Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dunkirk Was Excellent!

It was beautiful, it was moving, it was deep and it was the perfect IMAX experience! Please, IF YOU CAN, see it in IMAX. That's what Nolan wanted, and you will be rewarded. Just a note before you go: it's not a linear timeline--surprise!--there are flashbacks and interweaving experiences, one scene is at night, then you jump to the next scene taking place during the day,... it's got it's purpose, so bear with it, that is how Nolan wants to tell us these stories. The acting, of course, was superb, and I mean top-notch, best-in-class, all around the cast, everyone was perfectly cast and filled their roles to perfection. I think I was holding my breath through the whole film. I am actually almost done with the post, but there are spoilers in it, so, please, see the film before you read my post, as always, and this earlier post I did, Ineffability: Dunkirk & Visual Philosophy was correct, there is nothing that needs amending in that, you might want to read it before seeing the film to help draw your attention to certain features. Lastly, my post on The Shape Of Water was posted at like 4 am and I forgot to include some important notes on who the creature is and why, but that has been corrected; so sorry, 4 am tends to make me a bit groggy, but I am so happy that Nolan's film exceeds my expectations, oh, happy day!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, July 21, 2017

TRAILER: The Shape Of Water

PLEASE WATCH THE TRAILER BELOW FIRST AND THEN COME BACK AND READ THIS CAPTION, because it's not going to make sense unless you know what the film is about. Who is the mute woman Eliza in the film? She is Eliza Doolittle from the 1964 George Cukor classic My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.  In the film, Eliza (hepburn) is a poor flower girl, and she has an obnoxious accent and exceedingly poor grammar; she goes to Professor Higgins (Harrison) for lessons so she can speak properly and attain better employment for herself; in the process, she and Higgins fall in love and Eliza advances in society and Higgins advances in the realm of human emotions. In The Shape Of Water, we can see how del Toro has divided Harrison's character of Higgins into two different characters to examine Higgins' own duel motivations for helping Eliza in My Fair Lady: Higgins is both the "professor" character who we hear speaking at the very start of the trailer (I believe he's portrayed by Nick Searcy, but I might be wrong about that, his character isn't listed on the IMDB casting for The Shape Of Water), and see again later as he translates Eliza's sign language, and then Higgins' is also Strickland (Michael Shannon) the one who is a scientist and doesn't believe in what really makes us human. So, in the opening lines of the film, we hear the words describing Eliza as "the princess without voice," and that refers to Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady when her big debut is at a fancy ball and, because her speech has become so impeccable, she is mistaken for a princess, but in a way, it's not Eliza Doolittle's voice, it's Higgins' voice he has given her. The big question is, then: why does del Toro want to draw people's attention to the film My Fair Lady and the events of 1963, when the film takes place? Because in American politics today, feminists claim that men have taken away the voice of women, that men have silenced women and held them back from advancing in society. As a woman myself, I know nothing could be further from the truth: every single man in my life, from ALL of my male professors, to the men in my family and social circles, have wanted nothing but my total success and complete happiness; if anyone was holding me back, it was my very own self. I will stand by that until the day that I die. Anyway, we have Eliza, the woman literally, with no voice, but she's not just a woman, she is a princess; why? Because of the inherent dignity of women with which God created us. In the trailer, we see Strickland telling Eliza, "The Lord created us in His image. You don't think the Lord looks like that, do you?" but the physical appearance of humans isn't what is being discussed, rather, the image of God within our souls and our capacity to love and to sacrifice for love, that is the image of God in which we were created. Without someone to love, we are, just like Eliza, a little cleaning woman, with no voice. But when we have that "other," our dignity becomes complete.
(UPDATED: If you are wondering about the beautiful French song in the trailer, it's La Javanaise by jazz and blues singer-songwriter Madeleine Peyroux and it is available on iTunes.  I originally posted this at 4 am and forgot some points about the creature, so it's complete now, sorry!) If a film maker wanted to use just three words to get me to be interested in a film, all they would have to say is, "Guillermo del Toro," and I would be hooked: Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim and his invaluable contributions to The Hobbit trilogy are some of the reasons I am smitten with anything del Toro chooses to dedicate his energy and creativity to. In other words, I don't doubt him, and this trailer for his latest creation certainly is worthy of his formidable intellectual powers.
Oh, Guillermo, how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways,....
Water, shall be first.
There are three manifestations of water as a symbol (along with the moon and dogs, water is one of the most complicated and organic of all symbols, and I mean "complicated," why? Because it's essential for life: of all the different cultures through history who have existed, all of them have depended upon water for survival, therefore, water itself can be about survival, and each artist infuses their ideas of what is necessary for life into their symbolism of what water means, or, if you will, what the "shape of water" is; but here are some simplified paths for us to take): water takes on many forms, complicating its identity even further (liquid, vapor [fog or clouds] and solid) but first is the liquid form.
If this isn't a magical image, I don't know what is. Let's just start by listing the symbols: water, sleeping, the lamp and the light shining upon her, the color blue, the color green, the books on the shelf and the doorway through which we pass. And those are just the ones I am seeing off the top of my head. Okay, the water, we know, is the state of reflection, but there is more to this reflection, because we are beneath the surface of the water, so this is "deep reflection," but that's not all, folks: there is the light. There is the light from the lamp (a man-made light source) and then there is the light coming down upon her from above, like it's divine light. Thirdly, there is the "studied light" of the developed intellect symbolized by the books on the shelf in the background. What does light symbolize? Illumination. That three types of light are present (the divine and man-made) suggests that Eliza has a natural intelligence to her and because she makes the most of her natural intelligence by studying and advancing her intellect, she has been rewarded with extra Light from above, she has a spiritual insight into her self and others. Eliza sleeps; why? She has not yet been awakened to fulfill her calling in life. As Napoleon said, "Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains," and that mountain Eliza will move is the mountain of sin symbolized by Strickland. But this time of sleep is essential for Eliza's formation; why? So that when her moment comes, she will know it. That's why we pass through the door, the door in Eliza's world is opening to opportunity and the purpose for which she was created. That's why we see so much blue in the image: blue is the color of sadness and wisdom, so Eliza has learned painful lessons through her life of silence, her life of contemplation, but the green that is there is for her hope, that something will happen, something will change. What is going to happen? The bed symbolizes death, because a bed is the forerunner of our coffin, where we "sleep" after life, awaiting the Final Judgement. So, (and this is very common) sleeping and death are the state of souls until they come into their purpose, their calling; "Be still and know that I am the Lord," God said in Psalms 46:10, because it's only when we are not busy with our life and our world that we can be still and come to understand that HE is God. And we will not be called into our purpose until we have learned that lesson. 
When water is water,  it relates that the character(s) is in the first stage of reflection, like Narcissus, because you see only what is on the surface; when water becomes vaporized, it demonstrates that the character is trying to see deeper within themselves, but they are having a difficult time discerning, things are blurry (it's hard to see in the fog, or with your head in the clouds) so either the character hides something from themselves (a truth they don't want to face) or the character hasn't come to a full understanding of what has happened or will happen, leading to the third stage of contemplation and snow.
The feet. Shoes. These are important symbols for characters, as we well know, dear reader. What is a part of Eliza's everyday routine? Polishing and brushing her shoes, slipping into her shoes, and walking to work. Our feet symbolize our will, because our feet take us where we want to go the way our will directs our lives to where we want to go and to get what we want. So, in the image at the top, we see Eliza brushing her shoe with a green brush; green, we know, is either the color of hope, as in spring and rebirth and new life, or it's the color of something that has gone rotten, like the moldy green stuff growing in forgotten recycled plastic butter containers in your fridge that you used for leftovers. With Eliza, we know it's hope (her sweater is also a dark green color, the headband in her hair and the coat she wears to work, are all green, because she is the symbol of someone who lives in hope) so each day she gives herself hope, and it's in the light of hope that Eliza walks, even though her shoes are rather plain, they are heels, i.e., shoes that women wear, so it's a particularly feminine hope that she has, something that will effect her as a woman (not specifically as an American, or a Christian or atheist, or as a member of the communist party, etc., but as a woman).
On a slightly different note, but still on the same topic, the way the trailer sets up Eliza's life, from 0:15-0:30 (when the creature's hand meets her hand on the glass of the containment unit) is that of redundancy: Eliza goes through the same motions day, after day, after day, after day,.... that's redundancy, and it's a specific theory,... why? Because there is no "information" in redundancy, we don't learn anything new, there's nothing breaking the mold of our expectations; in other words, Eliza's life is exactly the way we would expect it to be, and this is an important tool for artists, because it's by the vocabulary of the "redundant" that we see the problem with our own lives: because of the needs we have for our survival (not because we live in the modern world) our lives inevitably become redundant, and that's not what God intended for us: "I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly" Jesus tells us (John 10:10). Even though we will be allowed to have the redundant, so we know in humility what we are without God, God wants to give us more than the mere survival to which we are accustomed because only He can give it to us, only He knows what the desires of your heart are, because He is the one who put them there, to fulfill and multiply at the right time. A good illustration is the parting of the Red Sea: when God delivered Israel, he led them from the land of slavery, through the waters of salvation, by doing that which only God could do, and in your own life, that has happened, or it will happen. Now we are ready to discuss the bottom image.
In the bottom scene, it appears that she and the creature kiss beneath the water, with that beautiful light streaming down upon them, Eliza in a red coat and a special light around her feet,... almost like there is a halo around her feet, and one of the shoes coming off,... we haven't yet discussed who the creature is, but we will in the next caption, but suffice to say, this is what Eliza was created for; how can we tell? She's in "deep water," she's beneath the surface, so there is a union that is "baptized" (I know, the "guy" is a "creature" but trust me just for a moment longer, it will all make sense) and so, we can even venture to say that this union is happening on the level of the soul, because there is the deep water and the light shining upon them, with the emphasis upon her will (the feet). Obviously, a shoe has just dropped from her feet, and this validates the sacramental nature of the moment we see, because where else have we seen in the Bible someone wearing only one shoe where they were? Joshua right before the fall of Jericho, when the angel comes announcing he is commander of the Lord's host (because some think it's awkward, many modern translators say that Joshua was commanded to take off both sandals, but my Hebrew Old Testament professor made a big deal that it was only one shoe Joshua had to take off, whereas Moses had to take off both shoes; so was the ground on which Moses stood holier than the ground upon which Joshua stood? No, but the Lord wanted to completely unite Moses' will to His own Will, whereas with Joshua, the Lord wanted Joshua to keep his own will, because the Lord knew Joshua--just as Moses--was a precursor to Christ, and that would be separately established; we could go on, but we won't at this time). So, Joshua, takes off one shoe to show he's standing in a holy place, just before a battle, and that he's in the presence of the Lord, and that he still retains some of his own will (he has one shoe on, and our feet symbolize our will), but there is also the Will of God at work (the removed shoe signifying the holy ground). This kiss is "the breath of life," the means by which God imparts to us the Holy Spirit and Life itself (God blew onto Adam from God's own mouth to instill life in him, and a bride and groom kiss at their wedding to breathe new life into each other), and this kiss will prepare Eliza for the battle she is about to wage against Strickland for the life of the creature.
In its solid form, water-as-snow symbolizes the thoughts-as-tangible-expression and now is the time for healing. A character has worked their way through the stages of contemplation, and have come to the full realization of what they were supposed to discover and now, having discovered whatever it was, they can heal, just as the land heals during winter from the summer harvests and crops, and the snow covering the ground protects the resting soil and landscape (and then the process begins again with another topic for discovery); so, where does that put Eliza in The Shape Of Water?
In deep water.
Hands symbolize our honor, because it's when we want to give our word to someone that we "shake hands" on it, so our hands are a sign of our genuineness, our sincerity. In the top image, it's with her hand that Eliza touches the glass (symbol of reflection) and looks into the water (another symbol of reflection, and this water has a definite green tint to it, a sign of hope), and then the creature's hand comes up to "meet" her hand; why? He's recognizing her genuineness, that she is interested in him, not interested in the science experiment that the scientists are trying to turn him into. There is another image in the trailer, of Eliza looking through the bus window with rain drops, and tracing her fingers along the glass as the droplets magically flow to follow her motions: the glass and water drops both denote, again, reflection, and her hand doing the tracing on the glass is the sign that she is being genuine in her interest, not just curious. Now, look at the second image; Strickland has a bandage on his left hand. The "left" hand/arm is usually seen as a sign of evil (no, really, I'm not making this up for political expedience against Liberals, this is true, because most people in history have been right-handed) and Strickland has his hand bandaged, meaning, he has wounded his honor, he has wounded his ability to be sincere/genuine, in some degree; we certainly don't see him being nice. That's going to be an important detail in the film. In the bottom image, we see the Creature's bloody hand-print on the movie poster; the Creature has traded his appetite for love with Eliza (the color red) for an appetite for wrath and bloodshed. I don't know what has happened, but I'm pretty confident that Eliza will be the only one who can save him, in more ways than one.  
Remember all the learning and enlightenment symbols we see in Eliza's bedroom (enumerated in the caption about her bedroom)? The light, the books, the lamp, her state of sleeping to receive spiritual nourishment,....Wise, in a word, is how we can describe Eliza, and that is a reflection of  her soul, because it is within the heart that our wisdom is kept (as opposed to our head, where mere knowledge is kept) and it's within the soul that wisdom is manifested (as purity and strength, because that is what wisdom imparts). But the creature has to have a similar degree of wisdom to be capable of meeting Eliza in this depth of sacramental unity we see them in, and so this leads us to he overwhelming question:WHO IS THE CREATURE?
Just as the opening poster caption for this post illustrates how the film incorporates My Fair Lady, and Strickland (Shannon) and the Professor guy (probably Nick Searcy) are both versions of Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) so, too, are the Professor guy and Strickland both the creature we see in The Shape Of Water; why? It's a part of themselves they are both trying to drown because society has told them to do so.
It's quite simple, because all the films of the 1950s were saying the exact same thing, rather like all the horror-slasher films of the 1980s: if you aren't married, you shouldn't be having sex! Sex kills you because adultery kills your soul by feeding your animal appetites, and those animal appetites kill the soul. The Creature From the Black Lagoon is no exception. In the story, Dr. David Reed has a girlfriend, Kay Lawrence; they are not married, but most likely having sexual relations; this means the Creature is a psychoanalytic double for Reed ("reed" being a phallic symbol and the invocation of "David" is that of "King David," who had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba) and that is why Reed has to kill the Creature: Reed has to overcome his own animal appetites for Kay in order to love her properly, because Kay--like Eliza in The Shape Of Water--is a princess, the daughter of God, and Reed is called to be the son of God, not some serpentine creature turning a princess into a whore.
So, if the creature is a white man in The Shape Of Water, why resort to an old film no one has seen, where the same creature is the villain? That's an excellent question. We know that in The Creature From the Black Lagoon, there is a sexual relationship between David Reed and Kay Lawrence, and the creature symbolizes that and what using Kay for sex has done to David; today, however, liberals want men to have sex only with other men and women to have sex only with other women, in other words, everyone to be gay. David Reed, in his form as the creature, illustrates his reptilian qualities, i.e., the state of his soul in Original Sin (his soul without God's Grace), and what Grace there is within his soul is being eroded by the complicity to commit mortal sin; in other words, as David Reed willingly separates his soul from the Face of God, David's own face becomes separated from God and the beauty that God is, leading David to look like a deformed monster, i.e., the creature. Now, in The Shape Of Water, del Toro appears to be arguing that all men have degenerated in this day and age to becoming the creature we see David Reed as in The Creature From the Black Lagoon, because of the success of socialism and communism to take over the world by destabilizing religion and morality (The Shape Of Water takes place in 1963, the height of the Cold War, and at about the same time that The Man From UNCLE takes place, so the socialism we will see in the film isn't about the Cold War in the 1960s, rather, about the "cold war" taking place in America today). Even though men have become these reptilian creatures, they kind of always have been, which is why God created woman, to be the bearer of "new life" for men, which is why we see Eliza giving the creature an egg, and teaching him how to say "Egg," because eggs symbolize new life, and in particular, women, because it's a female fertility symbol, so even though we might think of Eliza as being barren, or her world as being barren, she has all these eggs that she can give to the creature because she has been through so much spiritual training. And that's what the creature needs, and that's what men today need, women who are generous and full of life; while most men are going to be like the creature today, few women will be like Eliza and spiritually prepared and capable of fulfilling her purpose of being the "help mate" of man (helping him get to heaven) and therefore, having her own needs for love and purpose fulfilled as well (the role a man plays in loving and protecting a woman).  
Specifically, a white man.
At 2:02 in the trailer, very briefly, we see the Creature in the movie theater, standing and watching a film, which is most likely about killing him/his kind; why? Because hasn't that been what every pro-socialist film has been about lately? Wonder Woman, The Magnificent Seven, Logan, Pirates Of the Caribbean 5, Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol 2, etc., have all killed the white male leads because they are white, heterosexual males who are the power-holders in American society and have supposedly "oppressed" everyone else so that no one else could achieve anything, and this "creature" we see is the only one who can make Eliza happy; why? Love. It's with those same men that women still fall in love, still find a common language that we can share with each other, enjoy the same music together, share a little meal, and see one another the way God created us--with dignity and in His image for the capacity to love and sacrifice for that love--rather than how the world (i.e., liberals) tells us how to see each other and ourselves. This is the most old-fashioned kind of love story there is, a boy and a girl, who are outcasts until they find each other and love the other for what they are; only a man can give this to a woman and only a woman can give this to a man, because that is how "being complete" works.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, July 17, 2017

TRAILERS: Blade Runner 2049, Wind River, The Emoji Movie

UPDATED: Reviews of Nolan's Dunkirk are coming in, and they are all quite positive; this review, from Variety, hails the achievement as a "masterpiece," and I'm sure I will be quick to second that. The big news in the film world today is two-fold: George Romero, the "father" of zombie films has passed away. Night Of the Living Dead is truly a masterpiece for being a "extra-textual Gospel" as to why Christians need to be faithful to the tenants of our Faith (please see My Favorite Zombie: Night Of the Living Dead for more). Secondly, one of the longest running debates in film criticism might be answered with the newest trailer for Blade Runner 2049:
In Ridley Scott's original Blade Runner (1982), Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard was a blade runner, a cop who hunted replicants (non-humans who appeared to be human); at the end of the film, he was left with the question of whether or not he, too, was a replicant. When Deckard says, "We were being hunted," in the trailer above, critics latched onto that and cautiously debated whether or not this is the answer to the question posed at the end of the film. I emphasize cautiously because we all realize this line is being taken out of context of the rest of the film, and that the film makers of Blade Runner 2049 know we want to know if Deckard is, in fact, a replicant. The "we" Deckard uses in the line in the trailer above might not mean "we" replicants, rather, "we" as in, Rachel (Sean Young) and myself, Rick Deckard, regardless of whether Deckard is replicant or human.
If seeing Jeremy Renner wearing this Arctic camo gear flashes you back to The Bourne Legacy, that's probably not a coincidence, rather, intentional. When film makers set up a situation to inspire the audience to remember a film they have all ready seen, it's because the film makers saw it, too, and they want you to recall that event or character because they want to bridge their own film to the film they invoke in your mind; of course, we won't know why until we actually see Wind River, however, it will be interesting to see why they wanted to bring in The Bourne Legacy
I really want to like this next trailer, Wind River: Jeremy Renner is a fantastic actor, maybe one of the best in Hollywood today, and it's certainly admirable the way he has worked his way up and the craftsmanship of his skills. Here is the second trailer:
On the one hand, they are in Wyoming, "the land where you are on your own," and on the other, they are on an Indian Reservation where they are completely supported by the government (so capitalism and self-sufficiency in Wyoming, but socialism and government control in the Reservation). The young girl, we know, symbolizes the future of the Indian people because she's young enough to still be "a teenager," (a symbol of the future) but capable of giving birth, so she's also the motherland. We see her wearing a blue coat, so she's depressed and experienced with the trials and burdens of life. We know that snow--which plays such a dominant role in the landscape--symbolizes reflections and meditations which have been finalized and made tangible, so whatever her sad state in life caused her to think about (maybe that there was no future) she died with that thought (the snow) but her death was self-willed (running bare-foot in the snow). "Out here, you survive, or you surrender." Well, the girl who is murdered is going to present us with an interesting narrative, and I'm looking forward to seeing it. What I have decided I am not looking forward to is the latest Star Wars film; I just think it's going to be really liberal. We don't have a new trailer, but for ComicCon, they have, so far, released this footage:
Have we talked about The Emoji Movie? 😧 Well, I pretty confident this is a total liberal-brainwashing job 😷, but it is pretty funny to see Sir Patrick Stewart voicing the Pile of Poo:
It's good that Gene (Meh) wants to take responsibility for his mistake, however, he wants to have more than one emotion and he's going to the Source Code to change his situation, i.e, that's like someone being upset that God (the Source Code) created them to be just a man or just a woman,... why can't I be a man and a woman and a goat, if I want to? I want to like this film but I think it's going to be,.... yep, you guessed it,.... 💩
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--I'm trying to get The Mummy post finished and up, finally, so sorry!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Creator Update

You are absolutely correct, dear reader, it is not a coincidence at all that The Darkest Hour, Their Finest Hour and Dunkirk are all being released this year: the fine artists and film makers in the UK have realized their is a socialist invasion of their great motherland, and so they are summoning the forces that destroyed socialism the first time, in hopes they can destroy socialism again. It's not just a matter of "That so many gave so much," that we owe it to them not to go for socialism, or that "This was our defining moment"  when we beat back the inevitable invasion of Germany and when we turned our backs to socialism and tyranny and, determined, knew we would never succumb to such a form of slavery,.... sure, it is those things, but the subject matter and its mode of presentation suggests something more like this: socialism is a rotten and corrupt seed, from which nothing good can come, and the courage and sacrifice of the great people of this blessed homeland were born of freedom and the trials of life; we are human beings, bound with tremendous dignity, not animals, and not dependents. We stand on our own two feet,... we stand, and we fight.
Actually, "Creator Update" isn't about God, nor myself--as the "creator" of this blog; unfortunately, the imbeciles at Microsoft decided that it had been awhile since they caused personal computers to commit suicide en masse, like beached whales, so they have been forcing people to accept the Creator Update that does a ton of stuff you don't need; you can't opt out of it. Anyway, I had to take the update and then, like so many others around the world (that is, of those who have been forced to upgrade to the dreaded Windows 10) I, too, lost internet connectivity completely and had no other option other than to wipe everything (I did an incomplete wipe, but that wasn't enough to get it working again) and start over reloading it all.
I am so angry.
Yea, so, three days later, I think I have it 95% restored,... but now, it wants me to install it again. So, if you face a similar apocalypse in your life, I have learned that you can at least delay--but not opt out entirely--by changing your connection in Settings from WiFi to metered, the theory being that Microsoft is not going to make you take an upgrade if you are paying a lot for your connection (metered) but it might finally go ahead and do it anyway. So, plenty of people with far worse consequences to the update have more bitter stories to tell than do I, if you are stuck with updating, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING BACKED-UP, a last will and testament written, and some kind of stress medicine on hand,... like whiskey.
A new bottle of whiskey.
Okay, speaking of whiskey, let's talk about the incredible greatness of Sir Winston Churchill, with this first trailer for The Darkest Hour:
Why dwell on the vices of a character who is supposed to be the hero? Because he had vices, he had faults, he lost, he had made some terrible mistakes during his career, and it's precisely because he had faults and wasn't perfect, because he had made mistakes (from which he had learned painful and costly lessons) and because he himself had faced death and stood the test, that he was perfected to become the man who would stand between Hitler and the rest of the world. We will discuss this more later, but for now, let's take a look at two other anti-socialist films being served up to us. This next one comes from Tommy Wirkola who did Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters (with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, and, at long last, Hansel and Gretel 2 has been announced and is in the works!), so just see how he's setting this up:
Each of the sisters has their own identity, no? Each day of the week, also, has its own identity, no? Even that dreaded of all days, Mondays, but without Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays probably wouldn't be so awesome, but isn't that what socialists claim they want to do, is to get rid of "Mondays?" get rid of the things about work that no one likes (they can't do that, but they are happy to tell anyone dumb enough to believe them they will do that)? I think that's going to be a good one. Next, remember that Julia Roberts and Keifer Sutherland drama? No, I don't mean that time-they-almost-got-married-drama, I mean that film, Flatliners? The sequel has finally come out, and looks pretty awesome:
"Sequel" meaning that it's Kieffer Sutherland who will be reprising his role as Nelson somewhere in Flatliners. So, what do we have? Well, kind of like someone taking Mondays away, someone's now taking death away, and taking the death of someone else. Do you remember me rambling on about death and how no one can die your death for you, it's something that belongs to you and to a particular moment in your life and it's yours,... you don't? Maybe I forgot to, well, there's the spiel I was going to give you, but this is a means of looking at socialism,.... take the things we hate the most, like Mondays and death, and demonstrate how there really is a natural order to existence, and following that natural order brings a good dose and share of happiness to all, not all of the time, but that's not really possible, or even desirable. Last, but not least, we have a film about the artist Alberto Giacometti, one of my personal favorites; I don't know how the film will be, but I do so love me some Giacometti!
So, the moral of the story is, that even though it totally sucks when your computer crashes, and you have to spend your weekend doing other than what you had hoped to do, it's still better to have a computer at all, and to have a weekend at all, and to be able to make plans at all, even if sometimes they don't work out the way you wanted, because all this means that there is still hope, and there is yet another tomorrow when things will work out.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
On the left is an etching of Giacometti by Jan Hladik, and on the right is the most famous photograph of Giacometti, while he was installing his art for an exhibition, taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Giacometti was known for sculptures (not painting or sketching), and he usually did figures like the two extremely tall and thin figures you see in the image above. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ineffability: Dunkirk & Visual Philosophy (2017 Film)

I want to make it perfectly clear that I will always go to bat for Christopher Nolan; why? He's earned it. I'm relaying this to you so you know my prejudices, and you know that I know I have them. This appears to be a simple poster; almost insultingly simple, even. Within its simplicity, however, we can find everything we need. Let's start with the obvious. We know that black, the dominant color of the poster, symbolizes death, there is the "bad death," being alive to things of this world and dead to things of the spiritual world, and then there is "good death," being alive to the things of the next world, the spirit, and being dead to the appetites in this world, materialism and those things that will perish. Next, is the color blue as being dominant. Blue is an exceptional symbol because it always "embodies" both its "negative"side and its "positive" side simultaneously: blue symbolizes sadness, suffering, sorrow and heartache, but it also symbolizes wisdom, because wisdom is the greatest of all human treasures, not just because it costs us the most to attain (no amount of silver or gold can purchase wisdom, only hardships) but also because, the wiser we become, the closer to God we become. If we depend upon Him in those same trials, we are rewarded in that He makes us to be more like Himself, which is what He always wanted for us. So, there is both wisdom, suffering. Then, we realize, it's not just the lettering that's blue, rather, it's an image of the beach and the sea where the action takes place, so we have the visual intersecting the verbal (the word DUNKIRK), meaning, that which took place there at a certain time, gave this place a new meaning. Originally, "Dunkirk" means "church in the dunes," and I am confident we will see this played out on multiple levels.
Permit me to seemingly go off topic for a moment. In Heidegger's concept of existence, each person occupies a certain place at a specific time. I am who I am because I am sitting at my desk, at this exact moment, typing these words, and no one else can claim that they are me, because I am the one carrying out this action at this specific marker in history (it's like the latitude and longitude of a globe, but with a place and a time).  This is what is going to happen with Dunkirk, the area in Northern France: it's no longer going to be just the "church in the dunes," rather, it's also going to become synonymous with the events that happened there, at that specific beach, at that specific time. So, too, will those men and women who were there, the "meaning" of the events, the evacuations, the heroism, the deeds, the deaths, the odds and the fear all coming to mean something different to each of them who experienced it first hand, but also contributing a shared meaning of the events taking place there on the beaches of Dunkirk that we, too, in the audience will share with them.
So, what does the poster say to us?
There is death, but from death, comes life far greater, richer and more abundant than what we can possibly imagine. 
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, about the evacuation of British soldiers during World War II, opens July 21 and reviews have started coming in: it's visually stunning, but the characters aren't developed. Such "lazy" reviews exhibit the perfect reason as to why you and I work so tirelessly to understand and decode art: NO ONE BELIEVES IN HUMANITY LIKE NOLAN DOES, and we know that because of ineffability, the prime character in every Nolan film, who has taken on a greater and more definite role in each work, because of Nolan's own confidence and continuously increasing skills. Nolan knows that which cannot be said can still be communicated, and he does. Please watch the first trailer released for the film:
"Why waste precious tanks when they can pick us off from the air like fish in a barrel?" This statement is the film's thesis announcing what it's about: the "precious tanks" vs "fish in a barrel," and how the enemy has dehumanized the British soldiers and that, ultimately, is their mistake and why the men were able to be evacuated: the human soul is not less precious than the tanks, and the men on the beach are not cheap like "fish in a barrel." This causal reference might be referencing two specific films: Emperor, with Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones, about the role of the Japanese Emperor in the bombing of Pearl Harbor and The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug, when our heroes were hidden in barrels filled with fish so the could get to the mountain. At the end of Emperor, one of the Japanese generals tells Fox's character that Japan lost their humanity during the war, because of the horrible war crimes they committed; in other words, in dehumanizing their enemy (the Americans) they only dehumanized themselves. In The Hobbit, the brave heroes who have been through so much, are buried in the foul smelling fish, and humbled, but it's their quest which ultimately brings together and unites the dwarfs, elves and men to fight off and against the orcs and Sauron. In both films, we see the individual choices of the characters having an effect on events far greater than themselves, and all working towards a greater good, which I am confident we shall see in Dunkirk as well.
The first image we see is of the Warner Bros. logo fading backwards into fog (first image); later in the trailer (second image down), we see this soldier on the beach, unloading himself of his gear, and going into the water to drown, fading into death; we see the words HOPE IS A WEAPON emerge from the fog (third image), along with the words SURVIVAL IS VICTORY. What these images have in common is the visual philosophy of existence: we either emerge from suffering victoriously, or we give into suffering and fade into oblivion. Just as the troops are surrounded by the enemy forces (bottom image) so you, and I, are too, every moment of our lives, and if we aren't battling the the enemy (Satan) actively, if we aren't emerging from the battlefield triumphantly (or at least putting up the best fight that we can) then we fade into nothingness. Throughout the film, we will be seeing images like these: a vast expanse and just one, maybe two people there, or, we may be shown the exact opposite: a crowded beach loaded with 400,000 troops, and we are just one of them, but each has the same individuality as we ourselves; there is no such thing as an "unimportant life." There is also no such thing as an unimportant moment of life: of course, there are moments that are really important, but there are all the little moments that lead up to the big ones, because our character, our philosophy of how to approach life and suffering, is defined by the little moments, the moments of either giving your all to fulfill your destiny (the soul's total capacity of virtue) or if you have slacked off and just took the easy way out, did the simple thing and compromised your way through life, like the soldier going to drown himself out at sea (second image). What that soldier really means is, every single man on the beach fights the same battle he is fighting, the temptation to drown themselves in despair, so they have to fight the despair with hope, but so, too, do you and I, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
It's difficult to see, but if you look at the bottom of the propaganda paper showing the troops surrounded by the Germans, at the bottom, it says, "SURRENDER + SURVIVE!"  We have actually all ready seen something very similar to this in The Mummy when Princess Ahmanet tells Nick (Tom Cruise), "Just give in, just give in," and let me kill you, she tells him, but he doesn't, he fights her, and it's more difficult because throughout Nick's life, he's taking the easy, self-serving way out, he's surrendered to circumstances. "Surrender and survive" is the antithesis of Dunkirk, while "Fight to survive" is the thesis, because we are not called in this life "just to survive," we are called to be victorious, but there is no victory without a fight.
The main reason I'm writing this post is because I am upset with a reviewer who snugly commented after seeing Dunkirk that it's a spectacular film, but there aren't any real characters in it, just like all of Nolan's films,... "characters" require "character," and if the writer of said review thinks Nolan's films don't have any real characters, that is because that reviewer himself has no personal character with which he can recognize the character of others. If heroism isn't a sign of character, what is? If fear isn't a sign of being alive and facing the terror of the abyss of death, what is a sign of being alive? If laying down your life so someone else can live isn't a sign of honor and love, then what is? I would like to suggest that, far from being devoid of characters, we will, instead, find the film filled with the ineffable, visually, and philosophically, but if one doesn't understand what it is, it's because they know there is nothing "ineffable" about their own self.
Mr.Dawson (Mark Rylance, top image) provides us with an example of courage we can all recognize, but how? How can we articulate what exactly Dawson's doing as heroic? "The call's gone out," he says,... a "call" isn't just a ring on the phone, it has important spiritual connotations: we are "called" to do something great in this life by God Himself, even if that "great" doesn't seem "great" to us. In Dawson's case, he is being called to put his life and the property of his boat on the line to save others (and if either or both of those boys with him are his sons, then they also are being possibly sacrificed). This is the measure of heroism, to do that which needs to be done for a greater good than one's self, and with no reward but knowing you did it and did it as well as you could. The great Cillian Murphy, whose character is officially titled "Shivering Soldier," (picture number 3) has a cut across his nose and another one below his eye; why? He doesn't want to go back to Dunkirk as Dawson tells him they are going to do, and the Shivering Soldier's fear of death has shown that his character is flawed: our face is the seat of our identity, and the nose is the most prominent feature of our face, so it symbolizes our character, which is also the most prominent feature of our (intangible) being. To have a cut or mark could just mean that Shivering Soldier has "lost face," he has not shown himself to be honorable, but it's more serious than that, he's shown that his character is flawed because he puts himself before others. George (second picture down) gives the perfect response when Dawson tells him they are going into war: George doesn't say, "I'm dying to see some action and excitement!" "I'm thrilled at killing some Germans!" "I want to prove myself!" He doesn't say any of these things, he says, "I'll be useful." That's not only humble, it's courageous. An interesting symbol is introduced at 0:48: the umbilical cord. George has the line of rope in his hand, but instead of throwing the rope onto the boat and staying behind, George holds onto the rope and boards the boat. The umbilical cord rarely shows up, but when it does, it's always a powerful instrument in the hands of the right director. George leaves behind the "motherland" and the safety of the deck to gain a new identity, to be born as an individual who is going to the aide of others, so in facing war and possible death, George is being born, and the rope acting as a "life line" between the land of England and the boat setting out to face the enemy, is the womb of a new birth for George, as it is for all the characters.
In the bottom image, we see Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branaugh) with his hat off (I'll talk about that red circle in just a moment). We know that our head symbolizes our thoughts because that's where our thoughts originate, so anything on our head or pertaining to our head (like hair) can tell us what a character is thinking or how they are internally responding to something even though they might not say anything. We have seen Bolton wearing his hat in nearly all the clips of him, meaning that he likes to keep his thoughts and emotions "under his hat," he doesn't share what he's thinking with others, readily, anyway. In the clip above, I don't know what is happening, but it's made him take his hat off, meaning, there is going to be a show of emotion when this happens, something has unsettled him, and removing his hat might be the only way to understand what his character is going through. Now, I circled a ship, in the far, far distant background of that image (just off his right bicep) because that's an example of Nolan using his spatial vocabulary to emphasize isolation and the building of character: that might be an enemy ship, or it might be part of the British Navy, but we can see the incredible distance between Bolton and the ship, because that's a distance Bolton feels interiorly and is being shown to us by Nolan: "You can almost see it from here." "What?" "Home." Bolton might be able to almost see home, but he knows there are 400,000 men between him and that home. 
As Christians, we believe we are mortal, however, because we are also created in the image of God, and by God's blessing, we are kings and queens, co-heirs of the kingdom of God and of His own Life, i.e., we have God within us. Not only are we a temple for God, but we, too, are God in that He desires to share His Love for us with us; the more we unite our will to His, the more God can dwell within our souls this side of heaven. What all this means is, we believe that, in spite of being human, there is, essentially, no limit to our soul, there is no limit to our humanity which God cannot decide to heal or strengthen, enlighten or enhance; we are limitless because of God's Love.
I am guessing that these two visual extremes are going to be the bulk of the vehicle of Nolan's ineffable expression, because they do the job so well. In the top two images, we see the crowd, the "fish in a barrel," the all of us and who am I in all of this, the "face in a crowd" (as we see in the second image down, the extreme front and center, the one young man looking up when no one else is). So there will be "crowd shots" where we can't tell anyone from anyone else. No one stands out in a crowd, everyone looks the same (especially in uniform), there is no individuality, except that individuality which has been achieved over that person's lifetime within their self. Then there are the incredible realities that bombs are being dropped; why should the soldier next to you be killed, but not you? How do you even begin to explain that? This is the moment when our lives intersect with the purpose and will of Our Creator, who does not become our destroyer when we face death, rather, like George grabbing the umbilical cord of the boat taking him to war, so these moments are, too, meant to give birth to faith. To hope. To resolve and abandonment. These are the most intensive moments of our existence, because they are the moments that no one else can live for us, they belong to us and to us alone. This is why we will have shots like the two on the bottom: a solitary figure in a massive landscape, the very stuff of the awesome and sublime. Just as the one solitary figure stands out on the beach (image number three) or the one airplane that has been hit and is going down into the water (image number four) so that is what's happening within those characters, there is no one else, there is nothing else, except what that person has stored up for themselves from their past actions to fortify their souls in moments just like this. In another way, we can even see the broad expanses of landscape being a kind of metaphor of the broad outlines of history which generally describe for us the events such as these, where solitary individuals stood out and against the anonymous background of history to literally change the tide: that one fighter pilot who heroically save a friend, but goes down himself, that father and shopkeeper who hears the alarm and answers with his life to bring home the sons and fathers, brothers and husbands of people he doesn't know and never will,.... Such moments are too great for us to understand, but we can understand that they exist, and we exist within them. 
Those who do not believe in God, believe that we are limited by humanity, and that it is exceedingly limited indeed; having such a small and narrow understanding of hearts and souls, it's because they themselves have not yet been tested and pushed to embrace God standing just at their limitations, that is, the intersection of the effabile and God's ineffability (we can be described, God cannot). The events we will see in Dunkirk are those very ones that will dramatize the expansion of the soul, and make us see that which we cannot put into words, we can only approach in wonder. (UPDATED: reviews for Dunkirk have started coming in; this one, from Variety, hails the film as a "masterpiece," and I'm sure I will be quick to second that).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Here is the second trailer released for Dunkirk:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Public Monument To Satan: Belle Plaine, Minnesota

It might not look like much, however, this monument to Satan, complete but not yet installed, is the latest in very public and growing "devotionals" to Satan spreading across America as the Left has called for monthly "prayers" to cast spells against President Trump, his administration, and all supporting him. The monument (supposedly) came about because Satanists in Massachusetts were offended by a statue depicting a soldier praying before a cross in the Belle Plaine, Minnesota Veterans' Park (pictured below), and the Massachusetts Satanists threatened to sue Belle Plaine if their monument wasn't also put up. So, is this a case of the First Amendment rights of the Satanists being trampled?
So, what is so offensive about this black cube with the Pentagram on it and a soldier's empty hat sitting upside-down on top? From start to finish, this is a "prayer" to Satan. In the image above, the soldier kneels, because kneeling is a sign of humility; his gun pointed up towards the sky is a sign of dedication, that which the soldier has been called upon to do by his country, he dedicates to God so God will protect us. The cross before which he kneels symbolizes both the death of a comrade and the death of Jesus, and the sacrifices the kneeling soldier himself is willing to make for that in which he believes. The soldier kneels for a moment to reflect upon this sacrifice, realizing what may be required of him, and all he gives up in order to secure what will be protected for others, and then, we know, the soldier will stand and go on fighting, his life in God's hands.
This small monument is abhorrent to Satanists; why? In the words of the head of the Detroit chapter of The Temple Of Satan, "The Satanic Temple holds to the basic premise that undue suffering is bad, and that which reduces suffering is good. We do not believe in symbolic “evil.” What she means to say is, "We do not believe in making sacrifices to God." Each time you endure suffering, no matter how small or how great, you become like Christ, and Satan can't stand it. So, The Satanic Temple went into action and created this monument to evil; how is it "evil?"
The cube, the main "body" of the work, is the beloved of Freemasons and the Illuminati, because it incorporates their theology of creation: when God created man, man was enslaved to God, and it wasn't until the "Fall" that man became free because he was separated from God and man was therefore in charge of his own destiny and will from there. (Just a philosophical case in point that is actually important: God created man with free will, to choose or reject God; if God did not create man with free man, Adam could not have chosen to disobey God and partake of the Forbidden Fruit, so all the Satanists are doing, is taking what Christians have known and taught for two millennia, but perverting it, like they do with everything, as the poet John Milton put it, God created man "sufficient to stand, but free to fall"). The perfect dimensions of the cube reveal the idea of perfection which Satanists have for the universe, but what's really important is that the cube be broken up, in other words, the cube only exists to be destroyed (like Pandora's box being opened). Why? Because they thrive on chaos and destruction. It's all a big lie, they know people will fall for it, because they get away with everything, but it's all to trap souls into slavery to sin. So, all the evil in the universe is contained within the cube. The Pentagram, the five-pointed star, is a sign of Satan because it emphasizes this world and humanity, rather than emphasizing God. The opposite of the Pentagram is the Star of David, with two triangles intertwined with each other in perfect symmetry (God always works with perfect symmetry, the devil perverts and destroys).  The Star of David shows how God which is above, has created all that which is below, and the two are linked, including ourselves, so there is harmony. What about the colors we see? The box is black because, as we know, black always symbolizes death: the "good death" is when we die to things of this world (our animal appetites) but live for the good things of the next world (we live in a state of virtue); "bad death" is when we are alive to things of this world but dead to things of the next world, so we live in a state of mortal sin, when we are perpetually separated from the Face of God. The Pentagram is in gold because gold denotes kingship. Gold is the only gift worthy to give a king/God, so the gold Pentagram reveals that Satan is the god of the creators of this monument, but also that we the viewers are invited to sacrifice our dignity to Satan by participating in the sins he advocates (gold can also symbolize the soul because we are created in God's likeness, to be co-rulers with Him, so Satan wants us to forsaken that and join him in hell). What about the upside-down soldier's hat? It might not seem important, but this is terribly evil. The head symbolizes our thoughts, because it's within our heads that our thoughts originate. Anything on the head or having to do with the head, therefore, can also symbolize thoughts, like the soldier's hat. So, it's a soldier's hat, a fighter and a warrior's, but it's turned upside-down, because that's how you tell that something has been perverted, which is what "perverted" originally meant, it was something that had been turned "upside-down" (used for a purpose for which it wasn't intended, such as children being used for sexual pleasure). The hat then, is meant to be a "call" to all the soldiers of Satan to broadcast out all the evil of their master, Satan (the hat sitting on top of the "box of evil" acts like a megaphone, releasing all the bad things that Satan wants to accomplish in the world).
Permit me to point out that Detroit, Michigan, where the statue of Baphomet resides, Montana, where the new monument will be placed, and Massachusetts, where the Satanists are from who instigated the lawsuit against Belle Plaine, all voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. 
The answer is quite clear: Satan, and Satanic principles, go against the very order and law which is necessary to have a First Amendment, in other words, if you embrace the principles of anarchy and chaos, which Satan's revolt against God reveals, there is no Constitution, there is no freedom of speech, there are no rights of any kind; there is only the slavery to sin and corruption that is left. Sound like socialism? By using the "freedom of speech, expression and religion," card to their favor, the Satanists are morally bankrupting America the way immigrants and refugees are materially bankrupting America, both with the same goal in mind: destroy America. The very ideals of freedom within the context of a social contract, to which everyone adheres by making sacrifices so they can gain something they would not be able to have on their own and outside of a community (such as protection by laws and security from enemies) has been eroded by the very forces people want to be protected from. Nothing, absolutely nothing, IS chaos, destruction, darkness, despair and EVIL like Satan, whether one believes he is an actual being or just a literary figment of the imagination, the glorification of Satan does NOT, under any circumstances at all, "balance" the Light and Truth of God; it slowly but surely destroys it, and as that Light is destroyed in our society, it's destroyed in each one of us. Please, pray, and encourage your churches to pray also, that such horror will not be tolerated in this great country, or anywhere in the world.  
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--I have had a couple of deaths in the family, so that's, again, why I am behind, but this was just too outrageous. I could easily write more, but with obligations right now, I just don't have time. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Craig To Star In Bond #25

It appears the contract has won.
Daniel Craig, star of the latest films in the James Bond franchise, including Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre, has decided to honor his contract and film the last film of a five-picture deal; in other words, Craig is back. But it's a bit more tricky than that because of another Bond actor, Christoph Waltz,....
Craig originally signed a five-film deal to portray James Bond, so the twenty-fifth film--the very next one--could be Craig's last, however, producer Barbara Broccoli revealed around the time Spectre was released that after the fifth film, Craig can still play Bond, but he would be free to negotiate each film thereafter on an individual basis, and this leads us to Waltz's contract: Waltz signed a three-film deal to portray Bond's greatest enemy Blofeld, but contingent upon Craig returning as Bond (so if Craig wasn't coming back, Waltz wasn't coming back, either). So, if Craig returns as Bond, as reports are now saying he is, this leads to one of two possibilities for the Bond franchise and Craig's role in it,...
If Craig agrees to do one more film (and these reports could be wrong, dear reader), then he has to decide if he's going to do just one or two more films because of Waltz's contract; the contracts and narrative sequence of Spectre indicates that, at the end of Spectre, when Bond doesn't kill Blofeld, Blofeld will arrange to have Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) killed in Bond #25, then Bond #26 will be spent with Bond seeking revenge against Blofeld. So, if Waltz also appears in the casting for Bond #25, that means they are taking this course, and Craig has also agreed to be back for Bond #26; if, however, Craig is willing to do ONLY one more Bond film (the minimum to complete his contract), then the ending of Spectre, which was meant to lead to two more Bond films, is scrapped and they will have to abandon that road and take a "self-contained" film which will wrap up Craig's appearance as the super-spy. Given the franchise is one of the most successful and long-running in cinematic history, and that Craig is generally well-received as Bond both popularly and critically, this is a pretty-big deal.
IF, IF, IF all of this is accurate, then filming for Bond #25 would begin early next year, with the film being released in theaters in 2019, at the earliest, which means a four-year gap in-between Spectre and Bond #25. At this point, if Craig returns, it's safe to assume the "regular" cast of Q, Moneypenny and M will be back as well, leaving only Lea Seydoux's and Christoph Waltz's fate in the balance depending on what kind of a mood Daniel Craig is in. 
It's also being reported that Broccoli is "determined" to have Adele back to perform the theme song, meaning, the production team is going big to insure the total and complete success of Bond #25 (like Oscar success, because that's as big as it gets in Hollywood). We all ready know that, sadly, two-time director Sam Mendes (Skyfall, Spectre) won't be back--at least that has been the last word--and so the likes of both Christopher Nolan and Guy Ritchie are being considered for Bond #25's director chair, again, signaling that no investment is too big or too daring to make Bond #25 (and Bond #26?) the best in an extremely long, lucrative family of films.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Prager University

I have been watching this channel on YouTube for several months now, and the clarity of the lessons always impresses me. Here are three short videos that are my personal favorites, on topics highly pertinent to today's political atmosphere,  everywhere in the world. This video was the first Prager University video I saw, and I was rather shocked at the pattern of socialism validated by the short video:
This next video outlines the terribly difficult and messy history of the Middle East with utmost ease that only a real professional could achieve, and details, historically, why the "Palestinians" have made life so difficult for everyone else:
Remember, the word "Palestinian" is a Jewish word which means "invader," because the Palestinians are Arabs, just like the Arabs of Jordan, Egypt, Iran, etc., but they don't want to be in a land with other Arabs, they just want a way to kill and destroy the Jews, who they hate. Here's just one more, which is my favorite, and which, I promise, I could not have said better myself!
There are many who would argue that America was founded to be a socialist nation, but the professor in this video clearly outlines a different position on American history, the founders and the Constitution. Knowing what really happened can make all the difference in an encounter with a Liberal who is happy to change reality to fit their arguments. If you liked these videos, and want to see more, you can click on this link to go to their homepage on YouTube.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, July 7, 2017

Class Unity: Murder On the Orient Express (2017)

We discussed this in the last post: you have a decision to make. If you haven't read Murder On the Orient Express, or seen one of the films, i.e., you don't know what happens in this mystery, then you need to decide if it's okay to know what is going to happen going into the film or if you want to wait until you've seen the film to discuss it, because I can't even write about this poster without giving away the spoilers. Nothing else but Murder On the Orient Express is going to be covered in this post after the opening paragraph, but you will definitely know the ending of the story by the end of this caption for the poster, so either stop reading now and wait to see the film, read this great synopsis of the what happens in the story (from the original book by Agatha Christie) or do neither because you all ready know what happens. If you don't know what is going to happen and you can't decide, permit me, dear reader, to interject this thought: the entertainment value of the film is going to come, for us, from seeing what Branaugh does with the material, and changes he makes for his thesis, rather than the actual narrative and plot. If you are a stickler for such things, please, save yourself until November, otherwise, go ahead and click on the link above and read the synopsis to see what happens. Thank you for your informed participation in this post.
*If you don't want spoilers, don't read anything in this caption beyond this sentence*
The most notable feature in the poster is obviously the red, billowing cloud of smoke coming up from the train. It can actually be a fruitful exercise to ask stupid questions, so just humor me for a moment so we can work our way through this. What is the color of smoke usually coming from a train? White (yes, sometimes black, but usually white). We know a train is a vehicle, and vehicles symbolize the Holy Spirit, not because the Holy Spirit is a vehicle, rather because the Holy Spirit will use us or circumstances to bring about God's Will. So, when a train is running at full optimization, we can say, the smoke will be white because white is the color of a soul alive with faith, purity, innocence; on the other hand, it can also mean a soul which is dead to faith, purity, innocence, because a corpse turns white in decomposition, so if the "vehicle" of the Holy Spirit is alive in faith, that would will be a successful caring out the Will of God; when a soul is dead in faith, the soul will be unable to carry out God's Will--except through a major conversion experience. So, that's the best case scenario for a train with white smoke, obviously, however, we don't have a best case scenario,...
We know that red symbolizes blood, because our blood is the most valuable thing we have, so we spend our blood on our greatest appetites, which boils down to spending our blood on love for someone (we love someone so much we are willing to spend our life's blood for them), or we spend someone's else blood for our wrath against them. In the case of this film, we can say both are true for the passengers on the train: Ratchett (Johnny Depp) spilled the blood of Daisy Armstrong for his appetites against the upper-class and the money he felt he should have for himself, and the other passengers spilled his blood in wrath for killing Daisy.
What about the cloud itself? Apart from the fact that it's red, there is also the underlying symbolism of the vaporized water. Water in liquid form is the first stage of "reflection" about the self or someone else, because one can see their own reflection in water (like Narcissus); water in vapor form (fog, clouds, steam) is the second stage because then, the boundaries between the self who does the reflecting and the "other" (or the situation) has become "blurred" and there is a continuity or a bond between the self and the other. When there is snow--water in its solid state--the consciousness has become solidified, it takes tangible form in some way, with an object, an action, dialogue, etc., but it ceases to be just interiorized and becomes something substantial; with ice, there is a regression, because the reflection process attempts to become solid (like snow) yet there is still the reflective quality of the first stage of water, so the primary character finds their self in a kind of moral tug-of-war, or an inability to finish their conversion process (consider Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit: Battle Of the Five Armies when he thinks he has killed the Pale Orc, and watches the Orc through the ice, floating in the water beneath, that's what's happening in that scene). So, Murder On the Orient Express, the passengers are united in that second stage of reflection, the distinction between themselves as hunters and Ratchett as their prey has been blurred so all they see is their prize, the spilling of his blood (each one stabs him, so a lot of his blood is spilled) in compensation for Daisy's blood.We know that the train is black and black always symbolizes death: the "good death" is when we are dead to things of this world and alive to things of the next world, but the "bad death" is when we are alive to things of this world and dead to things of the next." The passengers, including Ratchett, have been alive to the things of this world, money, revenge, despair, etc., rather than trusting God, which is why we see three headlights on the train. Light symbolizes the divine light of illumination, and in the case of the Murder On the Orient Express, the "victims" of Ratchett have made themselves God--Father, Son and Spirit, the three headlights--and carried out justice themselves. However, we are the ones who are really the passengers, and the film is the "train," the vehicle of the message, so please keep that in mind below when we discuss the role the Orient Express will play in the film. Finally, please note the lower-center of the poster: there are clouds that are pink and gray; why? Those clouds are in the background, the train leaves them behind, but it suggests that those are the thoughts (the clouds,vapor) the passengers should be having, but have left behind them (since they are in the background of the poster). Pink is the color of love that has not been perfected, it's love that has not become the love of one's blood (it's fondness, a crush, deep adoration, but not, "I love you so much, I will spill my blood for you,") and that's okay because it's being tempered by the gray clouds: gray is the sign of the pilgrim, the sign of penance and the reality that one is not perfect, but is trying to make amends, in other words, what happened to Daisy was devastating, but God is just, and Ratchett won't escape God's punishment, in the meantime, I have to offer it up and trust God's plan,... and that's love, not the great, deep passionate love of the saints, but if we don't start somewhere, we will never get anywhere. 
Please excuse my long absence, I have been incredibly ill; I'm still sick, but recovering much better. So here is the plan (but as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray): The Mummy post is nearly finished, however, due to the illness, I can't finish it without seeing it again; so Spiderman Homecoming is out tonight, I'm going to see it tomorrow, get that post up, then go see The Mummy again on Monday and then finish the post for that. I'm not looking forward to Spiderman, I think there is going to be pro-socialist issues introduced which we will see more of in upcoming Marvel films, but I am going to see it (Tom Hollande reportedly has a five-film deal with Marvel, so this film isn't just a bleep on the radar). IMPORTANT NOTE: THERE ARE TWO MID-END CREDIT SCENES FOR SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING, so don't leave before you have seen both of them (there is a total of two scenes).  Now, if you have decided that you don't want to know anything about what is going to happen in Murder On the Orient Express, stop reading now, because that is all which is contained within the rest of this post.  We saw the first trailer for Kenneth Branaugh's upcoming mystery-drama Murder On the Orient Express in our last post, so here it is again to refresh your memory:
A "murder-mystery" is never a mystery, just as an "historical" film is never historical: a period film is never about just a period in history, it's always about the here and the now; likewise, a "murder-mystery" is never just about a murder, but a cultural phenomena which has occurred and everyone knows about it, but maybe no one is saying anything about it. Assuming you know what happens, then Murder On the Orient Express could stack up to be a very pro-socialist film,....
But the devil's always in the details.
Notice, if you will, that Ratchett's costume in the top image is almost all brown: brown symbolizes dirt, for we either humble ourselves because we realize that, from dust I came and to dust I shall return (the reason so many Holy Orders have brown habits) or dirt in the sense that the person is, actually, dirty, they have done something foul and they have become foul. We can say this is true of Ratchett's character by the leather jacket he wears: animals symbolize the animal appetites, the lower, base appetites (sex, money, drugs, addictions in general), so wearing the brown leather jacket (which is quite worn) suggests he is a man who has lived by his appetites for many years and those appetites have made him "dirty," so that his thoughts are dirty, too. Josh Gad's Hector MacQueen also wears a brown suit, but it also has quite a bit of gray to it; knowing that MacQueen works for Ratchett only as a means of revenge, we can deduce that he has become dirty, too, even while his thoughts (the gray hat on his head with the black bond compared to Ratchett's khaki hat with the darker brown bond). MacQueen's bag he holds, the worn-leather satchel, suggests MacQueen has "baggage" he has brought to his employment with Ratchett, and indeed, he has, for his father was the district attorney who prosecuted Ratchett but failed to convict him because of the corruption of the court, and MacQueen was personally a friend of Daisy's mother, Sonia. One last note on this costume in the top image, we also see Michelle Pfeiffer's Mrs. Hubbard wearing a brown leisure suit in the dining car the morning after the murder (because she has gotten herself dirty by her role in it) and we also see the princess, played by Judi Dench, wearing a fabulous mink coat, suggestive of her own animal appetites; since she was Daisy's godmother and friend to her mother, it could be that she had an especially savage appetite for revenge?
In the bottom image, we see Ratchett holding up what looks to be like an old-fashioned ransom letter. Because typography has become so advanced nowadays, I don't think criminals use the letters from newspapers and other publications to communicate with victims, but it's certainly a throw-back to see one. All we see is the word "WATCH," and because we are, presumably, watching the film as its viewers, we, too, are supposed to "watch" for what is really happening. 
Ratchett (Depp) is the villain of the film because he kidnapped a little girl, Daisy Armstrong; after the parents paid the ransom, Ratchett killed Daisy anyway; although Ratchett had been able to escape the justice system after he had been caught, and flee out of the country, Daisy's mother died of grief, her father killed himself out of grief, the nurse--who had been suspected of helping Ratchett--committed suicide (then was cleared of any wrong doing) and nothing happened to Ratchett,..... being a white male, it's easy to see the system working in favor of such a dastardly villain who was only out for himself and killed a minority (the little girl) to get his un-fair share out of life. IF this was going to be a pro-socialist film, this is certainly the way to choose these plot details and exploit them for all they are worth, however, this is the artistry which goes into a remake and why they can be so interesting: the details, and knowing Sir Kenneth, I think he's going to focus on some very different details to make a very different case.
Hercule Poirot is one of literature's most fastidious dressers: he exemplifies the perfected gentleman's toilette. We know that the name "Hercule" comes from the ancient, mythological hero Hercules, why? Because Hercules was a standard of masculinity, much like King Arthur, and what Hercules was to the male body, Poirot is to the human mind. So, in the trailer, when we hear the Professor (Dafoe) ask Poirot, "And who might you be?" and Poirot replies, "My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the world's greatest detective," he has all ready said two things to absolutely drive Liberals insane: "Hercules" is a standard of masculinity which Liberals want to do away with (basically castrating all men, as in Wonder Woman) and then announcing that he is the best, at anything (even if he were like a champion kite-flyer, because he's the best at it, that is anathema to Liberals) because Liberals champion a culture of mediocrity and sameness among all people, no one is allowed to be "the best" at anything, so in this one statement of introduction, Poirot announces that he's a conservative, he's a man who holds to traditional values and abhors socialism (he's also Belgian, and the Belgians were refugees during World War II because Hitler had overrun Belgium, and Christie wrote that into some of his stories). So, Poirot is on our team, just by that one statement.
What else can we know about him? If you look closely at the top image (you can click on it to expand) you will see that he has several hairs out of place, cold and intense blue eyes, and, of course, that massive mustache.In all the other shots of Poirot, his hair is meticulously combed back with no hair out of place; because the head where our thoughts originate also symbolizes thoughts, we can deduce that the matter of this case has distressed him and he's having a difficult time understanding what has happened because his hair is so messed-up (for this character). Likewise, if you look closely at his collar and tie, they are messed up, like Poirot went to loosen it; why is this important? The neck symbolizes what leads us in life, what guides us (like a leash) so that Poirot has loosened his tie and collar suggests that he's contemplating that which has been leading him because now it's suffocating him, in other words, with what we have analysed so far, he feels overwhelmed. Poirot's eyes, however, are intense, shocking blue, the same "neon-blue" of the title, combining both wisdom and suffering; then there is his mustache: it's so big, it's bigger than his mouth. Now, typically, a man's facial hair symbolizes his animal appetites, because the civilized Roman men would shave their facial hair, whereas the barbarians would wear beards (no offense, gentlemen, this is about art, not about your personal fashion statements :) ). Given the location of the mustache, just above the mouth, which is also a symbol of appetites and what we crave, facial hair is, again, about appetites, and we can see this with Poirot: he has an appetites for that which his eyes see, and what does he say he sees? "I see evil on this train," so he has an appetite to overcome the evil he sees.  There is also a bit of hair on his chin. Chins are difficult to analyze, however, the saying, "Take it on the chin," comes to mind, and I think that might work with Poirot, namely, that he can and will take certain slights and insults on the chin, and not butt his head to win every single argument, rather, keeping his eye on the war to be won, and ignoring certain battles. If you doubt me, look behind Poirot: there are lights (the light of illumination) there is all that glass (symbolizing reflection) and there is the navy blue of the car cabin (the wisdom and suffering he has experienced is to be applied to this case) so we can be assured that we are correct in our deductions.
In the second image, we see Poirot wearing a big coat, walking in the snow (which we discussed in the caption for the poster at the top, the snow being the reflections of the passengers who made their "reflections" tangible in the killing of Ratchett) and the white smoke from the train (which can symbolize Poirot's own thought processes as he enters into the minds of the suspects and attempts to understand their motives). Why does he wear the coat? Well, of course it's cold, but that's the purpose of the bottom image, to demonstrate that it's not just about the weather (it's cold but he's not wearing a coat while he interviews the different passengers) but the back and shoulders symbolize the burdens we take upon ourselves, and Poirot is outside of the train because he has taken on the burden of solving the case. In the bottom image, he has still taken on the burden, however, he has dedicated himself to facing the "cold, hard truth" about the passengers and the victim.
Daisy Armstrong was an heiress, her family was exceedingly rich, and it was all going to go to her; Ratchett is connected (in some way) to the mafia, and each passenger, in spite of their backgrounds, social or financial positions, had a relationship to that very rich little girl, and when she died, they were all robbed of something by Ratchett. This introduces us to a brilliant exercise in chaos theory, for example: when there is a hurricane, we can just measure the hurricane by the wind forces, however, there is also the water and tide, the cloud formations, then there is the event of the landfall, damage and deaths,... when we hear "Hurricane Katrina," do we first think of 1800 UTC or 902 mbars and eyewall replacement cycles, or do we think of people stranded on their rooftops, dead bodies floating in the water, evacuees suffering and the desolation of New Orleans and other cities? The point is, science generally teaches us to limit definitions to measurements, but chaos theory reflects a greater reality in expanding definitions to be more inclusive of "extra-topical" circumstances involved in the events, and this is how Branaugh appears to be operating.
Michelle Pfeiffer plays Mrs. Hubbard, the mother of Sonia and Daisy's grandmother, so her "legacy" was really killed (daughter and grand-daughter) by Ratchett, and she really wants vengeance, which we can deduce by her gown she wears. Purple is the color of suffering, and she wears her suffering as she goes up to Ratchett in this hallway scene. Likewise, her arms are exposed, why? Because Sonia's and Daisy's last name was "Armstrong," and that is precisely what arms symbolize, our strength, so for Mrs. Hubbard, we see that she's exposing (the sleeveless gown) her strength (her arms) which is her suffering at Ratchett killing Daisy (the purple of the dress).
There's another important detail about Mrs. Hubbard: she's an actress. Mrs. Hubbard was a famous New York dramatic actress, and her status might be a message from Branaugh to actors in Hollywood about what they are doing in supporting socialism and helping to bring down the upper- and middle-classes in America.
We know that little Daisy Armstrong, as a small female, would symbolize the future of the "motherland," America (that will probably be a point in the case), and she was rich, so, like Poirot looking for clues, we, too, can find a clue that Daisy Armstrong was the future of the upper-class in America, and who is it holding the upper-classes for ransom, but basically murdering them anyway, in spite of so many demands being met? The socialists, the Liberals, the Left. It's not a coincidence that the organized Left is closely associated with the mafia (what would the mafia be without cities like Chicago and Detroit, run by Democrats?). The other important point is the listing of each suspects' financial/class designation: what on earth could a princess and a salesman possibly have in common? Their connection to the destruction of the future of the American upper-class. This leads us to our last point, for now, regarding this trailer,....
The Orient Express, the train itself, is definitely going to be a "character" in the film. In real life, the Orient Express not only set the standard for luxurious travel, but for exceedingly fast travel as well; because of this standard, other railway cars raised their standards and self-expectations, making the railway industry far more competitive, so that customers could get excellent service at an excellent price; this is capitalism, and the Orient Express is an excellent example of a "vehicle" of good capitalism. Note, when Poirot walks through the dining car, all the different social and economic classes, and they all dine together in one car: the princess doesn't scoff at being in the same dining car as the Butler, or the Missionary, and they salesman is able to afford to be in the same car as the count and professor; this is capitalism at its best, when it brings the classes together by offering goods and services everyone wants and everyone can afford.
It appears that most of the film takes place in the dining car, and this is important. Food and drink both symbolize that which we are meant to ingest and allow to nourish us (which is why I call this blog, The Fine Art Diner, I want you to "eat" the art, and take it in, digest it and savor it) but the food served isn't for the characters, it's for us, the audience, because we are the ones meant to "dine" on the clues of the film and be nourished by what the film makers offer us in its message because they want it to be substantial, not just fluff or sweet. 
Some writers mocked this trailer for employing Imagine Dragons' song Believer (you can read the lyrics to the song here), and without realizing the significance of the trailer, they wouldn't understand how brilliantly the song has been paired with the narrative. The song relates the suffering of the writer, but how the pain has been linked with everything in their life, and has made them a believer in the necessity of pain in life. Why is this important? We will see what Branaugh does with the expression of pain in the film and how each character chose to handle their pain resulting from the death of little Daisy Armstrong. But in the world today--especially America--how do we understand the Left and their "philosophy" of handling pain? Don't. The government is responsible to make sure we don't have any pain in life, and to help us when we do, because life is about being a victim, and the government is here to take care of us. I prefer to agree with Believer, rather than the Left, and it's safe to assume that Branaugh does as well.
We know that blue simultaneously symbolizes sadness, sorrow, depression as well as wisdom, because it's from our unfortunate experiences in life that we attain wisdom, which is the greatest treasure on earth because it comes at the highest personal cost to us: loss. Each character in the film has lost something, but who of them has embraced the wisdom coming from that loss? The black of course symbolizes death, not just Daisy's death, or Ratchett's death, but the death of each character participating in the murder, because it wasn't just a part of their self that died with Daisy, but a part of their self they killed in killing Ratchett.
Now, on another note, and I think this is the track which Branaugh is going to take this train ride on, IF Ratchett symbolizes socialism (wealth redistribution in getting the ransom for kidnapping Daisy, then killing Daisy as the future of the upper-class in America, then not being tried by the justice system, like everyone who committed crimes during the Obama Administration, as well as Obama and the Clintons literally getting away with murder, and then jeopardizing the financial welfare of everyone employed by the upper-classes which we shall see in the film) then Branaugh is stating, everyone of us, in the audience, need to do our part in killing socialism (each one of us stabbing Ratchett) because if we don't, we care complicit in the spread of socialism, the spread of socialism that, like the take-over of Belgium in World War II, drove out great men like Poirot from their homelands and made them wander.
To conclude, for the moment, we can be confident that Branaugh has a full slate on his agenda with this remake of Murder On the Orient Express, and that the project was picked to be a successful vehicle for that agenda; further, we, the audience, are meant to be "active participants" in the film, looking for clues just as our sleuth does, and as this case challenges his abilities, the film will challenge ours, too. But that is what will make it so satisfying,....
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
This is a much more ethnically diverse cast than originally intended in the Christie story, or the film version of 1974. Penelope Cruz, for example, turns her character from a white, German woman into a Hispanic woman; Manuel Garcia-Rulfo provides us with a Cuban version of the Italian character Foscarelli and Leslie Odom Jr portrays Dr. Arbuthnot, which in the 1974 version, was not only played by Sir Sean Connery, but the character was a colonel rather than a doctor; similarly, William Dafoe's Gerhard Hardman was a detective/bodyguard, who has been turned into a professor; why? These are examples of Branaugh molding the story to fit our contemporary circumstances and reflect the agenda he has for the film. We can expect good things out of this one, it's one to which I'm really looking forward.