November 27, 2013

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

From my movie review at Taki's Magazine:
Perhaps The Hunger Games works best as an allegorical critique of poor dumb Red State provincials volunteering to serve in the Capitol’s wars without even getting a cut of the Beltway’s black-budget contracts.

Read it all there.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

We should get a whole bunch of 'teens' and force them to play the KO game on one another.

White folks used to do something like that. Jack Johnson as a young man was hired by whites to 'street fight' with other blacks until the last guy was standing.

Anonymous said...

"Nobody is on disability due to morbid obesity. The working class isn’t trapped in a web of invisible debt, they aren’t having their heavy industry jobs outsourced, nor are they having new populations insourced. In other words, there’s little to unsettle contemporary viewers in The Hunger Games."

Maybe in the future, the welfare state has collapsed and there is no more money for bread and circuses for everyone. So, 'poor white trash' do go hungry.
And such an outcome isn't impossible in the future.

And even if third world immigrants were to pour in, certain communities are still going to remain white.. as there are still nearly all-white poor communities in South Africa.

And HUNGER GAMES focuses on a particular community that is affected by the games.
(Besides, Hindus, East Asians, and Mexicans might be rather boring, even as victims chosen to be killers.I mean who wants to see the son of Babu with a flail?)

And look at Russia. Communism was shit but during the 60s and 70s, most Soviet citizens were taken care of by the state and provided with stuff necessary for basic survival.
But with the 'privatization' of the 90s, a handful of oligarchs and urban dwellers plundered the entire economy. The main difference between 90s oligarchy and Putinarchy is that the latter wrested some of the influence from globalist Zionists, but Russia is still a nation of a few have-alls and lots of have-nothings. And there isn't even the kind of basic security that had once existed under communism.
Some parts of Russia looks 21st century while other parts look like it's still the 1920s.. or even the 19th century.

Thursday said...

Lawrence has enormous charisma. While decently pretty, she isn't up there for her looks.

Anonymous said...

The Hunger Games movies are too cheesy and childish in presentation. They make the original Star Wars movies look like mature, serious works. I don't see how anyone older than 13 can find the movies compelling. They're boring as hell.

They could have made up for it visually, but the world and the special effects aren't intriguing at all. High speed trains, a city with classical architecture, touch screens, holograms, etc. It's all very lame and stale for a vision of the future, even if it's supposed to be dystopic. The Road's world and landscape was more compelling, even though it just looked like hollowed out industrial cities like Detroit or Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

"Thus the heroine is never tempted to side with the rich and powerful, although you can’t really credit her for that considering their taste in couture. The Capitol denizens are addicted to godawful conspicuous consumption rather than to the current status system in which you show off what esoterica you notice (how much carbon was emitted bringing your carrots to market, for instance) and all the massive facts you ostentatiously fail to notice."

But things are changing. With the rise of homo power, culture, and influence, pop culture has become more gaudy, ridiculous, out-of-control, etc., and pop culture is the main culture for the elites too. It's been that way for a long time. Even elite magazines and journals use much of their space for discussion of pop culture. When the likes of Perez Hilton are arbiters of cultural norms, what had once been considered tasteless and trashy is now celebrated as liberating and empowering. And it's not just the moronic masses who are watching, listening, and dancing to Smiley Circus, Lady Gaga, madonna(in her ever new incarnations), Kanye West and other trashy rappers.
And consider WWT where a fat middle-aged Pritzker changes his sex, puts on makeup and women's dresses, BUT he is lauded and admired by the elites.
And notice the pornization of our culture, where even elite-educated women have 'slut pride' parades and yammer about vagina, vagina, and vagina. Amanda Marcotte of Salon or Slate wrote a piece about how she slept with a porn star and expected people to high-five her.

The actual lifestyles of today's uber-rich go way beyond those of rich wasps of the past. While the likes of google boys, Zuckerberg, and others may dress more casually, their mansions, yachts, private jets, jewelry for their wives, and etc are unbelievable. Look at Clinton the playboy ex-president making a spectacle of himself after leaving office.. and the media love him--no previous president acted like that after leaving office. Look at the crass cult of personality of Obama and the fashion sense of Michelle who drapes her donkey ass with all manner of gaudy fabric. Consider the shameless celebrity style presidency of Sarkozy? Think of what has become of British royalty.

While homos have become somewhat more restrained and respectable in their style, mainstream society(and even elite culture) has become trashier, campier, and more immature. Look at all those elite-college educated people lining along 'gay pride parades' waving rainbow flags like brainwashed minions living under communism and howling their lungs out in support of 'marriage equality'. Look at the American elite's romance with Pussy Riot, a bunch of Russian girls whose idea of liberation is stuffing raw chickens up their vaginas and disrupting church services.
Look at the American Right that lionizes Donald Trump--when he was making an ass out of himself over Obama's birth certificate--and Sheldon Adelson, a sleazebag billionaire Zionist who spreads cash all around to buy up cowardly Republican whore politicians.

Look at the mass media controlled by elites that pump us with trashy news. Look at the cult of Paris Hilton. Look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous in THE BLING RING.
Look at the popularity--even among elites--of the utterly trashy 3D version of GREAT GATSBY which is so bad it nearly made my eyes puke if such thing is possible. Funny how a story that purports to be critical of the world of privilege luxuriates in it. I guess Tom Buchanan's luxury is bad because he cares about money and status, whereas Gatsby's luxury is okay because it's all for love and a dream. In a similar sense, I guess it's okay that all these San Fran, NY, and LA liberals are uber-rich since they care more about 'social justice' than for privilege. Sure!

Anonymous said...

There are two strains of Americanism that both values and disdains nouveau-riche crassness, and they exist on both the left and right.

The left looked upon nouveau-riche crassness as greedy, shallow, and vapid, the sign of mindless materialist capitalism. But there was another aspect of the left, especially among Jews and Italians, that saw nouveau-riche-ness as something to be proud of, something more honest and 'egalitarian'. Hollywood Jews of the first half of the 20th century who went from rags to riches might even be richer than the established wasp rich. But they didn't have the proper pedigree; they had the money, the big mansions, and jewelry, but they were still seen as boors, vulgarians, and etc by the established wasp elites in the East. Thus, Jews could identify with movie gangsters who, though greedy and crass, were honest about what they wanted in life. It's like the speech Tony Montana makes in SCARFACE. He's the 'bad guy' but he's honest about it. A lot of Jews making the social climb but shut out of wasp country clubs for not having the proper credentials(despite all their newfound wealth) could identify with ethnic gangster figures. Wasp elites put on respectable airs, but as far as the Jews were concerned, wasp power and wealth were also created through violence, exploitation, aggression, domination, and greed.

They were just better at 'hiding' it. Even today, there is a fondness among Jewish liberals for guys like Howard Stern who is so shameless about the millions he's made. Stern is openly greedy and crass who wallows in pornographic capitalism, but at least he's honest about it. Shameless Andy Warhol played a similar role in the art world, and the 'left' loved him for it.

Contrasting views of nouveau riche crassness exist on the right as well. There is the puritanical and moderation-ist strain in American wasp culture that disdains conspicuous display of wealth, greed, and self-aggrandizement. As people who upheld such attitudes had considerable control over American institutions and culture, even the rich in the past( notwithstanding the real excesses of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century and early 20th century) felt pressured to be respectable and have some taste. This conservatism of the established wasp community--both rich and middle class--disdained the gaudiness of the Latin American rich(Evita-itis) and were appalled by the bad habits of the rags-to-riches immigrants(and also by the rough-and-tumble cattle barons of the Wild West).

But there's another side to American conservatism that is populist, and it embraced nouveau-riche-ness as proof that in the free USA, just about ANYONE could become rich like Rush Limbaugh. And let's not forget that prior to her support of Obama, a lot of conservatives were swooning over that crass pig Oprah. It's like George Jefferson may be a crass character but he's a self-made rich guy in good ole USA, so unlike the European aristocrats of old who inherited their wealth. Nouveau riche Americans may be crude but they made their own money whereas highborn aristocrats or established rich(with upturned noses) had everything handed to them on a silver platter.

Anonymous said...

Also, as the boomers age and their children take over, elite culture is bound to change. Many boomer elites came from humble backgrounds and never forgot it. Also, as ideological socialists and leftists, they had problems with capitalism. Even as they made lots of money and gained privilege, a part of them wasn't comfortable with having so much, and so, they tried to be modest in public. They wanted the power and money but didn't want the image of power and money. But the children of elite boomers grew up with lots of riches and shameless materialism. If old feminists raised their daughters to dress modestly and focus on studies than looking sexy, the new feminism--via stuff like SEX AND THE CITY--says it's empowering for women to dress like ho's, talk like ho's, and even indulge in pornography. And such attitudes exist among elites too.

When 'gay marriage' and the mindless worship of homos--among the most flamboyant people in the world even with the relative taming of 'gay culture--is the premier moral crusade of the day among the elites, you know that the elites themselves are becoming crasser, trashier, and more childish.
Even the elites are being gay-pornized in their attitudes, values, and manners. Consider how elite universities even invite porn stars and other 'sex experts' to give lectures on sexual 'empowerment' and pleasures.
Look how Sarah Silverman's concerts fill up with members of the urban elites, who also stream into Kanye West concerts--as ghetto kids cannot even afford the tickets to such events.

Anonymous said...

"Like the Twilight series, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games young-adult novels are aimed at 12-year-old female readers. This puts the movies squarely in the intellectual wheelhouse of average Americans, a sizable fraction of whom don’t read much at all."

But seriously, are TWILIGHT and HUNGER GAMES any dumber or less-well made than TRANSFORMERS, IRON MAN movies, LOTR movies, 007 movies(old and new), KILL THE GRINGO, BATMAN movies, the horrible AVATAR, and etc?

If anything, I'd say TWILIGHT is light yrs ahead of most popular movies, and I thought HUNGER GAMES(the first one as I haven't seen this yet) was more interesting and engaging that most other big hits in the last 10 yrs. Perhaps, my semi-positive reaction had something to do with the reversal of expectation. I'd expected the worst.

The impression that I got from the first installment was it made space for characters and story than just the action. LOTR, on the other hand, even over 10 hrs, seemed to have cut out everything except the action, spectacle, and grandiosity.

And whatever reservations we might have of Ross for his political affiliations, I don't see him as any worse than most professionals in the business. He's no 'auteur', but he's something more than a hack.

And one good thing about both TWILIGHT and HUNGER GAMES is they have a beginning, middle, and end... unlike those much-lauded TV shows that go on forever or franchises like 007 and superhero movies that are done over and over and over.

d..... said...

I like Jennifer Lawrence but Miley Cyrus would have made a much better Katniss Everdeen.

d..... said...

Also, the best character is Effie Trinket. I wonder why.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike the phenomenally girly Twilight, however, The Hunger Games concerns itself with traditionally male topics such as sports, violence, politics, and war."

HUNGER GAMES' themes are more upfront and blatant, but is TWILIGHT really all that girly?

Take 'sports' and 'violence'. One of Bella's main fascination with vampires is their power,and vampires sure can hit a baseball. Her desire to become a vampire is partly to be with Edward 'forever' but also to FEEL THE POWER. When she changes into a vampire and starts kicking some butt, she aint very girly no more.

As for 'war', there are major battles in parts 3 and 5.
Also, there's a powerful sense of turf/territory between the wolves and vampires despite their 'peace treaty'.

Bella drives a Sanford & Son truck, wears plain clothes, doesn't like to go shopping, doesn't wear much makeup(until parts 4 and 5 where she has to get married and then look a bit vampiress like with all her power). Not your typical girl.

