Saturday, November 29, 2014

Landscapes & Lightsabers: The Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Trailer

Keep in mind, the film isn't finished, they just completed production a few weeks ago, and the greatest and best special effects are still being worked on, but what this first trailer does--besides proving that Disney doesn't suck for just letting a few theaters get to show it this weekend--is confirm the "presence" (we can't really say "role" or "character return" yet) of the Emperor (originally portrayed by Clive Redill, possibly being portrayed now by Andy Serkis). The events of Episode VII take place about 30 years after the end of The Return Of the Jedi, and no one has seen Luke in all the time due to self-imposed exile (more on that below).
Let's talk about the very first thing the trailer chooses to show us: landscaping. For whatever reasons, we haven't really discussed scenery, background, or the landscape as "characters" in films; if you have ever watched any of John Ford's classic westerns with John Wayne, you know that the scenery and landscape are always a "character" in the film; how? Take the 1948 remake of 3 Godfathers: as these three criminals run from the law through the desert, they find a woman about to give birth who is dying; they deliver the baby and vow to keep it alive, in spite of their own regrettable circumstances. As they make their way across the desert, it's clear this is a purgation period for them, and the desert (in this case) becomes a metaphor for the presence of God working on their souls to soften them and turn them from their life of crime. How does this relate to Star Wars?
As we have mentioned before, there is a resurgence of polar oppositions re-entering public discourse and that's a good thing. In the 1960s-1970s, groups identifying themselves as "minorities" applied principles of deconstruction to the basic foundations of Western civilization, man and woman, black and white, rich and poor, us and them, good and evil, right and wrong, etc., and complained that in the polarities, one is always valued over another (man more than woman, white more than black, rich more than poor, us more than them) and that very process of thinking creates un-equal and racist tendencies throughout society at all levels, so public discourse has been censored of the right to use such dichotomies. With that, however, have gone the notions of "good and  evil," "right and wrong," because rioting and looting might be wrong for "white people," but to black people it's right, and you aren't in a position to judge a minority group. Marvel films are doing a great deal to bring polarities back into public discourse, and with this subtle and simple narrative in this trailer, we see Abrams doing the same: "The dark side,... and the light." This is a huge victory, a resurrection of the weapons of free speech and a massive crack in the towering censorship leveled against Americans by liberals. Really. This is big.  Liberals want to collapse all the differences between "light and dark," "right and wrong," because they know their political agendas can't possibly stand a chance when there is a discourse that has recourse to morality, and censoring what kinds of words can be used, is a erasing of morality from public debate (on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, drug legalization, career welfare recipients, the massacre of thousands of innocent Jews and Christians in the Middle East, the right to worship freely, the right to free speech, the right to collect rain water in your own backyard!) because wherever there is morality, there is a loss for the liberals because they always choose immorality over morality.
As we hear the voice (possibly the Emperor) say, "There has been an 'awakening.' Have you felt it?" we also hear something else, the wind. Let us not err in underestimating this. What is "the Force?" It's a force, it's not tangible, it's like energy (in the 1981 film Excalibur, Merlin tries explaining it to the young Arthur) it is, what Christians would call, the Holy Spirit, and some are able to feel it, to sense it, even enter into it and become a part of it and it become a part of them. In and of itself, it's not a person's destiny, but without the Force, a person can't fulfill their destiny (more on this below). So the wind we hear in the background is similar to the Force "calling" us, and stirring us, just as hearing the familiar theme song stirs excitement and adventure within us, and as seeing the Millennium Falcon soaring into the sky gives us a sense of hope and courage. Why do we need to hear the Force?
Because of the desert.
The rumored beginning of the film is that a ship of storm troopers attacks a village and destroys it; it is possible this is a clip from that scene, but we know nothing else at this time. It is reminiscent of when Luke donned a storm trooper outfit to save Leia, so we can hope John Boyega's character is a good guy, but names haven't even been released for most of the actors, so we just don't know who is doing what in what capacity.
This blog was founded for Christians so that, those of us living in Jesus Christ would be able to enhance and protect our spiritual struggle with art. The desert the camera lingers upon in the opening scene is certainly nothing exotic, but it is "other-worldly," and that's because it's meant to portray the reality of the soul. Like most symbols, deserts have both positive and negative meaning: the "negative" meaning of a desert is when a person has been living a worldly life and enjoying pleasure with no regard for their inner, spiritual life, so they have exhausted all the life within them (the barrenness of the desert). The "positive" meaning of the desert is when someone has forsaken the world and retreats within themselves to do battle with the lurking demons and not give sin an opportunity to grow, fester and take over the person. There are two examples of this.
Is this a piece of junk or what? What. Because it's not junk, it's a perfect example of "tinkering" and the DIY spirit of Americans. We have seen this MacGyver mentality in at least two previous films, Oz the Great and Powerful, with the class of tinkerers who help Oscar save Oz from the evil witch, and a little film called Iron Man 3, when Tony Stark tells Harley, "I'm a tinkerer, I build things," "So build something," Harley tells him to calm his anxiety attack. Sure it lacks finesse and design, but it works.  The second factor we should consider is that she's wearing gray. Why is this important? Gray is the color of the novitiate, someone who is new and just starting out. They are trying to leave the world and find their destiny, but they haven't realized yet what is required of them to fulfill that destiny.   
The first is in the original Star Wars, when young Luke is on his home planet of Tatooine and he dreams of being a pilot in the resistance, but is, instead, stuck,... in the desert. His uncle tells Luke to help him get the crops in and then he can go to pilot school (or something like that) and the real crop that Luke is supposed to be "getting in" is his patience and self-control, as we learn from Yoda reflecting on this time in Luke's life in The Empire Strikes Back. Now, don't get me wrong about this: Luke is a good guy, he is destined to be one of the very, very best, but the bigger a person's destiny, the more room there has to be within their soul to absorb virtue and strength.
If this looks like Tatooine, Luke's home planet, that's because it does. We don't have confirmation that this is where we are, but if it is, there would be several good reasons for it. The Dutch philosopher Soren Kierkegaard postulated in his theory on spiritual development that after the soul has completed its designated journey, it "returns home," and everything it experiences is experienced on a far deeper and more enjoyable state; how? Because the person encountering the experience is more pure themselves, so they have the ability to enjoy the experience or sensation simply for what it is, but also fully for what it is. If Luke has completed his journey, it would make sense for him to go home; on the other hand, because this is the desert and it's the best place for a person to learn what will need to be learned for their future battles, it also makes sense that this would be where we find the hero(es) of the next generation, starting out at the same place where Luke did. If Luke ends up "coming home," we have to remember the last time Luke was home: in the Return Of the Jedi, when the Sarlacc is going to eat them after Luke tried busting Han out of Jabba's prison. The Sarlacc is, again, a symbol that has a positive and a negative connotation: for those who, like the enormous Jabba, who have fed their every appetite, they are "consumed" by the pit with giant teeth and it becomes their hell; for those who, like Luke, have sought to free themselves from the pit, they have been consumed, but only to make them emerge stronger. 
In other words, the soul is much like a vessel--but an immortal one, created in God's own image--and either poison or grace can be poured into it, and it's sin that determines which of the two we are accepting. Luke's time in the desert is good for him, he is ready to risk his life to help save the galaxy (we can compare him to the mostly self-serving Han Solo) but there is much more to still be done within him (see caption below).
An image from The Empire Strikes Back when Luke has gone to train under Yoda. The swamp is, in every way, the exact opposite of the desert, but the desert symbolizes one part of Luke's soul, while the swamp symbolizes another. One of the priests at the graduate school I attended told us at a Mass that, the reason we kept struggling with the same sin over and over is because, each time we committed that sin, we committed it on a deeper level. For example, someone who commits the sin of gossiping, each time, they are going deeper into their soul along the root that is the cause of that sin, and each time they go and confess that sin, they are chopping off a part of that sin's root so it can't grow again; but you have to keep going deeper and deeper. Being in the swamp, in this part of Luke's journey, is like that for him, and he finds, literally, his "roots": his father was the greatest Jedi, but also the worst enemy of the galaxy, and this is a root that Luke struggles with  that threatens the prosperity of, not only his existence, but--if he turns to the Dark Side--that of the galaxy as well. So, in landscape symbolism, a swamp is just as important as a desert (another great example of a man wrestling with his sin in a swamp is Perseus in the 1981 classic Clash of the Titans which can be found at this link, The Medusa Within).
The second example of the desert being good is what we will see, more or less, in the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings. Moses leading the Children of Israel into the wilderness, i.e., the desert, is so they can be purged of the attachments they have made to the practices and customs of Egypt. We cannot learn how to "grow" virtue in our souls until we have learned to "weed out" the sin within us, and by entering into the desert, there is no place for the demons to hide, they expose themselves much more readily. So, why does all this matter, regarding why we hear the wind and it being a metaphor of the Force? Because when we are in the desert, we need the encouragement of the Force (the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete who comforts us) encouraging us on the way to go, or our hearts would grow faint and we couldn't go on. This is the same reason, on a cultural scale, that the trailer has been released so early. The first image is of a desert because America is in a desert, nothing (especially the economy) is growing, much like what we see in the frozen world of Disney's Frozen. What about the second landscape?
After John Boyega's panicked scene, we next see this little panicked robot. Much like the vehicle the female rides above, this little guy looks like he was put together from spare parts. In Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, we just saw TARS, a robot made out of all rectangular pieces, whereas this little guy is made out of all circular pieces. The important point to be made, at least for the moment, is that robots are very much a part of the future, but they haven't replaced humanity; it's possible that those in the future would rather have robots as companions than other humans, but even when it's just a robot, like R2 and C3PO, they are far more human than robots produced by the Empire, because the rebels and humanity in general, value their individual humanity and (like God passing on his image to us) so we pass on our image to those we create, seeing and knowing that it's good in us, we bestow it upon our creations. When we see this little robot in, what resembles a state of "panic," it's endearing because someone programmed it to resemble and imitate humanity in that capacity, so it's showing us a side of our own selves as opposed to the lifeless junk in the background. 
After we get out of desert shots, we see the exact opposite at 0:45, the exact opposite: water and mountains, growth and foliage. The essence is still the same. With the star fleet fighters (Oscar Isaac in the close-up) the fight that is taking place in the desert (and we see the glorious Millennium Falcon in the desert at the end of the trailer also fighting in the desert) is taking place, albeit on a different scale, in the watery region of some other planet. Enter speculation: Warwick Davis is in the official cast. Just because this talented actor portrayed an ewok once upon a time, does not mean that he is being called back to portray an ewok again; he could be doing something totally different; or he could be an ewok again and this scene of the fighter planes on the water denotes that planet where the ewoks lived. Finally, onto the juicy part.
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llweyn Davis) as a fighter pilot. If you will notice, there is a red symbol on his left side helmet and his left side vest in black. I have no idea what it means or to what it refers, however, it's a symbol. Symbols always mean something. Where there is one symbol, there is going to be another symbol. When you have a group or organization--in this case, the film makers--employing symbols, it means they value the greater meaning and significance and we should be on the look-out for other places where symbols are appearing.
We do not know who it is, or at what part of the film it is (it could be Skywalker, it could be Adam Driver's character--rumored to be one of Han's four children with Leia who turns to the Dark Side--or it could be, as someone has suggested, an old Sith who has awakened with the Force) but we can detect that this character is in a "bad place" spiritually (or, at least, in terms of the Force); how? The snow, darkness and barren trees. In a word, this character is experiencing the "dark night of the soul." Everyone else seems to be focused solely on whether or not this is a viable lightsaber; that's a legitimate question, but I think they have "missed the forest for the trees," so to speak.
Snow, darkness and the forest; what does it mean? The "Dark Night of the Soul" refers to a period of intense spiritual purgation when  a person is completely without relief or spiritual nourishment of any kind and is working towards a greater, deeper union with God, although the person feels they have been abandoned by God, not being able to feel His presence at all. Even though, quite frankly, it's horrible to experience, it has a positive end; there is, however, another "dark night of the soul," and we can say it's when darkness completely fills a person's soul to keep them away from God, the lowest point they can possibly fall to and remain without working their way back to God. This latter state is probably what the character above is experiencing. If the lightsaber blade were blue, green or white, we could make a reasonable deduction that it was Luke or another Jedi, but this seems clear that it's a Sith or other agent of Darkness who is descending even further into Darkness. This is another great use of landscaping to describe the characters. The darkness symbolizes the "lack" of illumination, and the snow indicates the frozen quality of the scene, like Frozen where nothing can grow because it's so cold (the "warmth" of love is absent). The trees, rather than being "trees" with leaves on them, are more like skeletons because they can't do what trees do, provide shade, food and shelter for animals in spring/summer. Lastly, the flying snow suggests an element of "blindness" to this moment because it's more difficult to see when snow is in the air. So, the desolate, barren landscape above is very much like the desert we see in the beginning of the trailer; given that this character is most likely a Sith or other agent of Darkness, we probably should not feel sorry for them, but learn a lesson that this is what happens when he harbor feelings that are detrimental to our spiritual growth and development. 
In the GIF file above, please note the unruly "lunge," and stabbing gesture with the lightsaber; these aren't the gestures of someone who is calm, collected and in charge of their emotions and reactions. That this is a red lightsaber means it is probably a Sith, or at least someone on the Dark Side (the Sith tended to use the red crystals because they thought the Dark Force made them stronger than the crystals used by the Jedi). We can't see anything, anything that would warrant withdrawing a lightsaber in self-defense, at any rate, so the question is, what is this darkly clad character doing in this forest? The saber itself might answer our question.
There is a wide controversy spreading and it's ridiculous. This is the problem with social media: just because someone has an outlet, they think they ought to say every single thing that crosses their mind, and just because it has crosses their mind, they think it's legitimate. We are in the presence of a great artist, JJ Abrams, and he deserves respect because he's earned it. There is a very good reason the light saber is as it is. We probably won't know until we see the film, but the position of the saber, and the delayed activation of the sidebars suggest that this is a symbol of this character's "holy war." It might be a single character that we never even really get to know, or it could be Luke Skywalker towards the end of the film. What I do know without a doubt is that there is a purpose and a meaning to this saber design, and we will receive a far greater, and more enjoyable degree of engagement with the film, if we trust Abrams that there is a purpose to it and not just something he thought "might look cool" like some untried director would. 
Red, the color of the saber, is the color of blood and has two meanings: either you love someone to the point that you would spill your (red) blood for them, or you hate someone to the point that you would spill their (red) blood for your wrath. The character we see above, has probably gone over to the Dark Side and is in a state of wrath (that is what generally causes the conversion over). Now, a lot has been made over the "crossbar" at the hilt of the saber, and whether or not that is an effective placement for two more saber blades; I don't think, personally, that is the right question to be asking. Quite simply, the two additional blades make a "cross," meaning, that the character has made a "religion" of their wrath/hatred, and plan to pursue their end with devotion normally given to worshiping of God. Now, what about the last part?
In all this time, the Falcon hasn't changed, and neither have the tie fighters, the Empire's ships. As we saw with films being resurrected and remade from the 1980s, like Evil Dead, Red Dawn, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek, GI Joe, Superman (Man Of Steel), etc., the art that defeated socialism then, at the height of the Cold War, will defeat socialism again today.  The Falcon was a vehicle of individuality and freedom, a fighter ship that helped defeat the Empire and aide the rebels, and it will again at a time when we need it most, just Charles Xavier being resurrected in X-Men Days Of Future Past, and James Bond in Skyfall or Kirk in Star Trek Into Darkness, we need these heroes so they keep coming back to help show us the way to go and how to stay on the right path.
