So this is the difference between having read the book before (she) and not (he)…
** ½ The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Theatre)
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson. President Snow is not happy about how the last Hunger Games ended, and lets Katniss know it. She sees signs of rebellion for herself on her Victory Tour with Peeta. Neither are prepared for Snow’s plan for the 75th Hunger Games.
She says: I think the movie did a good job of showing the oppressive force of the Capital and the danger and excitement of the simmering rebellion in the districts. And it really did seem sad that [spoiler alert?] past victors were sent back to battle again. I also appreciated the fierceness of the women characters—Katniss, of course; Mags, in her own way; but especially Jenna Malone as Johanna. Johanna did make that much of an impression in the book, but on-screen, I couldn’t get enough of her speaking truth to power. And the final shot of Katniss was awesome.
Katniss’ continuing lack of skill in correctly interpreting what’s going on around her (and the plot device of keeping her in the dark so much) was a bit meh, but not enough to ruin the movie for me. It also, cinematographically, looked gorgeous, including Sam Claflin as Finnick, who was as good-looking as I’d hoped, based on the novel. Katniss also seemed more truly in love with both Gale and Peeta than I recall her being at this point in the trilogy, but I guess that’s allowed. ***
He says: I didn’t think it was that good. It was like they couldn’t think of a new story, so just redid the plot of the first movie, sending Katniss and Peeta into the Hunger Games again. And I’m not sure it holds together. If Peeta was in on it, why was he acting so suspicious of the others in the arena? **
And other notes
Also viewed recently, at home, were two much smaller, character-driven movies: Mike Leigh’s Another Year and Norm Baumbach’s Frances Ha. If you like movies about interesting characters and how they interact with others and get on in the world—but without a big dramatic arc—these two are good examples of that. Another Year features a happy couple and their messed-up friends and family. Frances Ha follows struggling dancer Frances in her efforts to “become a person” with an actual career, place to live, and friends.
But these are not the sorts of films Jean enjoys. I didn’t even ask him to watch Another Year. He actually picked out Frances Ha from a short list of options, but then he was sorry he had.
As for award seasons, as usual I haven’t seen too many of the big contenders. But I am happy that Dallas Buyers Club is getting so much recognition. Was reminded it was directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée, who did two other movies Jean and I both enjoyed: Café de Flore and C.R.A.Z.Y.