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Liz Tells Frank Why “Catching Fire” Was Better Than “The Hunger Games”

Dear Frank,

jennifer-lawrence-catching-fire-poster-610x903Are you sitting down? You’re not walking anywhere, right, setting yourself up for some amazing pratfall once I conclude this vaguely cliche beginning and tell you something utterly ridiculous? Maybe take a seat, relax, though not too much. BE ON YOUR GUARD, Frank, because I have SHOCKING NEWS…

…We now live in a world where the man who directed Constantine made a better Hunger Games movie than the man who directed Pleasantville. Yes, I’m saying that the man who thought Shia LaBeouf would be a believable street tough has out-performed the man who gave us one of the more unappreciated and beautiful films of the 1990s.

(I mean, sure, Gary Ross’s use of the word “colored” ends up being pretty heavy-handed, but I adore the scene where Reese Witherspoon learns to love books, so shut up, Pleasantville haters.)

(And yes, also, sure, Francis Lawrence did make one of the best casting moves ever by signing up Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel but WHATEVER.)

Anyways, Frank, the point is that Catching Fire? It is really good! It is, in fact, arguably better than the film which came before it! I was told this in advance, but was very doubtful (see above). And yet, totally true.

The reasons for why, though, are pretty simple… Read the rest of this entry

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Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Divergent”

Dear Frank,

Divergent hc c(2)In case you missed it, a couple of days ago your friend and mine, John Ross, stopped by to tell me what happened in the recent young adult adaptation The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Aside from delighting us all with tales of Lena Headey kicking the shit out of things and maybe-incest, he reminded me that I’ve never gotten around to telling you what happens in the young adult novel/soon-to-be major motion picture Divergent.

Divergent, let’s be clear, is very much of the post-Hunger Games publishing craze — which is to say that without Katniss Everdeen, there is no Tris Prior, and without Suzanne Collins, there is no Veronica Roth on my Kindle.

But to Divergent‘s credit, it was a relatively early entry in said craze, making it almost not feel like pure bandwagon-hopping. And given the recent release of a teaser trailer, and the fact that Kate Winslet (!!!!!) is in it, Divergent seems like something you should at least have a passing familiarity with. Especially because this book be WEIRD, yo. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Hunger Games” (Sorta.)

Dear Frank,

This week, I’m deviating a bit from our established pattern to tell you about something not so you can skip watching it, but instead to encourage you (and others) to enjoy it. See, Frank, I am fully aware of the fact that you are a cultured man who has read many books, long complex books that use big words. I bet you’ve even finished a David Foster Wallace novel! Maybe not Infinite Jest, because c’mon, but certainly maybe one of his shorter works.

So I understand that young adult fiction might not necessarily be your genre of choice. But The Hunger Games, a post-apocalyptic trilogy of novels written by Suzanne Collins, is a terrific and heart-breaking ride. And you should read it.

I’m making a big thing of this because I first read The Hunger Games about three weeks ago, and the second I started talking about it, it turned out that, like, half of my friends had also read it! And had not told me about how great it was! Which is bullshit! Friends, I mean no offense, I know you lead busy lives, but stuff like this is IMPORTANT, okay? (Sure, this would have all been avoided had I been reading IO9 regularly, but whatever.)

Anyways, here are the basics: In a bleak post-America totalitarian empire called Panem, 12 districts live under the thumb of the Capital, which every year demands a “tribute” of one teenage boy and girl, who are forced to compete in a televised fight to the death. (Yeah, another social commentary on the evils of reality TV, though to Collins’ credit it doesn’t belabor this point too hard.)

So, yes, technically, this is a young adult series, but it’s also a young adult series where, in the first book alone, over twenty children are brutally murdered. These books do not fuck around. Read the rest of this entry

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