Just as we noted the symbol on the pilot's helmet and uniform above, so the Millennium Falcon is a symbol of,... of,.... well, American bravado. At the moment when the narrative voice says, "The dark, and the light," and the screen goes black, then the glorious Falcon rises up into the sun (and we see Abrams' sun flares against the image). The cockiness of Han Solo and his vehicle of freedom symbolize the invincible American spirit. Why is this important? Just as the "enemy" of the dehumanized storm troopers hasn't changed (the perfect symbol of socialism we also see in The Hunger Games' peacekeepers) so the vehicle of freedom to fight against the storm troopers hasn't changed. In this sense, the Falcon (as a vehicle) bares a lot of resemblance to the cars in Fast and Furious 7 as they instrumental in the advancing of the character's identities, but also the cars themselves (please see Furious 7 for more).  But, overall, there is a glaringly obvious fact about the Falcon,...
Some concept art has leaked online, however, it hasn't been verified that it has made it into the film. There has been a "new" storm trooper in black, but we see the original versions clearly in the trailer; why? The storm trooper is a perfect representation of what happens to people under socialist rule: dehumanization. All your individuality is taken from you (consider the androgynous character of Seneg in World War Z, and how all we ever learn of her is her name; she is the "ideal" of what all of us are to become under socialism). White, like other symbols, has a positive and negative: the positive symbolism is the person's soul is "spotlessly" white in faith, hope and innocence; the negative symbolism is that the person is completely dead to faith, hope and innocence, all virtue being drained from that person (a corpse turns white as it decays and so it represents what happens to the soul when it is dead to virtue). The large black areas where the eyes should be verify that the men inside the suits believe they have no souls because the eyes are the windows of the soul; the heavy black lining around the jaw lines accentuates the mouth, which is the symbol for the appetites (there are good appetites, like an appetite for justice, but given the white body suit, it shows they have appetites only for worldly things and not virtue). 
It hasn't changed.
Neither have the storm troopers.
Why not? It's been 30 years, hasn't anything advanced in this society? But we have all ready been addressing this for more than a year now. The reason so many things won't change in Star Wars VII is because we had the same enemies then that we have now, and Abrams, in identifying the same enemy--none of this has changed, he's telling us--validates that the socialist threat symbolized by the Death Star and Emperor then, has been "awakened" in America today, but--and this is the thesis--that just as the darkness has been awakened, so has the light, and the Falcon is an enduring symbol of that. I CAN'T WAIT FOR MORE!!!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Blessed Thanksgiving To You All!

Please accept my warmest regards on this happy day, and my hopes for every blessing for yourself and all your loved ones. Please know that, without each and everyone of you coming to this blog, I wouldn't keep it up, I would just watch films whenever and think them over to myself and never say anything to anyone about them; with your kindness and loyalty in visiting, it keeps me trying to always better my skills and gives me a greater sense of purpose that I would definitely lack in life if it weren't for this blog, so my very deepest gratitude to each and everyone of you!
We didn't really discuss the first trailer for The Peanuts film coming out, but I have a kid in me, too, and I always look forward to seeing Charlie Brown. If there were going to be two words that sought to spit in the face of the socialist revolution trying to destroy America since 2008, it would be "Dream Big," because our dreams are part of our destiny--like Snoopy being a World War I flying ace and going against the Red Baron, instead of just a backyard domestic dog--and knowing that we have a destiny defies that which socialists want us to believe about ourselves: that we are animals (we have no soul). 
Tonight I am going to see Penguins Of Madagascar, which I am thrilled about! I will be getting that post up by tomorrow and, as always, I will be posting my initial reactions (which I have no doubt about) via Twitter tonight coming out of the theater. I have also decided to do a new and much needed series for you that will resemble, so-to-speak, encyclopedia entries. I will take one type of symbol and give a full, detailed explanation of it for reference; for example, SYMBOL ANALYSIS: HAIR AND HATS, and go through and discuss different ways that both hair and hats--because they are very connected--symbolize thoughts and in what ways; another one will be SYMBOL ANALYSIS: FEET AND SHOES, etc. I know you are probably thinking, she has all these older movies she needs to get posted, why is she doing this? Because I run into interpretation problems, or just get bored, when I have to work on a post too long (or I have waited too long to do it) so this will give me something to work on that will be worth your while reading and, hopefully, help you sharpen your own skills of analysis, which is the ultimate point of this blog. It's possible that Friday/Saturday the first trailer for next year's Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens will be released and, when it is, I will post it asap. Speaking of Luke Skywalker,...
Yea, that was Mark Hamill. Why? Remember, reader response theory. We don't see Mr. Hamill in many films, so his casting in Kingsman: The Secret Service is auspicious. Because we generally think of Luke Skywalker when we see Mr. Hamill, his casting is probably meant to remind us of Skywalker and his shaky start as a young Jedi when we see the young man entering the secret service in this film. This is a fabulous trailer, and packed with information (I'm really looking forward to this on February 13), but there are two things deserving of immediate attention. First, J.B. This is played well: not James Bond, but Jack Bauer, portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland in the hit-series 24. This is another example of reader response theory, because you have to know about 24 in order to catch the reference to Jack Bauer (as is James Bond and the 23 James Bond films in order to catch that reference). Why is this important?
If you suspected that there is a purpose to the umbrella, the cuff links, the shoes and the shirts, you're right. There is far more in this trailer than what I have time to cover today but whenever (in any film) we see a umbrella, for example, doubling as a weapon, that "duality of identity" means there is a duality of identity and when we see something in the film, there is "more to it than meets the eye," in other words, an invitation to engage and probe deeper into the meaning and identity of what is going on. It's a sign that the film knows there are symbols within it, and it wants us to find them and understand them, just like elements that make successful spy films by the film referencing other spy films. Why does Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) hate violence and blood so much, but is planning on destroying the world? We kind of see this same trait with Octavius Brine (John Malkovich) in Penguins Of Madagascar  when he is calling the Northwind agency and can't turn his microphone on. In not knowing how to do the little and simple things, he misses the whole point of everything else. Valentine is being shown as a hypocrite: he's doing and authorizing what he himself cannot stand. Nature gives us an aversion to seeing blood and violence so we won't participate in it and, thereby, prolong our own existence. Valentine is not only going against nature in general by planning the mass destruction of humanity, but his own personal nature in spilling blood and committing violence. Why is his name Valentine? It's a reference to Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Myers) in The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, because--like Hitler in World War II and the concentration camps--Valentine wants to purify and cleanse the race of any undesirables. So this is a further reference which we will need to be keen on in watching Kingsman which I am now highly anticipating. 
First, this film knows that the audience has seen spy films, and that, going into the film, we are an "educated audience" who has a sophisticated archive of spy knowledge from the films we have seen; Kingsman knows it has to build on that, not replicate what we all ready know. Additionally, it will draw on that information we all ready have so it doesn't have to repeat itself, rather, like the reference to Jack Bauer, drop hints so that what you all ready know will become a part of the film experience. Of all the spies who could have been referenced, however (the first line of the trailer spoken by Valentine [Samuel L Jackson] is, "Do you watch spy movies?"), Jack Bauer is particularly a "conservative hero," identified as a defender of America and ideals that conservatives embrace; given Eggsy's troubled past, this is a good sign about his future that he names his new dog after Bauer as a sign of what he himself hopes to become. On a different note, the first trailer for the summer's Jurassic World has been released:
What we see is all the efforts going into "feeding" consumerism through increasing visits to the park and making it "Spectacular Spectacular," for the people, the consumers. At 1:00, when we see "Jaws" hanging up, that monster that comes out to eat it is us, the viewers, the consumers consuming and the members of the first world (as opposed to the third world) who can afford and aspire to go to a park like this. Whatever the free market creates, they also create the "appetite" to go with it, and so anything like a Jurassic World theme park is "bait" for us to go and experience it ourselves. Like The Long Ranger and Gravity, Jurassic World is showing us a example of civilization gone wrong in hopes that we will willingly abandon technology and live a "progressive" lifestyle communists want, one of no tech or advancement. I could be wrong, as always, but, at this point with what the trailer presents, it seems pretty straight forward.
Again, have a happy and joyous Thanksgiving!