While there is no overt political theme as in HUNGER GAMES--for one thing, most of TWILIGHT takes place in a small town called Forks far away from America's centers of power--, there's always a tension related to problems of alliances, promises, contracts, and the law. The law among vampires is enforced by the globo-aristo-vampire gang the Volturis, but the Volturis sometimes bend the law to serve their own interests.

I like how such themes are dormant but alive in TWILIGHT than used as blatant statements or lessons.
The unfortunate exception is the last installment, BREAKING DAWN Pt 2, where the looming war with the Volturis is framed as something like the second American Revolutionary War. The last thing we want from such a movie is characters making statements than having conversations.

It's like THE GODFATHER is all the more effective because the characters talk business than make speeches about what it's all about. (Indeed, GODFATHER falters a bit when it mentions 'Munich' and the 'Roman Empire'.) They don't need to spell it out since we know the nature of the game and what's at stake.

The problem with Oliver Stone, as gifted as he(or can be), is he often cannot resist putting big statements into the mouths of his characters. GREED IS GOOD AND I AM AN A**HOLE OF THE NEW SCHOOL OF AYN RAND!!!!

Anonymous said...

The movie sort of gets the names right though. "Katniss Everdeen" is the sort of name lower class whites might think sounds sophisticated.

Anonymous said...

"Another Reason The Hunger Games Is Awesome: Katniss Is Taller Than Peeta"

"Like the first Hunger Games film, Catching Fire has a refreshingly unflustered, no-big-deal attitude toward the fact that Jennifer Lawrence is taller than her male costar."

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/11/another-reason-em-the-hunger-games-em-is-awesome-katniss-is-taller-than-peeta/281826/

freudwasrightaboutafewthings said...

She's 8 inches shorter than Gale though. Who is a guy. A guy named Gale. It's what they call transgressive.

Anonymous said...

"The upside is that the purity and intensity of Collins’s disapproval of the harm men do to each other is never seduced by any sporting interest in tactics."

Not sure this is true, especially with the first installment. I thought the sense of tactics is what made the movie interesting. In most superhero or tough guy action movies, the heroes are so powerful or badass that they whup everyone, and we soon lose count of the bodies piling up. I got tired of LOTR movies because the good guys were essentially invincible. They would be surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of bigass Orcs but easily wipe them out. There was zero suspense after awhile as the bad guys, no matter how many in number, were all falling like flies. It was like watching a video game where a single player wipes out 100s of bad guys.

But when the boys and girls train in HUNGER GAMES, each has to assess his or her strength and weakness vis-a-vis the others. And when the game begins, some run for the weapons, some just run for the woods. And alliances form among the players, rather perverse since after killing off the 'others', they must turn on each other as well. Katniss was pretty much all alone and relied on subterfuge. The blonde guy decided to play toady to the dominant gang and bide his time until he could make his own move. I don't see how that's not an interest in tactics on Collins-and-Ross's part. As none of them had super-power, they had to play it gingerly, carefully, even as they sharpened their blades. It was like the story THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. It was like watching the struggle in nature among various animals equipped with different advantages: speed, stealth, strength, size, stamina, agility, patience, ferocity, etc.

HUNGER GAMES may not be one of the most complex movies about tactics, but even some interest in tactics was refreshing considering that most action movies have none. BOURNE TRILOGY was one of the exceptions, though the last part was too heavy on action and turned into one long roller coaster ride.
At any rate, HUNGER GAMES made the viewers feel the fear of power/violence than the mastery of it. I think its success is similar to those of TERMINATOR and PREDATOR where weaker humans had to rely on their wits as well on their strength and stamina to survive. Most action movies make viewers identify with super-tough guys(or gals) and feel badass, but HUNGER GAMES makes them feel scaryass. And in a way, this may owe to HUNGER GAMES being written by a woman. A woman knows she is physically hopelessly disadvantaged in relation to men--Sailer is right that the buttkicking babe is the fantasy of males than females--, so when she thinks of power, she might be more prone towards wit-centrism than male artists/writers might be. This may also by why Bigelow is a more interesting action director than most. Her movies are more about dealing with power than feeling the power.

What I found most entertaining and even a bit interesting about THOR--again, more than most other superhero movies--was how this Germanic god copes as a man in the human 'realm'. He forms a partnership with two girls to get his power back and grows very fond of them, especially anthead Natalie Portman. If the entire film had been about Thor as powerful god, it would have been just a numbing nonstop headbashing fest. But Thor's having to use his wits and rely on cooperation with girls to regain his power--and gain something like wisdom in the bargain--added shades of emotions missing in most tough guy action movies of late.

Anonymous said...

It's like Thor has to undergo his own hunger games to be worthy of regaining his position, and he does this by experiencing the problem of power than just the rawness of power. The problem with lots of blockbuster action movies is the lack of the human element. Everything is big, heavy, powerful, strong, awesome; and there's little room for anything else. THOR made room for the human element and reminded us why power is fascinating to us. It's because we are weak, therefore power, especially great power, is a precious commodity--and Thor learns of its real value only by having lost it. Thus, for power to be interesting, it has to be humanized. Without the human element, power that is narcissistic of its own powerfulness grows nihilistic and mindless. But the rise of pop fascism in the visual arts or narcissistic gargantuanism in music has done much to eradicate the human element in much of popular culture. I think the special appeal of TWILIGHT, HUNGER GAMES and even THOR is they balance the perspective of power dynamics by showing us the human side as well as the 'godly' side of power. Natalie Portman's character in THOR isn't just a sidekick as Lois Lane is in superman movies but a key character in her own right. She isn't just someone for powerful Thor to save but someone who can 'save' him in her own way. (Watching Twilight, I thought... wouldn't it be interesting to have a story of reformed Nazi vampires, one of whom falls in love with a lovely Jewish girl? Well, I guess Germanic God Thor falling in love with Natalie Portman the Jewess sort of realized that possibility. DANGEROUS METHOD made into fun-and-games.)

"The Hunger Games is relentless in its condemnation of children slaughtering each other on live TV."

But here's the problem. FORM IS CONTENT, or we can only assess the content in the form by which it is manifested. While the stated message of HUNGER GAMES is "it's terrible to have kids kill kids", the visual means by which the story has been realized makes the action and violence highly charged, thrilling, suspenseful, and fun. Even as we tell ourselves how awful it is, we are enjoying the cutthroat cat-and-mouse among the contestants. This is why so many so-called anti-war films fail in their stated purpose because the visual-audio manifestation of the 'awful violence' is rendered so exciting and awesome. No matter how much one tries to convince oneself that the attack on the Viet Cong seaside village in APOCALYPSE NOW is a case of brazen American cowboy imperialism, it is grand entertainment of most awesome sort. And even if Wagner's music was added for irony, irony is napalmed by the sheer magnitude of the spectacle.

If the first HUNGER GAMES truly convinced the viewers of the horrors of children-killing-children, why would so many people, adults and children, have returned for the second installment to see more of the same thing? The message cannot be any different or any more advanced this time around--indeed, the 'moral message' of the story can be summed up in a single volume and doesn't need four books--, so why are people so eager to see parts 2, 3, and 4? Because they love the thrills, action, violence, and suspense--even as they are supposed to be horrified by it, but then, as in horror movies, being horrified is part of the fun. (Of course, the more haute-liberals get their kicks from the torture in TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE. Grisly as it may be, liberals love themselves for having been soooo moved by such a film and brag on facebook about how their lives were changed by it. These are the same liberals who scoffed at the conservative 'dummies' who were feeling similarly self-righteous with PASSION OF THE CHRIST. "I cried and I want the world to know that I cried.")

Anonymous said...


If one could make a moral case against HUNGER GAMES, I would say the main problem arises with its focus on the 'main characters' and with its characterizations of some kids as more deserving to live than others.
For HUNGER GAMES to truly shock us and unnerve us, every kid should have been presented with equal time and as equally deserving of sympathy(or at least empathy)--as in so many Iranian films that eschew the idea of 'main character' or primary subjectivity and wander hurly-burly from a whole host of characters and situations. For HUNGER GAMES to be fair to all the victims, we should not be made to cheer for any particular set of characters over others.
But because HUNGER GAMES dramatically embraces Katniss and the blonde guy, we end up rooting for them over and even against others. And in that sense, we are no different from the privileged citizens in the movie who watch the bloody games for entertainment. They cheer for some kids over others--as in sports games--, but we've been made to do much the same. So, we feel less bad when other kids die as long as Katniss and the blonde kid survive to kill for another day. Also, some kids have been characterized to be mean and nasty, so we feel good when they get killed though they are also victims of the system.
For a story that is supposed to be for social fairness, it's not very fair in its characterizations and in its manipulation of reader/viewer sympathy.

Though I have no use for Peter Watkin's politics, his PUNISHMENT PARK was genuinely jarring(as well as infuriating, not least with Watkins himself) than anything in HUNGER GAMES, but then, Watkins made his film to displease(and disorder) while the whole HUNGER GAMES franchise, books and movies, were made to please(and to order).
In a twist of irony, HUNGER GAMES may well serve the interests of the elites since its publication and movie production would suggest that our own society must be free and just since such 'subversive' works of 'satire' are permitted and praised. But HUNGER GAMES could be seen as the Brave-new-world-ization of satire itself, i.e. satire as escapism for the masses--or bread-and-circus satire--like THE MATRIX.
Indeed, it is rather ironic that the entertainment elites are raking in so much dough by making and promoting something that is supposed to be anti-elitist.

This is why TWILIGHT is a more honest work than HUNGER GAMES. TWILIGHT is about the blind madness of passion. In the end, it doesn't matter whether Bella is right or wrong. She feels what she feels and unapologetically goes after it. She could be making terrible decisions--going with Edward and changing into a vampire herself--, but she wants it, and it's beyond moral or rational argument. So, even if one could make the case for the immorality of TWILIGHT, it is honestly immoral and holds nothing back in its fever dream of mad love.

HUNGER GAMES, in contrast, is supposed to be a socially conscious critique of the larger problems of society that affect us all, and it's supposed to on the side of fairness, truth, and justice for all people. And yet, the setup of the story and the characterizations that 'privilege' certain characters over others have a way of turning us into thrill-seeking spectators too who cheer for one side over others.

Anonymous said...

I posted this on Takimag, but it works here, too.

We could probably spend a fair amount of time pointing out the Hunger Games' defects (such as that it's the first modern dictatorship where one can plot openly against the regime as it apparently has never thought of things like informers, listening devices and so on) and that the novels' main source (despite Ms. Collins' denials), Battle Royale, is in fact the better book and film.

That said, the thing that struck me about both films is how the folks in the districts are all (with the exception of one all-black, cotton-picking, district) poor whites. Poor white trash as the vulgar call them. By contrast, the citizens of the evil Capitol are pretty much flaming homosexuals (OK, metrosexuals at best), multicultural to the point of lunacy, with morals and behaviors of the sort one would expect in San Francisco and Hollywood (including especially their views of the poor whites -- "Don't worry, you'll get used to the smell", etc.) Read "flyover country" for the districts and "the Coasts" for the Capitol and you have a pretty good idea of how it looks. (Albeit a little cartoonish)

I'd submit this may have something to do with the films' popularity.

Honestly, I really don't think Hollywood has thought this one through properly....

freudwasrightaboutafewthings said...

"For HUNGER GAMES to truly shock us and unnerve us, every kid should have been presented with equal time and as equally deserving of sympathy(or at least empathy)"

I believe this is the case with the Japanese movie BATTLE ROYALE, but I haven't seen it, so I don't know.

Tarantino liked BR so much he cast one of the girls in KB, using the same costume.

FWIW, fans of BR are all over the internet accusing Collins of ripping off BR.

In my opinion, the actual 'competition' was the most entertaining and believable part of the movie. I found the rest of the stuff to be quite difficult to believe. For example, that no one in District 12 hunts because hunting is a capital crime. Except Katniss and her friend Gate. Just two people. And no one farms, or raises domestic animals for food? There are many other such things that are not believable, but none of that will stop HG from making $1BN at the box office.

As to Jennifer Lawrence, do I feel sorry for that kid. She's already looking middle-aged and stressed out. No actress in Hollywood nowadays is built for either speed or comfort. We go through America's Sweethearts like M&Ms. Does anyone remember when Meg Ryan was America's sweetheart?

They Shoot Film Critics, Don't They said...

"A former Clinton Administration speechwriter, Ross was best known for Seabiscuit,
A former Clinton Administration speechwriter, Ross was best known for Seabiscuit
[source: my own past writings, as usual]"

Ross actually had a few mid-to-upper-range screenwriting credits before that. Probably not A-list but he did a little film for Tom Hanks that no one remembers, especially not this time of year (the one to cement his reputation for left-lib propaganda was "Dave," a real fossil of the P.C. heights of the early 90s). In contrast to other Oscar-bait movies about horses "Seabiscuit" brought in a ton of money on the back end.

Scott Iris said...

She's 8 inches shorter than Gale though. Who is a guy. A guy named Gale. It's what they call transgressive.

It's meant to be sophisticated WN code for "Gael," duh.

Auntie Analogue said...


All I can offer here is Mr. Derbyshire's incisive ""Do you ever feel, as I do, watching some old movie, or listening to the pop lyrics of the 1930s and 1940s, like a kid who's wandered into a room where grown-ups are talking?”

Jason Young said...

i haven't seen the second installment, but the first struck me as a feeble allegorical critique of reality television and the willingness of fame-hungry commoners (the genetically unblessed) to sacrifice their ''authenticity'' or humanity in pursuit of stardom. even still, the takeaway was that if you're a Really Good Girl who remains True to Herself you'll outshine your Machiavellian rivals and win in the end.

i admit the nature of 'The Reaping' contradicts my interpretation, but the notion that fame corrupts and should be avoided is not exactly uncommon in small-town America ("the districts").

Jennifer Lawrence is about as appealing as a girl can get while still remaining "wifeable". She's what white girls with good parents aspire to be.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, freud, Gale Sayers was a pretty tough SOB. So was Gale Gillingham, a Hall of Fame lineman on the great Packers teams of the 60s.

Thursday said...

Take 'sports' and 'violence'. One of Bella's main fascination with vampires is their power,and vampires sure can hit a baseball.

Women may not like sports, but they sure like athletes.

Yawn.

Dave Pinsen said...

Jennifer Lawrence looked great in Sixties getup in that X-Men prequel. It looks like she's dropped at least 20lbs since then though.

Re Hollywood pressuring her into ultra thinness: it's odd to think of her being pressured at all at this point. With blockbuster action roles and a best actress Oscar under her belt, she should be set financially as well as professionally. Maybe she'll ride this out for the rest of her 20s and then marry a wealthy producer or studio exec.

d..... said...

"It looks like she's dropped at least 20lbs since then though."

No way. She looked fine on Letterman.

I'm getting to like her. Her normal, married, unshowbiz brother accompanied her to the show. He looked grumpy and unimpressed by the razzmatazz. He's in computers or something normal. Can't be arsed to look it up.

As far as Jenn (we're that close) marrying a studio exec, etc., do you understand the psychology of actresses, and of Hollywood? A few actresses have done that as a means of boosting their career, but she's already in a place where I can't think of any previous actress has gone, not even Julia Roberts. She is the star of one of the most successful franchises of all time, she's doing prestige projects with prestige names like David O. Russell (who is presently unmarried...forget I said that) and Christian Bale, etc., etc., etc. And people like her.

She's unique.

Her dating pool is very small.

It will be interesting to watch what happens to this meteor-girl, HBD wise.

map said...

People are mistaken about Twilight. The story is about a slightly above average looking girl that somehow manages to get long-term, committed relationships from men that are way out of her league. She does this simply by being a girl and not offering anything in return.

The Twilight story is popular among women because it presents a fantasy where the men they are attracted to don't simply use them as sexual holdovers in-between hotter women. They imagine that an apex male will notice their unique inner beauty and seek to build a life with them, without worrying about competition from other women.

Even better than having one man commit to them is having two men commit to them. Edward is the alpha male and Jacob is the beta male. When the alpha is not around, the beta is there to provide emotional support.

Eventually getting superpowers by becoming a vampire is the creation of equality within the marriage. The feminists who write Twilight do not like the fact that Edward is so superior to Bella so they concoct a circumstance to bestow powers similar to his. But that occurs after spending two movies of Edward qualifying himself to Bella.

Anonymous said...

"People are mistaken about Twilight. The story is about a slightly above average looking girl that somehow manages to get long-term, committed relationships from men that are way out of her league. She does this simply by being a girl and not offering anything in return."

This may be true of the books(which I haven't read), but Kristen Stewart has undeniable beauty in the movies(though she lacks the full-bodied womanly qualities of, say, 'Rosalie'.) Stewart is the forever-girl type, just like some of the leading 'men' are the forever-boy types.

Of course, she does it by simply 'being a girl'. I mean how else does love work? "I'm a girl, plus I'll give you my iPod and bag of cookies if you love me." ???

"The Twilight story is popular among women because it presents a fantasy where the men they are attracted to don't simply use them as sexual holdovers in-between hotter women. They imagine that an apex male will notice their unique inner beauty and seek to build a life with them, without worrying about competition from other women."

Again maybe in the book. In the movie, however, Bella is obviously pretty and, in a small town like Forks, she's not gonna have much competition. She attracts a lot of boys on the first day, so it's clearly established that there's something about her that turns on guys.
There are fairytale elements in TWILIGHT, but Bella is both the witch and the princess. Unlike the pure and innocent princesses of fairytales, there is a dark obsessiveness about Bella, and she knows what she wants. Like Morgana in EXCALIBUR, she wants it even if it might kill her and rob her of her soul. And yet, there is a good and light-hearted side of her too. I think it's this ambivalence of innocence and nihilism at the core of Bella that fascinates a lot of fans. Some horror fans complain that TWILIGHT whitewashed the dark elements of vampire tales, but that's what makes it all the more strange. The vampire world and human world, instead of being black and white contrasts, are of grey and grey contrasts and continuities.

In the movie(as opposed to the books, of which I only know thru wikipedia), the meeting of Bella and Edward is not presented as homely girl meets gorgeous guy. Rather, it's beauty meets beauty. But there is a beastly side of Edward because he's a monster, and there is also a beastly side to Bella because the monstrousness is partly what turns her on. In BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the good and pure woman tames the beast, lifts the curse, and the beast becomes a prince. In TWILIGHT, Bella is turned on by Edward's beauty(before she knows anything about his power), but then is fascinated by his power, and in wanting to be with him, she wants to be a 'monster' too.

Anonymous said...

"Even better than having one man commit to them is having two men commit to them. Edward is the alpha male and Jacob is the beta male. When the alpha is not around, the beta is there to provide emotional support."

I can see how fans might get a kick out of how a girl is chased by two guys, but Bella is not exactly chased by Edward. He tries to keep his distance in part 1 and in part 2, takes off, though, to be sure, for her own good. So, it becomes like Jacob is after her, but she's after Edward(almost as obsessively as Isabelle Adjani in THE STORY OF ADELE H. Adjani was also the woman in the remake of NOSFERATU. The movie wasn't very good, but she had the perfect look for the role.)
As for Jacob, Bella likes him but doesn't feel romantically for him. She wants him as a friend, maybe a 'younger brother' type. She is turned on by his body at the animal level, but she never feels any mad passion for him. It's more of an affection. Ideally, she wants him only as a friend and rebuffs him when he tries to kiss her in New Moon. She does kiss him in Eclipse, but only to console him after he freaks after finding out that she is engaged to Edward. (While I like Jacob, couldn't she just peck him a few times? Was kissing him 13 times on the lips--I counted them--really necessary? I mean we don't want her smooching Geronimo here.)

If anything, Edward is the natural beta type while Jacob is more the alpha type. To be sure, both guys have a soft side. Edward, as a human, was just some slim, even skinny, guy who was dying of the Spanish Influenza before he was turned into a vampire. He was never happy as a vampire, and he never took advantage of the powers he had. Real alpha vampires feed on humans and exult in their power, like the Negro and 'white trash' vamps that form a trio. Before Bella came along, Edward just felt bad about being a 'monster'. Hardly an alpha type. And even his approach with Bella is soft and gentle, gradual and cautious.
Jacob, in contrast, tends to act on his feelings. He's always making his moves on Bella; trying to hold her hands, exploding at the other date at the screening of FACE PUNCH, the movie within the movie. The red bastard even kisses Bella without her permission(and it was good of her to knock some sense into his wolfish savage head).
Edward if more the refined prince type, Jacob is more the rough huntsman type--and the archetypal dichotomy exists in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN too.
Jacob only turns relatively beta in BREAKING DAWN PART 2 where Bella kicks his butt. You almost feel sorry for him.

Anonymous said...

"Eventually getting superpowers by becoming a vampire is the creation of equality within the marriage. The feminists who write Twilight do not like the fact that Edward is so superior to Bella so they concoct a circumstance to bestow powers similar to his. But that occurs after spending two movies of Edward qualifying himself to Bella."

But Bella could have had 'equal powers' without the marriage, and there are plenty of unmarried female vampires in TWILIGHT without great power. So, I don't think the power has anything to do with marriage. Bella initially hopes to be a vampire because she fears the aging process and wants to be with Edward forever. But the more she hangs around them, the more she becomes fascinated with the power as well.

Even so, TWILIGHT is ambivalent about the power. Vampires have the power to overpower humans and suck out their blood. But the Cullens refuse their naturally intended power against humans; they've nullified the very nature of their power. So, they have vamp power but don't use it.

With their great power, one might argue they could use it to help humans as superheroes do. But Cullens don't do that either. Cullens know in the first movie that vampires are roaming the region and killing innocent humans, but they don't intervene to save humans. They won't kill humans but they won't try to save humans from vampires either, and they make an exception only for Bella because she becomes 'like family' through Edward.

Thus, as great as their power is, they use it defensively to preserve their clan rather than offensively, as superheroes do, to do good for society. Carlisle helps out people but as a regular doctor.

Cullens have the power to help mankind, but if they acted on it, they would be discovered for what they are, and that is not allowed by vampire law, so they mostly keep to themselves. Also, they prefer the quiet life and want to be left alone.

So, power dynamics is very passive/aggressive. And this is also the feature of the relationship between Edward and Bella. Edward is a vampire but doesn't want to be. Bella is not a vampire but wants to be. Thus, both are both hunter and hunted.

But all said and done, TWILIGHT works because it's really well-made. If it were un-well-made, who would care about its 'meaning'.
THE HOST, another Meyer movie adaptation, has some very interesting ideas but is so badly made that it was dismissed and forgotten on the day of its release. Poorly cast too, except for William Hurt.

Sometimes the making redeems the material. I was looking back on Sailer's blog post on SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, and I agree that it is one of the most cynically concocted Hollywood projects ever: let's mix what girls like with what boys like and sell tickets to both demographics. I can see how the entire project was conceived by the marketing department and worked on by a whole bunch of writers with formula on their mind.
But the direction is awesome, casting is picture perfect, and the art design is mind-blowing. Such a cynically devised work shouldn't work--and 99 times out of 100, they don't--, but SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is a real triumph--if not of the film story, then of the film-making.

Harry Baldwin said...


Does anyone remember when Meg Ryan was America's sweetheart?

Of course we do, she occupied that position for a good twelve years or so. That's nothing to disparage.

Dave Pinsen said...

I wasn't suggesting she'd marry for career purposes, just speculating she might be savvy enough not to marry an actor. She could also do what some actresses have done and marry a wealthy non-Hollywood man.

d..... said...

But look at Meg Ryan now, not a pretty sight. And we could argue forever about how long she was America's Sweetheart, I say it wasn't 12 years, it was about 18 months after when Sally Met Harry. But it doesn't matter, she's forgotten now, her life is a mess. She got eaten up and spat out.

I hope Lawrence doesn't marry an actor, either. Marrying an actor would only be marrying down. She is a remarkable phenom. When phenoms age...Meryl Streep didn't make her first HW movie until she was 28, in a featured but basically bit part. Lawrence won't be 28 for another five years.

Maybe her role model shouldn't be an actress, but Christian Bale, who has been reinventing himself since he was 12.

David Pinsen said...

"But look at Meg Ryan now, not a pretty sight. And we could argue forever about how long she was America's Sweetheart, I say it wasn't 12 years, it was about 18 months after when Sally Met Harry."

Meg Ryan is 52 now, and no, we couldn't argue forever about how long she was America's sweetheart, because we have IMDB. Harry Baldwin was right: it was about 12 years, from When Harry Met Sally (1989) to Kate and Leopold
(2001), her last romantic comedy role. In between were Sleepless in Seattle (1993), You've Got Mail (1998), etc.

Anonymous said...

"But look at Meg Ryan now, not a pretty sight."

People age. It's a natural process. Some age worse than others.

Meg was the new Goldie Hawn for a while. I never liked her personally, and her 'orgasm' thing in Sleepless in Seattle was disgusting.

But the thing that famous actresses should avoid like a plague is "SERIOUSNESS".
Many of them feel this inferiority complex as mere 'entertainers' not taken seriously by intelligent people, and they seek their true worth as 'artists'.

More often than not, this amounts to some clever male(or some foul feminist) director talking them into taking their clothes off and making fools of themselves.

We hear so much about the intelligence, independence, and strength of women, but they fall for this shit all the time.

Kristen Stewart made a damn fool of herself in ON THE ROAD, an crappy 'art film' whose sole use for her was to make her a dirty nudie scene.
Holly Hunter was never the same again after her dumb role in PIANO
And though EYES WIDE SHUT is a very great movie, Kubrick trampled all over Kidman, and she was never the same.

These bims think they are proving their artistic worth by 'going all the way' and 'pushing the envelope', but 9 times out of 10, they are just being made to bare their ass and act stupid.

After they do it, they realize what damn fools they were, but they try to repress the shame by taking on even more more extreme roles.

Keep you clothes on, ladies.

There are exceptions to be sure--Lynch's use of nudity in MUL DR and Imamura's movies--, but generally, actresses get suckered by 'artists' over and over.

I don't know if Ryan did nudie scenes, but took on some horrible 'serious' roles, like in WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN, a film that says a white male is guilty even when he's a nice guy. You see, by being a pillar of strength and patience to his troubled wife, he made her emotionally dependent on him, furthering her frustration and shame.

GIMME A BREAK!!!

d..... said...

If you want to think that Meg Ryan was America's Sweetheart, fine, there isn't an American's Sweetheart Comintern, but I think you're distorting the record. At least add and subtract properly. From 1989 to 1998 is 9 years, not 12.

Yes, there is IMDB. Which tells me that in 1990 a movie named Pretty Woman was released. The actress in that became the biggest female star of her time, not Meg Ryan.

Roberts' only competition as alpha female was (and is) Sandra Bullock, who is doing quite well at 50 or so, in comparison to Ryan.

What's wrong with Meg Ryan isn't that she's 52, but that she's had multiple disastrous plastic surgeries as opposed to Bullock, whose work is quite artistic. I've seen 60 year old diner waitresses who look better than Ryan.

My point is that Hollywood eats actresses up and spits them out and Meg Ryan is a perfect example of that. There are many others.

The Jennifer Lawrence undertow is truly fascinating. David Thomson hated Hunger Games I and predicted that the franchise would bottle up her talent and destroy her but the opposite seems to have happened - she's being cast in everything. She won the Oscar for a part that she was 10 years too young to play because the Academy wanted to build her up and now this creation is sucking the oxygen out of opportunities for every actress, not only in their 20s, but in their 30s. I've heard that the main female in American Hustle was supposed to be Amy Adams but - Russell changed the focus to Lawrence. She is playing a woman who in real life was close to 50 during the main parts of the film's action. Why?

Like the Hunger Games franchise itself, it's a form of contagion: J-Lawitis.

Dave Pinsen said...

Julia Roberts had a more diverse collection of roles, but Meg Ryan was Hollywood's go-to female star for romantic comedies from 1989 to 2001. Getting pigeonholed in that genre is probably more relevant to her career's arc than any plastic surgery she's had. I'd be surprised if Bullock and Roberts haven't had work done too.

Anonymous said...

Bullock had long dry spells and most of her roles have been pretty crappy.

GRAVITY was her role of a lifetime.

Roberts could have done much better if she didn't go into SERIOUS mode and take on roles she wasn't fit for.

It's like Demi Moore made a fool out of herself with SCARLETT.

rob said...

My point is that Hollywood eats actresses up and spits them out and Meg Ryan is a perfect example of that. There are many others.

The Jennifer Lawrence undertow is truly fascinating. David Thomson hated Hunger Games I and predicted that the franchise would bottle up her talent and destroy her but the opposite seems to have happened - she's being cast in everything. She won the Oscar for a part that she was 10 years too young to play because the Academy wanted to build her up and now this creation is sucking the oxygen out of opportunities for every actress, not only in their 20s, but in their 30s. I've heard that the main female in American Hustle was supposed to be Amy Adams but - Russell changed the focus to Lawrence. She is playing a woman who in real life was close to 50 during the main parts of the film's action. Why?

Like the Hunger Games franchise itself, it's a form of contagion: J-Lawitis.


d..., when lots of women get a shot at Hollywood, the industry is using them up and spitting them out. But, every once in a while an actress comes along who doesn't get used up and spit out. She ends up starring in a bunch of movies, sometimes in roles that don't match her physical type.

The second situation looks a lot like what happens to male movie stars. Giving lots of women a lead role or two: awful. Giving one woman a bunch of leads and it's awful too. J-lawitis taking all these roles from actresses so they don't get their 15 minutes is really bad, too.

Anonymous said...

"d..., when lots of women get a shot at Hollywood, the industry is using them up and spitting them out."

I think it's less the industry than the culture. If you hang around the industry, you are surrounded by hardworking professionals as writers, crew, directors, and etc. While there are crazy creative types in Hollywood, most are there to do the job, and movie-making is like managing an army.

The problem is what happens off the set. Once you become famous, so many leeches say they are your friends, invite you to parties, offer you drugs, and etc. And then the paparazzi a**holes won't leave you alone. That's when the real trouble happens. It's temptations away from work than the work itself. To be sure, the stress of work makes many celebrities look for relief, and it can come in drugs and other excesses. But this is a much bigger problem in the music industry as rock culture tends to be more sleazy(even in the manner of production).

In many cases, industry people try to be very protective of their stars. They know all about temptations and dangers that can ruin a career. Those around Tom Cruise certainly tried to keep him under wraps, but then, the goofball went his own way and was suddenly jumping on sofas and saying ridiculous things.
Strangely enough, the problem with Cruise isn't so much that he's out of control as he too much of a control freak who sees himself as the master of the universe or some such.

But even when everything seems to be going right, some actors and actresses just can't find the roles they need.
There are meat-and-potato actors/actresses who are fit for many kinds of roles. John Wayne was the perfect example of this. As big and tough as he was, there was something of the 'every man' about him, which is why so many people liked him in movie after movie. He wasn't so much a tough guy as a big guy who could be tough when need be. He could star in any kind of Hollywood western. In contrast, there was something very special about Eastwood in looks and style, and only certain kinds of roles were right for him. Even in a mediocre movie, Wayne never seems wasted, but Eastwood can seem like a total fish out of water in a movie that doesn't specifically tailor to his special qualities.

Some actors and actresses, by looks and/or style, were meant to be special, and they need special roles.
Audrey Hepburn was beautiful and talented in a very special way, but that meant she wasn't fit for most ordinary roles. She could totally shine in a role in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S but seemed out of place in most other roles, which is why only a handful of her roles are memorable. Ashley Gere who played Alice Cullen in TWILIGHT is like Hepburn. She would be perfect for special roles but wouldn't be right for most roles. Gems may be more precious than stones, but they are not for all occasions as stones are. Jennifer Lawrence is a stone actress in looks and style, and she should never forget it. She has a natural quality like the singer Cady Groves. Her mistake would be trying to be a glamorous star, a mistake Groves might make as well if she wants to be the next Katy Perry or some such crap.

Some handsome men tend to put the audience more at ease than others, which is why Paul Newman had a more successful career than Robert Redford. Newman always had that 'cool hand luke' smile that made him so accessible and likable. But Redford had a rock-like intensity that always created a distance between him and the audience. He was right for only certain kinds of movies.

But an hardy actress like Isabelle Huppert can star in just about any role. Pretty as she is, she was never fragile. She has the hunger of a real person in her eyes.

Another problem is, of course, the peak-thing. Once an actor or actress reaches the peak, he or she wants to stay there and may only look for BIG roles. Or if he or she wants to prove his/her worth as 'artist', he/she may go for overly serious roles that strain his/her credibility as an actor.



d..... said...

Anon 2:38 PM, I think the breakup of the studio system was harder on women than men. For HBD reasons, most of the time, men are better at navigating a freebooting system, whereas women are better in a rep/company system. At the end of the day, they're still women and have the work/life thing to deal with in a more urgent way.

Bottom line, I don't think J-Law is much of an actress. She's not Cate Blanchett or Miranda Richardson. That's really what it comes down to after the hype machine has lost steam. People really do come to their senses and say, "what was all that about?"

OK Dave, I'll let you be the judge of who was America's Sweetheart. Somehow I always thought that from 1990 to 2002 J-Rob was the AS-in-chief, with Meg and Sandra as Veep, and Speaker, just in case anything awful happened to the woman who answered that 3 a.m. phone call.

In any case, it's JLaw now.

And one thing's for certain: the suits can import our superheroes from Britain - but America's Sweetheart is one job only a native-born American woman can do.

d..... said...

Also, I don't think that J-Law got to be where she is just because tween girls want to be her BFF. No girl gets to be that big without making a lot of middle aged men salivate:

http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/off-the-carpet-american-hustle-finally-enters-the-oscar-race/2

American Hustle was supposed to be Amy Adams' star vehicle, with Rosenfeld's wife a minor part. But Russell wanted JLaw, and the part got puffed up bigtime.

Adams must absolutely love JLaw. She must truly be happy for the success of this wonderful actress, 16 years her junior.

(s*rc*sm.)

Anonymous said...

"She's not Cate Blanchett or Miranda Richardson."

Yeah, Blanchett is real purty, the most beautiful woman that ever lived.