Monday, December 2, 2013

NOVEMBER 2013: Bendor, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Frances Ha



Director: Ralston Jover
With: Vivian Velez

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Director: Francis Lawrence
With: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Lenny Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claffin, Jena Malone, Willow Shields, Lynn Cohen

I find the first half of the book cheesy and frustrating with all the love affections and pretentions of Katniss and Peeta with Gale looming on their relationship. I was afraid it would be a repeat of the Edward-Bella-Jacob fiasco, I did not finish it. But even though I stopped reading halfway, I find the film adaptation of Catching Fire a good one.

Suzanne Collins was able to create likable characters even more so than Katniss and Haymitch in Finnick and Johanna, and I have no shame to include Mags as well as she proved to be a coattail riding mute goddess. Francis Lawrence was successful in maintaining that likability in the film. Unfortunately, I was not able to get to know them more as I didn't come upon their parts in the book but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I had something to look forward to watching the film and Finnick and Johanna's character developments ended up being my favorite part of it. Something I can also say to Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Plutarch. But Finnick's character surprised me the most as I was successfully tricked to believe that he's going to be the resident Career or villain of the Quarter Quell. I should have known better just like how Haymitch asked Katniss and Peeta to remove all of their expectations as they're in a whole new ball game. Kudos to Sam Claffin (Finnick) and Jena Malone (Johanna) for being charming enough to portray their characters. Makes me want to read Mockingjay even though I heard it's too serious and political.

There were times in the film when I was sure Jennifer Lawrence was ridiculing her scenes in the film but you just gotta love her for doing those. She sort of showed a slice of her real self in her portrayal of Katniss. She's an epic actress now. I also love how epic she looked when she was being carried out of the arena. Overall, it's a good ensemble. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci recurring their roles were great. They're consistently fantastic!

I still prefer Hunger Games than Catching Fire. While the visual effects and production design of the sequel improved immensely, I thought the pacing have some issues. The climax felt like it's not yet the climax. I just prefer the story of its predecessor as it's more inclined with the Battle Royalesque nature, adventure and survival that enticed me to read the book. Catching Fire did not focus on the game anymore. It explored the love triangle of Katniss which I obviously dislike but it had more complications and storylines which helped the film stand distinct with its epic predecessor.

Frances Ha

Director: Noah Baumbach
With: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, Charlotte d'Amboise, Grace Gummer

We can never have enough films about people in their twenties trying to live in the concrete jungle of New York (where dreams are made of :3). Quarter life crisis themed films will always exist and will never be overdone. I guess the world needs more of these but Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's Frances Ha is probably one of the best.

It's kind of ironic how a black and white film can be so colorful. That is possible because of Greta Gerwig's characterization of the vibrant Frances - a 27 year old dancer with a cute and quirky personality surviving NY, struggling to grow up and attached to her best friend, Sophie. It's very reminiscent of the series Girls, and a little bit of New Girl, except this is more accomplished and realistic. Frances Ha is far superior. Greta Gerwig is even more likable. She absorbs all my adoration for Lena Dunham and usurped all of it to her. I think she's better overall. Poor Lena, she's too undateable compared to Greta. D:

The script is filled with catchphrases and the whole film is like looking inside the mind of Gerwig. Of course, Gerwig shined throughout the film as she was able to cater not only her talent in acting, but dancing as well. As Frances, she managed to blend the elements of comedy and drama through her subtle mannerisms and emotions. Frances never cried once but you would see through her the emotional depth of a girl whom most of the time doesn't know how to move on with her life. It's fun to follow her every step and every decision as life throws obstacles in her way.

I've always been a fan of subtle expression of sadness through comedies and most of the time these films are the ones that touch you. There's a reason why Lost in Translation is my all time favorite film. Although I don't think Frances Ha aimed to do that, but since I got some emotions out of it, it's probably on purpose. I'm pretty sure it will be one of the films I'll rewatch from time to time. It's becoming better and better as I discuss it with people who've watched this. If you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and watch. :)