The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)

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warren oates
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Re: The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)

#51 Post by warren oates » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:51 am

Jeez, that's maybe the worst caricature of, say, the world of imagination I've ever seen. Reminds me of one of John Guare's shorter plays where a character is lamenting Star Wars and its supporters for having such a limited notion of what is means to exercise one's imagination.

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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Re: The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)

#52 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:51 am

It's also the worst caricature of what they think boys will want to read or prefer to read. So much faith in younger men and their reading habits even if they do read less than younger women.

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Re: The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)

#53 Post by Ishmael » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:22 am

Haha. That reminds me of that Monty Python sketch: "Action! Violence! Adventure! Fresh Fruit! ...All things you can find in a good book."

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Re: The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)

#54 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:38 am

I'd just like them to re-do The Running Man with the countdown clock and the ending from the book, which would likely be impossible to do in a post 9/11 world
i.e. the hero giving up on any attempts to escape and instead flying a plane on a kamikaze mission into the TV company's skyscraper!
I agree with most of the above points regarding this film - I liked it OK and it presents a more thought through world than the one on display in Battle Royale, which gets a little muddled at the end. Yet Battle Royale is still far more effective in its mid-section of the kids actually killing each other off and features the kind of fascinating about-to-collapse group dynamics in such a situation that it sounds like cdnchris was looking for. The use of the cannon and death announcements in this film seem a kind of homage to Kitano's more low-tech loudspeaker proclamations, but I still think the way that Battle Royale used the onscreen messages of the callous running total slowly ticking down and especially those flashed up non-sequitur death lines ("I never told him I loved him", "I only wanted to be liked", and so on, which are both explanatorily moving in their matter of factness and reductively cod philosophical teenaged statements at the same time), really add to the horror of the audience at the carnage, and sheer waste, on display.
matrixschmatrix wrote:Yeah, I've brought that up elsewhere, that it seems somewhat of a cheat to set up a game whose point seems to be how cruel it is to force innocents to murder one another and then a.) put in characters who are not innocent (sure, they're children, but evidently they're baaaad children) and b.) never put the lead in a place where she is forced to kill anyone who doesn't 'deserve it' in one way or another.
I shouldn't really bang on about Battle Royale, but I agree with matrixschmatrix here about the characterisations of the 'evil' children who are all seemingly jock types who are enjoying the horror. Battle Royale did a very similar thing with both the 'wild cards' of the previous contestants thrown back into the game (I haven't read any of The Hunger Game books, but I wonder if this will happen to Katniss and Peeta next time around) and the character of Chigusa who takes the violence to heart, but in that film even Chigusa gets a death and a character that is mourned and understood to some extent even though she commits some of the most heartless acts.

Perhaps though this is why Battle Royale was controversial, in that having set up this horrible situation it doesn't flinch away from showing that every death hurts and should be mourned. Yet that seems more acceptable to me than the approach that The Hunger Games takes, which sanitises events for a general teen audience (thereby securing the right censorship classification) in the way it doesn't dwell on the horror, and feels much more disingenuous in doing so.

The Hunger Games goes about its work in a classical way of setting up 'likeable' and 'unlikeable' (or rather 'deserving' and 'undeserving') characters in a situation where everyone has to be unlikeable, if they are going to play the game (which they do, unlike in Battle Royale, which immediately makes The Hunger Games ideologically problematic with its triumphant ending, although interestingly so. But I assume this has more to do with keeping the system in place in readiness for the next installments than any kind of purely darkly ironic victory ending. For example the love triangle set up carries more emotional resonance at the end than any ideas about winning mitigating having been involved in a horrific situation). I felt extremely uncomfortable in being meant to see the young Rue as a good hearted very young child while the kids who callously enjoy the murdering are at the upper end of the age range. After all the set up for the film is that the people chosen are only between 12 and 18, so there is only six years separating them! There seems to be the suggestion that to die at 12 is a tragedy and at 18 you somehow are more deserving to die, since you are likely to be more calculating in killing to survive. (I personally would have liked to have seen Rue killing a couple of people to modify our view of her a little, which I suppose we get in the way that she eggs on Katniss to cut the wasp hive down and getting her stung, albeit Rue was doing it for the best of reasons)

I felt that the worst element of this was the almost pornographic fetishisation of the grief over the death of Rue. OK, she may be standing in for the sister that Katniss is fighting for, but there was no need to bedeck the girl with flowers and lay her out like Snow White in the middle of the forest (also, how would that guy also in the game who saves Katniss from being killed later on know that Katniss did a good thing for Rue that she deserved a favour in return for?) But this seems to denigrate all the other dead in comparison, especially when something like that opening massacre scene at the Cornucopia is presented in a censor-placating abstract, sound-deadened manner.

This is something that Battle Royale in retrospect managed to dodge (after the fake out with the extremely young 'previous winner') by choosing one year group class of children the same age to fight each other so, apart from the older 'veterans' the age difference within the group doesn't come up as an issue and it becomes more of a generational conflict between brutalised kids and the callous ruling class of adults. Here (and this may be being saved for the future installments) the adults, either the ruling classes or the watching adults in the various sectors, seem to get away scot free from taking any responsibility for their part in the games (though there does seem to be a kind of allusion to Shirley Jackson's The Lottery in the passivity of the townsfolk in the opening Sector 12 section).

While we are on the subject of the reaction of the world outside to the game and Rue's fetishised 'funeral', I couldn't really reconcile the idea that these games occurred for the past 73 years with the idea that a sector would begin rioting after seeing a child die and be mourned. Are we meant to see this group of contestants as inherently more likable than the previous 73 batches of children that presumably didn't inspire the same reaction?

Or, if there are regular indignant uprisings to the Games each year, why does Donald Sutherland seem to be so concerned about the 'hope' that has been inspired this year? Although I agree with the above comments that the best aspect of the whole film is the relationship between Sutherland and Wes Bentley, with Bentley at the end being ushered into the backroom to 'fall on his sword', much in the same way that the PM was in that other post-apocalyptic film, Doomsday! The part I liked most was that offhand remark in the interview at the very beginning that Bentley was running the games for what sounded like an unprecedented third year in a row. Which immediately suggested that there was a high turnover of executives running the games - I suppose they all meet similar fates to the one that Seneca does at the end of this film when they fail to run the contest properly!

Although for all I've talked about a preference for Battle Royale here, I did like all of the Western additions that the Hunger Games brought to the table of all the Roman Empire-style decadence and gladiatorial inflections on display, from the parading before the crowds and the warriors being sold to patrons to the fighting not just each other but crowd-pleasing wild animals thrown in there as well in order to keep the crowd's fickle attention. Adding to that the empty headed pre- and post-show interviews (where the only point of going on them is to show off the new dress you're wearing - you could seemingly replace each contestant with a mannequin and a tape recorder set to play a few pre-selected phrases about enjoying the competition and giving your all for all the insight that they give) and the play-by-play sports commentary (where we occasionally cut to the commentators stating the obvious) is quite an effective melding of ancient and modern tropes to show their equivalence.

Anyway, the film wasn't terrible, although I can see the horrible promise of lots of Twilight-style glowering scenes between Katniss's two beaus coming up. As long as they aren't drawn out as much as in Twilight - Katniss at least doesn't seem to be the same kind of intensely irritating character as Bella is, and even if she can seem cut from the same sullen teen mode she at least seems to have more reason to be!

Did anyone notice in the credits that Steven Soderbergh is credited as a Second Unit Director on this? (I wonder if he was involved in that hallucination scene? And was there an allusion to Metropolis in the way that the miners getting on the cart and then the explosion coming up from the shaft was filmed?)
Last edited by colinr0380 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)

#55 Post by manicsounds » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:19 pm

It looks like Lionsgate took a page from The Masters Of Cinema notebook, and if you play the disc on a different region setting, you get a fun little warning screen, in vein with the movie. Although I'm not sure why they did this, as Lionsgate has the rights to it in both US region A and UK region B...

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