The Hunger Games Film: Faithful Retelling of the Book

I literally just got home from watching “The Hunger Games.” If you are wondering how and why it took me so long, I was waiting for a cousin to come into town so we could go together. I guess blood does run thicker than water, which you will get visual proof of in the film. Believe me their is plenty of running blood. But that shouldn’t shock anyone who’s read the books. But where the films succeeds is that it transcends the violence and the characterization that the story is just “kids killing other kids.”

My initial thoughts were that I was glad the movie didn’t succumb to the temptation to function as an action movie. I thought every character correlated to my view of them in the book, except for Prim who wasn’t pretty enough (I’m sure the actress is beautiful, but they made her look plain.) I completely disagreed with the new york times review which wanted a better performance from Jennifer Lawrence and more intensity in the film.  I view both as impossible. I cannot imagine a more intense experience or a more perfect portrayal of Katniss. I also thought is was completely inappropriate for Manohla Dargis to suggest that the curvy Lawrence wasn’t thin enough for the role. It was cloaked in the guise of saying she didn’t look hungry enough, but I think it had more to do with unfortunate status quo views on beauty and hollywood.

The movie closely follows the book, by Suzanne Collins. In fact, in my group of four we only noticed one incongruity. While the book relies on Katniss’ constant internal assessments, the movie used the reality tv format to explain these things. Which I thought was a smart and effective choice. The best two things were that the movie embraced the idea of show don’t tell. In particular, Rue, Haymitch, Peeta, and even the stoically faced Katniss’ emotions were clear on the actor’s faces. The lack of exposition, only made the complex range of feelings, plot twists, and emotional connections more powerful.

My second favorite aspect of the movie, was that it made me realize things about the book I hadn’t considered. I saw a tendency of Katniss to transfer her love to whoever needs her most immediately. The capital representing the dangers of a concentration of wealth clicked in the scenes from the capital. The idea that Peeta is the first person to try and take care of Katniss, is something else I hadn’t considered. This only deepened my crush on the character.

As I wrote before, this movie was intense. There is very little humor to break the tension. My cousin cried literally from beginning to end. I almost couldn’t talk about it afterwards when we went to lunch (which is unusual for me). It is intense, but really really good. It has already set records in ticket sales, and with good reason. I think if you liked the books you will be happy with this retelling and excited for the next installment. I know I am.

 

Hunger Games Hype

I have a prediction, that much like the articles flooding the “books” topic on wordpress, Hardcovers and Heroines will soon be flooded with Hunger Games evaluation and celebration. And because I’m one of the two bloggers, and I know Alison Lee shares my hopefully adorable addiction, I think it’s a safe bet that my prediction will come true. And while I know I should probably just wait for the movie to come out to start blogging about it … all the hype on the internet, on public transportation, in friends conversations is getting to me and I just can’t help myself.

In the real world, I overheard two similarly aged women (maybe a little older) talking about different ways to celebrate the movie coming out. First they decided a party with only meat. Then they decided that was completely not the point, and you’d have to have a party with no food, or only enough food for one person. I wish there was a way to find out what they actually do…maybe just go to the movie and then the food court?

On the internet I’ve been intrigued by…

  • This Hunger Games bracelet
  • This new clip of Gale and Katniss saying goodbye posted on Huffington Post.
  • This fabulous quiz on CollegeCandy that will tell you which character you would date. I obviously got Peeta, thank goodness.
  • The Hunger Games Soundtrack was released today! Here Taylor Swift discusses her single “Eyes Open” which she wrote specifically for the film.
  • This NYT article talks about how the promotion for the movie has been handled. It includes a full time position to reach out to and foster, blog buzz and fan pages.

That’s all for now. But let me know if you are planning something fun to commemorate this weekend. Especially if I am able to replicate it. Also let me know what you get on the quiz, but remember that Peeta is mine…and Katniss’s.

Why We Broke Up: You Either Have the Feeling or You Don’t

I enjoyed Why We Broke Up, written by Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket) and quirkily illustrated by Maira Kalman, but it didn’t read as YA to me. The book is a culmination of Daniel and Maira personal experiences being dumped, but it is set in the high school world of junior Min’s surprise relationship with senior, basketball star Ed.

What set this book apart, aside from the illustrations, which I will get to in a minute, were the reactions and inner thoughts of the characters. While many YA novels show teenagers reacting to juvenile situations and analyzing them like adults, Why We Broke Up shows Min and Ed responding to adult situations and problems like teenagers.

