Monday, November 19, 2018

How Credence Can Be a Dumbledore: Fantastic Beasts 2

Bloggers and vloggers alike have scoured the texts and concluded: there is no way that the character heretofore known as "Credence Barebone" (Ezra Miller) can be a brother to Albus Dumbledore biologically (that is, through the same parents who gave birth to Albus, Aberforth and Arianna), which leads to two possibilities. The first is what I think many are settling on as the most likely answer--although that's also not stopping us from coming up with more outlandish theories as well--and that is, quite simply, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is lying to Credence about being a brother to Albus Dumbledore. There are a couple of good reasons to suspect this: first, in the same breath Grindelwald tells Credence about being a Dumbledore, he blatantly lies and tells Credence that his "brother" (Albus) wants his total death and destruction and doesn't want Credence to attain to that which he himself has; this is obviously a lie, intended to drive Credence's hatred of someone he has never even met (much like the news of today's world creating divisive politics). In the beginning of the film, there is also the "gift" which Grindelwald gives to Abernathy for having posed as Grindelwald and had his tongue removed: the forked tongue.
A very important point has been raised by several people simultaneously: if Dumbledore can't move against Grindelwald, then why was he able to duel against him when Arianna was killed? Therein, we surmise, lies the answer: if Dumbledore or Grindelwald move against each other, then "blood is going to be spilled," not necessarily their own blood, but the blood of someone important to them, in that specific case, it was Arianna. Initially, when Dumbledore tells Harry Potter about it, Dumbledore has been afraid all those years that he was the one who accidentally cast the fatal spell; when Aberforth tells the story to Harry in The Deathly Hallows, Aberforth says it could have been any of the three of them, including himself; when Harry has "died" by Voldemort's wand and ascended to King's Cross Station where Dumbledore meets him, Dumbledore then says he thinks it was Grindelwald who did it because Grindelwald had lost control and, even though Dumbledore head seen that coming, he didn't want to admit it until it was too late. NOW, however, because we know of the blood pact, it's possible that none of the three were responsible for the spell that killed Arianna: it's possible that the three males (Grindelwald, Aberforth and Albus) only wanted to incapacitate the other two males, whereas Arianna--unable to realize what was happening, and unable to control her magic--was actually trying to kill Grindelwald (because she all ready killed her mother), and because of the blood pact (Arianna and Grindelwald shared blood because her and Albus shared blood), Arianna was killed herself; had Albus Dumbledore been trying to kill Grindelwald, Albus would have been the one to die, not Arianna, and the same with Aberforth. So, when Dumbledore tells someone, "I can't move against Grindelwald," he might be saying, "I can't move against Grindelwald or I will die just as my sister died." Let's consider Goblet Of Fire: even though it wasn't Harry who put his name into the Goblet to enter the Tri-Wizard Tournament, it was a binding, magical contract so he still had to compete; likewise, even though Arianna didn't enter into the blood pact between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, the blood pact was a binding, magical contract between Dumbledore's blood (and anyone else who shares his blood) and Grindelwald (and anyone else who shared Grindelwald's blood).
The forked tongue reminds us of The Goblet Of Fire when Peter Pettigrew cut off his right hand to aide Voldemort's return and Voldemort "gifted" Pettigrew with the silver hand in its place (which ended up killing him). Why did Grindelwald give Abernathy a forked tongue? So he would be more like his master. The forked tongue is a sign of the liar, and hence, has always been attributed to the devil himself, aka, the "Father Of Lies." A second indication that Grindelwald is lying is the death of Irma: Grimmson, the bounty hunter for the Ministry of Magic, is tasked by Grindelwald to protect Credence, and it's just before Irma can tell Credence anything that Grimmson shows up and kills her, thereby protecting Credence "from the truth" (but no one but Leta knows the babies were switched, I hear you argue, and that is correct, but it was still Credence who was given to Mary Lou, and he could have found something out; besides, no one but Leta knew, which means Grindelwald was NOT protecting Credence from mis-information [that he was Corvus LeStrange] but what Grindelwald also thinks could be true, that is, Credence was a LeStrange). This brings us to the major argument against Grindelwald lying: the phoenix.
Here is an important point: if Dumbledore can't move against Grindelwald because of their pact, then why is Grindelwald bothering to enlist Credence? We know that even Grindelwald's acolytes understand that Dumbledore is the only one standing in their path, but I would like to suggest that--even before the Niffler takes the blood pact vial--Grindelwald knows Dumblefore will figure out a way around the pact or of stopping him through some other means, so Grindelwald anticipates Dumblefore's defiance of their pact. The pact, then, acts like the famous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 signed between Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler: even though Hitler and Stalin knew they would be going to war against each other, they signed the treaty to buy themselves time. Germany needed to make sure that the Soviet Union would not open up a second front to World War II, splitting German resources, and the Soviet Union needed time to produce war weapons and mobilize, and didn't want to pose a threat to Germany before the war between the two was inevitable. In short, the blood pact--while it may have had a different purpose initially--is, by the time of Fantastic Beasts 2, essentially acting as this treaty between Germany and the Soviets: buying each other time. 
Apart from Dumbledore's pet phoenix Fawkes, we really don't know much about the phoenix, however, members of the critic community are guessing that the Elder Wand which Grindelwand controls would be capable of summoning one or even conjuring one. We all admit that this is a bit of a stumbling block to the theory that Grindelwald is just flat out lying, however, given the level of power he has, summoning a magical bird doesn't seem that difficult of a feat to perform. Now, the next theory, can actually co-exist with the "lying theory," and it bases itself on the line Dumbledore keeps saying about Grindelwald, "We were more than brothers."
This is an augurey (the drawing is concept art from Pottermore, the top image as it appears in the film) and the auguery is important because it supposedly has the same kind of regenerative powers as a phoenix but it's not a rebirth by fire, it's more a rebirth through darkness.
Why enter into a blood pact?
There's a saying that, "Friends are the family you choose," instead of the family you don't choose, and for a young Dumbledore--anxious to be freed of taking care of his younger, orphaned siblings--we can see why Dumbledore would choose Grindelwald to be his intelligent, advanced, ambitious and exciting brother instead of Aberforth (at one point, I think it's in the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore says of Aberforth, "I don't even know if he can read," which shows you how little he thinks of his brother and how distant they are). So Dumbledore saying, "We were more than brothers," is merely saying, "We were blood brothers, because we choose each other," rather than just being saddled with someone (like Aberforth and Arianna who Dumbledore did not choose). Now, please recall what happens in Goblet Of Fire when Peter Pettigrew concocts that "potion" to restore Voldemort's body: he takes some of Harry's blood which then becomes a part of Voldemort; in a sense, Harry and Voldemort become "blood brothers" (although Harry certainly doesn't choose to do so) and Voldemort then becomes Harry's protector because Harry's blood now runs in his veins (the same way Aunt Petunia's blood protects Harry because she and Lily share the same blood). This is the scenario I think Rowling is going with because, when Harry comes along, Dumbledore understands it because he's all ready been through it himself with Grindelwald.
What about Credence?
There is quite a bit we don't know about phoenixes (pictured at the top, from Pottermore) but we do know that they are closely related to Thunderbirds (bottom image) which Frank was one from FB1.
If Dumbledore and Grindelwald are brothers, then Grindelwald is "including" Credence in on their blood brother pact: if Grindelwald has chosen Credence to be their third brother, then Dumbledore can no more hurt Credence than Dumblefore can hurt Grindelwald. Please recall, in Fantastic Beasts, Grindelwald (disguised as Percival Graves) used Credence to help him locate an obscurial, presumably a little girl who had suppressed her magic, NOT a long-lost LeStrange or Dumbledore sibling. Knowing about Arianna's power (she accidentally killed her mother) and that he and Dumbledore are not going to pursue their plans together--but Dumbledore may actually try and stop him some day instead--Grindelwald was seeking a powerful "second" for the next duel he and Dumbledore would have, and he wanted his own obscurial on his side, and that ended up being Credence.
Let's remember a few things we know about obscurials: first, Arianna died when she was 14, so according to FB&WTFT, IF Arianna was an obscurial, she was quite old. Second, we learn in Crimes Of Grindelwald that love can actually heal an obscurial, and if a child feels sufficiently loved, then they don't develop an obscurial, even if they suppress their magical abilities, which we know for a fact that Arianna did after her attack at the age of 6 (there are some people suggesting that Credence is the son of Arianna, that when she was attacked by the muggle boys, she was also raped, but I seriously doubt that, even in the wizarding world, a 6 year-old girl would be able to conceive a child at age 6, which then leads to Credence being roughly 7-8 years old when she died,.... he definitely would have had memories of her and the family). So, we haven't had it confirmed that Arianna was an obscurial, and in COG when Dumbledore tells Newt that an obscurial can be healed with love, I think that was Rowling's way of vanquishing the rumors that Arianna was an obscurial: she was definitely loved, she definitely felt safe, she just never learned to control her powers, and there is another example of a young girl in a similar situation: Merope Gaunt. She has constantly abused by her father and brother and didn't show any magical abilities, but she didn't develop an obscurius in spite of not having any love in her life to protect her, whereas Arianna did (from her mother and at least Aberforth, and there's no reason to suspect that Albus didn't show her love, he just regrets he didn't show her more love). The point of this discussion is to draw out some points of criticism of what seems to be a theory gaining popularity, namely, that when Arianna died in the duel, her obscurius (remember, we don't know that she had one) left her and found Credence and that's how Credence is a Dumbledore, is because Credence has Arianna's obscurius,... oh, but that was destroyed wasn't it at the end of FB&WTFT
For me, this is the cinch on this theory: when we first meet Credence, and we first meet Grindelwald, Grindelwald is disguised as Percival Graves. Why is that important? Because Dumbledore's father was named Percival, so it's like "from the grave, Percival Dumbledore" gave birth to another son (Credence) in sharing Grindelwald's blood from the blood pact with Credence. Yes, as far as we know, Credence hasn't made a blood pact with Grindelwald,.... yet. But in taking the wand Grindelwald hands him (hand to hand, like the pact we saw between Dumbledore and Grindelwald in the Mirror of Erised) it seems that Credence has decided to accept--at least for the moment--the identity Grindelwald has handed him, Aurelius Dumbledore: Credence, then, is a "Dumbledore" by blood, just not by birth (as Grindelwald could say the same of himself); having Dumbledore blood would also answer why the phoenix--if it is a real phoenix--comes to Credence at the end of the film, of if it's just because Grindelwald--having Dumbledore blood--can summon a phoenix when in need of his own, and since Dumbledore has the blood pact vial, it's possible this is a sign of Grindelwald's forthcoming defeat; we don't know the ability of a phoenix to decipher or interpret moral uprightness or value, only that phoenixes are very loyal).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--I still have my full review of FB 2, but the explanation I wanted to provide seemed best to its own post, so more is on the way!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Pro-Capitalist: Fantastic Beasts 2 The Crimes Of Grindelwald

For months and months and months, myself and countless other bloggers and vloggers have been speculating about minuscule details and plot points; even though we were mostly wrong about most things, I am grateful we ALL engaged in such intellectual exercises: as I was watching the film, each decision by the film makers stood out more fully regarding pre-release points of disputation, so having argued about what was going to happen made the actual plot more decisive, that is, the plot HAD to be this way, and rather than absently going with the flow of the plot, there were so many points of contention that nearly every scene was "startling" because I didn't expect it to go the way it did. Having said that, unless you have been pouring over theories and predictions about the film, you probably won't find it startling, that's not your job.
I can't believe it.
Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is pro-capitalist! AND, in some surprising new ways! Johnny Depp is mesmerizing as Grindelwald, this is an incredible performance on his part (and that says a lot about the directing, too) and Jude Law is priceless as Albus Dumbledore. Joshua Shea, who portrays the young Newt Scamander is perfection, it seems more that Eddie Redmayne himself has been CGI to look younger, rather than a separate actor portraying him! OK, so here is what you need to know (SPOILER FREE!) if you go and see it this weekend or next week,....
This is a bit crazy, and I thought it would be all straitened out in seeing the film, but now I am even more confused. According to sources I researched (film crew members, maybe Jude Law), when the film first began promotion, one of the first photos released was the one on the left: the wand on the left is the famed Elder Wand of the Deathly Hallows, and the black wand on the right was marketed as Dumbledore's wand (before their duel which won him the Elder Wand). This was the wand we saw him using in the first trailer. As the months passed, this poster on the right was released with him holding a new wand; the explanation given was that Dumbledore's wands were switched because it was felt that his wand too closely resembled the Elder Wand (the Super Carlin Brothers proposed an AWESOME theory about the significance of this similarity you can watch it here). So, when we see Dumbledore teaching one of his students about his dueling mistakes (and you will want to pay attention to what Dumbledore says here, but it's likely that this will be the same mistake Grindelwald makes when he duels Dumbledore) we clearly see Dumbledore using the wand in the poster on the right; when we have the flashback in the Mirror of Erised, his younger self is definitely using the wand in the image on the left, so it's possible that, due to the killing of his sister Arianna, Dumbledore stopped using the wand on the left and took up using the wand pictured with him on the right side. 
See it in IMAX.
This is a big film and a big film needs a big screen, it was gorgeous on IMAX, I am so grateful I got to see it; I hadn't intended it that way, it's just that the IMAX showing was more convenient, so it worked out well, however, if you can, do. Secondly, in the beginning of the film, Dumbledore and Newt are talking, and the conversation begins with Newt saying, "The Ministry still believes you sent me to New York," and then they discuss the Thunderbird Newt had in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Dumbledore then mentions the Phoenix, and a legend in his family about the bird; YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO EVERY SINGLE WORD HE SAYS HERE. This little blip is THE KEY to understanding what happens at the end of the film.
This is a small, but potentially important detail: the teacher running in this scene is, indeed, Professor Minerva McGonagall, originally portrayed by Dame Maggie Smith in the Harry Potter films. Here's the thing, Minerva was the only magical in her line (her mother married a pastor) so this can't be an earlier Professor McGonagall teaching at Hogwarts; however, the film takes place in 1927, and Minerva was born in 1935, not attending Hogwarts until 1947. So,......? Time turners. That's what everyone seems to be saying, is that the same professor who introduced Hermione Granger to the time turner in Prisoner Of Azkaban must now be employing one to aide Dumbledore in some way. She's in the film for only a moment, but no one is in doubt as to who she is, so this is likely one of those expansions we shall see in the next film.
Third, Grindelwald and his followers have taken over a muggle apartment in Paris and they congregate in the living room. One of the "acolytes," followers, says something--and for the life of me I couldn't make it out--to which Grindelwald responds, "We don't say such things in public." Last but not least, the big rally Grindelwald holds of his followers takes place towards the end of the film, and every word he says AND DOESN'T SAY is vitally important to understanding who he is and how he's styling himself. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and how well everything was done, from cinematography to acting and special effects, I am quite pleased with the film.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Double Agent? Seraphina Picquery & Gellert Grindlewald

The reason I didn't have the gumption to post that Madame Picquery could be a double-agent for Gellert Grindlewald is because of the (limited) information provided by the Pottermore website for her character, which, quite frankly, makes her out to be quite a saint: her first name, "Seraphina," after all, invokes the fiery Seraphim angels, the highest choir of angels worshiping God at all times. She was the only student at Ilvermorny to be chosen by all four houses for crying out loud, and she is, of course, Madame President, the highest ranking magical official in North America. So, yea, she's got tremendous status, presence and reputation, in other words, the perfect cover. Remember, Tom Riddle, aka, Lord Voldemort, was also an excellent student and offered top jobs at the Ministry of Magic when he graduated from Hogwarts, so we'll examine how Madame Picquery's costumes reveal what she's trying to hide.
I haven't posted on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; I haven't posted on a lot of films lately, but I will be open, honest and truthful: even if I had posted on the film, I knew I didn't have the guts to post on the theory that kept hitting me over the head regarding Madame Picquery, the President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (until someone else finally suggested the theory first), namely, that she's a double-agent for Gellert Grindlewald (Johnny Depp).
What gives her away?
What she's covering up.
"Do you really think you can hold me?" Grindlewald asks Madame Picquery when he's revealed at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them; almost without blinking at the astonishment of what happened to Percival Graves (Colin Ferrel) or that she has been trusting Grindlewald all this time, Madame Picquery hardly seems "picqued" at what has happened in this extraordinary scene. After Credence has been "killed" and "Graves" starts battling the same wizards, he doesn't strike or attempt to strike Madame Picquery, why not? If she is really the enemy, shouldn't he have targeted her first? But she does completely unscathed.
Both Grindlewald and Picquery have unnatural hair colors, Picquery because she's black, or at least of partial black ancestry, and her hair is an unnatural platinum blonde (even for Caucasians, that's a rare hair color) and Grindlewald's is nearly white, shaved on the sides and back and standing straight up on top. Throughout the film, Picquery wears elaborate head-dresses to cover her head, symbolically conveying that she--at best--keeps her thoughts to herself or, at worst, is hiding what she truly thinks, but the similar, unnatural hair color suggests that he has unnatural thoughts, rather like the unnatural experiments which he conducted that got him kicked out of Durmstrang school. His similarly bleached mustache reveals that he has an appetite (the hair above the mouth symbolizes appetites just as the mouth does) for the unnatural. The parts of his head which are shaved shows that he has removed those parts of his thoughts that don't serve him (such as mercy, equality, trust and compassion), while the hair standing straight up demonstrates "high thoughts," like, "Some are better than others and should be higher than others," i.e., wizards over muggles; then there are the tall head-dresses of Picquery, which suggests that she has "high thoughts" reflecting Grindlewald's.
Now, I know what you're thinking: Picquery is the one enforcing the No-Maj rules and the Statue of Secrecy the most, but I ask you, is that not a part of the plan? By enforcing the rule so much, even to the point of absurdity, is she not demonstrating--to the way of Grindlewald's thinking--that it's burdensome and enslaving for the Wizarding community? In other words, they are forcing it to demonstrate that "The old ways serve us no longer."
In this confrontation pictured with the unmasking of Grindlewald, Picquery does order one of the attending wizards to disarm Grindlewald, so doesn't that prove that she is not on his side? Well, knowing how powerful he is, and how powerful he then demonstrates he is (if it weren't for Newt), why doesn't she disarm him herself? Doesn't she give Grindlewald warning of what she's about to do, i.e., have him disarmed, so he can prepare himself to defend himself? Wouldn't she be the more powerful wizard to go against him and thus, stop him, if that's what she really wanted to happen? We get the idea that Grindlewald would have easily been able to escape if it weren't for Newt and Tina, which may be the reason Picquery limits Newt's ability to travel in FB2 and sends Tina on foreign assignment, so they are literally out of the way and Grindlewald has a better chance of escaping. 
We know that hair--or anything atop the head--symbolizes or manifests the thoughts or thought process of that character because our thoughts originate in our head; Seraphina Picquery consistently wears something atop her head throughout the film,... meaning,....? Exactly, we don't know what she's thinking because she's keeping her thoughts (her hair) to herself,.... until, we see Grindlewald unmasked. When Newt's spell dissolves the persona of Percival Graves (Colin Ferrel) to reveal Grindlewald (Depp) we see Grindlewald's bleached hair and realize,.... it matches the curls on the side of Picquery's head!
The image of Grindlewald on the left is from FB2, and the one on the right from FB1. What I would like to point out is the similarity in their costumes: the long, dark coat, the vests, the high collar on their shirts and darker outer clothing with the lighter colored shirts underneath. Once again, we see Picquery wearing a tall head-dress covering her head entirely except for the two curls on either side of her face. Picquery wears rather masculine attire in this shot but the dark clothing of both suggests their identity as "dark wizards"; the importance of their vests accentuates their torso. The torso is a difficult symbol with which to grapple, but it's where the vital organs are located, so when a character wears a vest open, for example, it usually is meant to draw attention to elements of that situation that the character finds vital to their own being; when a character has a vest buttoned--as both characters do in the images above--it suggests the opposite, that they are "closing themselves off" from the situation so that which is vital to them will not become contaminated by the events taking place. An counter-example of this is during the reading of Dumbledore's Will in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Harry wears a vest which is completely unbuttoned; the reading of the Will is vitally important to Harry and the events to follow; Ron, on the other hand, has one button on his vest still buttoned, suggesting that he isn't taking in everything he should be, and he's not, because he won't understand the meaning of the "putter-outter" until the next film. Tellingly, it's the button closest to Ron's heart which remains buttoned, meaning he's keeping the Will-reading out of his heart, but it's exactly what touches his heart that will re-unite him to Harry and Hermione.
Consulting her profile on Pottermore, it reveals that she uses a wand with a Rougarou hair-core wand, swamp mayhaw wood, made by Violetta Beauvais" ("Rougarou hair" comes from a wild dog-headed monster that prowls the swamps of Louisiana, and [if you scroll down a bit] in the article on magic in 1920s America, the article reveals that "It was often said of Beauvais wands that they took to Dark magic like vampires to blood," which is exactly what Picquery carries, and even mentions Picquery in the next sentence. Violetta Beauvais, the wand maker, has a revealing name: "Beauvais" is a small town in France, and "Violetta" of course invoked the color Violet, a shade of purple; so what? One of the two symbolisms for purple [and shades of purple] is that of royalty, because purple was such an expensive and labor-intensive dye to produce, only royalty could afford to wear it. So, what does this mean? I would like to suggest that JK Rowling conveys the meaning of European ["Beauvais" being a town in France] wizarding-aristocracy (royalty implied by the name "Violetta") being spread in America which was generally unknown [the status of being "pure-blood"] but being spread by use of Beauvais wands and those using them). Grindlewald is, of course, a "dark wizard" who employs the dark magic he learned at Durmstrang ("Dark Arts" is even listed as his "Hobby" on his profile page) and Picquery's wand has a natural inclination to the dark arts which suggests, that since the wand choose her, it must have known that she herself must have such an inclination she would be willing to act upon to express the true power of such a wand.
If, after all the notes detailed in the captions, you still aren't convinced that it's at least a possibility, remember, that makes the most effective cover (she's unimpeachable as far as the Pottermore website goes, her first name, again, meaning "fiery winged angel") but check out what "Picquery" means: "Unique, visionary, different," and I think those are words which perfectly describe Grindlewald, and potentially reveal who Madame Seraphina Picquery really is.
"Pure-blood families, who were well-informed through wizarding newspapers about the activities of both Puritans and Scourers (Salem Witch Trials), rarely left for America. This meant a far higher percentage of No-Maj-born witches and wizards in the New World than elsewhere. While these witches and wizards often went on to marry and found their own all-magical families, the pure-blood ideology that has dogged much of Europe’s magical history has gained far less traction in America" (From History of Magic In North America, Pottermore). This is an important bit of invented history of Rowling, as she goes out of her way to dissociate American Magical problems from those of Europe (and which plague the pages of all Harry Potter books). With such effort taken, we also see her creating the schisms which will erupt, sowing the confrontation for the next four Fantastic Beasts films: No-maj vs the magical, wizarding world. A further example of such pure-blood and European "influences" can be seen in Madame Picquery's chair for MACUSA (behind her in the upper-left, corner) and the striking resemblance it bears to the Coronation Chair (on the right side) used by muggle kings in England, suggesting that the wizarding world is superior to the non-magical world, even in North America.
There are two striking features about Picquery's costume in this image. First, the sleeves (click on image to enlarge): she has two of them on each arm. We know that the arm symbolizes a person's strength, while a person's hands symbolize their honor. That she has two sleeves suggests she has "two sources of strength," such as her top-position at MACUSA and her role within Grindlewald's plan for a new world order. That her hands are interlocked suggests her dual-sense of honor: while appearing to enforce the strict secrecy laws of North America, she is also doing so in order to bring about their downfall (consider, for example, her order to Tina Golstein to stop following Mary Lou Barebone; why? Because Barebone would be allowed to advance the New Salemers agenda that would advance the confrontation between the No-maj and magical world that would require action, rather than maintaining the century's long peace they have enjoyed). Her hands are also interlocked and held close to her stomach. The stomach generally symbolizes that which we have "digested" and taken in to make a part of ourselves, but with a woman, it can also indicate that which she is about to "give birth to" (and no, I don't mean this in a biological sense--I am not suggesting her and Grindlewald have a sexual affair going--rather, Picquery is in the gestation period for "giving birth" to her part of Grindlewald's new world order). Last but not least is the decorative emblem over her chest, where her heart is. The design mirrors the logo design for the Wizarding World (bottom left corner) but it's upside-down, it's even the same color as her dress. This suggests that what's close to her heart (over her chest) is to turn the wizarding world "upside-down" with Grindlewald's revolution.
As I started out this post, I wrote that I didn't initially have the guts to mention this theory of Picquery being Grindlewald's agent until someone else did first, and now with the last trailer having come out, it has begun circulating that Picquery may not only be a double-agent working for Grindlewald--and therefore making it possible for Grindlewald to go "undiscovered" after hacking the identity of Percival Graves--but she may actually be the one who engineers Grindlewald's escape (it's been confirmed that Grindlewald is held in prison in the US for several months; it's being speculated that Grindlewald will be relocated to Germany/Europe for trial for his crimes there, and during that re-location effort, he makes his escape). Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindlewald opens November 16.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Nun: Newest Clips

Opening this weekend is The Nun, which excites me terribly: the more I see, the more excited I get! Some new clips have been released and it's worth our time to explore the meaning behind them. A few of these you might have seen before, but for the most part, this is new material:
Let's start with the name "Valak."
Valak means "the defiler," is--according to Wikipedia--depicted as a boy riding a two-headed dragon and capable of finding treasures, and The Conjuring universe has employed the "theology" behind this image well. A "boy" doesn't seem to have any power, and seems "harmless" because he's just a child; this is how sin presents itself to most of us: it's just harmless, it doesn't have any power over me, but this is where the two-headed dragon comes in. Dragons, as reptilian creatures, are symbols of sin, specifically Original Sin, but even the devil embodied because of the temptation in the Garden of Eden being in the form of a serpent (so any reptile can symbolize sin or Satan). That there are "two heads" means there are two governing functions to the dragon, because our head "governs" our body and tells our body what to do (we can still function without an arm, or without our legs, but we can't without our head). The first head is the governing function of the role of temptation and sin so we will become damned for eternity, that's straightforward enough; this head seeks out the treasure of that which we refuse to give over to God so we can distance ourselves from God and therefore bargain away our eternal souls for the sake of some sin to which we have committed ourselves. The second head, however, is the "good" which can come from being tempted, and this is the "saving Grace" of God, namely, that God reaps from that which he didn't sow: the devil sows the seeds of discord, the sin, the temptations and the fall, but when we turn to God and give it over to Him, He then sows the fruit of our battle and uses THAT as the treasure which we store up in heaven in the form of Grace and salvation. Now, let's talk about the blacked-out faces of the nuns in the clips.
We have all ready discussed this image at length in the initial trailer release, what we didn't realize at the time was how prevalent the "blacked out faces" of the nuns would be throughout the film which the new clips tease.
We know that the face of a person symbolizes their identity, it is a person's identity, because it is by means of our face that other recognize us for who we are. So, to have their faces completely blacked-out means they have their identities completely blacked out; sound familiar? The devil has had his name blotted out from the Book of Life, and the nuns with blacked out faces at least suggest the very same. Why? "Valak, the defiler," is likely the one who takes something that is good, and turns it into something that is bad, and we have all ready seen this in The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist when Valak is first introduced by taking Lorraine Warren's marriage to Ed and making it a bad thing (please see the hyper-link at the film for a more detailed explanation). At some point, Lorraine was likely considering becoming a nun, but she met and married Ed, and Valak uses that "shadow of a doubt" against Lorraine tempting her to think that she didn't do God's will in marrying Ed, rather, she should have become a nun. This is the thing about evil that Christians have to keep in mind: there is no consistency to the devil, so what he tempted us with five minutes ago, could change in the next ten seconds to tempting us with the exact opposite.
In the clip above, at 1:15, in the upper-right hand corner of the screen, there is a body covered with a white sheet, and it may be Father Burke's body. There are two types of death, there is the death when we are all ready dead, and the death just emphasizes that (we lost the spiritual battle, in other words) and then there is the death of self-sacrifice, that one is so completely dead to themselves and alive to things of the spirit, that they can completely follow Christ and lay down their lives for love of someone else. The body is covered by a white sheet: we know that white symbolizes faith, hope, purity and innocence, and a holy person who has been alive with these virtues, still lives after death by merit of these virtues, however, a person who is dead to these virtues--such as the thickly painted white face of the demon Valak--turns white like a corpse in decay because their soul cannot bear these virtues. So, when we watch the film, we need to notice the white sheet and determine whether the person beneath the sheet had a holy or a unholy death.
In the same scene, Sister Irene, which means "peace," is told by a nun to pray and look forward, no matter what happens. Sister Irene, stumbles and looks around, she's not completely obedient, and because this nun has obviously battled this spiritual temptation before, she has the right of authority over Sister Irene, who owes that nun her own complete obedience; not being obedient is the doorway to letting a demon in to lead us away from God, and it's possible that whatever happens once the wind begins blowing in this scene, that it's all actually in Sister Irene's head, just as the scene (the clip is below) of Valak meeting Lorraine in the hallway of her house and leading her into the spare room to "attack her" is also in Lorraine's head. If you have time to watch The Conjuring 2 before watching The Nun, it would be well worth your while.
Let's take a quick look at an important clip from The Conjuring 2 because the same elements at play in this clip are going to be prevalent in The Nun (the clips is below but I would like for you to know what to look for), especially the way God uses the devil to do God's work. In the clip below, at 4:11, a statue of Mary suddenly appears that wasn't there before. At 1:01 into the clip, there is no statue of Mary in the corner where Lorraine is thrown; at 1:47 there is still no statue of Mary, but the music has started playing reminding Lorraine that God is the king of righteousness and is there with her protecting her; the light goes out, and that is the "Light of Faith," Lorraine's temptation to believe she didn't do God's will has begun. At 1:54 there is still no statue of Mary in the corner. At 4:11, just as Lorraine hits, the boxes, there is a statue, and we see the back side of it, and this is Mary. It's the backside of Mary because the back usually symbolizes our past, and in this case, we see the backside of Mary because she puts herself with Lorraine in this temptation to help Lorraine win. Because the statue is located in the same area where the "shadow" originates from in the room, we can say that when the shadow first appears, it's actually Mary herself, why? Mary wants one thing and one thing only: for ALL PEOPLE to be saved and come closer to her Son (I used to be a Protestant, so if you are not Catholic, I understand your hesitancy to accept this, but trust, Catholics do NOT worship Mary, but we honor her because Jesus honored her and because she is the first and greatest disciple of Jesus since He first revealed Himself to her).
Mary unites her will to God's Will in all things, so if God wants Lorraine to be tempted by Valak, Mary wants Lorraine to be tempted by Valak as well, even going so far as to aide Valak in tempting Lorraine so Lorraine can come out of this battle victorious for the sake of her soul, and the souls of others (because we can't help people win a spiritual battle if we haven't all ready won that battle ourselves). This is going to be at work in The Nun, so as you watch it this weekend, be conscious of what it was that was good in an of itself, and then how it was defiled and made evil and people fell for it, because there is certainly a lot of that in our world today. I am in the process of moving, but I am planning on seeing The Nun Friday and getting up at least a short post, so, God willing, I will be able to finally test my theories and see if they were right. (Again, if you would like to review The Conjuring 2, you can find the complete review at this link).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Happytime Murders

The Happytime Murders open this weekend, and up to this point, I have been reluctant to provide any commentary: the moral ambiguity in the US these days--all over the world, actually--has made it difficult to distinguish what values are being upheld and what values are merely being mocked; however, two promotional trailers have recently been released which reveals the film's agenda far better, so let's take a look at the first trailer, and--I WARN YOU--this is full of graphic sexual references, but there is a point to it,... I think.
So, there are two moral problems presented: first, the two main characters are cops and, as we know, cops have received countless death threats (mostly while Obama was in office, and it has eased up, however, it has continued). The reason two cops being main characters could be targeted as a "problem" is because police officers symbolize what socialists hate most: personal responsibility. In matriarchal societies, there is no personal responsibility, people don't really get into trouble for what they actually do, unless it damages the rulers in some way (think of the Russian Gulag or in today's modern communist society of China, citizens are assigned a social "credit score" to control their behavior). The law is a system of fairness and equality: you steal someone's car, you go to prison; you break into someone's house, you go to prison; you have drugs on you, you go to prison. The modern penal code is patriarchal, because it emphasizes personal responsibility: you are punished according to the abuse of your free will you have made against society and you are held accountable for that. Police officers, more than anyone else in American society, symbolize that patriarchal sense of individuality (socialists, however, will allow crimes if they advance the Party's agenda, such as rioting in cities, or killing police officers, or even rapes committed by certain demographic groups because it strengthens the hold on "identity politics"). So, the film was all ready going to be complicated, and then,....
Jenny (Elizabeth Banks) was the only human in the Happytime Gang. We know a person's head is where their thoughts originate, and anything pertaining to the head reflects what that character is thinking, so seeing Jenny's roots--and how much darker they are than her dyed-blonde hair--reveals she is having "dark thoughts," and this one detail could be sufficient to implicate her in committing the murders of the Happytime Gang. We can also notice that her fingernails are painted red; red is the color of blood, and our hands symbolize our honor, so it's possible that the "blood" of the murders is on Jenny's hands. There is also the coat and leopard-print shirt she wears, which suggests her "animal appetites." In-between them is a candle in a purple votive holder; we know that, being light, the candle symbolizes "illumination," that is, something which happens in this scene will "come to light" and could be a turning point for some aspect of the narrative; the color purple denotes royalty and suffering, so Phil and Jenny either hold each other in very high esteem, or they don't hold one another in the esteem they deserve, and there is suffering (or they have caused the other to suffer) as a result.
When we see the puppet offering oral sex to Melissa McCarthy's Det Connie Edwards, she confesses she's not a man, then she has to do the same thing to the "Rotten Cotten" female puppet prostitutes; because transgender-ism and homosexuality have become such Left-wing trigger mechanisms, this could be seen as a defense of sexual promiscuity and sexual identity politics, especially when we realize that the puppets are treated as "second-class citizens," which is a distinctly Marxist designation (and the elevation of all "second-class citizens" has been a rallying call for the Left, even though there aren't any second-class citizens in America); however, this new trailer has just been released and it clears up an awful lot:
This "trailer" was really genius, on numerous levels: first, it provides a way to advertise the film without giving away more of the plot and gags; second, it extends the cinematic boundaries of the film to encompass the reality in which we live and receive information. What does that mean? Generally, when we go to see films, the film is a "closed narrative," that is, we don't really expect to share a space with the characters and their trials in our own world: if we see a can of Coke sitting on a counter, for example, or Ferris Bueller addresses the audience and breaks the barrier between actors and viewers, then that demonstrates the "conscious awareness" of the film. Yea, I know it sounds unnecessarily complicated and maybe even ridiculous--the film has to have a level of "self-consciousness" in order to get produced and distributed, or no one will ever see it--but what this theory describes is a means of more direct communication with the potential viewer: I know what your life is like, and I am a direct reflection of it; for example, here are the puppets reading "Mean Tweets":
Or this blind date:
Now, the purpose of "art imitating life" demonstrates blatantly that watching this film is not going to be an escape from reality, in spite of the puppets interacting with real people; it's going to be a plunge into reality, maybe even a reality some audience members have attempted to ignore, such as the plunge America has taken since Reagan left office. Did you catch that in the True Puppets trailer above? After Reagan left office, a small TV start-up turned these second-class citizens into stars and gave them all a big lift in their careers; due to a lack of personal responsibility, they plunged in their own personal lives, and we can say the same about America after Reagan left, that--just like the good, wholesome show The Happytime Gang which so many loved and learned important life lessons from--so America itself has plunged into the darkness of a lack of personal responsibility and the addictions of sex and drugs. I could be wrong, the film could take a turn I don't have anyway of knowing about, however, that specific reference to Reagan, and the lack of morality plaguing the puppets post-Happytime Gang establishes a spiral most Americans will be able to agree about (because if they couldn't then they wouldn't have made the True Puppet Story trailer). If we are still in doubt, here is another advertisement they did, this time, with Phil the puppet doing commentary for that American film and American hero, Bruce Willis in Die Hard (it's always awesome to see Alan Rickman):
So, the lingering question remains: if they have such high hopes of achievement with this film, and drawing people's attention to how low America has sunk, why fill it with profanity, sex and drugs? There are at least two answers to this question. First, there is a specific demographic in America that is only attracted to a film like this and in a film like this, they are apt to get the kind of information they actually run away from in real life; second, we tend to think of puppets as wholesome, they don't have the faults, sins and vices that humans do, they are idealized and stylized to behave in a certain way, so seeing these "wholesome characters" so degraded reflects for us the degradation into which we ourselves have fallen yet can't recognize because we have become jaded to that personal reflection.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Queenie & Nagini: Fantastic Beasts 2

Nagini, Tom Riddle's pet snake and horcrux, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Two HUGE spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald have been released by the film's producers today; if you do NOT want to know anything about the film going in, then please, stop reading now.
So, at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, we saw Queenie enter Jacob's pastry shop and smile at him. According to the producers, Jacob doesn't remember Queenie (because of the massive mind-sweep at the end of the film) but Queenie puts Jacob under a spell, takes him to England and tries to get him to marry her (because of the laws in America, she can't marry him in the states but she can marry him in England). At some point, Jacob snaps out of the spell, gets mad at her and they join Newt and Tina in Paris. This doesn't mean that Queenie isn't going to work with Grindelwald, but I think it's going to be a great example of chaos theory at work, specifically, what we see happening on a small scale, is going to translate to a bigger scale, specifically, that Queenie using her powers to get Jacob to marry her is one way of looking at how Grindelwald is going  to be using his own powers to come to dominance. The purpose of this is strictly moral: it aides in defining boundaries and teases out the audiences' own sense of morality of right and wrong, so that it can then be translated to a broader, possibly more complex scenario as well.
Ezra Miller portrays Credence and Claudia Kim Maledictus, the woman who has a blood curse and will turn into an animal. 
Second Spoiler.
Maledictus is Nagini.
Our heads are spinning now that they have revealed this, but confirmed it is. My personal thought is, maybe this part of the story line isn't going to be developed completely in this installment, but they wanted fans to know beforehand so they can see where it's going. As far as I know, the Super Carlin Brothers were the first to advance this theory on their YouTube channel (you can watch that short video here, it's quite informative especially since this has now been confirmed). Given this huge release (it's only August and the film doesn't come out until November) I think this seriously suggests that she will have a bigger role to play in future films, although, not necessarily this one, rather like Credence himself in the first film. We also have been given confirmation that Credence has a much larger role in this film and will likely survive, at least long enough to see FB3.
Knowing how a character meets their demise, even before you see how they were born, is actually an incredibly fruitful strategy for artists because it allows the audience to pick-up on clues that might have been ignored otherwise, for example, we might get some idea of why Maledictus would make a good horcrux, which most audience members might have passed in noticing, or we learn something about her that makes her afraid of swords, or the Longbottoms, as we see Neville Longbottom killing Nagini here with the sword of Gryffindor in Deathly Hallows 2. Another excellent example of this is the introduction of Nicholas Flamel, whom we first heard of in the first Harry Potter book, but knowing what happens to him and the Philosopher's Stone, we will be the "informed viewer" who will be able to better interact with the statement the film is making and the values it advances.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you will allow me, I would like to take a moment to make a rather long-winded explanation of an apology. Back when the Harry Potter books and first films were being released, author JK Rowling said nothing regarding Christianity, hence, because the books were so much about magic, most Christians, myself included, condemned the books/films as advocating magic, and the dramatic increase in those practicing and claiming to be witches and warlocks has exponentially increased with the wide popularity of the books/films. This was the reason I decided I needed to investigate the movies/books because I was shocked--from my perspective--that so many Christians would find the books and films so "entertaining" when clearly this goes against our religion, and that I needed to provide a detailed explanation as to why this wasn't Christian material.

Watching the films, I certainly saw Christian parallels, however, I thought it only to easy to "baptize" Harry Potter for the sake of convenience and I wasn't going to be swayed to an easy path. It was only upon learning of a tiny detail in the books (namely, that Harry had taken Mad Eye Moody's eye from Umbridge and buried it beneath a cross) that I did some research and discovered that, in 2005 (well after I had written her and the series off), Rowling publicly announced being a practicing Christian and the reason she hadn't admitted it before was because she thought the metaphor to Christianity was so apparent,... okay, so, I have watched all the films and have started reading the books, and I will be doing a complete series on Harry Potter, not only because of the cultural implications and the religious benefits, but also because of the total of five Fantastic Beasts films within this universe. It is very likely that this HP series will be the first videos I launch on YouTube, and thank you to everyone who voted in the poll, there is an overwhelming desire to start seeing videos so I will start those probably by the end of August, start of September.

However, I have decided to wait posting on Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them until after The Crimes Of Grindelwald is released in November: there are a few details which concern me, and I think they will be addressed in the new film, but a lot has happened in the world since the last HP books/films came out, and what was morally/spiritually true and relevant then for that story, may possibly not be true now, or with variations which are unacceptable. So, thank you, dear reader, for allowing me your time to articulate this switch and change, it means the world to me.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, August 13, 2018

Buried Alive: The Nun (Coffin Trailer)

This is yet another great poster released for this film. Clearly, we have the comparison of the pure and holy with the profane and corrupt. But this is also an image of identity, because the face--which is torn in half--symbolizes more than anything else about us who we are, it's our identity, how people recognize who we are. So, we are either going to make a conscious choice to be as holy as possible or, by lack of making that conscious decision, we are going to allow ourselves to slowly be corrupted and decay. The fire, the embers we see stretched across the image, are the means by which we choose: for those choosing holiness, there is the fire of purgation, the fire that cleans away and purifies anything not pure and holy, or there is the fire of damnation, that which we feed and give into in life (the burning need to feed an addiction, for example, the fire of lust, the fire of wrath, etc.) and both are choices we make, even if we choose not to choose, we have agreed to damnation because we refuse to fight.
A brief, new trailer/clip for The Nun has been released, and it's pretty terrifying, in the way that a good horror film should be terrifying, but it also has a remarkable amount to say regarding the advancement of the spiritual life (our discussion on the first trailer can be found at this link here if you are not familiar with it). I mean, can anything be more terrifying than being buried alive?
We know that when a character is asleep, then we see them waking up, that's actually a signal that the events about to transpire have sparked a spiritual awakening within the character, they are "alive" to what is about to happen and that character is, in essence, finding their "calling in life" at that moment. When we see a character in bed, that suggests something has died in the character or has been dead but is about to be reborn because the bed is a "temporary" coffin, and the nightly sleep we take foreshadows our eternal sleep in the coffin. So, what does it mean for Father Burke to be "buried alive?"
We don't know very much about the background of Demian Birchir's character (Father Burke) who is a priest investigating the abbey in question in the film, but there seems to have been some trouble in his past; who can blame him, he's human after all? But it's probably extremely significant in the clip above--and this is assuming that the clip will be the same clip in the film, we have been witnessing "extra footage" being used in trailers that never actually make it into the films at all, so we have to keep that in mind--that Father Burke falls, and that he falls backwards. "Falling" is a symbol invoking the original fall, Original Sin in Eden, so he's battling something innately human in us all, but as Christians, we are called to overcome. The "backwards" usually invoked the past, that is, something specifically from Father Burke's individual past (from before the investigation began is most likely, but possibly something that just happens earlier in the investigation) which causes him to be "weighed down" so he can't regain his balance and avoid "falling."
As Father Burke falls backwards into the coffin, there is a mysterious flash of green light near where his head is (0:01) that goes out quickly. We know the color green either symbolizes hope and new life, or that something has gone rotten and died. This is the struggle of the spiritual life: will this battle Father Burke endures in this scene be his victory which leads him to new life, or will the green light foreshadow that he won't be able to defeat his foe and his doom is sealed? This is also the spot at which Valak, the Nun, will appear behind him, so it could be a foreshadowing mechanism that he's not alone in the coffin, but we are never alone.
First, he has a light: the "flashlight" is the symbol for the "light in the darkness" which those familiar with the depths of the spiritual light guiding them are familiar (think of the pillar of fire guiding the Children of Israel through the desert by night) so, we know from the flashlight that Father Burke is "armed" to do this battle (he even has a lighter to give more light, this suggests that he is spiritually advanced and prepared). But here is the thing about the spiritual life: God always seems to give us more than what we are capable of bearing, intentionally, because we are not meant to bear these battles alone, this brings us to the coffin.
When Father Burke falls back into the coffin, there is a string, a small piece of twine, which he pulls (0:05) presumably to ring the bell on this headstone we see. The string and the bell are two invaluable symbols to know. First, the string in and of itself suggests the "umbilical cord," and this is absolutely one of my favorite symbols to see in a movie. I know you might think it a bit of a stretch, but please trust me on this. We begin life in the womb, where it's dark, and we end life in the grave, also where it's dark, so the "womb/grave"dichotomy is important: from life comes death, and from death comes new life (or so we hope because that's what God promises us). The umbilical cord is how we are fed in the womb and, in return, we grow and are prepared to be born. Father Burke holding this string emphasizes his birth, specifically, his baptism, his dying to sin and being born to a new life of fighting Satan, and then again his ordination as a priest, again, his dying to worldly affairs and being alive to the needs of the soul and spirit. It appears that the string rings the bell (which is blurred in this image) on the tombstone to alert someone that the person is still alive (we'll just have to watch the film to get a better idea of why that is on the tombstone, we don't get enough information here), but bells have important symbolic significance: they drive away demons. If you have ever seen the Disney film Darby O'Gill and the Little People (Sean Connery's first starring role), then you might recall Darby going to fetch the new bell for his parish and, in thanks, his priest dedicating the ringing of that bell to Darby and his descendants; when the bell rings, Darby puts off making his third wish to King O'Brien, then his daughter falls sick, is about to die, and because Darby had listened to the ringing of the bell instead of making a wish then, he is able to make his third wish be that death takes him instead of his daughter (if you haven't seen it, trust me, it all works out great). Father Burke pulling the string--the symbolic umbilical cord of his birth within the church--to ring the bell--the melody of which drives demons away--suggests that he's going to come out triumphant in this battle because he has all the spiritual preparation he requires in order to defeat Valak.
We discover from the tombstone that his first name is "Anthony," and the name is the name of many, many great saints, but it also stems from the Greek word for "flower," and that's important because a "flower" is meant to bloom, it's meant to come to fruition, and it's the spiritual battles he endures, such as this one, which will cause him to bloom to the greatest possibly degree. 
"Living death" is a extremely advanced state of the spiritual life--think of the little girl who died and Jesus raised back to life, or Lazarus, and the Resurrection itself--this is the point in a person's spiritual journey when the wheat kernel dies so more can come from it, and nothing says "death" like a coffin. So Father Burke is undergoing this intense moment of spiritual death--his will, his actions, his plans, his very "I" is completely ineffectual in facing Valak-- and this reading is validated by the rock on the sides of the hole in which the coffin lies (barrenness, no dirt where something can grow, just barren rock). The purpose of this barrenness is so one can turn from "dead rock" where nothing grows, into the "living stones" that steadfast and upon which more can be built. All this sounds great, but when you're the one going through it, it's not very comforting, is it? Like Father Burke, we just want to get out of the coffin. But then, that is the moment it gets interesting.
I believe this is the third poster released for the film, and it's a good one. To begin with, it very much invokes the original horror film starring a Catholic priest, The Exorcist, when the priest stands in the fog looking up at the house where the possessed girl is. Secondly, we know that a house symbolizes the soul, because a house is the home for a body, the way the body is a "home" for the soul while on earth, and in an abbey, such as the one pictured above, where the nuns live and focus solely on the soul, this is even more poignant. We are called to become a "living temple" for the Trinity to dwell within, unfortunately, the bad decisions of one nun--rather like Judas--have triggered the downfall of the entire abbey (which only shows that none of the nuns were ready to do the battle facing them, otherwise they would have been victorious, and God chooses to work this way sometimes). So, we have two Christians--the novice nun in white, and the priest with baggage, meaning, he figuratively is bringing spiritual baggage with him to this battle--coming from the outside to face down this great evil and restore the Temple to God, and this often happens in our own lives as well. We need outside help to restore the Temple that should be within us.
Like most people being buried alive, Father Burke screams for help and pleads for this to not happen to him, and this is bad enough, but now, Valak is going to join him in the coffin. If you are paying close attention, Valak's face appears over Burke's left shoulder, the same place the witch Bathsheba first appears over the shoulder of Carolyn Perron in The Conjuring (the first film in this series). We know that hands symbolize a person's honor, and a person's face is the seat of their identity, so Valak's lack of honor (his hands) clasping Father Burke's face is an attempt to destroy Father Burke, obliterate him completely, the way Valak probably did with the nun who committed suicide.
This is another image we haven't seen before and it, too, highlights the spiritual life. Sister Irene (which means "peace") stares at a brick wall; why? When God closes something to us, He completely closes it; when He opens something to us, He opens it completely (and, for us, that includes coffins that are going to bury us alive). Something in Sister Irene's life--prior to joining the investigation or during the events taking place--was closed to her by God, and she is being called to accept that as His will for her. Does she? Well, she holds a lantern, much as Father Burke held the flashlight and lighter in the coffin trailer above, so she's armed for the spiritual battle to which God calls her. Not only does light symbolize "the light of Faith," but also the "light of illumination," and so she not only has faith in God, she is sufficiently illuminated about her own self to know her weaknesses (temptations to sin) so she can avoid those pitfalls. She appears to me, in this scene, to be like one of the ten virgins with their lamps who went out to meet the bridegroom (Matthew 25:25).
Going back to Father Burke in his coffin, when he opens his lighter to see inside the coffin, he looks down at his feet, and then keeps looking down at his feet; why? The feet symbolize the will, because the will takes us in life where we want to go (in terms of achievement, values, priorities) the way our feet take us to where we want to go. So, Father Burke, in looking at his feet with the "light of illumination" is questioning his will: "Is this what I signed up for when I was baptized? Is this what I signed up for when I became a priest?" or, it could be, "Had my will been stronger not to sin, had my will been to do God's will instead of my own will, I wouldn't be in this battle right now." And that questioning of ourselves, our motives and God's will and how we have followed or failed to follow Him is the act of discernment and how we gain illumination.
This is the point of the spiritual war Christians are called to wage: we are called to victory. Father Burke will either emerge from this battle with his identity even more firmly rooted in Christ than ever before, or he will completely lose his identity and being all together (this is what is meant by having your name blotted out of the Book Of Life, because like your face, your name is a part of your intimate identity, and to have it "blotted out" means it no longer exists). So, we will have to wait and see if he is victorious. (Complete discussion on the first trailer can be found at this link here).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, August 4, 2018

UPDATED: Death Of America & the "Real" Fascism

Political activist Dinesh D'Souza's Death of a Nation opens this weekend. Unfortunately, when I saw the title Death Of a Nation, I was thinking of a remake by that name which was made by a man mired in a sex scandal and the release of it had to be post-poned, so I let this get away from me and I deeply apologize for not having pointed it out sooner. D'Souza has previously made films documenting the Obama's Administration's corruption in 2016: Obama's America, and Hillary's America, about the plans of the Clintons to finish the Obama agenda. With Death Of a Nation, D'Souza publicly supports President Donald Trump by comparing the devastation he inherited from the Obama Administration to what President Abraham Lincoln had facing him at the end of the American Civil War.
Here is a great clip from the film that has been released, and I am confident D'Souza made this scene a top priority for this film to battle the massive ignorance regarding history and who the Nazis were and what they were doing; this article clearly outlines the Left's sustained but grossly inaccurate attack comparing Trump to Hitler and Trump voters to Nazis. What D'Souza discusses in this scene were all items Hitler and his dictatorship implemented throughout his reign and sound sadly familiar in our day-to-day conversations with those we know:
If you are not familiar with D'Souza--and I highly suggest watching any of his patriotic and well-informed videos--here is a short documentary he did for Prager University on the true identity of "fascist politics" (this weekend the Left's Anti-Fa group [which is supposed to stand for anti-fascist] broke up a peaceful rally of conservatives there to pray, but remember, this is a Liberal newspaper reporting this story).
Again, there is a poll going on here at The Fine Art Diner. I am interested to know if readers, such as yourself, would rather see my critiques and analysis of films and art in a video format appearing on YouTube or to remain in text format such as this post here. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to vote so far! If you haven't voted, the poll is in at the top of the right-hand column, above Week's Most Popular Posts. Thank you!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Analysis Of Symbols: Halloween 2018

As discussed below, there are many changes with this new Halloween and it basically ignores all previous Halloween's except the original film. One of the significant changes is that, originally, Michael Myers was the brother of Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and he was under an ancient curse to wipe out his whole bloodline. Because the large knife he used to plunge into his victims (the echoes of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho) and the promiscuity of Myers' victims, the "slasher films" prominent throughout the 1980s came to be seen as the moral teachings of what sex actually does to the soul and try to convince teenagers to wait to have sex. With Myers being Laurie's brother, this added an incestuous dimension to the film and, although Michael Myers is still incarcerated for having killed his older sister Judith, Laurie is not related to him, meaning that we really don't have a motivation for why he's killing,... at least not at this point. The film makers have stated that they would like to make two more films after this Halloween: those films would be shot back-to-back and be scheduled for a quick turn-around time, but they are waiting to see how this one does first; so, "final confrontation?" It doesn't necessarily have to be the "same" villain or the "same" heroine; this could indeed be the final confrontation between Michael Myers and Laurie, but one of them could be still standing at the end and go onto the next film.
POLL: Over the many years I have done this blog, people have suggested that I make videos for YouTube; I have started a poll, in the right-hand column of this blog (mobile users, please navigate to the Week's Most Popular Posts) so you can let me know which you prefer: reading posts or watching videos. Please take a moment to record your vote so I know the medium you most prefer to receive this content. Even if this is the first time you have visited this site, you are welcome to vote, but please, so there is an accurate accounting, only vote once. Writing is important to my own thought process, so even if there is an overwhelming number of readers who prefer the videos to the written posts, I will continue writing posts at this blog; however, there are times when I would be able to post more and more regularly because the writing process does take me awhile, so that is the reason I am taking a poll to discover how you want to interact with The Fine Art Diner. Thank you so much for taking the time to vote!
It's just a simple pumpkin, however, there are a number of devices employed in this image to provide clues as to why it appears more menacing then it should. First, the eyes are not symmetrical. There have been plenty of "crazy eyes" lately, but the right eye being larger than the left eye demonstrates that the right eye, being bigger, "sees more" than the left eye that is smaller. Next, the "nose" is slanted to the right side, and also fails to be symmetrical; the nose symbolizes a person's character (yes, I know the pumpkin isn't a person, just generally speaking): because the face is the seat of a person's identity--the means by which others distinguish us from the crowd--and the nose is the most prominent feature of the face, it reveals a person's sense of honor and their overall character; then there is the mouth. The right side of the mouth is much smaller than the left side of the mouth. Now, the right side of the pumpkin (lined up with the big eye, the nose and small mouth) is flat and even; the left side of the pumpkin (the small eye, basically no nose and big mouth) is slanted, and we can tell by looking at how the tree grows in the background. What we can deduce is that the pumpkin provides a visual commentary on the differences between the Right (the political conservatives) and the Left (the Liberals): the Right sees more and has a greater emphasis on their sense of honor, whereas the Left has a greater emphasis on their appetites (more on this below) and slant everything to their advantage. 
This is really a well-done trailer, and it truly looks horrifying: while remaining "true" to the original John Carpenter Halloween of 1978. Speaking of Carpenter, he has returned to guide and produce the film's resurrection, and that includes a cleaned-up time-line that basically erases all the other sequels but for the original film (so Laurie [Jamie Lee Curtis] never died, his psychiatrist didn't die, there weren't other murders, etc., but most importantly, Michael Myers has been in custody since the end of the very first film, and this is going to have repercussions for how we understand the film today. There are a few changes, however, and we will discuss these as well as whether the film appears to be socialist or capitalist.
Let's start by assuming that this film is going to go pro-socialist (I don't think it will, but let's just argue that for a moment) and see where that takes us with what we have. Michael Myers is a white male, and we know that socialists hate white males because they have been the dominant power-holders in Western civilization for a really, really long time. Laurie is female, and as Hillary Clinton declared after her presidential loss in 2016, "The future is female," so the idea of Laurie (a minority who has been oppressed by the fear of Michael Myers for forty years) killing the white male who has terrorized her for so long is finally going to destroy him once and for all is an appealing plot to those who want to start a revolution against the capitalism white male power symbolizes in the eyes of socialists. There are, however, some massive problems with the surmounting details of this trailer and while I could definitely be wrong--as always, we only have about 2 minutes of a 2 hour film--I think we have sufficient evidence to counter this pro-socialist narrative and see one that casts the villain as a socialist.
Not much is known about Martin's character at this point (Jefferson Hall, top image holding the mask) apart from being some kind of investigator/documentary film maker (does he have academic credentials in psychology, or is this just a project he randomly picked to work on?) but there is an important detail we do know: he is after facts.  Holding up the mask to Myers and trying to get him to look at it is Martin's attempt to make Myers "face reality" and hold him accountable for what he did. These are both traits the Left hates: those who want facts instead of lies, and those who look to reality rather than utopia.What does Myers do in this scene? One could argue Michael Myers does nothing, but the truth is, Myers refuse to turn around and face his own real self in the mask and he refuses to accept accountability for what he did. THIS IS THE LEFT. This is the reason Myers is "tethered" to the weight in the courtyard where this scene takes place: Martin is trying to "pin him down" and make him confirm the truth, but Myers refuses to do so; we have seen similar scenes to this in Hitman: Agent 47, for example, when Agent 47's car is speared and tethered by officials in an effort to hold him down; Dom in Fast and Furious 8 is stealing nuke codes from the Russians and his team launches tethers at his car to keep him from going anywhere and in The Mummy we see the Mummy in the forest being stabbed with tethering devices by Prodigium soldiers (there is also a scene in the new trailer for the upcoming film The Nun where a demon disguised as a nun pins a holy nun against the wall). Trying to "pin down" Liberals, such as Hillary Clinton, and make them face facts is like trying to get Michael Myers to face you and accept responsibility for what he has done.
In the second image, we see the dead body of a car mechanic who has been murdered by Myers and the mechanic is naked; why? Myers needed to get out of his inmate clothing so he stole the uniform of a car mechanic. On one level, we have seen something like this before in Man Of Steel: after having saved the crew on an exploding oil rig, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) steals some clothes from a truck parked at a house, but this truly echoes the plight of Kent: he doesn't have an identity of his own so he is having to "steal" the identity of normal people; what about Michael Myers? IF Myers is going to be a socialist figure, then it makes sense that he would "dress himself in the uniform of the working man" to wage war against those who stand in his way to power. Now, if you will look closely at this middle image (you can click on it to enlarge) the dead man's body lies in a pool of blood, and there is a metal object on the ground beside him; it's almost like he's been castrated and the metal object is the phallic symbol; why? As you have heard me say countless times, socialists have labeled the white man as their enemy because they are the "power holders" in Western civilization, and this mechanic is skilled, he's a worker who performs a service to people who have cars, so this would make the mechanic a "worthy kill" in the eyes of Myers who wants to assume the identity--not of a skilled worker--rather, of someone who has been "left behind" in a prosperous economy and wants more of his "fair share."
The murder of the car mechanic receives greater emphasis from the bottom image: Martin, the investigator who holds up the mask in the top image, has been murdered by Myers and his dead body is now being used as a battering ram in the women's bathroom as Myers attempts to get to Dana, Martin's female partner in the investigation. Why use Martin's body? Having killed a white male, Myers has gained power because he got away with it (think of the #MeToo movement and the way men have been removed from their position simply because they have been accused, with no due process or trial, just by accusation, and the more men who have been removed power, the greater the power of #MeToo and #TimesUp has become) so the "trophy" of Martin's dead body becomes the means to be emboldened to seek out more trophies (this is discussed further below with the teeth).
Conservatives have a joke about liberals: if they want free healthcare, free food and only the cops to have guns, they should go to prison, and that is exactly where Michael Myers has spent nearly his entire life. When we see the security at the hospital where the documentary film is being filmed, those security measures are to keep the inmates inside the prison; this isn't very different from the opening scene of The Man From UNCLE when we see the security around the Berlin Wall and the measures the socialist/communist government was taking to keep "citizens" inside the Wall during the Cold War. When we see the security around Laurie's house, it's to keep Michael Myers out, it's for her personal safety and protection, and this is one of the main points of separation between a socialist and capitalist narrative of the film: Laurie is not a victim.
This top image is of the mannequins Laurie uses for target practice; notice how they resemble the mask of Myers, with their dirty, white color and the holes and decay? That's because the color white symbolizes the person whose soul is alive in faith, hope and charity, or the dead corpse of a person who is dead to faith, hope and charity (a corpse turns white as it decomposes). Laurie's greatest strength is that she knows exactly what Michael Myers is: someone who has no soul (this is symbolic because if he were an actual person, of course he would have a soul, regardless of how evil he was, but this is a fictitious work so Michael Myers is someone with no soul). This means that Laurie--who prays every night as she tells the sheriff--is protecting her soul from the soul-less-ness of Michael Myers.
On another level, we can see the difference between Laurie--who is prepared and armed to do battle--with Dana, the woman trapped in the bathroom stall by Myers and who has no protection. It would generally make sense to say that, had Martin not been killed, Martin would help to protect her, however, since Martin is dead, he's now being used to kill Dana (and this is a primary objective of socialists, to demonize "toxic masculinity" and the impulse men have to defend and protect women, because if men stop being masculine, they are no longer going to recognize the impulse to protect women, children, their homes or homeland). There is another dimension to Myers attacking Dana in the women's bathroom: the transgender problem. The last two years of the Obama administration saw legislation being forced upon schools, businesses and any public building to allow transgendered individuals to use the bathroom which they "identified with" rather than use the facilities of the gender with which they were born.
The new Halloween shares some similarities with the 2016 film Cure For Wellness which takes place in an "asylum," the doctor wears a mask to hide his real identity and, most importantly, many patients lose their teeth. Teeth are a part of the mouth and obviously allow us to eat solid food. As part of the mouth, teeth contribute to symbolizing the appetites, and we know there are bad appetites (sex, drugs, gambling, any self-destructive pursuit) but, as Cure For Wellness and Halloween are pointing out, there are also good appetites: personal success, integrity, virtue. When Myers opens his hand and the pulled teeth fall out, we don't know if they are the teeth of the mechanic who has been killed, Martin's or someone else's, but it's a terribly threatening situation, and it could be Myers (as a socialist figure) accusing Dana of a specific appetite: wanting privacy in the bathroom. (We have seen pulled teeth used in another great horror film, The Blair Witch Project, when one of the boys had what appeared to be some of his pulled teeth wrapped in a piece of his torn shirt). 
Let's take a detour. I know I have been on a Harry Potter kick lately, however, there was an important detail which links up here nicely and we have more information on it then the Halloween trailer. In Chamber Of Secrets, the Slytherin Chamber Of Secrets is located in the girls' bathroom; why? The "genocide" of the muggle-born students is a socialist agenda (think of the Holocaust launched by the Nazis and NAZI stands for national socialist party of Germany), and socialism is a matriarchal system (emphasis is placed on survival of the species rather than on the development of the individual as in a patriarchal system) so being in the girls' bathroom--where waste is disposed of--is the perfect place to release a monster that will dispose of the "waste" of the muggle-born students who Salazer Slytherin believed should not be at Hogwarts. So, back to Halloween, we have the "face of socialism" in Michael Myers attacking a woman's bathroom stall; this should be a place of privacy for her as she "disposes of her waste" but the real waste Myers has come to dispose of is Martin, the white male heterosexual documentary film maker, and now her; in other words, women who think it's okay to attack white men because of their masculine/white privilege should be wary because the same monster is apt to come looking for them as well. Rather than quelling his appetite for murder, having killed the mechanic and now the film maker only makes Myers want to kill more, and that's the problem with revolutions (as anyone who has studied the French or Soviet Revolutions knows) when the monster is unleashed, he's impossible to stop and is even likely to kill the very ones who unleashed him to begin with. In this circumstance, the teeth aren't indicting Dana, it's Myers making a statement to her that he has appetites himself and they are violent ones (because he has pulled the teeth out of the head of his victim[s]).
"I've prayed every night that he would escape."
"Why the hell would you do that?"
"So I can kill him."
This brief dialogue reveals a number of important clues regarding the universe in which this story takes place. First of all, there is a God (Laurie prays every night); secondly, there is a hell (the sheriff can't invoke a place that he doesn't believe exists). This is fundamentally opposed to socialism because socialism emphatically denies there is any god so the government can become god and create all the "morality" and ethics for that society (consider, for example, how difficult it would be in China to enforce the one-child rule via forced birth control and abortions if the citizens were Christians, the government wouldn't have a chance). But this dialogue, and numerous images in the film, also lead us to the undermining of another important socialist tenant: the government is supposed to take care of you because you can't take care of yourself.
The first shot we see of Laurie--after all these years--is the scar on her arm from when Myers stabbed her. The arm symbolizes strength, and in stabbing Laurie in the arm, Myers intended to weaken her by making her see that she is his victim and she isn't strong enough to overcome him; the opposite happened. Laurie has used that scar to strengthen her and insure she won't be his victim again.
In the bottom image, we see a young girl babysitting a little boy in bed. Now, why does Myers like killing babysitters? Because these young girls use their free time to watch the kids of couples who have sufficient expendable income to not only go out and enjoy themselves for the evening, but also to pay a sitter to watch their kids for the night. The sitter, in turn, has some extra money with which to buy things she wants/needs or to save that money. babysitting is, in other words, a service that has arisen out of the free market addressing the need of parents who occasionally need someone to watch their kids, and the need has been met by (mostly) young women who are happy to exchange their time and experience to earn some extra money (and the idea of "earn" rather than just "give" is important, because "basic income" is being touted more and more across the US, so instead of providing a service like babysitting, young women like the one above would just be given $400 a month by the government). At least in the trailer, the white babysitter and the black child appear to be getting along well; the boy asks her to shut the closet door, and she can't because Michael Myers is hiding in there. (In The Conjuring, we also saw the witch Bathsheba hiding in the armoire, the stand-alone clothes closet). It's possible that there is something specific about this closet we don't get from the trailer, however, my first thought was, "Liberals want to make blacks thinking that whites are racists, and they want to 'bring white racism against blacks out of the closet' and expose it" but, just as Myers doesn't belong in this closet--it's not his house--so that manufactured racism the Left is always talking about also doesn't belong at the feet of conservatives because it shouldn't be there, and it's only there to kill white people, not actually do anything to help black people. So, while socialism wants women to think they need a socialist society to level the playing field against men, Halloween is attempting (at least, I think) to demonstrate how socialism actually hurts women, by leaving them unprotected, not able to offer a service like babysitting or find a babysitter for your own kids when you yourself want to go out.
Laurie is armed and dangerous.
She has been training and preparing herself for this final showdown, not leaving her safety to anyone else, especially the government. Laurie has taken responsibility for herself and her property, which socialists argue people are not capable of doing: to socialists, people are dumb animals who have to have all their needs provided for them. Laurie proves otherwise. Socialists particularly want women to feel at a disadvantage and helpless since it's their plight in society and the workplace that socialists want to capture: women don't have power, socialists tell them, so give us power and we will make life better for you. The problem is, and I believe Halloween is going to do this in every scene, many people believe that socialism really wants to take care of them and really wants to make their life better, and this is the reason why Michael Myers escapes from a bus,...
Why a mask?
When we commit sins, the beauty and brilliance of our souls diminish with each act of sinfulness we make; our soul is the greatest testament we have to our individuality and our dignity. Without our soul, we have no individuality, we have no identity. The greater our virtue, however, the greater our individuality. Horror villains typically have a mask or disfigured face because they represent how sin has eaten up a soul and left it with no identity but the scars of addiction and eternal death. When we see a villain like Michael Myers, the fear comes from the possibility that, "It could be us," our soul could come to look like him: no body. Giving ourselves to addiction and sinful behaviors doesn't increase our individuality because those behaviors are self-destructive and hence, we sabotage ourselves when we commit them, rather than ennobling ourselves. 
It's rather a familiar cinematic device: a group of highly dangerous criminals are being transported on a bus and the bus crashes, allowing the inmates to escape (Fast Five from 2011, when Dom is being transported and Brian and Mia wreck the bus and The Fugitive with Harrison Ford of 1993 are two examples); so if it's so familiar, why use it again? This is the type of "silly plot point" that horror-genre critics despise, so why risk using it? "Seriously," they ask, "They take Michael Myers out of the prison on Halloween and think everything will be okay?" But this is the very point: because Michael Myers and the danger he poses has been forgotten, people have to be reminded. Even if it's a "prison bus," a "bus" most often reminds Americans (at least) of the big yellow school bus which picks kids up and drops them off after school; and a bus serves as a "vehicle of education," so when we see a bus, we are going to be "schooled about something" and, in this case, it's the danger of letting what Michael Myers symbolizes to roam about freely.
This is a part of the "documentation" of Michael Myers, and this is at least the third time we have seen "paper work" on an important character (consider James Bond's papers retrieved from the fire at his home in Spectre, and the MACUSA papers on Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindlewald). There is something very interesting about this photo (yes, he stands with his back to us and his face to the wall, and that would be an indication of refusing to "face reality" and the real world, preferring, instead, to live in a world where he can create his own reality like a painting on a black canvas [the wall]): his right shoulder appears to be severely bruised. Why does this matter? The shoulders symbolize burdens we take on, we don't take on are willing or unwilling to carry; the bruised shoulder indicates that he has a "chip on his shoulder" and the burden he has made his own is to make everyone else feel the same pain he has felt, regardless of whether that is a realistic assessment of reality or not. 
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Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner