Actors

The Girl on Fire, Made of Wax

Her face has been everywhere the past few years for the movie promotion, but yesterday marked another milestone in the cultural life of Katniss Everdeen. Yes, she has made it to another level now. Wax.  She’s a popular enough character that Madame Tussaud’s has made Katniss Everdeen wax figures for its London, NYC, and LA locations.

Here they are:

London Katniss

London Katniss

Katniss in NY (top) and LA (bottom)

Katniss in NY (top) and LA (bottom)

The likeness to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss is pretty incredible. And we like the choice to have District 12/Catching Fire Katniss in two of the locations. This isn’t Katniss all glammed up for the Capitol in her fire dresses (although when you’re modeled after Jennifer Lawrence, you’re going to be gorgeous no matter what). This is Katniss in the woods (or in the woods of the first Hunger Games). She’s frowning. She’s concerned. She’s sad. She’s not fake smiling for the audience.

We’re happy they chose to immortalize this version of Katniss, and not “The Mockingjay.” Potential promotional partners, take note.

But while we really do like the serious take on Katniss, we wouldn’t mind if Jennifer Lawrence paid a visit and did some Jon Hamm/Don Draper type silliness.

hamm1

THAT, we think, would burn down the internet.

JJ

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Remember When? Let’s Reminisce About Katniss Casting!

Believe it or not, casting for The Hunger Games was announced 3 1/2 years ago in March 2011. Recently, we got to remember the speculative casting madness that came before it, including rumors, hopeful press interviews, “Katniss” selfies, studio meetings, and more. It was cray cray, but it’s fun to look back.

It all started because of a remix of The Hanging Tree. No, not THE awful radio remix. A different one by Tyler Ward and Alyson Stoner that’s more of a really interesting original song that randomly uses The Hanging Tree as a chorus:

While discussing it with other fansite friends, Theresa from Down With The Capitol mentioned that she almost didn’t recognize the former Disney star who auditioned for Katniss under all that makeup.

Huh? She auditioned for Katniss???

Yep. Alyson Stoner was a huge book fan and how campaigned for the role HARD on social media, complete with some Katniss selfies:

Alyson-Stoner

And she was pretty (playfully) competitive too:
Alyson Stoner tweets battle

So what thought about it. Yes, there’s was Woodley and Breslin and Moretz and other big names considered. But who else are we forgetting?!

Here are some other Katniss hopefuls you may have forgotten!

Jodelle Ferland

Joelle Ferland Katniss

Jodelle’s been acting in lots of small parts since she was a young’un, but Katniss was a role she really, really rallied for. She too resorted to Katniss selfies. This was NOT the way to win over the casting director, though!

We remember thinking so had the look if Katniss was going to be on the young side, but we still haven’t seen enough of her acting to confirm her chops. She continues to take on the indie movie scene.

Emily Browning

emily-browning

After famously turning down the role of Bella Swan in Twilight when Stephenie Meyer practically tried to hand her the role on a silver platter (Thank this one for Kristen Stewart’s career [/sarcasm]), Browning smartened up and didn’t miss the opportunity for the next big franchise for which she received the script. Aaaaaaaaand it didn’t work!

She got the chance to make it up to Stephenie Meyer by making a cameo in her other movie, The Host, and most recently got half-naked with Kit Harington in Pompeii, among other projects. Not too bad!

Kaya Scodelario

kaya-scodelario

She’s since gotten her comeuppance as the female lead in The Maze Runner, but Kaya Scodelario was best known for her role on the British TV show Skins. Our skepticism was pretty high, but Kaya was sent the script and met with Gary Ross, so she was clearly a viable candidate. Still, the odds were not in her favor.

S’alright, Kaya! You’ve got yourself a shiny new franchise to enjoy for about another year until fans begin to hate on your character’s questionable choices and love another female character instead. In all fairness, I’ve always had Teresa’s back!

Lyndsy Fonseca

lyndsy_fonseca-wide

Call her “bedroom eyes Katniss”.

The star of Nikita had some pretty outspoken supporters when she hinted at her Hunger Games audition. In fact, her supporters were SO invested that she kinda had to douse their fiery rage when the role went to Jen instead. Lyndsy was a little too old for the role from the get-go (she’s now a few weeks shy of 28), so we were never really feeling her in the role.

