Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Lone Ranger Opens Tonight

Recognize this shot? We could say it was in every major Western film ever made, especially those by the great director John Ford and John Wayne who particularly codified the Western genre to explore American values and identity. So, if you want to debunk everything Americans think of America, you ruin their prime vehicle for understanding their identity and society: the Western. We've all ready compared and contrasted the genres of space exploration/sci-fi films and Westerns (the vastness we see in this shot above echoes the vastness of space in Star Trek Into Darkness, for example); the shared similarities between the two genres--and the space genre getting far more movies made rather than the Western genre--makes us stop to ponder why the sci-fi is getting so many more films and Westerns are not. The answer is easy. Westerns are reaching back into our past, and the capitalists in Hollywood making a decided stand against Obama's socialist revolution want to appeal to Americans' sense of the future. On the other hand, if a socialist wants to erase American history, or mis-represent ourselves to those who know nothing about history (sadly, that's a goodly percentage of the American population), reaching into the past to re-write the past and, hence, who we are and why we got to where we are, is a great investment in the duty of indoctrination.
In his review of the film, Devin Faraci wrote, "I hate The Lone Ranger as much as The Lone Ranger hates The Lone Ranger."  That might just be a brilliant review. The original The Lone Ranger weekly exhibited American ideals and the American Way, Justice and values, all the things socialists hate (the Soviets didn't have a Lone Ranger, did they?). That is the job of art: to demonstrate our highest ideals so we have something as a culture and society to strive for, so behavior is regulated for the greatest good of the greatest number of people as well as to mirror our faults and demonstrate why it's a fault and show us how to overcome those faults. I hate to say it, but I doubt you will find any of that in The Lone Ranger opening tonight for the July 4 holiday. With only a 16% approval rating on RottenTomatoes (which usually starts out strong and slowly drops as more and more reviewers upload their ratings), even the liberals appear to be disappointed in the film--which will probably have a really strong showing at the box office due to the holiday. However, there is another film also opening,...
"When the world needed a hero, they called a villain," and that's an interesting tagline because you could say it applies to Fast and Furious 6 as well. Why? For at least two reasons. First, America is the land of second chances (this is also touched upon in Pain and Gain, but in a very different vein) as we saw in The Dark Knight Rises, Spring Breakers, GI Joe Retaliation (with Storm Shadow joining the Joes to help them against Cobra) and F & F 6. Gru getting a second chance to reform his villainous ways is totally American whereas, in Soviet Russia, for example, even if he had always been innocent, he probably would have been sent to Siberia for life, for no crime at all. Gru is being given a chance to,... use his,... "unique" gifts for a greater good than just his own personal gain. Secondly, we have seen this kind of "recruiting" of villains in American history before: the War of 1812. One of America's greatest moments--and easily forgotten moments, too--relied upon pirates and outlaws in America banding their forces and resources together to once again secure American independence. In other words, it's in everyone's interest to keep America free, and it's possible that Despicable Me 2 will make that point. How? Gru adopted three girls in the original episode, and we know that children represent the future, so Gru has adopted as his own interests the interests of the future. A clip was released (I am not sure if it will be in the film or not, but it's worth talking about, because the sub-text of the clip will still be prevalent throughout the film) where Gru helps Agnes with some lines she has to recite and it was released around Mother's Day. Why is this important? We are all called to be "mothers" of the future America. What Young Adult called "nipple confusion" in whether America would be capitalist or socialist, might be an undercurrent of Despicable Me 2 as well. Please remember, that Al Pacino was originally set as the villain Eduardo then replaced due to "creative differences" with the producers however, it['s likely those were actually "political differences."  In this poster, what do we notice? Two things. First, we only see Gru's back, and that might be referencing that we, the viewer/audience are supposed to have "Gru's back," his vulnerable spot, we are supposed to look out for him the way he is looking out for us in the film. Secondly, the hundreds and thousands of minions before him. In some of the TV spots, we have seen the minions "singing," but really just making noise, like the noise General Zod makes in Man Of Steel. Why? Most of us can identify with minions because we feel--like them--that we don't have a "voice," we are only so much noise (like the "noise" which attracts the zombies in World War Z). And yet the minions do communicate, we can understand them and identify with them. Just as it seems the minions aren't saying anything in the film, DM2 might also seem like it's not saying anything, but it will be.
