atreic: (Earth)
atreic ([personal profile] atreic) wrote2013-11-24 10:56 pm

Mostly about Catching Fire

I have lots and lots of Things bouncing around in my head about Catching Fire. I want to write an intelligent, coherant review, but if I try to do that, I'll just fail to do anything. So have as many bullet points as I can think of before I go to bed.


Spoilers, obviously. Only for the film in the body of the text, but more generally in the comments for all things Hunger Games

It's a 12A, for 'moderate violence'. I am probably old fashioned, but the police brutality, Gale's beating, and, err, the entire story being about being forced into a game where everyone is trying to kill each other, for power and entertainment, made me wonder how we assess the 'moderate'

I sobbed. Sobbed and sobbed for about the first third. Once they were in the arena, and it was all Movie Violence, with running and fighting etc, I found it much less traumatic. But the District 12 bits... (OK, life's been full of sad bits this week, so I was looking for something to cathartically cry over) They were heartbreaking.

Especially Prim. Capable Prim, when Gale is hurt, so hard and strong so young, dealing when her mother falls apart again, supporting Katniss. It's easy to think of Prim as the pretty little blonde one, but oh, the sadness and complication of the relationship.

And the tour of the districts. Oh, District 11. I wanted to slap Peeta and Katness, for being so stupid and naive and not even realising the fire they were playing with, but I loved them so much for their generosity and honesty. Rue's family, on the podium, just made me cry.

The relationship between Katniss and Peeta was spot on. The coolness between them and the pain of watching her acting, and then the way that life drives them together over the movie. The bit on the train, when Katness flatly realises that they should get married, was heartbreaking and spot on.

Also, the other bit on the train, where Peeta, who has every right to be completely bitter and broken, and has thrown his heart at Katniss to watch her stomp callously on it because it's not a thing she needs or wants right now, makes time and says 'hey, I know this isn't your fault, you're completely not oblidged to love me. Maybe it'll be easier if we work out how to be friends though?' And (at least to me) it came across as completely sincere, not nice-guy pressury, and oh, in the face of everything, Peeta is so Kind and so Nice.

Funny watching it with L. She commented on things that were, well, technically true, but were not where my mind was at all. Usually to do with fashion. I remember her saying 'they really like Katness's shoulders, don't they?' (it's true, they do). Makes you think about what we teach teenage girls to look out for.

Also interesting when they all get boils from the fog. Katniss gets _much_ more photogenic boils than the boys. Decorative boils down the side of her cheek, rather than full-face horridness.

The second book has always been my least favourite of the books. The first book is fresh and new and fabulous, and the third book is plot-tastic, but the second book always felt a bit like 'this has to be a trilogy, let's have the hunger games again' The second film, on the other hand, I loved even more than the first.

The new Games Maker was perfect. Watching the film having read the books, it was interesting to see M (who hasn't read the books) _didn't_ realise he was secretly saving Katniss until the end. Watching those perfectly crafted conversations with Snow. Funny, the contrast between the rich fat powerful white capital man, masterminding the revolution, and Katness just being swept up in it all.

Tributes! They were so good. I was worried that trying to introduce so many characters in a Movie wouldn't have the space. But oh, Finnick. And Joanna. Total movie!crush on both of them. I expect the internet to overflow with Finnick/Katness now.

Good strong morals. Nice people don't kill people. Nice people look after the elderly, and the mentally ill. It's always felt a bit contrived, how Katniss never really kills anyone - even with Cato she's saving him from the dogs, and she's only violent in self defence. But maybe that is the point, that they never break her to the point where she becomes that person. Some good tricks in the film to show how Awesome with her bow she is without having her turn into Violent killer of People - the bit with the monkeys, and the bit in the training room. The bit where she has her choice to kill Finnick, and Snow is watching her was so well done.

The bit with Snow's granddaughter was excellent. I don't think that's in the books at all, it's an extra for the movie? But it was perfectly in tone. And just makes everything sadder and more realistic. He is obviously Evil, but wanting a peaceful stable world where you and your family are Rich and Powerful is so understandable...

When I first read the book, Katness's defiance by hanging Seneca Crane in effigy sort of didn't work for me, because I had forgotten who Seneca Crane was (I mean, I didn't have an immediate reaction to the name). The movie fixed that, with some good forshadowing just before, and also by making the dummy recognisable by having a very charactoristic beard.

I thought they did a great job (and very much in the spirit of the books) of making Katness seem awesome and strong, and yet having her be realistically broken by what she goes through. When she is hunting with Gale, and the capitol has taken even that away from her, with the flashbacks to the arena, I blubbed some more.

There is, obviously, no good ending to this film. They didn't pull their punches, or try to soften it. Peeta is captured by the capitol. District 12 is destroyed. 2 minutes of animated mockingjay pin, end of movie. It's an awful place to stop. It's the right place to stop.

[identity profile] cartesiandaemon.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 01:01 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, wow. I really didn't like the second book that much, but you made me very much want to see the film.

[identity profile] angoel.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 07:11 am (UTC)(link)
I haven't seen any of the films. However, on the book front, I preferred Catching Fire to the Mockingjay because in Catching Fire, the book was able to surprise me several times - I didn't see the various plot twists coming. Mockingjay, on the other hand, started the characters out in position A, in a scenario where the only narratively plausible outcome was position B, then railroaded the characters there.

[identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 08:04 am (UTC)(link)
I think I'm quite good at suspending disbelief in books, and not just in a 'oh, ponies don't fly' kind of way, but in a 'I am living in the moment, not trying to look ahead and see what the author is doing' kind of a way. (I'm not sure if this is a talent or a weakness. It's one of the reasons I like re-reading things) So maybe I just didn't get this.

But actually (Mockingjay spoilers, obv.) I assumed Mockingjay was YA, and when Katniss dashed off to the capitol to Get Snow, and overcame a series of increasingly ridiculous defences, I thought she was going to Get Snow. I thought the author's decision to have her impulsive plan _not_ have a positive outcome but just to be dangerous and pointless was unexpected. I was also fairly convinced Katniss would end up with Gale, again I think because of the YA tropes of a Firey Passion and a Loyal Best Friend who you kind-of-love with a crush on you (have you read Mortal Instruments? It's good, but _very_ cliched). I completely didn't expect the (IMO very well done) chapters of PTSD Katniss - novels where you can have a strong female lead _and_ show her not being strong are few and far between. And while I was expecting a Strong Ending, I didn't expect them to kill major-spoiler, because the author pretty much has a forcefield of narrative protection around major characters for the first two books. I don't know, maybe that was me being naive, Rue in the first book is clearly very strong forshadowing.

Anyway, I could go on. But I didn't think Mockingjay was a very obvious book. You're obviously cleverer than me ;-)

[identity profile] vinaigrettegirl.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 11:35 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you; this is interesting, because the premise of the books has disgusted me so much that I haven't read them. But I have now a slight sense of what they purport to be about in terms I can recognise, though not what they're *for*...

[identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 11:46 am (UTC)(link)
I think they're the best type of distopia, that is, they exaggerate perceived inequalities and wrongnesses in our current society, and through that exaggeration make a strong argument for what is wrong, but also give hope for change. In the case of the Hunger Games, the elite 10% living on the hard work and misery and lack of opportunities of the 90%.

Of course, they are also brutal and violent and heartbreaking and not for everyone. A lot of the characters are in places where all of their choices for survival are not nice. Some books you read, and think 'oh, I wish I was the hero!'. These books you read and think 'I am so glad I am not the hero'

[identity profile] vinaigrettegirl.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 02:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Aha, I see. Probably because of the work I do I don't see that inequality as merely perceived or exaggerated, and I think I'd be livid if I did read them. A distopia that is premised on adults setting up children to kill or be killed and putting those characters into 'only bad choices' situations is truly revolting. I hope the author is spending his/her royalties doing something useful in the world we do live in, which is bad enough.

[identity profile] kerrypolka.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 04:05 pm (UTC)(link)
I think [livejournal.com profile] atreic means that, although there is inequality in our society, that inequality is exaggerated (not as in "implying that it is made up" but "intentionally made worse in fiction") for the story?

This is just because I'm curious about the way other people's tastes, not to make you feel like you have to justify your reading preferences, but do you feel the same way about all dystopias or just ones focusing on [children/violence/spectacle]? What do you think about middle-class political dystopias like 1984? (You don't have to answer that, I'm just curious!)

[identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 04:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, that. And I said 'perceived' because, while I mostly agree with the author of The Hunger Games, and think that there is too big a gap between Rich and Poor, and too much Using Other People's Lives for Spectacle (I'm looking at you, reality TV), there are lots of other distopias, and I don't agree with the political message of all of them (*waves at OT Nelson and Ayn Rand*)

[identity profile] vinaigrettegirl.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 10:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I see what you mean, but I understood what S meant; and in the nature of what I do, the more I do it, the more I think that actually the 10% do live off the other 90%. Children, in particular, are the world's original proletariat. We allow millions of children to starve, to die in employment, to be trafficked, because we refuse to solve the distribution issues Sen (2009) described (along with Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, et alia, amen...). We let their parents, especially their mothers, die because we don't protect their rights. So in a way we let real hunger games occur. But unlike dystopian novels, we *can choose* to not do this; dystopias, personally, sap my hope and energy for the real world. Their miserable outlook makes me cross and annoyed, at best.

