Thursday, September 26, 2013

R.I.P.D. &,... Indian Food?

With everything there is do do, and all the great movies I could be talking about, why talk about RIPD? It's not a good film--it's not even funny, and I'm pretty easy that way--but it does do three things we have seen in two really big films (World War Z and The Conjuring) and that's why we are going to take a quick minutes to discuss Indian food, the avatars for Roy (Jeff Bridges), Nick (Ryan Reynolds) and Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker) and Christianity in films.
First, Indian food. 
How can we say the film is anti-capitalist? We see Nick running after a really, really fat man who is gathering gold. Now, it would be possible to interpret this as a bloated centralized government (like Melissa McCarthy's character Diane in Identity Thief) going after gold like the Nazis going after the gold of the Jews as portrayed in Cowboys and Aliens, but Nick taking the gold he and his partner Hayes found in a drug bust and keeping it to help him and wife Julia have a worry-free financial future is intended to be a slam on the American Dream because they don't make enough; why not? Well, all we ever see Julia doing is running,... why? Well, she's French, so the government takes care of her so she has time to do whatever she wants, jogging. At least, that's what we are supposed to think. It's wrong, the film makes a point of saying, that Nick and Hayes take the gold--so unlike some films, this is NOT a case for wealth re-distribution--but it wants to make you realize that you can't be honest and financially secure; if you are secure in your finances, then you must be corrupt and stole it from someone else, which is why Hayes says he was going to get a speed boat, a luxury item. The only reason Hayes allowed Nick to take any of the gold (part of the staff of Jericho) was because Nick was there; Hayes intended on killing Nick the whole time, but used Nick to help him move it and then "got rid of him" once Hayes found out what Nick had done with "his share."  This is the purpose of the "notecard" questions asked when Nick and Roy approach a dead-o, they are questions like, can you eat chicken late at night on Ash Wednesday, because they associate religion with the appetites, even in the fasting religions like Judaism and Catholicism practice.

