winds are blowing" jeopardizing the health and safety of the future (Dara being hit by the ship's beam). Martin throwing away Will's phone is his way of re-directing Will's attention to what is really important, because ultimately, each viewer in the audience (regardless of age) is meant to be identified with Will because all of us have been tending to the business of the economy rather than international affairs. So what does Martin's "call" in life mean to us and why should we pick it up as our own?
The clue is "Godzilla."
It would be easy to get upset with Martin for having a "second family," but we have to remember that American democracy has many children, not just us, and we are responsible for our political siblings just as we are for those of our own family.
I know, I know, you're saying, "Not Godzilla again!"  But just as Godzilla is imperative to understanding The Amazing Spider Man, so it's imperative to understanding The Cold Light Of Day. Steven Spielberg's Jaws was a metaphor for what the Japanese did to America during World War II and American justification for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki (please see Jaws & the Cleansing Of America). While the monster shark Jaws symbolizes American fears of the Japanese suicide submarines, for the Japanese, the giant lizard Godzilla symbolized the US and the destruction ravaged upon them by us dropping two atomic bombs; as I explain in post on Jaws, the Japanese started seeking out the help of Godzilla to save them from other monsters who started attacking them, specifically Mothra and Rodan (symbolic of the fast-paced growth of socialism/communism in Asia) so, while the Japanese were upset with us for what we did, they recognized the US as being a "better monster" than the other enemies they had (please see Decay Rate Algorithm & Cross Species Genetics: The Amazing Spider Man for more on this topic). So, when Will refers to his father Martin as "Godzilla," this is what he's talking about!
Carrack later reminds Will of how, when he was little, he got a scar across his palm making her a martini; why does she bring it up? Psychologically, it's meant to establish a bond of trust between them, they know each other and are on the same side; it really serves as a kind of prophecy: drinking the martini is like her selling the briefcase, she is expecting to get something, but both times, Will gets in the way of what she wants and frustrates her designs.
Martin, as a symbol of the "founding fathers" of post-World War II foreign policy, knows that the American economy is not the most important thing in the world, (and this is easier to write, given the  terrible events that have rocked the US in the Middle East the last month) rather, the Middle East peace and stability is the most important because the global stability depends upon it (please see US Officials Didn't link Libya attack with video like the president and secretary of state). We might be reluctant to be the "Godzilla of the Middle East," The Cold Light Of Day tells us, yet the consequences of not enforcing peace is far worse for America and the world if we don't. This is the call Martin is anxious for Will to pick up and answer, to give himself to because it's the important call and it's not by accident that call is tied to a briefcase.
While FABRIK is the name of a nightclub, it's a great play on words, because the "fabric" of Will's soul because, just as Zahir has to decide to believe Will, Will has to decide to believe Zahir and this is the moment that changes everything, and, above all, changes Will.
When an important briefcase appears in a film, it's hard not to link it to the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. We don't find out what is in the briefcase in The Cold Light Of Day, but neither does Will, he has to join the CIA for that. What is important, among many other things, is that an exchange has taken place, instead of being concerned with his personal lost luggage at the start of the film, by the end, he has risked his life countless times to not only stop the corrupt Carrack from selling out Israel, but saved the case itself and it's this shifting of priorities from the personal (his lost business) well-being to the larger, world stage (helping Israel) that converts Will into the hero and becomes the vehicle for him overcoming his inadequacies at the start. In other words, what was erased at the start of the film, is filled out by the end and it is nothing short of his individuation and person-hood.
In the start of the film, it's almost comical and awkward how lacking in physical skill Will is for an action hero, but this, too is intentional, because at the end of the film, Will has accomplished his will, stopping Carrack. In art, especially action films, the hero has "unlimited free will" (as in Will himself) so if Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) wants to slide down a concrete wall without the horizontal velocity crushing him, he can do it, because his physical strength exists in proportion to his inner-strength and virtue as a hero (the stronger the hero's virtue is the greater his strength and stamina, the weaker a hero's/character's virtue, the weaker their strength and will power (please refer to All Points Of Convergence: The Bourne Legacy for more). We saw this in Casino Royale with James Bond (Daniel Craig) at the start of the film being awkward, clumsy and slower than the villain he chased, but by the end, his allegiance to justice and a cause greater than himself has strengthened him to overcome danger threatening him and those he has vowed to protect (please see James Bond: Beyond Boundaries for more). This is the same case with Will in The Cold Light Of Day, the more he dedicates himself to saving his family and doing what is right on the international scale, the stronger Will's will becomes and the more he realizes himself and his potential hence.
We have a greater family than just our immediate family, and when one family is threatened--like Zahir's that was blown up by a market-place suicide bomber--all our families are threatened. Sometimes we take the best care of ourselves when we actually put ourselves to the side, and worry about someone else. (If you missed The Cold Light Of Day in theaters, it will be out on disc between December-January).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner