Archive for March, 2012

My Thoughts on The Hunger Games Movie

ImageSo, The Hunger Games movie has only been out for six days and I have already seen it twice.  Obviously I really loved it.  It is not nearly as good as the book (I mean, how could it be) but it did a great job of bringing the story to life.  I am going to ramble on about some things I liked and didn’t like about the movie, because I am not talented enough as a writer to turn this into an actual review that flows together :)

I will start with what I didn’t like, so that we can end things on a positive note.  Obviously this will contain *spoilers.*

**The Costumes**  There was something that seemed a little off to me about the costumes.  I can’t really describe what it was, but the look of some of them was just “off.”  The clothes in the arena were just fine, and even the outlandish Capital stuff was okay, but I didn’t like most of Katniss/Peeta’s wardrobe.  I didn’t like any of the outfits they wore while they were in the Capital.  That includes their “on fire” costumes (totally lame) and their interview clothes.  I had forgotten just how awesome Katniss’ dress is supposed to be, but after re-reading the book, her dress in the movie is very underwhelming.  And Peeta looks like a waiter from a haunted house in his outfit.

**The BIG Moments weren’t big enough**  One of the things I remember most about reading the book for the first time was all of the HUGE things that happened right at the end of a chapter…Peeta asking to train alone, Peeta saying “she came here with me,” Peeta showing up with the Careers, the spear going into Rue, etc.  Literally at the end of each chapter I would hear the Dramatic Chipmunk theme in my head.

I felt like the movie mishandled most of these moments, especially the two biggest ones, the discovery of Peeta with the Careers and when they announce that two tributes from the same district can win.  In the first instance when Peeta is tagging along after the Careers and Katniss sees him, she looks mildly annoyed.  I wanted to scream at the screen, “WTF, Katniss!!!  This is a HUGE moment in the book and you don’t even look like you are all that bothered!  What is the matter with you!!!???”  And the scene in the book where she finds out that she and Peeta can BOTH win, and she screams out his name….Gosh, I LOVE that in the book.  In the movie, she quietly whispers his name, and is like, “Doh de doh de doh, guess I better go find that Peeta character…doh de doh de doh.”  C’mon Gary Ross (Mr. Director) what the hell were you thinking in both of those scenes.  You totally dropped the ball there.

**The Scene at the End**  One of the most important moments in the book is right at the end when the announcer says, “whoops, wait a minute, only one of you can win.”  When that happens in the book, Peeta reaches for his knife (to lay it on the ground) and Katniss whips out her last arrow to kill him.  That is such a perfect example of who Katniss is (and who she will become by the end of the steaming pile of garbage that is Mockingjay) and who Peeta is and always will be.  In the movie, none of that happens and it jumps right into the part with the berries and everything is rushed and hectic.  I sincerely hope everyone who sees the movie actually goes home to read the book so they can see how it SHOULD have happened.

Anyway, I am being pretty harsh on the movie, but I really and truly did enjoy it.  I only get nitpicky like this with things I am truly passionate about.  So, without further ado, here are the things I loved!!

**Prim**  Oh my gosh, I LOVED Prim in the movie.  She barely registered with me at all the books; she was more of a plot device that got the first book going.  But in the movie, I cried practically every time she was on screen.  When she walks up to the stage and tucks in her little tail……oh man, my heart breaks!

**Gale**  As a firm member of Team Peeta, I have never really been fond of Gale, but in the movie he is great!!!  I loved when he pulls Prim away at the beginning and then again at the end when you see her sitting on his shoulders.  Oh, and he is very nice to look at :)

**Effie**  (I am realizing that there is a strong possibility that I might just list characters from here on out, so bear with me)  Elizabeth Banks was so great as Effie!  I missed some of Suzanne Collins’ humor in the movie (a lot of it came from Katniss’ inner monologue) but Effie brought out a laugh with everything she said.  My favorite line in possibly the whole movie is “THAT IS MAHOGANY!”

**The Tributes**  I felt like all the tributes were perfectly cast.  Foxface was awesome (she is actually my second favorite character in the books after Peeta) as well as Thresh and Clove.  I was very surprised with how believable Cato was (I worried I would just keep picturing him as the little skinny kid from Race to Witch Mountain) and really liked his scene at the end.  And Rue, oh little Rue!!!  If I could just put her in my pocket and take her home, she is so heartbreakingly adorable!!

**Peeta**  I was obviously not real happy with the casting of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked him as Peeta.  I always knew he would be great in the part acting wise, but I worried about him being “big enough” to play Peeta.  I found that in the end, it didn’t really matter.  He perfectly embodied Peeta on screen and I only noticed a couple of times when they really tried to hide the height difference (did you notice how Katniss and Peeta spent a lot of time sitting down or not standing directly next to each other).  My favorite moment in the whole movie hands down is at the very end when they are about the eat the berries and Katniss is busy paying attention to the cameras and Peeta reaches over and touches her braid.  In that moment you can tell how much he is totally in love with her. My little heart melts just thinking about it :)

**Peeta’s Camoflage Skills**  ‘Nuff said.

**Extra Training Scenes**  I liked the added scenes with Rue and the knife and Peeta throwing the giant metal thing.

All in all, I really enjoyed the movie.  I am so happy that it is doing well, and I am actually looking forward to watching Catching Fire (which is saying a lot since I didn’t like the second book).

So, what did you all think??

Jen

*I didn’t really comment on Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss because I am kind of indifferent to her.  I didn’t love her as Katniss, but I didn’t hate her either.  She was kind of just “there.”

*In the very scary midnight show I was at, the high school girls in the theater literally screamed out “Woohoo Peeta!!!”  “What a hottie!!” the first time he showed up on screen.  Yeah, during the very emotionally charged reaping scene, that was a tad bit inappropriate.

Oscar Movie Marathon: Year 3*

*technically this is my 4th year of doing the movies, but the 3rd year there have been more than 5 and I’ve blogged about it

If you were paying any attention to the world a few weeks ago, you probably knew the Academy Awards happened.  My family continued our tradition of participating in AMC Theaters’ Best Picture Movie Marathon.  This year we had an even bigger group (11!) of family and friends who traveled from out of town or cleared their weekend to watch 9 movies back to back in a 24 hour period.  The marathon started on the Saturday before the Oscars at 11:00 am and ended on Sunday morning around 8:30.  Overall, the 9 movies were great.  I liked them as a whole better than the 10 from the last two years.  Last year wasn’t bad, but I was excited to see more of these movies.

The movies (in the order I saw them) with my thoughts:

Hugo (in 3D)

I enjoyed Hugo but definitely not as much as everyone else.  It’s a good, interesting story, and from what I can remember it was true to the book.  But I just didn’t LOVE it.  I think I had a problem with some of the acting.  There would be some pauses before dialogue or I didn’t understand why Hugo did some of the things he did.  A lot of us picked it for Best Picture though, so if you haven’t seen it, go and make your own decisions.  I give it a 3/5.

The Tree of Life

You guys, I did NOT get this movie at all.  I knew going into it that it was going to be a very unique way to tell a story, but even that didn’t help.  Some of my family had already seen it, and they all really liked it, so they were excited to see it again.  They did say that when they saw it the first time, they discussed it for about 2 hours afterward – which is one of the big problems with doing a movie marathon – no time to digest a film.  Maybe I would have liked it better if I had been able to really talk about it with someone afterward.  I can see why it was nominated.  The three little boys are really great in it too, but I just didn’t get it.  Rating: 1/5

The Help

I really enjoyed this book, but I was really unsure how the movie was going to be, especially after seeing some of the trailers.  It was better than I had expected.  The acting was good, but I’m not sure I was really WOW-ed.  Jessica Chastain was great as Celia Foote though.  It was quite a switch from her role in The Tree of Life but she was great in both.  Not really much to say beyond that; I don’t think it had a shot at winning Best Picture.  Rating: 3/5

The Artist

This movie was great!  I kind of knew I would end up liking it though because I love old black-and-white movies, and this really feels like one of those old classics.  I don’t think I’ve seen a true silent film though, and this was so much fun!  The music is wonderful, the acting is excellent.  (Jean Dujardin is so good!)  I highly recommend seeing it.  Maybe you’ll discover you like the feel of older films.  It’s just a good refreshing alternative to today’s modern films.  I’m really glad it won Best Picture.  5/5!

The Descendants

This film felt similar to last year’s The Kids Are Alright with the family issues.  I liked it a lot, but I didn’t feel it was worthy of the best pick.  It’s set in Hawaii, which was interesting.  The acting was good – especially the girls who played George Clooney’s daughters.  I’m always impressed with child actors – when they’re good.  Consider yourself warned that George Clooney looks much older than you’ve ever seen him.  Movie rating; 4/5.

Midnight in Paris

This is the only film I had seen before we started.  I enjoyed it just as much, probably a little more, than the first time.  It’s a great throwback to the people, culture, life of Paris in the ’20s.  I won’t tell you much more, and I don’t suggest looking into the film much before you see it.  And you should see it.  It’s a wonderfully fun, kind of quirky film. Rating: 5/5

War Horse

I have to admit that this was probably the film I was least interested in seeing.  I’m not really a big animal movie fan, and I don’t know much about or am really interested in horses.  That said, it was better than I expected.  A little long at times, but it’s covering World War I, so there’s a little bit of an epic feel.  See it if you’re interested in horses, WWI, or need to see all of Spielberg’s films.  FYI: I think this was one of the films where afterward we played “Did you spot the Harry Potter actor/actress?”  Rating: 2/5

Moneyball

Besides animal movies, I’m not much of a sports movies fan.  However, it did hold my interest most of the time – toward the end, they show a lot of clips of a game, and I may have started to doze a little bit.  Of course, this one started at 4 am, so that probably had more to do with it.  It probably held my interest so much because Aaron Sorkin was one of the screenwriters, and I love the way he writes.  The acting is pretty good – both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are good, but I didn’t expect either to win.  The best part of the movie may have been the girl who plays Brad Pitt’s daughter who plays guitar and sings Lenka’s “The Show” a few times.  She is SO GOOD!  Oh and Chris Pratt shows up in this movie.  It’s kind of weird to see him play a real adult when you’re used to Andy Dwyer, but he was great too.  Rating: 3/5

 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Since I absolutely LOVE this book, this movie was one I was most interested (and scared) to see.  I didn’t expect much going in, since I’d read some less-than-great reviews, but I was pleasantly surprised.  There are several things different, but I think I can live with it for the movie.  I know a lot of people didn’t like the movie, but I think it’s because they haven’t read the book.  It’s hard to get the full picture when you’re missing the other peoples’ stories that help tell the complete story.  Still, the movie hits pretty close to the tone and emotions for Oscar’s story in the book.  Thomas Horn who plays Oscar is phenomenal.  I wish he had earned some kind of recognition for his acting.  Fun fact: He won the Kids’ Jeopardy tournament.  :)  Rating: 4/5.

Has anyone seen any of these yet?  What did you think?

- Jill

The Great Gatsby: Chapters 8 & 9

Apologies for not sticking to the schedule.  The last week of Feb & first week of March were crazy busy.  I’ll post about movies & vacation soon.  :)  Thank you Amber for filling in and leading a great discussion of chapters 6 & 7!

So a recap of the final 2 chapters of The Great Gatsby in case it’s been awhile since you’ve read it–SPOILERS:
At the beginning of chapter 8, Nick goes over to Gatsby’s house to find out what happened after he left Gatsby waiting outside Tom & Daisy’s home.  Nick encourages Gatsby to get out of town for awhile since he owns that car that hit and killed Myrtle, but Gatsby won’t leave until he finds out what Daisy’s going to do.  Gatsby tells Nick more about his past.  Gatsby tells his gardener not to drain the pool today because he hasn’t been swimming all summer.  Nick reluctantly leaves to go to work.  Nick recaps what happened at the garage the night before: Myrtle’s husband doesn’t believe it was an accident, remembers that Myrtle came home once from the city with a dog collar, and realizes he can find out who owns the yellow car.

