Thursday, 30 May 2013
Wesley (James McAvoy) voices over weeks before, when he was put down, abused, in personal and professional life. Boy meets astonishing woman and colleagues who knew his father. Inherited physical and mental abilities elevate him to elite rare talent. She stays as a mentor, not a lover, and true to her values, still surprising at the end.
Wesley has hair-trigger reflexes and aiming skill to be an assassin, trained by Fox (Angelina Jolie) and the Fraternity led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman). His dad Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) shows briefly. Too bad the Olympic swimmer who crossed four borders with only $100 and lost part of a finger (surgically re-attached) hasn't done more.
Preview. Full of suspense. We are as confused as the handsome brave clever resourceful persistent hero, learning slowly along with him. We suspend belief that Christina, already sweet on Sean, in eight fast minutes falls for "the new me", Captain Wonderful inside. I was sure he died in Afghanistan two months before, so the ending was a BIG surprise. Bad and good. I have DVD now and will watch and post more mañana.
Captain Stevens wakes across from Christina in the morning commuter train to Chicago, inside the body of teacher Sean, but an explosion blows the train up in eight minutes. He wakes again in a dingy dim icy cockpit leaking oil, to Captain Goodwin on a tiny screen, ordering him to keep "on the mission". He must find the bomber, set to detonate a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago within 6 hours. Dr Rutledge's "Source Code" experiment allows Stevens to possess a compatible body, Sean, for only the same eight minutes before death. He must return and die over and over. Rutledge insists reality cannot be changed, and promises to release him at the end of this mission.
Stevens follows Derek Frost (Michael Arden), who got off at the last stop, and left his wallet behind to fake death. Frost shoots Stevens and Christina dead in the parking lot, but Stevens wakes to tell Goodwin the license plate of his rented white van and road direction. Rutledge breaks his promise, and orders Goodwin to wipe Stevens' memory for a future mission.
"Tell me, one soldier to another .. am I dead?" Stevens asks for one more chance, to save everyone, and does. Goodwin relents, and lifts the cover to show the top half of Stevens' mutilated body with life support and neural connections, to release him at the last minute. Asking Christina "what would you do if you only had one minute to live?", Stevens meanwhile starts to kiss ... and finishes.
They have changed history. Stevens in his new body of Sean, walks around downtown with Christina, both taking the day off, and texts Goodwin to tell his old self "everything will be okay". After he foiled Frost, the time set in the alternate line.
Denzel Washington has the kind of deep voice that rumbles my insides, even if his beard has grey sprinkles. But ouch, can he twist a neck. How is that cinematic trick effected? Y-ouch. Brain bullet for Alec Wade MI6 (Liam Cunningham - TV Outcasts President Tate, award for 7' short Pitch Black Heist) and car crash in Cape Town, South Africa. I like how, as Tobin Frost, he looks back at his pursuers, led by bearded Vargas (Fares Fares). I hope he's marked them for trouble, but maybe the attention is for our benefit, to put a face on evil.
Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard ) supervises David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), Weston's mentor, Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga xx ), and the team at CIA USA Langley HQ. Throughout, Frost is referred to as a "legend", yet here he is said to be a rogue seller of intel. Wanted for espionage on four continents, Frost has been off the grid ten years, and now walks into an American consulate. Of course he gets taken to Matt's safe house.
Matt flees with Frost after Vargas leads an attack. Vargas receives message "No file, no payment." Film location choice becomes clear, when chase follows through Futbol (soccer) World Cup Game, instantly recognizable by those nasty annoying horns, city streets and freeways. Frost warns Weston their job secrets will force the junior agent to leave his girl Ana (Nora Arnezeder), Weston retorts "I'm not you", and predicts head office response word for word "You've done a fine job son, we'll take it from here" as "you're screwed".
Aside: Vera Farmiga says "We women have the shelf life of seafood, and ... guys have the shelf life of Twinkies. When the work presents itself, you have got to take it,"
Carlos Villar (Ruben Blades)), a Nicaraguan forger in the Langa Township suburb, welcomes Frost as an old friend. "People don't change. We grow old. And some of us adapt and learn to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. .. You've got more past than future, you learn." Vargas team shows before Weston, takes out Villar and wife, so we know CIA has mole, fed intel. More guns blaze, motor and foot chases. Matt beats on opponent "Who is Vargas?", for answer "CIA".
Frost has advice. "Don't kill innocent people." "Everyone betrays everyone." Weston realizes they are on the same side, but still promises "I'll take you in." "Good for you." Two shots on a quiet country road, and we see the CIA traitor. Flys buzz. Next fight, at a rural safe house, glass smashes, groans, grunts, screams, ouch, can't look.
Barlow rouses the bleeding Weston. When Barlow blames deaths on Frost, Weston knows Barlow is guilty, and does not accept Barlow's justification "You would do what you had to do". Suddenly, Barlow's bullet takes Frost down. "Be better than me. You promise me." He passes the file on corrupt agents to Weston, and takes a long time to die. Youch.
Weston goes from fatally injured to walking -- unreal. Whitford promises the recuperated Weston promotion, but notes problems in Weston's report. "Parts of this are going to have to be altered for national security .. People don't want the truth .. messy .. keeps 'em up nights." Something is missing - the file that would give the holder "enemies in every intelligence agency in the world."
Nice echo when Weston says "I'll take it from here, sir." TV broadcasts then show the file was leaked, taking down high officials worldwide, including Whitford. At a Paris cafe (They really did film in Paris, lucky ducks), Weston watches Ana. She sees him, smiles, but he ducks away, proving Frost right again. ----------
Quotes from bigwigs and cast alternate with film in front and behind scenes, and script page paragraphs
1 Making Daniel Espinoza, first-time Hollywood director - looking for "archetypical journey", old warrior knows world is corrupt, young romantic gunslinger David Guggenheim, screenwriter - wanted film start at safe house, pair green idealist housekeeper and veteran cynic, Hollywood "Black List" are best unproduced screenplays of year Ryan Reynolds - all about bond, action film deeply rooted in character rewarding Denzel Washington - innocence and idealism, preps six months, always in character on set, really did waterboard torture scene Scott Stuber, producer "Can this kid go all the way through this, become a man, and keep who he is as a human being?" "The quality of actors that we have, you will feel what these people are feeling." Yup. Vera Farmiga "The world can't be reduced to good guys and bad guys"
2 Hand-to-hand action see padding, slow movements choreograped, rehearsed before set, brutal Schneider coordinator - add emotion, everything could be dangerous, anticipate, each fight tells a story - not just a fight Ryan - raw, primal, forced Fares - one fight 3 months, "hurts a lot", bruised ribs, strained muscles, rural housekeeper Keller (Joel Kinnaman) - nitty gritty, fight for survival
3 Rooftop Chase built own labyrinth, football field, in front of real Township to see reality in background, reinforced roofs, except two supposed to fall production designer, stunt coordinator, tactical advisor
4 Inside CIA Farmiga: Who doesn't dream of being a spy? advisor Luis Falcon was real safe housekeeper 40 years undercover, retired replicated detail of real hospital real one only in operation one year max Ryan - he taught me how to lie
Previews Big Miracle, American Reunion, Suits DVD, Transformers: The Ride at amusement Parks
In white stretch limo, MIB-look cocky rich Eric (Robert Pattinson) chats "life meaning" with company co-founder "Shiner" (Jay Baruchel - Sorcerer's Apprentice; voice Hiccup - How to Train your Dragon).
He meets blonde Elise (Sarah Gadon - Ruby Ogden, Murdoch Mysteries) in taxi, and stops for coffee. "I looked for you this morning". "You never told me you were blue-eyed." "When are we going to have sex again?" "Soon, I promise." "You have your mother's breasts. Great stand-up t-ts". That is where I quit watching. (Spoiler from Wiki: She's his wife.) Boring.
His ear-piece underling warns "the threats are credible": someone wants to shoot him, and the American president. Another insider car-pal continues same style of conversation as Shiner. So far, Paul Giamatti films suck. Waste here. Watch instead How to Train your Dragon, Murdoch Mysteries, new Avengers ...
Captions: English Français Commentary: with David Cronenberg
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Based on Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but funnier I think. Preview Mañana will condense plot and Commentary, separate spoilers, revise, finish review. For now, first part of second draft ...
Tars voices over zoom on fantabuloustic effects. Red planet Mars is really Barsoom, whose dying is caused by "Zondanga, the predator city". "Moving, draining", resisted only by city of Helium, matching airship for airship, holding fast for a thousand years, until one day, the ruler of Zodanga became cornered in a sandstorm, and everything changed". (Aside: Plunge right into tricksy spellings, thankfully old-fashioned poetic pronounceable style, not 21st century hyphenated apostrophed oddness.)
Huge crimson tinted fire and sword battle, broken by bald floating elders, led by Thekkador aka Matai Shang (Mark Strong), "from the Goddess", who brings a glowing metallic-net arm gauntlet to Sab Than (Dominic West), that he might rule. The real Utah landscape is a character itself - harsh, beautiful, unforgiving.
In Victorian London, "Ned" Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) arrives at his uncle Carter's mansion, and is given his entire fortune, in trust, and private journal, where he may find answers to Carter's sudden death, though the "model of health and vigor", his refusal of embalming or cremation, mausoleum opening only on inside.