Eat Your Art Out
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, November 24, 2014

TRAILERS & NEWS: Pitch Perfect 2, Cinderella, Age Of Adeline, The Peanuts

THIS POST HAD TO BE DELAYED UNTIL SOME NEWS COULD BE CONFIRMED AND IT HAS: There have been several trailers that have been released, but what's most interesting are the three about to be released: this Thanksgiving weekend will see the release of the first Jurassic World trailer during NBC football (Penguins Of Madagascar opens Wednesday the 26--Internet Movie Database wrongly had Dec 3 up as the release date--so it's possible, but not certain, that Jurassic World is attached to that film).
Chris Pratt (Guardians Of the Galaxy) and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, The Help) star in the latest installment of Jurassic World, which has gone to considerable length to build up an online "back story" about the latest multi-billionaire to take an interest in the park. I am rather confident, without even seeing the trailer, that the film will be anti-capitalist, because it's so easy to make the really rich people look really stupid, and sum that up as the reason they got their money, rather like Fifty Shades Of Grey. Jurassic World comes out this summer.
What's even more interesting is that Star Wars VII, which has concluded production, is ready to release its first trailer!!! Speculation has been rampant, and I mean rampant, as reports and more reports have been spread, but it appears Disney is going all out for the trailer and doing something unprecedented this holiday weekend,...
I'm not the only one frustrated with what Disney has done in allowing a certain elite group see a trailer that they might not care about seeing at all, as opposed to those who are genuinely excited about the film who are being shut out. Additionally, there is the obvious reality that someone will record the trailer with their smart phone, then post it online, and for the vast majority of people, myself included, their fist exposure to this highly anticipated film will be the shaky, blurry, small-screen pirated version with some idiot talking in the row in front and people getting back to their seat with huge containers of popcorn and pops . Besides Star Wars, we are seeing an increasingly sophisticated--and competitive--marketing scheme being employed by companies wanting to give their films a lead start with smart advertising. What does that consist of? First, it's making bloggers, like myself, excited about footage so we write about it and get people to get excited about a film they probably wouldn't have been excited about previously. That's all free. In real value terms, however, film fans have received more than they have ever received in the age of the internet with extra posters, film footage, featurettes, interviews and behind-the-scenes material (then throw in stars posting on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) and it's not hard to see how the film industry has made itself a huge part of our culture. For Americans, Hollywood and the films are to us what the Louvre and painting is to the French: it's the concentration of our identity, our understanding of ourselves and the ability to understand ourselves because film is the dominant art form in America (it's not the best art form, but it has the widest audience base).  So, is it ridiculous to get worked-up over something like a Star Wars trailer? No, because it has proven to be one of the most successful franchises (meaning, lots of people identify with it) and high-quality artists, such as JJ Abrams, have been assigned to the work to insure it's an incredible film, so putting Abrams on par with the likes of Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollack is no superficial compliment because of Abrams' influence and proven record.
"Sources" have announced that the first trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens will be shown in 9 Regal theaters, attached to each showing film, starting Friday; originally, this was going to be across the nation, then those theaters, in order to qualify, have to show Big Hero 6 as their earliest opening show; now it's just 9 Regal theaters, the list is at the bottom of this post; so, like, this really sucks for the rest of us, and isn't a good publicity move at all, because now I am resentful that THEY get to see it and I don't (please see caption above for more discussion).
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llweyn Davis) has won the role of villain in Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse. In the end credits scene for X-Men: Days Of Future Past, we saw a young Apocalypse holding his hands up, being worshiped, as he telepathically moved huge stones to build the pyramids, the Four Horseman in the distance. According to Singer, his next film will be the most destructive of the entire series because of the way Apocalypse is. Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays Mystique, has commented that she is in hiding and that the X-Men: Apocalypse will focus more on her relationship with Magneto and take place in the early 1980s.
Again, theaters, just this last summer, put "laws" into effect that the earliest a film could debut its trailer was six months ahead of its release date (SWVII won't be released until next December, so it's just over a year ahead) and the number of trailers a film can release, and how long those trailers can be, have been regulated; so it seems that those laws were made so that "Big Films" could break them and attain a special status, or the "laws" were not seriously meant to be enforced anyway. The third trailer is for Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice, of course, attached to The Hobbit 3, and it hasn't even finished production yet (it still has about a month to go filming in Detroit), but it's first trailer is coming out a year and a half before the film. This signals some highly important cultural developments, not just business models. All right, onto the first trailer for the day:
Where have we just seen this? Interstellar. Cooper (Matthew McConnaughey) returns to his senior citizen daughter Murphy (Ellen Burstyn) as a thirty-year old man, the same age as when he had left them to "save the world." In Interstellar, Cooper symbolizes a "founding father" of America, that even though he's old, he's always young, always relevant to what is going on in today's world. Without Cooper, Murphy couldn't have accomplished what she did. In Age Of Adeline, there is the same element, Adeline never ages, and embraces her elderly daughter, who is also portrayed by Ellen Burstyn in Age of Adeline, but Adeline--unlike Cooper--wants her ageless existence to end; what does she symbolize?
The motherland of America.
Adaline was born in January 1, 1908, the day the Nimrod Exploration by the British set off to for Antarctica to discover the south magnetic pole, and 1908 was a great year for exploration in general. Her accident takes place in winter, 1935, so she could have had her car accident (almost exactly like the limo sliding off the icy bridge in Olympus Has Fallen, and the First Lady dying) in February, the month that Adolf Hitler ordered a new German air force in violation of the Treaty of Versailles which forbade Germany from having an air force so another World War could not be started. Adaline's "accident" being tied to Hitler's decisions to re-instate the Luftwaffe could be a metaphor for how America became "forever young" in fighting socialism, the point was certainly made in the first The Hunger Games with the date of the Games starting in a active year for Hitler. It could be, however, the exact opposite, and Adaline symbolizes socialism always trying to stay young and be adventuresome and take root somewhere but not being able to. We will have to wait for another trailer. 
