Monday, January 23, 2017

TRAILERS: Logan #2, Power Rangers #2

There are two great songs used in this trailer: Jim Croce's I've Got A Name, which we hear on the radio in the background at the gas station, and Kaleo's Way Down We Go. This is a great example of "marginalia," that is, important details we tend to sweep to the side (the margins of the experience) and don't allow those marginalia details explain the rest. I've Got A Name explains what all three main characters are going through, to a greater or lesser degree: the girl is simply being referred to as X-23; even though they are famous and part of the Marvel Comic Books we see in the trailer, being "Professor X" or "Logan" or "Wolverine" isn't really a name, it's a character, it's what is expected. Think of it like this: your identity at work, vs your identity at home. Work only knows a certain part of you, but not the real name to which you answer, not the name that contains all the life experiences you have ever had. This leads us to the second song, Way Down We Go. Where is the "down" that we are supposed to be going "way" into? Within. We have to go way down within, and we have to do it with others. That's why we hear Professor X saying, "This is what life looks like." Most of us actually don't know that. Life is where we go deep within ourselves, and it's with those we love and who love us that we do it. THAT is what gives us life, anything else is just passing time and wasting away.
"In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hideout on the Mexican border. But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces." I loved Wolverine, I thought it was an incredible film, and at this point, I am trusting the film making talent behind Logan. I have to say, this second trailer looks pretty good, as now, we finally know what power the new young mutant possesses in terms of, uh, powers.
Okay, what do we see her doing in this first clip? She eats junk food--not an apple, or something nutritious--then she drinks a carbonated beverage--not water or juice--and she covers her eyes with a cheap pair of sunglasses and then looks at herself in a very narrow mirror, eating. When confronted about "paying," she runs away. When "confronted" for not paying, she bullies the helpless clerk until Logan comes and "disciplines" her, but then demonstrates he is just as bad as she is because he takes the cigars. So, what do we have in this opening scene?
The future.
"We've got ourselves an X-Men fan. Maybe a quarter of this happened, but not like this." Why introduce the comic books at all into the narrative? Obviously, we haven't seen the film, however, it suggests, rather strongly, a self-consciousness and--believe it or not--dedication to reality. First, Logan becomes self-conscious of what he has done, seen and been a part of when flipping through the comic book pages makes him realize and confront the way society sees him and the other X-Men. When Logan says, "It didn't happen like this," it doesn't matter, actually, how it did or did not happen, what matters is, there are X-Men, and the world knows about them, and the world made them into heroes. Why? Through them, we not only see our own struggles (in terms of metaphors) but we also see the possibility of heroic virtue: through adversity comes the chance for greatness, even if it's only in our own little world of influence, we do not remain mediocrities and we do not remain a passive, unthinking blob upon which things are acted, but has no will or freedom of its own. This leads us to dedication to reality: the pain, suffering and sacrifice is real: this isn't about whipping out your claws and taking all the Pringles and soda you want, whenever you want; no matter who you are, and what power you have, there are laws by which you must still abide and consequences you will have to pay if you make certain decisions. Logan isn't forever young, he's suffering, he's in chronic pain and he can barely take care of himself and Professor X, and now he has to take care of this young girl, too. Isn't that what generally happens in life, you have more than enough, and then God puts another big scoop onto your plate? The film takes place in 2029, so that the girl is 11 means she hasn't been born yet, she won't be born until 2018, and so her actions we see her taking--taking the food and the glasses, engaging in self-reflection as she watches herself in the mirror, but only with the "shades" covering her eyes (the glasses covering her soul so she can't look down too deeply) and in only a narrow slit of a mirror--proves that Professor X is right: she and Logan are a lot alike. 
We know that children symbolize the future, and young girls specifically symbolize the future "motherland"; Logan is a difficult call at this point: when a man is in his prime and of child-bearing capabilities, he symbolizes the economy, the active principle of a cultural identification, compared to women of a child-bearing age who symbolize the passive principle of the "motherland." Older women, past child-bearing age, symbolize the cultural heritage and traditions of a people and culture, whereas senior men symbolize the founding fathers, the law, history and continuity. It's easy to see Professor X in this role, but is Logan--who is centuries old, yet still looks younger than Professor X, in spite of his decreasing ability to regenerate his wounds--still of "child-bearing age?"  At 2:07, when the girl and Logan are in the car (Professor X presumably dead at this point) they very much look like father and child, and given the girl's unique trait that is shared only with Logan, we can say, yes, she is meant to be Logan's "daughter" in some symbolic way.
So, where on earth did this limo come from they are driving around in? (They aren't in the limo in this scene, I don't think, but you know the limo I mean). I'm not sure, but I do know that all those busted windows refer to Logan's smashed attempts at self-reflection (when Logan leaves the car and Professor X wants him to talk and Logan doesn't; Logan's refusal is what busts up those windows, and somehow, Logan is going to have to teach the girl how to NOT be like him and refuse to self-reflect). So, what role does Professor X play in the film? For one, he literally is the "founding father" figure because the X-Men are named for him. So his insistence that the girl needs their help, and the confrontation with Logan, "Someone will come along," and then, "Someone has come along," is the conflict of Logan vs everything Professor X taught all of his X-Men: duty. There is not one of us who face, probably on a daily basis, the same conflict we see enacted between Professor X and Logan: let someone else do it, be the one who does it. Basically, Logan hasn't learned anything. He's done great things, he has helped a lot of people, but after everything, Logan won't let anyone help him, and he really doesn't want to help anyone either. That is the basic narrative conflict we are going to be seeing, and that's why Logan is relevant to us today.
Having discussed that, let's consider the second trailer for The Power Rangers. Growing up as a kid in the 80's, the Power Rangers weren't one of the shows I ever watched, but they have obviously gone to a great deal of trouble to create the best film they can:
In numerous ways, this looks a lot like Thor and Chronicle,...okay, it's like any other film we have ever seen, but in its incredibly concentrated package of reluctant-young-and-unprepared-heroes-who-are-in-a-race-against-time-to-overcome-their-differences-to-save-the-world, we see the golden nugget which compels us all to strive for heroic virtue: excellence. There is no such thing as a loser in America, unless you desperately want to be a loser, in which case, you become a Liberal, but anyone and everyone in America has opportunity, to fight and destroy the evil that wants to destroy everything, which is, YES, you guessed it! Mediocrity! How do we know that? Each power ranger is a different color, and each color symbolizes a virtue. Either they have difficulties in embracing that virtue, or that is the virtue which they most easily excel, however, the green we see Elizabeth Banks' character wear will threaten each of them; how? Green symbolizes that there is something "rotten," and she will mirror to them that which is "rotten" within them and which they have to use their particular virtue to overcome. A new teaser has been dropped for King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword, so we will discuss that next!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner