Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Exodus, Non-Stop, Welcome To Yesterday

Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Out Of the Furnace) stars as Moses in Exodus. The question many will ask me is, "Why remake a film like The Ten Commandments? There is no possible way Scott's can compare to DeMille's, so why even bother?" and the answer is, even DeMille's was a remake of his earlier 1923 silent film that can't compare to his later effort. A second answer is, many people today are not familiar with The Ten Commandments of 1956 (Charlton Heston, Yul Brenner). Case in point: about two weeks ago, a friend has asked about the "angel of death" and I made some reference to the 1956 film and she had never even heard of it; I loaned it to her, and she still hasn't watched it. Another answer is that the Hebrew's bondage and slavery does, in some way for film makers, embody a message they hope to convey to audience members today (remember, please, that historical films are NEVER about history: they are always about the here and the now, the historical is a mere vehicle in which to encode the message to discuss ourselves with metaphors). 
Ridley Scott's Exodus is due out December 2014 and they have released the first still depicting star Christian Bale as a pampered member of the Egyptian royal family overseeing the Hebrews working in slavery. By all appearances, Scott's telling of the story of Moses--at this point--seems to be following the Biblical account (unlike Noah starring Russell Crowe directed by Darron Aronofsky). I will be the first one to most humbly admit that I was utterly wrong about Scott's last film, Prometheus, and delightfully so (please see The Great Betrayal: Prometheus & the Death Of the Father for more) so I hope this one will be a wonderful, big-budget extravaganza that will be a part of the Christian canon.
I did manage to see Frozen, and I am horrified: talk about a love letter to Obama. There is a regrettable degree of the "unnatural" taking place in liberal politics, and it extends all the way from gay marriages and pedophilia to snow men walking around in summer and snails who can race at the Nascar (the animated film Turbo). Who, like Queen Elsa pictured, has been "concealing something" from the people over which they are ruling? Obama. Elsa has frozen everything and keeps herself locked inside to conceal her unnatural power, while Obama had $4million spent sealing his records from public view. Anna, the little sister, is just like the mad disciples of Obama, but also the future generation of Marxists who have had their memories erased and don't remember the painful lessons (like Anna) only fun. Like other anti-family films (World War Z), Frozen demonstrates that a big family is a burden and there should be a limit on the number of children allowed but a quick reference to Joan of Arc suggests that, like The Conjuring, Frozen hopes to rope in Catholics for support with a shallow nod to the Church. I just hate spending my money on pro-socialist films, which is why I still haven't seen Saving Mr Banks, American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty or The Wolf Of Wall Street. I know, I know, I need to see them, I just don't want to. Ugh.
Due out in February is Liam Neeson's next action film: Non-Stop.
Non-Stop will provide an excellent chance for me to test out my reader response theory: audience members know Julianne Moore is a liberal, and seeing her in a villainous role (she almost certainly has something to do with the problems on the plane) might be film makers using her to make a statement about their statement; what statement? Well, ask yourself, is there anyone who is trying to save the country but being accused of trying to destroy it? The Tea Party.
Julianne Moore stars as Jen Summers in Non-Stop. Those black-rimmed glasses are not attractive on her, so we must deduce there is another reason for her character wearing such obnoxious eye pieces: so we will see as she sees. No one is supposed to know that an Air Marshal is on board, it helps protect the passengers and the agent himself. Do the glasses emphasize that she "sees" something she's not supposed to? Are we supposed to "see" something about her that we are not, at first glance? In reader response criticism (which was developed in literature, but applies to films because both are dependent upon narratives) the reader/viewer is recognized to exist in a dynamic world, that is, a world where they are watching and reading a multitude of other narratives, including, narratives carried on by cell phone texting (which becomes its own narrative within the larger narrative). So reader response recognizes that readers/viewers have a life, we have read other books, we have seen other movies, we have been on planes and we use our cell phones to send text messages, and by recognizing that we do that, it taps into our own experiences and we are thereby able to enter into a deeper relationship with the characters because we have shared experiences with them (as opposed to, for example, Tony Stark, whose billionaire lifestyle most of us do not share, neither his ability to put on an Iron Man suit and defeat aliens). So that's one facet of reader response theory; another is that we know who the actors are. Let's say it was announced that Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie were going to make a film together; what would you think about that? Regardless of what the film was about, viewers would really be thinking about Brad Pitt the whole time, and the "sub-narrative" of the Pitt-Aniston marriage-break-up and the Pitt-Jolie-marriage that hasn't taken place, to put it lightly. It works the same way with their stars' politics. We know certain actors are more vocal and liberal than others--George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, for example--and when we see them, we can't help but also see their causes and what they have identified themselves with; directors and other film makers in Hollywood know this even better than we do and there are times (Alfred Hitchcock was the master of this technique) when they will employ it to make the most of certain elements of their film; the question is, knowing Ms Moore to be a liberal, will that play a role in her role in the film?
The Tea Party has established itself as a kind of "political sheriff" regarding the activities of politicians going against the Constitution and even the wishes of their constituency. Like most vehicles, the airplane easily translates into a "ship of state" with the rightful marshal (Neeson) being mistaken for the hijacker (just like liberals accusing Tea Party members of sedition). Depending on what kind of roll she has, like Jamie Foxx in The Amazing Spider Man 2, or the entire cast of Christopher Nolan's upcoming thriller Interstellar. Ms. Moore might be a sign of what is wrong with the country. Due out in February, Welcome To Yesterday will all hinge on one, tiny yet imperative detail: the dates.
This film might be set slightly in the future, or present day, but when we find out when that birthday party is taking place, and what it was that was altered, that will be an indication of what film makers want us to be thinking about. For example: what would some of us today maybe go back and change, on a large scale? Like the kids, to be perfectly honest, several of us would go back and change things that would have led to better lives for ourselves (when one of the kids draws a happy face in blue ink on the back of his own neck, the neck symbolizes what leads us or guides us in life--the way a leash works on a dog--whereas the color blue often symbolizes both depression and wisdom, because it's through the sad events our life that we gain wisdom; so a happy face, on the back of the neck, in blue ink, indicates that character wants things that will make him happy to guide him in life, because he knows where his bad decisions have led him and he's going to choose to be happy). I would probably go back--to be perfectly honest--and in some way alter the events of 2008 and the "birthday party" of Obama the Socialist being elected to the White House. I doubt I could change anything, but I would certainly like to try. We have to wait until February to find out what will happen.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner