Category Archives: Books
I’m a TV lover, I also love film, I can name a smattering of favorite films more quickly than I can tell you the square root of anything, and I’ll readily admit that when I graduated with my BA in English, that I was 16 credits shy of a film studies minor (16 credits is two terms of work). So when I say I love film, I’m being honest. Over the last several years however, TV has become a staple in the few hours of downtime that are mine throughout the week. I do go see the occasional film though, but it’s not a weekly occurrence, more in part to the fact that I’m a self-proclaimed film snob, and refuse to spend my money on crap, and there’s a lot of crap out there in those cinemas. So, yep– TV, and books are my go to sources of entertainment. Over the last three years, (that’s how long I’ve been a writer for Victor’s Village), several television series have come to the forefront, they’re popular, they’re critically well received, and more than one of them is based on previously known, and beloved book series. The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and just this past August Outlander has been added to the list. These series have strongly moved me, and without remorse I admit have changed my mind. I believe The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins would have made a phenomenal television series rather than a series of four feature films.
The Hunger Games on the surface is a different animal from book series like George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, or a graphic novel series like The Walking Dead. The main protagonist, Katniss, is a teenage girl for one thing, but she’s not your average teenager. This is one reason I think The Hunger Games would have worked on TV. Putting aside the ever present stigma of plucking a Young Adult novel off the shelves, and attempting to adapt it into something the masses would devour off a screen. It is a tough task, but it’s not impossible. if they had attempted to make it into a television series, they could have thrown the Young Adult label out the proverbial window, and built the world of Panem into the gritty, oppressive, vast, frightening, beautiful, and fascinating place that it became when we all read about it for the first time, instead of the glimpses, and sometimes mild impressions we’ve gotten so far from the film franchise. Television affords an almost no-holds-bard playground for producers, writers, and directors, and sadly films, especially if they’re supposedly geared to a particular demographic, is kept on a tight leash so to speak. This is where I admit that I do not think that Lionsgate has gone far enough where it comes to the plot, the subject matter, or the settings of The Hunger Games series. I know why as well, it’s because they’re boxed into time constraints, budgets, and the ratings requirements. The requirements that only allow one F word to be used in a PG-13 film, and only if the word is uttered not in reference to sex– yep, those requirements.
I’m a big fan of character development, I’m also a big fan of characters from books not being cut, or combined, or simply put– if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series the following questions never would have been asked by book fans: Where’s Madge? Why is that old lady giving Katniss the Mockingjay pin? Where’s Peeta’s dad? Doesn’t Gale have like 10 immediate family members, where the hell are they? Where’s Lady? Why did they change the time line, and make Peeta and Katniss teenagers when the Burnt Bread Scene happened, aren’t there like a million child actors who could have done that for them? So, is the old lady who gave her the pin in the movie Greasy Sae, does she have a name… what’s her name!? Doesn’t Peeta have brothers? Where’s the mayor of District 12, y’know Madge’s dad? Um, Delly Cartwright, has she been cut too? What happened to those beautiful, moving scenes between Katniss and Lavinia? What the hell happened to Lavinia? And Venia, so she’s gone, did she die, she died didn’t she? Why is Effie in District 13? And my question… Where the hell are the fluffy killer squirrels? That’s right folks, if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series, it’s safe to say that none of the questions above would have been asked, no new characters would have been invented, no previously known characters would have merged, been cut, or truncated. Nada. The only thing that could have happily happened to all of those plot points, and characters is this– they would have been expanded, realized, and appreciated– including, god forbid, Katniss and Prim’s parents.
And this is where I admit that if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series, it would not be sharing the same network as shows like Modern Family, Bones, or NCIS. The Hunger Games television series would be on a network that puts out programs like Game of Thrones, Shameless, Outlander, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, The Knick, The Walking Dead, Rectify, and Sons of Anarchy, it would be on cable. And it would be on cable TV,
because to properly depict the horror, and the shame of having children being forced to play a game of kill or be killed, or the sexual exploitation of revered champions, forced marriages, mental breakdowns of the very un pretty kind, torture, violence, destruction, war, and revolution– you’d need a network that says “yeah, film in three countries at once!” or “Yes, you can set up a camp specifically to train day players to play walking corpses!” Or, “yes, film in Scotland, BUY ALL THE PLAID IN THE WORLD, and yes… you can totally show us that guy getting whipped nearly to death. And don’t worry your pretty little head, full frontal nudity is very OK!” And if you think that those made up statements aren’t based in reality, I assure you they are– and the shows they’re based on are all still on TV, are popular amongst viewers and critics, and are adapted from novels, and graphic novels.
Just picture it now, an entire episode dedicated to the cave sequence, instead of a few short minutes?
Them There Eyes
During our Mockingjay Trailer Reaction Post, I was surprised that my fellow VV ladies thought that the Mockingjay Part 1 promotion might try to keep Peeta’s hijacking a secret. I had never imagined that they would actually try to pull it off, because look at that sentence before – I just spoiled the secret! It’s so hard to live spoiler-free and when we’re talking major book adaptations, it’s even more difficult.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t try. I’m intrigued by this now.
So in this scenario, what we continue to see is white-suited Capitol PR Peeta throughout the next two months. Any Peeta stills or new footage in tv clips are of this polished Peeta. This is certainly achievable, but this is the one thing that Lionsgate can control.
In interviews, they can control some of the things being asked but I can’t imagine they could keep the hijacked Peeta questions completely at bay. It’s too damn tempting. The media may hold off from overtly spoiling the surprise and instead ask softball questions like, “Peeta’s character goes to a very dark place in this movie. Did you find that challenging?” Still though, I think direct hijacking questions will happen. I think the hijacking will come up in movie reviews. So keeping Peeta’s storyline completely a secret to those non-book readers? I’m skeptical it will work unless you’re a very “unplugged” type of person who basically shows up to movies after seeing the trailer or tv spots and nothing else.
So why go to the trouble? Well, even though it’s hard for me to imagine that kind of lifestyle, there are a lot of unplugged type of moviegoers who just show up without much pre-knowledge. I work with lots of them and they were BLOWN THE EFF AWAY by the Catching Fire surprises.
And for the rest of us, even if we know what will happen, I imagine seeing tortured/hijacked Peeta for the first time in the movie itself (with no stills, no video tease to prepare you, nothing) would be all the more jarring. The NFL learned in the past few weeks that the public responds differently to knowing about something terrible versus actually seeing it happen. Image and sound add an extra element of powerful realness to horrible things.
If hijacked Peeta is kept officially under wraps until showtime, then we also wonder if they’re ending it at the strangling scene. Again, I’ve always thought no way. It’s too traumatizing to be left for a year on that, right? I figured they would end it with her going to District 2, or in District 2. Would they actually dare to end this movie with Peeta strangling Katniss? WOULD THEY REALLY DO THIS? Well,they weren’t afraid to end Catching Fire on “there is no District 12,” so they aren’t afraid of big cliffhangers.
I’m scared and excited and don’t know what else I’m feeling but it’s a lot of things.
It’s that time again, that time where the bloggers of Victor’s Village sit down at our respective computers, and chew the fat about the trailers, and in this case it’s the final trailer for Mockingjay Part 1! Yep, the one we’ve been waiting for for about four months!
WHERE SOUND OF MUSIC REFERENCES ARE MADE WITHOUT SHAME OR IRONY
The Girl With The Pearl: Okay, let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to staaaaaart!)
Them There Eyes: Sew… a needle pulling Katniss around like a marionette!
JJ: Katniss’s line is fantastic.
TGWTP: Katniss is talking, and there’s these nice shots of her and Prim and Gale… and then you realize she’s pretty much face-timing with President Snow?
JJ: A big new addition to the screenplay! Snow looks so fiendish there. It’s so unnerving.
TTE: Also Jennifer Lawrence has a Sexy Lauren Bacall voice, which is über important to note.
TGWTP: I’m not sure if I like them chatting. Doubt it will ruin the movie, but it felt weeeeeird. Though the Lauren Bacall voice IS lovely. Read the rest of this entry
The Mockingjay has been revealed! And, and, and– um, well, she looks like a cross between Batman and Jesus. Take a look for your selves!
To steal from a dear friend from the fandom (thank you Erin), we’re going to call this poster “The Beakness” from here on out. ‘Cause if you look, and not even that closely, the Mockingjay’s beak looks like it is in fact poking out of Katniss’s neck. That’s right folks, Katniss has been impaled by a giant, gold, bird. It’s just what we’ve always wanted, right?! Probably not.
Yesterday when I saw this poster for the first time, ’cause– hey it was up on a Lionsgate affiliated promotional materials website, so it was fair game, I thought thoughts that were none too flattering. These were not good thoughts to be having about something I’m supposed to hold in high regard, but– I couldn’t help it. I have high standards, like Vermeer kind of standards, and this poster looks like something that was worked over so much with Photoshop that Jennifer Lawrence’s cheeks have been whittled out so much that that may not even be Jennifer Lawrence! That’s a frightening thought, the entire poster could be computer generated, and they were working from a facsimile of Jen, that they forgot what she really looks like, and– and now whoever that is looks like a boy wearing a molded breastplate, or Bat-Jesus. I want to banish these thoughts from my mind! Also if you’ve got a problem with me saying Katniss looks like Jesus, she is a savior figure– it’s not an unfounded comparison. These are not good things to be thinking, damn it! I wish so hard that my impressions of this work had changed since yesterday, but obviously they haven’t. I want to be thinking good things about the materials that are being released in promotion for this film franchise! And to put a bright red cherry on top of this disappointment, we were given another teaser to tease the release of the final trailer!
WHAT?! My actual reaction to this information was a lot more colorful, lemme tell you! F words, people– F words, and C words, and phrases that sound like “flock meeses”, and “flu falls”. If that was not your reaction as well, I’d like you to explain to me how you can, in your right mind be all right with the way in which this film has been advertized so far. Because from where I’m sittin’, it’s been less than stellar– and if that pisses the Powers That Be Off, SO BLOODY BE IT. I’m disappointed! I’m not connecting to the material, it feels empty, and I want better for the franchise based on one of my all time favorite book series’! Is that too much to ask for?
Resting on your laurels only makes one thing happen– people forget you, and will find something else to pay attention to.
Them There Eyes
So we’ve definitely settled on the fact that the new posters are cool. Not perfect, but pretty damn cool. Still, there’s one isty-bitsy teeny-weeny fairly obvious detail that is driving us crazy…
Since when does a two-man camera crew, their director, and her assistant = BADASS WARRIOR MOTHERFUCKERS?
Mind you, we like the idea of badass warrior motherfuckers in general. BWMFs, if you will. But in comparison, we must admit this feels kinda forced.
While some tactical gear and even the small side guns on Castor and Pollux seem reasonable, check out the massive weapons Cressida and Messalla are sporting. That is meant for once thing: Taking out large numbers of enemies in a relatively short time period. Those are for straight up soldiers, not the people hired to film soldiers.
Meanwhile, Pollux is described as “the silent soldier” and Messalla, who seems skittish at best all the way up to his brutal end in the books, is called “the fearless renegade”. Seriously, somebody had way too much fun misappropriating these character descriptions while scripting this film!
In my initial commentary on these posters, I mentioned that Cressida and Messalla didn’t look much like Capitol defectors who, despite not agreeing with political choices, were still culturally Capitol at their core. The more we think about it… What if the filmmakers found it easier to not have them be Capitol defectors at all? The District 13 area doesn’t have many recognizable faces other than Boggs in the books, especially in what will be considered Part 1 territory. Audiences will connect with the District 8 scenes more if they see who Katniss is fighting with and what they stand for, so why not take already recognizable names and match them up with the mostly unrecognizable soldiers?
Yet we hesitate to wholeheartedly accept that theory. There is value to Cressida and Messalla being wet-behind-the-ears rebellion propo makers who don’t fully understand the dangers and implications of their work until they experience it firsthand. Their Capitol origins show that not everyone in the city is a drone supporting Snow and display tensions within the fragile alliances. Yes, it would be nice to have another kickass chick in the mix and Effie will be more firmly taking on the role of “Capitol lady who doesn’t truly get it”, but are there not shades of gray that can distinguish characters adjusting to the same situation differently as Cressida gets more and more proactive?
Maybe we’re just opposed to change.. but usually we’re not opposed to change when it seems reasonable and justifiable. We just don’t get why this group now has to be fierce soldiers. We’re hoping this pans out into something spectacular that we aren’t seeing yet, but right now, we must admit that we’re a liiiiiiittle weary!
If Camera Crews Are Now Super Soliders, Are The Original District 13 Soldiers Like.. X-Men?
The Girl With The Pearl
As we all know the cast of our beloved Hunger Games series have other projects under their belts, and in their futures. I thought I’d take a little time out this weekend to point out that yet again several of our cast have promising things for us all to look forward to, some even in the near future.
Jeffrey Wright our resident Beetee, has a lot to look forward to. I’m not even waxing philosophic when I say that, because just this past week it was announced that he’ll be part of the recurring cast of a brand new HBO series. Actually, he’s only been cast in a pilot, but the project has high hopes– and a monster good cast behind it– including people like Rodrigo Santoro, whom many might remember from Love Actually, and Lost. But that’s the end of things for Jeffrey, hell no– he’s still on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire whose fifth and final season premieres next month. See, even if we’ve got months to wait to see him as Beetee, we’ve only weeks to see him portraying other characters.
Come November we’ve got nothing to complain about where it comes to Josh Hutcherson– ’cause we’ve got two projects to ogle him in. Yes, I said ogle. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 as we all have marked on our calendars, but then a few days later on November 26, Paradise Lost the thriller Josh filmed before he joined the rest of the Mockingjay cast and crew, is slated to be released in the US. Spain and France, you lucky dogs you– you’re getting it in October, and on November 5th. Watch the teaser trailer below!
And now for the castle dweller– ’cause Jennifer Lawrence is our resident Disney princess in disguise. For the last two years the buzz about The Glass Castle being made into a film starring Jen, has been circling the entertainment media news. And finally more solid info on that project has come to the surface, well as solid feeling as the word “negotiations” can muster. But we all know that Jen’s no slouch where it comes to projects outside of The Hunger Games, it could be easily argued that she does her best work when she’s not playing Katniss– but that’s an article for another day.
I still want to see Mockingjay anything before I see Jen in anything else– well unless it’s the film Serena.
Them There Eyes
There’s good news, and there’s bad news to report. Let’s start with the good news shall we? Okay. WE’VE FINALLY GOT MOCKINGJAY PART 1 CHARACTER POSTERS! And yes, that sentence deserves to be written in all capital letters, thank you very much. We sure do like our characters posters in this franchise, also this genre, I can remember all the way back to the revealing of The Hunger Games character posters, and the collective sighs of relief that sounded across the Internets. I think that sigh was echoed today, and perhaps some of those sounds felt a little bitter-sweet for some. I know that when I personally thought on the idea of a character poster being revealed of Plutarch Heavensbee this time around, I felt some trepidation. I think you all know why. And then there’s the reveal of Finnick in his drab District 13 garb, and then remembering what will happen to Finnick in Part Two. But then there’s the simple excitement of seeing Julianne Moore in all her Coin glory, and not just in a clip from the teaser trailer.
The highlight however may be the unveiling of Elizabeth Banks’ poster of Effie Trinket. If you’re unaware at this point, book canon has gone the wayside, and Effie has for all intents and purposes, taken the place of Fulvia Cardew. At least that’s the educated guess more than half the fandom has made about her presence in District 13. Oh also, I believe Suzanne Collins mentioned something about it. Book canon as we all know is more often than not something that goes out the proverbial window when it comes to book to film adaptations. In this instance knowing that the author of the series condoned the “tweak”, I think makes the poster reveal a little vindicating. Also, leave it to Effie Trinket to pull off a stylish ensemble by refashioning a District 13 issued button down as a mini dress, might I add as well that her re purposed head scarf is very on trend right now. And I’m even on board with this trend! Seriously, it’s perfect for bad hair days, which I’m guessing happen a lot in District 13.
I said there was bad news however. And the bad news is two things. One being that the poster reveal today only happened because they were leaked on line before their slated released date of tomorrow. To some fandom members this is good news, because hey– we got the posters early, and that’s all we should really care about! Right? No. Bottom line those images were stolen, and you all should know by now how I feel about stealing. So, while it’s great to see the posters finally, I wish it hadn’t been in such a discombobulated, and frankly– clunky manner. What can I say? I like my social media campaigns to run smoothly? Yep, that’s what I’m going with. The other bit of bad news though is this– ’cause of course I didn’t forget that it’s two things. No Katniss poster.
Seriously, cough up the rock– we want our Mockingjay already!
Them There Eyes
In case you didn’t already know it, we’re gross. So much so that the whole advertising world is busy telling us how gross we are in an effort to help us conceal our unholy level of disgusting, because we should totally be ashamed!
These companies sell us (and in part help create) our insecurities. But don’t worry! Then they empower us! How, you ask? By making us feel insecure about having said insecurities, of course!
Thankfully, The Hunger Games isn’t like that. They may sell clothes, makeup, and nail polish that represent the selfish, ignorant elitists of the tale that should in no way be glorified. They may try to sell us elongated sandwiches full of irony to promote a film about the struggles of the starving and underprivileged. They may soften the collective fan experience by only letting people who possess certain technologies or live near certain stores get exclusive early access. But they would never exploit Katniss’ gender as a means to pander to a false empowerment campa— OH WAIT.
*blink blink* WHAT?
First off, as many fans have discussed several times over on every Hunger Games related form on the Internet– Katniss Everdeen does things LIKE A GUY. One of the most interesting thing about her is that she transcends gender stereotypes by taking on traditionally masculine roles. If anything, Peeta is the one who does things #LikeAGirl.
Don’t get us wrong– we still think Katniss has a hefty dose of femininity and is a great role model. But she can be a great role model for ANYONE, not just girls. If Katniss and Peeta’s genders were reversed, the main character would still be a great role model. To say that her accomplishments matter BECAUSE she is a woman and that she should inspire girls any more than boys is just ludicrous.
Does she get super secret strength just from having her monthly period? Is that what makes her such a great hunter, strategist, and leader? DID WE MISS THAT PART OF THE NOVELS?!
Also, this totally fails to empower us. It has the opposite effect:
- Katniss Everdeen is made of pure awesome. She fights for justice, leads a nation, and creates a new way of life for the entire populace of a struggling society.. and hey, she’s a woman!
- Well, I’m a woman and I do none of those things. Therefore, I SUCK. And don’t dare try to tell me I could sway the nation and lead a bloody human rights revolution right now, because then you’re just lying.
Then Always jumps in to really drive that point home:
We really, really hope this isn’t a long-term, ongoing partnership with this brand. It’s straight up patronizing: “Oh look, she’s a strong, heroic leader AND a woman! Let’s all stop and treat that like an anomaly!”
A major facet in Katniss’ likability factor is that she hates misleading campaigns that paint her as a false hero for the people. In a strange way, that’s what makes her a real hero.
It’s painful to equate that Katniss’ success and power to the fact that she, just like all the other women out there, survives that time of the month. In fact, it gives us cramps. Katniss never seems to get cramps. Dammit, we can’t ever measure up to this chick!
All in all, we think our friend Joan said it best when it comes to the premise of this whole campaign:
And There Goes The One Topic We Never Thought We’d Come Across Here,
The Girl With The Pearl
We’ve got BONUS guest posts for you this week! Check out another Mockingjay musing from Satsuma, who sees plenty of opportunity of historical parallels in the final two films!
Here I am, trying to make more predictions about the MJ movies. My last post dealt with their possible approach to romance. This one focuses more on the politics. Specifically, whether the movies will continue to make references to historical political events that have parallels to what happens in Panem.I say “continue to”, because both THG and CF seemed to make a directed effort to make viewers consider the parallels, in many subtle ways. Maybe it’s just me, but the “Capitol = Rome” set-up SC created seems to have actually taken a back seat, with more modern examples of tyranny and oppression being focused on more. We have the Capitol set design from THG, inspired by “brutalist” architecture used by the Nazi’s, as well as Tianamen Square; and the use of Henry River Mill village, a real life “company town” (though for a different industry than coal) for the Seam.
And while this isn’t expressly political, I was also quite struck by the Capitol equivalent of a sports book that was showcased in that movie, especially as we see gambling in all forms becoming more and more socially acceptable these days in the US, and states trying to get a cut of the action; not just the state lotteries, but, for example, how Governor Christie of New Jersey recently attempted to legalize sports gambling in his state). And while FYI I admit I never “got” the whole allure of gambling, certainly one can argue that it’s yet another way that the “powers that be” can distract citizens from more serious issues.
In CF, the D11 design actually tweaked aspects of canon, such as showing workers picking cotton instead of fruit as they did in the book, to drive the “D11 = Deep South”, not just geographically but culturally as well, to the extent of giving the Peacekeepers attack dogs that I bet Bull Connor would have loved to own. (Brief history lesson: Connor was a notorious segregationist “Commissioner of Public Safety” in Birmingham, AL, who cracked down harshly on civil rights protestors in the 1960s. I’ve even wondered if Connor’s deceptively benign job title, helped inspire the “Peacekeeper” moniker.)
And not only did CF harken back to the 1960’s, it also showed “rebellion” footage that seemed straight out of the Arab Spring. I’m sure that was no co-incidence.Especially knowing that Danny Strong wrote the first scripts, I’m sure that MJ will continue to showcase these historical and political parallels. (Note that, as has been mentioned on this blog before, “Game Change” actually has a lot of similarities to MJ even though Sarah Palin is VERY different from Katniss in many ways, both feature a female character “campaigning” for a cause and frequently “going rogue” and disregarding the scripts their handlers want them to follow.)
Note that the MJ marketing again touched on the idea of “Panem field hands = African Americans”, considering the race of the woman chosen to represent the Grain district (even though she likely hailed from the Midwest, not as strongly associated with the African American civil rights struggle as the Deep South, though certainly the North had/has its own issues with racism as well.)
Unfortunately, it’s likely too late for the MJ movies to draw the obvious parallels between the MJ rebellion and what’s happening at the Ukraine-Russia border these days, right down to innocent civilians being caught in the cross-fire, with each side pointing the finger at the other as the culprit for a wartime atrocity. Much as in MJ, I wonder if we’ll ever find out the REAL story about who shot down that airliner. (On the other hand, there’s still almost two years worth of marketing to go…)
But we know that the Iraq war helped to inspire SC to write this story, as did her father’s experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. I can certainly see, for example, a shot of rebels dragging down a statue of Snow, much as Saddam Hussein’s statue bit the dust. Or perhaps we’ll see a shot of Snow being dragged out of a bunker somewhere. And while Julianne Moore’s description of D13 seems more consistent with “Jericho” and other post-apocalyptic societies than the historical Soviet Union, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some reference to the idea of “Capitol = US, D13 = USSR”; perhaps a nod to classic Cold War era movies such as “Dr. Strangelove” (which itself based the not-so-good Doctor partly on Werner von Brown, who managed to jump from serving the Nazis in WWII to directing NASA in the 1960s; hmm, that sounds almost like what Plutarch did, actually).
Finally, the reason I titled this post “Applicability”, is that the current events in Crimea really did impress me with how applicable this series is to the Ukraine/Russia conflict, even though SC wrote the books years before this conflict flared up. In both, we have rebels who want to break away from one problematic regime, yet are backed by another regime that has many problematic aspects as well. This is one reason I think this series may remain relevant for a while, even after the last MJ movie.