It's pretty obnoxious, actually, watching Roy gorge himself on Indian food, bits getting stuck in that awful goatee he wears; the reason he does it is because "dead-os" (the undead walking around earth pretending to be alive) have a reaction to Indian food that they can't hide; in other scenes, the dead-os sniff black pepper from a McCormick canister (yea, the kind you buy in the baking aisle at your local grocery store) and that reveals them to be dead. Why? Of all things, why Indian food and why black pepper? What do the two have in common?
The East India Trading Company.
The top photo is Roy driving after he and Nick have just met; the middle photo is a bit later in the same scene, and Roy looks at the bare ankles of a woman standing on the corner, after commenting that, in his day (the 1800s) the dresses were longer and, in the bottom frame, we see Roy and Nick as their respective avatars. In the image at the top, I think we all have to agree that is a most un-becoming and un-sociable way of sitting, with your legs spread apart as such. So why does he sit like that? Well, imagine him as his avatar and it makes perfect sense: he's depicting the masculinity of sexually promiscuous women. So, what this appears to be, is the promoting of lesbianism in a very under-handed way, and even homosexuality since, in the top image, he's spreading his legs out towards Nick. Later in the film, a guy--obviously attracted to Roy's avatar--approaches her about being in a music video and (s)he replies that (s)he is a woman not a piece of meat for him, however, in the scene depicted in the middle image, the anonymous woman who gets the once-over for her bare ankles is exactly that: a piece of meat for Roy. Why is this important? It demonstrates how poorly women really fare with socialism. The Democrats and liberals proclaim they are pro-woman and the conservatives (like myself who am female) are waging a "war on women" but I would much prefer to be a woman like Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3, or Jinx in GI Joe Retaliation--pro-capitalist films--rather than ANY WOMAN depicted in these pro-socialist films.
The EIC was run by merchants and aristocrats who became FANTASTICALLY wealthy from selling spices (like the pepper) to the rest of the world (please, recall, that Columbus sent in sail of spices because they were of such great value) AND the EIC was almost completely controlled by the merchants, not the government. When Nick's dead-o partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) sniffs the pepper, he turns into a dead-o; why? Capitalists can smell "money" in the spice of life (please see the caption under the main theatrical poster above for more on this topic). (In a different vein, in the animated film Planes, Dusty "falls for" another plane from India, and that film was definitely pro-America; I didn't understand the importance of it then, but it makes more sense now that Dusty [going after his American Dream] can see capitalists [like in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel] in India and the dreams fulfilled for merchants in India) and, in World War Z, recall that the intercepted message the Israelis got ahold of came from India saying they were fighting the undead, because the real "boom" economically, came during this time, the capital increased so much, they were able to afford more and more adventures and enterprises which fueled capitalism throughout the world). SO, the opportunity to make money is what "brings out the dead." Next point: the avatars.
Here's an interesting little detail devoted readers will appreciate: Roy's avatar's name is Opal Pavlenko, a Russian woman. Does that mean anything to you? It certainly makes the whole "Russia question" more perplexing. As we have discussed, Russia has an identity problem in American films: some films claim (as RIPD seems to do, by putting a Russian with a Chinese guy) that Russia really is STILL communist; other films claim that Russia has become so dedicated to capitalism that they are more of our ally than Great Britain who seems to be turning socialist. It's not, in other words, a clear-cut issue, however, given the extreme anti-capitalist bent of the film, RIPD probably interprets Russia as still being the Soviet Union and wants to portray communism as beautiful and sexy. Remember next week we will be watching Gravity (George Clooney, Sandra Bullock) and it's a Russian satellite that takes out the space station. Now, on a similar but different note, it's important that Nick is married to Julia because Julia is French, i.e., a socialist. In Madagascar 3, Expendables III, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (French music playing as Bill Hayes seduces George Smiley's wife), The Raven, Django Unchained and Moonrise Kingdom, France is associated with socialism and, in RIPD, Nick being married to Julia and him originally stealing the gold to "make a better life" for them, even though she doesn't want a better life, demonstrates the film's conviction that the American Dream is a set-up for evil and only the government can take care of you.
We discussed in the initial release of the trailers that Nick is portrayed as an "old Chinese guy" probably as a reference to the old Chinese guys who overthrew their government to become communist; Roy's avatar, the beautiful blond, probably references the glamorous Hollywood stars who support socialism. There is a far deeper perspective here, however, and it ties in little things we have been seeing: a advocating of the "unnatural." As we discussed in The Conjuring with a man playing the female witch Bathsheba, and a female dog portraying a male dog in the film, as well as the androgynous character Seneg in World War Z, socialists are all for flipping the "natural order" of male and female, and this is exactly what RIPD does.
Why Boston? It's not a place where many films are made, so it's an interesting choice. Proctor tells Nick they have the third largest volume in the "dark forest" (a reference to The Wizard Of Oz?) and that's probably because the history of Boston is so pro-capitalist (even while they tend to be liberal politically and socially) AND, like Philadelphia in World War Z, a traditional monument of American independence due to the Boston Tea Party, SO instead of associating Boston with American freedom and resistance to tyranny, RIPD wants us to associate Boston with dead-os the way World War Z wants us to associate the birthplace of American Independence--Philadelphia--with the outbreak of a pandemic zombie infestation. Clever, aren't they?
