Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hunger Games

Hunger Games, the movie everyone has been talking about, hit theaters last Friday. As a fan of the books, I joined a few of my friends at the midnight showing. Since the hype over these books and movie as been compared to that of the Twilight series, I was afraid I would be seated among a sea of squealing pre-teens. While, this was to an extent true, there were also a smattering of male moviegoers, which made me feel slightly better about my choice in books.

Just in case you didn't know. The Hunger Games is set in the dystopian Panem (formerly known as North America). Panem was originally 13 Districts, ruled over by the Capitol, but sometime in the past, the districts rebelled and were defeated.  District 13 was obliterated and the remaining districts are forced each year to give a boy and a girl between the ages of 12-18, to compete in a televised fight to the death. The story focuses on Katniss, a young woman who hunts for her family's food in the poor and desolate District 12. She volunteers herself for the Hunger Games when her 12 year old sister is picked and is sent to the Capitol with Peeta, a boy who has secretly harbored a crush on Katniss. The pair are set loose with 22 other tributes in a forest like environment, and the games begin. 

I, overall, enjoyed the movie. The film had the right combination of old Hollywood talent and fresh new faces. Donald Sutherland played a subtle but threatening President Snow, leader of the Capitol. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) managed to portray her as both tough and vulnerable, reminding us that Katniss is only a teenager, forced to live in a violent and unfair world. 

My only problem with the movie, which maybe Hollywood wouldn't let it avoid, was the romanticization of the ending. The question throughout the entire book is whether Katniss actually loves Peeta or is just pretending for the sake of the cameras. The movie ignores this and lets the pair return home as smiling lovers, holding hands. Even Gale, Katniss's other suitor who was left at home, is smiling as Katniss and Peeta hold hands on their return. 

I think the main reason that I liked this movie was because I was already a fan of the books. The movie doesn't stray too far from the books, satisfying the fans in that respect. The acting is well done but the storyline becomes a bit contrived in parts, making this more a movie for the readers. The story itself serves as a warning to the worst possible future for reality of television. This idea as been approached before by other sci fi writers (i.e Running Man, Stephen King), but the use of younger characters allows this book to draw in the younger crowds, just as Harry Potter did to fantasy, and regrettably Twilight did to vampires. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coming Home

I have a pretty big family. All together there are 7 kids, ranging in ages from 7-30. As much as I adore them, coming home for Spring Break becomes a bit hectic. I was sitting on the couch yesterday, tightly wedged between my siblings, and began a Pro and Cons list about coming home:

Pro: Coming home means you get to sleep in your on bed, which is much bigger and more comfortable than your university provided bed.

Con: You end up either on the couch or worse, sharing a bed with a kicking prone sister, because your older siblings use the age card and swipe your bed from you.  

Pro: Mom makes a huge 6-course dinner, including at least 2 different kinds of desserts, in honor of the homecoming of yourself and others who have been away for the majority of the year.

Con: The merciless war that ensues as everyone scrambles to get more of the potato casserole and less of the steamed broccoli.

Pro: Being able to do your laundry for free and not have to pay two dollars a load.

Con: As payback for wrangling the washer first, your siblings sabotage your laundry by either stealing socks from the dryer or tinting the pure white clothing into a lovely shade of pink.

Pro: Being able to sleep in with no early classes to wake for.

Con: Having an early rising 7 year old to come jolt you out of bed better than any alarm clock ever could.

Pro: Being able to TIVO all of your favorite shows you missed while away at school.

Con: Feeling extremely disappointed when you realize that they never actually recorded because your technological savvy 7-year-old brother knows how to delete the shows and make room for SpongeBob.

To name a few. Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. It’s just funny how a two story house can feel just as small as a dorm room.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I am looking forward to voting for the first time in a presidential election. I find, however, that much of my political knowledge comes from articles such as this one (Huffington Post: Romney vs Mr. Burns). If only real political articles were as simple and colorful as this.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wild Bunch Redux

As I try to find inspiration for writing, I begin sifting through all the papers I've written over the last 3 years. Name the subject, and I've probably got a paper for it: Ethics, English, History, Philosophy, Business....and Math. Yes, I have a paper on mathematics.....It hurts my eyes to look at this one.

In this heap of essays, I found a film analysis paper I did for Ron Hansen's class a couple years ago on Sam Peckinpah's Wild Bunch and I decided to completely re-write it. I want to take out all of the technical mumbo jumbo I was required to put in it and just focus on why this movie is so great. I am really excited to re-write this. 

Part of the problem with my writing habits is that I feel everything I write has to be about something that everyone cares about or wants to read. While writing for money, this may be crucial, I just need to develop my writing habits, and I am going to start with this (albeit dated) film review. I realize not everyone cares about this kind of thing, but it matters to me so to hell with everyone.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meryl and the Oscar

After winning so many, Meryl herself is actually physically morphing into an Oscar

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Final Procrastination

All of my housemates are getting excited. Near the end of the quarter, without fail, our place is always spotlessly clean, organized, and smelling of freshly baked goods. This is my form of procrastination. Instead of studying for the final or writing that last paper, I take it upon myself to do all the things that I normally avoid. An unmade bed or a Lean Cuisine meal usually are enough for me. During finals week, I will try reorganizing the kitchen and make a four course meal. It's like the dread of doing any of the things I need to do turns me into this different person. Procrastination is weird in that way.

Everyone has a story about procrastination. This recently came to my attention when I finally went to an overdue meeting with my advisor and all that I learned was that she was suffering of an addiction to Angry Birds. While some of these stories are more extreme than others, procrastination is something that unites us all. It's not really that surprising with websites such as Stumbleupon or Tumbler that practically encourage procrastination. Everyone is told how bad procrastination really is. The countless proverbs and bumper stickers that encourage carpe diem, doing today instead of putting off until tomorrow etc, further emphasize how bad procrastination is. In my experience, however, procrastination, while stifling to what needs to be done, actually accomplishes more than we think. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Smash: Hit or Miss

Spielberg's newest enterprise, "Smash" a television show on the behind the scenes drama of Broadway, has been getting a lot of hype lately. Some call the show Glee for adults, while others have nothing but praise. After watching the first two episodes, I have to say that the show falls somewhere in between the two. The plot focuses on the development of a new Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe and the people involved in the productrion. Although the original songs about Marilyn are enjoyable, the show itself is fairly predictable. One of the major plotlines is the fierce competition for the main role of Marilyn between seasoned blonde Broadway veteran, Ivy, and green but talented waitress, Karen. This show would be a lot better if the character of Karen wasn't such a cliche. Hailing from some small Midwestern town, she is hoping to make it on Broadway using her waifish charm and talented voice. While Katherine McPhee (Karen) can sing reasonable well, her acting skills pale in comparison to her co-stars. I can already picture the rest of the season: Karen and Ivy will continuously try to upstage one another in hopes of keeping the main role. At least one of them, if not both, will at some point sleep with the stern British director. In the end, some internal/personal issue will hinder one enough for the other to take the lead and become a new star on Broadway. This is the basic plotline for most musical dramas such as this.The show failed to entice me to tune in for the rest of the season.
This is not to say that the show doesn't have some really great things going for it. Academy Award winner, Anjelica Huston, is entertaining to watch as newly divorced producer. Debra Messing and Christian Borle play the hit-making writers of the show whose own personal dramas are more frankly more interesting than the predictable compeition between Karen and Ivy.

I am pretty disappointed at the lack of originality in the show but the premise of a Marilyn musical is enough to entice any theater junkie. Rather than the interest in the shows original plot and characters, the fascination with the Marilyn Musical is what will bring viewers back to this show every week.