Characters

#UnlockMockingjay Madness

So remember when we posted on Tuesday about the Mockingjay Mosaic campaign and how we felt better about something like that than social media campaigns that make fans work toward media the studio was ultimately going to give fans anyway?

Things got WAY uncomfortable about 18 hours later when Lionsgate released a social media campaign exactly matching that criteria. Whoops! WE HAD NO IDEA, LG! WE’RE NOT MIND READERS! WE SWEAR!

First came the bait! Retweet #UnlockMockingjay enough and you’ll get this shiny new preview!

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And oh man, did we want that shiny new preview. WANT!

Through the act of being wicked smaht (as we like to say in New England), someone somewhere– we honestly don’t know who because it was already common knowledge by the time we tuned in– realized that the algorithm involved would require 50k tweets to unlock the video. The hashtag challenge launched at 12pm EST. By the time I finished my lunch around 1pm EST, the buzz was firmly built, the fan tweets were rolling out, and the tweet-o-meter thingamabob was already at 60%.

Smooooooth sailing, right? WRONG!

4pm rolls around and it feels like victory (or as much victory as you can get out of a Wednesday afternoon.) WORK DAY DONE! COMFY SWEATPANTS ON! MOCKINGJAY-O-METER… BACK DOWN TO 44% PERCENT?

Apparently, at some point in there, Lionsgate remembered that Hunger Games fans are ravenous beasts who considered new Mockingjay previews their very lifeblood. 50k tweets probably took about 2 hours to complete and obviously, they were hoping NOT to release things that early. The re-calibration experts in the fandom looked into it and realized the new magic number was 360k tweets.

And that is when the hilarious, quote-filled fandom madness really took off, thanks to the brilliance of Jabberjays.net turning it into a bit of a game:

At a couple points, the widget jumped. Word on the streets of Twitter was that we only needed 261.5k tweets, then 260k. Baffled by the odd numbers but still wanting our Mockingjay preview, things started to get real cray cray:

Throughout this, we get a couple of pre-teaser teasers in the form of new stills. But it just wasn’t enough to satiated the NEEEEEED! Seriously. We make those zombies on The Walking Dead look tame. The frustration kicked in:

Even though we certainly felt that frustration, we were also starting to feel a little bad. Because this “unlocking” campaign despite its problems and the later-realized factoid that it was rigged to release at 7pm no matter how many tweets, we realized we were having a lot of fun. Not that Lionsgate necessarily planned it would turn into a quote-ridden meme fest, but other fans and fansites turned it into a really witty game and we really enjoyed getting involved.

Not to pat this fandom on the collective back too much, but WOW, WE ARE CLEVER AND HILARIOUS AND WONDERFUL! And #UnlockMockingjay kinda ended up bringing out the best in us.

Of course, we also got this spectacular sneak peek out of it:

But that deserves its own post, don’t you think?

It Was A Pleasure Being Ridiculous With You,
The Girl With The Pearl

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Something To Look Forward To

Over the last several months, it’s sadly come to my attention that there’s a vital part of The Mockingjay story that keeps getting looked over, or forgotten from the fan perspective. The music, or most importantly, The Hanging Tree.

I’m no music expert, But I’m a music the_hanging_tree_by_alys23-d4temogfan– I listen to all sorts of genres, but one genre I listen to in particular has a thread that weaves its way throughout The Hunger Games series, traditional American folk music, or Americana. Music that originated in Scotland, England, and Ireland, but immigrated along with the influx of immigrants from the British isles in the 18th century, and earlier to North America. The Hanging Tree however is an original song, penned by Suzanne Collins, but in the style of the folk music that amazingly was preserved for more than 200 years in the Appalachian mountains, purely by the isolated nature of the location, and its people.

The Appalachian mountains is where District 12 is located though, so that means that if and when we hear The Hanging Tree sung on-screen in Mockingjay Part 1, or 2, it may sound like this, rather than the multitudes of fan-made versions that from my experience are decent, but rarely take traditional folk rhythms, and lyrical cadences into account.

The Hanging Tree is a haunting song, a dirge, like “O Death”, which was brought back to the worlds attention when it was used in the Cohen Brother’s film O Brother Where Art Thou in 2000. That was 15 years ago though, and nothing like the Oscar winning O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack has come about since. And, get this– T Bone Burnett the producer of The Hunger Games soundtrack, produced O Brother. The Hunger Games soundtrack was good, I’ll give it that– I like to pretend however that it was better, and that certain pop singers had not recorded certain songs that were written and performed by a certain other Oscar winning singer/ song writer originally. The Hanging Tree, like the song I’ve feigned to above, will probably get the same treatment– erm, how do I say this nicely–? Jennifer Lawrence is not the best singer, in fact in the film The House at the End of the Street where she played a teenager with musical proclivities– they dubbed her voice out during the portions of the film where she was required to sing. So, I think for The Hanging Tree, we’re going to get someone else’ pipes being heard by that placid lake. That is unless Jen has become an amazing singer since House at the End of the Street was filmed.

Until then, if you’re at all interested in hearing and seeing more American traditional folk music performed on film, I recommend the 2000 film Songcatcher, O Brother Where Art There of course, Cold Mountain, and Inside Llewyin Davis.

Them There Eyes

Missing from the Mockingjay Part 1 Cast Pictures

Early this week wrapped up the 8 days of exclusive picture releases on Instagram, which make up the Mockingjay Part 1 Cast & Crew page on Hunger Games Explorer. And, in light of no other news right now, I’m going to speculate like crazy about why some pictures are missing.

We're missing a few cast pictures but this one of Katniss kind of makes up for it.

We’re missing a few cast pictures but this one of Katniss kind of makes up for it.

First, the obvious. Delly’s not there. Delly never had a casting announcement. Delly has definitely gone the way of Madge into book/movie re-writes.  I argued ages ago that this can be a really good thing for the movie because it can allow Prim’s character to become more substantial. Any Delly remaining believers can hold onto the tiniest shred of hope that Part 1 ends with Peeta just getting to 13 so her part wouldn’t have happened yet I suppose. But nah, it’s looking quite clear that she’s gone.

Then onto someone who had a casting announcement and made us go HUH WHO IS ANTONIUS AND HOW DID I MISS THAT IN THE BOOK? Yes, the new character of Antonius, to be played by Robert Knepper. His character is supposed to be some deputy of President Snow. The actor and role were worthy of a casting announcement, so why doesn’t he merit placement here? Did the size of the role get reduced? Is it more of a Part 2 role? Or is Lionsgate holding everything back about him because, as a new character, he can be a complete surprise?

We're sad because there was no Annie picture, but here's Peeta. Let's cry.

We’re sad because there was no Annie picture, but here’s Peeta. Let’s cry.

In the same vein as trying to keep the surprise, Jena Malone is the only cast member to not get a new still in this section. It looks like a grab from the Capitol’s propaganda poster. They’re keeping the Capitol torture under wraps for now. If Antonius is involved in the torture/hijacking plot, which I believe he is, not having him pictured makes some kind of sense. But I wonder why they couldn’t be able to capture some kind of non-spoilery still of him from the movie? Is it all just too terrible???

Maybe I’m reading more into this than necessary, but Paula Malcolmson isn’t pictured either. We know she’s in the movie – she’s in the trailer. She was pictured on the Catching Fire movie page, but not The Hunger Games. I’m going to say that her exclusion here hints that her role will be minimal, but let’s face it, Mrs. Everdeen’s role in her daughter’s life, even sharing a compartment in District 13, is minimal.

Finally, I know people were hoping to see Annie Cresta, but she’s also a no show. I think this is partly because she will get very little screen time in Part 1. But I also think it’s a little bit of Lionsgate trying to keep whatever they can secret for as long as possible. At least we no longer have to wait too long.

Next month we actually get the movie!

JJ

 

 

Violence, Lies, and Videotape– The Parallels Between Panem and Ricegate

The good news: We’ve got a guest post today!

But there’s some important notes about this post: The subject is heavy and possibly triggering for some people. The opinions are those of the writer and they ain’t rainbows and kittens.

With that said… Take it away, Satsuma!

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NOTE: The following contains, toward the end, spoilers (though vague) for Game of Thrones Season 4, and another vague spoiler for (the original) Dr. Who.

First of all, let me apologize for not exactly bringing the funny in this post, because I just couldn’t figure out a way to do it.

Most of you likely know of, or perhaps even seen, the infamous video featuring the talented Mr. Rice, formerly an employee of the Baltimore Ravens, punching his then-fiancee (now wife) so hard she was knocked unconscious. Now, I have always been fascinated by the many parallels between Panem and the real world, but I must admit I didn’t notice any here, until I read the timely post by JJ regarding Josh Hutcherson revealing that Peeta is shown saving Katniss after she’s set on fire by the parachute bombs, and her comment that: “It may also help buy back some goodwill from the purely movie-going audience for all the times he *gulp* tries to hurt her in hijacked rage.”

And then I realized, that there IS a parallel between the Ray Rice video and Mockingjay. A pivotal MJ scene also features a video of a celebrated male contestant in a game known for violence, attacking his fiancee. Not only that, this incident is important in MJ not really because Peeta attacks Katniss, which he has before this point, but because, when he actually watches his actions on video, Peeta is shocked and horrified at himself, to the point of suicidality. The idea that SEEING something makes a unique impact on people, certainly seems to be the case in how quickly public outrage mounted after the Rice video was released, forcing powerful entities such as the NFL to make an about-face, and how even Rice’s defenders, who claimed earlier that “no one really knows what happened in that elevator”, were forced to as well.

Not that video footage is required for shock and outrage, of course; just see what happened in Ferguson, MO. And just because people see images of violence or its effects, doesn’t mean they’ll reject it; many of Adrian Peterson’s defenders admit to seeing the graphic pictures of the injuries he inflicted on his son, but still state that what he did was acceptable discipline. And certainly, what seems to be damning video can be edited or taken out of context, as the torturers do with the Katniss videos they show Peeta; Ray Rice is now claiming as much, as he appeals his indefinite suspension.

And then there's this in Part 2...

And then there’s this in Part 2…

But in general, it does seem images have an impact on people that the written word just doesn’t have. And now we get to JJ’s point about movie-only fans, and the idea that perhaps adding more positive Peeta-Katniss interaction in MJ might counter-balance the impact of seeing Peeta physically attack Katniss. I suspect that even for book readers who know what happened, actually SEEING him try to strangle her, as opposed to the brief, fade-to-black one-liner we get in the book, will have a quite different kind of impact. In general, the only fandom players I have really seen hate on Peeta, are anti-Everlakers who’d prefer Katniss wind up with Gale, Haymitch, Finnick, etc. Indeed, it’s KATNISS who seems to get most of the vitriol for her reactions to hijacked Peeta. But will this change when we actually SEE what he does?

Now, even before Ricegate raised the general awareness of intimate partner violence, I have thought that the MJ film runs a risk of coming across as condoning or excusing violence in relationships. Now, certainly, as far as we know, nobody gave Ray Rice toxic hallucinogens, BUT it’s certainly plausible he may have had alcohol in his system, or even that the hits he’s received on the field have affected his brain. Yet, the conventional wisdom about what he did now seems to be, “There is never ANY excuse for a man to hit the woman he claims to love”. So, what will the casual movie fan, think about Peeta’s actions? And what will they think of Katniss? Note that the public hasn’t exactly been THAT supportive of Mrs. Rice, either; many people have sighed at yet another example of a woman standing by a man who doesn’t deserve it, or even cynically suggested that she finds the occasional KO a reasonable price for the fame and fortune she can access through her husband.

Certainly, there are many incidents of male – on – female violence in the story so far in the context of the Games, but fans seem to have accepted that there is nothing specifically “gendered” about, say, Thresh killing Clove, or Marvel killing Rue; it was fairly obvious that they would have handled a male tribute in the same position, no better or worse. And some fans argue that Peeta’s acted out of perceived self defense, and that this motivation is MUCH different than that of an abuser. But there’s also the take that, as JJ stated, Peeta acted out of “hijacked rage” and vengeance, not just self-defense, which comes a lot closer, uncomfortably closer, to real-life stories of spurned suitors turning violent.

IMHO, many people who commit acts of domestic violence are NOT inhuman monsters who we can safely consign to the “Other” category; Adrian Peterson seemed honestly perplexed as to why anyone would label him an abuser, and he very well might NOT have beat his son to satisfy some twisted sadistic urge; many of his defenders seem to honestly think harsh “discipline” is the only way to prevent their kids, especially in tough neighborhoods, from becoming juvenile delinquents. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if, say, Mrs. Mellark reacted the same way to an abuse allegation. “How dare you call me an abuser? I’m just trying to show my sons how to survive in this cold, hard world, and if I have to be a little harsh to make my point, so be it. Would you rather they get a few swats from me, or be whipped in the public square?”

So, just because Peeta is not a monster (even though he actually calls himself one), does that make his actions acceptable? I’m not talking about legal prosecution, certainly he’d likely qualify for an insanity defense. The issue is, will people who actually see visual images of him attempting to strangle Katniss to death, then later attempt to beat her head in with a rifle butt, find these actions forgiveable? Will they find the eventual Peeta-Katniss ending to be acceptable, or send some kind of dangerous message to women that “if the man in your life was mentally ill at the time he attacked you, you should forgive him, marry him, and have his kids”? Or will the casual fan conclude, “See, I told you this was just another Twilight. Why do those silly teenage girls lap up this nonsense that there’s something noble about loving a man who has insidious urges to kill you?”

And here’s another interesting example (beware, GOT S4 spoilers ahead) of fictional scenes that stir up controversy about real life issues.

Remember the tremendous controversy around a scene in GOT S4, that most show-only fans interpreted as an obvious rape? The source scene from the book, which is notably in the POV of the more sexually aggressive partner, is more ambiguous, and GRRM himself denied that he meant to write a rape scene. But one interesting fan debate that took place was this; are the showrunners at fault for misinterpreting canon and writing a rape scene without realizing it? Or, does a close reading of the original book scene, reveal that it was GRRM himself who did so, it only became apparent that he did when we actually got to SEE the scene, not just read about it?

So, I am very curious as to whether the movie WILL manage to redeem Peeta, and the P-K ship, or whether movie-only fans will wind up with a far different take on whether an Everlark ending casts a ray of hope, or just adds to the tragedy of war. I have wondered myself if Peeta and Katniss really were capable of raising well-adjusted children, or if they were doomed to repeat their respective cycles of family dysfunction. And since Peeta’s mental state certainly seems to be based in part on real PTSD sufferers, flashbacks and all, I wonder if the wider fandom wind up debating, whether SC wrote an apologia for acts of domestic violence committed by military veterans and other PTSD sufferers against their families, without realizing it.

Of course, as I have noted before, the idea that Peeta CONTINUED to be violent toward Katniss during flashbacks post-war, despite his treatment, is fanon, not canon. Also, SC never claimed that she was trying to provide her readers with models for healthy romantic relationships. But neither did GRRM, yet that didn’t quite shield him from criticism.

(And now my Who spoiler):

On the other hand, the original Dr. Who program managed to show the Doctor almost strangling a woman while in a temporarily insane state, without apparently detracting from his hero status; and that was when Dr. Who was still considered a safe kiddie show. IMHO, the Doctor post-reboot is NOT really that much darker than his pre-Time-War self, though he apparently received a testosterone infusion during his hiatus. (Okay, I finally managed to bring in some humor).

I suppose only time will tell.
Satsuma

The Hunger Games TV Series

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 Hunger-Games_imagesquare 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,

That was a fun episode

That was a fun episode

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?

And scene!

Them There Eyes

More “Stills” of the District 13 Rebels

The past day and a half has revealed more stills on the Hunger Games Instagram as promised. By now, you may have realized that these “stills” are really shots of the actors in costume which are being used to populate the cast and crew section of Mockingjay Part 1 on The Hunger Games Explorer. Watch daily as that cast list gets bigger! So don’t worry, if a favorite character has not been featured yet, he or she will be in the next few days.

First we got Castor. Like Cressida, wielding a camera we assume.

castor

Then Pollux, with no camera, no gun that we can see, but an even more lovely accessory. He’s wearing a mockingjay pin! He’s one of us, guys, and we love him for it.

pollux

Today we got Boggs, looking a little scared or concerned or bewildered. Is he looking at Katniss? What is the context here? WE WANT TO KNOW.

boggs

These three “stills” reminded us that we really have no clue about how these actors are going to be playing the characters. There’s been so little footage released so far, that these characters are a mystery in terms of the movie. Will Boggs maintain an important role? We really hope so, but all we have to give us inkling is a quick shot of him and Katniss in the elevator and then again with Katniss walking by all those bombs in District 13 during the last trailer. Not much to go on.

We need the tv spots and clips and interviews to start soon. We need to see more of these guys!

JJ

The Mockingjay Revolution Will Be Televised

If you’ve learned anything from The Hunger Games fandom over the course of these movies, it’s that interactivity is KEY in making fans happy. We like new features. We like having puzzles to solve. Thankfully, we got some of that today!

Image from QuarterQuell.Org

Image from QuarterQuell.Org

It started with an update of TheCapitol.PN, specifically the first weekly update from CapitolTV.

It hints at issues The Capitol is facing in the midst of rebellion, but tries to cover them up in silky-voiced fraudulence. It gets a little redundant with the word “system” in that first line, but overall it’s super exciting. Because you know what the real issue is? Of course you do! REBEL SCUM.

Speaking of which… The new Capitol website was met by an even bigger response from District 13! Search through their hacks and you’ll find new images, character files, and several censored Capitol Concerns (or so I’m told. Something about that site makes my computer go “Oh, FUCK YOU!”) Remember when fans were asked to fill those out as Panem citizens? Well if you participated, you’re now apparently responsible for a bunch of District 7 citizens getting marched to their death:

WAY TO GO, CONCERNED PANEM CITIZENS.

While we’re okay with the shortness of the D13 propo, but is their production value so low that they could manage any sound?! No ominous music, no Peacekeepers shouting orders in the distance, no static, NOTHING?! Really kills the intensity!

But by keeping things mysterious and short, Lionsgate is setting MOCKINGJAY PART 1 up for a viral video campaign. It’s something that the franchise has never done before, but it’s been extremely successful for other films and if the continuation is done well, it could be the desperately needed perk-up this campaign needs! So if nothing else, today we got some hope.

Except For The Part Where Our Complaints Led People To Slaughter,

The Girl With The Pearl

More Blue Steel and a Pony

I’m just going to say it, Liam Hemsworth is giving us more Blue Steel, and there’s nothing we can do 10402038_900209023322649_5942859702756527118_nabout it. I think we just have to accept that that’s his face, and until he’s old, like 80 something, and will likely be one of the handsomest old men we’ve ever seen– maybe then he’ll be able to pull his jowly face into some semblance of an expression that’s not his un patented Blue Steel– we’ll just have to deal. Boo hoo, such an unfortunate face to endure! Kidding, he’s hot– everyone with eyes can see it plain as day, and at this point in the game– we’re practically begging for promotional material. Therefore Liam’s expressionless face is a welcome reprieve!

Now it must be addressed, or re-addressed, but Natalie Dormer may prove to be the break out star of Mockingjay Part 1. Or, at least that’s what the posters, and the pictures we’ve been slowly getting are saying to us. Cressida didn’t have a massive part in the novel however, but once again liberties have likely been taken– and we’ll just have to deal, grudgingly or not. I’m not going to argue it to death, because I like Natalie Dormer, and I think Cressida is a character that deserves a little expansion. Plus, um– Natalie’s real purtty.

I think it’s been said before, probably here at Victor’s Village even, perhaps by yours truly–
but Caesar Flickerman reminds me of a My Little Pony. It’s the hair ya’ see? It’s got this pompadour thing going on, and then there’s

You're like a magical pony.

You’re like a magical pony.

the tail bit, and obviously the ever-changing color of it that screams Pony to anyone with a memory for pop culture that goes back further than 1998. I’m not ragging on the choices that the hair and makeup heads came up with, because I think it’s a brilliant choice. Also, bear with me, I totally think that Caesar Flickerman could fit in the court of the Sun King, AKA Louis XIV. The brocade suits, the hair, the colors, the stance.

Maybe Caesar Flickerman is a time traveler?!

Them There Eyes

Sam and Natalie Do Oxford

We’ve got a good long couple of months to go until Mockingjay Part 1 is released in theatres across the world, so until the day comes when we can all sit back, and cry into our over sized soda cups, whilst sitting in a large dark room with a crowd of strangers– a select few will be privy to the joy of seeing Sam Claflin AKA Finnick Odair, and Natalie Dormer AKA Cressida in an entire other film together. The Riot Club (previously billed as Posh), is a film that Sam and Natalie filmed back in June of 2013, and it was released in its home country of England just this Friday. So far it’s gotten favorable reviews, and it is also holding strong on RottenTomatoes with a 78%, meaning it’s Fresh by their ratings, and thus not a waste of an afternoon at the cinema.

Let’s see, what should a lay person know about The Riot Club before they step up to the box office, plunk down their cold hard cash, and deem to spend a couple of hours with Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Max Irons, Douglas Booth, and Jessica Brown-Findley (yes, Lady Sybil Crawley is in it). Well, Riot Club is based on a play produced and put on in England in 2010, about a fictional dining club. The Riot Club based on the real life Bullingdon Club, the Riot Club is exclusive, and full up with rich, over privileged, white conservative British young men, all students at Oxford University. It’s the kind of story where you watch fictionalized representatives of future captains of industry, and country leaders, act bombastically, treat women badly, and wholly believe that because of their so-called pedigree they are immune to the consequences of the law and society. It’s young white guys with accents, in suits, fucking up, hurting people, thinking they’re going to get away with it, and in the end probably not. Oh, yeah, and one of those young men happens to be portrayed by Sam Claflin, oh– and Natalie’s playing a Lady of the Night.

Can you tell that I’m wavering on this film? I implore all to just… go rent History Boys, you’ll get less pissed off, and learn who James Corden is, AKA the guy taking over for Craig Ferguson on CBS. Or, if you like being eternally frustrated by the glorification of the upper classes acting like jackasses– g’head, go see Riot Club! Yes, I am judging a film purely on its premise, and its trailer, I cannot help it, there is no release date for the US yet, and therefore I’m a little miffed– I’m just being honest!

Maybe the soundtrack will be good? These Boys-Will-Be-Boys films tend to have good soundtracks.

Them There Eyes

Will Mockingjay Part 1 Promo Keep Peeta’s “Secret?”

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.

peeta capitolSo 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. 

JJ