“The year before, I had been to the cinema for the first time and seen a film about a horse. I think it was called Black Beauty and was based on a famous book. The film was on at the Sture cinema and we sat in the front row of the circle. To me, it was the beginning. I was overcome with a fever that has never left me. The silent shadows turned their pale faces towards me and spoke in inaudible voices to my most secret feelings. Sixty years have gone by and nothing has changed; the fever is the same.”
- Ingmar Bergman, The Magic Lantern.
:) things that make me think about good moments in a bad time
Let’s get nerdy
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 – Francis Lawrence, 2015
For all my complaining about the last movie, this one was actually pretty good. We’re treading on familiar territory here; a group of rebels making their last stand against a tyrannical leader, the underdogs somehow coming out on top because they’re the good guys and that’s who we root for. This movie takes the tropes that we recognize and uses them effectively in the conclusion to the Hunger Games series. For one, it’s not afraid to kill people off, and seeing characters that we’ve gotten to know in the last movie die is shocking. I love the moment where Katniss kills President Coin instead of Snow, always trying to protect the people. The only thing is that Finnick’s death is obvious, no one who gets married during a revolution is going to make it to the end of the film.
What’s fascinating about this film is how well it ties the whole franchise together. Finnick makes the comment, “Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games,” and he’s absolutely right. The obstacles they face on their way to kill President Snow are designed by the Gamemakers, the same ones who made the sadistic arenas for the Hunger Games. Here, they are fighting for their freedom, just like the tributes do in the Games. There’s even a camera crew tagging along with Katniss and her friends to make videos for the rebels, like the Hunger Games are televised. The parallels are there between the rebels fighting for their lives and the games that have been televised for years. They hit home that it has always been about the spectacle. But this time, they break out of the cycle. Only now here we are, watching it as a movie. I find it very interesting.
Yes, I admit that Wes Anderson has problems as a filmmaker. Yes, I admit that almost every single one of his films is about bourgie, upper class white people and high society, except for the two times it was about stop motion animals, and the one time it was about Boy Scouts, which, as a side note, was itself pretty creepy in the way it portrayed romance between children. Yes, I admit that there is a stunning lack of diversity in his films. Yes, I admit that almost every POC character in his filmography is painted as either antagonistic, as wall paper, or as subservient to the white leads. Yes, I admit that for a man who has been making movies for the last thirty years now, he has been astonishingly resistant to any kind of innovation in the kind of movies he’s willing to make, and the kind of stories he’s willing to tell.
But there is just something so deeply, deeply satisfying about watching his films. From Robert Yeoman’s cinematography, to the doll house like production design, to the intricate attention to detail in every single frame of the film, to Alexander Desplat’s soundtracks, it’s all just so fucking good. It’s like it scratches this itch in the back of my brain that I didn’t even know that I had until I sat down and watched the movie. I just can’t get enough.
Also, Bill Murray is in just about all of them, and I literally cannot say no to that man. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the flaws God wrote down in the little box when he was putting together my character sheet.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 – Francis Lawrence, 2014
As previously mentioned, this film series came at a time when young adult book-to-film adaptations were incredibly popular. And the most popular way to present these films to their audiences was to split the final installment in the series into two films. Unfortunately, the first part of the two-part finale tends to fall short, ending up bloating its runtime in order to justify being made. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 is exciting, but is still mostly conversations about what’s to come. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 was completely unnecessary, and both halves of the finale dragged because there was absolutely no reason for it to be two movies long. Mockingjay - Part 1 lands closer to Harry Potter than Twilight on this binary I’ve created, but it’s still an overly-long, overly-talky film that could have easily been condensed.
I understand the difficulties in adapting books into films. As an avid bookworm and cinephile, I consider it my job to hold film adaptations to the highest standard. It’s impossible to include every single detail from a book without a film turning into a four-hour epic (and The Hobbit is a prime example of what happens when you include too many details). Things just take too much time to show visually. And this is why films that come from the first two acts of books tend to be not as exciting. They build towards something that, by design, won’t arrive until the final film. This makes the ending feel unsatisfying. Only people who are huge fans of the books enjoy these kinds of films, because they recognize what’s happening and why it’s important. For everyone else, it’s confusing and slow. I happen to be a fan of the book, so I didn’t hate this film. But I can see why someone would.