Monday, February 2, 2015

TRAILERS: Super Bowl Trailers, Child 44, Spy, Home Sweet Hell

Usually, when Americans are watching TV, we want to skip the commercials, but during the sports holiday known as Super Bowl Sunday, it's an upside-down world: we don't want to watch the game, we want to watch the commercials; why? Because it costs around $4.5 million for 30 seconds of exposure; this has done two things. First, it has made companies create the very "best" commercials they possibly can for their public image; second, knowing the stakes ("You mean they spent $4.5 million to make us watch that?" in which case, public exposure turns to public humiliation) makes it a kind of "sport within a sport," and Americans are no longer the passive recipients of brand advertising/brainwashing, but we become the judges, the critics, the scorekeepers, as company anxiously vies against company for the title of,.... "Best Super Bowl Commercial."
Yes, it's pretty exciting.
I don't have this on any authority whatsoever, this is just a personal guess: I think we have seen the "composite" Paul Walker, which reportedly was one of the means the studio was going to overcome the tragic death of the beloved star to re-write and compensate for what was left undone; why would they put a composite (Paul's face and his brothers' faces) in the trailer? To test it and see if fans accepted that as being him or not. It's possible that the footage we have seen so far thus is actually Paul Walker, but the way the camera lingers on him in certain areas of the trailers, I just have a hunch that maybe this is what they decided to do to see how it would play, if at all.
There were three films which did not make a Super Bowl appearance, and they were rather expected to: Mission Impossible V, having moved its release date from Christmas day to August, has not yet released a trailer; given the huge haul Ghost Protocol brought in, many of us--yes, that includes myself--were expecting at least thirty seconds of Ethan Hunt about to die in some mind-blowing stunt; but we didn't get it, we got an amazing Vin Diesel doing the death-defying stunt instead, please see below. This would have been the optimal release opportunity for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice; but I guess they are still going with Jupiter Ascending instead. Speaking of Henry Cavill, a number of predictions included a possible trailer for Guy Ritchie's August film, The Man From UNCLE, which obviously didn't show either. So, taking "crazy" to a whole new level, let's start:
Two important things happen in this trailer. First, this guy, that we don't know but we're about to, blows up the home of the hero who got a second chance; if you will recall from F & F 6, when Dom and the gang saved the world from a nuclear explosion, the one thing Dom wanted was to go back home to #1327 (in spite of his millions; this theme of belonging at "home" is important in the film, and the dominate reason why Gisele and Han--self-proclaimed "citizens of the world"--don't survive the film, because they didn't value their roots and family the way Dom and the others do). This blowing up of the home is something we also saw in Transformers: Age Of Extinction; just ask yourself, is there someone that none of us knew much about previously, who started setting fires all over our homes (America), but we know a lot more of now?...
Please note that, instead of being dressed in expensive, fancy clothes, Dom still wears the uniform of a mechanic, a blue-collar, working class American. Why is that important? Because the money isn't important: what's important to Dom is protecting the people he loves, and doing what he loves. He can only do that in America. That was part of the whole problem opening F & F 6: the barbecue tastes the same, but it's just not home. The desire to be worthy of the freedom that America promises its citizens drove Dom and the others to risk their lives to be able to come back and live in peace. Again, we saw this in Transformers 4 with Mark Wahlberg's character wanting to have his home, raise his daughter, and invent stuff. None of us like having to pay the bills, so it's nice when there is enough money to pay for your passion, but that's possible in America, they don't want much, and most Americans don't, but what we want, we want. 
The other thing going on in this trailer is, in effect, an homage to Alfred Hitchcock. In films such as Torn Curtain and North by Northwest, among others, Hitchcock would shoot a scene of people in the theater, or art auction, and there was this thrilling drama going on around them, but they were completely oblivious to it until something BIG happened, and we see that in this trailer with the car crashing through the outside of the building. It's important that we take notice, this is an art exhibit, why?
For two reasons.
