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As surprise box office juggernauts go, you can do a lot worse than The Hunger Games franchise.  Though the first film was flimsy and mostly tacky, there was at least an interesting concept – brutal state repression to protect the wealthiest individuals and the moral backflips one has to do when forced to kill others, and the grotesquerie of Reality Television bloodsport.  None of this is particularly new, and as I wrote in my review of the first entry, it’s too hard to ignore the similarities to Battle Royale, a film which is in every far superior.  Still, a popular film about income inequality that is intent on sowing the seeds of revolution is timely and, for someone with my politics, nothing to be sniffed at.  That said, even though the broad strokes are good, there’s a trouble with the sequel Catching Fire, and though this may just be a symptom of “the middle book” syndrome, it’s hard to get too excited because of it.  Despite Jennifer Lawrence being more than capable in the role, and the fact that this film is an improvement over its predecessor in almost every way, the biggest sore spot is Katniss Everdeen herself.   Read the rest of this entry »

The adaptation of any novel to film will always be fraught with the perils of weighty expectation. Haruki Murakami ‘s 1987 novel Norwegian Wood is no exception. Translated to English 13 years after its Japanese publication, it has reaped perhaps more feverish expectation in the lead to its recent cinematic release than many of its literary contemporaries of the last ten years. By this I discount the cash-cow behemoths of Harry Potter and Twilight; which to me are a new breed of genre unto themselves:  the teen-aimed novel series adapted to ‘dolla sign’ franchise variety . That’s not to slander this type of movie as void of merit ;  production accolades are unavoidable, they have their target audience and generally the hopes and  expectations of that audience are met,  but there’s a big difference between this kind of project and the cinema-as-art adaptations of say, in recent years, Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man. Read the rest of this entry »

Shutter Island

April 8, 2010

Beware of Spoilers of ‘The Twist’, even though it is obvious enough if you’ve ever seen the trailer or, in fact, any movie ever.

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I had rushed to the cinema on opening day to see the latest installment in the ever-so-popular Harry Potter series in the hopes of writing something for the blog and having it posted by the evening.  Ever the punctual sort, here I am sitting down to start it several weeks later.  The problem I ran into, in addition to my poor attention span and generally lazy attitude towards life, was that I really didn’t have anything to say about it at all.  Yes, it’s well made.  It’s perfectly diverting, it delivers the action and fantasy that Potter fans have come to expect. It is in no way a bad film.  I just didn’t care.
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Star Trek

May 7, 2009

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I believe the new Star Trek film, like the others, can’t be experienced in a vacuum.  Film viewing is, as with all art, a subjective experience, but the Star Trek franchise these days depends so much on not only what you’re seeing on screen, but what you already feel about the decades worth of films and TV series that have come before it.  I was a fan as a kid, and I still enjoy reserving nuggets of nerd knowledge about Jeffrey tubes and inertia dampers in my head, but aside from the original series, I’ll quite happily avoid almost any Star Trek property (because it’s not felt like much more than a property for a long time now).  I’ll even admit to only watching the original series (TOS, for those in-the-know) for it’s camp factor, and occasionally trying to parse the progressive points it tried to make from time to time.  In short, my relationship with the series isn’t very strong, and I have long since resigned myself to the fact that is now mostly for the hardcore geeks to enthuse over, and not many others besides.  In fact, growing up, it was such a social stigma that I was shocked there was enough of an audience to carry the plethora of films and shows through.  There were more than I thought at the time, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the audience has somewhat diminished over the last decade.  So here comes the reboot.  Sort of.

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