Monday, October 10, 2016


Even though the first trailer hasn't yet been released, we are likely to see something for Wolverine 3, officially titled Logan for Hugh Jackman's iconic character. This film being the last time Jackman will portray Wolverine before a younger actor takes over, we got the byline that Wolverine is older and his healing abilities have diminished, so he's in chronic pain and drinking a lot because of it, and it takes a toll on Logan. Patrick Stewart returns as Professor Xavier, pictured here, he has taken quite a beating himself; of the character, Stewart says he imagines this is the end of the franchise for himself. In other news, Jon Favreau, who did such a fab job on The Jungle Book, is now in talks to direct a live-animation feature for Disney of The Lion King; similarly, Guy Ritchie is in talks to do the same with Aladdin
With New York City Comic Con going on this last weekend, a ton of new trailers have been dropping, so, before we get any further behind, let's get caught up, shall we? First of all, this trailer for Queen of Katwe made my day; it's all ready been released, but it was limited, and you are more apt to see it at a kiosk than the theater, but this is definitely one to catch:
I don't think it would be possible to have a story more celebratory--not only of achievement and fighting incredible odds against you--but of faith as well. One person makes a difference, and one person lifts everyone else up with them, so that the success of one becomes the success of all. Chess is a hobby of mine, I'm no good at it, but even with my limited capacities I had heard of Phiona, she is that renowned and famous in the chess world. To demonstrate what a true story this is, here's a short documentary on what real life is like for Phiona:
I love my country, I love being an American, but I also love Phiona's incredible embracing of life and her gratitude for what she has--walking 3 miles to school each day, being able to say her prayers to God--and how quickly the abundance of resources in a first world country tempts us to take things for granted; amidst the trash we see, she found something of incomparable worth,... God's gift to her, the gift to play chess, AND the gift of a teacher to help her strengthen her gift; as the doc makes clear, her gift for chess expands to all other parts of her life, not just what is happening on the game board, but every decision she makes. When we are really using our gifts and talents for God's glory, everything fits together like that, and we fulfill our total capacity for virtue and become a blessing to all others as well; THAT is what is meant by leading a holy life pleasing to God. Whatever gift and talent God has blessed you with, do it for Him as Phiona plays chess for God. If you don't know what your gift is, pray that God will reveal it to you: it's quite possible that everyone else knows what your gift is, but you don't, and if you do know what your gift is, thank God for it, and ask Him to help you use it to His glory, that it will grow and help you fulfill your destiny.
In addition to Depp returning to his most lucrative role, Orlando Bloom, Kevin McNally as Gibbs, Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa and Keith Richards as Sparrow's dad will all be donning their pirate gear. The story line that has heretofore been released is only that Salazaar is an old foe of Sparrow's and Sparrow is pitted against him, presumably for Sparrow's life. This is a legitimate story line, but knowing that Depp helped to craft it, we can safely assume this will be a pro-socialist film; why? Salazaar is likely to be a capitalist figure, even perhaps a Donald Trump figure, as we saw in The Magnificent Seven. 
The long a-waited Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales, has finally released the first trailer. As is usually the case with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), he's trying to avoid something, in this case, his old rival, Captain Salazaar (Javier Bardem):
So far, this looks like it could have been taken from the first film, Curse Of the Black Pearl, in which Barbossa's men had all become the "undead" because of the cursed treasure they had stolen and were desperate to pay back. The "red coats," i.e., the British mariners on board being ambushed by Salazaar's crew, obviously symbolize the law and order of the wild world of the high seas, and they have quickly been done in without any fight at all. At 0:46, we see an interesting detail: medals pinned to the coat of Salazaar. Those medals would have to have been awarded from the same "law and order" system which he now slashes through with his sword, with no thought of who he kills at all.
In this brief clip, both Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Salazaar (Bardem) have mouth symbols communicating to us. Henry's lip is bleeding, almost as if he had bitten it; why? The mouth, we know, symbolizes the appetites, so Henry is either pouring out his blood for his appetites, his appetites are costing him his life (blood is often linked to life itself) or Henry is willing to give his life (the blood) for that which he hungers for; we won't know exactly until we see the film. Salazaar, on the other hand, has black stuff, like ink, coming out of his mouth, especially when he gives the message to Henry that he wants delivered to Sparrow; why? Henry's red blood is a sign of the life in him the Henry can do what he wants with it; the black blood from Salazaar's mouth shows he is dead and has nothing but death to offer and give. 
