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Friday, February 24, 2017

JOHN WICK 2 - Not a Dick - reading through JARMUSCH'S GHOST DOG

To deconstruct John Wick 2 requires a number of screenings. The action is so fast, the scenes fly by, that you cannot contemplate any of it until it is over, so see it again is all you can do if you want to say anything intelligent about it. I am up to 6 times and I am still seeing something new each time that I missed.

For a detailed reading review of this film at RogerEbert : Angelica Jade Bastien 
Another beautiful reading of John Wick 2 by John Bloner echoes Jarmusch's Ghost Dog. I am indebted to him for nudging my memory on Jarmusch.



First they killed his dog,then stole his Mustang, then they bombed his house He's Back!
But not as a contract killer. John Wick is back in the  Symbolic Order of VENGEANCE.

1. The screenplay is brilliant.I believe it to be intuitive rather than consciously intentional. It is CAMP. It is more CAMP than CAMP, "WORSE" than CAMP as Nietzsche would say. HYPER-CAMP as Baudrillard might. The images also are SUPER-CAMP. More REAL than REAL as Deleuze suggests as our way out.The NOIR influences are deep and the slivery footnotes are perfect.

John Wick: "I'm not that guy anymore.
Santino:"You're always that guy, John"

Winston:There are only 2 rules:
Winston:All markers must be honored.
Winston:No business on Continental grounds.


And it is right here that we see the gold coins again. The first time is in Tarasov's garage in the boxes - they are closed though and we can't see except by thinking backwards - and beside stacks of paper money a dolly is pulling,then being loaded into the trunk of a vehicle.  Winston  is supervising their perfectly designed and executed imprint.
Paper money is used to buy gold bullion;gold bullion is stamped into gold coins of value.
We will see John Wick, Cassian pay SPECIAL OTHERS with these gold coins, a wave to Ayn Rand's John Galt whose followers pay with gold coins whenever they observe excellence in the decaying world.
In John Wick it has more sinister implications as Winston says, "Put them into circulation."

Gresham's Law: Bad money drives good money into hoarding.
People spend bad money and save - hide - good money.
A way to destroy the paper currency of a State making it worthless.
A way to take over the financial machine of the State.

Fishburne:Will someone please get this man a gun!
"Give this man a gun!  Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun
Or the recent Jane Got a Gun

Fishburne:Don't forget you owe me.
John Wick:You don't want me owing you.

I am especially fond of the use of the word ENJOY !
It's use in this film is PURE ZIZEKIAN
The SUPER-EGO command that you ENJOY!
Tarasov:ENJOY your retirement Mr. Wick.
Julius:ENJOY your stay here.
Julius:ENJOY yourself.
Tailor:Mr. Wick, Do ENJOY your party. 
Gianna:Are you ENJOYING the party Mr. Akoni
Gianna: GO. ENJOY  the festivities Mr. Akoni

Cassian:Are you working tonight? 
John Wick:Nods.
Cassian:Are you having a good night?
John Wick:Fraid so.
Shoot out begins.

Cassian:You killed my ward.Someone I was close to.
Cassian:An eye for an eye John. You know that.
 This is Sharia Law in the Symbolic Order of the Sacred

SHARIA LAW is popularly understood as adulterous women getting stoned to death. Sharia Law is Old Testament Law: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

The opening sequence with Buster Keaton projected on the building wall was stolen by the director from student work at NYU by his own admission. He makes no mention of Orson Welles when discussing the mirror scenes. Maybe they have just become naturalized, institutionalized into hyper mirror shoot out scenes. 
This one is gorgeous.




2. The PLOT follows Jim Jarmusch's GHOST DOG.The SAMURAI warrior of mastery and integrity.

It is what I call a Love Letter to Jim Jarmusch's wondrous film with Forrest Whittaker. Included are a dog and pigeons on the roof and a lonely character. You can rent it for 2.99 on youtube so now would be an excellent time to see it.

Charon welcomes guests into the Continental and he arrives at Wick's burned property at the end to escort him back to Winston who meets him in the park.Charon is the dog who waits by the River Styx at the Gates of Hades. Cassian/Cassius is an enemy of Caesar. Julius is the Rome manager of the Continental where Winston rules. Winston is the main character of 1984. Ares is the God of War. John Wick's wife is Helen whose beauty and treachery began the Trojan War.It is possible to go on with this.
The tattoo on John Wick's back

fortis Fortuna adiuvat Fortune Favors the Brave - Pliny, Cicero.

And lest we forget The Boogeyman
Boogeyman is a 2005 New Zealand-American supernatural horror filmdirected by Stephen T. Kay
In the 1940's we children were scared by our mothers about the Boogeyman. We feared he was under our beds at night or in the closet so we wanted the door shut.Strange it should resurface in recent times.

This film nods to mythology,film, art, The Vatican with its fabulous art collection in the scenes displaying the culture these assassins, thugs, high table gangsters display.

John Wick, the man, the myth, the legend


The Samurai with his Master, his rules, values, discipline, art, style and disciplined skill.The lonely life of the assassin who is to become the prey and hunted.
The scene with Lawrence on the roof with his pigeons a great salute to Jim Jarmusch, his independent probably lonely fight to make his own films in his own way to limited release.
The White Dove thrown to the sky and followed by the other multi colored pigeons, a visual metaphor of the white man as substitute target for the man of color.
Nice reversal.
Fishburne's last scene a mirror of Ghost Dog

Now the assassin is to be assassinated.



This is the MANUFACTURE of the FATWA !.  Khomeini in issuing the FATWA on Salmon Rushdie put the entire western civilized machine into scarlet alert with no way to defend against it, only to hide Rushdie in safe house after safe house for a few years, destroying his life. We saw a Foucauldian CUT in this ultimate surveillance and capture by the US STATE with SNOWDEN under The Obama. When the personal presidential plane of Evo Morales,the President of Bolivia, is forced down in Portugal because "it is reported" that Snowden is aboard and escaping - and no allies will permit it to land on their soil. We see international SHARIA LAW morphing into the ORDER OF PRODUCTION having left the SYMBOLIC ORDER OF THE FATWA. And this occurs at the end of John Wick 2 as in his hour of grace running to get away, he sees every eye turned toward him as a potential assassin against him. They are too numerous to count and all will want to kill him.

Enter Bob Fagles' modern classic translation of Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus has come home in disguise. Only his old dog Argus recognizes him and instantly dies, having waited 20 years for him - just living to see his Master again - another Ghost Dog. Odysseus faces the same impossible dilemma as John Wick at the end. He must kill all the suitors as Athena tells him to do, with her help. But his reply to her is in his words,

We had the same English teacher

"There's another worry," he tells her
"that haunts me even more,
What if I kill them -thanks to you and Zeus -
how do I run from their avengers?
Show me the way I ask you." - 20.43-45 - Fagles translation

This is what Sharia Law means. All your family and progeny will be annihilated. As justice is in the Order of Production, Sharia Law is in the Symbolic Order of the Sacred.

 Khomeini issued a FATWA on Salmon Rushdie for his portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in his Satanic Verses.As Baudrillard said, "... there he sat in his small house, sitting on a blanket and paralyzed the entire western world into a state of fear. The West had no way to respond to this kind of power."

This is the power of the Symbolic Order.
As Baudrillard tells us: in referring to 9-11 as a GIFT in which the US has not been able to return the COUNTER-GIFT. So the US must suicide if it cannot. Seems like it is right now huh.


$1.98 for used one at Amazon as I write this.
Baudrillard sees the power of the terrorists as lying in the symbolism of slaughter – not merely the reality of death, but in a sacrifice that challenges the whole system. Where previously the old revolutionary sought to conduct a struggle between real forces in the context of ideology and politics, the new terrorist mounts a powerful symbolic challenge which, when combined with high-tech resources, constitutes an unprecedented assault on an over-sophisticated and vulnerable West. This new edition is up-dated with the essays ‘Hypotheses on Terrorism’ and ‘Violence of the Global’.

3. The reflecting mirror shoot out is an enhanced CGI from Orson Welles Lady From Shanghai. The superbly generous Orson would have been thrilled to see his very first experimental mirror shoot out taken to these extremes.


The last shoot out scene takes place in rooms that are composed of an infinity of reflecting mirrors all colored by lights: blues, reds, golds just incredible CGI. But this almost final scene and the last big shoot out is a marvelous tribute to the great Orson Welles who first did reflecting mirrors in Citizen Kane and then a shoot out in Lady From Shanghai where Rita Hayworth gets shot dead and Orson's character leaves her to die for all her betrayals. It is magnificent.





At the end John Wick 2 is waving hello to Mel Gibson's Mad Max. A dead wife and a dog traveling with him into dystopia, 21st Century style.  Wick is in the "dystopia" of the Deterritorialized Corporate Global World of International Thuggery of the present




Keanu Reeves is once again the FLAT character.
And in John Wick 2 Reeves is the FLAT character who is the main character.
Keanu Reeves has been criticized for his acting talent NOT. Reeves always has his own persona in every part. Humphrey Bogart was/did the same. He is what E.M.Forster has called a FLAT CHARACTER. The ones around him change but he does not.
But actually John Wick 2 is not a character driven movie. None of them change. All are FLAT in Forster's description, but are drawn excessively. We see why Gianna's father chose her to sit at the High Table instead of her brother. We see why her brother was not chosen to inherit that place of authority.



A "flat" character does not mean a "boring" character. It's a technical term in literary theory popularized by the novelist E. M. Forster in his monograph on writing titled "Aspects of the Novel." According to Forster, a "flat" character is a kind of token: his or her psychology and values do not grow, change, evolve, or come to any kind of crisis during the course of the narrative because characters — like plot points — have functions within the story; it is simply not the function of a flat character to steal attention away from the main character(s) — the protagonist(s) and the antagonist(s) — by growing, changing, evolving, or reaching any sort of "crisis" within the story in which they must exercise his or her will, and come to a decision — or initiate an action — that would be surprising, i.e., a new pattern of behavior inconsistent with their previous pattern. "Flat" characters remain who they were throughout the entire course of the story, because they are there simply to provide a particular kind of obstacle (or point of affinity) for the main characters. They are part of the stock-in-trade of every playwright, screenwriter, short-story writer, and novelist. They are a particular kind of narrative tool

So Reeves as the FLAT character is among a stellar collection of FLAT characters who are not changing psychologically. Their character's change would have little to do with the plot- hence the end of interpretation The dead dog is a Ghost Dog and the one he has now has no name. He is a Ghost Dog also just following Wick like a shadow. 

He is always the Keanu we love to watch. He never changes. His vulnerability, presence, integrity and values are always there in the Inscription of His Body/Face and in the parts he plays. Reeves embraces the feminine in his maleness which is physically awesome without posing as macho. This is his undeniable erotic charisma and at 52 in John Wick 2, Reeves, an assassin, is a Samurai with a plot turn mapped over Ghost Dog updated to THE DETERRITORIALIZED CORPORATE CAPITALIST MACHINE  which far surpasses Coppola's GODFATHER series in its world scope.

4. This movie moves in and out of the Symbolic Order and the Order of Production. As a contract assassin John Wick is a professional killer. He is paid for this. The opening scene obliterates  that as he enters the Symbolic Order of the Sacred.

Tarasov:It is not just a car.
It is John Wick's car.
Assistant:Why not just give it back?
Tarasov:He killed my nephew and my brother!
(And he knows John Wick is not yet finished with returning the COUNTER-GIFT.)
Tarasov:And over a car and a puppy!
Wick has received the GIFT of DEATH
And the COUNTER-GIFT must be returned.
It must be greater than the GIFT in the SYMBOLIC ORDER.

John Wick is not a Dick. Wick is not wicked. 
Lacanian word play in action!
HEARING WHAT IS NOT SPOKEN.