Lyndsy hasn’t suffered from the loss, though. She’s been in a few movies and is now playing Peggy Carter’s best friend on Marvel’s Agent Carter, which begins airing in January.

All this brings us back to our first rule of getting cast in The Hunger Games franchise: Don’t TALK about wanting to get cast in The Hunger Games franchise!

Man, We’re Glad Casting Madness Is Over!
The Girl With The Pearl

Undercutting Finnick’s Secrets

There were some great comments to the post on some of the best and worst moments in Mockingjay. Thank you commenters (well the 99% of you who are polite and cool with us actually having opinions, even if they differ from yours). Anyway, I thought the discussion of Finnick’s propo was worthy of a post all on its own.

As mentioned in the best of/worst of post, I have mixed feelings about the whole rescue scene.  I was glad to have it added to the movie, but I felt it didn’t really show us enough of the Capitol and dragged on a bit too long. The sequence was mixed with the rebels’ “distraction” – Finnick revealing some of his greatest secrets about Snow to Panem.

finnick propoThe comments mentioned how cutting his secrets propo in with the rescue footage lessened the impact of what Finnick was saying, and I agree.  He’s being used as a distraction here, and as the movie audience we are wondering more about what will happen during the rescue than what Finnick was saying. He’s being asked to just talk for as long as possible to clutter the airwaves. His message isn’t as important to the cause here. I wouldn’t doubt that some non-book readers might miss a lot of those “secrets” because they are caught up in whether the rescue will succeed. And that’s a shame, because it’s a very powerful part of the book that helps us to connect and sympathize with Finnick.

Reducing the attention on what Finnick is saying may have helped filmmakers with any PG-13 rating worries about a man talking about being a sex slave. PG-13 tends to be very accepting to a whole lot of violence as long as it’s not too bloody, but sex, nudity, sex crimes, or the word “fuck” get you up to an R really quickly. And from a movie pacing perspective, mixing the two scenes together allowed them to use screen time effectively. Instead of having one stand-alone Finnick propo scene we get it with the bonus rescue scene.

The moments we did see were very well acted and tugged at my heart as it should. Do I wish it would have been allowed more time and attention? Yes, because I would love to see Finnick’s character further developed in these movies. Finnick’s role in Mockingjay Part 1 seemed smaller than in the book, but really, a lot of characters had short screen time, so it was probably proportional to many others. Who knows, they may address it again in Mockingjay Part 2, but my hunch is this is the last we’ll hear of Finnick’s secrets.

We’ll have other things to cry about concerning Finnick next time.

JJ

Best and Worst of Mockingjay Part 1 (MOVIE EDITION)

It’s that time of year when Best and Worst of the Year Lists abound. We know the haters gonna hate (and clickbait), so as an antidote, here’s a Mockingjay Part 1 movie version from people who write about Hunger Games stuff just cause we love it.

Stay tuned for a Best and Worst of the Mockingjay Part 1 marketing campaign later in the week (heh heh, so fun).

WHAT WE LOVED

Peeta’s Interview Scenes

We’re Peeta fans for life at Victor’s Village, so we tend to love ALL Peeta scenes (in the Francis Lawrence era movies at least). We knew that Peeta time would be scarce in this one, even with that bonus “Stay With Me – Always” Catching Fire scene redux.  Peeta’s progression from healthy to emaciated, shaking ball of pain was done so well it hurt even more than we imagined. From Josh’s acting, to the wardrobe choices, and that CGI, it was so well done.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenHijacked Peeta

Yes, this gets its own call out. Josh said that he went for it, and YEAH HE REALLY DID. And it made the strangling scene all the more disturbing, as well as the final scene of the film which has haunted us every day since opening night. Great job bringing that to life, we’re scared (in the best way) to see more of this transformation.

Effie Winning our Hearts, and Bringing Some Much Needed Comic Relief

Effie’s character development in the movies, and what Elizabeth Banks has done with the role has added so much to these movies. THANK YOU, thank you for making a change from the book to include Effie in District 13. She brought comic relief and her growing relationship with Katniss was touching to see. We don’t mind changes from the book when they’re so lovingly and purposefully done.

cf vs mj previewDistrict 12’s Horror Brought to Life

The devastation of the firebombs on District 12 was brought to life in such staggering scale. In my limited mind it wasn’t quite so awful. Now I see things more realistically, and the evil of Snow is that more evident.

If You Thought Snow Was a Bad Dude Before…

All around, this movie franchise is blessed with actors who have done a stellar job bringing the characters to life. I’ve already mentioned two in just this post. Donald Sutherland has upped the ante with Snow in this chapter. In the hands of a different actor the level of callousness and evil could verge on campy or ridiculously monstrous. Sutherland’s Snow radiates power and resolve to maintain his order at any cost, and you don’t hesitate to believe it.

District 7 Rebels

We made fun of it a bit when we saw the fast climbing lumberjacks in the teaser trailer. But hey, that scene as a whole delivered for me. When the rebels blew the peacekeepers to bits, I was cheering along with them.

Bonding Time Between Katniss and that Damn Cat

Earlier in the year, we were excited that the crazy cat scene would be included in the film. That’s not the scene I’m talking about here. What I loved was when Katniss found Buttercup crawling through the window of her Victor’s Village home. Again, some much needed levity in a very dark scene. Well timed meows and lots of disdain from Katniss. Perfect.

The Hanging Tree Sequence

It’s not just the song, or just the arrangement, it’s how the sequence was all put together to start as a solemn end to the trip back to District 12, to the rebel attack on the District 5 dam. Including this song was a risky move, it could have driven the movie to a halt and felt very out of place in a whut when did this become a musical bout of confusion but it was woven into the story so well that there would be a gaping hole within the movie without it now.

Every Second of Jennifer Lawrence

Sure, tell the fun BTS stories of how she’s so jokey on set. But at the end of the day, the moments that Francis Lawrence captured of her on film are pure Katniss. She owns this role. For those 2 hours she is completely Katniss Everdeen.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LOVE

primPrim Going After the Damn Cat

Listen, we all have affection for that cat. I loved Katniss’s interaction with Buttercup in Victor’s Village. But I don’t like the scene of Prim going after her cat during the air raid from the book and it’s my least favorite part of the movie. I know Prim is only 13, has lost a lot, and she’s very attached to the cat, but it’s just so cliche that it makes me groan every time. I know plenty of people who would risk life and limb for their pets, but it feels out of place in both the book and movie. And the whole countdown  “oops Gale barely made it through the doors before it crushed him” sense of urgency is a bit too heavy on the “made it just in time” trope.

The Prolonged Rescue Scene that Showed Us Too Little

I’m happy we got the rescue scene in the film. Extra scenes from the book are a fun movie bonus. And arguably the night-vision and the gas bombs help to create an accurate representation of the visual confusion of being there and help build tension. But I would’ve liked to see more from those sequences. We basically saw some stairwells, creepy test tubes and syringes, and then some empty cells. The sequence went on far too long in comparison to what they actually showed us. COME ON SHOW US MORE.

Lastly, Not Enough Peeta. Or Johanna. Or Annie.

Cheap shot, sure! And unavoidable unless they were going to add more Capitol scenes. BUT TRUE. There’s a Peeta/Snow scene that may make the DVD features, but overall, I do wish we saw a little bit of them in the Capitol.

Are you mad at me for saying Prim should’ve abandoned the cat? Buttercup would’ve been fine anyway. That thing’s indestructible.

JJ

 

The Other Side of Coin

coin speechThe major new character in Mockingjay Part 1 is President Coin, and I was surprised by her in the film.  It wasn’t that she didn’t fit the image of the character in my head, she very much looked the part. It wasn’t that Julianne Moore didn’t nail her steely, powerful nature, she absolutely did. What surprised me was that she was almost likeable. Not likeable in the sense that I’d like to give her a hug or even share a casual meal, but there were plenty of moments where I found myself liking how she handled situations. Admiring her leadership. And then feeling weird about it because I KNOW things are not as they seem.

I think these confusing feelings about  Coin were intentional, to build suspense, but also just due to the fact that we are no longer completely stuck in Katniss’s head. Katniss never liked her, so the reader never gets a good impression of her. But in the movie, we get the scenes between her and Plutarch, the scenes of her in the control room during the attack on 13, and we get new scenes added and some left out that left me with a much more positive impression of her than I had midway through the Mockingjay book.

Knowing when to put Plutarch in his place, and when to accept his help.

Oh Plutarch, always wanting to give advice. Coin knows she needs him in this rebellion, and she knows where his talents lie, so when he suggests that she add some “salesmanship” to her speeches she rebuffs him at first, but by the end of the film we can see that she’s been letting him help craft her words, with good results.  When it comes to military matters however, she’s quick to shut down his suggestions. She knows her stuff, and she’s not going to let the salesman make her doubt her experience or her instincts.

I won’t send an untrained civilian into combat – we’re not the Capitol.

This line from Coin, during the discussion to let Katniss go to District 8, is chilling if you’ve read the books, because you know she will do this, along with proposing another Hunger Games. But if you were a participant in this discussion who did not know the future, you would think she was a responsible, moral leader, not wanting to put Katniss in undue danger. Does she want to protect Katniss because Coin is a good person or because Katniss’s service (alive) is valuable to the rebellion? The way Julianne Moore delivers the line makes you believe it’s both.

coin and katnissGiving Peeta credit for the extra evacuation time.

Coin does put up a mild fight against pardoning Peeta in exchange for Katniss being the Mockingjay, but when she tells Katniss that she “won’t forget” that Peeta’s warning gave them extra evacuation time, it’s meant to comfort Katniss. You think, oh, that’s nice of her to acknowledge the great risk Peeta took in warning them. We’re just on the road to friendship now! Well not exactly, but it’s a positive step, right???

The “You’re Strong Like Me, You’ll Get Through This” Solemn Pep Talk

Again, serving to build a rapport with Katniss, Coin visits her as she waits for news on Peeta and Gale’s fate returning from the Capitol. Prim has already revealed to us that Coin lost her husband and daughter to the District 13 epidemic, so moviegoers understand the woman knows the helplessness of watching loved ones die due to matters out of her control. In my first viewings of the movie, I felt this was a really kind moment, where Coin tries to console Katniss and remind her of her strength and ability to get through tough times. As the book reader, I look back at it now and wonder if by associating Katniss with herself, Coin is finally, discretely hinting through these similarities that she perceives Katniss to be a threat. Coin doesn’t want Katniss to become too strong, she needs her to remain somewhat unbalanced.

All of these moments come together to leave me with the impression of not really trusting Coin, because it’s clear she will do what is best for the rebellion to win, Katniss or her loved ones be damned. However, she’s not giving big clues that she sees Katniss as a direct threat YET, so as a viewer on Katniss’s side I don’t see her as a baddie (again emphasis on YET, it’s not like I can turn off the book brain). I’m curious to see how they make that shift in Part 2.

The added dimension to President Coin – one of the many benefits we get from MJ1.

JJ

The Hanging Tree: Breaking All the Rules

Jennifer Lawrence may have been more apprehensive shooting the pivotal Hanging Tree scene in Mockingjay Part 1, than she was shooting most other scenes in the entire franchise, but I think her nerves benefited her performance rather than hindered it. Money talks in so many ways, if people don’t spend it items for sale are considered failures, if people buy them in droves they’re a success– The Hanging Tree by that definition is a success then, because it’s breaking sale records left and right. As of Saturday the 29th of November, The Hanging Tree is the second most purchased song on the US iTunes chart. In the UK it’s in the number seven position, and on the Continent in countries like the Netherlands it’s at number four, and Germany where it’s at number one. I’m not sure if the popularity of this song is due to the fact that it’s sung by Jennifer Lawrence, that it’s part of the Hunger Games mythology, or that it’s just a good song– so I’m going to chalk it up to all three factors.