Interesting that '1984' strikes you as middle class; I didn't read it that way at all. Winston strikes me as a particular type of working class-made-marginally-better by his state education but not being a grammar-school brain, still and always working class. I'm truly interested in the way you read this!

[identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 10:45 pm (UTC)(link)
My position would be that if we want to make things better, we need to convince people (particularly the 10% with the power) that it is True that 10% live off the 90%. I think dystopian novels, by painting the issues in very broad brush exaggerated colours with engaging protagonists are a good way of communicating this message, particularly to people who haven't seen it already. Personally, I think the Hunger Games is _about_ how the dystopia realises the mess it's in and goes to war to get out of it, and how war is dystopian in its own right, and what happens after that. For me they're hope-inspiring books, because despite the bleak misery of what happens, human love and decency shines through, and at least sort-of-triumphs-if-you-squint.

[identity profile] vinaigrettegirl.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 11:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Which brings me right back to gratitude to you for having the strength and patience to read and comment on these books :-). Truly, I am grateful. You give me an insider's insight to something I never could be doing with, so now I can understand some of the fuss. And maybe this generation needs this form to become awake; who am I to say? Thank you!

[identity profile] pavanne.livejournal.com 2013-11-28 07:27 pm (UTC)(link)
I think my biggest... not criticism exactly, but comment on the first Hunger Games (book) is that it has a strong wish fulfillment element. Obviously, I never wanted to live in a dystopia where my family was starving and in danger, and in real life I'd be useless and terrified. But I would have liked to be an awesome brave heroine who was *forced* to use her awesome bow skills and be forced to wear really pretty clothes and be a Heroine of the People and have two cute boys chasing me. It wouldn't exactly be fun but it would definitely be exciting.

The films do a superb job of the aesthetics of it - the Capitol decadence is grotesque rather than aspirational; while Katniss is pretty hot except when momentarily afflicted with boils, the makeup she wears in the Capitol is tragic rather than 'wow, I wish I looked like that'. The glamour looks real but hollow. I'm impressed because they could so easily have gone for 'these are beautiful people being whisked into a magical fairyland and made even more beautiful! - And now for some killing. Remember boys and girls, the beautiful fairyland was Bad and Wrong'.

Katniss did wear some great asymmetrical sweaters in Catching Fire though. (Shallow? My excuse is that I was watching it in German so the subtleties of dialogue went over my head).

[identity profile] kerrypolka.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 02:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I love Johanna SO SO MUCH. Also I liked Woody Harrelson Even More in this one than I did in the first one and I liked him A Lot in the first one.

I'm expecting the internet to explode with Katniss/Cinna, which is the OTP I never realised I had until I saw it!

[identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 02:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Johanna was absolutely excellent. The bit in the lift. And the bit where Caeser was interviewing her. And, well, all of it. We clearly need a spin-off movie called '90 minutes of Johanna Mason being Awesome'.

My brain doesn't do Katniss/Cinna, I think because I read him as gay (fashion designer has to equal gay? Come on, brain, let's get into the Real World and fight off our 1960's conditioning!) so I always saw him as very father-figure daughter-I-could-never-have type. On the other hand, More Hunger Games Fic, oh yes, please!

[identity profile] kerrypolka.livejournal.com 2013-11-25 02:40 pm (UTC)(link)
See I put Haymitch in the father-figure daughter-I-could-never-have type category and then Cinna just sits there radiating unconditional love and support to Katniss and, unlike the other blokes in her life, not demanding anything of her but helping her be the best Katniss she can be (and also start a revolution but that's secondary), and also Lenny Kravitz, daaaamn.

We clearly need a spin-off movie called '90 minutes of Johanna Mason being Awesome'.

I WOULD WATCH THIS FOREVER.

[identity profile] pavanne.livejournal.com 2013-11-28 07:29 pm (UTC)(link)
So would I. I wish I knew what she said in the interview (I really need to get better at German) because half the audience laughed :(.

[identity profile] kerrypolka.livejournal.com 2013-11-29 07:09 am (UTC)(link)
IIRC she started out by complaining that as a victor, she was supposed to get to live a life of luxury, instead of having to compete for her life again, and then she did some bleeped-out swears.
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[identity profile] bluesbell.livejournal.com 2013-11-26 01:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I shipped Katniss/Cinna so much in the books. Somehow not in the movies, probably because I'm aware that IRL JLaw is friends with Zoe Kravitz, which makes Lenny Kravitz very dad-like in relation to her.

[identity profile] kerrypolka.livejournal.com 2013-11-26 11:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah, I didn't know that but that's really sweet! ♥