The men have female avatars (at the end, Nick's "new avatar" is a girl scout with a mouthpiece, more on this below) while Mildred (Mary-Louise Parker) has a black male doctor avatar. It might seem like a little detail to you, however, this irreverence for proper male-female identities (men having male avatars and women having female avatars), and the respecting of naturally bestowed sexual identity, is surpassing the status of trend and approaching epidemic status. Why? Traditional culture (i.e., non-socialist culture) identifies certain traits and job duties with male and female; socialist governments don't like that, the government wants to assign the job duties and doesn't want something like a "cultural stereo-type" to interfere with sending a woman to the front lines of a war socialists seem to always be declaring (like Seneg in World War Z being in the army). Further, we have certain basic individual identity factors as a result of our biological identity and socialists despise individuality, they don't believe it exists: you are an animal and you do what the government says, just like The Eternals in the film, leading us to our next and final point, the portrayal of Christianity in the film.
Why is Roy a cowboy? Of all the possible identities they could have chosen, why a lawman from the wild west? Well, we have seen Django Unchained and The Lone Ranger, both pro-socialist films, and I think the reason is an attempt to make us believe--as socialists always do in a country they are trying to take over--that America has ALWAYS been socialist and socialism is in our history when it's not. The wild west was filled with (often ruthless) gold-seekers and ranchers, looking to make it rich anyway they could; it was a lawless time, but it certainly wasn't socialist by no stretch of the imagination, unless you just don't know anything, and I don't think these film makers do. If Roy is a cowboy, and symbolic (or supposed to be) of America's past, why is Nick's "new" avatar of the little Girl Scout with the braces important? Well, what do you think of when you think of the Girl Scouts? Cookie sales? They are learning to be capitalists as they go door-to-door selling their goods, so they have to be re-written, absolved and given a new identity. Because the film is so much about appetites, that's why Nick's avatar has the mouthpiece, to correct his still faulty appetites. We can't deny, even though it's maybe a bit of a stretch, that there is a scary connection to Hitler's Youth here, that all youth programs must be taken over by the state and devoted to the state, not the individual, the way they are now.
At the start of the film, there is an afterlife, and Nick is clearly going to hell when Proctor saves him so he can have another chance and "do penance" in the "purgatory" of Boston. So far, this sounds like something with which Christians can identify with (I am a convert to Catholicism) BUT, like what we saw in The Conjuring, this is only a thin, deceptive veil. "The Eternals" are the big bosses who run the show by putting messages on long pieces of paper in a bucket and sending them via a slide down to Proctor who then reads the bad news and carries out orders. This is exactly how socialism works: The Eternals perfectly demonstrate a removed, inefficient and uncaring centralized government that makes bad decisions even as it refuses to realize that the right detectives are on the job; in theory, when someone inevitably makes contradictory statements (being pro-socialist while demonstrating what a terrible job a socialist government does) that's called "deconstruction," because it has taken apart its own arguments.
Kevin Bacon plays Hayes, Nick's corrupt partner who wears a St. Christopher bracelet to "protect him" from being revealed as a dead-o.  The St. Christopher medal is specifically Catholic, so when Hayes takes it off, he's revealed to be a monster trying to re-assemble the Staff of Jericho. Why is that important? Jericho was where the Israelites founded their homeland, they left the slavery of Egypt and found religious freedom worshipping God, THE SAME WAY PURITANS left the slavery of land laws in England and found freedom in Boston; yes, RIPD is advocating a return to slavery, plain and simple, and Hayes "raising the Staff of Jericho" is the banner of seeking out a land where you are not under the law of tyranny and you can worship as you see fit, i.e., the dead Hayes wants to bring back are the Founding Fathers, which is exactly what conservatives like myself do on a daily basis to liberals and Democrats who laugh at the Constitution. Again, it's a pretty clear picture being painted for us of what someone like myself appears to be for a liberal.
Christians know that we get abused like no other religious group, so it's not uncommon to see Hollywood bashing us; what's different is, the seeming compromise with Christianity, only to bash our faces in; why? I think this is a rouse, just like in The Conjuring, to make Christians think about what Christianity really is: according to socialists, Christianity sanctions stealing and lying, murder and paganism. There is never any mention of God in the film, so we know it's not really religious--like The Conjuring--rather, it's preparing us and forcing us to make a choice: are we going to abandon God and accept socialism, or are we going to fight for our religious liberty?
In conclusion, we haven't covered everything in RIPD--so if you see something you think means something, it probably did, but we don't have time to go into it here--and if you disagree with these interpretations, as always, I NEVER try to pass them off as authoritative, but to aid you with your own interpretations and interaction with the film. There are, however, numerous elements creeping up in films--seeming details--until you start realizing the patterns they establish and RIPD aides us in tracking down those elements so we can have a larger picture of the puzzle we are working with. Eat Your Art Out, The Fine Art Diner 

Sherlock Holmes 3 News

Jude Law as Dr. John Watson and Robert Downey Jr as
Sherlock Holmes star in Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows.
I don't know about you, but I have been waiting a long time to hear,... something. Finally, after Jude Law promised he would let fans know the minute he got the script for Sherlock Holmes 3,... he still doesn't have the script. However, he has revealed that he and co-star Robert Downey Jr. have had several meetings with Warner Brothers and everyone wants the film to happen and, Law predicts, it will be the BEST of the trilogy. Pretty exciting news for fans, uh? The problem appears to be--with no stretch of the imagination required--scheduling conflicts with RDJ filming The Avengers 2: The Age Of Ultron and simply not having time to squeeze in the third installment of Holmes until his part of the production end of Avengers 2 is complete. So, there is still no script, however, it is Drew Pearce penning the story,... who is Drew Pearce? He wrote a little film called Iron Man 3 and has completed the script for an action film called Mission Impossible 5.
It's in good hands.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, September 23, 2013

Gravity: Movie Of the Year???

It's been exceedingly difficult to discover the synopsis/plot outline for the film everyone seems to be making such a big deal about. What I have been able to glean, here, there and yonder, is that the film is divisive: you will either love it or hate it. You know me, my definition of "entertaining" doesn't measure up to what others deem as such, (not that I have seen Gravity, which opens October 4), but one viewer posting at IMDB.com has seen it and wrote:
I was super excited when I heard I got tickets to see this at a free 3-D screening. I am a huge sci-fi fan and I love movies that take place in space. I went in expecting what I had read in other reviews, a great sci-fi thriller. I guess I did not see the same movie as them. I saw a movie with almost nothing to go on except Sandra Bullocks emotions. It relies way too much on the viewer putting themselves in her shoes. She is an incredible actress but just showing her getting emotional and freaking out for an hour and a half is not a good movie. You barely learn anything about the characters. The ending is predictable. The only thing this movie has going for it is the visuals and the sound. The view of Earth and the shuttles and stations look great. This could have been a much better movie. I get that they were probably trying to make it very claustrophobic and wanted you to ride the same stressful and emotional roller coaster as Bullock but it's hard to do when you're sitting in a comfy chair on Earth and barely know a thing about her character. Don't expect an action packed thriller or even a smart sci-fi that makes you think and you might like it. Really, this movie is barely sci-fi. I'm glad I did not pay to see this. Bottom line: Fairly predictable, boring way too often, looks great. 
What are two other space films we could contrast with Gravity? Star Trek Into Darkness, a very triumphant film about America's presence in space and how space exploration contributes to our economy, identity, history and prestige. There is also Men In Black III, when the villain--Boris--attempts to destroy K by stopping the launch of a shuttle into space, i.e., the winning of the space race. On the other hand, there is also Prometheus, a very surprising film that wasn't negative about space, but how some people behaved regarding what was discovered because, the only real hope for Noomi Rapace's character is to go back into space to solve the riddle left at the end (Prometheus 2 is in the works). There are a number of other films taking place or referencing space (Oblivion and Elysium, for example) but Gravity has done something quite remarkable: it has made people who have only seen the trailer--reached people who won't even go see the film--and planted in their minds, "It's bad to be in outer space." So much can go wrong, and out of compassion for those "poor astronauts" I don't want this to happen to them, so I won't support space exploration,... That's a pretty impressive feat. Regardless of how much--or how little--Gravity brings in at the box office, if it succeeds in defeating Americans on the front of exploring in space, and making the decision to not go back into space seem like a prudent decision of good judgment, then it has accomplished a massive victory for all those who hate America.
But that reviewer is only a lay person; what about someone with more experience? Director James Cameron has called the film the best space film ever made, and has nothing but praise for Ms. Bullock, while Scott Mendelson, reviewer for Forbes.com has said the film might be one of the best he has ever seen:
Gravity is the most compelling, moving, frightening, and jaw-dropping cinematic concoction of the year. It is a glorious example of why we go to the movies and why the theatrical exhibition system is worth fighting for. It is a glorious counter-argument dropped square on the head of those who would proclaim the death of cinema, as it best encapsulates what the movies, movies seen on a giant screen in a dark theater, can do and what they can deliver better than any other art form. It is a glorious… well, it’s just plain glorious in every conceivable way, arguably as close to a perfect film of this scale that I can recall. Gravity isn’t just the movie of the year.  It may-well be go down as one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. 
This is where details of NOT having seen the film could alter this reading of the film that I have, because you and I both know that I have been wrong many times before. According to this reviewer, who also very much liked the film, Stone is trying to repair a "malfunctioning" part while Matt is about to break the record for time space-walking and, there is a third character out with them, Shariff (Paul Sharma). Matt breaking a record can easily symbolize that competition-streak in America we have noted before in films such as Moneyball, 42, The Internship and the scene that takes place about the "last Super Bowl" in Oblivion. Shariff might symbolize the role of "sheriff" America has taken in the world that anti-Americans despise us for because we stopped the spread of socialism in so many areas, even areas where those who hate America say we lost (such as North Korea and Vietnam). We know this is a "routine space walk" but we also know that the drastic changes forced upon America by Obama's Administration and Congress have been any thing but routine, even though they have tried to make it appear as such. These are elements and details that will create the message being conveyed to us by the film.
So, we have two, exactly opposing experiences of the same film; what do we make of it, dear reader? There are 4 details we might explore to understand the real "message" of this film: first, traditional symbolism involving the "ship" that is hit; second, the names and professions of both George Clooney's and Sandra Bullock's characters; third, what it is that hits the space station and, lastly, the running theme of films as of late, desolation. First things first. 
What is something we hear Matt (Cloony) say in the trailer? "Isn't it beautiful?" to Stone (Bullock). Where have we heard this before? Elysium, when a nun gives Max (Matt Damon) the locket of a picture of earth inside it, isn't the earth beautiful? Why would you want Americans destroying and polluting something so beautiful? You had better go with socialism (the message of films like The Lorax, Epic) so as not to destroy the earth because look at what capitalists do to it (Elysium and After Earth). THEN, the debris hits the station, causing chaos, so it's bad to be in space, because if we weren't in space, this couldn't have happened. We also see this same kind of logic employed in The Conjuring: there is a photograph of the day that saves Carolyn Perron from possession, when her family was out on a beach, public land, a beautiful place (an environmental message and a message against private property). Likewise, the Perron family buys a house and they also get a demon, so buying a house is bad, otherwise, you might get a demon, and giving kids toys--like dolls and music boxes--is bad because those can become possessed. We have been seeing this consistently throughout the last two years: socialists make a case for socialism based upon NEGATIVE experiences of capitalism that they take from isolated episodes into absolutes: if you buy a house, this will happen,... if you go into space, this will happen,... Because socialists don't have anything positive to say about socialism--they can't, after all, what are they going to try and say?--they instead tear-down capitalism and make it look evil. Again, I haven't seen Gravity, however, it seems to fit into a pattern of films we have seen that are pro-socialist by being anti-capitalist. 
Again, I have not yet seen the film, and it's difficult when there are only a few trailers and clips which keep repeating the same things. However, the traditional symbol of a "ship," (in this case, the space station ship) is that of the government (the "ship of state"), and women of child-bearing age (Bullock's character, and we know she all ready has a little girl) symbolize the "motherland" or America. Men, of middle-age (Clooney's character) symbolize the economy. So, what we have here, generally speaking, is a film about something coming out of nowhere to destroy the American government, hurdling the motherland and American economy out into the un-inhabitable stretches of outer space. To a lot of us, this sounds like a pretty accurate description of what Obama has done to America. But is that what the film is saying? This minor details makes all the difference in the "message" of the film: it's a Russian satellite that destroys the space ship.