I could be absolutely wrong, it's possible that Adaline symbolizes socialism, and socialism itself needs to finally let go because it has "never grown up" and been adaptable to the real world, like Adaline herself. This is possible, but given the dates that are mentioned in the trailer (please see caption above for more details) I just have a feeling that it's not going to take that path, but I could be wrong. On the other end, however, is the new trailer for Pitch Perfect 2, and I am excited about this:
The way this trailer is shaping up mirrors last year's film that (sadly) failed at the box office, Battle Of the Year about the B-Boys who do the most amazing dance moves in the history of gravity-defiance. And this is a good thing. Remember, patterns of repeated issues are more important than "originality." If you have seen Battle Of the Year, and I highly recommend it (I bought the film myself), you'll remember how the biggest issue for America going into the competition was "Everyone hates America," but they managed, with creativity and incredible moves, to win the audience over and make it to the championship (which was the segment for a second film that sadly doesn't look like it's going to take place). So, we have the glorification of competition, and on the international scale. Speaking of competition, here's Snoopy taking on the Red Baron:
The first trailer for Kenneth Branaugh's Cinderella has been released, and it's everything I was expecting; but you kind of get the idea that you've seen the whole film by the time the trailer is over:
You can do this on your own: why is she wearing a blue dress? Why does the fairy god mother wear white? Why do we see "Madame," wearing green? Why is the slipper made of glass? You can do this, take it one piece at a time, and we will discuss it later. On a different note, the first trailer for Strange Magic has come out, and it is very much like Maleficent, but I think--and this could just be hopeful--that it will be pro-capitalist, and the reason is one, single word:
At 0:58-9, we are told the "potion" destroys "order," and that is the magic word. I could be wrong, but the "Mysterious" world is probably that of the Soviet Union (or North Korea) hidden by the "Iron Curtain," that no one could see beyond. The villain trying to get the potion so he can destroy order is exactly what Obama is doing, each and every time he has "crossed the line" of violating the Constitution and "revealing" (the ugly monster's nakedness) himself to be a socialist dictator. Again, I could be wrong, as always.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner,

The locations screening the “Star Wars” trailer are:
Irvine, CA – Edwards Irvine Spectrum 22 & IMAX
San Diego, CA – Edwards Mira Mesa Stadium 18 IMAX & Rpx
Atlanta, Ga – Regal Atlantic Station Stadium 18 IMAX & Rpx
Chicago, Il – Regal City North Stadium 14 IMAX & Rpx
New York, NY – Regal Union Square Stadium 14
Warrington, Pa – Regal Warrington Crossing Stadium 22 & IMAX
Knoxville, Tn – Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 IMAX & Rpx
Houston, TX – Edwards Houston Marq’E Stadium 23 IMAX & Rpx
Seattle, Wa – Regal Thornton Place Stadium 14 & IMAX

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Hanging Tree: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

Katniss has a flashlight and she uses it to taunt Buttercup, the sour pet cat of her sister; Katniss stops and realizes something: President Snow has been taunting Katniss with Peeta just as Katniss was taunting the cat with the light. There are two important things about this: first, we see this exact same scenario (the cat and the light) used in the second trailer for Night At the Museum (please see TRAILERS for more) and, Mockingjay introducing a metaphor, then decoding the metaphor for the audience, is a blatant invitation to decode the entire film; trust me, they want us to do this. I thought X-Men: Days Of Future Past would prove to be the most anti-socialist film of the year, but it appears Francis Lawrence has outdone it. As always, this is full of spoilers; please discontinue reading if you do NOT want to know what happens. If you are looking for a copy of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) singing The Hanging Tree song she sings solo in the film, here it is (if you want to buy the Score, it's not on the soundtrack, it probably will not be released next year until they include the Score for Part II as well), and we'll start with this because it's imperative to the subtext of the film (you can now--Nov 28--purchase/listen to the song on iTunes: look for James Newton Howard and the Mockingjay Score, The Hanging Tree):
You can find the lyrics and literary history here. Supposedly, when Katniss was little, her father taught her the song, but her mom, hearing the lyrics--which are about a man who is going to be hanged for killing three people, and is trying to get his true love to hang herself so they can die together--saw Prim making a "necklace of rope" so she forbade Katniss from learning the song (Plutarch, in the film, tells Haymitch he changed the word "rope" [as in hanging] to "hope" [as in revolution]). The reason this song is important is because our fathers (the "Founding Fathers") taught us the same song: if they were hung for treason by killing the three enemies of freedom (tyranny, oppression and dehumanization) we (as their true love they sacrificed everything for) should join them and be willing to sacrifice ourselves to continue fighting those same enemies today. This is validated when we see the group of people (who in the track above, follow Katniss' singing), willingly sacrificing themselves, over-run the peacekeepers and blow up the dam to damage the Capitol. It seems an odd song for a revolution, but when you examine the lyrics and the way it's used, it makes perfect sense that, just as our founding fathers were willing to face hanging for treason, so must we. Prim making the "necklace of rope" foreshadows her willingness to join the resistance--even if her mother doesn't want it--and "go to the tree" with the others.
The outfit Katniss wears in this poster was designed by Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) who, Effie informs Katniss, is now dead, but knowing he might not be around, he designed a "revolutionary" outfit for Katniss to wear so she would look the part of a leader when she needed to. Effie helps her get it ready and together as Beetee prepares weapons for her and Gale. Why is this important? It's not important, it's tantamount to all the film-dialogues we have been tracing. One one side, we have the pro-socialists like War Horse,  World War Z (novel) and Fury, and on the other side we have Mockingjay and Interstellar: Cinna, we can say, has a specialized skill, and because of the Hunger Games (a metaphor for the "violence" liberals see in the free market) Cinna is able to not only use his skill, but advertise it as well; additionally, Cinna is doing what he's good at, what he loves to do and what he excels at doing. In this way, work is not just labor for Cinna, it's self-fulfillment. This is the exact opposite of what labor is under socialist rule, where you do  what the state tells you to do because the state needs it done and that's all there is to it; there is no "self-fulfillment," as we saw in Interstellar with Cooper having been an engineer and pilot, and being forced to go into farming instead. We see this enacted in socialism in War Horse (Joey the horse was bred to run, but instead he has to become a "farm horse" and horse of labor) and in the book World War Z, the Hollywood executives having to clean toilets each day is clearly a mis-use of their talents, and the same in Fury: Norman was a clerk, but because the film is anti-American and pro-socialist, Norman goes from being a clerk to a tank gunner (please see Are You My Ghost: Interstellar for more details on this issue). So, even though Cinna doesn't appear in the film, he is still helping Katniss make an impression in the ways that only he can.   
What are the "strange things that have happened here?" Take, for example, a man being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, then going on to kill dozens of people with drones and bragging about it to aides; consider someone sworn in to protect the Constitution, only to tear it up every day of his career; consider a Attorney General who does nothing but violate the law, and an entire administration that considers themselves above the law, not to mention countless lies and the intentional sowing of dissent. Just as the world of Mockingjay is turned upside-down with the many supporting the very few, and then the Capitol retaliating by killing those very people who support them. A deleted scene from Catching Fire shows Finnick teaching Katniss how to tie a knot that happens to be the "hangman's knot". So, The Hanging Tree is an invitation from our Founding Fathers to join them in the fight for freedom (it's possible that, when the lyrics mention, "Strange things have happened," that it's a reference to the Billie Holiday song, Strange Fruit, about lynchings).
This proved to be a great scene. Haymitch hasn't played out his full role yet, but it's been laid in Mockingjay. In this scene, Haymitch has witnessed the disastrous attempts at making a propaganda piece to inform the Districts that Katniss is still alive and leading the revolution against the Capitol, and, as Haymitch says, "That's the way you kill a revolution." So what we have, with Plutarch going and imploring Effie (who doesn't want to be a part of the revolution) to guide Katniss and help her with what she has to do, is two people who--by the standards of the District--are "superfluous" and unnecessary, filling in very necessary roles in the revolution that only they have the expertise to do, and doing it. Effie, who is easily the most "shallow" character by design in the film, is the one who also was genuinely touched by Katniss' heroism. As Haymitch writes in this scene, he scribbles and the board underneath interprets what he writes ("Volunteer 4 sis" into "Volunteer for sister") and makes it legible so all can read it; why is this important? Like the board, we too are supposed to be "interpreting" and "finishing" what Haymitch says and means, because there is a sub-text like the writing beneath what Haymitch writes, and it's through the whole film. 
A great moment in the film is when a group of civilians march, singing the song, and where are they going? Towards a massive dam. Why? It's the source of the Capitol's energy. Now, it would be easy to make the argument that these people are stupid because, had they not been singing, they could have done a better job of getting the explosives into the proper area and more of them would have survived; but that's not the point. The reason they are singing is to let us know that this song is an anthem. When Katniss first sings it, it's for a young man who had his tongue cut out, so he can't speak for himself, but the song speaks for him. This part of the film is even more important because, like so many other points of the film, it's citing a famous World War II Michael Redgrave film, The Dam Busters of 1955. The point of the plot is to develop a bomb that can damage the Germans' dams so they can't build more weapons, which is exactly what happens in Mockingjay, correlating the Capitol to the Nazis (socialists) not capitalism like Collins originally intended. Let's take just a moment, though, to consider the evolution of these three films.
In this scene, Katniss has gone to District 8 where there has been heavy resistance and many casualties. Here, in the hospital, she has vowed to stand and fight with them. A woman asks, when seeing her, "What happened to the baby?" referring to what Peeta told Cesar before the Quarter Quell Games, that Katniss was pregnant, in hopes he could get her out of the Games. Katniss looks at her, knowing she was never pregnant, and says, "I lost it." Symbolically, we know, the "baby" was the intent to destroy the arena; in this sense, we can say Katniss was being accurate, because she didn't know about the revolution, her baby was her plan to somehow bring the Games to an end (as if that would change things) and the destruction of the arena leading to the full-blown revolution, over which she has no control and she mentions to Snow when they talk, is her "losing" the baby of her intended plan. When Katniss goes home to District 12, the total destruction is something we have gotten used to: films with total destruction scenes include Olympus Has Fallen, Star Track Into Darkness, Divergent, Insurgent, The Avengers, The Avengers 2, Godzilla, Transformers 4 and X-Men Days Of Future Past; why have all these films shown us this ruin? Because that's what's happening all around us, the American Apocalypse. 
