March 28, 2012

The Hunger Games

Preview: My friend Mary Beth and I are going to see The Hunger Games tonight, at a theater almost as scary as the Games. Read my separate post about the AMC Loews Harvard Square 5 to learn all about it. So it was with much reluctance that I just paid $11.50 to buy my ticket in advance for this location. There is no way to tell in advance on which screen your screening is showing.The good news: after I paid my money, provided my "print-it-yourself" ticket, and voila! Our screening is in Auditorium 1! Hooray!
Trailer Notes: There were at least 15 minutes of trailers. The highlights:
  • Breaking Dawn Pt 2: The excited audience murmuring after this teaser was very interesting. I could count the millions of dollars ready to be earned!
  • The Amazing Spider-Man: After three Spider-Man movies in a six-year span, audiences are suffering from web-slinging fatigue. I am all in favor of a reboot, but 2012 is way too soon. Speaking of superhero fatigue, we did NOT see The Avengers trailer, but I predict soft business for this superhero supergroup movie. I am a Joss Whedon supporter, but I suspect the interest is not there.
  • The Host: This teaser for the movie based on Stephenie Meyer's non-Twilight novel was generic and boring. Has anyone read this book?
  • What To Expect When You're Expecting: A soon-to-be-dad is indoctrinated into the ways of daddy-hood in 21st century America by a quartet of very funny actors: Chris Rock, Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon, and Ben Falcone. The movie also stars Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, but they're barely in the trailer.
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: The lengthy trailer looked overcooked and confusing. You barely see any bloodsuckers, and then the title card comes up. The audience broke into laughter and applause. Will this translate into $$? I don't know. I really didn't like director Timur Bekmambetov's Angelina Jolie thriller WANTED.
Movie Review: The Hunger Games was really good. Straight "A"! Director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) has made a humanistic, modestly directed movie with a deft touch. Too many directors show off too much, but Ross is subtle and smart. He doesn't leave fingerprints all over the movie.
Ross made smart choices to drop out the score and soundtrack at key points, especially when the imagery was overpowering on its own. The opening bloodbath at the cornucopia, and Rue's postmortem were both handled perfectly.
Jennifer Lawrence was terrific. Her acting was all inwards and quiet. There's something mysterious about her, like she's holding something back all the time. She has a sturdy build, which makes her tree-climbing and survival skills totally believable. Her face has a earthy, real quality- the pockmarks and freckles really sell Katniss' deprived, Appalachian upbringing.
The men playing Peeta and Gale were good. Lenny Kravitz was nice with his quiet warmth. I wish Stanley Tucci were a little less manic, and Donald Sutherland was a little too sleepy.

I didn't like the score very much- enough of the earthy vocal score oooOOOOooEEEEEooooo...!
One directing choice which I dislike is letting television play-by-play announcers hold the audience's hand by explaining key plot points. Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith (Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones) were inserted into the plot, talking directly to us, whenever something slightly complex happened. For most of the movie, Ross expertly played "show don't tell", so these examples stood out. The most egregious example of this phenomenon is Robert Zemeckis' Contact, where the CNN anchor team had as much screen time as Jodie Foster.

A-Hole In The Audience: The bad news is, the guy sitting in front of us checked his iPhone FIVE TIMES during the movie. The fifth time I leaned over and said "c'mon man, shut off your phone" to which he kindly replied "go fuck yourself." At this point my adrenaline had begun pounding, so I only managed to retort "you, fuck you!" Watch out Dorothy Parker! I felt slightly better when the lights came up and I saw he was:

  • Five inches shorter than me
  • balding
  • with his girlfriend
  • and, he deliberately exited his row in the opposite direction (the long way) to avoid passing me! Yay! I'm scary enough!
I spent the entire walk to my car crafting a cutting retort. The trick is to make it short but descriptive and impervious to reply. Also, I try to use a variety of swear words for color. I came up with
"Hey asshole, if you're so goddamned bored, get the fuck out."
Boy, that woulda showed him!