Another important detail--besides the pirates obviously being supernatural--is the way this supernatural quality is emphasized: the movements of Salazaar's hair as he walks. His hair looks more like it's flowing in water, rather than being subjected to the "natural laws" of gravity and motion (when you or I walk, our hair doesn't move the way Salazaar's moves in this clip). Why is this important? Because it demonstrates how these pirates are completely outside the realm of law and order, not just man's laws of conduct upon the high seas, but nature's laws as well (well, yea, duh, I mean, they're ghosts, of course they are outside the natural laws, and they are pirates, so of course they are outside man's laws). The point is, these are details supporting the larger narrative order upon which the plot will base itself; picking up details like this--images of law and order and how Salazaar goes against them--will help us detect the important characteristics of the story so we know exactly what is happening, in the story and in the encoding of the story.
So, you have probably heard/seen by now that Daniel Craig is saying he still wants to play James Bond. This actually makes much more sense then bringing on someone new at this point. In this newest and widely publicized interview, Craig reveals that playing Bond is the greatest job in the world and he would miss it "terribly" if he didn't get to do it again. Craig is contractually obligated to play Bond once more, but then is free to negotiate further films on a individual basis after that, should he choose to return after his five-film agreement. It seemed definite that Craig would return, prior to the filming of Spectre, as co-star Christoph Waltz's contract became public afterwards, specifying that Waltz has signed on to playing Blofeld for a total of three films, including Spectre, on the condition that Craig returned as Bond. So, Craig's threat to leave the franchise not only throws his own career in jeopardy for failing to meet his obligations, but the careers of many others as well, especially Lea Seydoux (Madeline), Naomi Harris (Moneypenny) and Ben Whishaw (Q) who were surely counting on their roles to take them to bigger and better things. This doesn't mean, however, that we can count on a new Bond any time soon: Craig has numerous projects lined up so best case scenario would be another Bond film in about three years, although they like to turn them around ever two years. But, all in all, I would say this is good news. Now, what about the temper tantrum Craig threw, eh? Who hasn't had a bad day? Craig has done an awfully good job of keeping his nose clean, and while I think it's entirely possible--maybe even probable--that Craig was told to make "slashing your wrists" comments to turn audience members off of seeing the film, it is possible he wasn't and that is me just reading into the situation of a long pattern of celebrity behavior in general and throwing Craig into it that category because of the others; but I am confident, time will tell.
And now, the trailer many have waited to see since John Wick first came out, John Wick: Chapter 2, and the fitting of the tactical suit:
Rome is empty.
Did you notice how there is no one at the Coliseum, St. Peter's, or on the streets? We also see an important, albeit, brief, shot of Wick's back, the tattoo reminding us that "Fortune favors the bold," as well as another important detail: John is still wearing his wedding band. Even though Helen, his wife, died at the start of the first film, she makes another appearance in Chapter 2. An important detail: why does John Wick want two buttons on his jacket? Given the design is "tactical," fewer buttons probably makes sense, however, "two," as St. Augustine tells us in The City Of God that the number two usually symbolizes unity, because there must be two persons of things before they can become unified into one, as with a man and woman united in matrimony. In this case, I am guessing, Wick is united with his blood brother with whom he has an oath to stop a female crime lord (Ruby Rose, looking like Justin Bieber) from seizing control of an assassin's union.
"The man, the myth, the legend." What does that mean? It's deconstruction, revealing to us all the ambiguity inherent to John Wick and how that will make it impossible to really know who John Wick is. "Whoever comes, I will kill them all." You know, that should really be the motto of every Christian, because, who is it that "comes" for us? Demons. Temptations. Vice and even just bad habits. A Christian's life is just like this poster: every second, we have guns to our head, we are surrounded by sin and worldliness and we have to fight our way out of it. We have to kill them all in order to earn the "I" of the statement, because if we allow those coming for us to triumph, there is no "I" left, we are enslaved to those bad habits that become vices and then we are demons ourselves. The Bowler King (Luarence Fishburne) says, "John Wick, you're not very good at retiring," and Wick replies, "I'm working on it." This line contains a great contradiction: to be retired means you are no longer working, to be working means you are not retired. 
