23 March 2012

23 Mar- "Whatever you do don't let them starve"

The Hunger Games (2012)
dir. Gary Ross - Pleasantville (1998)

Stanley Tucci - Easy A (2010)
Wes Bentley - American Beauty (1999)
Jennifer Lawrence - The Burning Plain (2008)
Elizabeth Banks - Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Sandra Ellis Lafferty - Walk the Line (2005)
Paula Malcomson - The Green Mile (1999)
Rhoda Griffis - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
Josh Hutcherson - Howl's Moving Castle, voice (2004)
Anthony Reynolds - Down in the Valley (2005)
Woody Harrelson - Zombieland (2009)
Toby Jones - Les Miserables (1998)
Lenny Kravitz - Precious (2009)
Donald Sutherland - Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Of course, everyone who's anyone who gives a shit has already seen The Hunger Games, but I was there on opening night, in the fifth row, craning my neck upwards to watch the story unfold. I liked it, I enjoyed it. I thought it was visually appealing, but I also think it could have been better. Here's why:

1) Adaption of a book based on a first person perspective
The book is told from Katniss's perspective, and the readers are limited in our understanding of her world by her physical limitations. For this reason, we can't really understand what goes on in the minds of the other tributes, for example, and we can't see the reactions of the audience in Panem. The medium of film is almost always in third person perspective (with the exception of found-footage based movies). That means we lose Katniss's inner dialogue, which is tough because she isn't a very verbal character, but it also means we are able to see a lot of the world than Katniss is. I don't think the filmmakers took advantage of that strength. The other tributes were irritatingly flat characters. In the book five out of the twelve were portrayed largely as mindless killers, but that doesn't mean the filmmakers couldn't show them as being more rounded out. Which brings me to the next point.

2) Uncreative storyboarding
The point of the Hunger Games is that they are televised for the people of Panem. Since the book was from Katniss's perspective, we didn't get to see how she was portrayed on film. But this time it's in a movie and we are the audience. I would have liked to see some more creative changes in perspective that could drawn the audience into the story-world and potentially make the movie a lot more meaningful. After all, it's supposed to be a critique of the brutality of watching other people suffer. Let's make the audience feel a little less safe and a little more culpable.

3) Josh Hutcherson
How about we just get one of those big Easter Island heads to play Peeta?

22 March 2012

22 Mar- "I do not call myself subject to much at all"

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
dir. Michael Mann (Heat, 1995)

Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood, 2007)
Madeleine Stowe (Bad Girls, 1994)
Russell Means (Pocahontas (voice), 1995)
Wes Studi (Dances With Wolves, 1995)
Steven Waddington (Sleepy Hollow, 1999)
Jodhi May (The Scarlet Letter (voice), 1995)
Eric Schweig (The Scarlet Letter, 1995)
Pete Postlethwaite (James and the Giant Peach, 1996)
Terry Kinney (Save the Last Dance, 2001)
Patrice Chereau (Time of the Wolf, 2003)
Dylan Baker (Love Potion No. 9, 1992)
Mark Joy (Pecker, 1998)
Tim Hopper (School of Rock, 2003)
Jared Harris (Far and Away, 1992)
Sebastian Roche (Beowulf, 2007)
Colm Meaney (Law Abiding Citizen, 2009)
David Schofield (An American Werewolf in London, 1981)

The Last of the Mohicans is easily one of my top ten favorites movies. Unfortunately, it's hard to make other people believe how awesome it is because the first twenty minutes are notoriously slow and usually folks get bored before they become enthralled in the awesomeness. Here are the reasons why I like this movie:
1) Chingachgook's awesome war club
2) Daniel Day Lewis placing emphasis on unusual syllables (he's "beholden to none")
3) Wes Studi as Magua, probably one of the best characters in film history
4) The score, by Trevor Jones

I've also read the book, but James Fenimore Cooper. I'm always interested in how books are adapted into screenplays, what stays in, what gets cut, what's changed, how the perspective moves from first person to third person. In the book, for example, the heroine Cora doesn't pair off with Hawkeye, Daniel Day-Lewis's character, she marries Duncan, the English captain she arrived in the colonies with. But in the movie Duncan sacrifices himself to save Hawkeye, Cora and Alice, which is good, because from a modern perspective Hawkeye's character is way hotter and deserves makeouts.

I've always liked Wes Studi. Magua, as a character, is one of the best. Magua first appears as an Iroquois scout for the English, but after he betrays Duncan's unit it's revealed that he was actually a Huron captive who was adopted by the Iroquois. His anger at having lost his Huron family due to the actions of Colonel Monroe have set him on a vendetta to avenge himself. He says that he wants to kill Colonel Monroe's daughters in front of him, "so that he knows his seed as been wiped out forever" and then cut out and eat Monroe's heart. But at the end, when Alice is preparing to leap off a cliff instead of going as Magua's captive, he tries to stop her. And it's not that I think it's odd that he had a change of heart, but that I think that's a very human response. It's different, when you're at war and filled with anger and murdering is almost normal, and afterwards, when the fighting is done and the resolution has been made and someone's about to die is very needless and tragic. Nobody wants that to happen. Magua: he's kind of a tragic character.

14 March 2012

14 March- "You lost your arms in battle! But you grew some nice boobs."

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
dir. Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, 1974)

Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, 1987)
Richard Lewis (Leaving las Vegas, 1995)
Roger Rees (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1999)
Amy Yasbeck (Pretty Woman, 1990)
Dave Chappelle (You've Got Mail, 1998)
Issac Hayes (Dr. Dolittle 2 (voice), 2001)
Megan Cavenagh (A League of their Own, 1992)
Eric Allan Kramer (True Romance, 1993)
Tracey Ullman (I Could Never be Your Woman, 2007)
Chuck McCann (Dracula: Dead and Loving It, 1995)
Brian George (Blind Date, 1987)
Herman Poppe (Pale Rider, 1985)
Patrick Stewart (Gnomeo & Juliet (voice), 2011)
Dom Deluise (The Muppet Movie, 1979)
Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein (voice), 1974)
Dick Van Patten (Spaceballs, 1987)
Clement von Franckenstein (Just Married, 2003)
Tyce Diorio (Epic Movie, 2007)

I watched this with the little brother last time I visited the fam'ly in Philly. He had never seen it before, can you believe it! There's a lot to enjoy about this delightful comedy, but don't forget that some of the chastity-belt-centric jokes may go over a 9-year old's head.

12 March 2012

12 March - "You are about to change someone's life forever"

Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010)
dir. Stuart Beattie

Caitlin Stasey
Rachel Hurd-Wood (Peter Pan, 2003)
Lincoln Lewis (Aquamarine, 2006)
Deniz Akdeniz
Phoebe Tonkin

Here's one of the first new, truly fun and enjoyable movies I've seen in a while. Think of it sort of like an Australian Red Dawn, although apparently it's based on a book which was like a bestseller or something. Anyway, a bunch of teenage archetypes: The Princess, the criminal, the jock... all go camping one weekend only to discover upon their return that their home town of Wirrawee has been occupied by enemy combatants! So obviously they go Wolverine-style vigilante and learn a lot about themselves and each other in the process.