Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Siren: Lady Bird and the Never-Ending Ritual

Before you know it all of the stars will be walking the red carpet under the shadow of the Babylon Gate and entering into the Dolby Theater, which was the former site of the Hollywood Masonic Lodge.

The master of ceremonies this year-- like last-- will be born-again social crusader Jimmy Kimmel, whose show is taped at the Hollywood Masonic Temple. Astonishing coincidences, don't you think? 

The two big favorites this year are The Shape of Water--which has been compared to Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast-- and Lady Bird, the quirky coming of age story starring Irish actress Saoirse Ronan that's very much in the style of Juno, a previous Oscar darling. Lady Bird currently has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Lady Bird has also been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Not bad.

Regular readers don't need to be reminded how both of these films mainline the rising archetypes we've been poring over here since Chris Cornell's death at the MGM Grand Casino on the Detroit River. I know a lot of people still have trouble wrapping their heads around the exegesis I've been laying out here but if so, there's Exhibit A and Exhibit B. 

The missus and I went to see Lady Bird on Valentine's Day. And yeah, I don't know. 

I've had plenty of worse times at the movies, believe me, but I just couldn't shake the feeling I'd seen this movie at least a dozen times before. Of course, that's how I feel after pretty much every movie I see anymore. Because I have.

Given that's it also about an intact family and a girl who believes in God I wasn't quite sure how it lived up to its rep as being some radical feminist salvo against Trump. Plus, it also takes potshots at the new extreme left in the dead-on portrayal of a spoiled rich punk who hates Capitalism yet drinks deep from its trough every minute of every day. 

So is Lady Bird another Hollywood SJW struggle session? Not even close. 
But I did have a serious problem with the film. I mean, the script was crisp and punchy and the story moves along at a pleasant clip, but then it just stops. I mean, stops dead in its tracks. 

My wife and I wondered if there was some kind of problem with the projector because it kinda feels like they just ran out of film and decided to just roll the credits on account of reloading the cameras was more trouble than it was worth. You got your money's worth, folks. Please proceed to the exits. 

And sure, Saoirse Ronan is perfectly charming and has great comic timing but she also looked a bit too old for the part. She looks 24, not 17.

So yeah, I was kinda left wondering what all the hype was about. 
That is, until I tallied up all the emergent archetypal dominant bases Lady Bird hit. Then it was clear as glass.

Let's start here, which not only gives us a glance at Saoirse Ronan's head pasted upon a stork but also as a Max Ernst-styled Loplop Bird Superior. 

So just as The Shape of Water ties into Oannes and the Babylonian Mer-lineage that takes us up to Atargatis and the late-model Sirens, its companion piece Lady Bird gives us a heapin' helpin' of the pre-Picsean Siren. 

This is a tag-team we're looking at here and you really can't understand one film without the other.

What we're looking at here is that Siren archetype I've been screaming into the wind about, punching you right upside the head and demanding you pay attention already.

And just in case you didn't get the memo, the Olympics slammed it all home again with the Siren's Korean cousin here. Like I've said before, we're all being initiated, whether we want to or not. Everything is about to ripped out of the ground in order that this new paradigm can be planted. Get ready.

So, we saw the Ash Wednesday thing-- did I mention we saw this on Valentine's Day?-- but let's take a short, spoiler-free look at some of the others.

There's the emotional support peacock we're becoming so familiar with, speaking of Juno.

And the obligatory submersion-baptism shot.

And the extraneous Vega call-out.

And the callout to the Nephilim-Sons of Heaven-Vegas-Pearly Dewdrops, in the form of a rendition of Stephen Sondheim's "Giants in the Sky" (from Into the Woods).

Add in the overall ambience of religion and the Church and you start to get the picture; we're being initiated into the new religion. I have no earthly clue if Greta Gerwig was consciously processing that in her script but it's pretty clear what's going on here.

All the more so when you place all of this in context. 

Saoirse Ronan has been doing a lot of modeling for fashion giant Gucci, who have plugged directly into the emerging archetypal dominants with their 2018 line and the promotional campaign behind it. The concept art for the new line is full of potent symbolism, including a Siren (de rigeur by this point), a Sphinx and most significantly, Pearls.

And as such it depicts certain scenes in which giant women-- Colossi, really-- descend (read:"drop") from the sky or straddle entire continents, wearing pearl necklaces, whether real or costume. The odds this is all some kind of fluke-coincidence are about googolplex-infinity to one. In my opinion, at least. But what do I know, right?

But just in case, there's Ronan rocking the now-familiar Pink-Orange-Red for Gucci.

Of course, Ronan's first big mainstream turn was in Sir Peter Jackson's adaption of The Lovely Bones, in which we see that familiar trope of the traumatized young girl-- Susie Salmon, in this case-- breaking through to a new reality. 

Yet again. Yet again.

Not only does she break through to another reality but she does so accompanied by the haunting timbres of Our Lady, Queen Dowager of Sibyls, singing Tim Buckley's immortal "Song to the Siren." 

Is this all starting to make sense to you now? I hope so, because as I told you, this never ends. Ever. 

This is your new reality.

Just in case the message isn't clear enough we also see Susie's brother, Buckley, nearly asphixiated.

No, seriously. His name is Buckley. You remember Buckley, don't you?

If you're still not quite convinced, we also hear Our Lady serenade us again during another pivotal scene in the film. The song in question here is the haunting lament, "Alice," which may or may not be a reference to Alice in Wonderland. It was originally recorded for the film, Stealing Beauty, which featured Liv Tyler.*

That actor in the clip is my former neighbor, Mark Wahlberg, who's also in another well-received film this season and that's Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World. His co-star there is Michelle Williams, former wife of the late Heath Ledger.

We talked quite a bit about Williams, particularly in connection to the Heath Ledger memorial at Cottlesloe Beach in Perth, Australia. That event gave us a moderately strong FLAP hit, FLAP being an acronym for "Fraser Locality Alignment Pattern."

As entirely-arbitrary, acausal luck would have it, Wahlberg would film with Martin Scorsese just over the border from Braintree, as well as other locations in the Boston Metro area in the Whitey Bulger allegory, The Departed.

And wonder of wonders, The Departed would also feature the conspicuously non-Irish Ray Winstone, who also starred back in 1994 in Ken Loach's Ladybird, Ladybird.  With a Vega, no less.

Winstone would more recently do a strange turn as HG Wells in the British anthology series, The Nightmare World of HG Wells. Which featured music by...

...aww, you know by now. As far as I know this was her first-ever original score work, meaning she was hired to so the soundtrack, not hired to sing for one by another musician. It was said to be her first full-length work since Milk and Kisses.

A purple pileus is a mushroom, incidentally. 

And ironically, we're now living in HG Well's nightmare world.

All the Money in the World is about the kidnapping of oil heir John Paul Getty III, and is garnering praise for the acting of Christopher Plummer, who replaced Kevin "Little" Spacey after he ran into a major kiddie beef.

John Paul Getty III being the father of Balthazar Getty, who appeared in Lost Highway with Patricia Arquette. Getty and Arquette famously fuck to the lilting strains of one Elizabeth Davidson Fraser and "Song to the Siren."

But believe it or not, the Getty kidnapping is also the subject of a new FX series, with the Mark Wahlberg character played by...

...Brendan Fraser. 

And the John Paul Getty Sr role filled by...

...Donald "Vega" Sutherland.

In another Fraser-adjacent remake, we also saw Tom Cruise fill Brendan Fraser's shoes in 2017s Mummy reboot. More on that later. Along with the other ten-million posts sitting in the queue waiting for me to add stupid jokes to them finish.

Tom Cruise starred in the Elizabeth Fraser crypto-allegory, Minority Report, nominally based on the Philip K Dick novella. 

Oh, didn't I tell you Minority Report is about her? Yeah. Damnedest thing.  

Something tells me this whole Siren business would be too mind-blowing even for Dick.

Anyway, Fraserganger Samantha Morton also played Mary Stuart in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

A role soon to be tackled by the Lady Bird herself, Saoirse Ronan.

By the way, Ronan's movie debut was I Could Never Be Your Woman. 

She played a character called Izzie, short for Isabel, an Iberian variant of Elizabeth.

She played the daughter of a Rose, who was dating a Pearl. You can't make this shit up.

Saoirse also has a lovely pair of Frasereyes herself, now that you mention it.

Just in case this all seems a bit of the Hollywood Merry-Go-Round for you, I'll add that there's no discernible direct connection with these films or their makers, other than they're all in the same general business.

Or they're all in the same Elizabeth Fraser cult. That would be my guess.

With that in mind, let's hop a jet back to Perth.

Yes, Heath Ledger's hometown got itself a major dose of Siren ritualism with the Siren Song, um, ritual. The Perth Festival follows on the heels of the Sydney Festival, which itself featured a more explictly Fraser-centric Siren ritual with the performance of Aquasonic.

More explicit in that they at least acknowledge that they were impersonating Elizabeth Fraser. Maybe the Siren Song folks thought that went without saying.

Take a look at that video up there. Know where it's filmed? Right there in that green area, which just so happens to be bordered by Elizabeth Quay in the east, David Carr Park in the south and Fraser Ave on the west. 

Why do those names sound so familiar?

Right. Thanks.

The Perth Festival also featured a performance by an artist from Tonga, who submerged herself in a tank of water.

And as I've mentioned before, the Siren Song ritual kicked off the Perth Festival, which coincided with the formation of Cyclone Gita, which ravaged Tonga a few days later. Siren Song was played at dusk and dawn for the length of the festival.

I should mention that we saw a similar yet less potent FLAP coinciding with the location of the Siren Song's performance last year at the Dark Mojo Festival in Hobart, Tasmania.

And smack dab in the middle of all this, popular retro-rock magazine Louder Than War dropped its new issue with you-know-who on the cover. Timing is everything.

*You remember Liv Tyler, right? She played Arwen in Fellowship of the Ring. Remember the Aragorn-drowning scene and all? Remember a certain someone singing 'Lament for Gandalf?' 

Good times.