Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trailers: General Zod's Message, Into the White, The Red, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing

It's official.
There is a post-credits scene at the end of Iron Man 3, so don't let anyone you love walk out of the film early! This is a spoiler alert, so if you don't want to know what it is, just skip down: the post-credits scene is Tony Stark, on a couch, talking about his problems and what has happened; we then see Dr. Bruce Banner (the Hulk), sleeping because Tony is so boring; Banner wakes up and tells Stark, "I'm not that kind of doctor," and then goes back to sleep. Why is this important? First, if billionaire playboy Tony Stark is reflecting on what has happened, we should, too. Secondly, if Banner isn't the doctor Tony needs to be telling his problems to, that means we are the doctor and it's up to us to help Tony through his problems. Supposedly, Tony has been having problems with nightmares (I thought the problem was he couldn't sleep, but that might be an issue as well), and whenever "sleep" and "nightmares" are involved (not to mention someone on a couch talking about their problems) that's an invitation to psychoanalyze the art and we most certainly will.
Here is General Zod's message to the world from Man Of Steel:
What he says isn't as important as how he's saying it.
You may recall, when studying the trailer for Ridley Scott's Prometheus, and clips of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, we utilized the tool known in information theory as "noise," one of my favorite analytical tools, except for all my other favorite analytical tools. Anyway, in the clip above, we are treated to both visual noise--the static appearance of the clip and the lack of detail about the identity of who is speaking--as well as audio noise: the bleeps, high-pitched noise and static we hear making it difficult to understand what Zod says. Why do this? In this era of High Definition, when hundreds of millions--even billions--are spent to provide and receive the crispest images and the best sound, why intentionally deliver to audience members a garbled message like the one above that could risk turning people off of the film and decrease release profits
Because this is art.
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, Mud) as General Zod of Krypton. What can we glean about Zod's character from what he wears? His costume is as "noisy" as he broad casted message. There is nothing "sleek" about this costume, rather, there appears to be a lot "going on" that doesn't contribute to the functionality of the armor. For example, the neck piece elaborately coiled and wrapped around his shoulders; the strange "X" mark on his lower-left arm (at the bottom of the image) and all the "excess metal" appearing on the torso and waist. Clark Kent is the "man of steel" but Zod wears it, and this kind of "dichotomy" between the hero and villain, what is natural and what is artificial, will be the basis of their character development and, hence, the conflict of the narrative.
In our world today, we are surrounded by noise: from too much stimulation from too many important events going on and too many simultaneous sources, to mis-representation of what we need to know (some trivial things over-emphasized and important things trivialized). While we should recognize what the film makers are giving us in this clip--a validation that somewhere in our society, we are being threatened, even if we can't clearly make out what that threat is or who it comes from--what film makers with hold from us in this clip is just as important: who it is threatening us and the "private conversation" taking place between them (who this man is in the clip and who is the mysterious man he wants turned over to him; a private conversation occupying a public arena of discourse). What the clip is really is, obviously, an ultimatum: are we going to give this mystery man what he wants and save ourselves, or are we going to be concerned enough about someone other than ourselves to look into the matter and decide what needs to be done for the sake of doing the right thing?     I know there are readers who get frustrated with me looking at everything as either socialist or capitalist, so I am grateful for this trailer, Into the White, which has all ready been released in the US:
And now The Red:
Well, those are pretty self-explanatory. What might not seem so explanatory is, why make another version of Romeo and Juliet when there are all ready so many? Well, when we discuss the zombie film Warm Bodies--which is based on Romeo and Juliet--we'll see how each generation identifies with the struggles presented in Shakespeare's classic, not only because of how he articulates some of the timeless truths we have found to still be timeless truths, but how we in our own time understand how his writing applies to us (not to mention that this does look top quality):
Director Joss Whedon (The Avengers) has remade Much Ado About Nothing in a contemporary setting but in black and white; we have viewed this clip before, but now, let's ask ourselves, what two factions that are always fighting might fall in love with each other (and, yes, this is supposed to apply to Romeo and Juliet as well):
Could both of these remakes be a message that, if capitalists like myself just put aside their irrational fear and hatred of socialism, instead of always fighting with the deplorable consequences of what fighting entails, we would actually be much happier being joined to socialism? That's your call.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner