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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Having read the original screenplay two years ago I have not bothered to see SWATH. yet understanding why Kristen Stewart chose Snow White to play an active, physical role was a good choice for her. I was not inclined to see it for that or for what I knew would be a fabulous Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen. Lately I don't go to a movie just to see one outstanding performance. I want to see excellence in all of its details. 

So I almost missed it on the big screen. Another example of a quick judgement based on little evidence almost ruined an astonishing experience for me. Why I went was to observe what influence Rupert Sanders as a director had on Kristen Stewart and I went to read that interaction. My disclosure. 

It is an absolutely beautiful and breathtaking film. Yes, I have read the bits of literal observations that reviewers have noticed and commented about. Me, I drop my brains in the chair next to me for a fantasy of this type.  I say YES  and I don't care if accents are off, if a sword appears in the wrong hand, or anything else as long as I stay inside the film. Mirror, Mirror had me packing up and leaving before  30 minutes had passed with its funny ironic cynicism and asides that were so boring to me, but required you to pay attention to to get it. 

I didn't expect much from Snow white and the Huntsman but after this furor I did want to see the dynamics of what a smitten director might draw forth from Stewart. Awesome. Snow White's script does not give her too much range, but more than usual in some past films. And it was by far so well directed, seen, and opulently lush that it pulled me in. The discount audience around me was hushed for the entire film, quite unusual in a fringe town growing to be a city on the fringe of the Ozarks.

There isn't a woman, child, man or any other actor that won't want to work with Sanders. He knows exactly how he wants a scene framed, how he wants an actor framed. Charlize has never, never been more lovely or more subtly evil. Stewart is absolutely beautiful in some frames, and utterly fierce in others while maintaining her beauty. She now knows how to be in a rage and be beautiful at the same moment. Not easy as we all well know how distorted our faces can get in rage. Of course Charlize knows how in her sleep. Chris Hemsworth is ruggedly handsome, and is not used as a prop. Sam Claflin's Prince has something off about him in his first adult scene. I felt as if he were ill cast, but not so. He just slightly smacks of some insincerity that is in his performance, not an acting discrepancy.

And that reminds me that this director is a genius in casting. Not an off one in the bunch and there are a lot of them. Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones for two.

Beautiful and Smart
Stewart has another film for a 

Love Letter in addition to Remember Me. Only it is a much bigger one, a lusher one, but perhaps not quite as subtle as Pattinson's fingerprints all over his film in the script. This love letter is all visual and musical. the music does not intrude and yet it enhances. 

It is a beautiful film that children will love and that adults will quite likely re-enter in a timeless zone of fantasy. Is it a great artistic film such as The Cronenberg is touted to make and doesn't deliver with Cosmopolis? No it isn't, but it's not meant to be, yet it still feels like art in a nostalgic way of recently earlier times. It is lovely.

At the end looking forward to a future film in the series, Kristen is crowned queen and her face is no longer innocent. She knows now that there are enemies in her court, and some very close to her who would kill her. Much as the young Elizabeth I knew when she was crowned queen. And who knows about the young Elizabeth II.
Fierce and lovely all at once

The Prince in Armor


Sam Claflin - The Prince Who Betrays Her Hmmmmm.

The Test and The Affirmation

The Troll 
Just before Snow White faces the Troll the Huntsman has showed her how to use her dagger. He tells her that before she kills she must look into their eyes to see their Soul. 

This is what she is doing with the Troll, looking into his eyes and seeing his Soul. She sees a monster who is frightened. Missed by all reviewers I have read. A nice touch too. I expect - hope? - that children will get it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DeLillo's Yen and Cronenberg's Yuan in Cosmopolis - Reading Through Lacan

Las Meninas - Diego Valazquez

Cronenberg has gone for the literal by using DeLillo's exact words in his Cosmopolis dialogue. But then strangely Cronenberg eliminates Yen (Japanese currency), replacing it with Yuan (Chinese currency), destroying the Lacanian resonance with yen: a whim for something; an innocuous wanting; and when, "He didn't know what he wanted, then he knew,  he wanted a haircut." Actually this is not a want is it? Is it a yen turning into a want as he persists with his plan? And he will keep his Appointment in Samarra to get it. A yen. Packer then begins to yen (want?) for yen, a play on the verb and the noun.

Then Packer wants all the yen - yenning? - that there is, he wants to want, he wants to Desire, but having no Lack, cannot. He wants all the Rothkos (does he want the sudden break, the cut in his life as Rothko had?), in fact the entire chapel, a religious setting these paintings were painted for. He wants all the volts the stun gun has. "Make me feel something I don't know." Then he wants to LOSE all Elise's heritage. 

Rob has said, "I think he was searching for something. He wanted something. Cronenberg shuts him up once again. The first time being "....the world will die" the resonating quote of Ayn Rand. Is this the time Cronenberg pats Rob on the head? Good boy.  Does Cronenberg just want to touch Rob's hair like all his fangirls want to? Is this why Cronenberg gave him a slicked down 1950's hairdo (an armoured helmet of hair as Diane Rubenstein might say), perfectly groomed, not looking at all as if he might want, have a yen for, a haircut? What is Cronenberg thinking here?

In a literal recognition of the present economic world prominence of China over Japan, Cronenberg replaces the Japanese currency of the yen with the Chinese currency of the yuan, thus revealing his complete ignorance of the importance in our thinking about our world given us by Lacan that DeLillo has mirrored. (This is an auteur filmmaker?)

Ah, but a Lacanian reading still triumphs. The word yuan in the mouth of a native English speaker does not have the same resonance as spoken by a Chinese. Yuan. Roll it in your mouth. Feel its sound. Feel all the resonance of yearning in the sound of this word, the yawning longing it draws from the native English speaking mouth. Cronenberg has concealed and revealed from himself, concealed and revealed himself to us. In wishing to dispose of yen, a very very mild and almost invisible want, he has substituted yuan, a yearning, a longing. For what Mr. Cronenberg? What are you masking  with this  "floating sign" to escape knowing something you don't want to know that you feel? What if we consider Zizek's terminology of  unknown knowns at this point? Is it Death?

"Money has lost its narrative. Money talks only to itself," says Vija Kinski.

"The New York City skyline of skyscrapers has lost its narrative," says Baudrillard in The Spirit of Terrorism. The Twin Towers of totalitarian monolithic proportions faced each other saying that although we appear to be two, we really are one. They are mirror images reflecting each other into infinity saying, "There is no outside." How clairvoyant do you think DeLillo is now?

"Money for paintings. Money for anything. I had to learn how to understand money," sahe said. "I grew up comfortably. took me awhile to think about money and actually look at it. I began to look at it. Look closely at bills and coins. I learned how it felt to make money and spend it. It felt instensely satisfying. It helped me be a person. But I don't know what money is anymore." (C 29)

Didi Fancher is talking about the loss of representation; the concrete feel of money. The signifier and the signified. Vija Kinski is talking about cyber-capital, Virtual Reality Capital, money as "floating sign", the signified and the signifier parted forever, money floating free as CODE (just air as Packer says)  in Virtual Reality.

Benno Levin:

"But how can you make words out of sounds? These are two separate systems that we miserably try to link.....Mirrors and images. Or sex and love. These are two separate systems that we miserably try to link. (C 55)

The loss of representation so carefully elucidated by Foucault in The Order of Things in chapter one with Valazquez's Las Meninas. In the painting among the royal family of Philip IV,                                                                                                                                                               is the painter. The painter is looking at you. The canvas he is painting you cannot see, only its back. At the far end of the painting, among the shadowy paintings on the wall, a figure midway on stairs appears to be lit by the invisible source of the light that allows you to see the royal family and the painter himself  But it is not another painting, it is a mirror,  "It offers us at last that enchantment of the double that until now has been denied us, not only by the distant paintings but also by the light in the foreground with its ironic canvas." (TOT 7)

I attended Leo Steinberg's seminar on Valasquez and he spent an evening on this painting. He did not mention the faraway "painting" that upon a closer look betrayed itself as a mirror. In Barcelona at the Picasso Museum there are all the studies of Las Meninas that Picasso did. I wish I could take another look.

You are in the light that is lighting the painting. You are the invisible subject Velasquez is gazing at. Foucault then discusses the royal family in this painting that is a portrait of them.

These proper names would form useful landmarks and avoid ambiguous designations; they would tell us in any case what the painter is looking at, and the majority of the characters in the picture along with him. But the relation of language to painting is an infinite relation. It is not that words are imperfect, or that, when confronted by the visual, they prove supersably inadequate. 

Neither can be reduced to the other's terms; it is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say.( TOT 9)

And in this way Foucault gives us THE CUT with representation in the Dominating Discourse of painting paving the way to the modernist era with its lack of representation.