Sunday, April 29, 2012

Childhood Chins'

Last night I ate Chinese Takeout from my childhood Chinese restaurant, Chins. Today is their last day in business. Now, some might argue that they are not the best Chinese restaurant in the world, but I grew up on their takeout and therefore I rate all other takeout places on their food. To me, a meal of General Tao's Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Fried Rice is perfect comfort food.
It makes me a little sad that I won’t ever eat from there again. Many places from my childhood seem to be slowly changing or disappearing. I suppose part of that is in the ways that the world is changing, and because of the recession (or should we call it a depression?) that’s going on in the USA right now.
I’m not going to cry over it- but it will be a good memory of how my family would get the white cardboard boxes in the large brown paper bag. Dad would bring the bag home and we would open it to find the aroma of fried rice, egrolls, and broccoli beef. They always would give us too much soy sauce, spicy mustard, and sweet and sour sauce packets. We probably never need to buy condiments for Chinese food ever again (that is, if they never went bad).
Sometimes we’d eat at the table, but my little sister (now nicknamed DollFace) and I would beg mom and dad to let us have a picnic in the living room and watch a movie. More often than not it was something like Kiss Me Kate, Singing in the Rain, or some form of a Muppet movie.
Last night I was able to share Chins’ food with my best friend and we watched all of the old Star Wars movies. The good ones with Luke, Leia, and Han Solo. She’d never seen them before and we were up until almost 3AM running a galaxy marathon on VHS. Those movies are still brilliant and timeless, although my favorite has always been Return of the Jedi. Ewoks are too cute to pass up. Plus, Bomba’s comment about Jabba sounding like Santa Claus will send me into giggles for days on end.
It was a simple night in, but it reminded me of many Saturday nights from my childhood. Just enjoying the company of my family and watching a movie while eating Chinese food.
I’d call that one of life’s simple luxuries. One of the few I will always treasure and hope to pass onto my children one day. The joy of sharing a meal and a few laughs with each other, never take it for granted, because one day (like Chins’ restaurant) it might be gone.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard

and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell. We know that it's probably magic.

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?

I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me. 

Lately, I've been fixated on this song. I've always loved anything that the Muppets sing. I'm a HUGE Muppets fan. I was raised on the Muppet Movie, Muppet fairy tales (yes, they exist), Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island (my personal favorite- CABIN FEVER!), Muppets from Space, and of course- The Muppet Show itself.
I had a Miss Piggy doll, and I own a Kermit lunchbox. I almost cried when we visited the Muppet Studios at Disney World. If I ever do meet Kermit- I will melt into a sobbing puddle of overwhelming joy. I could barely contain myself when I saw the Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Anything Jim Henson, I love. The man was a genius.

But my official Jim Henson/Muppet post will be coming mid May. This post is about the Rainbow Connection song.

Now I've grown up on this song and it's always inspired me. I value Rainbows because of the Biblical promise they hold that God will never abandon me. Now I understand that Rainbows are also a Gay-Pride symbol, but I'm not referring to that particular association in this post at all- This post is merely about how I relate to Rainbows on a personal level as they apply to the song.

The first verse is simple a statement about the singer disagreeing with what psychologists call convergent thinking. It's giving the "correct" or "grammar school" put it in-spit it out answer. The singer of this song is a bit more, dare I say, creative and curious that the black and white answer accepting people. The singer could be a divergent thinker. I like to think that I'm a divergent thinker, because I like looking at different perspectives of things and finding out multiple answers to everything except math problems.

The second verse goes deeper into what the singer is actually feeling. In looking at the rainbow, they're reminded of the stars. Another phrase I've heard put into song (from the Broadway Mary Poppins) is "If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in." I've been reaching for the heavens ever since I can remember in my dreams. Now I'm reaching for them in my life. There are plenty of times that I wish for the impossible and believe that something has to happen. Only instead of wishing, I pray, and some pretty impossible things have been happening to me. So I believe in "wishes." And in chasing those wishes I'm looking for my "rainbow connection." It sounds way to cheesy put that way, but I'm trying to use the song's phrase-ology.