The stunt is very similar to the one Paul Walker does in the first released trailer with him making the impossible leap from the falling black van to the cliff edge and Lettie using her car to offer him a hand; remember, "originality" isn't important, it's the recurring patterns that we are interested in, and there is probably another one with the "girl fight" we get a quick glance of, because the car is the same color as Lettie's dress she's wearing when she goes falling over the railing. We can't say a whole lot, at this moment, about this scene specifically, but there are two points I do want to point out. First, this "leap" isn't an accident, it's highly reminiscent--if not a direct quote, which I think it is--of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, when Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been imprisoned in The Pit and he has to make a "leap of faith" to get out of it and stop the fall of Gotham. The leap Wayne makes is without the rope, without the safety, because he knows that if he falls, he dies, so he tries even harder to make it and that is what gives him the edge to get to safety (this is a metaphor for capitalism and risk-ventures). We see Dom taking the same kind of leap of faith in the trailer. There is also the issue of the car being the "vehicle" which allows Dom to make that leap. The cars of the Fast and Furious franchise are as famous as the actors themselves, and without those cars, and the individual modifications which different racers made to them each in a bid to win their race or do whatever the driver was requiring of them. That's not directly the free market, but that is the larger effect the free market has had on America: invention and innovation, from the macro to the micro. 
First, because the film makers want us to notice that F & F 7 is crashing the world of art, i.e., it's a work of art itself, it has something to say, not just mindless entertainment; note all the glass--symbolic of "reflection" we are supposed to be doing, as well as the bright sunlight, symbolizing "illumination" and "enlightening" which the film is doing for us about what the film is trying to do in general. Second, it's crashing into a specific kind of art that has presented itself as art, namely, the Asian art we see in the exhibit that Dom drives through. Of all the art in the history of the world, why choose a mix of ancient (the Terra Cotta figures) and modern (the contemporary art pieces hanging on the walls)? Because the culture of Asia has always displayed (loosely) "communistic" tendencies throughout the region's history, with little regard for individuals and property rights. Dom crashing through there is what Dom represents crashing through Asian-style communism.
This is a photo of Keanu Reeves' film from last summer, 47 Ronin, which I liked (apart from a few script pacing problems). Why post this here? If you stop the Furious 7 trailer at about 0:53, you will see the Terra Cotta army figures (invoking) the burial tomb of Chinese Emperor Qin (go ahead, click on this link because you need to see what the actual ones look like); the ones in the trailer, however, don't look like the men in Qin's army, who appear dressed in clothes rather than battle armor; but the figures in the trailer do look like many of the armed militants in various places of 47 Ronin (the image above was the best thing I could find; I see the greatest similarity with the man in the front row, at the end, on the right side with his helmet on and both hands on his sword). Why invoke this film? It was heavily anti-Obama, like, really anti-Obama, like, 'We need to go to war and kick that impostor out" anti-Obama. 
I'm sure there is more we can discuss, but for now, let's leave it at that. We also saw a quick trailer for George Clooney's Tomorrowland: utopia. Solve all the world's problems, all we have to do, is go there. How socialist can you get? There was also a trailer for Ted 2; I don't plan on seeing the film (speaking of that, I guess there was also a trailer for Fifty Shades Of Grey) but I know there are people who will, and I think there are some points to be made about it,... later. In the meantime, Pitch Perfect 2 getting a Super Bowl ad shocked more than just myself. I liked Pitch Perfect (in spite of the aggressive female sexuality it seemed to be advertising) but I think this might be one of those sequels where number two might be better than number one. Rebel Wilson poses a poignant question in this trailer:
Why is the most talented person on the American team from Australia? That's actually a good question. No offense, my beloved readers in Australia: this is what keeps America going. If just White Anglo-Saxon Protestants were buying into the American Dream, and no one else was concerned with "making it" in America or Hollywood, or New York City, the country would come to an end. That doesn't mean that we should bless an illegal invasion meant to cause health epidemics and crash the economy; it means that when one person in America succeeds, regardless of where they came from, we all succeed, because it means that the system is still properly working and that it's a universal dream, to be successful at what you do and be rewarded for it. On the other hand,... there is Jurassic World;  please pick out the key line in this trailer:
Did you find it?
"It's killing for sport."
I don't know about you, but this reminds me of The Hunger Games, and the "sport" that was made out of kids killing kids (you might also think of the massive killing of the American buffalo on the plains, to the point of extinction). We know the dinosaur was created as a "corporate mandate" to make new attractions to keep the park open for business, and the dinosaur eating the "Jaws" bait at the start of the trailer signifies the audience, always "up to the bait" of a summer blockbuster (we'll look at Child 44 below which says "Murder is strictly a capitalist disease") but what's really under attack is "innovation" and "individuality," the exact same qualities we see celebrated in the Fast and Furious 7 trailer. Notices what happens at 0:26 in the trailer.
Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, The Help) portrays Beth in Jurassic World. Here, we can see how she is going to probably be portrayed as an upper-class, out-of-touch-with-reality scientist/elitist; Chris Pratt, on the other hand, looks like he occupies a more humble abode, judging by the background, so this hero will be the under-paid everyman who comes in and tells everyone what's going on. Under realistic circumstances, i.e., the events of the first three films actually having taken place, the international community would have regulated the experimentation that is taking place in the trailer that we have seen; but they don't want to use that, because they need to scare us to death about what capitalism can do to us so Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pott, Mao, Che, Castro, etc., won't look so bad compared to a T-Rex. 
"You just went and made a new dinosaur?" and as those words are said, we see Beth's reflection in the glass. What does that mean? The dinosaur is probably the metaphor for Beth herself, because at 0:41, when he says, "It's killing for sport," the camera is on her again. From the first trailer that was released, when the boys' mom tells them that, if anything chases them, "Run!" and at 0:44 Beth yells "Run!" (well, she does in the first one when she's holding the flares). This might mean--if I am right and even I will admit I am reading an awful lot into this trailer--that there is redemption for Beth if she sacrifices herself.
Okay, moving on.
Having Miss Lib herself, Julianne Moore, cast as an evil witch in the film makes a political statement to me, at least, but, if nothing else, her costume certainly does. It's something of a mix between the evil Queen in Mirror, Mirror (Julia Roberts) and the evil Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman (Charlize Theron). The black feathers (Theron) and the extended neck collar (Roberts) invoke both those characters who were (different) faces of socialism in anti-socialist films.
This is a placement that surprises me: okay, no, it shocked me, and I don't think I am the only one. Seventh Son has sat on the shelves for more than a year, and they finally, after several re-schedules, they finally decided to dump it in January; then they decided to dump it in February, this weekend, to be exact, opposite Jupiter Ascending, which I am not going to go see (but I will talk about, like tomorrow, because I need to justify why I am not going to go see it), however, I am interested to go and see Seventh Son, even though no one else is. Why? There is the idea of "fate," the seventh son of a seventh son who is destined to become a "spook" (a hunter of witches and other such stuff) and fate is typically not a pro-socialist concept, neither are families with seven kids in them. Then there are the references to what is going on today: "war is coming," all "We live in a world now where legend and nightmare are real."
Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy make a great team, and they have teamed-up again in Child 44 based on an international best-seller and a true story; Ridley Scott is one of the producers. FYI: last year, the studio said they were working on a sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy based on John LeCarre's book Smiley's People, which is fantastic! They are hoping for shooting to begin this year and all the actors from TTSS have been notified and expressed desire to return, including Oldman. There are two, rather different trailers for Child 44, so we will watch them both, here's the first:
This is the UK trailer:
"Murder is strictly a capitalist disease" is a pretty strong statement; why? Well, again, it's the idea that a socialist/communist society is a utopia, that when everyone is equal, when no one wants for anything, and everyone is equally miserable, I mean, equally happy, then there is no reason for anyone to turn violent against their fellow man unless it's the government killing them en masse. This is the same utopia that is being advertised in Tomorrowland with George Clooney: Want to solve all the world's problems? It appears, however, with Child 44 that the gross imperfections of the Soviet system (i.e., how socialist/communist societies actually operate) is going to be the real topic of the film. Here, however, are two films I am confident will be pro-socialist:
How on earth can I possibly call this a "pro-socialist" film? Well, what has happened? The top players, the "big league," the "master spies," are being toppled, and overtaken and the "lower" tier is being moved up and taken over; this is what happens in a socialist revolution, with the addition of oceans of bloodshed. This is what happened in The Lego Movie with that lego guy, who built that double-decker couch, and ended up as a better master builder than the master builder. Of course I believe in people getting to advance and fulfill their dreams, but this isn't what Spy is about, because the "real spies" have to be taken out of the picture first. In Fast and Furious 6, for example, Hobbes and Dom's team worked together so that the best was brought out in everyone; Spy just wants to show how the people who have been at the top don't deserve to be there and never did. Which brings us to the last trailer for today:
Essentially, this is the exact opposite of the Anthony Mackie, Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg film, Pain and Gain, when the three body builders kidnap the rich guy and steal everything he has, then do it again to the porn producer; this couples "Goals" are getting put above people's lives; whereas Pain and Gain demonstrated how redistribution doesn't work, Home Sweet Hell wants to demonstrate how people setting goals for their lives doesn't work because when something gets in my way, I will just kill you over it so I can stick to my goal planner.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Almost forgot: the new Aston Martin DB10, customized for Spectre.