The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (film)

The Hunger Games (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What can I possibly say about the Hunger Games which hasn’t already been said?  The Hunger Games, top box office for at least the last 4 weeks, grossing hundreds of millions of dollars in the last month, record sales for Lionsgate, and the number 3 opening box office of all time, is an entertaining film.  Given Team Katniss vs. Team Bella, Katniss could break Bella’s balls any time of day or night, obviously.

As a reader of the trilogy prior to this Hunger Games box office madness, I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the film.  The pace was good, the film, entertaining as a whole, but there was so much glossed over.  I mean, what can you do when you try to condense a few hundred pages of 1 person narrative into a omniscient film?  It’s a difficult feat to accomplish and the end result was not as good as the book (or the audiobook, check it out!), but at least the filmmakers made it somewhat enjoyable with lots of special effects….$8

If you heart The Hunger Games

Recommendations from …:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Battle Royale (Japanese version)
Mission Impossible

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Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris

Nobody likes you Owen Wilson go away you’re stupid! You’re annoying, no one likes yr face. It is too surprised and Jewish. Too incredulous. You are Cameron Diaz but worse because there is a strong possibility you are hiding a penis. Cameron Diaz may be hiding a penis but that is only a slight possibility. It seems like if she did have a penis she would at least be funny. But now yr stupid-ass Cameron Diaz comparison is getting me off topic.

Midnight in Paris is the sort of film a director makes toward the end of his career when he wants to commune with all his heroes. In my opinion no one does this better or more lovingly than Woody Allen – a guy completely unashamed to share his most precious influences (i.e. where he has been stealing from). Ingmar Bergman for ex. Or in the case of Midnight – Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso . . . Allen is a director with balls enough to blatantly imitate and physically embody his idols as a form of praise. No one re-exhumes the dead like he can.

Allen has also be known to heap praise upon the cities he is shooting. Midnight makes an argument for Paris as utterly wonderful which I find admirable since I always envisioned Paris as having nothing but that rich food and heavy sauces, sidewalks littered with dog shit, and snooty people. Allen uses the landscape of Paris to his advantage, cramming the message that the city is chock-full with gorgeous art and architecture. Easy to forget having no geography, easy to forget to appreciate living in America – the most unabashedly generic nation on earth (esp. between the coasts).

Rachel McAdams is as startlingly beautiful as ever. She has undeniably become one of the great actresses of her generation. Michael Sheen superb as always. Owen Wilson forgettable and unnecessary – a missed opportunity for Allen not to have replaced him with a more interesting actor – I would have gone with James Franco. Younger, funnier and more literate. I’d say the performance of the film belonged to Corey Stoll who created a comical, commanding and charming interpretation of Hemingway.

Not the filet of Allen’s catalog. A little too magical and a little too little at stake. But he still continues to be one of the most ingenious and undeniably the most distinctive filmmaker today . . . $8

If you heart Midnight in Paris:

Recommendations by DJ Cheet
The Purple Rose of Cairo
Steven Shainberg’s Fur
Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People

Adrienne Shelly’s Waitress

For those who enjoy Woody Allen flicks for their fresh, often affirming view of infidelity – but don’t enjoy them because they think Woody himself is crusty and a lecher – Adrienne Shelly’s Waitress should be on your list. No film that I’ve seen recently has handled the issues of unhappy marriage and impending motherhood in a more fascinating or satisfying way. And few films are more devoid of Woody Allen. I’m pretty sure Woody has never even heard of Waitress. He has been pretty busy seducing far younger women, far fresher-faced women than exist in the Waitress world.

I know you’re thinking Felicity is looking pretty old and haggard these days and it pisses you off because it makes you realize how old and haggard you yourself are getting (unless you are a man, men age like wine, women age like fruit). But you know, the old gal has picked up some fairly impressive acting chops along her way. Which should cheer you up because it goes to show, you can teach an old dog new tricks. New tricks which include an authentic white-trash, Southern accent (authentic as far as I can tell, I don’t actually know as I never consort with white-trash unless I need to buy something from Walmart).

The most impressive thing about Waitress is not the actor from Firefly. He isn’t bad, but I couldn’t figure out if he wasn’t trying to inflect his performance with a mild form of retardation. Which makes sense because 1) they only make retards doctors if the only other people available are white-trash Southerners and 2) most doctors don’t fall in love with white-trash Southerners unless they are either Mormon or mentally handicapped in some profound way. Do you think you have this movie figured out? You don’t. You don’t have a fucking clue.

Waitress is most impressive because of its ability to surprise you in about a thousand delightful ways. You think you have these characters pinned just because they talk funny and their clothes look like they were bought at Kid Rock’s garage sale? Well you fucking don’t. Fewer than 1% of films being made today have less cliche characters than waitress. Just when you think this movie is going to go Leo and Shelly from Twin Peaks – you are pulled into a moment far more vulnerable, far more daring. For people of my generation The Princess Bride is the perfect film for its novelty, its quirkiness, and its nostalgia. I have a pretty good feeling the warmth and the sincerity of Waitress are going to win over a new generation of viewers . . . $8

If you heart Adrienne Shelly’s Waitress:

Recommendations by Quispy
The Good Girl
Whatever Works
8 Women


Barney’s Version

An epic character piece on a whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking, droopy-eyed curmudgeon we frequently see played by Paul Giamatti. While Giamatti is an actor that has won the hearts of many, he hadn’t won my affection until I saw this movie.  Somehow, even though it was pretty much the same role I’d seen him in before, he convinced me that he’s definitely worth following.  In fact, I’m really looking forward to Win Win.  Stellar supporting roles played by Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike.


What truly won me over was the strong female lead portrayed by Rosamund Pike.  One of the best female characters I’ve seen in years.  Wise, soulful, strong, and kind – and much too good for Barney.  All three wives are unbelievably out of his league, yet it can somehow works.  Good writing is rarely given to female roles.  Here, Pike’s character offered the most insightful and touching dialogue on the screen.

There isn’t too much of plot here.  We follow Barney’s three marriages.  Still, there are elements of suspense as an underlying murder mystery finds it’s way into the narrative.  And honestly, the colorful characters are complicated and endearing enough to hold ground for the film…$8

Yolkie’s recommendations:
Sideways
Little Children
The Station Agent

The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Imagine if Quentin Tarantino and Clint Eastwood had a Korean baby: this would be it.  Korean dudes on horses in Manchuria?!?  Clearly, you gotta see this.  Plus, some of Korea’s most respected actors as the good, the bad and the weird.  Song Kang-ho is a supremely talented actor, previously in films like Miryang (The Secret Sunshine) and Park Chanwoo’s Thirst, Sympathy for Mr. and Lady Vengeances and JSA.  In this he plays the Weird, a treasure-seeking thief, who’s ultimate dream in life is just to go back to Korea and raise chicken and goats.  Jung Woo-sung is the Good, a bounty hunter who hunts bad dudes just cuz, well, they’re bad.  And Lee Byung Won plays the Bad, and plays bad so good…..

The movie has a good pace to it, and always steps on the border of ridiculousness, without quite overstepping the bounds of wanton superfluous violence that it could easily slip into.  The context is as insane as the get-ups; pre WWII, post Japanese occupation of Korea, where these Koreans have escaped Korea to try their fortune in the Chinese desert.  History doesn’t rule the storyline however, it just adds a bit of flavor in the plot.


Did I mention Lee Byung Won plays bad so good?  He also plays hawt so well.  HOLLA!  There’s like a good 10 minutes or so of a shirtless Lee Byung Won, seemingly for no reason but to show off his chiseled abs.   To the people who don’t believe the asian man can get cut, just take a good look at the pic above.  Show ’em how it’s done, son!

All in all, enjoyable, and oh so very cool…$8

P.S. Also available on netflix streaming!

If you heart The Good, The Bad, The Weird:
Recommendations from …:
Inglourious Basterds
Old Boy
Unforgiven

Inside Job

Begs the question – where is Jesus during all this? Millions of jobs evaporated. Thousands made homeless overnight. Pensions stolen. The highest order of academia infiltrated by self-interested consultants. Global financial Armageddon. Only the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have seen it fit to rain down billions of dollars in bonuses to the highest paid 1% on their way to scour the powerless and the meek with fire, brimstone, unemployment, depression, homelessness, no insurance, no health care, and a double-dose of voicelessness. If there is a Jesus it would be excruciatingly difficult for him to comprehend the complexity of today’s financial system. You would have to get him up to speed on a lot of things. Such as what a computer is and why there are no more slaves.

Inside Job does an admirable job (for myself, the layman with literally no money possessed to be at stake) mapping out the failings of the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush pt II, and Obama administrations to understand or regulate the financial system. It becomes quickly clear finance in the US is one roided-out bully that effectively pushes government around. When massive companies such as Goldman Sachs or AIG aren’t telling government to shut up – they’re telling government to pay up.

But one problem with Inside Job – after identifying a slew of problems – why do you offer no solutions? What am I supposed to do with all my anger? Should I march on Washington? Should I be robbing these CEOs and distributing their wealth in tent cities across America? With a problem as deep-seeded and wide-spread occurs, the best solution may be to move to Canada. Jesus seems like an immobile choice for rescue . . . $8

Babies

BABIES!!!  who doesn’t love babies?  Obviously everyone loves babies.  So pretty smart move focusing on just babies and nothing else.   Thomas Balmes takes us to four different countries to follow the first year of four incredibly cute babies Bayar, Hattie, Mari, and Ponijao.  Bayar is the only boy of the bunch.  There are a few interesting things to note about babies through this study, 1) that although the babies are really small, can’t talk to really gesture, you can see how different their personalities are, and you can actually like (or like not as much) one baby over another.  and yes, I compared, and yes, I came out with favorites; 2) how much the babies adopted what they saw around them as things they would do themselves; and 3) how similar and how different each one of them was based on their environment.  Nothing ground-breakingly new, but still is interesting to view these development of the brand new humans first hand, in an accelerated journey through their first year of life.

I also found myself worried over the safety of some of the babies, but they all turned out fine!  When Bayar looked like he was about to get crushed by a horse‘s hoof, the horse evaded him and he crawled through the horses legs, happy as a plum.

This is a movie focuses on the adorable-ness of the protagonists, but in the context of  the lush scenary and beautiful backgrounds of BayanchandmaniMongolia (Bayar), OpuwaNamibia (Ponijao), San Francisco, US (Hattie), and Japan, Tokyo (Mari).  Best of all, this is currently available on streaming at netflix, if you have a subscription.  An enjoyable film with minimal dialog but plenty of ooh-ing and ahhh-ing…$8

If you heart Babies:

Recommendations from …:

Mad Hot Ballroom
Hero (visually beautiful)
March of the Penguins

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