The Hunger Games (2012)

Written by Billy Ray, Suzanne Collins & Gary Ross
Directed by Gary Ross
Based on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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I realize this is somewhat unorthodox. After spending Thanksgiving weekend with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, a film whose only real redeeming factor was that it didn’t feel quite as long as it actually was, watching its predecessor proved to be a revelation. The Hunger Games is humane, expressive and thoroughly well paced. In short, it is everything its sequel is not. Perhaps most importantly, The Hunger Games is moral. The violence of the film’s second half is elegant and elliptical, often insinuated and nearly always affecting. Furthermore, at this point the series had yet to bloat under the corrupting influence of computer-based special effects. The Hunger Games utilizes its $78 million dollar budget (roughly half of Catching Fire’s) to create a universe that is compatible with our own through location shooting, natural lighting and organic special effects. The result is a sci-fi film that feels authentic, lived in and all the more poignant because of it. Continue reading

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Libby’s First Mixtape//a perfectly split wishbone//November 2013

Libby’s First Mixtape is an ongoing series of music mixes I make for my younger sister. Her name is Libby. The genesis of this series dates back to roughly 2005. Since then I’ve been putting these mixes together on a 4-6 week basis, give or take. Listen along via Spotify through the link at the bottom of the post.

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As an act of reconciliation for the timeless symbol of sibling rivalry I present for your consideration: a perfectly split wishbone. Last time, I was in full blown nostalgia mode, sorting through a season’s worth of musical discoveries that dovetailed nicely with my experience of falling in love during the picturesque beauty and intolerable humidity of the western Vermont summer. This time around I’m (relatively) all caught up with the late fall releases many of which straddle the boundaries of pop and experiment.  Continue reading

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Written by Simon Beaufoy & Michael deBruyn
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Based on the novel Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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Is it possible to talk about a sequel without talking about its predecessor(s)? In an era of extended series derived from popular fiction, is it even worthwhile discussing the value of a sequel as anything other than the culmination of mass marketing devices designed to sell more tickets and, surprisingly, books? While Harry Potter may have wormed his way forcefully into the hearts of twenty years worth of young people, many of whom remain stubbornly adolescent at heart, the protégés of the extensive franchise that bears his name, specifically Twilight and the recently inaugurated The Hunger Games, have further bridged the gap between young adult lit and Hollywood excess. While the Twilight series, in conjunction with popular TV shows like True Blood, have rekindled a collective passion for vampire mythology that’s been largely dormant since Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Hunger Games plucks from the perennially ripe tree of dystopian societies. The second in the proposed trilogy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire does little to dispel the accusation that these long running series, many of which are now splitting their source material into two part films, are a long con. Catching Fire represents a bloated void of overwrought genre clichés, borrowed set pieces and flat, round characters that are, like the desperate new girl in the high school cafeteria, too likable to actually be liked. Continue reading