As Cassian says to John Wick in the Continental Bar after hearing about the Marker as the reason he kills Gianna
In response to Wick's explanation for his freedom,
John Wick:Am I?
Cassian: not at all
You killed my ward. Someone I was close to.
An eye for an eye John. You know that. 

Now the assassin is to be assassinated as in Ghost Dog



We see the MANUFACTURE of the FATWA !.  Khomeini in issuing the FATWA on Salmon Rushdie put the entire western civilized machine into scarlet alert with no way to defend against it, only to hide Rushdie in safe house after safe house for a few years, destroying his life. We saw a Foucauldian CUT in this ultimate surveillance and capture by the US STATE with SNOWDEN under The Obama. The personal presidential plane of Evo Morales,the President of Bolivia, is forced down in Portugal because "it is reported" that Snowden is aboard and escaping - and no allies will permit it to land on their soil. We see international SHARIA LAW moving into the ORDER OF PRODUCTION having left the SYMBOLIC ORDER OF THE FATWA. And this occurs at the end of John Wick 2 as in his hour of grace to get away, he sees every eye turned toward him as a potential assassin against him. They are too numerous to count and all will want to kill him. His bounty is up to 14 million.


Lawrence Fishburne's final scene is holding the white dove on the rooftop and uplifting it to fly. Then all the varied colored ones fly up after her. It is quite beautiful and a metaphor for John Wick running away at the end to escape the International Assassins League coming after him at the end of the hour, He is the scapegoat to be annihilated after the 60 minutes period of grace given to him. The white man fleeing from the multi colored peoples of the world, saving the homeless and the darker skinned people in the subway tunnels.

This is the MANUFACTURED PRODUCTION OF THE FATWA. The computerized text message and the code of 11 -11-1 goes out and we see the code replicating down the SCREEN as all members are put on alert. No place in the world will be safe for him. Everyone will be after him and he can only know by his feeling, by a sixth sense of awareness, who is an assassin. It sets up the 3rd chapter of John Wick 3.


John Wick is not a Dick
I have only to mention TIME to begin another reading of this film. The women "secretaries" setting up "FATWAS", EXCOMMUNICATING members after Winston has pronounced EXCOMMUNICADO on John Wick taking  from him the protection and privileges of The CONTINENTAL. The dial telephones used for this. So they can't be recorded and archived like digital ones? The technological savvy in use, the emphasis on old ancient traditions of the church and its blessing of new high table coronations. I began to get unglued as to what century I was in, so beautifully integrated the ancient was with the incredible sophistication of weapons, weapon purchases, clothes, sculpture and paintings of exquisite curation. Gianna's Roman bath, her Roman preferred method of suicide. This is a complex movie and one that foreshadows an imminent future that perhaps is already here.








Friday, January 13, 2017

Divergent Review: Why Jeanine Is Correct In Trying To Destroy Abnegation

Abnegation, if left unchecked,will destroy the faction system.
Jeanine is absolutely correct. Any Divergent can choose Abnegation and hide safely there. Abnegation children raised in Selflessness may choose other factions to experience difference.

But why is she correct?

The Quaker Society of Friends is very close to Abnegation in clothes, demeanor, choice of food, and ideals in their way of life.

It is the Quakers who brought down slavery in the colonies and ultimately the states. They were the first Abolitionists. Beginning in Virginia in 1760. 100 years before the start of the Civil War the stones were laid as foundation to destroy slavery.

The Society of Friends have been active in every anti war movement since they arrived in North America. They were particularly influential during the Viet Nam War and the formal and informal Resistance to it.

Gandhi's non-violent resistance brought down the British Empire's control and occupation of India. His open attack on the caste system stuck a deep wedge in it. Castes were worse than factions as you were born into them and could never leave. Your caste determined your entire life, how much education you would receive, what kind of work you would be allowed to do.

Jeanine Matthews perceives all this as coming from the future and she attempts to forestall it. The divergent population, the transferring to other factions will result in the breaking down of the faction system little by little over time. It is inevitable and Jeanine sees this. She is taking what measures she thinks will avoid it however expertly she implements it, she cannot stop it.