Woman Friday

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The thoughts about The Hunger Games.

Having already read all three books of The Hunger Games series, I was one of the masses eagerly awaiting the film's release this past Friday (ironic how you could compare us fans to the citizens of Panem's Capitol... but that's a different post).  Unfortunately, the earliest showing we could get to on Friday night was 10:30 and my friends didn't care to stay out that late.  Yeah... we're pathetic adults now with real lives and stuff.  I wouldn't've minded; I'm always exclaiming, "Midnight or first day showings for films that could be awesome!  WOOOO!!!"  (Imagine my disappointment with the midnight showings of King Kong and Star Wars: Episode II).

Despite my disappointment at not going on opening day, my patience was tested and became stronger, and I was rewarded with being able to see the film today.  I did my very best to sit back and enjoy, and wait to analyze when the film was over.  I did take some mental notes, which were afterwards discussed with the hubby on our walk home.

We decided the book is still better in terms of storytelling.  For those of you who haven't read the book, the rest of this explanation may not make sense to you, so proceed with caution.  The film stays close to the book - SCARILY so for today's film-making industry.  However, it differs in two areas that I think distinctly separate it from the book:

1.  The book keeps hidden for longer the true depths of the Capitol's hideous nature/intentions as well as the lengths to which it (or rather, President Snow) will go to keep its power.  For example, the film shows President Snow up close and personal, and his interaction with Seneca Crane, scenes that were only implied in the book.  I don't think this detracted from the film itself, because, for the filmmakers' sake, them knowing that not all of the audience would have read the book, I think it's safe to say that the filmmakers simply had to reveal more of the Capitol and its leaders than the book did, to hold onto the audience and help them understand the situation in those mere 2 1/2 hours.  I simply think that I was more intrigued with the story when I didn't know entirely what was going on, and this is something only the book delivered to me (yes, I know I went into the film already knowing what was going to happen whether or not the film showed me, but I am going to say that I am certain many of the book readers will agree with me on this point).

2.  The film ends not with Peeta and Katniss, but with President Snow.  Again, I think this ties back to the filmmakers needing to show the audience the gravity of the situation, but unfortunately, we don't know about this until the second book.  The first book ends with Peeta and Katniss arriving home, both being very unsure of what they have sparked and also being very awkward about their feelings toward each other.  The focus is still on them, as it rightly should be since the book is told from the first person perspective of Katniss.  I believe that the film ending with President Snow takes the focus off of Katniss and her inner struggles, one of the many reasons the previous fans of this series were so addicted to her character and the series as a whole.  I also realize you can't show a film from a first-person perspective, and therefore the Snow ending was not out of place in the film.  I merely prefer the first-person perspective, struggles, and ending of the book.  So, really, maybe my complaint is not about how the film ends, but how the film's ending represents the separation from the book's unique perspective, and how I feel that perspective is part of the reason The Hunger Games initially built such a strong fan base.

Okay, enough of the complaints.  I was actually highly impressed with the film in many ways:

1.  The acting was top-notch and far better than most young people I see in current films (*cough*Twilight*cough*).  This created very, very strong character development.  You feel everything Katniss feels thanks to an outstanding performance by Jennifer Lawrence (I pretty much bawled like Katniss when Rue died), and you can't help but want to hug Peeta because of the kind and caring way Josh Hutcherson portrayed him.  The adult actors were also excellent casting choices, every single one.  Somehow I can't see anyone other than Elizabeth Banks as the annoying Effie, or Woody Harrelson as the rogue-ish Haymitch.  Also, Stanley Tucci as Caeasar Flickerman almost made me LIKE his brainwashed character.  We can't help but love and hate them all!  The odds were definitely in these actors and actresses' favors.   I am holding judgment on Donald Sutherland as President Snow; he looks like he has the potential to be a lethal villain, but we only saw glimpses of this in the film, and I am hoping this develops with the (most likely) release of future films.
2.  As mentioned above, the film was one of the best adaptations from a novel I have ever seen in my life.  It's sharing some of the top spots on my list with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.
3.  Cinematography/filming was appropriately shaky, hand-held, and rapid, easily conducive to the frantic and desperate nature of the story.
4.  Sound effects were sharp and well-chosen; the mockingjay songs in particular made me smile at their light-hearted innocence.
5.  The scenery was breathtaking, and the sets were uncannily familiar to the mental pictures I had formed in my mind while reading the book - the grit of District 12, the ritzy opulence of the Capitol, the lush forests both soothing and frightening at the same time.  I quite literally gasped when Katniss walked into her room in the Capitol's District 12 tribute penthouse.  It looked EXACTLY as I had pictured it... minus the funky lamps.
6. The costumes were Gaga-esque in such a way that they actually felt right in their appropriate setting.  You know how Gaga walks around, 1 out of millions of people, dressed like none of those other millions of people would?  This was completely opposite.  Katniss, someone entirely normal and even reminiscent of destitution in her plain, 1920s-inspired dress, suddenly looks out of place in a sea of colors, jewels, and painted faces.  Not that her or any non-Capitol citizen had bad costumes; theirs were highly fitting, as well (no pun intended).  Every single character, even the extras, were appropriately decked out for whatever their respective backgrounds implied.

Overall, I feel The Hunger Games stayed true to the morals, themes, mood, and message of the book.  There were, as I mentioned above, some concerns I had that made me prefer the book over the film, and I'm sure there are many more complaints (one such that I've heard is that the film slows down too much once the Games actually commence... I'd agree with this except for the fact that the book did this, too, and there's no real way in my mind for the film to have sped up this section without leaving out lots of vital character development).  However, my money was by no means wasted; I was rewarded with a highly entertaining and well-constructed film that ultimately made me continue to compare some of the Panem realities to our world.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The one where I wish I was cool... then I thought about it more.

I've been watching a lot of superhero, geeky, and nerdy TV shows lately.  You know, like Smallville, The Big Bang Theory, and The Guild.  Next, I wouldn't mind starting the new V series or perhaps actually starting some Star Trek (can you see a pattern here?).

At the same time I've been watching these shows, I am researching graduate schools and thinking about applying for jobs in Colorado.  Obviously, the two probably won't coincide, so I'm constantly having to stop to ask myself, "What do I really want to do with my life?"  Inevitably, my mind will turn to these TV shows and all the fascinating characters and situations held within them.  Perhaps this is because I am hoping to find guidance in those words spoken by people who always seem to have far more interesting lives than I.  Maybe I'm assuming that these shows have something to offer me more in that moment than dwelling on the uncertain future of graduate school and/or a job. For sure, I believe that the genres of science fiction and fantasy offer a better, fuller, more encompassing scope of the world (or a world) than other genres, a scope that always expands and explores, just like I try to do every day of my life - something like making every day count and reclaiming every square inch (yes, I did just write that).

And then I realize that that's precisely why I can't stop thinking about "unreal" stories in the midst of my real-life one taking place.  The epic tales, the heroic journeys, the dazzling worlds are nothing more than what my life COULD be if I just viewed it in such a way.  Why can't I be considered a heroine right now?  Aren't my life and my choices just as important as those in the TV shows because I'm being directly affected, shaped, and transformed for the future?  Isn't this world just as fascinating to study, considering we still haven't investigated, what, over half of the ocean floor?

Now I don't want to make myself sound narcissistic.  I don't aim to focus just on myself, and I certainly never want to encourage anyone else to do the same.  Plenty of people unfortunately exist in a putrid state of "me-ness," running around demanding and suing for their own rights like they're hopped up on one too many self-esteem shots. 

What I'm instead suggesting is that we try not to yearn for some lands or people we think are "better" than our lives, because so long as we do that we will miss the fantastical, epic elements of our very real lives.  Of course we can always dream and find enjoyment, inspiration, and even understanding from these worlds, and I believe we should (I'm sorry, but it's really hard not to learn about the dangers of hate and greed when you see Anakin Skywalker burning up in the lava pits of Mustafar... if you miss those life lessons you should probably go back to analyzing the messages of Sesame Street before you try again).  But I wouldn't want to miss out on a kick-ass bonfire with friends simply because I'm sitting inside, wallowing in the fact that I'm not a rogue elf sitting around a raid campfire instead.

So keep those Clark Kents, Sheldon Coopers, and Codexes coming.  I may not be as powerful as you are in your worlds, but I can frakkin' well make myself a real-life superheroine in my own world, saving the day one womanly, wifely, friendly, worker-ly act at a time.  Scratch that: I'm going to say more than one act at a time, because I can in my world.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

The one where the writer equals... Superman?

So if we are to take Bernard Malamud's quote that I listed at the top of my page as seriously as possible, does this mean that the writer is equal in status to Superman (or any other hero, for that matter)?
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The one to rant about Christian music.

Christian music is, in general, devoid of any merit.

Maybe I should specify that I am talking about mainstream Christian music.  I'm talking about your average bunch of average musicians you find at an average Christian merchandise store.  These are the people we are supposedly touting as our best and most popular.  How sad is it when our "best" simply repeat "I love you, God" three times over?

I do exaggerate, and I realize this.  However, it is nearly impossible not to when I have to listen to the Christian music station when driving to work with some of my co-workers.  Thirty minutes in to work, thirty minutes back.  One hour of "Christian" music that does not seem to change key, pitch, lyrics, style, or quality.

When God created the world, He created diversity in plant and animal life.  When God punished the people at the Tower of Babel, He in essence also blessed humanity with a variety of languages.  At the throne of God in heaven, there will be men and women from all races.  Why, then, do Christian musicians feel that they cannot be versatile in their musical creations?

This, to me, is utter blasphemy against the God these musicians claim to celebrate.  They want to celebrate Him, but they don't seem to want to give any recognition to the fact that they were created in God's image and as such should be more creative than they are being.  The ultimate Creator wants us to strive to be more like Him every day; this includes being creative in the arts and very obviously does not exclude it.  Therefore, it seems like mockery, a laugh in God's face (or a direct disobedience to His wishes) that we should be anything but the best and most creative in the world.  If we are to redeem the world and make disciples of all nations, I find it highly unlikely we will do so with such monotony.

People usually notice innovative, unique artists far more than they will an artist who sounds just like that other artist.  Case in point: Lady Gaga.  No, she is not a moral role model we want to follow, but she did emerge on the music scene with her undoubtedly unusual antics and creativity.  It seems pathetic that a Christian did not beat her to it.

Or maybe they have and we just don't want to support those singers or bands because they are not officially "labeled" or "signed" as Christian artists.  U2 has been around for decades and still makes award-winning, globally popular music which is also truthful and godly in message, but heaven forbid we suggest them to our fellow believers because they are not signed with a Christian record company (and Bono says he's a Catholic, so we can't really be sure he's a Christian, anyway).  Thrice is a slightly better option as the lead singer confesses to being a Christian and purposefully writes spiritually positive lyrics, but then again, the band's music is harder rock and sometimes they scream instead of sing... and we're just not comfortable with that, either.  We may feel more comfortable recommending Switchfoot, who has broken the barrier between Christian and secular music successfully, but then again, they did sort of sell out... and we're not sure we're comfortable with recommending them, either (even though their music consistently shows creativity and biblical truths beyond the majority of Christian and secular artists).

We need more bands like U2, Thrice, and Switchfoot, in my opinion.  And until we do, I will refuse to drown my ears in the sea of Christian music.  I'd rather God see me singing "We are the image of the invisible... Though all the world may hate us, we are named" one time than "I love you, God" three times over.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The zombie-fication

When your husband and your cousin play Left 4 Dead blasting, screaming, and running their way to safety, you can't help but laugh.

I think it's safe to laugh at such games because zombies are not real. Even if they were, I don't think the humans infected would actually be considered human anymore (that is probably a debate best saved for another time). Shooting zombies in a game, therefore, is quite entertaining if the people playing the game aren't taking things seriously and also laugh at the ridiculousness of their situation.

However, I had to pause when I realized that sometimes people are called zombies, usually when their brain is fried and they can't respond in a manner that shows brain processes are still even remotely working. Not surprisingly, I had started feeling like this before our vacation to Colorado. Work was uninspiring, life was mundane, and there was not much motivation left in my body or soul. This unfortunately led to me becoming very negative about a lot of areas of my life, a fact that I was not aware of until my husband and I were lying in bed, sharing what we wanted to improve about ourselves for each other. Nick said he wished I wasn't so negative. That was definitely a painful eye-opener. That was also a very good indication that I definitely needed this vacation.

So if I had become a brain-dead zombie, doesn't that mean I should actually laugh at myself like I laughed at the game zombies?

And there it is. If I can laugh at zombies in games, and if I can make sure to laugh at myself and my own mistakes before improving, then I still find little pleasures in life. Then I can be positive.
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