Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rush, Hercules & Riddick

"Everyone's driven by something." "Driving" and "racing" (the two major themes of the film) have been prominent lately: Fast and Furious 6, Turbo, Planes, Getaway, etc., have all featured and highlighted the world of racing; why? Whether it's in chariots or space crafts, the race always provides us with a spiritual metaphor of the hero (or the to-be-the-hero) character and we can say the same thing for chase scenes in general; look at it this way, if race/chase scenes were not important for communicating to the audience they would not be used continuously to communicate to us. In 2 Timothy 4:7, St. Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have run the race," and although there are many runners in a race, only one receives the prize; "racing" is competitive, BUT we don't compete with each other, we are competing for our eternal souls against the devil who will try to throw every obstacle in our path, trip us up, distract us, tempt us to indulge in a sin to make us lethargic so we don't want to run, etc., so that's the reason why, even amongst non-Christians, the metaphor of racing (again, in any kind of vehicle) is captivating because even those who have never run even a few steps in a spiritual battle, our souls recognize the calling and respond to it because it's inspiring, regardless of how spiritually dead we may be. In Ron Howard's Rush, however, we will probably be seeing the "rat race," a metaphor for capitalism, bigger, faster, better, more trophies, more wins, and for what? Capitalism is "driven" by the market, by our demands for goods that are always better and cheaper, and the film will probably include a healthy dose of "corporate sponsorships" and the evils of competition (racing brings out the worst in people, that's why competition needs to be done away with, like we will be seeing in the destruction of the arena in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).  Rush opens September 27.
Grandma has been sick; I am sorry, but the delays have been unavoidable. I do sincerely apologize. John, thank you for letting me know Pain and Gain comes out this week; after I get up The Mortal Instruments--nearly done--I PROMISE I will get Pain and Gain up; it was a great film and worthy of our 100% attention to it. I would like to take a quick moment (besides just letting you know that I am still alive and trying to get a post up) to discuss how Ron Howard's film Rush validates what we have been noticing and discussing,... the last year. Here is the first trailer:
As we know of late, not all the material we see in trailers ends up in the film, or material is edited in a certain way to mis-lead us regarding the direction the film will take. The only dialogue of this trailer is, "I feel responsible for what happened," and there is the reply, "You were." I AM GUESSING, the audience will not, by the end of the film, want to identify with either James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) or Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), because the worst aspects of capitalism will be the center of each character: Hunt will be the partying type who is naturally good but decadent, while Lauda will be that jerk no one likes because he's conceited. This is just a guess based on what has been released and director Ron Howard's background. Two clips have just been released today:
Now, what do we know about "rules?" Racing is a "game," so rules are designed--not to make the competition equal--rather, to give certain players the edge, for example, in racing, racers who are willing to risk their lives have the edge over racers who want to have safe races. "Play," on the other hand, is the creative interpretation of rules to create an advantage for yourself where an advantage wouldn't exist otherwise (the best example being David and Goliath, and David using his slingshot to kill Goliath in spite of David's small size and Goliath's gigantic stature). In the clip above, 5/8 of an inch doesn't make a car faster,... but it might not be about the car being faster, it might be about image, and the bigger car making a bigger image, because now, according to Hunt, his car is a monster, even though it's smaller. This isn't mentioned (something for us to delve into when the film opens) rather, what they do discuss, is why Lauda wanted the authorities to declare the car illegal: it meant Hunt lost the race and, therefore, Lauda won a race he didn't really win. So, neither character presents us with "desirable qualities" we would want to identify with or see upheld in our culture (at least at this point in the narrative).
Rush takes place in 1976; what other films have taken place in the 1970s? The Conjuring, Dark Shadows, Argo, and American Hustle (coming out December 25). With the exception of American Hustle, not yet released, but looking pretty-anti-American/anti-capitalist all ready, all these films depict America in a terrible light; why? America in the 1970s was economically prosperous, and we had terrible taste in clothes, so it's easy to mock someone when they wear bell bottoms and polyester and that is exactly what socialists do, just like schoolyard bullies. The appetites of James Hunt, above, will be easy to pinpoint: sex and fame with all the trimmings. Laudau will be small and vicious, probably, so that all the possible "virtues" of capitalism will be drowned out.
Hunt refers to Laudau as a "rat." Where else have we seen discussion of rats? Skyfall. The "last rat standing," as Bond called himself after successfully dispatching Silva at the end of Skyfall as a result of Silva telling the story about the rats all eating each other. I don't know that Ron Howard and the film makers knew about that scene in Skyfall (it seems like two years ago I saw the first picture of Rush in a magazine, but it's still possible), however, this serves as another perfect example of the "cross-dialogue" taking place between films, and different films utilizing the same themes to say different things. Now, here is the second clip released today; as Hunt talks about what his team wants him to become, develop, if you will, a mental image: 
What kind of image do you have? The mind of a monk, no sexual appetites, no outbursts, we have seen this kind of character in Seneg from World War Z, the androgynous Israeli soldier who works with Gerry (Pitt) and is saved from becoming a zombie when he cuts her hand off where a zombie bit her. From scenes in the film, we know Hunt is a man of appetites, and his crew want him to become focused. For Christians (and it's different in different denominations, like the Amish, Nazarenes, and Presbyterians, all allow or forbid different things) it's a tricky line. Original Sin was a giving into of the appetites, and our appetites became uncontrollable as a result, and the Ten Commandments are God's guidelines to help us keep control of our appetites; on the other hand, we also know (at least for Catholics, which I am) that God uses the appetites to lead us on our destiny, to reveal to us our gifts and talents. IF IF IF Rush is wanting to offer us a person devoid of their personality and appetites, beware, that's not what God wants us to be, that's what a socialist state wants us to be for then we are easier to control; just saying, if this comes up in the film, we need to be wary of it.
Now, here is a hero we can probably identify with: Hercules. Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, is currently filming Hercules: The Thracian War (not to confuse it with another Hercules 3D film coming out in May) and the synopsis has been released: "the ensemble-action film is a revisionist take on the classic myth set in a grounded world where the supernatural does not exist. Everyone knows the legend of Hercules and his twelve labors. Our story begins after the labors, and after the legend... Haunted by a sin from his past, Hercules has become a mercenary. Along with five faithful companions, he travels ancient Greece selling his services for gold and using his legendary reputation to intimidate enemies. But when the benevolent ruler of Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules' help to defeat a savage and terrifying warlord, Hercules finds that in order for good to triumph and justice to prevail... he must again become the hero he once was... he must embrace his own myth... he must be Hercules." Well, can we say there is a "war lord" in America right now, as we are on the brink of attacking a country that hasn't attacked us, so we can help the Muslim Brotherhood who took out the World Trade Centers? Hercules has a sin, and the nature of that sin will be important to his character, but Hercules is so big, it's fair (in fact, it would be idiotic to think any differently) that Hercules symbolizes America-as-a-super-power. Has America committed "sins?" Well, it's probably more accurate to say greedy corrupt leaders in American government have taken advantage of their powerful positions for purely selfish ends, not that the American people would support what was done if we knew about it, but we know things have been done, and we, as a country, must restore our neighbors' faith in us if we are to have a place of leadership in the world once again. We have all ready seen this kind of issue touched upon in Iron Man 3 regarding the Mandarin accusing the US of the Sand Creek Massacre, and the exact same incident being brought up again in The Lone Ranger. A photo of Hercules' helmet is terribly reminiscent of 300 and the Spartans helmets, and I don't doubt for a second, especially with 300: Rise Of An Empire coming out in March, that this mental note is not intentional.
Riddick, starring Karl Urban and Vin Diesel, opens this weekend; I don't expect it to do financially well, but this is a film that I think will reward us on the theoretical level. Here is the tagline: "Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick finds himself up against an alien race of predators. Activating an emergency beacon alerts two ships: one carrying a new breed of mercenary, the other captained by a man from Riddick's past." "Beacons" have been in several films lately, like Wreck-It Ralph (the viruses have to have a beacon to fly to so Ralph creates one in Sugar Rush), After Earth, (was there a beacon in Oblivion?) and Battleship. Keep that in mind for a moment, if you will; now, here is the latest trailer:
Let's talk crass capitalism here: the film makers, before they even hire the actors or directors or anything, read the script, and have to imagine how we, the potential viewers of the film, can be enticed to become the actual viewers of the film; in other words, what about Riddick (Vin Diesel) can we identify with or would we want to imitate? A character must either provide a catharsis, the releasing of our emotions and frustrations, or offer us an image of a cultural ideal, what we ourselves would like to become. So, does anyone feel they are living in a hostile world where everyone wants to kill them? If you are a conservative, Christian, patriot, then CNN and the White House think you are a terrorist, and instead of living in America, you are marooned on a hostile, destroyed planet where everyone hates you and wants to kill you, kind of like Riddick. The mysterious man from his past? Played by Karl Urban (the character of Vaako), and we'll see how this plays out, who is going to be Riddick's biggest enemy? Whatever the answer is, dear readers, I promise you, will be a major commentary on America's situation today; if it weren't, why bother to make the film and why should we bother to see it?