"This wild tale begins 13 years ago in the Arizona territories .. the backside of Hell", where Colonel Powell (Bryan Cranston) tries to enlist Confederate Carter, with increasing violence, to tame native Apaches. "I have already paid .. in full, sir." Carter escapes imprisonment in the bull pit, pursued by the Cavalry, who shoot first on meeting "Domingo's band". Carter rescues Powell, and finds a red stone cave, filled with gold, identified by a strange huge "spider" marking (symbol never explained).
An Elder (called a Tharn) appears, attacks. Dying, he hands Carter a glowing medallion, saying "Barsoom". Carter repeats 'Barsoom", is instantly transported to another stony desert landscape. After a comical interlude of trips and falls, he finally adapts to soaring leaps in the lighter gravity. Beneath a window marked with the "spider", eggs hatch green aliens, and a 9' very tall and thin four-armed tusked adult warrior team capture Carter. Leader (Jeddak) Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) introduces himself, teaches him "Sark" means "jump", and mistakes "Virginia" for Carter's name. From the beginning, all aliens are believable, phenomenal; Tharks are actors on stilts.
Meanwhile, exquisitely model-lovely, richly garbed Princess Dejah (Lynn Collins - this exotic beauty is pale-skinned for real), cannot make new weapon work. The blue glowing light beam fails in front of despairing military commander (Jeddak) Tardos Mors (Ciarán Hinds). . She must accept order of marriage from conquering Sab Than. (I've lost it - cannot keep straight Tars, Tarkas, Sark, Thark, Than ...)
Back in the Thark camp, Carter cleans up fine -- a chance to strip him and show off his yummy physique. Nursemaid Sola (Samantha Morton) feeds him strange liquid that causes instant language translation, gets branded by hot iron for the crime. "There is no room for another mark .. Your next offense will be your last" warns Tars. Moola, a monstrous lump with fearsome gaping toothy maw, yawns and falls asleep, follows savior Carter everywhere.
Since I can pause a DVD, replay small moments, I might watch a #3 more attentively, stop to wonder, predict possibilities for out-of-place points. I don't have the patience to backtrack over #2. To me, #1 plot was scattered overmuch supernatural fluffery. #2 is grounded, real, in money and WW2 politics, a complex spider-web that does make sense all through, plus details tie up at the end.
Kaboom in Strasbourg. Mysterious package passes to Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in Chinatown. Doyle used Adler; here differs. My pleasure to see her again, strong skilled smart stunning, stoked anticipation [Spoiler .. turned to shock, disbelief she could be dead until confirmed by Moriarty Sim plays too small a role, not an irreplaceable presence]. In #1, she was a vivid red bright blaze.
Holmes, in oriental disguise, abstracts her parcel, but (why?) hangs around to make a date, and lose the parcel again. "Will you be coming as yourself?". He warns of pursuers, she corrects him, her "escorts". First fight has same slow-motion voiced-over prediction pre-play as #1.
At an auction, she trades the box for a letter, to an elderly Doctor. Just in time, Holmes contains the box bomb safely inside a sarcophagus. He takes her letter, recognizes a bystander, and finds the Doctor shot dead with a dart, later attributed to a heart attack. Remember his specialty is medical innovations.
Over tea at a public restaurant, she blames the letter loss on her boss's bomb. I suspect her tea is drugged, it is. He tings his glass, the floor empties, her venue now private. "I no longer require your services." plus ominous music equals stumbles, smashed dishes, At the Savoy, Sherlock gives up waiting for her. I could not believe she would be gone, Doyle had more.
Watson arrives at 22 Baker St for Holmes, to start his stag party. His old room is bedecked with newspaper articles, joined by strings, to Moriarty at the center. Every murder connects to a purpose by the master planner. Holmes insults his best friend's "heinous striped scarf, clearly one of your fiancée's earlier efforts." Watson is to wed Mary (Kelly Reilly) tomorrow. This is their "last adventure."
I'd forgotten the humor and banter. "How many times will you kill my dog?" Gladstone has little pulse until Holmes administers an adrenaline shot, and hands another needlefull "for a wedding present" to Watson. Remember this. Landlady and housekeeper Mrs Hudson (Geraldine James) does not want to feed the snake or worm the goat. Forget that.
Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) joins them. To avert a global crisis, his next stop will be Reichenbach Falls, like Doyle. He calls his sibling "Sherly." Holmes forgot to organize the stag party, to invite any of Watson's friends.
Holmes delivers the stolen letter to its designated recipient, fortune teller Sim (Noomi Rapace). The farewell from her brother Rene (Laurence Possa) is the price he must pay "to change the course of history." An acrobatic Cossack waits to kill them both, but Holmes prefers living informants. Fight, chase through club, more fights. Holmes tosses Mary from a her train honeymoon to Mycroft in the river below, for her safety. Terrific fight against troops explodes train cars.
Only Colonel Moran (Paul Anderson), from Watson's Afghanistan regiment, could have taken a tricky fatal shot, such that Moriarty could buy the victim's gun factory. To detour closed borders between France and Germany, Sim supplies gypsy disguises, and escorts them through woods (slightly more green color). But Holmes refuses to ride a horse "dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle. Why would I want anything with a mind of its own bobbing about between my legs?"
At the gun factory, Moriarty traps and tortures Holmes, but Watson shoots a tower down to fall on them. Sim leads them through the forest in a preview, bullets smash all round. "Let's introduce them to Little Hansel. The photography freezes them amid the explosion. German shouts make everything worse. Their ranks dwindle. "He's not breathing." Watson is a doctor.
At the upcoming Peace Conference, Moriarty sends Rene to shoot one of the ambassadors, probably standing still for their group photograph in half an hour. "If we can find him and stop him, we will perhaps not only save his life, but prevent the collapse of Western civilization. No pressure." Mountains, castle, ballroom. Time for a dance. Bruised, scratched, he looks real.
I didn't see "twins" before, do I have to watch all over again? Holmes observed that one did not go to the aid of the other. Puckered scars indicate surgical experiments, by the Doctor from the auction. Despite operations to make Rene resemble one of the six ambassadors, Watson and Sim must identify her brother. Moran slips away while Rene dies from a curare dart.
When we see waterfalls below Holmes and Moriarty's chess game, one result is inevitable. Holmes stole the red notebook with the record of Moriarty's empire, so Mary in London could translate Moriarty's code and engineer the theft of all the villain's money. In the name of oblivious Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), the entire amount would be donated to a Widow's and Orphan's Fund. Of course, Watson reaches the balcony in time for Holmes to give a last glance before he falls.
Some time later, after Watson types "The End" on his manuscript, he unwraps a box containing Mycroft's oxygen tube, When he rushes out to ask Mary who delivered the package, Holmes emerges from hiding and adds "?" after "The End?" The end credits transform film shots into black and white book drawings, so dancers swirling on checkered ballroom tiles look like a chess board in action.
1 Sherlock & Watson chemistry Actors feel as well partnered as their roles, best pals. Set in #1 film, so easier, deeper now. Rehearsals at Robert's house before shooting increased their interpersonal comfort level.
2 Moriarty master plan Genius. As in Doyle, academic. unlikely villlain. Cast little known actor. Parodied by Mkike Myers' Dr Evil. No monologues about plan. equals Holmes. Chess metaphor. Both stimulated, need each other. Chess advisor, technical advisor. Sacrifice queen for checkmate. 1966 Bent Larson game. Set in 1890, when players did commonly move pieces in head, without board. Perhaps Doyle did not have chess in books because he did not play himself.
3 Holmsavision on steroids Like #1, we see slow-motion rehearsal in Holmes' head, of fight moves, marries brain with body. Unique. We see foils, failures, counters. Moriarty, dark, matches moves, has "fight vision" too. No stunt guys, really make contact. More than #1.
To put the fate of his family in the hands of a ten-year old Bean (human being) goes against everything Pod was taught and believes, but he has no other choice. The Clock children fall off the moving truck, and get left behind. "They're pretty smart. They're going to be all right. But if anything does happen, there's going to be big trouble."
"Amused, amazed, and moved" always by MIB 1997, 2002, and now 2012. Effects of aliens, humanity of humans - "I just can't get enough". Great homage in Doctor Who spin-off grown-older companion Sarah Jane (actor Elisabeth Sladen d.2011) S4-3 Vault of Secrets.
Starts with high heels, tight black leather dress low cut short, tall boots. Lily (Nicole Sherzinger) pen-pal brings birthday cake to one-armed Boris the Animal (New Zealand's Jemaine Clement) "just Boris", gruesome alien with British accent whose hand and body projects deadly darts and keeps nasty hand-size smart scorpionish beastie inside, where else?, his hand. All body parts open like maws of claws. Of course he escapes from lunar prison to "rewrite history". His "small step" is a soaring leap.
Cut to New York, where Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) introduces Agent J (Will Smith) to neuralyze crowd into forgetting. J still invents unusual yet practical tidbits for his neuralyzed victims to remember, ex. tell kids the truth. New chief O (Emma Thompson - she is brilliant comedian) gives eulogy for Zed in squealy language. The whole bit shows K flat, cold, serious, monotone, no twinge of expression, intensely fierce only when interrogating, almost a smile when he mentions his Last Meal. No sense of humor for the 14 years of their partnership, "surly".
After wrassling giant 12' carp, squirting mustard up its nostrils for one piscine sneeze, J has to save young K (Josh Brolin - this better than Gangster Squad), convince him to kill Boris rather than imprison him 40 years ago, and put the protective Arc-Net around Earth on 16 July 1969, to exterminate the cannibal Boglodite race before they can destroy Earth. Space guns, explosions, chases, aliens, handsome hunks. Even young O (Alice Eve) hints at romance with K. Cool high-tech monocycle rotate giant wheel around driver. What could be better?
Romantic triangle, Lulu and weapons, Granma and gunPreview. Based on the first of Janet Evanovich's screamingly silly series, Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl brunette), fired, broke, hires on as New Jersey bounty hunter to cousin Vinnie (Patrick Fischer), helped by secretary Connie (Ana Reeder). Steph voices over the intro, and throughout. Her first assignment, for the largest profit, $50K, tracks her high-school crush Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara) with help of always black-clad professional "Ranger" Ricardo Manoso (Daniel Sunjata). "I'm busy." "I'm naked." Good lines.
Plum's low cut shirt, at the start and throughout, shows more cleavage than 'fluffy klutz' I envisioned. I also forgot divorce. I also thought Ranger would be better looking. He does teach her guns, call her "babe", and keep her supplied with vehicles after hers blow up (running gag in book series). I like that she took a big gun over small. Joe does call her "cupcake", looks tough and cuddly, although bright baby blues, not smoldering dark Italian.
Tracking missing prostitute Carmen via her boyfriend Benito (Gavin Keith Umeh), whore on the corner, buxom Lula (Sherri Shepherd), sends Steph to local gym, and Benito's manager, Jimmy Alpha (John Leguizamo - Ice Age Sid, Executive Decision, To Wong Foo ..). When Benito attacks, Joe saves her. Benito has made three rape victims disappear before they could press charges.
Family dinners provide comic relief, with dad (Joe Mustillo), and Grandma Mazur (Debbie Reynolds). Match-making mom (Debra Monk) invites Bernie (Adam Paul). Bernie knew victim Ziggy "played the numbers" across the road at Sal (David Flick? xx) the butcher's.
Ranger picks Joe's lock to let in Steph. "Someone always has to have the other one's back. Always." She finds no evidence, but lifts his Explorer van keys. Now I remember, all her cars explode. For fast cash, she takes on Mr Earling (Harry O'Toole), flasher in her building "fresh air is good for the boys". Joe, pulling up behind her, is not amused. Next FTA (Fail To Appear), Lonnie (Michael Laurence), steals her gun, shoots Ranger, who always wears Kevlar. Ranger calls her from Cho (Leonardo Nam)'s; her witness is dead.
In the book, Lula was sadistically attacked in X-rated places. Steph warns cop cousin Eddie Gazarra (Nate Mooney) that Carmen's neighbor Rosa (Olga Merdiz) is next. I wondered how they would handle the situation. Here, Steph finds her beaten on the street corner. At least she goes for more target practice. In her apartment, Joe is waiting, needs help, makes her dinner. "I'm bigger, stronger, and a lot meaner." "I'm in it for the cash." I never understood the title before the movie, "I'm in it only For The Money." Glass window to her bedroom, he doesn't peek, but we do.
Next morning, he gets her to doff her top to tape a wire. Morty Beyer knocks, wants his file for Joe back, lifts her keys. "God is going to get you for this." I forgot the Explorer exploded. Eddie, called to the scene, gets called to Rosa's building, also torched by a Molotov cocktail, but Eddie did listen and move Rosa earlier.
While buying a new shower curtain from Bernie, she sees Flat-Nose deliver to Sal's and pick up barrels. I remember these barrels. Hoping Joe is listening in, she tails the truck to quiet waterfront docks, in dim twilight. She sees a razor on a boat shelf. What's a "drop-boat"? Joe smells heroin. Fireworks? Bodies, I remember. "Don't puke. You'll wreck the crime scene."
She yells her head off. How stupid is that, within listening distance of the baddies, then stands around saying "Crap". She should've taken self-defense training same time as guns. Idiot. Then she leads Jimmy to Joe. No wonder he calls her "Bo-peep". Target practice paid off, just a butt bullet. Did she not listen when he said cops are in danger in jail.
Lulu now works for Vinnie. They're on a second name basis, but he brings her a cupcake. She opens the door with a giggle. All is forgiven.
1 Making of / Behind the scenes Evanovich, producer, director, actors, co-writer Liz Brixius used abridged version on iTunes. Sheesh. clips, pages, interview lines. Great books, great movie.
2 Bond girls real female bounty hunters, two sets of sisters (one owners, others agents), "Lipstick" in pink outfits, truck, even weapons. 2 ex-LAPD cops= point taser + handcuffs, 3rd=pepper spray or decoy. $10-50K (costs 10% = 1-5K) x 100/ month have 10 FTA film used real terms "recon" for reconnaissance real footage best graveyard shirt 6 pm - 4 am = surprise
3 Gag reel sweet muffed lines
4 Deleted Scene long kiss in silver sportscar "Cannolis are my specialty." Yes, attraction better understated.
Subtitles: English, Spanish ; Audio: English, French
Evelyn (Judi Dench- As Time Goes By), focus, narrates Day 1 to 51 for her blog, new widow whose husband left debts. Doug (Bill Nighy) optimist who lost all investments of wife Jean (Penelope Wilton). Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith -Downton Abbey) needs out-sourced hip operation, bitter racist because employers, family she devoted her life to, tossed her aside after she trained young replacement. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) judge lived in India for first 18 years, returns to find male lover. Norman (Ronald Pickup), lonely, hopefully reads Kama Sutra. Madge (Celia Imrie), outgoing, looks for yet another (rich) husband, introduces Norman to local resident Englishwoman.
The mantra of young hotel manager Sonny (Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire) is "Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright it is not yet the end." Sonny will refund everything right away in three months. His modern girl-friend Sunaina (sultry Tena Desae) works in the call center run by her elder brother Jay (Sid Makkar), who hires Ev to teach British culture.
Color, noise, confusion, castles, mountains. I'm glad that bad smells are left to imagination. One-liners, quips may be from book, also called These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach.
Ev: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected. Muriel: Most things don't. Ev: Sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.
Jean: When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you.
Ev, regarding overcoming stage fright by imagining audience naked: I think I'm a bit past all that..." Doug, after not fixing phone: Do you have anything else I can NOT fix? Muriel, about waiting six months for hip operation: At my age, I don't plan anything that far ahead. I don't even buy green bananas!
Ev, after narrating throughout, sums up the final day 51: The only real failure is the failure to try. The measure of success is how we cope with disappointment, as we always must. We get up in the morning, we do our best. All we know about the future is that it will be different.
EXTRAS1 Behind the Story - few lines from each actor over scenes of India 2 Casting legends - at peak of skills & experience 3 Previews: ads blu-ray, Margaret, The Descendants (George Clooney)
Action comes alive from books, but there, heroine is small and scrawny, totally unlike here Jennifer Lawrence - rosy fat cheeks, plumply nourished - indeed entire cast. Effie's costumes from the outrageous Capitol, contrast with the national park beauty, and harsh fight for survival. Preview. Catching Fire sequel quotes: "Every revolution begins with a spark." "Her entire species must be eradicated .. the other victors .."
Heart stopping suspense - choir, countdown, silences. Despite fore-knowledge from books, I'd forgotten enough, too much. Romance is low-key, yet love rules.
Quibbles: In the books, I disliked her final choice of husband, but forget who and why. In the middle of being hunted, Kat pauses in the middle of the forest, more than once. Why doesn't she get caught?
I accept violence more in films than books, will watch sequel, but casting of lead role grates. In Extras, cast and bigwigs go on and on how perfect Jennifer is for the part, but I strongly disagree. My book review xx starts with how small and scrawny she is, even at 16. Jen is plump rosy-cheeked, well-filled, always too clean. She is not "subtle, nuanced", Liam Hemsworth (home friend Gale) is. She's harsh fierce, screaming.
One heart-felt gaze rivets the room of controllers. Despite hand and knife violence, not X-rated. First (look like cougar-cat saber-tooth-type, but tail-less dogs) beast (unrealistic) attack is light in sky memorial, second is screams beneath a pile, until the eye-shot we know Kat can execute.
Settings contrast, from poverty, through extravagance, to woodlands. I remembered more variation in the Arena, could be from sequels. The North Carolina natural landscape is phenomenal, a character itself. Costuming of theatrical funny ridiculous outrageous Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), modelled after 40s movies, is another. This is another of those films I can watch without sound. Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) conveys tragedy beneath clowning, straggly straight hair in his face whether drunk or sober. Kravitz is a soft supportive Cinna.
The heroine, uncomfortable with pressure for sponsors to like her, is easy to identify with. On the first night out, a light show of the fallen remind us of the combination entertainment and danger, "13 gone in the first 8 hours". Sound and camera manipulation recreate her states of hallucinations and concussion deafness.
In coal-mining District 12, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence - unrecognizable as Xmen First Class Mystique) hunts with a bow for her family in the forbidden fenced-off forest, a capable volunteer, at the Reaping selection, in place of her beloved younger sister, pig-tailed Primrose (Willow Shields), as Tribute for the gladiator-style 74th annual Hunger Games. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), son of the local baker, has always had a secret crush on her, and holding her hand up during the chariot Parade impresses sponsors almost as much as the flaming costumes designed by supportive stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz).
