July 14, 2017

MOVIES: "WONDER WOMAN"



So. I am late to the party here with my review of "Wonder Woman." WW is certainly "all that." They found the exact right actress, Gal Gadot (rhymes with "Doll" and "Float"). GG is a generous and warm actress who plays a woman-child-goddess-warrior with aplomb. Being an Israeli, she doesn't have that American vibe, so it makes her all the more mysterious. Her eyes and facial expressions are always unexpected. Her slender, leggy, model physique; oval face and enviable cheekbones are never flaunted: it seems both the thespian herself and the script are too modest for that. Even her costume is modest (slightly less revealing and sexy than Lynda Carter's)--and the muted Americana red, white and blue is stylin'. Also, Gadot was five months pregnant during shooting! She green-screened her belly. What a claim to fame her little daughter is going to have!


GAL PAL

I guess you can tell I like this actress. I just saw her in "Criminal" with Kevin Costner, and she's got unique acting smarts. She projects strength, but always with a gentle femininity at the same time--something many women aspire to. The rough-tough-practically-a-man-in-every-way broads are just not my thing. Can't relate. That kind of chick (young--think Disney...and old) is becoming a bit of a lone, one-dimensional stereotype for women. I know very few women like that in my own life, and I don't wanna be one.

Gadot seems like the type of woman you'd want to be friends with in real life (as a fellow woman)--a real gal pal (sorry). But enough about her!

I'M NO PRO

DISCLAIMER: I am not a comic book maven. I am not a superhero fan. I don't quite get all the hype. I only truly like The Batman and Captain America (a little bit). So I'm not even going to dare to critique the movie vis-a-vis the print version, the animated version, any version. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the mythology. I'm just going to look at WW as any other film, OK?
Diana lives on the all-female-warrior Amazon island of Themyscira. Humans (viz., men) are seen as hopelessly bellicose and have basically been given up on. The Amazon women train for battle in order to defend their island. However, wouldntcha know, a World War I plane (with an American spy--Chris Pine) on board crashes in the ocean near Themyscira. Diana saves the pilot's life. When she learns there's a world war going on, she wants to help save the world, save the millions of people who are suffering and dying. Her mother, the goddess Hippolyta, is reluctant at first, but she knows that Diana has the skills, and even special weapons/skills to kill the god of war, Ares, himself. So there are two wars going on here: the meta-war of what causes war (the "mother of all wars," if you will) and WWI.

THE INNOCENT

The raspy-voiced Gadot is delightful at playing an innocent in a complicated world of human weirdness and deceit. And, as a woman online said, you gotta love a female superhero who love babies (she gets momentarily distracted by an infant at one point). Diana is convinced that if she can kill Ares, the war will stop. Steve Trevor, the American pilot-spy, humors her, and takes her to the Front because he sees she knows how to care of herself. Steve is not a perfect knight in shining armor, but he's basically a good guy who knows right from wrong and is willing to sacrifice his life for the noblest cause of his time.

BUT DO NOT MISS THIS SEEMINGLY OUT-OF-PLACE BIT OF DIALOGUE AND "ACTION." PERHAPS IT IS NOT OUT OF PLACE AT ALL. PERHAPS IT IS THE SLYLY EMBEDDED MESSAGE OF THE WHOLE FILM?
WHY PUT IT IN AT ALL? VERY PUZZLING.
VERY PERNICIOUS.

In one isolated, ghastly and truncated conversation, Steve gives Diana a poor and pathetic description of marriage and it's left at that. Diana: "Men are essential for procreation, but not pleasure." (No kidding, Diana! And women are not essential for men's pleasure either!) They speak coldly of "biological reproduction" and "the pleasures of the flesh." Egads! Theology of the Body to the rescue! The two inseparable purposes of sex=unitive and procreative! Love and life! God is Love and God is Life! Can't separate 'em!

Also, very subtly, it is insinuated that WW & Steve Trevor sleep together. Or as one woman put even more pointedly: "Aaaaaaand Wonder Woman lost her virginity. Just. Like. That."
These little stunts were sooooo unnecessary. But I guess the SexRev has to get its greasy little fingers on everything. So much for the celibate superhero.

Men and women are existentially kept apart. (The all-female island. WW and Steve only come together to hook-up. In the end they are not together. ) A big problem today: men and women "going their own way." At least when we're fighting/arguing, we're together, but our culture has lost words, or chooses not to use them, and so we depart in a kind of silence.

BEAUTY WILL NOT SAVE THE WORLD

As Diana witnesses the magnitude of the catastrophic battle and the depths of iniquity in men's hearts, she is tempted to destroy humanity herself, but she learns that human beings can be as evil as devils, but they're always capable of good. Diana learns from Steve that only love can save the world (he does not tell her this, rather she intuits it from his actions). Love, not "beauty."

So. This superheroine is truly feminine. It's a truly feminine story of a feminine savior, of the feminine genius. The gender contrast is built into the story because (human) women are not in full combat in WWI. There is no contrast today, only "endless war"? The Women's Movement of the 1960's was conflicted about women becoming militarized because it had aligned itself with the Peace Movement. If women are in full combat, who keeps the peace? Who is the peace for? If there's no difference between men and women (if gender is just a social construct), then why not child soldiers (isn't childhood just a social construct, too)? I get A LOT of flack for saying women shouldn't be in combat (for many, many reasons--there are also studies), but I'm sticking to my guns (pun intended). Women don't start wars--we shouldn't have to fight them. (Women are different psychologically, spiritually, sexually, socially--and the way men are biologically programmed to interact with women is to treat them differently: e.g., protection). Men do not have monthly cycles, men do not get pregnant, men are generally physically stronger than women, etc., etc. This is not inferiority or weakness on the part of women, this is strength! Women's strength! But strength that is not suited for, does not lend itself to combat. Women are also large-scale peacemakers and peacekeepers.

WW also reminded me a bit of "Mad Max: Fury Road" (where the women were protecting the seeds of new life).

WONDER WOMAN AND THE BIBLE

There is much food for thought about identity, war, men and women. There are lots of parallels to Christianity. Ares is somewhat of a Satan figure: the son of Zeus, is "envious" that Zeus created men and wants to destroy them (show his father how evil they really are).

The prominence of a woman/women in saving the world draws a huge comparison to "The Woman": the Blessed Virgin Mary. By a certain point in the film, you simply cannot stop thinking of her, and the unique role women play in spiritual warfare (see Genesis  3:15, John 2:4-5 and Revelation 12: the whole chapter). Mary is the ultimate "god" killer and "God" bearer for the salvation of the world. Boomshakalaka.*
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*Be it known that my revival of "boomshakalaka" preceded the adorable Blue Ivy's by approximately one year.

OTHER STUFF:

--Wonder Woman is NOT the first female superhero:




--Fr. Edward Looney's juxtaposing of Wonder Woman and Our Lady: http://catholicexchange.com/lady-real-wonder-woman

--Fan art with Our Lady of Guadalupe attributes:



--I told one of my friends named Diana that she needs to start introducing herself as: "I am Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. In the name of all that is good in this world, I have come to complete my mission!"

--The heavenly cruciform feminine destroys the earthbound evil masculine.



--Christopher West's son's spot-on review: http://corproject.com/wonder-woman/  John Paul West can WRITE.

ALTERNATE VIEWS:

--James Cameron thinks WW is exploitative, the same-old, same-old male Hollywood stuff (the last few paragraphs): https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/24/james-cameron-well-never-be-able-to-reproduce-the-shock-of-terminator-2?CMP=twt_gu

--From an astute, film-loving friend: "Read/listen to this about Wonder Woman will make you hate Wonder Woman... I can't stand anything Wonder Woman cause it was written by a bigamist, whose mistress was Margaret Sanger's niece. He was a big Sanger fan."
http://www.npr.org/2017/06/09/532149100/the-man-behind-wonder-woman-was-inspired-by-both-suffragists-and-centerfolds

--"See also the movie: 'Professor Marston and the Wonder Women'" (Professor Marston, who created WW, lived with his wife, mistress and children in the same house for many, many years. This new film praises this arrangement and hints at a lesbian relationship between the women as well.



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