In a world where being together for weeks equal decades in adult years, and expectations and cliques dominate their peers behavior. Min and Ed beat the odds when getting together. Their struggles have more to do with the mutual exclusivity of their interests and future goals than their clashing friend groups. The result is a heart-racing and heartbreaking trip through the details, discontinuities, and ultimate demise of their relationship with Min as your tour guide.

The narrative is strong, the conversation witty, and the characterization pretty close to perfect, but what kept me reading was the book’s structure, punctuated by the illustrations of Maira Kalman. Min breaks their relationship into episodic stories each connected to a saved memento from their time together. I finished this book by staying up too late two nights in a row, promising myself I would only read one more object.

The first illustration in the book is a picture of a box, containing the lost relationship’s treasures, with the words “You either have the feeling or you don’t,” scribbled across the top. I think this is an adequate description of how people feel about the book. You will either get it, connect to it in some way, or you won’t. I’m not sure what to say, except that I did.

For further reading and reviews:

Madness in March

It’s only day 2 of March Madness and I’m already completely out of the game. If you are wondering why I care, that’s a very fair question. It turns out that my usually genial touchy-feely office, gets a little crazy over March Madness. Let’s just say that today there was tons of people “giving each other the business” today. My only consolation for a ruined bracket, is that I’m pretty sure people who care more about basketball, who for example have watched a whole basket ball game, also have some pretty screwy brackets on their hands. I knew I should have gone with the mascot method. A spartan definitely beats a tiger, although who wins in a blue devil vs. mountain hawk is a little less clear…

Anyways, what I’m even more interested in is how many non sports related “march madness” have popped up all over the internet. Fashion, Politics, Books, if you can vote on it then it probably is in some kind of bracket right now. It’s too late for me to participate in most of these, but I am still pretty excited to see how they play out.

 

Some that I’ve seen and participated in:

  • The biggest splash I’ve seen is from Out Of Print Clothing’s Book Madness. So far I don’t see any big upsets, but I can’t wait to see what wins when Hunger Games goes up against Atonement.
  • If you don’t want to vote cross genre, this competition on She Knows separates books into different categories in their Best Book Ever 
  • My favorite baby name blog of all time, Appellation Mountain, doesn’t have brackets but it does have weekly March Madness voting for girls names and boys names to get to the champion names of the year. I’m rooting for Adelaide and Arthur!
  • You can feel free to judge books by their cover in this March Madness themed competition between different book covers, featured on Abe Books.
  • Best Week Ever put together a March Sadness Bracket comparing tear jerker movies that makes me feel like crying just reading the movie titles.
  • Novel Voice has a YA Book March Madness Tournament, that should answer the question of vampires versus dystopia once and for all.
  • Last, but certainly not least, is the Save By the Bell Tournament I found from last year.

Communist International Women’s Day

I know I’m a day late and a dollar short when it comes to the topic of this post, but in my family if you put the word communist in front of a holiday that means you can celebrate it whenever you want. And when you think about it shouldn’t every day be International Women’s Day?

Until last night, my main associations with the day were very Nicholas Kristof. I thought it was a modern invention, like World Pneumonia Day, World Aids Day, etc, designed to raise awareness, guilt, gratitude, and donations. My alternate association was annoying emails and blog posts telling me to “embrace my womanhood and take off my make up” or “let myself get angry”. But after a quick trip to Wikipedia I discovered a richer history with multiple meaning. Here’s what I learned: 

  1. The day was first celebrated in the United States in 1901, as National Woman’s Day (notice the singular). It was adopted by several European countries in 1911 to promote equal rights and women’s suffrage. Lenin was the first to make it a national holiday.
  2. The holiday has pretty red roots. Which works perfectly with the title of this blog post. It was started by the Socialist Party of America, and amplified by the countries behind the iron curtain. China started celebrating it in 1922 and Spanish communists caught on in 1936. In fact, the name used to be International Working Women’s Day.
  3. Not to be outdone by the communists, the UN designated 1975 as International Women’s Year.
  4. Different regions celebrated the day in different ways. Some countries harken back to the holidays socialist beginnings other treat it more like a combination of Mother’s day and Valentines.
  5. In Portugal, women celebrate with women only dinner party. Basically a Galentines Day. (Shameless borrow forms Parks and Rec).
  6. In Nepal, it is a national holiday, but only for women. Which is kind of the opposite of a day for working women…
  7. In a town in the UK, the tower hamlets council closed one of its libraries to all men, even banning male staff from the premises. I’m not sure I understand the benefit of a male free library. I suggest next year they take a page out of Nepal’s book and give women the day off work instead.