Josh Hutcherson

Commence (The Final, Final?) Blond Josh Watch

The fandom had a quick, yet fun, freakout this weekend because of a picture from the In Dubious Battle set (where Josh is currently filming).

In dubious battle set

fake blond joshDon’t see it? Look beyond all the people in costume towards the person in the plaid shirt.

Is Josh Hutcherson blond again?!?! Epilogue time!!!

Well, no, more like blond Josh doppelganger, unfortunately. But thanks for freaking us out, guy we don’t know.

Now, it doesn’t make sense for Josh, who’s been seen in period attire and his natural brown hair on Friday to just suddenly pop up in the middle of set platinum blond. I mean, I suppose the set hairstylists could be trusted to do a first round of the Peeta blond before sending him off to film any of that final epilogue-y goodness. But I think we all know it’s too soon for that. Jen is also still in the middle of filming Joy as well.

So even if we’re crazy impatient, it is not quite time yet. We need to be a bit more into deep spring. That meadow needs more time to be in full growth.

You can’t blame the fandom for having a momentary freakout though. Josh is known to favor the “plaid + sunglasses” casual uniform. Observe the Google Image search results.

josh plaid

This was a good drill though. Get ready for the final blond Josh meltdown. Cause while it won’t be this week, it’s coming.

Unless it doesn’t and he just wears a wig or something ;(

JJ

Josh and Franco

While we’ve been toiling away wishing for more Mockingjay Part 2 news, the principle cast of our favorite franchise have all gone off and got them selves some fancy new gigs. Now this is where I’d usually wax on and on about Jen working with David O. Russell again, but not today! Today it’s all about James Franco. Yes, you read me right– JAMES FRANCO, shout-y letters and all. Our beloved Peeta is currently filming a film with James Franco, the man who collects advanced degrees, and makes memes out of himself on Instagram, has about 80 different jobs at once, is starring and directing. Awkward runs on sentences aside, this is pretty interesting news! Why? ‘Cause the film is an adaptation of one of John Steinbeck’s lesser known novels, In Dubious Battle. Steinbeck of course is the American fiction writer best known for novels like East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, and a collection of short stories including The Red Pony.

This is the second Steinbeck adaptation I have heard anything about in the last twenty years. The last was oddly enough Gary Ross’s announcement that he’d like to try his hand at a two part adaptation of East of Eden, starring Jennifer Lawrence no less. However, instead of our dear Jen stepping into a role created by Mr. Steinbeck– it’s Josh. I gotta say I like this development.

Now everyone stare at Josh in Great Depression Era clothes, and not think “District 12 is calling for its clothing back!”

Check out that pageboy cap!

Check out that pageboy cap!

Yes, that's Selena Gomez.

Yes, that’s Selena Gomez.

All right, that’s enough! Now everyone go read In Dubious Battle!

Them There Eyes

The Oscars: Mockingjay News Edition

Last night was the Oscars, and Julianne Moore won for her role in Still Alice! She’s been nominated a few times, but this is her first win. Woo, make that 3 academy award winning actors in the Mockingjay movies.

julianne moore oscar

While Mockingjay Part 1 had no nominations, it was there in spirit right from the opening number, with Katniss pictured among other cinematic heroines as “small town girls who change the world by challenging the norm.” Yes, oh yes. Well done on that one, Oscars.

Josh Hutcherson was also a presenter, and he did a fine job of speaking and walking and not falling. (We’re not belittling this, when you know a billion or so people of watching, doing all those things is fairly impressive).  Host Neil Patrick Harris introduced him as “the Pe(e)ta who won’t throw paint at you” and we love the THG reference, and the Hanging Tree music that accompanied his walk to the stage.

It’s fitting that Josh was a part of the ceremony, because the last time he was at the Oscars was when The Kids are All Right, the movie where he played Julianne’s Moore’s son, was nominated.

We’re dying a little from the cuteness.

During red carpet interviews, we also got confirmation that yes, Josh will be shooting some final (epilogue) scenes later in the year. So breathe a sigh of relief, it looks like there will be no completely unexpected/crazy/insane plot twist where they kill off Peeta in the end (UNLESS THEY DO IT IN THE EPILOGUE!).

Sorry, sometimes I like to keep feeding the crazy :)

JJ

Still Julianne– Also Alma Coin

Tomorrow is the Academy Awards, aka the Oscars and lo, nothing Hunger Games was nominated! That means one thing, right? Yup– we don’t have to watch! I’m imagining that crickets are sounding across the interwebz now. Sorry folks! I mean yes watch, tune in, make fake ballots, and themed mocktails, and cocktails to your hearts content, while you watch pretty people, and more pretty people traipse a red carpet in the Los Angeles sunshine, then read out loud from teleprompters like feeble, farsighted, novices! It’ll be a gas and

I think she's gonna win

I think she’s gonna win

a half!

There’s something very Capitol about the Oscars, no? Because when push comes to shove characters like Caesar Flickerman, and the style teams, are just morphed versions of the Fashion Police on the E! Network, or Ryan Seacrest, whom I think still hosts American Idol– but I’m not sure, ’cause I’ve never watched the show in my life. American Idol that is, I have watched the Oscars numerous times.

Tomorrow, however since The Hunger Games is yet again not recognized by the Academy for its feats in film making, we’re going to have to suffice with rooting for Julianne Moore for her work in the film Still Alice, as well as crossing our fingers, toes, and eyes that Josh walks across that stage without tripping, fumbling, or having his presenting partner be a foot taller than him!

Tune in at your own discretion everyone! I for one will sparingly do so, and the entire time I’ll be pretending that Boyhood is really about Peeta.

Them There Eyes

Breaking Down The Mockingjay Part 1 Documentary Snippets

You know, holding out for the DVD isn’t nearly as hard as we’d expected. Why? Because half the special features are already online anyway!

Not that we’re complaining, of course! We have no problem on getting closer to the Digital HD watchers level. And we’re learning A LOT from these documentary mini-clips! For instance…

1) BREAKING SHIT IS FUN!

Destroyed District 12 was an actual demolition site– an abandoned factory plant– with some set pieces added in. And tearing apart District 12 was apparently really cathartic for the crew, especially Production Designer Philip Messina!

2) DISTRICT 8 ALMOST HIT HORROR MOVIE LEVELS

Though the film wanted to portray realistic injuries, Francis Lawrence asked that most of the make-up be toned down from the department’s original plans, because they wanted to make people look gnarly. REALLY GNARLY.

3) THIS CAST IS MADE OF AWESOME

Not that we didn’t already know this, of course. Still, it’s great to hear how Julianne Moore was enticed into the series and Mahershala Ali checked off multiple boxes on his career bucket list by working on these films!

4) RAPPELLING FASTER THAN AN ELEVATOR DROPS IS INTIMIDATING

This was one of the few moments of the story caught and videotaped during the filming process, but back then, we didn’t realize how big of a deal it was. Considering our stomachs sometimes flips when an elevator lurches too quickly, this is kind of a thrill ride.

5) IT’S MIGUEL’S FAULT

We didn’t really like the Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack much (CUE THE TROLLS! ..It’s a matter of opinion, y’all. Deal.) The most heinous song of all was The Chemical Brother’s and Miguel song, “This Is Not A Game”. We liked the intro of the song, but then it just went straight to hell. If we’re understanding Lorde correctly in this short, the intro is the only part of the song that The Chemical Brothers crafted. Soooo yeah… that disaster is Miguel’s fault.

We’d Like to Thank the Academy

This year’s Oscars ceremony is less than two weeks away. We’re pulling for Julianne Moore to take home her first Oscar for her role in Still Alice. She’s won a lot of the other Best Actress awards this season, so things are looking good, but there are always surprises. No surprises in this category, ok Academy? Julianne for the win!

We now have another reason to look forward to the Oscars. New Academy member Josh Hutcherson will be a presenter! You know what that means. JOSH. IN. A. TUX.

The last time Josh was at the Oscars was 2011. How time flies.

The last time Josh was at the Oscars was 2011. How time flies.

Please excuse the excitement, but it’s somewhat of a rare occurrence for him, or any man for that matter. It’s special attire. Why not dress up to the max, though? Being asked to present is a big honor, but very stressful as well. Even for the most comfortable of public speakers, there’s the massive pressure of having to speak in front of an audience of about 1 BILLION people worldwide. So just… enjoy it, you’ve earned it, Josh.

Another part of the whole Oscar presenter gig is the requisite Red Carpet gauntlet. That means talking to lots of Caesar Flickermans about that tux you are wearing and answering obvious questions like, “Does presenting make you nervous?” Dear Ryan Seacrest, please see the paragraph above and avoid that question. Instead, may I suggest you ask him if he has any additional (ie final) scenes to film for Mockingjay so we can put that speculation to rest?

Good luck to both Julianne and Josh. Be careful with those steps!

JJ

A Hunger Games Movie Prequel Idea We Don’t Hate

Happy 2015, or as it’s otherwise known, THE YEAR MOCKINGJAY PART 2 COMES OUT AND EVERYTHING IS OVER. Granted, 11 months from now is still quite a bit of time, but the questions swirl around about what will happen after the final movie comes out. The pipeline of Hunger Games stuff won’t be completely over then. For fans of the Hunger Games stories, there’s the curiosity of what they will do with the London stageshow in 2016. And there’s that theme park that Lionsgate keeps bringing up during their conference calls that concerns us a lot.

Beyond putting the story into those formats, what about more movies? Or tv? We think there needs to be a lot more time (like 15 yearsish) before thinking about a true reboot. Prequels or sequels are something that could come sooner. Hollywood loves to tap into successful franchises again and again so it’s not a ridiculous notion for it to happen. Suzanne Collins would presumably need to be behind it, and all public indications are that she’s not really looking to go back to Panem for an extended period of time. We’re not so sure we want to either. A huge part of why we love this story is because of these characters and expanding the world beyond the core characters is a risk.

Uncle Haymitch, tell us a story?

Uncle Haymitch, tell us a story?

But what about a prequel that’s already been teased in the books? In the Catching Fire movie, a lot of fans hoped to see Haymitch’s Games in some form, but it was not to be. He’s a beloved character, and as a teenager he was smart, charismatic, snarky, and rebellious, with tragic results. His games were also a Quarter Quell, which would satisfy Hollywood’s Capitol-esque tastes for MORE MORE MORE.

I have a huge amount of love for Haymitch, so developing his story further is the one prequel/sequel idea that I think I could really get behind. Especially if they frame the movie flashing back/forward to Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta in the Mockingjay Epilogue-era for a few scenes (and that means getting Woody/Jen/Josh to come back for a little reunion, who wouldn’t love that?)

If/when this or other movie ideas come around, I hope it’s not for a few years. If another film idea comes right on the heels on Mockingjay Part 2, it would be too soon. Let us have our ending for a while before asking us to dive back in. In the meantime, we can watch the now “classic” Mainstay Productions version of the 2nd Quell.

Maybe it’s too soon to start thinking this way, but we can’t help it.

JJ

 

Best and Worst of Mockingjay Part 1 (MOVIE EDITION)

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

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

WHAT WE LOVED

Peeta’s Interview Scenes

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

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenHijacked Peeta

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

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

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

cf vs mj previewDistrict 12’s Horror Brought to Life

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

If You Thought Snow Was a Bad Dude Before…

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

District 7 Rebels

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

Bonding Time Between Katniss and that Damn Cat

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

The Hanging Tree Sequence

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

Every Second of Jennifer Lawrence

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

WHAT WE DIDN’T LOVE

primPrim Going After the Damn Cat

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

The Prolonged Rescue Scene that Showed Us Too Little

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

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

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

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

JJ

 

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