We have said that Stone probably symbolizes the "motherland," and seeing her in the fetal position in trailer demonstrates that she herself is going to go through a "new birth" experiences of her own self as a result of what is happening. There is another element we see in the trailers supporting this: the tether cords. In Star Trek Into Darkness, we discussed two uses of tethers as "umbilical cord" symbols (one was at the start when Spock's tether snaps and he's stranded in an erupting volcano, the second is the fire hose Kirk throws into the engine of Kahn's attacking ship as Kahn tries killing all the Star Fleet commanders). In the openness of space, and the "life line" her tether is, and knowing she is a mother herself, it's easy to see the "umbilical cord" to the "mother ship" being destroyed and that throwing the audience into despair; why? How? As we have noted, the space station would be the government, so the government is our "life line" that we WANT to be dependent upon for our life's very necessities, in this case, air, food, shelter and a ride back home. Stone being a medical engineer PROBABLY references in some way Obamacare and the wide-spread, sweeping changes about to take place regarding the socializing of the health industry in America. Why would Matt be a engineer? Because in socialism, the centralized government "engineers" all supply and demand of products and services, rather than the free market, so IF this is a pro-socialist film--and I am not saying it is--it might demonstrate how the engineer is more important than the competitor trying to break a record. 
Because we have been detailing and journaling all that has been taking place in the dialogue of cinema in the last year, we know this is a highly ambiguous situation: some films consider Russia our ally (Madagascar 3, for example, or Oblivion; The Chernobyl Diaries, Rise Of the Guardians [North is definitely Russian], The Darkest Hour and The Avengers [Natasha Romanoff is Black Widow]) whereas other films consider Mother Russia to still be a threat (Red 2, A Good Day to Die Hard, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, Men In Black III, The Raven, Fast and Furious 6, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, etc.). What I personally think, is that capitalists tend to still be weary of the Russians, whereas socialists out and out despise Russians for "giving up on" socialism and abandoning it. Case in point: Arbitrage. 
This shot does a great job of illustrating the "umbilical cord" discussed above; the tagline, "Don't let go," emphasizes that it's a lifeline; why do this? We saw this in the animated film The Croods: the world is a harsh, harsh place, and no one can make it on their own, just as no one can live in space, so you have to have the government to protect you because you can't protect yourself. Please recall that the same basis was the storyline for the movie The Purge, when all emergency systems (government assistance) was suspended for a night so everyone could descend into anarchy (and The Purge 2 is being made). But we have also seen this EXACT OPPOSITE situation in The Dark Knight Rises: remember when Bruce Wayne was in The Pit, and he kept trying to climb out, but kept failing, then one of the men told him to climb without the rope because he would make then when he had more to lose? That "lifeline" was actually holding Wayne back from being able to achieve what he needed to accomplish. Again, I don't know which way for certain the film is going to go, however, this "umbilical cord" device has been encountered before and we will need to see how it's used by the film makers.
 It wasn't a film many people saw, but Richard Gere could have been nominated for an Oscar as a desperate businessman trying to sell a weak company to another businessman (please see Capitalizing On Imbalance: Arbitrage for more because we will be discussing the film again when I post on World War Z). In that, Robert, ends up blaming the "corrupt Russians" for his failed business enterprise, because if Russia were still communist, he couldn't have done business with them (not in those exact terms but, trust me, the film is definitely anti-capitalist). In Gravity, a Russian satellite explodes and the debris from that satellite is what damages the space station Stone and Matt work on.
We'll discuss our last point here: what do you see in this image? Not much, which leads us to the issue of "desolation" in the film. In the December release of The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug, we will be discussing this theme again, but in a positive way: Bilbo Baggins, like Hushpuppy in Beasts Of the Southern Wild, will experience "desolation" in his soul so he's strong enough to endure the test against the dragon, Smaug, and even in Keanu Reeves' 47 Ronin, his character will have to experience desolation, as well. Socialists hate this. Christianity has taught us that suffering, while it's not something any of us want, is something necessary for our souls and God brings good from our desolation and suffering. Socialists want us to be terrified of suffering so we will seek out the government to "save us" from suffering. In the image above, space looks pretty desolate, and Stone "detaching herself" from the space station is properly a warning for us not to detach ourselves from government assistance (more people are on food stamps now than ever). So there is probably going to be the simultaneous building up of fear of being "let loose" in desolation, while the film will be admitting that "desolation is necessary" to really implement socialism; case in point, World War Z. I would say that film presents a pretty desolate view of the world and billions of people being put to death; while WWZ is an attempt to condition us that people are going to have to die, so just get use to it, Gravity is probably going to say the same thing: things are going to get a lot, lot worse, when you have to drift further and deeper into space before you can be saved by the all-powerful government.
Because socialists hate the prestige and contributions to the economy space exploration has made for America (not to mention, winning the space race against the Soviets to land a man on the moon), a Russian satellite in space is PROBABLY (I could be wrong, I haven't seen the film) a sign of Russian capitalism and expansion; I don't know what caused the Russian satellite to explode--maybe just socialists willing it to explode--but a Russian satellite destroying this ship could be a foreshadowing of Russia's Vladimir Putin undermining Obama regarding both Eric Snowden, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and Assad in Syria. Is Russia wrecking what Obama is trying to do? The debris of the Russian satellite could actually be debris of a SOVIET satellite, that is, because of the debris caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union--what Americans learned about communism because of how it was practiced under the Soviet system during the Cold War--THAT knowledge of collapse has caused Americans to be leery (to say the least) of ALL forms of socialism and THAT is what is wrecking what Obama is trying to do in America. These are details to which I don't have the answers, but will be important in the film and the answers to which we must be alert. And for my last point,...
George Clooney plays Matt Kowalsky which, to me, sounds like Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) from Monsters University. Why MIGHT (and I am not saying it is, just possibly) the film makers want to make the connection between a character being portrayed by the "great" George Clooney and an animated monster? Mike is highly competitive in Monsters University, so much so that he makes competition look good; Matt is highly competitive, he is doing this space walk to set a new record, so besides the possibility that their names sound alike, they have that important characteristic they share. Socialists hate competition because they want everyone to be mediocre; why? So no one will feel they have a "gift" and deserve special attention, everyone is equal (really so no one will overthrow the government because no one is smart enough to).  Again, I haven't seen the film yet, however, it's possible that we will be able to make this connection between the two films.
The names. Sandra Bullock portrays Dr. Ryan Stone. "Ryan" for a woman's name is not a common practice (I had a female cousin named Ryann but they named her that because it was so different); so why is giving a lead female a male's name important? Well, I noted in The Conjuring that the female witch Bathsheba was actually portrayed by a man, and the female dog Sadie was actually portrayed by a male dog; we also have the highly androgynous character of Seneg from World War Z who we know absolutely nothing about except she's supposed to be a she. Socialists don't like gender separation, they want everyone to be the same, so women don't object to serving in the military, and men don't object to staying home and raising kids, etc. This is the main reason why the Obama Administration supports gays, not because of any compassion, but because they want to promote effeminate men (as with Armie Hammer's portrayal of The Lone Ranger) and masculine females (Seneg in World War Z) because it destabilizes the social and political power base, making it easier to take over a society and destroy the traditional family arrangements so the government can raise the children. It's possible that this isn't the case, however, I bet we see more of this happening, rather than less. 
Mendelson at Forbes.com is predicting Gravity makes a huge box office haul; it cost $80 million to make, so it shouldn't take too long to make that back (unlike The Lone Ranger and even World War Z with their bloated budgets and poor box office returns). It's generating so much buzz, it's all ready being considered an Oscar contender for Bullock, so, we will see what happens October 4. Eat Your Art Out, The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Post Update

David and Goliath by Caravaggio; the head of Goliath was actaully the artist's self-portrait because there was a price on his head for a murder he had committed, and Caravaggio did this painting in hopes that the Cardinal whom it was for would pardon his crime so he could return to Rome.
I have had a headache for three days now.
I am sorry.
I still have it.
I feel like one of those cement blocks has been sitting on my head and I can't get it off. I have, however, significantly updated the post 3 Davids, 3 Theologies: Donatello, Michelangelo & Bernini which includes extended discussion on every element of all the pieces, as well as discussion on the work by Caravaggio pictured above, that had not been included previously.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trailer: 47 Ronin, Batman-Superman Film Update

Out on video this week, Star Trek Into Darkness. If you haven't seen it, why on earth not? The film is absolutely amazing and I couldn't have been more thrilled with director JJ Abrams' creation, making him a perfect choice to direct Star Wars 7. STID was so thoroughly important, we did two posts on it: the primary post on the film was The Enemy Of My Enemy: Star Trek Into Darkness and a complimentary post, Science-Fiction & Westerns: Genre Analysis since so many sci-fi films are being done (like the upcoming Enders Game with Harrison Ford and Thor, instead of more westerns). And, sadly, speaking of sci-fi films, Brad Pitt's World War Z sequel is all ready in development,...  
Josh Brolin of Men In Black III & Gangster Squad.
Well, this certainly solidifies some details.
Mr. Josh Brolin has verified that, at some point in casting Batman for the upcoming Batman-Superman cross-over film, to be produced (and written?) by Christopher Nolan, directed by 300 and Man Of Steel maker Zack Synder and co-starring Henry Cavill (Clark Kent, Man Of Steel), he was being considered for the role and it has been confirmed that filming will be done in metro Detroit,.... what does that tell you? Ben Affleck, who has secured the role and national disdain for his casting in the iconic role, is (like Mr. Brolin himself) a known and vocal liberal; so that two liberals (Brolin and Affleck) were both being eyed to play billionaire Bruce Wayne (because Wayne Manor comes with the cape) and that Detroit will be the locale makes it look like a very different film from the Christian Bale Batman Trilogy completed with Nolan (what is confusing, however, is that reliable sources reported that Bale was offered $60 million to reprise his role; this doesn't mean the script is written, filming doesn't start until 2014; it's possible that depending on Bale and who they went with will decide plot details of the film; at least, that's my bet at this point).
Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad and Argo (with Affleck) was rumored to be in the running to play Lex Luthor, originally portrayed in the 1980s films by Gene Hackman; Cranston has denied the rumors, which included that he was signed to "make six films" as Luthor. Why is all this important? Like we have mentioned before, the early 1980s was a tight time during the Cold War, and the heroes who fought and defeated communism then are being resurrected to defeat communism today, which includes the "man of steel" Superman and his arch-rival Lex Luthor. Who the villain is will be tantamount to the film, especially since there have also been rumors that it's a Batman vs Superman film, that is, two American, iconic super heroes who fight against each other, rather than with each other. Now, that would be different, but would it be good? Would it be beneficial to see these two Americans turn against each other and use their powers to destroy one another? Well, that's called "civil war," and many people believe that the Obama Administration has brought exactly that to this country with his politics, so as details begin to emerge about the film, these are the issues we will have to be thinking about.
Why does this matter? Because this is what art does. Artists are those who say what can't be said because the language of art is encoded, so they can use their gifts and talents to create scenarios that reveal ourselves to us, the situations in which we find ourselves--like the state of the country right now--and why, what makes us the way we are, etc. Reader response theory is something we have discussed before; namely, that we are viewers of the film enter the theater with knowledge of the outside world, events and people and other films; we know that Ben Affleck is a liberal , so when we see him playing Batman, that is going to be infused into out understanding of his character, which is probably what Nolan and Synder want us to be thinking about when we see Affleck because of what they are going to do with the character, especially if filming will take place in bankrupt Detroit, rather than New York City or Washington DC. These are angles to consider in this development--not to mention that Nolan's next project, Interstellar, will probably somehow pave the way for Batman-Superman--and I will keep you posted. 
I don't know who/what this character reminds you of, but it reminds me of the "Silent Brothers" in The Mortal Instruments City Of Bones. There is sure to be something super-natural about this breed of villain in Keanu Reeves' newest film, 47 Ronin coming out in December. The official synopsis for the movie runs: that Kai (Reeves) was cast out of the samurai because he was a half-breed, then a evil lord killed their master and brought ruin to the land, disbanding all the samurai. Oishi then brings them back together to undo the damage that has been done. Now, with this character we see in this image above, there are four levels presented to us for contemplation: there is the gun (as opposed to magic, which plays a role in the film), there is the flesh, there is the tattooed muscle, sinew and bone and there is the demonic, as in the "ghost" or specter on the right shoulder. I don't know enough about the film to say a whole lot about it at this point, however, just what we glean from the trailer below, we can say that the four elements give us a "road map" of what we will be seeing in the narrative: there are weapons (the gun) because a real, tangible fight must take place; there is the muscle and bone, the face of death (the skull tattooed onto the face) because there are "mountains of corpses" from the innocent who die, yet there is also the spiritual death which Kai goes through so he won't fear the enemy of his people. Then there is the supernatural element, the magic which demonizes the enemy (symbolized by the great dragon in the trailer below) which is counter-balanced by eternity (the tagline is "seize eternity"). Again, I don't know enough about the plot to really deduce anymore, however, the entire film is probably all ready plotted in this one poster, making it easier for us to keep track of elements and organize our reading of the film and its message.
I'm not a big fan of Keanu Reeves, but I am a big fan of Japanese horror films which focuses more on the strange cracks and breaches of our relationships with others, rather than gore and violence. 47 Ronin, due out Christmas Day, is obviously passionately done, and I am a fan of that as well. Just part of my laziness and, yes, I will admit it, snobbery, the trailer has been out for awhile but I haven't watched it until I was forced to this weekend at Riddick and, I confess, I am FINALLY excited about something opening in December other than The Hobbit:
"Those who have enslaved you have taken over our land,"... what does THAT sound like? "The enemy will be watching," does that sound like the NSA to you? "Your life belongs to us," and what does THAT sound like? I might be jumping the gun,... but when the American public has become enslaved to food stamps and unemployment, and a person's life belongs to the state that has seized power after killing the rightful masters (the founding fathers and Constitution), I don't think any of that sounds like capitalism or America as we know it, especially when the guy saying someone else's life belongs to him wears yellow.
Why is yellow important?
What an excellent image. First, who hangs upside-down? As far as I know, bats, i.e., vampires. Secondly, what does the two different eye colors mean? We will have to wait until the film for exact details, however, we know the eyes are the windows of the soul and illustrates how a character sees the world; one blue eye might be a reference to partial blindness, and a mis-calculation this character makes in the film because she doesn't "see accurately." What does green denote? As we have all ready discussed in Maleficent Starring Angelina Jolie opening next spring, green either invoked hope and new life (because spring is the time when the earth turns green with new life after winter) or it invokes something that has rotted and decayed, decadence (and Maleficent herself is dominantly depicted in green). It's possible that "hope" and "change" or new life is what this evil sorceress was promising, but has delivered corruption instead. Green isn't the only similarity with Disney's upcoming Maleficent: both films also have dragons, along with The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug and next year's Godzilla (all reptiles, which dragons basically are, fall into the category of "dragon," especially when they are as big as Godzilla, the "king of the monsters").  Why are dragons important? They are ancient, and being as such, invoke the Serpent in the Garden Of Eden, or Satan and mankind's Original Sin. Dragons are showing up a lot lately (we have seen "reptiles" in films like the Beasts Of the Southern Wild and the alligator that is shot; the "lizard aliens" from Battleship; lizard villain and mentioning of Godzilla in The Amazing Spider Man, and Godzilla being mentioned in The Cold Light Of Day; there is a giant lizard in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and a "lizard" appearing as a Tacodile Supreme in Cloud With a Chance For Meatballs 2; there is the "reptile fund" mentioned by the socialist traitor in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Mickey Rourke's villain wears a "lizard-styled helmet" in Immortals; Tim Burton's Frankenweenie is a Sparkysaurus and there are the giant invading reptiles in Pacific Rim not to mention the scorpion-like lizards we just saw this weekend in Riddick. Why is keeping track of this stuff important? It details a dialogue taking place between films, that different narratives are "weighing in" on issues being brought up by other films, so when we keep seeing the same things over and over (like dragons) we know that's not only an important symbol in the film, but a symbol being invested with contemporary dialogue to which we should be paying attention.
Yellow is the color of gold (especially in the scene above with the golden robe the evil Lord wears) and it denotes kingship, because only a king (a monarch) is able to afford gold (because gold is the most valuable substance on earth and gold doesn't tarnish so a king/monarch is not supposed to be able to tarnish either, it's a standard of leadership). On the other hand, cowardice or corruption can also be denoted by gold because a king is supposed to go first into battle to rally his troops, instead of staying behind or ordering others to do what he won't do (say, like with Obama taking credit for killing Osama Bin Laden when he wasn't the one who killed him, the Seals were) or when someone is supposed to be truthful and isn't (the gold has become tarnished), so gold can then be understood as "what should be, but isn't" and only about 10% of the American public still trusts the government right now. I could be wrong about all this, I am sometimes, but this is shaping up to be a good film, so far thus, and I am anxious to see it.  Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, September 7, 2013

An Obituary For the American Middle-Class

I don't get validation nor vindication very often; it's nice for my ego, I won't lie, but most importantly--and I mean this sincerely--I want you to be able to trust me; I don't ask that you agree with me and my interpretations, rather, that what I am writing her solely for your edification, will not backfire and you feel I am somehow trying to "swindle" you into believing something simply because it's my own political position. This article, which I am merely cutting and pasting, and highlighting a few key words (in other words, emphasis added is all mine) is entitled An Obituary For the American Middle-Class, by Michael Lombardi, of Yahoo! Business News Dept., September 7, 2013 (quoted in entirety):


"It’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about…
The middle class in the U.S. economy is on the verge of collapse. Yes, I said collapse. That social class that once helped the U.S. economy grow and prosper is coming apart. Will the U.S. economy ever be the same without it or is this the new norm?
Here’s why it’s important to you.
The middle class helped the U.S. economy (following World War II and up until the credit crisis of 2008) by buying goods and services they needed or wanted. They bought cars, TV sets, furniture, appliances, clothing, computers, and flashy gadgets. In simple terms: they spent money.
The spending by the middle class resulted in American companies selling more, making more, and hiring more people to meet consumer demand.
Businesses then took their profits and invested in new projects and built more factories. This is how cities like Detroit flourished.
But where does the middle class of the U.S. economy stand now?
Signs of trouble for the middle class of the U.S. economy actually started to surface at the start of the new century, but it wasn’t until the financial crisis when the middle class in the U.S. economy really started to deteriorate.
Today, the middle class is not buying or spending like it once did—and this is not by choice.
The collapse of the housing market in the U.S. economy has taken a devastating toll on the middle class in this country.
While the media and politicians keep telling us the housing market has turned the corner and is healthy again, the delinquency rate on single-family residential mortgages at all commercial banks in the second quarter of this year stood at 9.41%—that’s 558% higher than the delinquency rate in the first quarter of 2005. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed September 4, 2013.)
If there was such a survey, my bet is it would show middle managers in the U.S. economy are making considerably less today than they did before the financial crisis. And retail sales in the U.S. economy show this. The middle class is moving from mid-tier retail stores like Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE/M) to low-end retailers like the Dollar General Corporation (NYSE/DG).
When presenting his company’s second-quarter earnings, the chairman and CEO of Dollar General, Richard Dreiling, said, “Dollar General delivered another solid quarter. Our same-store sales growth for the second quarter of 2013 accelerated to 5.1%. We are very pleased with the increase in customer traffic in our stores. We continue to grow our market share and believe that our second quarter results position us well to deliver our financial outlook for the year.” (Source: “Dollar General Corporation Reports Record Second Quarter 2013 Financial Results,” Dollar General Corporation web site, September 4, 2013.)
Unlike Dollar General, the executives from Macy’s complained about slower sales in the U.S. economy. (Mind you, Macy’s isn’t the only middle-of-the-road retailer complaining about customer demand.)
This is all happening because the middle class in the U.S. economy is actually earning less, which is something the politicians are not talking about.Since the beginning of 2000, the rate of change in real disposable income per capita in the U.S. economy (that’s disposable income adjusted for inflation) has been declining.
In the first quarter of 2000, the 12-month rate of change in real disposable income per capita was up 3.2%. In the first quarter of this year, the same statistic was in negative territory—and there was no change in the second quarter. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed September 4, 2013.) The incomes of Americans are actually declining, contrary to what you’d see in periods of economic growth.When you look at all this, it’s easier to see why cities like Detroit went bankrupt and others are following in its footsteps after registering budget deficits year after year.
Albert Eisenstein said it perfectly: “Insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.” We heard from politicians after the financial crisis that they are working to bring growth to the middle class of the U.S. economy. It hasn’t happened. Specifically, I’m talking about how this money printing by the Federal Reserve has failed to help the middle class in this country.Back in the day, the middle class was the backbone of the U.S. economy because they felt secure; jobs were plentiful and they saw rising incomes.
As it stands today, the U.S. government and our central bank is working to bring “calm” to the deteriorating middle class by keeping interest rates artificially low and by printing trillions of dollars in new money to save them. But unfortunately, the newly created money is finding its way to the big banks that, instead of taking the money and lending it the middle class using softer lending practices, are investing in the stock market. And interest rates, despite the Fed’s actions, are rising quickly.
I wrote during the financial crisis that the devastation from the crisis was so severe that America would be forced to become more like Europe, where the middle class disappeared and there are only the rich and the poor now. That’s a forecast I made five years ago, which with each passing day, unfortunately, comes closer to fruition.
What He Said:
“Starting two years ago I was writing how the housing boom would go bust and cause the U.S. economy to suffer sharply. That’s exactly what is happening today. From what I see happening in the U.S. economy, I’m keeping with the prediction I made earlier this year: By late 2007/early 2008, the U.S. will be in a homemade recession. Hence, I expect housing prices to continue declining, soft auto sales, soft consumer spending, and a lower stock market.” Michael Lombardi in Profit Confidential, August 15, 2007. You would have been hard-pressed to find another analyst predicting a U.S. recession in the summer of 2007. At the time, the stock market was roaring, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting what was then its all-time high of 14,164 in October of 2007."


Sadly, I couldn't have said it better myself. Please note, the emphasis on the American economy riding on the middle-class-as-consumers since that important date, the end of World War II. The financial crisis, beginning in 2008, has not let up and America is turning into a European styled country, with no middle-class, i.e., a socialist country. Why am I posting this? As we have discussed numerous times, the role of art is to show culture a mirror-image of itslef, to reveal what is happening, what should be done, what should not be done, and the intensity of this dialogue in films today is the real reason why have such a super-abundance of amazing films: socialism and capitalism are issues Hollywood feels very strongly about, and it's the focus of every single film being released; why? Not only is our identity as a country being destroyed, but our individual identities, our hopes, dreams and ambitions being eroded right from under us: Americans have no faith nor confidence in the future, and of all nations, of all peoples who have always had faith and confidence, it was America, but not now.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Walking Dead... Now For Scholars


New season begins October 13.
I know there are quite a few of you who are fans of the TV zombie series, and now you can get scholarly feed back and join others in interpreting the extremely successful show. Beginning October 14, the day after the first show of the new season, the University of California, Irvine, in conjunction with AMC, will be offering a massive, free online course entitled Science, Society, Survival: Lesson's From AMC's The Walking Dead. An interdisciplinary team of teachers will be teaching on various topics, including physics, mathematics, health services and social sciences for eight weeks (each Monday), ending December 2. Those interested in enrolling can click here to go directly to the site for more information. On another note,...
Please read this post.
Not for me, for you, regardless of what you think of the film, there are some great things going on intellectually and the film presents us with tools that you are going to be able to utilize in all films to engage with them on a deeper level, so even if you just skim over the upcoming post, at least read the first couple of paragraphs because you will be seeing those scenes used in other films (because they have all ready been used in so many films).  
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Transformers 4: Age Of Extinction

