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So I saw The Hunger Games
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cleolinda
Numbered thoughts are organized thoughts!

1) From both the reviews and "local" reactions I've seen on Twitter--9 out of 10 people are ecstatic about how this turned out, and I wasn't disappointed.

2) Why did I think I wasn't going to cry in/during/through the movie? Just because I marathoned the books in a fairly unemotional way? I cried every time I watched THE TRAILER. In the theater today I started pinching my wrist to make myself stop tearing up. For some reason, I wasn't terribly attached to Prim in the books except as "someone Katniss cares about who motivates her," but this broken little delivery of "You have to try to win, Katniss" just about had me on the floor. And of course, you have Katniss's last moments before the games with Cinna, and then the countdown to her walking to the tube, and then the countdown when she's in the tube, and the countdown when she's on the field, and then I nearly threw up in vicarious anxiety. I mean this in a good way. It's admirably intense, is what I'm saying.

3) Jennifer Lawrence is amazing, the end. Okay, not the end: she's one of those actresses where you can actually see what she's thinking--Katniss weighing her options, or the ambiguity of feelings that even Katniss herself doesn't understand. Which is another thing: I never understood why people--multiple people--say that Katniss has "the emotional depth of a teaspoon" (somehow this is always the phrase that comes up?) in the book. I know her affect as a narrator is kind of flat; I read it as stoic or shell-shocked. But I guess I read her emotions cumulatively--I saw them stacking on top of each other every time something new happened. So instead of "I can't tell if Peeta loves me or he's faking," which makes her sound kind of oblivious, I read it as "My father was killed in a mining explosion and my mother went catatonic, so I'm really the only parent I've known for a long time now, and I have to take care of her and my sister, and they're all I have and I have to hunt to feed us all at a subsistence level and it's the only thing I'm good at and my only friend is a guy who hunts with me and we're really close and I think I might have feelings for him but I've known him so long that I'm not sure and I'm afraid to get close to people anyway but I hope he'll take care of my family if I don't come back, oh God I've got to come back to take care of my family, I'm all they've got, and Peeta once threw me some bread out of pity and now he keeps trying to be friendly but then he blew me off and trained by himself and then he actually betrayed me and went with the horrible laughing killer kids but wait now it looks like he was doing that to protect me and I think he said he had a crush on me so we would look good on TV but I don't know and in the end one of us is going to have to die and possibly kill the other and I can't get attached to someone I have to kill and maybe he's playing me, I don't know, but now he's all I've got and I can't let him die of gangrene and maybe pretending to have feelings I don't have is the only way for us both to survive, wait I don't know if I have them after all, but even if I do I can't tell if Peeta loves me or he's faking." I saw Katniss as someone who has a lot of feelings; they're just, by necessity, very tightly tamped down. Whether you get that out of the book or not, it's all on Jennifer Lawrence's face. If they nominated her for another Oscar for this, I wouldn't complain.

4) You know, Josh Hutcherson is really very good as Peeta, and I didn't expect that, for some reason. He's really good at looking slightly pitiful but not actually pathetic; he manages to convey to us that he's genuinely in love with Katniss and always has been, while remaining ambiguous enough about it to not make Katniss look dense for not believing it. Everyone is good, really (I LOVE YOU CINNA), but in particular, Stanley Tucci just has some amazing touches as Caesar Flickerman. The big bursting smile he switches on right at the beginning of each talk show is just--really something. He manages just the right combination of complicit, outrageous, compassionate, fake and sincere. And you know, Cato didn't do much for me until his last scene, and then suddenly "I'm already dead, I just didn't know it" was really well done.

5) RUUUUUUUE. ALLLLL THE TEARRRRRS. I don't know if it was just seeing it that made it so bad, or getting to see Katniss completely break down over it--well, it probably had a lot to do with the three-finger salute and then us getting to see District 11 salute her back. (Which is the point in the trailer where I would always start sniffling.) And then, of course, Rue's father and the ensuing riot. The really great thing about the movie is that, because the narrative isn't trapped in Katniss's head anymore, we can see what's going on outside it: we can see the gamemakers gleefully throwing fireballs at her and taking way too much pride in their work; we can see Haymitch working the room for sponsors; we can see President Snow ever-so-subtly threatening Seneca Crane because he can see exactly how "the underdog's" popularity is going to lead to eventual revolution. ("... Congratulations." AHHHHHHHHHH. I love how Donald Sutherland doesn't appear to do anything but clip roses and stand around, and yet is utterly menacing.) Poor Wes Bentley (and Wes Bentley's beard, which probably has its own fan tumblr by now) think that putting on a good show is all that matters, is all that he has to do, without realizing that he's not the only one who can put one on. And now, we get to see all sides of that.

6) Which leads to a point I wanted to make even before I saw the movie: I think that The Hunger Games as a film, if done the least bit well, was inevitably going to be better than the book. And that's not an insult. I think it's incredibly valuable to have Katniss's inner narrative for the three books, but--it's a story about visual media. This way, you get to see Katniss's perspective (in which most of the violence happens in a panicky blur, rather than played for spectacle), and the commentators', and the producers', and the viewers'. I mean, there's a scene earlyish on where Katniss turns on the TV in her glamorous Capitol bedroom and sees Caesar Flickerman gushing about how an older Hunger Games clip playing behind him is such an AMAZING MOMENT, it's the AMAZING MOMENT where you see a TRIBUTE become a VICTOR--and it's one anguished, exhausted kid beating another one to death with a brick. You not only see what really happened on the face of that kid, the way Katniss sees it, but you see the way the Capitol presents it, how they're actually rewriting emotional history right in front of your face to change despair to victory, and you can imagine what it would look like on your TV at home, one narrative trying to erase the less convenient one. And I guess Suzanne Collins (who helped write the script) could have described all of that in the book, but somehow a story about a visual medium in a visual medium is just naturally going to be more effective. I mean, is there a book about books and the reading of them that has been more artistically successful as a movie adaptation? I can't think of one, and it's for the same reason. In the end, I think that's why you're going to hear people raving up and down about how this is the most perfect awesome amazing adaptation they've ever seen--I wouldn't take it as an insult to other fandoms, either. The Hunger Games is just uniquely suited to a movie adaptation, and Gary Ross understood that and made the most of it.

I don't think I'll be able to write any kind of Hunger Games in Fifteen Minutes, though. Even once you get past ALL THE TEARS, I suspect writing a parody of a satire is kind of like dividing by zero. The Panem TV schedule may be as good as it's going to get from me.



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I BASICALLY AGREE WITH EVERY WORD IN THIS POST.

Seriously, you nailed everything I loved about the movie. Everything.

THIS TIMES A MILLION. *nods*

I was surprised by how well the kid playing Peeta sold it, for me. I was never a big fan of his in the books, but now I'm kind of on his side.

Initially I was like "wtf movie, now you're asking me to feel SORRY for CATO? lolno" but later when I had a chance to think about it a little more, Cato and the other Careers are just as much victims of the system as the others; they just don't realize it.

RUE. ALL THE TEARS. The casting was very good in general, but they could NOT have found a better Rue. I'm tearing up just thinking about it!

I have found this shortish fic really amazingly effective at presenting a side of the Careers I'd never considered. Especially what it must have been like for Cato and Clove when that announcement came down.

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Well, turns out that Suzanne Collins wrote for TV before she got into publishing.

Yes, THIS. I mean, there are parts that I wish weren't left out, but I'm struggling to tell family members whether they should see the film or read the book, because I worry that after seeing the film they'll be asking were xyz were in the book. Also, the locked room was a fantastic alteration.

Poetic really, what happened to Seneca.

Josh Hutcherson was the biggest surprise for me. I wasn't expecting him to suck, I just didn't expect him to be so good.

The first time we saw him, I almost clapped because he looked so sickly and unattractive and like he was going to pass out or puke. And then we watched him get stronger and stronger until he's this injured, dirty, noble sexy guy in a cave and Katniss is all "yeah, I could do this."

Oh my god, Jennifer Lawrence's acting was stunning. Cannot possibly say enough good things about it.

I cried at the beginning, during the Reaping, and then I didn't start crying at Rue's death until they showed District 11 with the salute and her dad and omg I'm tearing up again.

Fantastic movie, loved it to bits. I want to see it again for sure.

Please permit me to join in the fangirling of Jennifer Lawrence. I'm a new fan of hers and it embarrasses me slightly to gush elsewhere. (But I must!)

The look on her face when the Capitol applauded -inappropriately- during interview with Caesar... movie!Cinna didn't say it but Katniss' face definitely reflected that: How despicable we must seem to you.

I am SO RELIEVED to hear it about Lenny Kravitz; I am always wary of musicians as actors and I am Team Cinna All The Way, so I was particularly worried about that role.

And I agree; I always read Katniss as just very locked down and closed away from her emotions out of necessity.

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Ha, half my theater cracked up at creeper Bella!

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YES. The three finger salute Rue's district gave to her is the reason the movie should be made.

I mean, as a fan of the series, I'm grateful for the movie (Jennifer Lawrence, how do you wonderful?) but if ever there was a question whether a movie should be made for THG, that scene alone could answer all doubt.

PRETTY MUCH. Again, that's what always crushed me when I saw the trailer, and that was before I was even sure of the context.

I think that The Hunger Games as a film, if done the least bit well, was inevitably going to be better than the book.

I was meh on the book but I'm really looking forward to the film. I'm one of those people who thought Katniss was kind of an emotional moron but Jennifer Laurence was incredible in Winter's Bone so I can believe she gives Katniss a depth that doesn't exist on the page.

