Watch the whole thing HERE!
Posts Tagged ‘Suzanne Collins’
Richard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn,” the Seth Rogen Christmas comedy “The Night Before” and the Julia Roberts thriller “Secret in Their Eyes.”
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Sometimes you just know.
In my line of work, hype and celebrity are occupational hazards. Every day my inbox is stuffed with news releases touting the Next! Big! Thing! You get numb to it after a while, but every now and again someone will come along you know is destined for something big.
Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t a star the first time I met her but you could tell it would only be a matter of time until she was. It was 2010, years before she would win an Academy Award or be known internationally as Katniss Everdeen. She was a struggling newbie with just a handful of credits, but a great big buzz surrounding her performance in Winter’s Bone. Her steely but vulnerable take on an Ozark girl who will do anything to keep her family together was garnering good reviews and the usual phrases like “breakout performance” were being thrown around, but this time it felt different. Real.
I was asked to host a question-and-answer period with her after a screening of the film at a theatre in Toronto, but first we planned a quick dinner with a publicist at a nearby hotel. I’ve eaten with a lot actors who order a piece of steamed fish, no butter, no oil and then, rather than actually put it in their mouth, simply move it around the plate until the waiter takes it away.
Not Jennifer Lawrence. She ordered a steak dinner with sides and ate it all while showing us a cell phone snap of her costume for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo audition. As she chatted, laughed and enjoyed dinner, it was apparent what she wasn’t. She wasn’t precious or overwhelmed at being on the cusp of something big. She was doing something rare in this business — being herself and enjoying the ride. In other words the woman you now see photo-bombing Taylor Swift on red carpets or starring in this weekend’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the real deal, someone completely at ease with herself in a business that doesn’t usually allow for that.
Later, on the way to the theatre, she opted not to take the provided limo. Instead we walked down Bloor Street. It was on the chilly side, so she draped my suit jacket over her shoulders. Along the way her high heel caught in a crack in the pavement and snapped off. Rather than hobble down the street, she kicked off both shoes and walked barefoot the rest of the way, her broken designer shoes in hand.
At the theatre I don’t remember what we talked about on stage. When I think back on the night I reflect on the sweet spot she was in, career-wise. She was about to become one of the youngest Oscar nominees ever for best actress in a leading role and yet there wasn’t an ounce of pretension about her. Charisma? Yes. Talent? In spades.
I don’t claim to have some sort of celebrity ESP, but that night I knew in my gut I had met a star, a feeling reaffirmed when I saw her carry the Hunger Games movies on her back and become a leading voice in the fight for pay equality for women in Hollywood.
Want to see a superstar? Watch the last scene of the Joy trailer. Shot on an iPhone as test footage it’s a close-up of Lawrence’s face as she fires off two shotgun rounds. “My name’s Joy, by the way,” she says. It’s a simple image but a magnetic one. It’s a movie star moment from the rare actor who commands our attention every time she’s on screen. Sometimes you just know.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” the final part in Jennifer Lawrence’s quintet of blockbusters based on Suzanne Collins’s novels, begins seconds after the last movie ended. There’s no “previously on The Hunger Games.” It’s as if no time has passed since the last movie. It may leave newbies to the series a bit baffled but fans should appreciate getting right down to business.
The broad strokes of the story are easy to get even if you haven’t seen the other movies. Know that Katniss Everdeen is the Mockingjay, a symbol of hope in a country torn apart by Civil War. She’s also a butt-kicking warrior with a conscience. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her ex boyfriend-turned-propaganda-tool for the government, now suffers from PTSD but has re-joined the efforts to bring down the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Publicly Snow calls Everdeen, “A poor unstable girl with nothing more than a talent with a bow and arrow,” but really he understands her value as a symbol to the revolution against him. For her part she is done with making speeches and propaganda videos and sees her job as eliminating Snow. “He needs to look into my eyes when I do it,” she says.
She sets off to the Capitol to hunt down Snow and faces her greatest challenges yet.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” is a cut above other young adult action movies. It skilfully blends politically charged action with elements of horror—how about those pasty white subterranean creatures?—romance and, it must be said a dollop of mush. It’s dark and dangerous, unafraid to explore the gritty side of the story.