Gary Ross directed the 2012 release of The Hunger Games, and, with author Suzanne Collins, wrote the screenplay for the film that was overtly anti-capitalist, with the Hunger Games being a metaphor of capitalism (where one business "kills" another business in the free market) and America is being likened to the brutal Roman Republic which provided "bread and circuses" for its people (which is where the Latin word panem comes from); no, it doesn't make sense, but neither do liberals (for a full articulation of why it was pro-socialist, please see The Hunger Games: Hitler & America's Anti-Socialism). When it was time to make the second film, Catching Fire, a miracle happened: Ross was replaced with Francis Lawrence, who ordered script changes. Catching Fire isn't completely pro-capitalist, however, it's significantly more pro-capitalist, and that's probably because Lawrence couldn't get all the changes he wanted (please see Game Masters & Revolution: The Hunger Games Catching Fire for more). With Mockingjay Part 1, Collins' socialist revolution piece has been completely re-worked to back fire on all the liberals, and we know this in two ways: Effie Trinket and Star Wars.
The highlight of the film, for me, was when the camera was turned onto Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), who has been in a terrible state for most of the film, suffering from survivor's guilt and not knowing if he will see Annie again (who is probably another inter-film dialogue of Annie, the little orphan with bright red hair, and how she was really saved from the orphanage, and not through socialism). Just before Finnick goes on the air, Beetee is getting ready to "pirate" the Capitol airwaves and jokes, "Instead of your regularly scheduled horse manure," and then goes to Finnick; that's fitting, because it's with the horses that Katniss--and we the audience--first meet Finnick and he has the sugar cubes, so Beetee's line about horse manure is meant to jog our memory about our first impression of Finnick. Anyway, Finnick has to talk to consume the airwaves so Gale and a team of rescuers can slip into the Capitol and save Peeta, Johanna and Annie; as Finnick talks (and this could be considered a form of noise because he wants to consume the airwaves of energy) we are given his story, that after he won the Hunger Games, President Snow began prostituting him (and other winners) to his Capitol favorites and allies; had any of the victors refused, Snow would have their loved ones killed. Finnick describes how his "patrons" gave him gifts and money to soothe their guilt over what they did to him, but he soon learned that there was something more valuable: secrets, as he tells Katniss when they meet during Catching Fire. No one has more secrets than President Snow, he reveals, who was so young when he took power, he had to have a means of keeping power, which he did with poison. Fitting that a snake should use poison, Finnick says, because all of Snow's enemies, and even some of his allies who threatened to confess the truth were poisoned by Snow, and Snow would drink the poison just as they did Finnick says, so people couldn't accuse Snow of poisoning people since he drank the same thing, but Snow took the antidote,... but the antidote didn't always work. One time it didn't, leaving Snow with bloody sores in his mouth, which smell bad when he doesn't get his medicine, and why he has white roses close to him at all times: they have been genetically engineered to give off a strong smell and mask the smell of the bloody mouth sores. So, what does this mean? This is probably an intense Hamlet moment for the film, because Obama is being shown what he has done in the guise of Snow. Obama is the fifth youngest president, and, like Snow, there is a  long list of people around Obama who have died, (REMEMBER, Obama told his aides, "I'm really good at killing people," and he has a right to boast on that), including the sudden death of his white grandmother two days before the election (as if she were threatening to divulge something), a woman who asked Obama to examine the events around 9/11 (Obama gave her a plane ticket and the plane crashed and she died) as well as the woman from the Hawaii records department who signed his birth certificate saying it was valid; she was on a plane that crashed but she was the only one who died. There were three men from his church who were known homosexual lovers of Obama and two of the three were shot in the back of the head (as we see happen with the rebels in the film) and the other died of AIDS. There is the entire Navy SEALS team 6--the ones who took out Obama--that died, as well as two FBI agents "falling" out of a helicopter after arresting the Saudi connected to the Boston Bombing. Ambassador Stevens, who was a witness for weapons running to Syria, and the people who tried to save him at Benghazi. The list goes on and on, and there are over forty murders associated with the Clintons. On a slightly different note, when Katniss tries to buy more time by talking to Snow, so Gale and the rescue team can get out, Katniss keeps calling out to President Snow, asking, "Are you there? It's Katniss, I need to talk to you, are you there?" and what does this remind you of? It goes on and on and on, just like the kids summoning the spirits in Ouija, another anti-socialist film (really, it goes on for like a minute, Katniss calling out, and it's like she's trying to talk through a Ouija board). 
Before we get too deep, let's talk about an important plot point, and then we can dive in. Why is so much time spent "prepping" Katniss to be the Mockingjay? Why do we see her trying to make successful "propaganda" pieces to inspire the Districts to unite and rebel? For at least two reasons. First, Mockingjay itself is a propaganda piece to prepare and unite us to rebel against the tyranny of the current administration (every facet of this film is carefully pieced together to show us, like in a handbook, how to put a revolution together so we can); please keep in mind that, on the same day Mockingjay has been released, Barack Hussein Obama has signed himself into being the "American Emperor" with the unlawful and unconstitutional amnesty executive order. Secondly, the film prepares us for the use of the Left's own "face of the revolution," with people like Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, etc., and how both sides can and will successfully employ the same tools to achieve the same ends, but for different ideologies.
"He's still playing the game," Katniss tells Gale when they watch Peeta's interview and he tries defending Katniss and insisting they knew nothing of the revolution. In other words, Peeta uses the Capitol's "strategies" for being famous and double-talk against them. At one point, Katniss and Finnick discuss what Finnick first thought of Katniss, and how Finnick didn't believe they were in love, "It was a good strategy," he said, but he did believe later. Why is this important? Creativity. Game theory, as we know, is based on rules, or play (the absence of rules, or the creative interpretation of rules). People like Snow make rules to benefit himself and keep everyone else under his thumb (the rules of having a Hunger Games each year, for example); "play" is when there is a creative interpretation of the rules, or a total absence of rules, so that engagement becomes more equal, for example, Katniss realizing she could use the arena against itself to destroy it was an act of "play" because that wasn't in the rules for the Games, but it also wasn't NOT in the rules. When Peeta suddenly realizes that Katniss may still be alive, because he hears the pirate broadcast Beetee has sent via the Capitol broadcasts, Peeta breaks his demeanor and alerts Katniss that "They're coming," and they will all be dead by morning. Please note Peeta's posture in this image: he's grabbing his leg with both hands; why? Our legs symbolize our "standing" in society, our reputation; Peeta knows that the only thing keeping him alive is his standing at the Capitol, so he's holding onto that with everything he has.
There are at least three references to Star Wars in the film. The first is the look of the peacekeeper soldiers, who look like storm troopers from the films. Why? Because the storm troopers themselves were inspired by the soldiers of communism during the Cold War; in America, we don't have soldiers/policeman carrying guns asking for papers and identification; we go wherever we want, when we want. So having "peacekeepers" is as alien to us as an emperor, but absolutely essential in a system that has an emperor, be it Snow or Obama.
In this scene, peacekeepers "escort" the loggers out to the forest as a loud speaker announces that they have to work an additional two hours that day, and the Capitol has increased their quota. Without a doubt, this sounds like the socialist system, randomly assigning quotas and increasing them according to their needs (they have been increased so they don't have time to plan and plot against the Capitol). We could say, however, that this scene provides an additional reference to Star Wars: Return Of the Jedi when the ewoks, in a similar landscape, take on the Empire and storm troopers and defeat them as the loggers do in this scene.