Jennifer Lawrence has said it numerous times that she doesn’t think she’s a good singer. The proof is in the recording however, ’cause as much humming and hawing as she did pre-Mockingjay Part 1’s release, the audience and her co-workers and friends say otherwise. I’ll even admit that I believed the pre-movie hype that Jen’s singing chops were sub par, but I think all the objections she’s made may be the vocalizations of years of childhood insecurity rearing its ugly head. Jen, lemme put it into words that you will never read, ’cause this is a fan-written blog, and you’re clearly a smart young woman who stays away from the Internet 90% of the time– but, you’re a good singer, and you should be nicer to your self, and also stop listening to your dad– dad’s are notorious assholes to their daughters. Dad’s pour ice water on us to wake us up before school, they also tell us there are monsters in our closets, or that gummy worms are real worms, or that chocolate is dirt– or they make fun of our singing voices after talent shows–so, for the love of god, tell your memories of your dad making fun of you to the back the hell up, and look at the song buying charts, and feel a little proud.

Give Jen a hand, she sang in front of people and she didn’t die! She cried a little, but she did not die!

Them There Eyes

P.S Anyone hoping Hanging Tree gets nominated for an Oscar? If that even possible?

Rallying Behind The Hanging Tree

(Small spoilers for the Hanging Tree sequence in the film)

The Mockingjay score is available to buy today, and after hearing it during the movie, I bought it first thing this morning and it’s been my musical buddy all day. The score, and in particular, The Hanging Tree, is the talk of the fandom, and we couldn’t be happier. With fan-created hastags like #BuyTheHangingTreeOniTunes flying everywhere, the song is rising on the digital download charts. It’s nice to see fans take hold of something from the movie they love and rally behind it. So why ALL THE LOVE?

It’s a great sequence in the MOVIE

From the earliest reviews, this was the scene that everyone was talking about. In a hugely positive way. Even the grumpy reviewers who couldn’t get over the fact that this movie was a Part 1 seemed to like the Hanging Tree scene, which is ironic, because this scene would very likely have never been filmed, much less make a final cut, in a one-movie-only Mockingjay. The way the song moves from Katniss’s thoughtful, quiet singing to a rebel anthem fits so well in the film. We like music that actually fits the film!

And it made a beloved scene in the book EVEN BETTER

It’s the best of both worlds when you can translate a tricky book scene like this so well in the film. This scene was a major call-out of what fans wanted to see in the movie. There’s a lot of ways this could have gone very terribly wrong. But somehow Francis & Co found a way to do it in a way that made it even more moving than it was in the book.

Jennifer Lawrence is singing, y’all

We’ve heard Jennifer Lawrence repeatedly insist that she’s an awful singer, but we all know that’s just some overly modest insecurity talking. She may not have the professionally trained chops of a Broadway singer, but that works for the song. Her bluesy tone and style feels real and honest and just right for that scene. Anything more polished would feel fake and too much like the choreographed propaganda that failed. There’s a definite novelty to hearing Jen sing, yes, but it’s not just because it’s Jennifer Lawrence, the big movie star signing it that we’re so enraptured. It’s the way she sings it – and the arrangement of the piece by the Lumineers and James Newton Howard.

And now we’ve got a tv spot with the song too.

We’re hoping Lionsgate pushes this song for awards contention. Even with all the lack of awards love this franchise gets, we think this song has a shot.

It’s going to be running through our heads for quite a while, but that’s just fine.

JJ

My One Mockingjay Part 1 Gripe

It’s hard to believe it but after three films in The Hunger Games franchise, and after so many gripes about Gary Ross’s treatment, and then my barely there gripes about Francis Lawrence’s treatment of Catching Fire– I only have one, count it ONEMockingjay-gale-poster gripe about Mockingjay Part 1. And that gripe is this, Gale Hawthorne is effectively an orphan.

I know, I know there’s something wrong with me, ’cause my gripe is for all intents and purposes the stripping away Gale of pretty much everything that made him sympathetic in the first place. The fact that he had a family to take care of, not just Katniss, and Katniss’s family, but one all of his own. There was Posy, and Vic, and Rory, and his mother Hazelle. But like Madge Undersee, or Greasy Sae, or Delly Cartwright, Gale’s family was cut down to a brief mention of his “brothers” in The Hunger Games, and then a feigned responsibility to them in Catching Fire by taking up work in the mines, and then finally in Mockingjay Part 1, they’re just no where.

So what happened to Gale’s family? Were they seen as extraneous, or an unneeded distraction from the main points of the story? In my head I’d like to imagine that Gale’s family was on the story boards for a while, they may have even had thoughts of casting them. But then it got away from the creators of the franchise, that they figured Gale alone, stately, tall, and handsome would be enough, and that expanding his home life would not have made him more easy to love, and more of a rival for the affections Katniss has for Peeta. But from where I’m sitting, even though Gale is all of those things, stately, strong, handsome, and solo– he’s not an island, and knowing more about him as a person rather than just a hunter, and a soldier, and a friend– may have been a boon to the story, and perhaps to Liam Hemsworth as an actor. That being said, I loved Mockingjay Part 1 as a film, and if Gale’s family was the sacrifice they made to make it as good as I believe it is, I’ll take it.

So, that’s my one gripe– Gale Hawthorne’s is a storyboard orphan.

Them There Eyes

Mockingay Part 1 Premiere Day Fan Frenzy

It’s another milestone day. The LA premiere! Reddit AMA, Twitter Chat, Facebook Fan Events! So much goodness all at once, it’s hard to pick just one.

mj la premiere starsWe were very excited to see the Facebook Fan event, because we saw previews of it from when it occurred on Saturday. It did start, how should we say, fashionably late so we haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, because it was PREMIERE TIME.

But while we waited for the Facebook event and the Premiere Livestream to start, we noticed something interesting. Music that seemed very much to be the Mockingjay Part 1 Score started playing. And then that theory was cemented when a female voice started singing The Hanging Tree. At first it was confusing. Who is that singing?

OMG THIS IS JEN SINGING THE HANGING TREE.

Yes, I kept listening because it was on and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. So beautiful. I can’t wait to see it on film. The score beyond that sounds great, with tones from the previous films.

More bts stories!

More bts stories please!

But onto the Premiere! The WHITE carpet looked super cool and everyone was there. New faces like Patina Miller, who wanted to keep her Commander Paylor boots because it helped her immediately get into character. Mahershala Ali told us that Francis Lawrence made blooper reel that documented how things were so wacky off camera and then would immediately become serious at the word “action.” WE MUST SEE THIS. THIS MUST BE A DVD EXTRA PLEASE.

The livestream hosts kept asking about pranks. It seemed to be their go to question. So we learned that Jeffrey Wright had a close call when Jennifer tried to push him in Beetee’s wheelchair. Liam shared that he tries to be zen when around the Jen and Josh craziness. Jen’s favorite costume was her tribute parade costume in Catching Fire and Josh wanted to keep Finnick’s trident from Catching Fire. A lot of soundbites given. A lot of pictures taken. But the best thing about today is that we can now say this is the week the movie opens!

It’s almost movie time!

JJ

Mockingjay Cast Late Night Antics

The time of interviews and MORE interviews is here, and the leading cast has been making the late night talk show rounds in New York (and the morning show talk show rounds, these guys are busy). The “late night” shows are actually taped in the afternoon/early evening and are just aired later at night, but anyway, the cast is everywhere and bringing the funny.

Jennifer stopped by Letterman and she had 4 segments of the show (which really really rarely happens) where she shared some funny stories about meeting her friend Lauren for the first time and trying to get a (platonic) couples colonic with Josh. If only Letterman didn’t phone it in so hard and gave her a little more to work with. But ah well, he’s heading towards retirement, and to get Jen ready for the next CBS late night host, she also visited Steven Colbert at The Colbert Report. He had no problem understanding that Mockingjay Part 1 is “the third installment in the rare four part trilogy.” And he has big plans for either leaving it all to fight crime with her. Or have a downward spiral. Let’s scrap those plans for now, eh?

Meanwhile, Josh Hutcherson stopped by Jimmy Fallon to answer Twitter questions. We know Josh doesn’t tweet much, and he admits that he doesn’t do the daily tweet stuff like “Gettin my Starbucks. So sad. #Frappuccino.” Which I’ve been seeing all over twitter all day now in various forms.

He also displays his awesome talent of gibberish and did a repeat of the eerily accurate cricket noise (how?). The guy is talented. Thanks to a cool fan question we also learned about a new Catching Fire easter egg.

Though Josh has lots of talents, he may need to work his at beer hockey skills. But in beer hockey does anyone really lose?

No, I don’t think he was at all unhappy about that.

Now on to the other 39,452 more interviews.

JJ