Meanwhile, Gatsby waits and waits for a phone call that doesn’t come, takes a swim, and when Nick rushes into the house later that afternoon, he finds Gatsby shot and Myrtle’s husband dead in the grass.  As Nick informs Gatsby’s “friends” that Gatsby is dead, no one seems to be able to attend the funeral.  However, “Owl-Eyes” the drunk party-goer from Gatsby’s library does go.  Nick meets Mr. Gatz, Gatsby’s father.  Daisy and Tom are out of town, so Nick can’t reach Daisy.  When Nick runs into Tom later, he finds out that Tom told Myrtle’s husband that it was Gatsby’s car, and as we know from the beginning, Nick moves away.

Discussion questions!

1.  What do you think of Gatsby’s end?  Tragic?  Was there any other way for Gatsby’s life to go?

2.  How do you feel about Daisy (and/or any of the other characters) now?

3.  Who is meant to be reading Nick’s story?  Anyone?  Is there an audience?  Nick seems to write for someone, but is it just for himself to read later in life?

4.  Before Myrtle’s husband leaves the Valley of Ashes to find Gatsby, he says “I told [Myrtle] she might fool me but she couldn’t fool God” and “God sees everything.”  His neighbor sees him looking up at the ad of the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.  The eyes seem to be a favorite symbol of people who discuss the story.  Your thoughts on them or anything else you find symbolic?

5.  Final thoughts on anything else specific or the story in general?  Did you like it?  By the 1960s, apparently The Great Gatsby was considered a classic.  Does it still hold up as a classic today?

And finally, for your entertainment, I present to you The Great Gatsby online Nintendo-like game.  Enjoy!

- Jill

There is a Reason for My Insanity: I Lived Alone for Six Years

So my lovely friend Jessi posted a link to this article on my facebook page.  It basically talks about all of the creepy things people do when they live by themselves.  I clicked on it thinking that, of course, I wouldn’t do ANY of those things.

After reading it, I realized that well, crap, I do like half of them.

Here are things that I literally do on a regular basis while in my apartment.  (I technically do not live alone anymore, because I have a roommate, but she is only a part-time roommate, so basically I still live alone half the time.)

1.  I do run place while I am watching tv sometimes.  I really don’t see what is so weird about that, but it is in the article so most normal people must find it “insane.”  I don’t have a treadmill, so where else am I going to run in the winter?

2.  I talk to my cats all the time.  I don’t talk to them like they are my little therapists or anything.  I talk to them like they can actually understand me (which might actually be the weirder of the two).  Here are some things I say to my cats on a regular basis:  “Addie stop attacking Penelope, you really need to be nice to her!”  “Stop chewing on that book Pippi!”  “Hermione get off the porch, it is cold out there!”  “It’s time to eat ladies!”  “You all really need to work on keeping the litter inside the box.”  “Pippi stop drooling on my computer!”

3.  I totally leave my bras all over the place when they are drying.  They end up on the backs of chairs in the dining room or living room all the time.

4.  My special “home alone” outfit is my pajamas.  If I am in my apartment, then I am in my pajamas.  Literally.  It doesn’t matter what time it is, I will always be in my pjs.  It is the first thing I do when I walk in the door.  The only exception to this is when I am on my lunch break.  If I put on my pjs then, I would never end up going back to work :)

5.  I do eat an abnormal amount of cereal.  I probably eat around 8-9 bowls a week…….and none of them are for breakfast.

6.  I have some real issues with the bathroom door.  I haven’t closed a bathroom door in 6 years.  My cats like to go in there with me (they follow me everywhere) so they are really irritated now that I have started closing the door.  The funny thing is that our bathroom door doesn’t latch very well, so even when I do remember to close it, the cats usually manage to push it open so all of my efforts are pointless.  I don’t have any problems closing the bathroom door in other people’s houses or at work or anything, but when I am in my own place, I have to remind myself every time I go in there.

7.  In the comments of the article some brilliant person mentions putting an “eatin’ sheet” on their bed.  I am pretty sure this is the greatest idea ever.  It is really hilarious because I live in this nice big apartment now, with a real dining room and nice sized living room and I spend 95% of my time in my bedroom.  Now that I have my big girl bed I have my sleeping area and my “everything else” area.  I’ve got my space heater, computer, phone, assortment of DVDs, stack of books, and blankies ready to go.  I read on my bed, watch movies, put together puzzles, and yes, eat almost every meal.  Another funny thing is that most of the time all four cats are in here with me.  I specifically moved into a bigger place so they could have more room, and they spend all their time spread out in my bedroom.  Go figure.

So, maybe I am a little bit crazy from living alone for so long.  But, I LOVE living by myself and still do all of these things (except the bathroom door thing) even though I have a roommate now.  Am I really insane, or do we all do stuff like this and only single people get called out for being crazypants?

Jen

Great Gatsby Chapters 6 & 7: The post in which Amber talks too much about Kate Moss

Hello hello! soooo I promised to do this post for Jill since I knew she had a big Oscar weekend (you know how we love her Best Picture Marathon posts. See here and here) and a Leap Year Vacay. And now it is Friday, and all those amazing comments I had about Chapters 6 & 7 have sorta withered away and I fear I will just end up talking about Kate Moss’ wedding.

How perfect are these! I did a search for "Daisy Buchanan crying" and this was one of the first results--dramatic, flashy, and stunning. and very sad.

So first lets throw out some discussion questions that are actually about chapters 6 & 7 (SPOILERS):

1. woooo how awkward was that trip into the city? Poor Nick. This reminds me of one of my friends from high school who’s boyfriend refused to take her to prom, so she asked another guy, and then her boyfriend did decide to go and asked another girl…and they all went together in the same limo. I know! (she totally ended up dating the other guy, too.)

2. Would Daisy have ever told Tom that she didn’t love him if Gatsby hadn’t rushed her into it? I think it is obvious that she DID love Tom, so in same way it sort of saves my opinion of her that she was conflicted with Gatsby’s demands on her.

3. Who was the most tragic figure during these two chapters? I lean towards Daisy…I want to say Myrtle, you know, because she died…but it is much harder for me to feel bad for Myrtle. She had a nice husband who she was cheating on, she was greedy and annoying, and she deliberately ran out in front of the car. Daisy was essentially being manipulated by two men she loved and then she accidentally kills a person while driving which would be HORRIBLE (yes, it was very bad that she drove away. and I suppose it could be argued that she hit Myrtle on purpose… except she didn’t know who Myrtle was…).

4. However, do you believe Gatsby that Daisy was the driver? Does it matter? Specifically, how does it affect your opinion of Daisy and Gatsby if she was driving vs if he was driving?

So why am I so quick to defend Daisy?

Because of Kate Moss’ wedding.

The wedding of the year

When Jill and Lindsay first starting talking about reading the Great Gatsby, the first brain spark I had was the warm, breezy, happy remembrance of reading about Kate Moss’ Wedding in the August 2011 Vogue. Something about this article has created a sunset within me–I had never really considered myself a big Kate Moss fan, but now I ADORE her. Kate’s look was actually inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald, not specifically Daisy…eh details mere details. So I just went into reading the book feeling connected to Daisy.

Actually, the whole time we’ve been reading this story, I find myself spending less time figuring out how I feel about characters and more time on why I feel what I feel about them. I am pretty sure my views on Nick’s sexuality come from courses I took as an English major–a course on Oscar Wilde and the Asthetes, and a Transnational Detective Fiction course with a focus on books featuring homosexual characters in Spanish-speaking countries. In addition, I read a book about a month ago titled The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston which makes several references to Fitzgerald as Frankie’s favorite author and features a very Nick-like man who dates Miss Pratt while having a man-on-the-side. Downton Abbey has also had a big effect on my friendly feelings for Nick. Sigh, oh Matthew! I think if Jen or Lindsay had seen Downton Abbey, that they would probably argue with my comparison between Nick and Matthew. And I agree that their personalities are quite different, however, it is their circumstances that mirror just a bit. World War 1, rich relatives, getting pulled into family drama, sensitive, good listeners :-)

and the connections in my head go on and on…I just had one right now–why do I even question that Daisy was the driver of the car? that answer lives in what I am watching right now: Murder, She Wrote. Yup, Jessica Fletcher and Agatha Christie have me trained to always question a suspicious death.

and now LETS DISCUSS!



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