So the peacekeepers reach back in our memory to align the peacekeepers with the communist military of the Dark Side (like when the people are coming to bust the dam, and the camera holds on the mask of one of the peacekeepers and you can't see any human qualities about him at all; that's a warning of what we will become if we allow socialism to continue).  Secondly, JJ Abrams' film comes out next year, just after the fourth and final installment of Mockingjay Part II, so this is a way for Francis Lawrence to align his films with Abrams', showing that they are saying the same things (please see caption below).
There's an interesting little detail on this poster: please look at the peacekeeper's left arm, beside that, is written "Dec 2"(you can click on the image to enlarge); why? I have no idea. We might keep that in mind though, just in case something happens on this date. Now, what about "originality" in film and art in general? As we have discussed before, originality isn't as interesting to me as the same themes that keep coming up over and over again; when a film "quotes" another film, by providing a scene that is meant to intentionally conjure up another film in the viewer's mind, the film makers are expanding their cinematic vocabulary to add depth without having to take extra time to do it. So, for example, when we think of Panem, we are supposed to also think of the Empire in Star Wars, and the Death Star, we are supposed to think of Nazi Germany and through the film The Dam Busters, and, I think, perhaps even Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows because, when Katniss is in District 8, two tall stone towers fall like we see when Holmes and Watson are sneaking into Moriarty's compound and Holmes steals the little red notebook. Again, this doesn't display a lack of originality on behalf of the film makers, rather, it pays homage to their favorite films and creates unity with other films so we know what they are talking about and what they all want to be saying.
The third reference to Star Wars comes from Gale: after the rescue mission has returned, Gale tells Katniss that the Capitol knew they were there, but just let them escape; the exact same thing happens in Star Wars when the Millennium Falcon is "allowed" to escape because it has a tracking device on it and the Emperor wants to know where the rebel base is; even though Mockingjay Part 1 doesn't get into this, Peeta, Annie and Johanna surely have some kind of device planted on/in them so the Capitol's outdated information on the "rebel base" can be updated and they can wipe them out once and for all.
Effie has, without a doubt, the most important line in the film ("Anything old can become new again, even democracy,") but she didn't want to be part of the revolution, she wanted to be back in the Capitol; only accidentally, we could say, does she get caught up in the events. When Haymitch tells her, "I like you a lot better without all your make-up," and she replies, "I like you a lot better sober," we have a parallel created between Haymitch detoxing, or "drying out," as they say, and Effie going sober from her wigs, lashes, clothes and accessories, even though we see her wearing a gold mesh glove on her left hand, revealing that she's having every bit of difficulty letting go as Haymitch of sobering up. This may come back to destroy Effie, but since she is solely the creation of the film makers', and doesn't exist in the books beyond Catching Fire, we don't know what Effie's fate is. Something that is important is that Effie's scarf on her head is tied in a knot, and Finnick has been tying knots. Finnick, being from the fishing district, knows how to tie knots because that's an imperative skill there; Effie tying a successful knot is the same thing, but different, in other words, it's an "play" on one concept to create two different ones. This is probably going to be more prominent in the next film.
As I mentioned, Effie was not included in the book Mockingjay but Francis Lawrence felt she needed to be in the films, so Effie is a complete creation of his, not Suzanne Collins'. Effie doesn't have her wigs, so she mentions that she remembered when she was young how wearing a scarf knotted was popular, "And anything that was old can be made new again, even democracy." What we have here is a device that we saw used in Fast and Furious 6: the dumbest character is given a brilliant line to utter so the truth of it can't be argued with (like Roman realizing they are "fighting their evil twins"). There has been considerable debate and confusion over what the films advocate (as described above) but Effie validating that the rebellion seeks to establish democracy insures that we know Snow is the opposite of democracy, and the Capitol isn't "Capitalism," rather, the small, decadent group of leaders in communist countries.
When we first see Prim, she is brushing out Katniss' hair, because that's what Prim does, she "calms" Katniss and takes out the "knots" from her thinking (hair symbolizes our thoughts). Katniss' hair is darker in this film, and it's down; why? Because she is having darker thoughts and she isn't as good at disciplining herself interiorly as she was in the past, too much has happened. Prim, on the other hand, has matured and grown, learning from her sister and taking her lead, but that doesn't mean that Prim thinks less of her sister. .Why does Prim run back for her cat, Buttercup, when the Capitol starts bombing them? That seems pretty dumb, doesn't it? Well, unlike Katniss who has two suitors, Prim doesn't have anyone to love besides her mother and Katniss, so she doesn't have someone to love romantically and, therefore, can't develop naturally. Of course it was an act of love for Katniss to volunteer for Prim, but this is a difference between "socialist mentalities" and why people accept socialism, and capitalist mentalities and they refuse to accept socialism: tough love. In A Good Day To Die Hard, Bruce Willis' character asks his son, played by Jai Courtney, "Need a hug?" and his son responds, "We aren't really a hugging family," and Willis says, "Damn straight." Not everyone can do everything, but we don't know what we are capable of until we are put in trying circumstances, as with Beasts Of the Southern Wild. Prim, then, is stuck in a "prism" because she hasn't really been allowed to suffer (and don't get me wrong: unless you are a saint, and even then it's doubtful, no one WANTS to suffer, but that's the "tough love" that people with common sense recognize, if you don't permit life to knock you around, you're going to stay a sissy you're whole life and that's not going to be good for anyone). Prim doesn't really belong in this world anymore than Buttercup does.
One of the intriguing things we see Katniss do at least three times in the film is hold/rub a small, silver ball; why? The purpose and origin of the ball have not yet been revealed, however, it begs a comparison with the Biblical tale of David and Goliath: David, much smaller than the giant Goliath, successfully overcomes Goliath with a small pebble he hurls from his slingshot. Essentially, Katniss-as-the-Mockingjay is the "pebble" Plutarch and Coin hope to hurl at the Capitol to bring them down, but it's going to have greater significance in the next film.
Why does Gale have such a hard time of it? Because, like the "girl on fire," Gale is a "force," the wind, and Katniss will take comfort in his strength but, ultimately, she doesn't want to always have to be strong, which is what she is when she's with Gale; when she's with Peeta, because he's more gentle, Katniss becomes more gentle. On a larger scale, this relationship triangle reveals the deep hatred author Suzanne Collins has for America: she doesn't want an America that is strong and courageous, risk-taking and a "force to be reckoned with," rather, she wants a gentle, wall-flower kind of America, like Peeta's character. 
At one point, Coin allows Gale and Katniss to go outside of the bunker to hunt. As they walk through the woods, Katniss sees a large buck drinking water. She pulls her arrow to shoot him and then he looks up at her and goes back to drinking water, not at all scared of her. "He's never been hunted," Gale tells her, it almost doesn't seem fair. Katniss lowers her bow and doesn't shoot him. This is a foreshadowing of what is going to happen with Katniss and Snow. Like the buck, Snow has never been hunted, he's never starved or been hunted; he's made himself the top of the Capitol food chain. He will be hunted, though, and Katniss will make the same decision with Snow that she has made with the buck. Speaking of "hunting," let's turn our attention to why Peeta attacks Katniss.
This is a disturbing moment for Katniss because she finds the rose Snow had left amidst all the dead ones, and his rose is still alive and shows no sign of decay. Just as socialism has been kept alive "artificially," because it can't successfully flourish anywhere (no, China has had to adopt sweeping economic reforms so the country can make money to continue "living socialist," and countries such as Vietnam and North Korea are too small and isolated [there is no way of judging its success because they don't allow anyone in, and they have horrible records of human rights violations, there is almost no literacy or health care]). Just before this scene, Buttercup came through the window; what does that mean? Even though the cat is Prim's pet, it's a symbol for "Kat-niss," (don't forget Gale calling her catnip) and that's because Buttercup is cranky and ill-tempered like Katniss herself. When Katniss put her leather jacket on (leather is animal skin, so she's like Riddick [Vin Diesel] putting her survival mentality back on so she's tough), and the cat coming through the window (window symbolizing "reflection") reveals that Katniss knows what she has to do: snap out of it and get to work. What do all the white roses Snow has dropped on the ground at the rebel base mean? Snow erroneously believes that his artificiality is going to overwhelm and conquer, not only Katniss, but the entire rebellion, because it's helped him conquer Panem. Just as the white roses look natural, so, too, does socialism, until the artificial and brutal means of sustaining it are realized, just like the genetic engineering of the roses.
