Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
|Here at the outpost of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) we see the former neurosurgeon, Wong, Dr. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark, as well as a huge hole in the staircase. Stairs, we know, symbolize ascending or descending, we either attain a higher level of thought about something, or we descend in our ability to recognize a greater meaning (however, descending can also mean going "deeper" into a situation, as in the case of John Wick [Keanu Reeves] when Wick goes "down" into his basement to retrieve or bury his hitman supplies). What's important about the image above is the hole preventing any ascending or descending upon the stairs at all. It's possible Banner himself created the hole: when we first see him at the start of the trailer, he's lying on his back amongst debris and Strange and Wong appear to be looking down at him, so it's possible he feel into Strange's, but we just don't know until we know, but we can say there is now a problem with "knowledge" and accessing knowledge as a result of what happens in this scene.|
|If you haven't noticed, Affleck's picture is on the cover of People this week, reminding everyone how horrible he was to ex-wife Jennifer Garner. This might be a reason for Justice League not doing well--reminding people why they don't like Affleck and he doesn't deserve to play a super-hero--but also his own bad press for having criticized Harvey Weintstein and then Affleck had at least two groping accusations brought against him, then there was the press conference where someone asked the cast what they thought about Supergirl being brought into JL and Affleck replied, "Are you kidding? Have you read the news lately?" referring to the sexual harassment charges plaguing Hollywood, Affleck obviously assuming that if a woman was brought in, she would start making accusations,... regardless of what you and I think about what is going on, Affleck supports whole-heartedly this ideology and mode of operation, so it's possible fans will do what they did with Batman vs Superman and wait until it appears on cable.|
|It seriously bothers me that Aquaman (Jason Momoa, far left) holds that trident upside-down. We just saw the Trident of Poseidon being broken in the pro-socialist Pirates of the Caribbean, and Aquaman holding it upside-down suggests he's basically doing the same thing by disrespecting the power and authority with which he has been entrusted, rather like in King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword when Uther Pendragon is about to go kill Mordred and he hands his crown to Vortigern (Jude Law) and Vortigern casually handles the crown, to which Uther commands him, "Hold it steady!" Of course, I hated Wonder Woman, and I fear that, like Steve (Chris Pine) Superman is going to be castrated and turned into a feminist toy.|
|Details are imperative in this film, and there is a particular detail we must note, because we have to remember, when there is a character looking for clues, that is an invitation for us, the viewers, to also "look for clues" regarding what the film is really saying. Please notice, as you watch the film, the costumes involved: we have all ready analyzed some of the costumes in detail, but one aspect we haven't considered in this image of Hercule Poirot above: his coat. Because his arms are not in the sleeves of the coat, we may suspect that Poirot all ready has a clue about the play on the last name of "Armstrong," and I won't say anything else about that here, however, it also does something else to Poirot's coat: it turns it from a coat into a cape. A cape, like what Thor or Superman wears, is a sign of a burden willingly taken upon one's self, and their capes are red because they are willing to spill their (red) blood for those they love and the just cause. In the image above, I can't tell if Poirot's coat is blue--like his suit--or black, but Poirot has taken upon himself the burden of the case.|
|This is actually genius, doing it this way. Please note, that both hero (Poirot on the left) and villain (Ratchett on the right, Depp) have a scar on their left eye (Ratchett's isn't as visible in this shot, but you've noticed it in the trailers); why? To begin with, we know that a character's eye symbolizes their ability to see "beneath the surface," their "spiritual eyesight," because the eyes are the windows of the soul, so their ability for spiritual perceptions reflects how advanced or decimated their soul is. A wound suggests that one isn't able to properly see, but with Branagh having villain and hero share this trait, he's teasing us to "see" something else, specifically, that the wounds which have caused Poirot's eye to look strange have caused him to have deeper spiritual sight--he's the one who notices everything--whereas Ratchett's wound has caused him to ignore everything, giving him, at best, a shallow soul and one filled with crime and sin. In other words, the same (type of) misfortunes happened to both men, but they chose to handle it differently, Poirot growing wise and Ratchett becoming small and selfish (or worse). So, what about their mustaches? The mouth symbolizes our appetites, be they for food, sex, power, etc., and a man's facial hair (usually) accentuates that he has particular appetites (facial hair is associated with not shaving, and not shaving--no offense gentlemen, this is a broad historical portrait we are painting--was a sign to the well-groomed Romans of a barbarian who didn't shave, hence, facial hair has always had a negative connotation to it). So, what appetites can we deduce about Ratchett and Poirot? We actually see Ratchett eating when he joins Poirot at his table, while Poirot, who should be eating, reads instead (an appetite for knowledge). Poirot's mustache is intricately fixed and maintained, meaning he has an appetite for precision, and--because it's so obnoxiously big, like, really obnoxiously big--it means that Hercule (Hercules) Poirot has a "godly" appetite for justice, for avenging the innocent, for truth. Poirot also has some hair on his chin (sorry, don't know the proper grooming term for this, but I'll find out): the chin--being part of our jaws--suggests how we deal with justice towards ourselves: do we "take it on the chin" when someone insults us, or do we develop an appetite for revenge and resentment? Last, but not least, the gentlemen's neckties: Poirot's is a delicate, intricate knot, whereas Ratchett's is just flipped over, as if it's hiding something; what? We know the neck symbolizes or reveals that which leads us in life, so for Poirot, it's order, it's social norms and expectations (his tie is a traditional knot) whereas with Ratchett, it's something he can hide, something shady (and until we know more, we can't be specific, but as you watch the film, be looking for a thesis of "what leads him"). When we see Poirot with his tie slightly askew, that's a brilliant means of communicating to us that Poirot himself is askew in what guides him: either--depending on the place in the narrative--he has difficulties tracing down what clues should be leading him, or he sees exactly where the clues lead and that disturbs him, even to the point that he wants to avoid the proper conclusion to the case.|
|These sweeping landscapes we will see are probably similar to our viewing of the sublime scenes in Dunkirk, in which Branagh also starred.Why? First of all, there is a symbolic significance in the landscape, especially the snow: either people have conquered their sins, so now they can reach up, closer to God (because the "hardness of heart" is symbolized by a mountain) or people have so hardened their hearts by sin that their heart has become a wilderness. Notice the vastness of this mountain range, then the small track of railroad upon which the world-famous luxury Express runs. That is civilization. That is progress. That is capitalism. We have seen a similar shot to this, in fact, in Fast and Furious 7 when the Toretto family drive their amazing cars through a winding road of desert and camel herders; which world would you rather live in, both film makers ask us, the world where nature enslaves us to our surroundings, or the world where we have mastered our surroundings and we can exert our will and do as we please?|
This is where it gets a bit tricky, but we all ready have the tricky part figured out. The "snow" and the vapor from the train is really water, and we know that water symbolizes the different stages of reflection (we'll go in-depth in the post for those who don't remember/know). Snow is the third and final stage, meaning the person(s) has accepted what has happened but now they have to heal,... or they refuse to heal, which is why I'm stopping at this point, because when we first see snow appear is going to be critical to understanding the trauma the film explores and how that trauma relates to our own events in today's world. There is an avalanche which stops the train, and that avalanche is a "collision of reality and meditation," in that the train is reality and the snow is the meditation, the spiritual awakening or insight. When the avalanche stops the train, it's going to be a massive symbol of how to "dig out" of the larger trauma being exposed in the film.
The train itself will be a "character" in the film, and we will discuss this further after we have seen it, however, keep in mind, that a "vehicle" is a "vehicle" of the Holy Spirit, and as such, will symbolize the "movement" of the soul(s) of those aboard it. In other words, how do the people aboard the Orient Express change over the course of the film's events? Are those changes for good or bad regarding that character's soul?
|There is a lot we can discuss with this poster, however, let's just consider the tagline, "Terror is building." I have to admit, that's a good one, very witty, clever. People who are about the future want to build the future, people who are self-sufficient want to build for themselves, and it's through the act of "building" that America and the West in general has become great civilizations (cultures who are not considered "great" are not considered so due to a general lack of "buildings" in their countries: where there are no buildings, there is no other signs of greatness, such as learning, discovery, finance, leadership, resources, trade, etc.). So the very act of constructing is going to be part of the villany of the film.|
|Well, it appears that Lex Luthor (portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg) has been one of a couple of characters axed from the Justice League film by the "new director" Joss Whedon (replacing Zack Snyder who took personal time off). There have been numerous re-shoots and lots of clipping of video, and I am wondering if Superman is even going to be in the film at all. At the end of the last trailer released, we see Jeremy Irons' Alfred look up and see someone who he talks to about being "not too late," and while this was a tease for Superman, a very good theory has suggested that the person whom Alfred addresses is actually Green Lantern, and given that Steppenwolf--the villain of the film--says that earth doesn't have any Lanterns to protect it, that makes perfect sense. Iris West has also been cut from the film, and someone else that I didn't know who they were, but it's going to be a very different film, and likely a pro-socialist film under Whedon.|
|Do we really need another version of A Christmas Carol? The easy answer is: the better a work of art is, the more versions of it culture will produce. "But it will never be as good as the original!" I hear people lament, but the truth is, it's not supposed to be; the "versions of the original" are meant to remind people of why the original is so good, not to suggest that the version of the original is any better, or even as good as the original. Versions are also meant to introduce a wider, newer audience to the original; an audience who might otherwise not encounter the original at all.|
There are plenty of things we can say about this poster, but for the moment, let's focus on what's in front of Dickens (Dan Stevens) on his desk: a lamp and ink well on his right, two dancing frogs in front of him and a few books to his left. Why is this important? The dancing frogs symbolize evolution. Darwin's Origin Of the Species was published in 1859, Dickens hadn't even been born, but by the time he began writing, the idea that we "evolved" from lowly animals had taken hold of Victorian society and artists and Christians desperately fought back against the "Left" of their day, which is why there are books on Dickens' "Left," it symbolizes the books from which the Left take their ideas (Origin of Species and the Communist Manifesto of 1848; however, books are not reality, reality is reality, and the author of reality is God (the definition of reality is "God seeing Himself"). This is the reason the lamp and ink well are on the right side of Dickens: they symbolize God. In the trailer, Dickens is going through writers' block, and says, "My lamp has gone out." Why does he say that? Because light symbolizes truth, and that his lamp has gone out means his ability to see God using him as a vehicle, an instrument, to do God's work has gone out, and that happens to us all from time to time, so we appreciate it when that lamp burns brightly.
|Why would Dickens have a miser be the center of a story about Christmas? Because a miser is the exact opposite of what Christmas means: the heavens were opened and the Love of God poured out upon us at the birth of Christ, instead of God keeping His riches, Love and goodness to himself (like Scrooge) He lavished us with His bounty. We are misers, however, when it comes to returning God's love: like Scrooge loving his money, we love the things of this world, our families, our leisure, our hobbies, jobs, etc., better than we love God, and so we can call A Christmas Carol a love story, the romance of God's love for us and calling us back to Himself. When the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to visit his earlier life, he realizes the good relationships he had with others, like his fiancee Belle, with whom Scrooge could have found a greater understanding of God's Love for him (because the love we have for others, and the love they have for us, is meant to mirror God's Love for us and the love we are supposed to reciprocate to Him) but he rejected her love for the love of money; when God blesses us, He blesses us so we can love Him more, but when we deny those blessings with worldly pursuits, our ability to truly love diminishes because the image of God within our souls diminishes.|
As we also discuss below with details about the replicant, the color gray we see Scrooge wear in this image is telling: gray symbolizes the color of the pilgrim/penitent or the novice (the replicant below symbolizes the novice), and we can say Scrooge is both the pilgrim (the ghosts take him on spiritual journeys so he will be converted) and a penitent (he will do penance to overcome the consequences he has brought upon the world and himself). Now, we can't ignore that it would be very easy for socialists to take advantage of Scrooge's end--when he goes around Christmas morning, throw money at everyone--as a vehicle for wealth redistribution, something like: if you don't want to be a Scrooge, then you need to give up all your money to the poor. This is a real possibility, and we really won't know until the film comes out.
|"Light" is an incredibly complex symbol, and yet it's also incredibly simple: truth. Light will always symbolize truth, however, the source of that light will "color" what kind of truth it is the character/audience experiences. For example, when we have clear,bright sunlight, it's a clear and apparent truth, a natural law to which all can have access. When it's a cloudy day, but still light, that indicates a truth more difficult to discern, and partially shrouded in mystery. Artificial light means an artificial truth, something manufactured, etc. In the image above, it appears this is sunlight, but the blowing dust and sand "filters" the truth, because the earth is going to represent reality, and so we have "truth" filtered by the reality that Officer K (Gosling) exists within: the yellow color symbolizes dignity, so it could be K's dignity in the reality of a world of replicants who have been denied dignity; the barrenness of the scene, however, depicts that K doesn't have anything to measure his dignity against so he can't understand what his dignity is or what it means (this is a super-simplistic reading of what will prove to be a complex image, so I don't want to go further with this now).|
I have a copy of Blade Runner, which I haven't watched since my first year of film criticism--yea, it's basically required viewing, so you need to see it--so I am very much looking forward to posting on Blade Runner prior to the October 6 release of 2049.
|The replicant wears gray, which, we know, symbolizes both the pilgrim/penitent or the novice, because gray is the color of ashes, and it's ashes which the penitent puts upon themselves in humility (from dust I came, to dust I shall return) whereas the novice receives humility in entering a new state of life and learning from others and hoping for their acceptance. This gives us a rather sinister view on the replicant: he seeks the acceptance of those before whom he stands, hoping to be accepted because of his blind obedience; the replicant we see in this video is only the "entry level" replicant which Niander intentionally designs to be obedient to him and him alone, but more advanced versions--past the novitiate stage--will likely not behalve the way the replicant in the video does (not be slavishly obedient). What else? The hair is pulled back, perfectly: the head, or anything on the head, such as hair, hats, etc., materialize the immaterial thoughts of a character, so the perfectly pulled back hair (a sign of discipline) illustrates the thoughts of the replicant, that they are perfectly disciplined (instead of hair going every which way).|
When Niander first speaks to the replicant, Niander tells him to find a weapon. It's infinitely interesting that the replicant chooses a glass pitcher for water; why? Water is a symbol of Grace--Grace being God's own Life He infuses into our souls--but the replicant isn't interested in Grace--how can he be, he's a machine? But Luke Scott brings out that those who are not interested in God's Grace are like machines, like the mechanical voice of Niander. Then, there is the fact that the pitcher is made of glass. Glass symbolizes reflection, and our ability to reflect/meditate upon circumstances, our choices, our will, events outside of our influence, etc. That the replicant takes only a shard of glass perfectly illustrates for us that he has only limited abilities to reflect (a shard of glass instead of the whole pitcher, or "picture" for the points on word play); that there is no natural light coming into the room where all this takes place also indicates that those witnessing this "crime" also can't accurately reflect upon what's happening because they don't have the "light of truth" against which to measure the events (there are windows, but it's dark, and only neon lights and flashes of incandescent light enter the room from outside; of course, there is only lamp light within the room).
Now, why does the replicant stab himself in the neck? Because that's the most sensitive area and the easiest to inflict injury, yea, sure, but we also know that the neck symbolizes that which leads us in life, that which guides us (like a leash around our neck). In Blade Runner, the four replicants which cause all the problems (portrayed by Rutger Hauer and Darryl Hannah) wanted more life; Niander, in having his replicant stab himself in the neck, subliminally proposes that his replicants will be led by death, not life. Again, there is a ton more to discuss, this merely scratches the surface, but we will discuss this in greater depth next week.