Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bond 24, SPECTRE (Daniel Craig), Bond Femmes & Foes Revealed

Let me tell you...I AM EXCITED!  Monica Bellucci, Christoph Waltz join the Bond franchise and I could not be happier.  All hail the casting directors because these picks are fantastic!  See full story at GET READY because with Daniel Craig (James Bond 007), Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomi Harris (Moneypenny) and these additions.... this movie will be too sexy!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Jennifer Lawrence)


I begin this review with a "three-finger salute" to the power of movies to influence current events.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a civil war epic with soul.  No wonder people are moved by it.  Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth Banks), Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014) as Plutarch Heavensbee reappear in this story.  They are joined by President Coin (Julianne Moore), who, I'm sorry but, gives me the creeps and of whom I am highly skeptical.  I don't know why, can't quite put my finger on it (and I have not read the books to ease my mind).
In this third installment of The Hunger Games, no one is playing anymore.  Katniss wakes to a very different world, underground, and being groomed for a battle that could cost not one or two but thousands of lives.  She is reluctant but capable.  Her team believes in her and a whole movement revolves around her - the mockingjay.  Meanwhile, her own thoughts are far away with Peeta who is captured and spreading the rhetoric of the Capital.  She struggles to focus and to mine her own heart. Will she be the revolutionary her nation needs? Or are her goals more personal?

Though not as fantastical as its two predecessors, Mockingjay does not shy away from horrific images of grand emotional scale which bind us to Katniss' side.  Devastating war images fill the screen constantly, there's revolution, there's death.  But in between the active and emotional moments, there was definitely dead space and missed opportunities.  For example, we are watching people get on and off planes for minutes, watching people running down and up stairs for minutes, we even watch a cat play with felt like there was a bit of stretching going on in this movie. 

Katniss (Lawrence) & Cinna (Kravitz) in THG: Catching Fire
Instead, I would have liked to see more of the Capital, more Beetee, more Johanna Mason (played by the fantastic Jena Malone).  There was plenty of space to flesh out the Beetee character, especially after his cryptic introduction in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so I felt starved for his story.  At the same time, I appreciate the choice to leave Johanna's character to speculation.  Effie and Haymitch are always a sight for sore eyes.  Even in the midst of war, they are pure comedy and much-needed support without dear Cinna (Lenny Kravitz).  There were also new, welcome faces in the ever-watchful Boggs (Mahershala Ali, whose recent work on HBO's Treme and supporting role in The Place Beyond The Pines have made him one to follow in my opinion), and Cressida (Natalie Dormer, The Riot Club, Showtime's The Tudors, HBO's Game of Thrones), although Cressida's hairline was more interesting than her character.

Besides the character gaps, I really enjoyed the film as a whole.  As the penultimate chapter of an epic rebellion story, it did its job to make me crave a resolution.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 delivers some iconic cinematic moments, and without giving too much away, I will mention white roses, "The Hanging Tree" - a song which has broken Top 20 in two nations, and Peeta Mellark.  If you're not in love with Peeta after this one, check yourself for a heartbeat.