Rock and sand surround the numeral 4 on the left, with part of a Decepticon mask on the right showing through the landscape. This might seem a silly question, but trust me, that's never stopped me before: is the sand "hiding" the Decepticon mask, or is the mask coming unburied, maybe through the action of the wind? This would involve, once again, dear readers, the theme of resurrection we were just discussing yesterday with Riddick to be released this weekend (please see below for discussion on Transformers 4 filming in Monument Valley and more on the theme of desolation). If the Decepticon mask is in a state of being buried and forgotten, then someone will intentionally be going to look for it, someone who will be a prime mover (in Aristotelian terms) of the film's events, OR--as the trailer for The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug tells us--evil always reveals itself, and the Decepticon mask might, like the White Orc, be revealing itself in the same manner. Now, we have also had this discussion before, two years ago, regarding films like Halloween and Nightmare On Elm Street: why do the villains never die? Why do they keep coming back, regardless of how you kill them? We see the same "invincible" evil in GI Joe Retaliation with both Cobra Commander and Storm Shadow (come on, even Storm Shadow totally should have died at the end of GI Joe, frozen in that Arctic water?). Evil doesn't die, not because it is invincible, but because, one, we require it to further advance in virtue and, two, that evil depicted is always the evil all ready in us, lurking in the dark, remote places of our soul and mind.  Even in films that aren't made by Christians, or have a particularly Christian theme to them, the hero always has to overcome his own weakness, his own sin (like Hercules: The Thracian War for next summer) and until he does so, he doesn't have power to vanquish the evil because only the strength of virtue can vanquish the slavery to evil. So, that's why the Decepticons still haven't died, so new heroes can find new virtues within themselves and rise to new challenges and be a new source of inspiration to us in our own lives. How can we know this is what the film will do? Look, if you will, at the "4" in the poster above: there is a part of it that is shiny (virtue), in spite of the part of it obviously corroded (sin), whereas the Decepticon mask we can see is dark and corroded. The rest of this discussion, and there is more, is continued below in the caption for the Monument Valley photo.
Perhaps you are not a fan of the Transformers; I don't blame you, really, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't start taking notice now: the Transformers franchise is the 12th highest grossing of all time, which includes films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Twilight and The Lord Of the Rings. As we have said many times before, Americans vote with their dollar: if a film "doesn't mean anything," or doesn't mean something meaningful to Americans, they don't waste their money seeing it. By the very nature that the films have been so fiscally successful draws our attention to the future of them and how this film, subtitled The Age Of Extinction, is going to contribute to our cultural dialogue. "Extinction" is quite a serious subject, so  
So, what happens in the film? They haven't released much, as of yet, but we do know that Shia LeBeouf will not be returning, rather, Mark Wahlberg will play the lead and Stanley Tucci has also joined the cast; we do know, from casting information, that Wahlberg's character's daughter is an important part of the plot, and she has a boyfriend who is a race-car driver,... well, imagine that; quite a bit of the film will take place in Chicago, four years after the events of Dark Side Of the Moon. The three leads of the film have been contracted for three films. Likewise, Dinobots (robots that transform into dinosaurs, like a T-Rex) will be returning as is director Michael Bay. There was a rumored storyline floating online, however, that has been dismissed. It would take someone who really doesn't like movies, or someone who hasn't watched a film in at least two years, to not notice how incredible the quality of films coming out of Hollywood have been; there have been some bad ones, without a doubt, however, there have been some truly amazing films, and that appears to be continuing. Why? When critical events strike a culture, it's the artists who tell us what is really happening, how we should react, how it effects us and what it's doing to our culture; because of the turmoil wrought by the Obama Administration, films are desperate to tell us who we are and why we are who we are and what is happening to us and what we need to do about it. I have no doubt that a film about cars will reflect what has happened to the American car industry; if you don't think Detroit, Motor City, declaring bankruptcy is a big deal, you probably don't think about much. In some way, either by the absence of "American" cars in the film (they are all supposed to be aliens, but come on, we know an American muscle car when we see it) or by cooler, foreign cars being the ones who catch our eyes, like the Bugatti Veyron (the fastest street-legal car in the world) or a Chevy Corvette Stingray concept car to make us swoon with excitement, not only cars--and America's place in that international super-market--but gas, will play an important role: are they Obama's Volt cars that run on electricity? Doesn't sound like it, so are they going to run out of gas because gas prices are so high? Possibly. These are all possible themes which a film about cars and racing could introduce to reflect our real, day-to-day lives in spite of how fantastic the story line might appear to be on the surface.
2015 will be yet another epic year for films: Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales, The Aveners: Age of Ultron, Terminator 5 (Christian Bale), Marvel's Ant-Man and Black Widow both get a film, Avatar 3, Alice In Wonderland 2 (the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp venue), Independence Day 2, Kung Fu Panda 4, National Treasure 3, Prometheus 2, Snow White and the Huntsman 2 (Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart, yes, they decided to bring her back,...), Star Wars 7, that Batman-Superman film, Taken 3 (Liam Neeson), The Black Hole (AWESOME!!! That old 1980s Disney movie, that will be so cool!!!), The Purge 2 (well, I knew there would be a stinker) and others. You might be saying, why so many sequels? As we have discussed, with a sequel, a character has to become "more developed," they have to make more choices, and the more choices they have to make, the more of the film makers' values will be revealed, as opposed to a first time film where they can get away with a more "shallow" character, the repeated decisions a hero has to make re-enforces their beliefs and strengthens (or weakens) the viewer's bond to them. So, it's really difficult making a sequel because film makers have to put "more of themselves" into the film and the audience might not like that,... 
Look familiar? If you have ever seen a western, you've seen Monument Valley, Utah, where filming has all ready started for Transformers 4: the Age Of Extinction. What else do we see? We could say, nothing, and be accurate. Just as we were discussing yesterday the important role "desolation" has been playing in narratives as of late, so there is abundant desolation in such a location as this (especially when an isolated location with no real signs of human habitation is contrasted against a city scape). Comparing the official film poster at the top with this image, we can say that we do see lots of dirt/sand. Why? Of all the decorative and endless possible backgrounds for the first impression poster of a $165 million film, why choose sand to set the stage and tone? Because nothing grows in sand. Just as we saw Riddick (Vin Diesel) walking through a desolate, sand-blown alien landscape in yesterday's post, now we are seeing two symbols (the 4 and Decepticon mask) of a forthcoming film emerging from/sinking into sand, and it could be a struggle, one rising as the other sinks. Anyway, nothing grows in sand: from the point of virtue, it's not that virtue "grows" in sand, rather, as the earliest ascetics knew, you retreat into the desert because evil can't hide in the desert (I could really turn this line of analysis into a tangent, but I won't). Evil can be purged when someone isn't being distracted by other things, and when one isn't being distracted, one is free to become more of yourself, like Riddick who becomes stronger being on the deserted, alien planet. Virtue becomes stronger, but evil is revealed to be truly evil, the glamor or power or allure--whatever you want to call it--is stripped away in the harsh environment and it can't stand up to the elements or defeat a virtue that has been made stronger through being purged of weakness.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner 

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