music friday: creedence clearwater revival, "keep on chooglin'"
by request: boardwalk empire, series finale

what i watched last week

The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012). I’m going at it in a slightly backwards way, but I continue to be a member of the crowded Jennifer Lawrence Can Do No Wrong bandwagon. I first saw her in Winter’s Bone, which I loved (and I loved her in that movie). That was all it took for me to think Lawrence was a wonderful actress. For all of that, I haven’t seen many of her movies … I don’t think I saw her X-Men movies, saw her big hits Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle and liked them, too. More to the point, I hadn’t seen any of the Hunger Games movies. I was intrigued by a piece by S.E. Smith, “What movie audiences get wrong about Jennifer Lawrence”. Smith called Lawrence “the most successful action heroine in history” while asking why she isn’t thought of as “the biggest action star in the world”. Smith doesn’t even mention X-Men films … the discussion revolves around the Hunger Games franchise. I decided it was time to fill out part of my Lawrence worksheet, and so we watched the first movie in the franchise. It’s Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, and she has no trouble taking command. I knew nothing about the Hunger Games universe, so I was surprised that Katniss Everdeen was rather close to the character Lawrence played in Winter’s Bone, right down to the squirrels. Most of the time, she’s de-glamorized, grimy, taking care of business and looking believable in the process. She is able to run the gamut of emotions in Katniss despite not having a lot of good dialogue to work with. In a movie with plenty of notables in the supporting cast, Lawrence shines above them all. The movie? It was OK. They had the good sense to stick Katniss in the middle of virtually everything that happened, and Lawrence was always worth watching, so it didn’t seem too long, even at 142 minutes. But I felt the entire story was told in a matter-of-fact manner. The (futuristic?) world of the film isn’t explained, which is fine, but without knowing how they got to that point, it’s hard to make sense of any political critiques, submerged as they were. Classes existed, the lower class was crapped on, but how we ended up in this cross of the Roman Empire with Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” was unclear. I wanted to care more about the socio-cultural world of the film, but in the end, it was just Katniss Everdeen kicking ass while dealing with a couple of moony-eyed boys who had their minds on romance. It’s clearly a winning combination … it pulled in almost $700 million, the sequel gathered over $860 million, and the new one will surely set box-office records as well. I don’t know that I’ll be watching this movie again, but I might check out the sequel … it’s the Jennifer Lawrence bandwagon, after all. 7/10. Obviously, the best companion piece would be the sequel, but if you never saw it, try Winter’s Bone, which is better than any other Lawrence movie I’ve seen.