Another book that was better as a film was Water for Elephants. I rolled my eyes through the whole novel but I knew I would enjoy the film and I did.

I haven't read WFE yet--I did get a copy--but yeah, the movie was sweet.

Jennifer Lawrence is just really amazing--it's like she manages to be stoic and emotional at the same time through this one, and it really works. I didn't think Katniss was a moron so much as just really unwilling to deal with certain emotions--sort of willfully blind to how much Peeta cared about her because she just. could not. deal with that, knowing she might have to kill him just to get back to her family. In the movie, it's more like you can see her thinking about it, weighing all the options and going, "It seems like he loves me? But maybe not? But okay, let's say he does--am I going to have to kill him to get back to Prim? What if I love him back? Do I? Does it matter?" And all of this keeps cycling over her face.

Oh man, your #6 is exactly the reason I was so impressed with it but haven't been able to articulate yet because I'm still trying to sort my head out and haven't stopped thinking about it for, oh, nearly 24 hours now, heh. There are a couple of moments during those exposition news breaks (which are just so brilliant a substitute for Katniss' inner monologue) where Stanley Tucci looks straight into the camera and it was such a jolt, because I felt this genuine guilt and complicity -- for just a second, I was the Panem audience. That was some powerful stuff.

Yes. The breaking of the fourth wall making US the entertainment-craving, violence-desensitized Capitol citizens, perfectly brings home the main theme of Collins' books.

RUUUUUUUE. ALLLLL THE TEARRRRRS.

My best friend, without saying anything or even looking at me, just handed me a tissue when the scene started. And I really, really needed it.

One thing I really enjoyed was getting to see those outside the narrative moments, like the uprising in 11. I think that was for me when I really started crying, not Rue's actual death, because it was such a moment of "There is so much else going on in this world, and it's all going to go to hell because of what they've done to these children." And it works from a plot standpoint because it will make things seem less sudden in the second movie.

Also, I really loved the way they handled the end, which was so clunky in the book. I liked how they just intercut all the moments, and especially the lead up to Seneca's death (I guess he was supposed to throw himself on his berries sword?)

Heh. I thought they did a good job of streamlining the media circus aftermath (as interesting as I found it in the book). And I liked the "I don't want to forget" ambiguity, rather than ending the movie on an overtly bitter note. And poor Seneca, I had become very fond of his beard. That was such a Capitol move, those berries.

The reason the salute got to me was that Katniss is always so alone; even with she's with someone, she's worried about losing them or protecting them, she can't open up to them. But with that moment she's reaching out to everyone watching, and she's so full of grief at that moment that it's like she can't do anything but open up. And I think it opens everyone else up.

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I thought Peeta in the movie was kinda useless. He did keep the career tributes away from her for a bit, but I felt like all he was doing was running after Katniss and being stupid. "Damn you, Peeta!"

I didn't feel this way when I read the book though, so maybe it's just seeing him trailing after her and not really doing anything.

I went to a midnight showing, and the whole theater went "aww" whenever Rue turned up on screen; they even aww'd for Thresh when he died.

I absolutely LOVED Cinna and Caesar. Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz did an amazing job.

I want to live in the Capitol so I can wear their awesome fashions and styles.

Also, we had Breaking Dawn pt 2 and The Avengers as our trailers, so it was part "Oh God No, I hope that deer wins" and "Awww Yeaaa, bring that party, Stark!"

Edited at 2012-03-24 03:30 am (UTC)

I'm seeing this movie tomorrow with my mother, a friend from work and her twin daughters. I have been looking forward to this movie for MONTHS! Give it to me straight: just how many Kleenexes will I need? I have a feeling I'll be using half a pack for the Rue scenes ALONE. I feel like crying even just seeing a STILL of her.

You will need half a pack to make it through the Reaping.

And then half a pack every time you see Rue adorably peeking out from behind something.

And then another pack for when she dies and another for after.

So...two packs! There you go.

Three to be safe.

I saw it at midnight.

There are a couple things that really stuck with me—

Josh Hutcherson's face when Effie read his name was perfect. He looked like he was about to vomit and I could see why. He was so full of expression... And the camouflage scene worked out even better than I thought it would.

Like you said, the scene where Cinna was saying goodbye to Katniss and the voice was counting down on the loud speaker—my whole body started shaking. You could see this mounting fear in Jennifer's eyes as she walked closer to the tube and it was stunning.

The wolf creature muttations (while not as freakish as I imagined them since the wicked twist was removed) exploding out of the darkness (clever film makers, having them make it night for "atmosphere" so you can save on your effects budget!) scared the pee out of me. Because it was not preceded by a musical buildup or loud noise, the jump scare was an actual scare. Everyone in my theater freaked out. Everyone.

I should have known better and brought tissues, though. There was a lot of crying going on during this movie. From everyone.

Like you said, the scene where Cinna was saying goodbye to Katniss and the voice was counting down on the loud speaker—my whole body started shaking. You could see this mounting fear in Jennifer's eyes as she walked closer to the tube and it was stunning.
I seriously did not feel ready. I honestly did not think I could handle what I knew was going to come. I was like, STOP THE MOVIE I NEED TO GET OFF.

Because it was not preceded by a musical buildup or loud noise, the jump scare was an actual scare. Everyone in my theater freaked out. Everyone.
There was one girl who shrieked in our theater. It was glorious.

Was that Rue's father, then? My glasses were rather tear-streaked during the uprising scene, so it was kind of hard to tell who was who or how any one person in District 11 could be identified.

Definitely the most powerful scene in the film, by the way.

I mean, I'm guessing it was. Whoever it was, it was the person who would be most upset by her death.

Actually, that is how I read Katniss as well-she's just been so traumatized and everything that she is very bottled up emotionally.

I LOVE YOUR THOUGHTS. I always enjoy hearing your take on movies.

I LIKED IT and then I didn't like it. Mainly a lot of my issues are that some relationships aren't exactly clarified as much like Gale and Katniss'. I went with someone who hadn't read the book and she was all like man Katniss' boyfriend was still cool after all that? I was like who, she doesn't have one? She was like the guy at the start of the movie?.. But they can clear that up in inevitable sequels Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
I remember hearing people bemoan Jennifer Lawrence's casting and thinking really? Have they not seen Winter's Bone? Which was basically her audition for THG.

Edited at 2012-03-24 03:31 am (UTC)

Have they not seen Winter's Bone? Which was basically her audition for THG.

It's basically the same character. Stoic girl from Appalachia has to support and feed her family after her father dies and endure terrible violence before prevailing.

So is this a movie someone who hasn't read the books could see? I really don't feel motivated to read the books, but the previews have intrigued me, and I've been moved by Jennifer Lawrence's acting in those alone.

I went with a friend who hadn't read the books, and she really liked it, so I think you would probably be fine. I also completely agree with Cleo's assessment - THG works better as a film than as a book. Normally I would say you ought to read the book first on principle, but this is one of the very few cases where I would say it's your call.

I saw this movie a couple days ago (Australian premiere) and omg I criiiiied and cried, and I agree with everything you wrote here. It was amazing seeing it all coming to life on the screen and I think it's probably the best book to film adaption this decade.

Can anyone explain Cato's accent to me? Apparently he's from British Columbia but it sounded Aussie or maybe South African? Very bizarre.

You know, I thought it kind of sounded Australian a couple of times, too. I have no idea.

The Reaping was the best and most fully realized sequence, I thought. And all the actors were wonderful there but notably Effie's entrance into the movie via fluttering hand tapping at the microphone like so much slightly dim raven, with the strong outdoor natural light on her makeup, mouthing along with the Capitol video. And while we're at it, how great a line was "THAT IS MAHOGANY!"

OH MY GOD THAT WAS THE BEST.

Okay, question, folks. I'm currently in a very small college town with a very small movie theater nearby. This is about a five-screen theater, it's opening weekend so the lines will be ridiculous even IF everyone else on campus saw the midnight showing last night, and because of the size I'm not sure I'll be able to see it after this until my little brother inevitably gets it on Blu-Ray.

Is it worth seeing in theaters? And if so, is it worth waiting in a ridiculous opening-weekend line?

YES AND THAT IS YOUR CALL.

It's such a completely immersive film, I think it will play much better in a theater.

Disagree. Really disagree. A lot of it was really great, but I didn't like it overall. For me, it all (as always, for me) comes back to Peeta. I feel like the movie completely glossed over all of the interesting aspects of the relationship/non-relationship between Katniss and Peeta. I realize it’s hard to capture the conflicting roller coaster emotions Katniss goes through in a movie, but they could have at least TRIED. Instead, we got like, one kiss and a vague sort of, “I want to forget,” which is not nearly the same level of hurt that actually takes place at the end of the book.

I just feel like the first book really lays the foundation for all the interesting and complicated things that happen in the next two books on the human/personal level, and it was just kind of… not there.

Also, I REALLY missed Peeta’s snarky “I’m dying, we’re supposed to be madly in love, you can kiss me any time you want” moment in the cave. I SO WANTED THAT TO HAPPEN. I thought Peeta’s sense of humor was sort of missing entirely (except that one moment when he’s like “gimme the bow, j/k”), and that’s one of my favorite things about him.

Don't get me wrong, I was entertained by the movie. But I completely disagree that it was in any way, shape or form better than the book. (And to be honest, I didn't even love the book. I really just love Peeta.)

I liked Peeta well enough in the books, but he wasn't my favorite thing about them or anything, which may account for the difference.

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