The third verse is the declaration of the singer. They've got something they need to find, chase, do, insert your verb here. There's something that I'm supposed to be, and I'm going after it.

Personally there are only two versions of this song that I truly adore. The first and top ranking is Jim Henson's original from The Muppet Movie. It was the first recorded version and it's the best- deal with my opinion! The second best for me is probably Kenny Loggins. He has a beautiful rendition of this song. He puts so much passion into the third verse that you can't help but be swept up in whatever dream he's chasing through his song. I grew up listening to his version on a lullaby CD.

And now I can be at peace because I finally wrote a post about this song, it's been niggling at me for a while and now I've gotten it done, and shared this very special song. I will sing this song to my children, grandchildren, and any child who I babysit. I'd love to record my own version of this song and dance to it, but I don't think I'd be able to sing it that well.

So here's a link to Kenny Loggins' version if you haven't heard it. There isn't a very good quality version of Jim Henson singing on Youtube, but I do have the song on my itunes if you'd ever like a listen.

Signing off!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

PBA part 2- long overdue

I GOT INTO PBA FOR DANCE!!!! *Cue insane happy dancing*

Out of about 30 girls and 10 spots- I GOT IN!!!

Now we just need to see how the money pans out, and if I get accepted into the school itself. However, I'm slightly less nervous about that.

Now I just need to visit Hope College and get accepted into the schools themselves, then we'll see how the scholarships go and hopefully I'll be headed off somewhere in January of 2013!

Now i have to go make dinner before dance class-

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One Year Later...

April 15

A year ago I woke up planning to get some schoolwork done and make sure that I had everything ready for my “senior prom” that would take place the next evening. I got onto facebook and started scanning through the statuses of my friends.
What I saw threw me for a loop.
“RIP Christian, you will be missed.”
Panic started to flood through me as I tried to find out what had happened. I only had one friend named Christian, and he was only 17 years old. I chatted with a friend from CYT(Christian Youth Theater) camp and found out what I had been dreading for a minute or two. Christian was dead, and no one knew why. He died in his sleep. I wanted to believe that this was all some sick joke that was happening. These types of things happened on the internet all the time, right?
Christian would have been voted “most likely to succeed.” He was a planner and had ambitions to become an event planner for large scale events. Like HUGE events. He was one of the most Christ-like people I’d ever known, he was so genuine that it was almost scary. But that was Christian, and as much as he might annoy you sometimes, he was cheery and positive and built others up.
I called my “Little Brother,” and talked on the phone until my mom came home from dropping my dad off at the train. Being the wonderful mother that she is, she agreed to let my Little Brother take me over to Bomba’s house and hang out for a while. My former boyfriend returned the voicemail message I left on his phone and agreed to come over to my house later that evening.
As Little Brother and I drove to Bomba’s house, it started raining and the song “Let the Rain” by Sara Barellis came on. At the time I thought it was rather fitting.
At Bomba’s house I was unable to cry, while she and Little Brother were both crying. I was frustrated because of my strange inability to cry. We found a CD that Bomba and a few other friend (including Chrisitian) had made while they were in a production of Pocahontas together. It was heartbreaking to hear his voice. I remember going to see that show and the look on his face when he realized I was sitting in the front row.
Mostly I was a comforter and numb observer during the time I spent at Bomba’s that afternoon.
I can’t remember most of what happened later that evening when my boyfriend came over, I think we watched a movie, but it was something that I’d seen a million times before so it didn’t leave an impression, I was also trying not to think ergo no memory of the movie. After the movie was over we listened to some music and I turned on the song "Caoineadh Cú Chulainn (Lament)" from Riverdance. It is one of the most beautiful and haunting songs ever. Within 5 seconds of that song turning on, I was a sobbing mess. I have no idea how long I was crying. 
I’d never lost a friend before, at least, no one so close to my age. The biggest blow I’d ever had was my Grandfather dying June 21st of 2010. That was hard enough to deal with (it still is). I know that I’ll see both of them in Heaven, and that’s a really big comfort. But if anyone told me that the day I found out about Christian’s death, I would have socked ‘em and told them to shut up. All I could think about was how we were all too young to have this happen. Christian was too young to be found dead in his room. I think he had an aneurism or something, I don't really think it matter what it was that killed him.

Last night I had a pretty bad sob-fest (which was partly due to today's significance). Today I've cried at least 3 times. It's hard for things to get easier. Mostly I think last night was due to many things piling up on top of each other. I tend to stuff my emotions down inside me until they decide to break out of their nice little boxes and wreak havoc.  

Even though he and I were close mostly during Jr. High, I still really miss that kid. I think of him every time I hear the song "Firework," or any of the songs that he sang for CYT camps. He set an example for all of us to live up to, and he set the bar high. 

I miss you Christian. "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hunger Games Review Part 3 (Final Part)

Hunger Games Review Part 3- The Arena and Ending

The Bloodbath was great. It was done very well camera work wise and you understood what was happening without seeing graphic throat slashing. I also liked how Katniss and FoxFace ran into each other and then ran away. I don’t remember if that’s in the book (reference check for later!), but if it wasn’t that was a great choice to set the Tributes apart from the Careers.
            A comment about the sleeping bag Katniss had- why didn’t she use it more than once? There was only one scene where she actually sleeps in the bag and that was all! In my opinion, the bag should have been used more or it should have been cut out.

One of the most major sore points I had with the movie through the Arena stuff was how much commentary there was from Caesar and all of the Gamemaker scenes. The only scene with Caesar that was really needed was when he was explaining the Tracker Jackers, even that could have been rewritten with a piece of dialogue between Rue and Katniss.
Most of the Gamemaker stuff could have been cut out. I appreciated how they were showing the “behind the scenes” stuff that you don’t get in the book, but the scenes themselves only needed to be half the length that they were. They could have put in more bookverse and little plot points that would have made the main characters richer and more relatable. One of my issues with this movie is that I felt a lot of the time like I knew the secondary characters better than Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. I know that doesn’t really apply to Gale since he’s not in much of this movie, but he’s mentioned in a fair part of the book since it’s written from Katniss’ POV.
Here is my list of gamemaker scenes with my comments (no, I don’t remember specifically where they all were in the movie):
Scene 1- Fine (I think this was countdown stuff)
Scene 2- Fine (Don’t remember where)
Scene 3- Okay-ish, could have been cut. (Don’t remember where)
Scene 4- Could have been cut down (Burning Tree stuff)
Scene 5- Really? (In other words- not needed)
Scene 6- Could be cut and go straight to Muttation chase scene (Would have been scarier in a good way).

Next thing- the Careers. Side note- did anyone else think the guy who played Marvel resembled Cumberpatch just a little bit? Anywho- I liked the Careers in the movie. They weren’t really how I pictured them in the book, but they were well done. Never thought Cato and Glimmer were a “thing” but that was an interesting choice and it was cool to see another interpretation of the group. Actually, I think I’m adopting Clove’s appearance in the movie for my idea of her in the book because the actress did so well and I didn’t really like the Clove I came up with.
Nit pick- why did they all have different costumes for the arena?????? Annoyed me both times I saw the movie. Then again, I’m really big about how things look. I’m a very visual person so naturally the things I’m going to be miffed about when it comes to movies is the costumes and the make-up.
PS- A bobby pin was visible in Katniss’ hair during one part of the movie. I think it was a cave scene. The first time I saw the movie I thought I saw the pin, but thought it might just be a weird lighting thing. Then my friend turned to me and said “Is that a bobby pin?” and after peering at the screen once again- it was a bobby pin. Which begs these questions. Why was there a bobby pin in her hair? If Katniss had a bobby pin in her hair wouldn’t she be able to feel it? Why didn’t she use the bobby pin to hunt some small animals for food or something? Why didn’t she use it to make a weapon?
It bugged me.

The fire chase scene was very cool. I didn’t like the Gamemakers thing there, but the arena part was great. I thought the “cue tree” thing was okay, but the rest of it was unneeded and took up too much time. I will explain where they needed to put that time in a little while.
The burn make-up was fantastic! The wounds and blood and camo and dirt stuff was great in this movie. Actually the whole make-up/hair department did a great job in general (except for that bobby pin).

The following scene with the Careers and the Tracker Jackers was great. I liked actually seeing Peeta’s actions/reactions throughout these scenes. Glimmer’s puffed up dead body was amazingly grotesque (vocabulary points).
I laughed when Caesar showed up in Katniss’ hallucinations, both times, it was the funniest part of the whole movie and I’m laughing as I write this now! Also, the first time I saw the movie and the tunnel vision part with Peeta came up- I laughed. The second time, it made more sense and I didn’t laugh. It was still amusing though. Maybe the more I see the movie the more sense it will make- however I probably wont see the movie until it’s on DVD with lots of deleted scenes and bloopers for me to laugh at.
One behind the scenes thing that I liked a lot was the times when Haymitch interacted with the sponsors and with Seneca. In the Sponsor scene you can’t actually hear Haymitch convincing the sponsors to give Katniss the balm needed to heal her burn. The scene with Seneca and Haymitch was needed because of all of the scenes with Pres. Snow and Seneca, it balanced it out and furthered Haymitch’s character.

I loved all of the Rue/Katniss stuff. I wish there could have been a little bit more. Totally cracked up when Rue was asking Katniss about Peeta. Her face when she said “Yeah, he’s alive (not a direct quote)” was the BEST! Totally fell in love with that little girl and hated knowing of her eventual demise (vocabulary points!).
I liked the “trashing the camp” scene. That was pretty much like the book- but why did Caesar have to come in with commentary? They could have lengthened the suspense and made the scene stronger!

Rue’s death did not make me cry. Sorry. It was well done but I didn’t cry. Yes I know I’m heartless. If that happened to me in real life and I was watching one of my younger friends die in my arms- I’d be a sobbing mess, but the movie didn’t make me cry. The scene was good though, and it made a couple of my friends cry. I just don’t cry easily. The flowers should have been closer to where Rue died because in the book whenever someone dies they have to collect the body and they do so once all of the other tributes have cleared the area. Hence in the movie the flowers should have been closer. Katniss’ breakdown was great. I almost cried during the brief clip of her curled up and sobbing. Very good work.
The riot in District 11 was unneeded and could have been cut out- why? Because it happens in the SECOND BOOK! Majorly peeved there. They could have had Rue’s (assumed) father go on a rampage and be calmed down by some friends and then have him break down crying, but the whole full blown rebellion was a bad choice. In general the way they filmed the riot reminded me of the footage from protests from the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam protests of yore (Vocab!). This is a significant point in the second book, so I’m unhappy that it was placed here.

When they announced the rule revision about two tributes winning, I really missed the line were Katniss yells “PEETA!” and then claps her hand over her mouth. That line was made to be in the movie and it was cut.
Most of the stuff they did with Katniss and Peeta once she found him was great. Here is where they could have put much much more bonding and dialogue and bookverse. The Katniss/Peeta suff is a HUGE part of the first book that carries throughout all three and I felt like a lot of important stuff was changed/left out. They did a good job with what they did put in, but I wish that there had been more. Not more romantic stuff, I think they put just enough in without making it overt (vocab!). But they needed more friendship bonding and “story telling.” This was my overall reaction to the movie KP stuff “Ok, so they kissed once and he told her how he stalked her in an endearing way.” Also, where was the sleeping bag?  Peeta was obviously freezing when he was sleeping. Where was the sleep syrup to ensure that Peeta wouldn’t follow Katniss to the cornucopia? That was a big thing. However Peeta did a fabulous job (as did Katniss, but Peeta’s the one who really has to carry this part of the movie to make it convincing).

The death of Clove was great and the interaction with Thresh was good too. I pictured Thresh as taller, but otherwise he was much like the idea that I had in my head. When Clove was calling for Cato I got chills. The second time I saw the movie I actually heard the crunch of her skull caving in. Very nice work sound people! Thresh’s big brother thing towards Rue was nice too. They played that up in the movie and I applaud that decision.

Okay, Peeta’s joke about the bow made me laugh. I’ll admit it. It was cheesy but it worked and I know several guys who would make jokes like that. It was relatable and lightened the mood a bit.
FoxFace’s death was good. Nice desperation on Katniss’ part when she couldn’t find Peeta, and good facial expression on Peet’s part when he’s hugging Katniss and realizes what might have happened to him.
Note- the stuff Katniss gives the woman in the Hob is actually a napkin full of of those berries, hence why she knows that they are poison later on. It took me a minute to figure this out the first time I saw the movie because in the book I think that they find out the berries are poisoned because they find FoxFace’s body.

Now onto the Muttations! I had a long talk with the Truddy after we went to see the movie the first time, and my opinion is that they should have kept the mutts the way they were in the book. However, UnassumingAzure pointed out that those original mutts might have been too scary psychologically to pull off the PG-13 rating. Let’s hope that’s why they changed it because I was really looking forward to seeing the mutts as they were portrayed in the book.
I found out from an article why they didn’t give Peeta the false leg (too complicated) and so I’m not going to nit-pick it. It’s fine and it doesn’t detract from the overall plotline of the three books.
When the first mutt jumped out at them it gave me the heebie-jeebies. That whole scene was great. The fight on top of the cornucopia was excellent. I really valued the look into Cato’s mind with his little monologue that I don’t think was in the book (Reference Check).

Okay, am I imagining things or was there one more kiss that was supposed to happen before they almost ate the berries? Someone please let me know!
Katniss should have been more desperate and less calm when she suggests to eat the berries. I got a strong sense of almost “acting” from her in the book where she plays the girl in love and that did not come through in the movie. Katniss was much too sure of herself in the movie when it came to the almost suicide.
I loved how Peeta touched Katniss’ hair before he “ate the berries.” It was BRILLIANT! So brilliant that when I talked to a friend about it I started flipping out.
The hovercrafts throughout the movie were very nice. Props to CGI people!

Um…where was the couch at the interview? Where was the cuddling? Where was the act? Haymitch’s “advice” pre interview was a good way of communicating how there were going to be ramifications. When Pres. Snow compliments Katniss’ pin, it’s a good follow up on that idea of ramifications. You can tell something is going to happen even if Katniss and Peeta don’t know it yet.
Seneca’s death was great. The room was a perfect mix of futuristic and classic style and that is how I pictured the Capitol in general. The bowl of berries was a nice Socrates-esc touch.
I loved the ending contrasting the arrival of Katniss and Peeta in District 12 and President Snow watching them from a television screen. The ending shot was perfect. Perfect, Perfect, Perfect.   

Overall- the movie earns 3 out of 5 stars. Personally, it would never earn a 5 because that movie would be too long and too expensive to make. The movies that earn 5 stars are the movies that are not based on books. Movies based on books only ever earn a 4 out of 5 in my ratings because I almost always love the books more than the movie.
The reason why this movie only got 3? I think you can tell from those certain comments I’ve made throughout my review. I’ll restate a few.
I had a few bothersome issues with Make-up/Hair. Things that could have been done without a lot of trouble and it would have made the movie a little bit tighter.
There was too much behind the scenes stuff. While I enjoyed seeing the alternate view, it wasn’t really needed.
The riot in District 11. It will be a sore point. This is why the movie didn’t make it to the 3 ½ stars mark.
Bookverse is the last point. Bookverse and character relate-ability. The second time I saw the movie a lot of stuff made a lot more sense, but they still could have used much more of the natural dialogue from the book.

Overall- they did a good job for such a complicated and multi-layered book. The movie is worth going to once or twice in theaters and then a few rents from the library when you really get a craving to see your favorite scenes and the blooper reel. I’ve got a weakness for good blooper reels. They always end up being watched way to many time on my youtube channel.
The actors did a great job with the roles they were given. As close to a happy medium for the casting as could be for those characters.
Bravo to the behind the scenes people, your hard work looked great. 
Bravo to Suzanne Collins, for being brave enough to undertake putting her book onto film. That's a risky thing and they didn't miss the mark. Overall the movie is a fairly accurate depiction of the main plot points in the book, done in 2 and 1/2 hours. That's impressive. 