It’s strongest asset, however, is its star, Jennifer Lawrence. She brings the complex character alive, displaying equal parts heroism, vulnerability and determination. She is the glue that binds all the elements together and is, far and away, the most interesting YA heroine in recent years.
Julianne Moore, Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (who died before shooting was complete) round out the cast to create an interesting ensemble, but this is Lawrence’s movie.
“The Hunger Games” franchise has taken what is essentially a fancied up Civil War story and created a complete world, ripe with detail and intrigue. “Part 2” adds in a city that is basically a giant booby trap and some crazy creatures but stays true to the core of Everdeen’s story of survival.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” will satisfy fans and please newcomers to the franchise. The long coda that wraps up the franchise is probably only for hardcore fans hungry for details about Katniss and Peeta, but felt like padding to me. On the upside, there might be a great drinking game in here. Do a shot every time Katniss is knocked out and fights to regain consciousness and my guess is you’ll be just a shell-shocked as she is by the end of the movie.
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Watch the whole thing HERE!
“Everything old can be made new again,” says tribute escort Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) in “The Hunger Games: MockingJay – Part 1,” “even democracy.” So, apparently, is the “Harry Potter” model of cleaving the final book in a popular series into two moneymaking movies.
A better, catchier title for the third part of the Hunger Games tetralogy might be “You Say You Want a Revolution.” “MockingJay – Part 1” takes the action off the playing field and into the realm of rebellion.
With one arrow Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) changed the barbaric Hunger Games forever, opening the door to rebellion. In the surrounding turmoil, her love Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), was left behind in the Capitol and has become a pawn in the propaganda game being played by the totalitarian President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and District 13 rebel leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). The revolution to unify the districts against the capitol has begun with Katniss cast as the MockingJay, a reluctant hero but a symbol of hope to the oppressed masses.
“The Hunger Games: MockingJay – Part 1” ups the stakes considerably from the last film, putting several big ideas into motion. The cinematic world created in the first two movies is about to change in very dramatic ways and this movie prepares viewers for the revolution. Katniss looks suitably concerned throughout and there are several effectively staged action scenes, but despite the fine performances and lessons in mass produced anarchy, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a place holder for next year’s series finale.
Scenes stating the obvious—“He’s punishing me because I’m the MockingJay!” Katniss reveals in one, “Duh, yeah” scene—feel added in to stretch the movie to its two hour running time.
That’s not to say there isn’t entertainment value here. Far from it. Lawrence takes a role that could have been buried under layers of teen ennui or steely-eyed determination and gives Katniss some real depth and it is a blast to see Moore and Seymour-Hoffman back on screen together again. Sutherland is at his serpentine best and Harrelson and Banks struggle with their new surroundings in entertaining ways; he with sobriety, her with a lack of haute couture.
Most entertaining is the film’s take on the building of a social movement. Katniss is manufactured into the people’s hero. She’s given line readings and a fan to blow her hair around in sexy and stirring propaganda videos and dressed in stylish warrior gear. “Everyone is going to want to kiss you, be you or kill you,” coos Trinket. It’s a handbook to do-it-yourself social unrest and it is smart, funny and on the nose. In the end, however, it’s discovered that Katniss is more effective in her natural state, without meddling hands shaping her. One can’t help but think the same of the movie. Perhaps it might have been satisfying if it too had been left alone and presented in its natural state, as one movie instead of two.
Since the release of the first Hunger Games novel in 2008, literary sleuths have picked it apart, searching for connections to other books and films.
The scrutiny increased when the first film in the tetralogy set records for the biggest opening weekend for a non-sequel in 2012, and continues unabated with the release of this weekend’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.
Based on Suzanne Collins’s mega-successful series, the movies are set in a dystopian world ruled by a fascist-style president (Donald Sutherland) who presides over The Hunger Games, a televised battle-to-the-death between 24 young players, two from each of the country’s districts, including Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).
The series draws on things we’ve seen before, in everything from the human sacrifices of Greek mythology or Survivor-style television shows to news stories of government corruption to create a world with its own rules, style and customs.
The most often-cited influence is Battle Royale, a 2000 Japanese movie based on a book by Koushun Takami. Like The Hunger Games, it’s a story of school kids in a televised government-sanctioned death match.
Battle Royale’s DVD box set even included a quote from a critic suggesting there’d be no Hunger Games without the Japanese film. “This is the movie that started it all,” it reads.
Hunger fans were quick to point out differences in the two films. The Japanese movie is about survival, they said, while Collins wrote about revolution. The author revealed her main influences were reality television and the Iraq war.
“I had never heard of that book or that author until my book was turned in,” she told the New York Times.
It’s worth noting that the idea of humans being preyed upon for the entertainment of the upper classes dates back at least as far as 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game. The story of a big-game hunter who tracks humans for sport on an isolated island is based on a Richard Connell short story that also loosely inspired episodes of everything from Gilligan’s Island to Lost in Space. Since then, Norman Jewison’s Rollerball, Roger Corman’s Deathrace 2000 (and its 2008 Jason Statham remake) and The Running Man have mined similar territory.
As for the author who wrote Battle Royale, he gave ABC News a very diplomatic answer when asked about the similarities between the two stories. “I think every novel has something to offer,” he said. “If readers find value in either book, that’s all an author can ask for.”
“Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation,” Lionsgate, the studio behind the upcoming Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2, said in a written statement. “We’re very fortunate that he graced our Hunger Games family. Losing him in his prime is a tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Philip’s family.”
Hoffman played head -games-maker-turned-rebel leader Plutarch Heavensbee in the successful series. It is a pivotal role.
In the wake of the actor’s death, questions arose as to whether the uncompleted blockbusters-in-waiting would be completed in time for their scheduled November 21, 2014 for Part 1 and November 20, 2015 for Part 2 release dates.
Hollywood studios have handled the sudden death of cast members in many different ways. In some cases, films are even abandoned.
Production on Something’s Got to Give was shut down permanently after Marilyn Monroe’s August 1962 barbiturate overdose.
Dark Blood, River Phoenix’s final film, was put into cold storage when the young actor died before filming several crucial scenes. But both movies were eventually resurrected. The documentary Marilyn: The Final Days used footage from Monroe’s aborted film while Dark Blood sat for 19 years before being finished and shown at film festivals.
Father and son Bruce and Brandon Lee both died early, leaving behind unfinished films. The elder martial arts legend had completed 100 minutes of The Game of Death when a cerebral edema took his life.
Even more tragically, Brandon was killed on the set of The Crow in an accident involving a prop handgun.
Both films were salvaged with the use of stand-ins.
When Oliver Reed collapsed of a heart attack at a Malta pub after out-drinking a group of Royal Navy sailors, the editing crew of Gladiator replaced him digitally in the remaining scenes of the film.
More recently, Heath Ledger unexpectedly died during the production of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. He was replaced in the surreal story by three actors.
“I just started calling friends of Heath,” director Terry Gilliam said. “It’s as simple as that.”
“Johnny (Depp), Colin (Farrell) and Jude (Law) turned up. It was important that they were friends, because I wanted to keep it in the family. I wanted people who were close to him because, as Colin said when he was doing his part, he was channelling Heath part of the time, so Heath was very much still alive in some sense.
“Contractually, it was supposed to be a Terry Gilliam Film,” said Gilliam. “That’s what the lawyers said, but I said, ‘No way it’s going to be that. It’s going to be a film from Heath Ledger and friends.’ The cast sat around one night and that idea came up and I said, ‘This is it. Perfect. That’s how we do it.’”
As for the upcoming Hunger Games films, reports now confirm that Hoffman completed work on Part 1 and had just seven days left of shooting on Part 2.
His absence will not require any recasting, just a rewrite of one scene. And so Mockingjay Part 2 becomes the final film in Hoffman’s remarkable career.
“Words cannot convey the devastating loss we are all feeling right now. Philip was a wonderful person and an exceptional talent, and our hearts are breaking,” reads a statement released by The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, the films’ director Francis Lawrence, producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and star Jennifer Lawrence.