Three names have been released from the short list Lionsgate has allegedly compiled of directors they deem fit to direct Catching Fire. When I first saw the list I balked, namely because I know these three people’s work, I may not know it backwards and forwards, but I’ve been around awhile– so of course I’ve seen a film of theirs or two. I’m not proud of my initial reaction to their names actually, and I know it was because I was a bit too wrapped up in the “HE’S NOT GARY!” fervor. However, now that I’ve had time to marinate on all of this, and frankly come to terms with the fact that Catching Fire is going forward no matter what we say or do as a fandom — I’m genuinely excited by the three names released so far. I know, I know — I’m a total betrayer, I’m going to hell, blah, blah, blah. Well, no– I’m not, I’m just an honest-to-fucking-god-serious-film-goer, and I’m looking at these names and going, “ooh, this could kind of work.”
Let’s get this out-of-the-way. Alfonso Cuaron is a brilliant artisan director, but he has a tainted reputation where it comes to making book to film adaptations. Yep, talkin’ about Prisoner Of Azkaban. Bluntly I have to tell you all that I’ve never read the book the film is based on, and I also have to tell you now that I actually liked the film very much — but I know (oh, man do I know), that devout Harry Potter fans have a major bone to pick with Mr. Cuaron where it comes to what he did to their beloved book. Personally, I thought the film was innovative, layered, and dark, I also think that it was the first film in the Harry Potter franchise where the young cast was asked to actually act, and not simply react to things. I know that Dan Radcliffe credits Cuaron with being the first director to really challenge him as an actor, and that the Prisoner Of Azkaban project as a whole was the first to make him think that he’d possibly like to continue in the entertainment industry as an adult, which we all know he has now. As a serious fan of The Hunger Games, even though I respect Cuaron as an artist, and absolutely loved his work on projects like A Little Princess (still makes me cry my eyes out), Great Expectations (made me fall in love with Ethan Hawke… again), Y Tu Mamá También (died a few times watching it, it was that good, not for the kiddies though. Also introduced me to one of my many long time crushes — Gael Garcia Bernal), and Children of Men (where Clive Owen owned it, seriously), — the reputation he’s cultivated with his treatment of the source material of Harry Potter makes me very very nervous. The only consolation to the job going to Cuaron is that Simon Beaufoy has penned the script, and that Suzanne Collins has stated that she intends to be just as involved with Catching Fire as she was on The Hunger Games, and that she also intends to keep the details closer to the novel as well. These are the only things that would help me get through the possible heart palpitations his getting the gig would induce.
Alejandro González Iñárritu — I’m sorry, but this guy is kind of genius. The first project of his that I saw was Amores Perros, and I think my mouth hung open for most of the 154 minutes. This was the second film I ever saw with Gael Garcia Bernal in it, and he’s actually the reason I searched out the film to begin with, and I’m very glad that I did. It’s a film that has multiple story lines going at once, and they’re all interconnected. If you’ve ever seen the film adaptation of a whole bunch of Raymond Carter short stories called Short Cuts, directed by Robert Altman (you should see it), — it’s like that only set in 1999 -2000 Mexico City. He’s dark, very dark — but he knows people, and he tells their stories in a way that gets to the meat of it all, the emotion, the dirty dirty guts and slime of it all, and you don’t like it, and you don’t love it, but you fucking appreciate it as art, and as a representation of life as it truly is — imperfect. I would never kick up a fuss if he gets the job, because I know now, after much thought and consideration, that Catching Fire needs to go to a much darker place — and that if I’m really and truly honest — I always pictured Panem to be much more scary, and adult, and grim place than the way that Gary Ross envisioned it. Please don’t read me wrong, I loved what Ross did with The Hunger Games, but Catching Fire is not The Hunger Games — and Katniss, and Peeta, and also Gale all need to transition to even darker and more disturbed places mentally and emotionally, than they did in Hunger Games. Also, the principle cast is going to transition from mostly teenagers to adult characters like Finnick, Beetee, Plutarch, Johanna, and Chaff. Perhaps procuring a director whose dossier is more geared towards adults will prove to be a good way to go. I’m certainly not too nervous about Mr. Iñárritu in that sense — and you shouldn’t be either.
David Cronenberg — Um, well, he’s been working a damn long time, unfortunately I can only attest to having seen about three of the over 30 or so projects that have dawned his name in their credits. The films are: The Fly, eXitenZ, and Spider. Again, like Cuaron, and Iñárritu, Cronenberg is a director whose work is not for children, it’s probably not even a good idea for people under the age of 16 to see most of his works. He’s dark once again, just like the other two released on the list, and also like the others– he’s interesting. His work always makes you think about things on a deeper level than your average film. He makes smart-people movies, movies that get played in art houses, or the multiplexes that cater to more high end films. He’s not cookie-cutter “Hollywood”, where you eat a bag of popcorn and come out of the theatre feeling like you were entertained for an hour and a half. His films, in my experience, are films that leave you sitting for awhile, like I said before — thinking. Catching Fire needs to make us think, it needs to make the world think. Cronenberg, he’s not my favorite on this list — but I would not cry, or spit, or hiss if he got the gig.
Who do I want to get the gig though? If he was available, and he wasn’t neck deep in his current project — I’d want Sam Mendes.
Them There Eyes