Well, what do we have here? Nothing. "Desolation" will be an important "character" in the December release of The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug, and we saw how important "desolation" was for Tony Stark (and will probably be for both Captain America and Thor) as well as for little Hushpuppy in Beasts Of the Southern Wild and even Jackie Robinson in 42, and Jack (Tom Cruise) in Oblivion (remember that desolate landscape?); why are film makers turning to desolation, and why should we care? We know, that even though we don't like to suffer, good comes from suffering, we are made stronger by it and God, in His Goodness, blesses us for enduring and being purged of our weakness. Liberals want us to hate suffering, so we run to the government in fear of being "in want" of something, like food stamps, cell phones and Obamacare, and we sign our souls away; Americans, though, have always shined brightest when it's darkest, and that's probably why Riddick can "see in the dark," because he sees the light, the Truth, the Good that comes from the spiritual darkness and so he knows there is a reason for it and that makes him stronger. Here is the longer synopsis of the film: "Betrayed by his own kind and left for dead on a desolate planet, Riddick fights for survival against alien predators and becomes more powerful and dangerous than ever before. Soon bounty hunters from throughout the galaxy descend on Riddick only to find themselves pawns in his greater scheme for revenge. With his enemies right where he wants them, Riddick unleashes a vicious attack of vengeance before returning to his home planet of Furya to save it from destruction."  (As a conservative, Tea Party, or Republican American, do you feel "betrayed by your own kind?"). Being "left for dead" means we have the theme of resurrection, just like in Iron Man 3, with the giant rabbit Tony gives Pepper, Pepper falling into the fiery inferno, etc., and Khan (and Kirk) being "resurrected" in Star Trek Into Darkness, Letty being resurrected in Fast and Furious 6, the "Necromancer" in The Hobbit (and those who left Riddick for dead are called Necromongers), General Zod coming out of the singularity in Man Of Steel, Logan "dies" in The Wolverine and Bond tells M he was "enjoying death" when she asks where the bloody hell he has been. Why? When this great number of films intentionally all say/talk about the same things, there is a reason for it. It's a foreshadowing of our own resurrection as Americans, giving us real hope that we are not buried and forgotten about, but that we, too, will get our country back, even if we have to pass through these trials of fire, which liberals can't do because it contradicts their entire "philosophy" of life and way of doing things. I don't know about you, but I would consider anyone from the Muslim Brotherhood or Al-Qeada to be a "bounty hunter" for us infidel Americans, and Obama just handing us over to them (the Necromongers in Riddick are a fanatic religious group who put to death anyone who doesn't convert to their religion; sound familiar?).  Now, is it "un-Christian" and/or un-American for Riddick to take revenge on his enemies? Well,.... we'll have to see exactly what he does, because there is such a thing as "poetic justice," and that cool machete trick Riddick does (around 1:40 in the trailer) might be a sign of just that: the knife of death being "balanced" on his foot (symbolic of his will) and then almost magically finding its mark on the jerk no one likes anyway. This is conjecture but it will give those of us seeing the film this weekend something to pay attention to and look out for.   
I am also looking forward to the animated Cloudy With A Chance For Meatballs 2 (talk about a movie about the appetites), however, I am not quite as confident about it now as I originally was. On a last note, we all ready discussed the film Battle Of the Year in depth, however, this featurette is quite amazing, psyching us up to see some pretty phenomenal moves and to heighten our awareness of dance-as-a-language (we have all ready discussed in BANG! The Artist & the New Agenda In Film [the silent film that won Best Picture last year] and in the Oscar-nominated documentary on choreographer Pina Bausch, Pina: Dance & Philosophy). I will be referencing this featurette again when we discuss the film:
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner