acting, caesar flickerman, catching fire, directing, hunger games, movies, philip seymour hoffman, reviews
I… have NO COMPLAINTS.
As you know, this is not something I say lightly. I have a reputation for being somewhat picky when it comes to movies.
The first Hunger Games movie really disappointed me, and the irony of the advertising has horrified me.
But… Catching Fire is wonderful.
They hit all the right notes.
I mean, sure, they cut out a lot of stuff, but after all, the movie is very long as-is. They can never put an entire book into a two hour movie. And I accept the cuts they made. I understand why they changed the things they changed, and I am okay with it.
Because they left all the right things in.
Little things – like Finnick’s sugar, Johanna Mason stripping in the elevator, Chaff’s kiss, great Peeta/Katniss exchanges, fantastic Haymitch/Effie moments. The old man in District 11. Caesar Flickerman’s face when Peeta proposes – oh, that made us laugh out loud!
The actual time in the arena happens on a much shorter timeline, but pretty much the entirety of it is there, just condensed. Even Katniss armed with one syringe against the capital. It’s all there, and it’s right.
The characters are SO much better done in this movie. Effie’s inherent EFFIENESS is made very clear, and she provides some great laughable moments. Caesar Flickerman is more schmoozy, mugging the camera, more on par with who I see in my head when I read.
Instead of mute pawns moving through a strangely silent world, the characters are full of life and the plot feels vibrant and immediate. Peeta’s motivations are a little more clear, and so are Katniss’s, although they still utterly fail at heating up a room with their lukewarm romance.
Haymitch is more of a lovable abrasive drunk than a strangely charming hero. Effie is more ridiculous.
PH and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire movie, welcoming each scene in bewildered delight.
…and we figure it’s because of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Because he is only in good movies. I don’t always LIKE them. Master was weird and Doubt was depressing, and Capote is just disturbing…. but the movies are always GOOD.
Philip Seymour Hoffman must have just infused his native brilliance into every scene.
I mean, yeah, sure, I could credit Francis Lawrence, the director, for the loss of annoying bouncy-cam and the infusion of actual personalities into the acting… but the previous director, Gary Ross, wrote/directed several other films that I like a lot, like Pleasantville, Big, and Dave.
I can’t begin to understand why someone who has produced such sweet and occasionally moving movies was completely unable to replicate the sweetness of Peeta, or put any heart into the film. Maybe he was trying too hard not to be himself, I don’t know.
Maybe the new writers just “got” the series more. Maybe Francis Lawrence, who did I Am Legend and Constantine, just got the genre better.
Or maybe it is because of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
All I know is… it is FANTASTIC.
PH and I will own Catching Fire… but not The Hunger Games.
…Who knows, with the same writers and director, maybe they can even get me to enjoy Mockingjay.
And THAT will be a feat.
I really liked it, too! And I had to comment because you’re the only other person that has mentioned the extremely ironic Capitol makeup crap! I thought it was a joke at first…now it just makes me sad.
It’s appalling! I wonder if it makes Suzanne Collins laugh hysterically or weep for humanity.
I saw Hunger Games CANDY one day… What could their slogan be? “Does killing Tributes make your stomach growl? Reach for Hunger Games chocolate when you’ve got that hollow feeling”?
Tastes like the death of innocent proletariat.
Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife said:
I’m glad I’m not the only one who gave a side eye to the make up tie in.
This movie was a thousand times better than “The Hunger Games”. Finnick was perfectly cast…rawr! And Philip Seymour Hoffman is the man, he really played the dancing scene as it was meant to be.
I seem to be the only person who really lied “Mockingjay”. I know a lot of people complain about Katniss’s habit of crying and hiding through most of the book but I think it touches on the theme of PTSD. Maybe I’m just projecting
Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife said:
That should say “liked” not “lied”.
Yeah, I am ok with Katniss in Mockingjay. She has bee through insane amounts of trauma. Strong people can cry. It’s just that it’s a brutal read. Not a lot of joy in there, you know?
Mockingjay is what really brings the themes together for me. I feel like it’s one of the only stories I’ve read for young people that gets at the idea that even if you’re on the “right” side in war, it’s going to be incredibly dehumanizing. Without that book, the audience/reader is just as bad as the Capitol audience reveling in the killing.
It’s a fantastic book. But very painful to read.
Thank you for bringing out the distinction between “good” and “I like it.” As I get older, I find I have less capacity (since my time is so short) to watch things that are just GOOD and that I don’t also like – and of course vice versa. I feel like if I’m going to give three hours of my life to something, it has to be both.
Yes, to me they are very important distinctions. Good refers to quality, liking refers to taste. There are lots of “good” things that I don’t like – caviar, Brave New World… and lots of terrible things that I like, such as McDonald’s and Babysitter’s Club!
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