I think Despicable Me 2 will take the weekend box office and, like World War Z being out-sold by Monsters University, I think DM2 will also out-perform TLR by the end of this long weekend. TLR opens at my theater tonight, so I am going to try and get WWZ done by this evening so I can see TLR and get at least a snippet posted for you tomorrow on what it's like. DM2 doesn't open until tomorrow but, because of the holiday, I might get to it until Friday. If you are wondering what to see, chances are, DM2 will be sold out, so get your tickets early or at least have a back up plan on what to see if you don't get in for DM2 (like Monsters University or Man Of Steel, both of which I can highly recommend). Oh, yea, last weekend, The Heat and White House Down opened; what about those? Well, I don't like vulgarity, and it's regrettable that a film like The Heat will only have women if they can be vulgar; WHD opened with only $24 million, about $14 million less than Olympus Has Fallen (opening with $38 million) and that wasn't even the "movie season," so we can say that WHD is, technically, a bomb.
Why is that so good?
What's the tagline of this poster? "Back2Work." Wouldn't Americans like to "get back to work" after this long vacation we've had with high unemployment and just barely scrimping by? We know the minion we are seeing is Phil because of his locker; why? Because, even though he doesn't live like a rock star, Phil is "ful-philled" and we know so by the pictures in his locker of the kids and Gru. What we learn about Gru in Despicable Me is that he knows each minion by name, in spite of how many there are, and how each one looks alike, he knows each one individually because that is the sign of a good boss (granted, most bosses aren't like that, but DM wants to demonstrate that, if you are a boss, this is how you should be). Phil has gotten out of the shower, so he's been "cleansed," and, like John McLane in A Good Day To Die Hard, Phil is no longer on "vacation," but is ready to start working again, this time saving the world. It might not be what you or I want to do, but for Phil, this is a good life and one he enjoys.
It was obviously a pro-Obama film with Jamie Foxx--who hates white people passionately--playing the first black president and being under attack by white people who are, like the zombies destroying Philadelphia in World War Z, destroying Washington. That people didn't go to see this film signifies that Obama's "likeability," (that strange elusive quality the media is always cheering) is failing him and people aren't supporting him just as they didn't support this film.
In some important breaking news,...
The season 4 poster for AMC's hit series The Walking Dead. I have never seen an episode of the show, but Richard, one of the readers here, kindly wrote me, assuring me of the communism vs democracy metaphor of the show which I don't doubt for a moment. Let's just put it this way: it's in season 4, how remarkable is that? The reason to mention it is that it demonstrates how important to American culture zombies have become and the stakes being fought over in the encoding device which zombies provide to art (there is a part in the clip from DM2 that Gru warns Agnes to not "sound like a zombie," so zombies are even creeping into a film where there aren't any zombies).  
Pierce Brosnan's daughter has died of ovarian cancer, the same disease which killed her mother about 20 years ago. Christian Bale of The Dark Knight Rises with director/writer Christopher Nolan has finally announced he will NOT be the actor portraying Batman in the Justice League film which seeks to unite Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman and some other heroes in a Avengers-esque type film. That could be disastrous for the film right there, I mean, imagine if Robert Downey Jr weren't going to be the Iron Man in The Avengers 2, what would that do to the film? Lastly, The Hobbit the Desolation Of Smaug is still in production. Comic-Con is a huge avenue for the releasing of newest trailers and clips of upcoming films, but Desolation can't spare crew/cast to even make an appearance as they are filming/re-filming final scenes. Should we be worried? 
The White Orc, the killer of Thorin Oakenshield's father who decimated the great dwarf kingdom after the attack of Smaug the dragon. Have you noticed a trend in films as of late? Usually, there is just one villain, but more and more films present the narrative with numerous villains. What I like about the White Orc is twofold. First, it perfectly demonstrates how white symbolizes vice as well as virtue. We are used to correlating white with faith, purity, innocence, but a corpse turns white in death (because of modern morticians' skills, we aren't used to seeing the natural decomposition in bodies at funerals); symbolically, a person who lacks faith, purity and innocence is a corpse which we can definitely say of the White Orc. Secondly, the eyes. Where else do we see those eyes in The Desolation of Smaug? Orlando Bloom's elf character Legolas (see image below). In The Lord Of the Rings, we know Legolas is instrumental to defeating evil, however, he isn't interested in aiding the ancestral enemy of the elves in the film versions, putting him on par with the White Orc, which is very gutsy of the film makers to make a conceptual tie-in between a hero and villain in this manner.
No, I think director Peter Jackson is really quality-conscious and wants the two remaining films to be as perfect as possible, and that remaining filming is for the battle-heavy third installment for December 2014 as well. Really, I am nearly done with World War Z; the film did a great job of packing its symbols into the film, but what it's saying is so alien to me, it's like trying to learn a new language when you arrive in a foreign country and that's what's taking so long.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
About the start of December, I will put up the post for both JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey to refresh our memories for The Desolation Of Smaug. One item we will need to look for is the "conversion device" for Legolas, because his character will have to undergo a major attitude adjustment to overcome his "prejudice" or even, dare we say it? His racism against the dwarfs to reconcile his figure to the one we see in TLOR.