Since we have Keanu Reeves up to bat all ready, let's check out this trailer for The Whole Truth. These symbols are pretty much stock, so see if you can decode it before reading my analysis below, good luck!:
Now, dealing just with the trailer, because other details will be given in the film to which we don't have access right now, but just going with what we see before us: we know that women symbolize "the mother land," and children symbolize the future; we know men symbolize the economy because of the active principle they embody. So, how does this reflect the society that has produced this film? We have the "lie" that has been rehearsed that the children, i.e., the Millennials, killed the capitalist economy (the father/husband) when they voted in Obama, and they choose to do that because they believed a capitalist economy (the father/husband) was beating up women and produced an unfair and biased economy (the mother/wife falsely being beaten). It was, however, the woman who killed the husband (women voting for socialism) that was the real killer, even though Millennials left their prints on the voting process. Now, there is another white man who appears to be afraid of the whole truth--and what it could mean for him--and a black woman who sees what really happened and wants justice. To demonstrate, let's look at Rebecca Hall as Christine, the news anchor who, God rest her soul, committed suicide on air during her broadcast:
By all accounts, Christine Chubbock was depressed because she never went out on more than two dates with a man and, turning thirty, she desperately wanted to be married and have kids, and that is, ultimately, why she killed herself, because she was emotionally desperate. Here is the official synopsis for the film:

Rebecca Hall stars in director Antonio Campos' third feature film, CHRISTINE, the story of a woman who finds herself caught in the crosshairs of a spiraling personal life and career crisis. Christine, always the smartest person in the room at her local Sarasota, Florida news station, feels like she is destined for bigger things and is relentless in her pursuit of an on-air position in a larger market. As an aspiring newswoman with an eye for nuance and an interest in social justice, she finds herself constantly butting heads with her boss (Tracy Letts), who pushes for juicier stories that will drive up ratings. Plagued by self-doubt and a tumultuous home life, Christine’s diminishing hope begins to rise when an on-air co-worker (Michael C. Hall) initiates a friendship which ultimately becomes yet another unrequited love. Disillusioned as her world continues to close in on her, Christine takes a dark and surprising turn.

Christine didn't seek promotions or to further her career, she sought to improve her personal and romantic life. That's obviously not what the film makers are focusing on, rather, on the "horrible" white male boss who stands in her way and makes her compromise her news stories for the sake of "ratings."  Now, let's look at the second trailer about another woman, Alice, who doesn't let anyone stand in her way:
I hope you picked up on the line, "Kill every last one of them," because we just heard that in John Wick Chapter 2 above as well. What are the differences between Alice and Christine? Christine seems to be blaming others for her problems, and, unlike the Queen of Katwe who uses chess to help her make good decisions, we see Christine basically paralyzed to the point she can't make decisions. With Alice, she is taking everything upon herself: she's going to get justice from the Umbrella organization, and she's going to save humanity. Who was it that first got the virus that spread so the rest of the world? A child. In Underworld: Blood Wars, there is a battle over a child, Selene's daughter:
I just don't know what to make of the Underworld films, even after I have seen them. One problem is the "heroes" are all anti-heroes, and as such, can't be morally identified with; which leads to the problem that, whatever message--good or bad--these film makers want to impart to the audience, is utterly garbled. Let's take a look at one last woman before we move on in this trailer (Owen Wilson is in this, so it's obviously obscene, sorry):
The good thing about this is, in a backwards sort of way, it is supposed to be elevating the dignity of women: whatever you say about a woman, know that is someone's mom,... their sister,... their aunt, their daughter,... and we saw this in Ted 2 during Ted's bachelor party and they are watching bears mating on a documentary and one of the guys says, "Remember, that's someone's daughter," because, even though the female was a bear, it was still a female who had a father and mother, so how much more so dignified are we human women? And now, in this trailer, we are going to see kids who are at rock bottom but only so a greater good can take place:
The interesting thing about films like this is: everything has to all ready be in place before the "change" takes place, in other words, a bad bully isn't suddenly going to become a nice guy who defends the weak; a guy who has always defended others is going to become enhanced to he can do even more: those who can be trusted in small tasks, will be trusted with greater tasks. Virtue that has been exercised becomes its own super-power, even when it doesn't seem like it. Let's pause for a moment and look at the newest Pierce Brosnan film, Urge, and consider the opposite of exercising virtue:
This film is definitely pro-socialist, because it's trying to reveal that you are not your wildest desires, you are, rather, the continual decision NOT to act upon your urges, you are human, not an animal, even though socialists want you to believe that. This next one is going to be a great film:
Not just because we stood (mostly) united in the wake of (another) terrorist attack, but because of the total fearlessness and utter devotion of the men and women in blue, our officers of the law, who are called to lay down their lives at any moment for their country and neighbors. What was a terror attack turned into a day of patriotism. Whatever we are called to do, we must do it to the utmost of our ability, as we see in this last trailer:
There is a great irony to watching films: we go to movies to escape the drudgery of our daily lives, but in the films we watch, we find them in their daily routines, and then something extraordinary happens, and all they want, is to get back to their daily lives and that boring routine that we were escaping in our own lives by going to the movies. "We are linemen. That's what we do," is like hearing Alice in Resident Evil loading her guns and saying, "This is what I do," Whether you are an Alice or a lineman or neither, whatever you have to do is yours, it is your responsibility to do it and do it to the very best of your ability; you probably don't see it, but God does and He knows. Like the Phiona, the Queen of Katwe, whatever it is you do, do for the Lord.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner