Tag Archives: hunger games

Yarn Craft in Catching Fire

There’s really not much doubt in anyone’s mind at this point that Catching Fire is a fantastic film, (it was the highest grossing film of 2013), but did you notice the knitwear theme to Katniss’ wardrobe?  The first time I watched the movie I was sitting next to my friend and fellow yarn-enthusiast bowrene (check out her etsy shop) and she kept hitting me in the arm whenever a new bit of yarn-crafted clothing showed up on screen, whispering things like “look at that cowl!”, “that sweater is gorgeous!” and “this movie is ruining my life!”  Tumblr user feminerds posted a collection of pictures of the knitwear from Katniss’ wardrobe in Catching Fire and captioned it with the brilliant pun “Katknits,” a term I am intensely jealous not to have thought of first.

Readers of the book will know that fashion is a big part of the Capitol audience’s focus surrounding the Hunger Games, and stylists play an important role in the strategy behind a Tribute’s (or Victor’s) public image.  Continue reading

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Catching Fire Opening Night

cf outfitsSo I went to see Catching Fire on opening night with a group of friends.  I’m tagging this write-up as “midnight showing” even though it was technically an 8 pm showing; most movies don’t really wait to premiere at midnight anymore, and although part of me thinks that’s a little sad, another part of me is getting old and appreciates not having to stay up so late.  It was a good premiere; I wasn’t able to organize and prepare as much as I did for the first film, but we dressed up in Capitol fashion and the movie itself was, in my opinion, better than the first.

The thing about shows that start before midnight is there isn’t as much waiting-in-line time to fill, so I kinda over-prepared and we didn’t end up doing all the activities I had planned, but that’s alright since a lot of them didn’t take much effort.  (For example, if we needed to kill time I thought we could play a version of the “telephone” game were you start with a phrase and whisper it from one person to another to see if it ends up the same at the end, but call it “mockingjay,” and use phrases like “Peeta has hot cross buns.”)

We did play the game that I spent the most time preparing for, which was Arena Trivia.  Everyone playing was a Tribute in the Trivia Arena and started with a perfect 20 health.  When it was their turn, they spun a wheel to see how lethal of a “weapon” question they would be able to wield against an opponent; easy questions were a knife and would only take five health points away if the Tribute they selected to aim the question at got it wrong, but harder questions were a machete (minus 10 health if missed) or near-deadly trident (minus 15).  Tributes could form allies by helping someone else answer a question if they wished, but, in the end, there could only be one victor.  The wheel also had a small wedge labeled “a gift from your sponsor”; if Tributes landed on that section when it was their turn, they could draw a healing card instead of a question that would give them back a portion of the health they had lost.  (Most of the healing cards would only restore 5 health, but there were a couple 10s and 15s in there too).  It worked really well, (except maybe I should have made some of the questions easier), and I’m pretty dang proud of how well themed it was.  I think it’s totally marketable.

This Arena Trivia spin-wheel was made from a Twister game's.  The different levels of questions were printed on different colored paper and separated into pouches based on difficulty.

This Arena Trivia spin-wheel was made from a Twister game’s. The different levels of questions were printed on different colored paper and separated into pouches based on difficulty.

Each Tribute had one of these health bars to keep track of how close to "death" they were. They had to put a sticker on 5-point sections depending on how hard of a question they missed, but if they got a gift from a sponsor, they could cover a colored sticker with a white one to regain health.

Each Tribute had one of these health bars to keep track of how close to “death” they were. They had to put a sticker on 5-point sections depending on how hard of a question they missed, but if they got a gift from a sponsor, they could cover a colored sticker with a white one to regain health.

Sugar cube prize bags that I handed out at the Catching Fire premiere.  Other prizes included Catching Fire magnets and a grand prize of the soundtrack CD.

Sugar cube prize bags that I handed out at the Catching Fire premiere. Other prizes included Catching Fire magnets and a grand prize of the soundtrack CD.

I really have very few negative things to say about the movie itself at all, which is pretty amazing given my tendency to be very nit-picky and critical.  It stayed very close to the book with a surprising amount of dialogue coming verbatim from the pages Suzanne Collins wrote.  The things that were skipped or condensed didn’t really alter any of the action or character development, (like Katniss figuring out what the spile is right away, and realizing what Wiress meant by “tick tock” faster, leaving out the bread drop communications and the prolonged healing from the poison fog scars, leaving out Bonnie and Twill because it was established through the visualization of the Victory Tour that there was an uprising and that Katniss was an inspiration to people, etc.), and like the first movie the elements in the film that were not found in the book added wonderful insight and depth to the story, (like President Snow’s granddaughter idolizing Katniss–that was genius!  And I’m so glad we got to actually see the painting of Rue that Peeta did for the Gamemakers, to “hold them accountable, if only for a moment…for killing that little girl” as he says in the book, instead of just hearing about it.)

They even included a tiny visual reference to one of my favorite characters from the first film, Seneca Crane(‘s beard).  When Katniss hung the dummy labeled with his name for her evaluation, she painted his signature swirly beard on it’s chin!  I remember this being a common idea among the fandom after the first film, that oh, wouldn’t it be great if they really show her hang the Seneca dummy in the second film and they include the beard?  To see it actually transpire that way on screen felt almost like it was a bit of an inside joke for the die-hard fans, whether or not they intended it that way.  Speaking of amazing visuals, that mockingjay dress was spectacular.  Even though I had seen most of that scene already in the trailer, I was blown away by how incredible it looked.  Whereas Katniss’ flaming dress at the interview scene in the first film is a bit pathetic and too-obviously CGI, this time around I literally could not have imagined it better.

So far the only criticisms I can come up with are:

  • Prim’s “Katniss! Katniss! Katniss!” screaming at the Reaping is too shrill, but really, I thought that last movie too.  Maybe that’s just the actress’s voice.
  • The music in some scenes was too exactly similar (or exactly the same?) to the score in the first film.  It’s fine to reuse/recycle themes, but in a couple places it sounded 100% the same, like the Tribute Parade, (which is maybe understandable if they basically use the Panem national anthem for that every year), and the Victory Ball at the Capitol, (which really didn’t seem to match the music beat for dramatic beat effectively).
  • In the Arena, they establish that there is no fresh water source except for the trees, but then when Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick are leeching the poison from their bodies they are in what appears to be a freshwater pool, not the saltwater at the beach.  I understand the change since it allows for the monkey attack to happen sooner, but it’s an inconsistency.
  • This isn’t really a criticism, more of a funny observance–why does Peeta stand up in the middle of his living room to watch TV?  (When they are watching President Snow announce the Quarter Quell).  Is it one of the tricks they tried to make us think he’s taller than Josh Hutcherson really is?

But really, almost everything was perfect.  Effie was perfect, with her shallow growth and her gold hair! Finnick was lovely!  Mags broke my heart with her warmth and sacrifice!  Beetee melted my heart with his nerd-speak!  Prim impressed me with her calm taking-charge to tend Gale.  Plutarch Heavensbee, Haymitch, Cinna, (*sob* Cinna!) and Johanna were great.  The whole thing was just spot-on!  Peeta was still not as good as book-Peeta, but he was much improved over the last film’s bastardization of his character, and really all I can think about Peeta-wise right now is this.  (Warning: that last link is a spoiler if you haven’t read Mockingjay yet).

I’ll definitely be going to see Catching Fire again.  But now my movie-party-planning focus has to switch gears for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  It’s only a few weeks away!

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A Capitol Error

The marketing for the Catching Fire movie, sequel to The Hunger Games, has been mostly great so far.  (Well, despite that Finnick mis-step).  This week, they’ve been releasing individual cast member photos in Capitol Couture style.  The first was Effie Trinket and premiered on the Capitol Couture tumblr, which is designed to front as if it is a fashion blog existing in the universe of the Hunger Games series.  (Even its url, .pn, is a nod to it’s location in the fictional country of Panem.)

Effie Trinket's Capitol Couture portrait.

Effie Trinket’s Capitol Couture portrait.

These portraits started off really strong.  They featured characters like Ceasar Flickerman, Cinna, and our first official glimpses at Johanna Mason and Beetee.

We got a new picture of Katniss, which I thought was fantastic, styled in an extravagant white gown that I assumed was one of the 5 wedding gowns she’s made to model for the Capitol audience’s voting pleasure so they can select which one she should get married in.  I mean she would obviously never style herself this way.

Katniss Everdeen's Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

Katniss Everdeen’s Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

Peeta matches Katniss in an all-white outfit, and is seated in a chair the same style as the one she’s standing beside so that they can be easily photoshoped together.  His boots even look to me like they could be hiding a prosthetic leg, if you want to pretend the first movie didn’t drastically alter the extent of his Arena injuries.  Maybe Katniss is standing because she’s the one who takes the most active stance against the Capitol, but maybe Peeta’s sitting because he’s the one who got stabbed in the leg?

Peeta Mellark's Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

Peeta Mellark’s Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

But then, everything in this wonderful, creative campaign was tainted when they threw in a picture of Gale.

Gale Whatshislastname's inexplicable Capitol Couture portrait.

Gale Hawthorne’s inexplicable Capitol Couture portrait.

Gale’s inclusion in this series makes no sense on a number of levels.  Firstly and most obviously because Gale never goes to the Capitol.   How would he have the opportunity to be styled and sit for this picture, and why would the Capitol be interested in profiling him anyway?  Gale is known to the Panem television audience only as “Katniss’ cousin,” hardly on the same level as Game fixtures like the mentors, stylists, tributes, or announcer like all the other featured characters in this series are.  Gale would definitely not be featured before Prim, at least.  (Maybe there’s a Prim picture yet to surface?)  I mean, yes, I know that in reality the actor Liam Hemsworth would pose for whatever promotional pictures his contract stipulated, and that the movie’s marketers want to emphasize him because he is an important figure in Katniss’ life (and because they’re trying to encourage a Team Peeta vs. Team Gale Twilight-esque atmosphere), but they’re the one who set this whole portrait series up as if it were coming from the shallow drama-obsessed Gamemakers of the Capitol!

Now they’re just completely undermining themselves, because this inclusion of Gale–holding a single white rose, which appeared to mark Tributes at the 75th Annual Hunger Games, until his out-of-place picture showed up, and no it doesn’t make sense to say “well then the white rose symbolizes those who rebel against President Snow”, because if that were true then Haymitch and Cinna should each have one as well–only forces me to be reminded that this whole thing is for a movie and despite the promise of creativity is actually being handled the same annoying way Hollywood handles everything.  Reduce complex characters and interpersonal relationships to BOY LOVES GIRL, MAYBE!  Assume that the audience is too stupid to pick up on nuance or notice blatant inconsistencies.  Never let a main character wear protective headgear for an entire battle sequence, etc.

I mean would it have killed them to feature Gale some other way, in some other campaign, or in a solo image styled and released separately?  I’m not the only one that noticed this discrepancy, by the way; many of the comments on Gale’s portrait at fansite Mockingjay.net point out the same thing.  What do you think?

I don’t think I would be so frustrated if they hadn’t been on such a spectacular streak with the let’s-pretend-the-Capitol-is-a-real-place campaign, until this point.  Maybe they’ll have it mastered in time for the next film, though.

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Panem’s Anthem

The Panem Capitol District seal from The Hunger Games movie.

The Panem Capitol District seal from The Hunger Games movie.

Although the national anthem of Panem is mentioned several times in the books that make up Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, the lyrics are never revealed.  (Mostly it is referenced in the text when it plays in the Arena at night, just before the faces of that day’s dead Tributes are projected into the sky.)  For the film adaptation of the first book, music and lyrics were composed that played during the propoganda film at the Reaping as well as the Tribute parade at the Capitol.  It’s very hard to make out the words when listening to the soundtrack, but if you watch the special features “Post Production” segment on the special edition DVD, there’s a clip of the chorus recording the anthem.  After watching that clip over and over, I am pretty confident that these are the lyrics:

O Horn of Plenty,

A Horn of Plenty for us all!

And when you raise a cry

The brave shall heed the call

And we shall never falter.

One Horn of Plenty for us all!

(My submission is in line with the general consensus on what the lyrics are over at the Hunger Games wiki.)  I don’t understand why they don’t just officially release the lyrics somewhere.  Someone obviously went to all the work of composing a song that could very plausibly be the national anthem of a totalitarian dystopian fictional government, so why not celebrate that?  Officially releasing the lyrics could have been a useful marketing tool, to drum up excitement and discussion leading up the movie’s release about how well they fit the Panem we know from the books.

For the record, I think these lyrics fit the story perfectly.  It’s an infuriatingly disgusting piece of hypocritical propaganda, but what else would you expect from a government that allows some citizens to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, (Capitol citizens), while subjugating the residents in all other districts to increasingly severe levels of oppression, including food shortages, forced labor, little or no educational opportunities, and limited electricity and medical supplies, not to mention mandatory participation in the Reaping for all non-Capitol citizens between the ages of 12 and 18, oh and if you try to rebel they’ll cut your tongue out and you’ll become an Avox slave.  The distribution of wealth and resources is appallingly lopsided, with the Capitol overflowing and many district residents starving, and yet the anthem asserts unity and “plenty for all!”

It’s likely that many naive Capitol-dwellers actually believe these words represent the ideals their country strives for, that they feel patriotic when the Cornucopia symbol is featured in the Hunger Games prominently every year, not realizing the twisted irony that it’s overflowing with killing weapons instead of food.  And I can totally picture someone like Seneca Crane superimposing the line “the brave shall heed the call” over an image of a dead Tribute, thinking it’s a respectful and appropriate homage, and pampered Capitol-dwelling viewers sniffle for a second while they watch the memorial footage reel of the same Tribute, before they get distracted by the latest gossip or fashion trend or a mirror.  Meanwhile the dead Tribute’s parents and friends back in their home District interpret the same words as a threat, a reminder, that if they try to rebel against this terrible injustice to them and their children, the better-equipped, more-powerful forces of the government will “never falter” in crushing them back into submission.

There are two specific passages in the books that vividly illustrate the gross inappropriateness of the Capitol to claim, through their anthem’s lyrics, that theirs is a nation of “plenty for all!”  The first is found in chapter 5 of  The Hunger Games:

Cinna invites me to sit on one of the couches and takes his place across from me.  He presses a button on the side of the table.  The top splits and from below rises a second tablecloth that holds our lunch.  Chicken and chunks of orange cooked in a creamy sauce laid on a bed of pearly white grain, tiny green peas and onions, rolls shaped like flowers, and for dessert, a pudding the color of honey.

I try to imagine assembling this meal myself back home.  Chickens are too expensive, but I could make do with a wild turkey.  I’d need to shoot a second turkey to trade for an orange.  Goat’s milk would have to substitute for cream.  We can grow peas in the garden.  I’d have to get wild onions from the woods.  I don’t recognize the grain, our own tessera ration cooks down to an unattractive brown mush.  Fancy rolls would mean another trade with the baker, perhaps for two or three squirrels.  As for the pudding, I can’t even guess what’s in it.  Days of hunting and gathering for this one meal and even then it would be a poor substitution for the Capitol version.

What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?  How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by?  What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?

I look up to find Cinna’s eyes trained on mine.  “How despicable we must seem to you,” he says.

Has he seen this in my face or somehow read my thoughts?  He’s right, though.  The whole rotten lot of them is despicable.

Cinna is unusually sensitive to the hypocrisy and injustice in the system, for someone in the Capitol.  It’s certainly not the norm for Capitol-dwellers to be aware of the food shortages in the Districts, much less sensitive to the idea of conserving resources.  The following excerpt is from Catching Fire, chapter 6:

“Why aren’t you eating?” asks Octavia.

“I have been, but I can’t hold another bite,” I say.  They all laugh as if that’s the silliest thing they’ve ever heard.

“No one lets that stop them!” says Flavius.  They lead us over to a table that holds tiny stemmed wineglasses filled with clear liquid.  “Drink this!”

Peeta picks one up to take a sip and they lose it.

“Not here!” shrieks Octavia.

“You have to do it in there,” says Venia, pointing to doors that lead to the toilets.  “Or else you’ll get it all over the floor!”

Peeta looks at the glass again and puts it together.  “You mean this will make me puke?”

My prep team laughs hysterically.  “Of course, so you can keep eating,” says Octavia.  “I’ve been in there twice already.  Everyone does it, or else how would you have any fun at a feast?”

I’m speechless, staring at the pretty little glasses and all the imply.  Peeta sets his back on the table with such precision you’d think it might detonate.  “Come on, Katniss, let’s dance.”

….

We’re quiet for a while.  Then Peeta speaks in a strained voice.

“You go along, thinking you can deal with it, thinking maybe they’re not so bad, and then you–” He cuts himself off.

All I can think of is the emaciated bodies of the children on our kitchen table as my mother prescribes what the parents can’t give.  Food.  More food.  Now that we’re rich, she’ll send some home with them.  But often in the old days, there was nothing to give and the child was past saving, anyway.  And here in the Capitol they’re vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again.  Not from some illness of body or mind, not from spoiled food.  It’s what everyone does at a party.  Expected.  Part of the fun.

My outrage when reading this scene is very similar to the disgust I feel when I consider the shamefully dishonest lyrics of Panem’s anthem.  And that is why they are perfect.

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Stop Trying to Make “Katnnick” Happen. It’s Not Going to Happen.

Entertainment Weekly has revealed their exclusive first official look at images for Catching Fire, sequel to The Hunger Games.  Let’s analyze:

This new cover features Sam Claflin as new cast memeber Finnick and Jennifer Lawrence returning as Katniss.  Finnick is a previously victorious Tribute from District 4.  Spoiler alert–but really how are they going to market this film without letting people figure this out–the 75th Annual Hunger Games Tributes are reaped from the pool of existing victors.  So Finnick, along with Katniss (and Peeta, whose photographic absence I’ll get to in a bit) must return to an Arena and fight against 23 Tributes to the live-televised death.

This time the Arena is–spoiler alert–mostly water, with the cornucopia on an island in the center and a strip of land around the outside of a circular sea.  That’s why their outfits this time are basically wetsuits, although that’s not quite how they were dressed in the book:

This year’s tribute outfit is a fitted blue jumpsuit, made of very sheer material, that zippers up the front.  A six-inch-wise padded belt covered in shiny purple plastic.  A pair of nylon shoes with rubber soles.

The purple belts (which double as flotation devices) probably wouldn’t look particularly sexy, but in the book, the thin jumpsuits are easily ruined and they end up running around in their underwear most of the time.  So the change to wetsuits for the movie is maybe an even trade-off, but I don’t think they’re very flattering.  And it looks like they’ve included built-in flotation devices, like the bulge visible on Katniss’ elbow in the picture above, instead of the belt.   But speaking of book vs. movie aesthetics, you know the movie is going to either leave out the part where they are covered in scabs which are covered by goopy medicine, making them look like they’re “decomposing”, according to Finnick, or they’ll minimize the scabs so they don’t cover their faces, or they’ll strategically place just one wound above Finnick’s left eyebrow or along his chiseled cheekline.  You know they’ll keep him looking hot the whole film, and if they include this line from the book, it will be humorous for more than one reason:

“Poor Finnick.  Is this the first time in your life you haven’t looked pretty?” I say.

“It must be.  The sensations’s completely new.  How have you managed it all these years?” he asks.

Personally I think Finnick looks great on this cover, although from what I’ve seen in the blogosphere so far that doesn’t appear to be a unanimous opinion.  My only complaint about him is that the wetsuit makes his abs and hips look bulgy when I’m pretty positive they are not.  (Attention, Catching Fire marketing executives: you’d better release a shirtless Finnick picture so I can be sure.  For research purposes.)  I’m more inclined to nitpick this presentation of Katniss: why is her hair so shiny and her bangs so straight and perfect, like a Barbie doll?  (It does appear to be the same style braid that she wore in the first film.)  Her face looks more angular than usual–how much did they photoshop it?  Look at the line between her chin and her neck.  And now you can’t stop staring at her huge neck, right?  Necks are weird.

The second exclusive picture from EW is also of Finnick and Katniss, but this time it looks like they’re in Tribute training.  I thought at first that this was the infamous sugar cube scene, but they would be dressed (or mostly undressed, in his case) in their parade outfits if it were.  Still, this picture has that same vibe, with him flirting to tease her and Katniss trying to ignore him and not blush.

quote about sugar cube

“Hello, Katniss,” he says, as if we’ve known each other for years, when in fact we’ve never met.

I mean, this picture looks great for that, but what worries me is the total absence of Peeta in either of these first official pictures.  Peeta was what I was most worried about for the adaptation of the first book, and he was only okay in the film, which is a problem because–spoiler alert–Peeta Mellark is THE BEST.  Even Katniss thinks so:

In this way, Peeta’s not hard to predict.  While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me.  Shame isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel.

“You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” Haymitch says.

“Yeah, yeah,” I say brusquely.  “No question, he’s the superior one in this trio.  So, what are you going to do?”

The movies are already off to a bad start doing Peeta’s character justice, and with this marketing it’s like they’re not even giving him a chance.  And how many people are going to look at this and think that Sam Claflin is Peeta?  If they didn’t read the books, if they only saw the movie once, or if they’re only familiar with The Hunger Games through pop culture osmosis?

I hate that these two images are presenting Finnick and Katniss as a couple.  Finnick is an audacious flirt, but he has a true and tragic love, and it’s not with the Girl on Fire.  It was already annoying that they tried to market Katniss-Gale-Peeta as a Twilight-esque triangle when deciding between two boys is so not the bulk of her dilemma or even something that she’s willing to spend time thinking about.  She’s preoccupied with, oh, I don’t know, little things like providing for her family, protecting her sister, staying alive, resisting tyranny, trying to make the self-sacrifices that don’t come naturally to her.  And Finnick turns out to be much more complex than the superficial sex-symbol persona he projects.  He’s got his own secrets and form of resistance.  The relationship between Katniss and Finnick dances between ally and enemy, not “will they-won’t they,” (unless you end that phrase with “kill each other.”)  Meanwhile, the relationship between Katniss and Peeta takes significant steps in Catching Fire, and the total lack of Peeta in either of these pictures is not making me feel confident that the movie will handle him any better this time around.  Couldn’t they have at least included him in the second picture, looking jealous, annoyed, or amused in the background?

Why do the people behind this design feel the need to add fuel to the fanfiction, non-canonical fires?  “omg, Katniss and Finnick, so hawt together!!!” the easily-persuaded, annoying peripheral fans now scream.  NO.  STOP IT.  Go read the book so you can fall properly in love with Peeta, since apparently the movies aren’t going to give you the opportunity.

**update** Two more pictures have been released, (you can click here to see them at EW.com), and we finally get a glimpse of Peeta.  It looks like he and Katniss are on their District tour; I would guess they’re in District 11 and Katniss is looking down at Rue’s family.  The way Peeta is looking straight ahead and there’s a gap between him and Katniss is probably good for that scene but it’s not doing anything to combat the Katniss+Finnick implied narrative of the first images.  The second new picture is Gale being restrained by two Peacekeepers in the center square of District 12.  The Peacekeeper’s uniforms look live they’ve been restyled a little big from the first film, but they still basically look like Stormtroopers.

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Catching Fire Hair

(Doesn’t that title sound like somebody’s head is on fire? Haha.)  Well, production on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has begun and we have some paparazzi photos of the actors in costume on set.  Just wanted to point out that it looks like Katniss’ hair is styled in pretty much the same braid as the first film, so my previous posts on trying to figure that braid out are still relevant.  **SPOILER ALERT** I do wonder how they will handle her hair (as well as everybody else’s) since it should get wet when she has to swim in the 75th Annual Hunger Games arena.  Are they going to show her re-braiding it, is it going to stay disheveled, or is it going to magically revert to looking more polished a scene or two after they emerge from the sea?  We shall see….**END SPOILER**

The other character whose hair has me interested is Enobaria, a career tribute from District 2.  It looks like it’s three braids on top and then a ponytail, with some hair wrapped around the ponytail holder to hide it.  It looks cool, a lot cooler than the blonde woman’s in this photo, (who I assume is Cashmere, the tribute from District 1).  Her hair is styled, but so boring and stereotypical.  Maybe I’m partially biased because I like to wear braids more myself, they look cool and they keep your hair out of the way and you don’t always have to straighten or curl your hair beforehand.

Enobaria is in the top center.

And one more pic–not that I really care about his hair, but here’s a shirtless Finnick on set.  So…that looks good, too…

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The Katniss Braid: Screenshots

Now that the DVD is out and I have been able to pause and closely analyze Katniss’ side-braid in as many shots as possible, I would like to revise my hypothesis about there being three distinct braid styles in the Hunger Games movie.  I think it’s really just two, the District 12 braid (that Katniss styles herself, so when she’s in the Games her hair reverts to this by day 3 or so), and the Tribute Training/Arena braid that her stylist team does for her.  When she’s entering the Arena, it does look like the fanciest, most elaborate version, but I think it’s the same as when she’s training, it’s just the training room is pretty dark so we never get a great look at it.  When she walks in the sunlight to get on the Arena-bound hovercraft you can really see the intricate twists on the back of her head.

So, as mentioned earlier, her basic hairstyle is a dutch braid that starts on the left side of her head and hangs over her right shoulder.  The braid wraps low around the base of her hairline on her neck.  When she styles it herself, that’s all it is, and her right ear is covered by the hair going straight down her head into the braid.  This is what most of the youtube tutorials end up with, too.

When Katniss goes to the Capital and is in the hands of professional stylists, her has has a bit more texture.  (I mean when the character is in the hands of professional stylists; obviously Jennifer Lawrence had stylists for the entire movie, but I think they did a pretty good job of making her look fairly believable for the character’s changing situation and resources).  This youtube video, with input from Linda Flowers, the lead stylist on set, shows how to get the texture for those top strands that twist into the braid.  The tutorial does end with the hair on the right side of the head covering the ear, though, and when Katniss is Tribute Training the hair on her right side is actually pulled back away from her ear.

I *think* there is actually a small braid made from some of the hair on the right side of the head that then joins the larger braid.  (Another blog thought so too, although they reversed the direction of the braid.)  I didn’t catch a glimpse of the smaller braid until I saw the film on the big screen, and I’m not positive in some of these shots if it is a braid or a twist.

When Katniss and Peeta are eating in their suite after a day of training, she has her hair down except for a small braid, which I thought might be evidence for my theory until I noticed it’s hanging on the wrong side of her head…still, it could just be flipped to that side, or an entirely separate braid created by her stylist team, or a continuity error.

I still think the Tribute Training/Entering Arena braid also starts higher on the left side of her head here than when she is in District 12 (or days into the Arena).

  Here is a compilation of images of Katniss’ hair just before she enters the Arena, to give you an idea of what the braid looks like from all sides.  They are all from the same scene, (when she’s talking to Haymitch.)

 

Honestly, when her hair is its most elaborate braid, it’s sometimes kind of a mess in the back:

I haven’t been able to try the braid on my own head lately because I cut 10″ off several months ago to donate, but maybe by the time Catching Fire comes out it’ll be long enough to try again.  The other thing that complicates trying to replicate this look exactly is that Katniss has shorter pieces of hair in front that frame her face, so if your hair is all long it will actually stay in the braids better and longer than hers does but you won’t look quite like her.  Anyway, hope this is helpful to those of you wanting to have Katniss hair.

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Sam Claflin is cast as Finnick Odair

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I am 100% in favor of this choice.  He was my favorite of the front-runners the rumor mill speculated over all summer.  He was my favorite character in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  I can totally picture him flirting with everybody, flinging a trident, rescuing Peeta, screaming for Annie, fronting like a dumb hot model but actually being smart, sensitive and subversive…yes.  This is a great choice.
This is the most excited I have been about a Hunger Games casting since I found out Jennifer Lawrence would be Katniss.

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Book Peeta vs. Movie Peeta

Well, now that The Hunger Games is out on DVD I guess it’s about time I post my thoughts on the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ brilliant book.  For the most part, I thought it was fantastic.  They got a lot of things just exactly right, (Caesar Flickerman, anyone?), and I loved that we got to see things outside of Katniss p.o.v., like the Gamemakers and President Snow.  I mean, the characterization of Seneca Crane was one of my favorite things about the movie, which I never would have predicted from just reading the book.

Seneca Crane: the bad guy that doesn’t realize he’s a villain. (And is also totally hot.  With an awesome beard.)

I didn’t mind any of the narrative changes that were made between book and movie, because they all served to tell the story better in the visual format.  Cutting out Madge and making the mockingjay pin a re-gift from Prim to Katniss instead was a wonderful decision for the movie.  Movies just don’t have time for all the details in a book, (which is why I would say this movie is a great companion to the book, and I wouldn’t recommend it on it’s own.  I mean it’s a great movie, but people should both watch the movie and read the book.  The book is Katniss’ story, but the movie is able to show the bigger picture, the national conflict that her story takes place within.)  Anyway, there isn’t much time at the beginning of the film to establish the character dynamics between Katniss and Prim, incredibly important because saving Prim is Katniss’ entire motivation for volunteering.  (A scene, by the way, which makes me cry every time I read it, see it in the trailer, or the movie.  Self-sacrifice!)  Everything they showed in District 12 was excellent exposition.  The added detail about a finger prick being part of the reaping registration was genius, because it showed why the thought of Prim going to the Hunger Games is so horrific–girl can’t even shed a drop of blood from her finger without crying.

I know a lot of book fans hated the decision to cut out Katniss’ receiving a gift of bread from District 11 after Rue’s death, and replace it with scenes of a District 11 riot, but I actually really liked it.  It shows that Katniss inspires people to rebel against the Capital that they already hate, which is what happens in the books!  It’s just that in the books, Katniss has no idea there are rebellions until Catching Fire, and she doesn’t really realize what a powerful symbol to the revolution she herself is until halfway through Mockingjay.  The riot scene in the Hunger Games movie shows an immediate response in the Districts to Katniss’ actions in the Arena, and for all we know there were minor riots during the Games.  That scene also demonstrates that the Capital is still powerful enough to shut down these rebellions immediately, violently, decisively.  It fits well with President snow’s lecture to Seneca Crane on the manipulative nature of the Games, “A little hope is fine, but a lot of hope can be dangerous.  Contain it.”  Soldiers and hoses is how the Capital contains an outbreak of too much  “hope.”  And then, after that riot scene, the movie cuts back to Katniss sobbing in the Arena feeling utterly abandoned and alone, with absolutely no idea that so many people are behind her on the outside.  It’s great storytelling and totally in line with the direction the book is going.

Almost all of my movie criticisms were trivial; (I don’t like the shaky cam, Jennifer Lawrence really can’t sing very well, why couldn’t they get an orange cat for Buttercup, or a decent wig for Haymitch?), but the biggest flaw in the movie involved one of the most important characters–Peeta.  Oh, Peeta.  Easily my favorite character in the book, yet unfortunately the biggest disappointment in the movie.  And I don’t think it’s Josh Hutcherson’s fault, even though I wasn’t sure about his casting before I saw the film.   If you watch Hutcherson in interviews, he’s lovably adorable and very Peeta-esque.  It’s the script.  And it’s a shame, because almost every single movie-Peeta scene is excellent.  It’s just, the ones that were bad were crucial to his character, and now I’m afraid Movie-Peeta might have been ruined for the rest of the series.

I don’t want to be overly negative, because I really did love the movie.  So before I bemoan the bastardization of my favorite character, here is a list of Great Movie-Peeta Moments:

  • When he’s waving and smiling at the Capital crowd from the train.
  • Peeta grabbing Katniss-on-Fire’s hand and saying, “Come on, they’ll love it!”, helping her gain favor with the crowd and potential sponsors.  Knowing just how to play the audience and selflessly benefiting her.
  • When he says he has no chance of winning, and tells about his mom saying that “District 12 might finally have a winner, but she wasn’t talking about me, she was talking about you.”
  • When she’s going in for her evaluation and he says, “Hey Katniss–shoot straight.”
  • Peeta’s interview with Ceasar.  Come on.  It’s golden.
  • Peeta on the rooftop, the night before the Games.  Exactly right, just what Book-Peeta would have said, (and in fact very close to what he did say).
  • Peeta yelling at Katniss for her to “get out of here, go!” after the tracker jacker incident.
  • Peeta’s camoflauge
  • Flashback Peeta throwing Katniss the bread, and cave-Peeta saying “I think about that all the time, how I tossed you that bread. I should have gone to you, I should have gone out in the rain…” beating himself up because his act of mercy wasn’t chivalrous enough!  So great.
  • Peeta remembering meeting kindergarten Katniss, “the teacher asked ‘who knows the valley song?’ and your hand shot right up…”
  • Peeta joking “I’ll take the bow.”
  • Peeta tapping Cato’s hand, signaling for Katniss to shoot him there, and Peeta pushing Cato off the cornucopia.
  • Peeta not even hesitating when they revoke the two-winners rule, and telling Katniss to, “Go ahead, [shoot me].  One of us should go home.  One of us has to die, they have to have their victor.” (subtext: and it should be you, I’ve been prepared to die for you this whole time, I love you.)
  • post-Games Peeta reaching for Katniss’ hand and telling Caesar, “She saved my life.”
  • Peeta on the train home saying that he doesn’t want to forget.

Camo Peeta! Of course, Movie-Camo-Peeta croaks, “Katniss…” where Book-Camo-Peeta says “You here to finish me off, sweetheart?” and “Well, don’t step on me.”

That’s a lot of great Movie-Peeta moments!  But…remember what I said earlier about Katniss self-sacrifice for Prim making me cry every time?  It’s the same with book-Peeta; he may not be the most physically strong, he may not poses all the skills Katniss does, but his strength of character lies in his utter selflessness, his devotion to Katniss’ well-being over his own.  It is a strength, it is his greatest strength, (as Divergent‘s Four says in chapter 24, “it’s when you’re acting selflessly that you are at your bravest,”) but Movie-Peeta’s concern for Katniss is portrayed as a weakness and an obsession.

Movie-Peeta plaintively asks Katniss, “why not?” when she says “I’m not gonna leave you.  I’m not gonna do that.”  Movie-Peeta says “I’m not gonna let you risk your life for me,” and “why are you doing this?” when Katniss plans to go get the medicine from the Feast.  When she kisses him, he says, “Now there’s no way I’m letting you go.  Please.  Stay.”  Later, when Katniss returns with the medicine, Movie-Peeta whines “What happened?  You shouldn’t have gone, you said you weren’t gonna go!”  Begging.  Pleading.  Plaintive.  Whiney.  Weak!

Movie-Peeta is almost a damsel in distress that needs Katniss to rescue him. Book-Peeta may not have survived without Katniss’ help, but he wasn’t helpless.

Book-Peeta does not beg.  Book-Peeta maintains his wit and cracks jokes and flirts even as he lies dying in the cave.  Let’s compare whiney, beg-y Movie-Peeta to Book-Peeta, when Katniss is trying to argue she should go for the medicine.

Anger flushes my face.  “All right,  I am going, and you can’t stop me!”

“I can follow you.  At least partway.  I may not make it to the Cornicopia, but if I’m yelling your name, I bet someone can find me.  And then I’ll be dead for sure,” he says.

“You won’t get a hundred yards from here on that let,” I say.

“Then I’ll drag myself,” says Peeta.  “You go and I’m going, too.”

Book-Katniss literally has to knock Book-Peeta out with drugs to keep him in the cave while she goes for the medicine.  But Movie-Peeta is all, “Oh please, don’t go, kiss me, now seriously don’t go,” then falls into regular sleep, and then whines “Aw, how come you went?!” when she gets back.  Book-Peeta’s argument is, “If you try to risk your life for me I will actively sabotage your efforts by sacrificing mine for you instead,” while Movie-Peeta’s argument is “Please don’t go, I might lay here and cry if you do.”  Movie-Peeta in the cave scenes is by far the worst part of the movie, and the undermining of his entire character in the film.  This gives me no joy to type.  In fact it gives me a big ol’ frowny face.  But there can be no other conclusion.  Move-Peeta utterly fails to convey the strength of character of Book-Peeta.  Movie makers, please, please improve upon this in the next movie!  I would gladly take an ugly Finnick in exchange for a proper Peeta.

I mean, when I read the books, I’m like, “Katniss, choose Peeta!  Obviously he is the perfect choice and you’re totally in love with him, admit it!”  But watching the movie, I’m like, “meh, I can see why she wouldn’t really fall for him.”  The movie didn’t convey that she felt anything, that any moment was more than acting for the cameras for her.  And why should it be, if Movie-Peeta is such a whiner?

I have one more character complaint; this one didn’t bother me as much, but I didn’t love Movie-Cinna, either.  I felt that Lenny Kravitz was too abrupt with the delivery of his lines.  He starts talking as soon as he enters the room, and I think he talks too fast for the character, too. Maybe it couldn’t be helped; maybe they couldn’t afford the screentime for him to just sit quietly with Katniss, but that’s the dynamic that book-Cinna and book-Katniss have, he’s gentle and he’s a listener and they are comfortable in each others’ silence.  Right before she enters the Arena in the book, they just sit together quietly.  Movie-Cinna was pretty good, but if I hadn’t already loved book-Cinna so much I don’t know if he would have made much of an impression on me.  I mean his aesthetic is great, but I don’t feel like they established the relationship between Tribute and stylist enough in the movie alone for the audience to be emotionally invested, and **SPOILER ALERT** to be devastated when he is beaten bloody and killed in Catching Fire.  **END SPOILER**

Okay, I think I’m done ranting.

Book-Peeta forever!

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Hunger Games Midnight Premiere

ZOMG you guys, who else watched The Hunger Games last night at midnight?  It was so amazing, right?  (Full disclosure, this post is being written on one hour of sleep and half a can of redbull, so please excuse any typos or outbursts of incoherency.)

I would have to say it was one of the best midnight movie premieres I have been to so far in my life.  I mean, it certainly doesn’t compare to the magnitude and scale and passion and costumes of the last Harry Potter screening I went to.  But I felt extra satisfied at this one because all of the work I put into preparing activities for my friends and fellow fans paid off, and people enjoyed my efforts just as much as I had hoped they would.  Seeing their delighted faces and eager excitement was so rewarding it would have almost been worth it even if I hadn’t seen the movie.  (But I DID see the movie, and loved it–more on that later!)

The two things I was most proud of last night were my tribute training target and my silver parachutes.  I painted the target (with help from some of my siblings) from screenshots of this clip.  It looked amazing, and I got permission from the manager at my theater to display it in the lobby.  People were lined up using it almost the entire time, and I got to see one young teen’s jaw-dropping gasp when she walked in and saw it (and then spent a good forty minutes or so monopolizing it) that just made it so worth while.

The beautiful target my lovely siblings helped me paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The silver parachutes were made from a half yard of fabric I bought and some ribbon, with silver Hershey kiss anchors.  They had notes attached to them that said “A gift from your sponsor–may the odds be ever in your favor!”  I got permission from the manager to go upstairs and open the projection window and throw them out into the audience (about an hour before the show started).  I had hoped that everyone there would understand what they meant, since I couldn’t predict where they would fall exactly.  (They didn’t exactly float but they didn’t plummet either; I tried it with gum anchors and that was too light.)  It could not have gone more perfectly.  The first girl to catch one was actually also the first person in line in the lobby and was wearing a legitimate tribute training replica shirt like the ones in the movie, so you know she was a big fan.  (I mean, everybody there at midnight is a fan.  But she was a fan).  She and her friends screamed when they caught their parachute–“WE HAVE A SPONSOR!  YESSSS!”  It was like I was a benevolent, unseen Gamemaker.  I loved it.

I also brought trivia questions, which I made mostly from skimming through the book with a little help from the Hunger Games wiki, and the last tribute still “alive” in the Trivia Arena won.  We decided an incorrect answer was a wound, and if you got three wounds you died.  I didn’t think to bring arrow stickers or something, which would have been awesome, so we just taped the slips of paper with the questions on them to people that got them wrong.  That led to some joking about where they had been injured–lost legs, arms, or ears–wherever they stuck the questions.  As prizes I had a bag of trading cards that I let people choose from (blind), and the actual victor got to choose from a bag with bigger prizes (official tie-in magnets and small Hunger Games figurines.)  I gave out the same prizes for winners in Rock, Poison, Arrows tournaments, which is what I decided the Hunger Games version of Rock, Paper, Scissors would be.  Rock crushes poison, poison kills archers so it beats arrows, and arrows beats rock because it is a distance weapon but rocks are only effective up close.  I’m sure the logic isn’t perfect but whatever.

I’ll update later with my thoughts on the movie itself, but I can summarize by saying: loved it, great companion to the books that really enhances the world and the story, Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, and Wes Bentley killed it.  Definitely going again.  Wasn’t wowed by Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta but wasn’t disappointed in him, either, (I think the script just didn’t make him as likeable as the book).  Would definitely recommend fans of the books to watch the movie, and fans of the movie to read the books.  Lastly, why is there an “official soundtrack” if NONE of the songs on the album are featured in the film, and only two are played during the credits?

P.S. Here’s my awesome friend @martinchughes sporting his Seneca Crane beard!

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