The Hunger Games: It seems like, at least in terms of box office, The Hunger Games made the transition from Twilight levels of excitement to New Moon levels of excitement before the first movie ever came out. Maybe if it peaks sooner, they won’t insist on breaking up the third book into two movies, the worst literary adaptation trend this side of, well, making Twilight movies at all. For the uninitiated, The Hunger Games is everything lady-centric speculative YA should be instead of like Twilight: the female protagonist is strong but imperfect, rather than completely ordinary but worshipped by everyone; the love triangle is a subplot, not the only thing that kinda-sorta happens in the entire story (although that subplot gets upgraded, to detrimental effect, in the two book sequels; I fear the same may happen with the film version); the new world the author creates reflects some kind of internal reality, not just heightened romance-novel-for-dummies junk; and the writing is not actively stupid or terrible. Sounds pretty cool, right?
We’ll see how it goes with the movie version, which in the tradition of Bill Condon and Mike Newell and one or more Weitz, has been handed to the guy who directed Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. But Newell made one of the best Potters, so maybe the classy-journeyman thing isn’t a total wash. It’s too bad, though, that David Fincher killed some time making the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as sleek and sharp as possible when he could’ve been making The Hunger Games his own. There’s the other potential problem: pop-novel adaptation has become such big business that making anything someone’s own is frowned upon, unless that someone is a rabid fan of the books likely to pay money to see the movie souvenir version multiple times. Anyway, I’ll be back on Monday with a report from the front lines of the Hunger Games opening night at the Ziegfeld, assuming I don’t perish in the district-wide riots we have scheduled immediately thereafter.
The Raid: Redemption: I wonder if this release of an already-geek-beloved martial arts/action spectacular from Asia has been scheduled specifically to pacify all of the Battle Royale fans grumbling and sitting out The Hunger Games this weekend. In any event, by the current schedule of impotent, vaguely sexist [Hmm. For what it's worth, though BR is obviously more of an ensemble piece than Hunger Games, several of its most interestingly layered and attended-to characters are ladies. -Ed.] nerd rage, it should be about twelve years before a YA book series and accompanying movie adaptation that bear a passing, faint resemblance to The Raid are released to carping that it’s all clearly knocked off from this movie, which by 2024 will be credited with basically inventing the idea of fighting inside a building. Get in the ground floor, and get off before it reaches that point of stupidity; this movie sounds completely awesome.
The Deep Blue Sea: I’d never seen a movie by Terence Davies before I sat down to watch The Deep Blue Sea: Not the Shark One a few weeks ago. The experience prompted many provocative questions, like: sweet lord, are all Terence Davies movies like this? And: if so, may I avoid his movies for the rest of my life? Davies sure knows how to compose a painterly frame and make use of elegant camera movements to immerse you in a scene, and maybe the play he’s working from simply doesn’t have much to offer, but Deep Blue is such a stultifying, miserable drone that the first twenty minutes feel like an opening moment—a minute, tops—stretched out to infinite length. Fuck, I’m afraid I’m making this sound awesome. [Yes, you are. —Ed.] But the thing is, you’re immersed into scenes that go nowhere and accomplish little. It’s a long, slow cry into the void, as Rachel Weisz tries to save an obviously dead relationship with Tom Hiddleston, who represents a less wealthy but also more passionate life than the one she left her older, kindly but vaguely oppressive husband to pursue. Weisz is rarely less than convincing, but suicidal despondence chased with the occasional flashback to giddiness does not a full-bodied character craft. I guess the material can be read as an allegory for homosexuality, which makes the movie seem, at best, a touch irrelevant in 2012.