As Plutarch explains, Peeta has been highjacked: like a plane taken over by terrorists, and like Bucky Barnes in Captain America the Winter Soldier, Snow has used torture enhanced with trackerjack venom to change Peeta's belief system about Katniss and the Capitol, so that he's now been trained to kill Katniss when he sees her, believing she is a threat to him because he has been taught to fear her. What does this mean? It accurately describes the way liberals behave towards conservatives: homicidal. As Snow has torn Katniss and Peeta apart, so Obama has torn America apart with the venom he feeds to "minority groups" such as the Ferguson protesters and Occupy Wall Street.
This is an interesting shot: Coin's hair looks like it's all the same color. We know a point is to be made regarding Coin's hair because Effie comments on how awful it is: her two-toned hair suggests she is of "two-minds," first about whether or not Katniss is important, and then about her conditions regarding the victors and their guilt. In this shot, however, with Katniss and Coin holding hands, united, they look like they are of the same mind. This is building for the last film.
Like Peeta trying to strangle Katniss, liberals also try to strangle the "voice" of conservatives, with bullying, mockery and even legislation (Democrat Senators are trying to do-away with the First Amendment which guarantees the Freedom of Speech). As we know, the neck symbolizes what leads us, it acts like a leash, so Peeta damaging Katniss by her throat and her having to wear a neck brace suggests that, what has been leading Katniss on (rescuing Peeta and the others) has not backfired and, as Snow predicted, will destroy her (but not really): how? because they have some kind of "tracker" on them. BUT, Snow has underestimated Katniss,...
Cressida is a director from the Capitol who escaped with her film crew to help Katniss. While a minor character, her "costume" is well-developed to communicate, not only about her character, but about film makers in general. It would be easy to view her as an opportunist, as when she's filming Katniss after the Capitol has destroyed a hospital full of wounded people, and Cressida tries getting a reaction from Katniss she can film and use for the propos. This isn't the case, however; the green vines on the side of her head show directly how her thoughts (her creativity) gives birth to new life (the vines) and that being creative and giving new life to something (in this case, the rebellion) is what leads and guides her (the vine tattoo on her neck). 
Those who have no heart, don't know how strong it is. As Snow tries to convince Katniss, "It's the thing we love most that destroy us. I want you to remember that I told you that." What Snow doesn't realize, because he has never loved anyone, is that it's the love that makes it possible to go on. Coin alludes to this briefly while Katniss awaits word of Gale and the rescue mission. In spite of Snow trying to destroy Peeta, and the tracking device leading him to where they are, the cruelty Snow has inflicted upon Peeta fuels Katniss and her determination to end the Capitol.
This is an interesting scene. Katniss and the film makers are having lunch by the river and a mockingjay flies up; Katniss or Gale sings the mockingjay call, then all the mockingjays in the area start singing it and it echoes off the stone walls, then Katniss is asked to start singing so she sings The Hanging Tree, and in the next scene, we see the dam busters singing it as well. This is part of the "art of revolution" they are teaching to the audience, what is required of leadership so that, like the mockingjays all making their noise, the voice of direction and unity doesn't get lost, but they are all united, as in the next scene.
Again, we see this exact argument used about American soldiers during World War II in Emperor with Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox, that American soldiers are too soft (they have too many feelings) but it's exactly because of their humanity that they can endure and fight for what they love and believe in (and I am confident we will see this in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken next month). What about the place where Gale finds Peeta, Johanna and Annie?
The Capitol has always suppressed communication between the different Districts, Beetee tells Katniss, but it's even worse during the rebellion going on. Why is Beetee in a wheelchair? They don't go into it, but it's most likely that, when Katniss destroyed the arena, not only did she temporarily become paralyzed, but Beetee did permanently. It's possible that, symbolically, this is a sign of his "wounded" pride: Katniss figured out how to do what Beetee didn't. 
The facility where the Capitol was torturing the victors was a medical facility; now, who in history has used its prisoners for medical tests? The Nazis, and we saw this in Cowboys and Aliens (please see Cowboys and Aliens: the US-British Alliance for more) and with Bolivar Trask in X-Men Days Of Future Past (and this will have greater significance in the Mockingjay 2). What does Peeta, Johanna and Annie look like when they are with the others? Exactly like prisoners from concentration camps. They are all, literally, skin and bones, especially the strong-willed Johanna; they have been beaten and tortured and their eyes are dark hollows in their head. Because socialists have no value for human life, there is no sanctity to defending it; for Katniss, however, she values human life absolutely, meaning, it doesn't matter who it is, what matters is that they are human. Ultimately, this will be the conflict that forms between Katniss and Coin. Speaking of Coin,...
So, hair symbolizes the thoughts; then what does this mean? There are two elements, the color and the style. The lavender suggests homosexuality, but this doesn't have to be overt: Cesar and Peeta have been discussing how Katniss might have known about the rebellion and "turned" on the Capitol, after the "Capitol adored her and did so much for her," and she's part of this terrible rebellion, and is biting the hand that fed her, specifically Cesar who favored Katniss above the others: this is probably why his hair is standing straight up, like "getting your back up," when Buttercup "bristles" with displeasure, we see Cesar, in a rather emotional interview, also getting his back up and his hair illustrates  his "distressed" emotional state and that Cesar's affection is switching towards Peeta. The eyes are the windows of the soul, and the "eye brows" are part of the eyes, so what do the lavender eye brows suggest? Generally, we have thoughts that come and go, change and grow; the soul grows steadily, but seems to remain unchanged immediately. Cesar's eyebrows matching his hair (his soul reflecting the same thing that is going on in his mind) suggests that Cesar is incredibly shallow, that there is no depth to his soul, that whatever passes his mind, becomes his soul because he doesn't give a thought to his soul, only his appearance.
She has a pretty good showing in this film: her wise judgment in not retaliating against the Capitol for firing on the rebel base saves the lives of all them and she is able to build on Katniss' image to unite the districts and pose a formidable threat to Snow. Coin's best moment, however, is when she addresses all those at the rebel base and tells them the victors have been liberated, they will no longer endure injustice, but have elected leaders, and they will get to share the fruits of their labors instead of fighting each other for scraps like they do now. These can all be directed against the Obama administration since 2008, so this speech is quite the rallying call against the Department of Justice (which is anything but just) and Obama himself because of the abuses they have piled up like the incinerated corpses of District 12.
I hope I have at least suggested how integrated and self-aware Francis Lawrence has created the film, because it is. I usually only get to see a film once, and then immediately have to start writing the post, so I don't get much time to think on things, or to go back and pick up things I might have missed the first time; the first viewing is a go, so if I have missed things, and I certainly have, it's my fault, not the film's. In this image, we see Pollux, the one who has had his tongue cut out and can't speak. The moment you see here doesn't happen, that is, he--nor the rest of the film crew--get in battle gear, so the poster of them dressed as such is interesting, and accurate. Making this movie, Mockingjay, is a battle, it's part of the artillery of war, so this is more of a self-portrait for Francis Lawrence than of the character Pollux, but it also illustrates what we have been discussing the last two years, and that is the active role films have been taking in the "revolution," either to advance socialism or defend capitalism, and how the movies really are at "war" with one another.
At the very beginning of the film, we see Katniss crouched in a dark corner, hyperventilating, and repeating basic identity information about herself to herself; why? If you lose your identity, you lose your way, and--just like Katniss--America needs to do the same thing, remember who we are. I actually wasn't expecting very much, from Mockingjay, and I was completely wrong: Francis Lawrence has made a politically compelling film, and a symbolically rich narrative; if you think you are going to be bored, then that's my fault, not the film makers'. This is a powerful film and a film that could trigger political consequences.
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