The 16-year old pair convince drunken mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson - also unrecognizable from comedies before), a previous winner, to sober up and help. Their team toast "the Girl on Fire". Knowing what happens, from the books, is easy to guess anyway, such as the eventual fate of tiny contestant Prue (Amandla Stenberg). District 2 trains professionals that usually win, and Cato (Alexander Ludwig) almost does. The survival skills instructor warns more will die from natural causes than each other.
Memorable for his bushy white facial hair, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) asks sleekly black-haired Seneca (Wes Bentley) "Why do we have a winner? .. execute them all at once .. faster .. Hope .. is the only thing stronger than fear .. A spark is fine .. contain it."
The central Capitol City is a frivolous tinsel town of awesome opulence, opposite to starving rural districts. When Peeta admits his crush during an interview, Haymitch reminds her that their fight to the death is just "a television show .. I can sell the star-crossed lovers". Unable to sleep before the Game, Peeta confesses his fears to Kat, that they will "change me .. turn me into something I'm not". He wants to show them "they don't own me .. I want to still be me".
In the Arena Cornucopia, Haymitch warns Kat to go for high ground and water, not be fooled into going for a bow or supplies into a "bloodbath" between contestants. Cinna pins on her the Mockingjay brooch she and sister Prim exchanged as a symbol of security. A huge white room of white-garbed controllers, guided by Seneca in red and black, observe through cameras hidden in tree trunks, and chase Kat from the Arena outer edge with fire bombs into the arms of the combined group of pro killers, who want Peeta to track Kat, their strongest opponent.
The action centers on the Arena; we forget the hidden cameras. Peeta asks "You would do if for me, wouldn't you?" I know she lies "I'll stay". Small details - brooch, berries - foretell later crucial acts.
Haymitch plays a pivotal role. I remember he convinces sponsors to send crucial supplies, a healing salve when Seneca orders her wounding. He forestalls Seneca. "Don't kill her. You'll just create a martyr. .. you know how to handle them. If you can't scare them, give them something to root for." (echoes Snow's lesson about hope. Snow does NOT like underdogs.) "Young love."
-----------Spoilers The first night, Kat experiences both relief, Peeta lives, and betrayal, a pro team have co-opted his help to find her. Treed, Peeta convinces the others to sleep, wait her out, and Prue points out a lethal wasp nest. Stung herself, she hallucinates, including her father's death in a mine explosion, and mother's depressive catatonic stupor. Unnecessary. She sleeps for two days, while Prue changes leafy compresses. Prue points out the competitors' supply pile, detours around their traps, and teaches her the mockingjay call for a signal. Ready for the tear jerker scene, I'd forgoten the ensuing riots in Prue's home grain-growing district, seemingly triggered by Prue's father, after he and co-workers echo Kat's three-finger salute, respect, farewell, traditional funeral gesture. http://citizensofpanem.com/books/hunger-games-dictionary/
The rules are changed to allow two victors from the same district. I"m glad I forgot. I was unsure if Seneca suicides with the poison berries presumably left by Snow after his warning "I like you. . Be careful". Because he is executed for the mistake in the book, his death is likely. http://thehungergames.wikia.com/wiki/Seneca_Crane
Peeta decorated cakes? Poor miners could afford fancy cakes? His cake-decorating skill disguises his face into fallen stones. Kat has the salve to heal his sword wound, and hides him. "We'll figure something out." I like the note signed "H.": "You call that a kiss?".
1 Phenomenon interview clips with publisher bigwigs, book pages I The Idea I was right on my first book reviews http xx according to David Levithan, Scholastic publiaher, one of her three editors. Author Collins, looking for older audience than previous Gregor (The Overlander #1), started when flipping channels, hitting war war war, on TV. Drew McWeeny, senior reviewer, hitflix.com also on my side, classifies her work as "speculative fiction" rather than YA, that I shelve under "fantasy". Authors fantasize, speculate, and reward readers. Pauline Hughes thehob.org agrees the work is for "anyone of any age".
II A Reaction - Why Marlborough School (girls Gr7-12) interviewed is never explained. They assigned the book over summer for students and teachers, from 10 group choices. - not escapism, rather analogy of our world exaggerated - addresses issues, themes war, power, hunger - relates to choices in real life
2 Making Interview clips with bigwigs of crew (directors, publisher) & actors, film, behind-scenes, script pages
1 Countdown - Despite emphasizing author Collins, she never speaks, says she agreed with Seneca going from 3 lines to major character, cuts to Control Center - Long lens hand-held for personal rough feel, "voice", plan
2 Casting - Intimate character stories rather than scifi or action film - My opposition to praise for perfect Jennifer so strong I moved arguments to top of review
3 Design - Detailed plan of every shot month before in-field confusion on-set -Effie has different wig, eyebrows, eye cheek lip colors, for each outfit needed to ground, make real, Capitol & Effie against drab District 12 so we feel afraid, not amused & distracted. -Caesar (Stanley Tucci) has blue hair, fake white teeth, tanned, taped back his skin to look like plastic surgery. I hadn't even noticed, he had looked perfect. -Seneca (Wes Bentley) was "Game Keeper", ok, his precisely curved facial hair is artistry, masterpiece. -Director modelled Capitol after Tibet, communist Russia, World's Fair 30s retro, Chrysler/ Ford titans, "brutalism" (real) form of architecture, not futuristic, scifi. Soaring evokes joy, wide spaces are power.
4 Arena realistic violence on PG rating tough. They did it. Not choreographed feel. Train actors 2 months so not hurt anyone, few doubles unless falls or tricks. Josh (Peeta) had to put on 15 pounds of muscle. All Tribute actors loved training, they say. - Designed new weapons of real metal, rubber for no damage. Built paths, wrapped ankles, safety people, for days of Kat running full speed. I heard of Parcour before, when reviewed Prince of Persia dvd http xx . Within 20' of real fire. Rehearsed knots & branches in place from 3 trees on set.
5 Panem = Dupont State Forest N Carolina, sense of Appalachia for extras, sleeps in lots of trees, needed hardwood E coast, not coniferous, financial pressure under $80M, Henry River= District 12. First scene is flashback to Peeta throwing bread to Peeta in rain (really sunny). Old company mill town housing complex from 20s, moved out in 40s, disrepair. Reaping shot in 110 F, Shelby N Carolina. No need to pretend hot, sweaty, out of breath. Actors autographed for extras in thanks. Ashville NC was nearby city in mountains, untouched woods, cascading falls. Lake is city water supply so cannot swim. Real snakes, bears. Gloves, boots, every day against poison ivy. Young actors so homesick on location, bonding intense 5 month, same age. Instant camaraderie unique.
6 Effects - Integrate. Plan green and blue screens ahead, built models, paint matte art, Feel like 1930s Third Reich Germany plus futuristic. -Flames during Parade were supposed to look like angel wings, but I didn't see that, just flowed behind. I'd envisioned larger, more shocking display. Fake wasps tricky.
7 Post - Editors on set cut as went along. Added odds board, betting booths, toddlers imitating stabbing, to make pre-game training sessions serious, deadly. Clarifies bigger sickness in whole society. Winter in England after 1 1/2 years, music in studio built for Beatles. Choirs chilling, triumphant. I didn't even hear the words "Horn of Plenty" when watching. Sound designer even went through books, script, thought about character perceptions. Book in first person, Kat tuned in to every sound, because hunting or being hunted. Creates pace, reality, focus, mood. In shot of Kat in tube, perfect silence, also at Cornucopia violence.
8 May the odds be ever in your favor Long trailer, not teaser, was start of wave. I thought trailer= teaser= preview were synonyms. Fans all scream. I wish they did the silent 3-finger salute instead. Premiere, first showing, had 3K in single hall. Josh (Peeta) tiny, like Michael J. Fox, only comes to shoulder of Liam (Gale), even head shorter than Jen (Kat) in heels. -Critique of our culture, waste.
3 Letters from the Rose Garden - Donald Sutherland reads out letters he wrote to director about Snow. Allegory of decaying empire, control by repression & oppression, to maintain power. Roses are passion of President Coriolanus Snow, garden where shows his evil, scenes added.
4 Control room - unlike book, film can cut away. Reminds audience not just woods survival, but manipulated game, behind Oz curtain. All green screen, even work-table tops. By end you realize Capitol are antagonists, Cato just another victim.
5 Conversation with director/writer Gary Ross & film critic Elvis Mitchell, film clips Extras are mostly Ross monologue. Boring repetition of Reaping scene. Prim does tuck in shirt, same as book. Innocent children sacrificed for spectacle is cynical. She finds own truth, morality, refuses to kill Peeta, that transforms her world, sparks revolution. Physicality, training, comes through. They say Kat starts selfish, learns to care for others, but she volunteered because she cared for sister Prim.
6 Propaganda film says 13 districts rebel, but District 12 tributes have top penthouse, last pair. Again tiny detail foretells major plot point.
7 Marketing gallery = 3 trailers; 11 posters 2 fire symbol, others actors; ~73 photos, some behind scenes, some group, most single In the Reaping, Effie calls chosen "man and woman", but these are children 12-18 for death fight.