I’m going to be cliché now.

That’s all folks…and…May the odds be ever in your favor!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review Part 2

Hunger Games Movie Review- Part 2

This is going to be another long one. Sorry about that, but I figured I'd better go in depth or just sum up in two sentences. I've realized a lot of stuff that I'm mentioning is actually positive- which is a major change from how I felt after the first viewing. So when I do have some critique moments, I'm trying to be respectful towards the creators of the movie and the actors.

Part 2- Covering the Capitol through the Countdown

Even though this might technically belong in the Train category- I loved the first look at the capitol. I’m pretty sure that the Capitol would be somewhere in the Rocky Mountains (if someone knows for sure- let me know!), and I liked seeing the city situated among the snow covered peaks.

The first time I viewed the movie, I was very unimpressed with the appearance of the Capitol Citizens (From here on out they will be called CCs). They all looked like Avant-Garde NY Fashion week victims/Lady Gaga wanabees. The Second time around- they still looked like that, but I had read an interview article of the woman who did the make-up and I understood the choices that they made. Since I had the new understanding, the garish and out-there costumes worked a lot better. It’s not exactly what I pictured, but for such a large amount of people the idea was a good one to carry off the gaudy CCs.
Two notes towards make-up/hair. I loved Seneca’s beard. It was possibly my favorite make-up/hair thing in the movie. Actually- scratch that last comment, it was my favorite make-up/hair thing in the movie. Second note- I could see the wig coming up off of Caesar Flickerman’s head just behind his ear. Nit-pick, but I did notice that.

I missed the prep team, but I understand how they would have taken up too much time and weren’t really necessary to keep the movie moving along. I hope they’ll be given more time in later movies.
Now onto Cinna- Fantastic. That’s about all I have to say- he was pretty much the way I pictured him and that gold eyeliner was great! He was very cool and friendly and I wish I knew a person like him in real life so I never had to go shopping ever again. I hate shopping- but we can post about that some other time!
Back to HG!

My first impression of Pres. Snow was that Santa had become evil. I pictured Snow as a tall lean man with short but groomed white hair and ice blue eyes. However, Pres. Snow’s acting (Sorry I’m not using actor names for everyone because it’s easier to use character names) made me totally believe him and even after the first viewing I was thoroughly impressed! I’ve always thought that Pres. Snow was a brilliant villain (spoilers- not really!) and that totally carried through the movie in a subtle way. I loved the subtleties that Pres. Snow has in the movie. I will mention them throughout the review. He is a man who knows his power.
The Chariot scene was great. The costumes of the Tributes made me laugh. Very nice gladiator-esc stuff going on. The hand holding between Peeta and Katniss was well done for not having Haymitch give them a signal.
I will say one thing- Cato looked like a taller and leaner version of Peeta. It was an interesting comparison for me to think about and I think it worked. I definitely envisioned Cato differently, but I liked this take on him.
I did not like the penthouse, I excepted it to be a continuation of the Train and I was disappointed at how “today” it was. I’ve seen magazine pictures with that exact type of room and furniture. Second time seeing the movie I just brushed it off with a “oh well,” but I wish they had made the apartments a bit grander and less sparse. I got the impression of plushy rounded edge type stuff from the book and I got bang your hip and get a whopper of a bruise stuff in the movie.

Onto the training stuff!
I liked the woman who “de-briefed” the tributes in the training room. Really good job there, and I don’t remember if that was in the book (once again I will restate that I lent my book to my best friend Bombie and don’t currently have it on my shelf to reference).
Quick Costume Nit Pick- Why did the tributes have the same costume in training, but different costumes in the arena? In the book everyone except Peeta and Katniss look different in training, and then they have a boy/girl version outfit for the Arena. That bugged me. Really- how hard would it have been to switch that back to the original idea?
Other than that note- I really like all of the training sequences. They were done very well. I especially appreciated the look Thresh had on his face when Rue nicked Cato’s knife. It added a sort of “big brother” side to his character towards Rue and made him more of a relatable character.
The pig shooting was awesome. I laughed. Especially in the scene afterwards when Haymitch gives Katniss the thumbs up.

