Jennifer Lawrence

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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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

 

That Tone-Deaf Hanging Tree Remix

Remember when we saw the movie and LOVED The Hanging Tree sequence? How we bought the Mockingjay musical score and listened to James Newton Howard’s rendition over and over? How thrilled we were to see it rise to #2 on the iTunes charts (and #1 in many other countries)? How it debuted at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100?

hanging tree

Katniss singing the next Capitol club hit? We don’t think so.

Well someone decided to fuck it all up with an upbeat remix that kills the emotion and message of the song. If you’ve been online the past day, you’ve probably seen a link to it, or heard it.  If you haven’t heard it yet, you may just want to sit it out. Our friends at Jabberjays.net and Hunger Games DWTC have great editorials about why this remix is just so wrong, and we agree wholeheartedly that it needs to be pulled. The original version is what made the song a hit, it didn’t need its entire heart and soul ripped out to play on radio. It just needed enough people to like it and request it. If you want to shorten the arrangement, cool. But change the WHOLE MOOD OF THE SONG INTO SOME KIND OF CAPITOL PARODY? This move was clearly led and made by people who don’t care about the message of the song, and had no clue about why we love it.

But they did it. And it’s a major bummer that something we were so happy about was bastardized and could be played to the masses as if it were the real Hanging Tree track. We’ve noticed that the song has disappeared from the soundcloud and YouTube sources, so that gives us hope this remix might get buried. But in case it doesn’t, what can we do? Well, we can ask radio stations to play the original version instead. Tell Republic Records. Buy the original track from the movie. Watch the original version on YouTube.

No remixes needed, thanks.

If I hear that remix on the radio, I’m changing the station, and then tweeting them to play the original version.

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

Mockingjay Has Been Split into Two Movies. Get Over It or GTFO.

This post will be about the fact that Mockingjay was split into two movies, but there will be no mention of where the split happens or spoilers about the film.

If you’ve read any negative reviews of Mockingjay Part 1, you can be sure that a major gripe with the reviewer is that Mockingjay is continuing the trend of making the final book of a series into multiple movies. These people want the trend to DIE because they don’t want Hollywood to make more money on blockbuster movies at the expense of the sanctity of cinema. It’s a cash grab that offends them on behalf of the moviegoers that actually have to pay to see movies. Meanwhile the publication they write for probably has articles every other week about how Hollywood isn’t growing box office receipts enough. Negativity begets web traffic which begets more ad dollars which keeps that person in a job.

Katniss CoinWhen Lionsgate made the decision to split Mockingjay into two movies, I think the decision was purely financial. They weren’t thinking it would make the fans happy, they were thinking that the audience who had miraculously made The Hunger Games into a monster hit would be willing to stick around, so it would be fiscally irresponsible NOT TO make an additional film. If you’re a studio executive, you don’t leave money like that on the table if you want to keep your job for long.

I don’t own any Lionsgate stock, so I don’t have any stake in their financial success. However, I would be pissed if they decided to keep the budget low and make two cheap films to squeeze even more dollars out of the franchise. But they didn’t. They bankrolled talented people to make these movies and gave it a large enough budget to look great. If they give me two movies I enjoy, I will happily pay to see each one.

D8-Hospital1-620x413And you know what, I’ve seen Mockingjay Part 1 twice now, and I love it. I’m glad I get two films to go more into detail of a book that means so much to me. If they had made just one movie, it would have been rushed, and long, and left too much out.  Yes, at the end, I really wanted the movie to keep going, but that’s the point. It’s not going to end in a neat little bow. I was prepared for that, so I’m a satisfied movie-goer.

So let’s break it down, who is going to be unhappy about Mockingjay being two movies?

  • People who don’t really like the book.
  • People blinded by the “YA” heritage of this series to see the universal relevance of the story.
  • People who haven’t read the book but just show up for THE HUNGER GAMES killin’ action movie or because Jennifer Lawrence is hot, without any self-awareness or care of how “Capitol” that sentiment is.

At the end of the day, if Mockingjay had been one movie, I don’t think it would have won over those people anyway. The book is a huge departure from the first two in the series. It’s darker and more introspective and not for everyone. But I’m ready to see Mockingjay Part 1 yet again, and will enjoy the ride up to the finale next year.

Happy Mockingjay PART 1 weekend,

JJ

 

REVIEW: Mockingjay Part 1 Is The Ultimate Game Changer

Screen-Shot-2014-09-10-at-11.21.40-AM

** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!**

The Hunger Games Franchise: Come for the action. Stay for the bigger, more important message.

KATNISSIf you’ve been following reviews for Mockingjay Part 1 so far, you’ve probably noticed some media outlets griping about the change of pace or fewer action sequences or the lack of the games. But The Hunger Games has always been about more than just the games. The first two films did an excellent job conveying the danger and inequality in Panem through the games, but the story cannot simply be the games, otherwise the whole message Suzanne Collins intended for her audience is lost. The franchise is about the tragedies of war but also the need to question society’s parameters and to fight against injustice, even if it comes at a personal cost. That’s right, folks– We’re moving past the “Whoa, all these people are in a bubble trying to kill each other!” pull and into legitimate political thriller territory.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a tantalizing slow burn. Its pacing, emotion, and action are different from the other films, but in the best way possible. It starts out dark, ends pitch black, and finds moments of levity, anger, sadness, and just about everything else in between. As Katniss attempts to adjust to life in District 13 and reluctantly accepts her role as the voice of the rebellion, a new story element unfolds into something much deeper. Katniss and District 13 go back and forth in the ultimate game of cat and mouse with President Snow, one in which everyone they know is a pawn. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone supporting her in District 13 is really truly on her side, either. The result is a harrowing journey to incite a revolution, one that featured fewer action sequences but kept us more emotionally invested than any Hunger Games movie before it.

Mockingjay-Part-1-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-Julianne-MooreThere’s a stunning tension created throughout the film by the entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence proved herself as our Katniss long ago, but earns new respect as she handles Katniss’ fragile emotional state with realism and care. Donald Sutherland is an absolute maniacal genius now that he has a chance to flex those baddie muscles. Julianne Moore is a smart, welcome addition as President Coin, who plays beautifully off the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. The decision to keep Effie in the story was a stellar one and Elizabeth Banks is more perfectly Effie than ever before. Liam Hemsworth plays Gale with much more vulnerability and depth than recent promos have suggested– the rage scene is definitely there, but many others prior to that make it easy to see just how truly torn he is. However, if there’s a “Stepping Up To The Plate” award for this movie, it goes to Josh Hutcherson. Peeta’s transformation is gut-wrenching and visceral, the stuff that makes your breath catch in your throat every time he comes on screen because the agony and instability feels so real. It’s the first time in the series Josh has really been asked to be something beyond the caring, careful version of Peeta we all know so well and he exceeds expectations.

There is still action in this film but it isn’t scene-to-scene as it was when Katniss fought off danger after danger in the arenas. However, please don’t confuse less action with a plodding pace. This movie’s action sticks in your brain and feels much more warranted than in previous films. It is not, as the games were, for anyone’s entertainment. Even in the scenes without explosions and hovercrafts and arrows flying, there’s still plenty of things happening and for us, the entire film felt like it moved very quickly, faster than its actual run time.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenBecause this movie is a Part 1, you’re not going to get instant gratification around every turn (another sticking point for critics, it seems). But ask yourself– Did you really with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, either? Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig used the opportunity to get more in depth with the story very wisely. Rather than being thrust into District 13, there’s a world-building that you don’t always get in film. President Snow and Plutarch in particular benefit from the books expansion into two parts, in terms of both screen time and character development. Boggs, Cressida, and the film crew are also rewarded a richer understanding than we’d expected. Random gushing: Elden Henson as Pollux was easily our favorite part of the film crew without saying a word, though everyone else played their part very well too.

For all the guessing in the world at the ending, we will only tell you this: You know the ending, but you don’t. You’ll leave the theater feeling charged up and overwhelmed, already eager for the final film.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. We have a few gripes but realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty minor. We’ll nitpick at a later date because to do so would be to spoil everyone. Even so, we know that Lawrence Squared and the rest of the team have delivered us a stellar film that is sharp and thought-provoking.

We can’t wait to discuss it with all of you!

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

Human Flesh, Christmas Carols, and Mockingjay Press

Despite the veritable plague that has over taken half of the principle cast, everyone seems to be putting their best foot forward, and in Jennifer’s case Strep Throat diagnosis or not, she’s stepping foot on nearly every stage, carpet, or otherwise, in a stylish black and white ensemble.

Today I was home in the morning, this was an unprecedented occurrence as I’m usually up and out to work by 8am most days. But not today, today I had the morning off, which meant one thing: I was able to catch Josh Hutcherson on Live with Kelly and Michael, AKA the second most irritating couple on morning American TV next to Hoda and Kathy Lee! So, while I figuratively bit my hand so I wouldn’t fling the remote at Michael or Kelly’s giant heads, I was able to watch two sugary sweet segments of Josh being regaled with pat questions about hair conditioning, and then less sugary sweet subjects like his desire to try human flesh if it was ever offered to him. This only made me think one thing, maybe Josh really wants to do a remake of Alive, the 1993 film about the Uruguayan rugby team that survived after a plane crash in the Andes by resorting to eating the bodies of their dead friends, and fellow passengers. And, none of that can be considered a spoiler any longer, because it came out in ’93, twenty or more years in my humble opinion is ample time to know the plot of films like like Alive. Yes, Josh is a weirdo, but he’s our weirdo– which brings me to Jennifer’s appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

As of when I am writing this article on the west coast of the United States, Letterman has not aired yet. However, a two-minute clip of Jen’s appearance was released well before air-time of the show in its entirety. And this is what we learned from the clip: Jen and Dave still have an unshakable rapport. Jen looks amazing even though she’s probably still sick as a dog. Dave tried to get her to sing, but Jen was Jen– and ended up demonstrating her singing chops with an anecdote involving her father’s merciless teasing, and a guttural rendition of Holly Jolly Christmas. The most important thing to be learned from this clip however, is that apparently Jen’s voice will be the voice we’ll hear when Katniss sings The Hanging Tree in Mockingjay Part 1. So from the horses mouth, or the girl who likes horses mouth, we now know it’s true– Jen’s singing for reals in Mockingjay Part 1.

Have a holly jolly Christmas guys! Oh wait, it’s November!

Them There Eyes