I’m just going to cover all of the scenes between Seneca and Pres. Snow right now- they were well done for something that wasn’t in the books. I appreciated those scenes, even if I wish that they had cut down on them to show more of the stuff that happened in the arena. But the scenes in the rose garden were very good. Seneca came off as a very brilliant, but naïve man. Snow left me smiling at how subtle and powerful he was. I don’t get chills I just start smiling weirdly. Go figure.

Now for the interviews! Overall they were good. I wish they had given Rue wings and Glimmer should have had a better dress. I also wasn’t too much of a fan of Katniss’ dress either. I think it could have spun out more, but that’s just personal preference. I loved the shoulder sequins.
Peeta’s whole “Smelling like roses” routine was funny. Made me laugh both times.
I also really liked Haymitch’s “It’s a television show!” line to Katniss. Haymitch constantly brings up how the Hunger Games is just a big show, and the showier you are the more likely you are to survive. I felt that was a really good thing to hammer into the audience, because you can almost forget why the CCs watch the Games. For them, its entertainment that they can help to tip in favor of one tribute or another in the way of sponsorship. The more they like a tribute- the more likely a tribute is to survive. It was done very well.

For being done by a window- the roof scene was good and if it wasn’t book verse, it was pretty dern close to the book. No more comment on that.

The pre-countdown stuff with the Gamemakers was fine. I personally think that there was too much Gamemaker stuff (they had six scenes), but I’ll get to that in the next (and final) post of my review.
I liked how Cinna hid the mockingjay pin in Katniss’ coat, but I thought they could have done the whole “You get one thing from your district.” It wouldn’t’ have taken more than a few seconds and it would have been one less minor change for the movie.

We’ll get to the actual games in my next post. Thanks for putting up with the in depth review!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Armed with a box of Jr. Mints and a LemonLime fizzy drink!

Note- this review will be fairly in depth and in more than one part. 

The Hunger Games Movie Review Part 1

As I sat down in the movie theater with my younger sister (I’m nicknaming her Duckie), I popped open my box of Jr. Mints and prepared to watch a movie I had seen once before and felt incredibly conflicted about.
First of all, usually I hate the movies that are made from books. Ella Enchanted, for example, is a wonderful book that the movie-makers botched into oblivion. Some books-made-into-movies are pretty good, even excellent (LOTR and HP are in those catagories). Usually the longer a movie is, the more attention to detail and plots the makers took.
Anyway, back to HG. After the first showing I felt like the movie-makers had given the book a good shot, but missed the mark at several points. I also didn’t like some of the actors and was missing some audience/on screen character connections, which is quite important if you ask me.
Since viewing the movie for the first time, I’ve read some articles and interviews that have the insight from the cast and crew and I now understand some of the decisions that were made. Not all of them, because that would take me sitting down with all of the collaborators and a tape recorder, but I have a lot more understanding than I did going to see the movie the first time.
This time, I wrote down everything that passed through my head while watching the movie and compiled 6 pages of notes. Yes you heard me, six pages.
Note: I will probably not write about everything I wrote down, but I will touch base on the most important stuff.
Right now I have lent out my copy of HG to Bombalurina (will be shortned to Bomb, Bombs, or Bombie), so I can’t refer to it to double check a few things, so please grant me grace if I make a typo.

HGMovie- Beginning to Train Ride to Capitol

I liked the Treaty of Treason. That’s something you don’t get to see in the book and I loved seeing it in the movie. It lets the people who haven’t read the book understand what is essentially going to happen. Same thing goes for the promo video they show at the reaping. It gives back story that is in the book that needs to be shown for the movie. I believe they show the promo in the book, and they did a good job transferring that into a movie.
The opening of life in District 12 annoyed me. It was shaky and made me feel ill both times I saw it. I think they could have cut that and gone straight to when Katniss is comforting Prim. I did like how Katniss sang to Prim and I wished that they could have sung the song all the way because now I have half of a tune stuck in my head! However, that’s just personal preference and I’m sure the sheet music will be out there somewhere.
I liked the incorporation of background track verses silence throughout the entire movie. It was very effective and helped the movie to move along where it needed it, and let the audience “live in the moment” during the silent times.
When Katniss and Gale meet in the woods, the first time I didn’t really like the scene. Second time I looked for the little things in the scene and felt that it flowed okay and accepted it, I even liked the easygoing interaction. The first time I saw the movie I wasn’t totally a fan of Liam H’s acting (Gale). However, I gave him more a fair shot the second time around and found that (in my opinion) he did a pretty good job for someone who is in the movie so little. I’ll judge his acting more on the second movie. Again, the second time I watched the movie I was looking for the little things rather than the “how are they going to do this?” approach I had the first viewing. The actors did a good job of showing the familiar and close bond that Katniss and Galge have. They only let their guard down around each other when they're hunting, and you could definitely see that.
The Hob was great, and I liked the portrayal of District 12 in general. It was  very 1930s Great Depression. Except for the peacekeeper outfits. Those almost looked modern day. I don’t know what I think about that. In general I think the filmmakers did a good job making something that was old/new/future/not too far away accessible as possible when you’re making a movie about children killing each other. However, we shall talk about bobby pins and wig lines in a later post.....grrrr.
Yes I know they changed how Katniss got the pin, it was a good book point, but not practical for the movie- ergo I have no issue with Katniss picking up the pin in the Hob. I did miss Greasy Sae…Maybe she’ll appear in Catching Fire?
Some people didn’t like Effie- personally she was one of the few people who looked exactly like I imagined her in my head. I’ll make a list of those people right now so I don’t have to keep saying who they are:
Rue (Excpet in my head she has a cornrow type hairstyle).

It’s a short list, but hey- at least there were a few people that I didn’t have to go “oh, that’s how someone else thinks of them.”  For the most part, the casting was great. I can’t really complain - however I will always imagine them MY way when reading the book.
I really like Effie’s accent, and the capitol insignia. They aren’t related, but they are minor details that I found delightful.
Great job on Jennifer L’s part for the reaping scene. I almost cried both times. She did a fantastic job with such a challenging role. It’d be difficult for anyone to portray Katniss. She’s probably about as close as you can get to a “happy medium” for all of the fans (Happy medium is like a compromise, but people actually are okay with it, for those of you who didn’t know). The salute of District 12 was great too.

For the flashbacks to the day when Peeta throws Katniss the bread…here is my first BIG issue.
Why couldn’t they have gotten another actress for young Katniss? She’s supposed to be 12, not 16. That’s a significant age gap, especially for looks. Peeta looks fine with the different haircut, he’s got a boyish face and that works for him in that scene. I think they needed a different actress for young Katniss. But hey- that’s my first major criticism after seeing the movie a second time.

The first time I saw the movie, I didn’t really like Prim. I felt she was weepy and clingy and not very endearing. However, after watching the movie again, she is still weepy and clingy, but I remembered how Katniss has almost taken over role as Prim’s mother. Heck, I’d be weepy and clingy and un-endearing too in that situation. I’m going to wait for further movies before making an opinion of Prim and Prim and Katniss’ mother. I already love Buttercup and that will never change.

Now we get to the brief part about the train.
I LOVE THE TRAIN!!!! Art Deco and wonderfulness! End of Story. Wished they had carried the theme throughout the capitol a bit more, but what the hay- I LOVED THE TRAIN!!!
Also- Haymitch was fantastic. I didn’t imagine him like that at all, but I like the movie Haymitch just as much as my imaginary version of Haymitch. Movie version is a lot more likable and bit less biting, but it works. I also really liked the Effie/Haymitch conflict that did show in the movie. I loved it in the book, and was glad at least some of it made it into the movie.There will be more on Haymitch later as we get to further parts of the movie.

Overall note - I wish there had been more bookverse. The dialogue in that book was made to be put straight into film. I know a lot had be to rephrased and cut out, but I still wish they could have put in more. Especially later on in the movie. However, I will write about that in my next post! 

Until the Next Post! (Due sometime tomorrow or Wednesday).