The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 could have gone wrong in so many ways that it’s a genuine relief to be able to say it’s infinitely better than the book – at least, so far. It’s smart and thought provoking while having considerably more action that I was expecting. In fact, it’s the best film in the series, so far.
President Snow warns Katniss, ‘The things we love are the things that destroy us.’ Katniss issues an ultimatum to President Alma Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee.
The new trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 sets the tone for Katniss’ evolution as unwilling symbol of the revolution to revolutionary leader. Intense isn’t even an adequate description of the this new trailer. Check it out after the jump. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 opens on November 21st.
In real life, espionage is not glamorous. It’s like police work – mostly plodding detail work and following up and generally boring ninety-nine percent of the time. John le Carré worked in that field long enough that when he writes about it, he writes with a real understanding of mechanics of the spy game. His ability to make the mundane thrilling is without equal and the creative team behind A Most Wanted Man translate his work to the big screen faithfully. They, like le Carré know how to build the mundane to make that one percent that isn’t mundane harrowing.
We generally don’t do death notices here at EM because, frankly, I’m not qualified to write heartfelt obits on people. But Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of my favorite, criminally, underused actors. He first caught my eye in Boogie Nights, from there I loved him in just about everything he’s done. He won an Oscar for the amazing Capote, and his villain turn in Mission Impossible III was a lot of fun. Hoffman was found dead on his bathroom floor of an apparent drug overdose by a friend at 11:30 a.m. He was 46, police are currently investigating.
At one point in Moneyball, Oakland Athletics’ General Manager Billy Beane says words to the effect that, unless you win the last game of the season, nobody cares. Today’s game says that’s one of the few times he got it wrong.
It’s been several hours since I walked out of the theater and I’m still wondering whutinthehighholyhellwuzzat?!? If you’ve seen any of the films that Kaufman wrote previously [Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind], then you know that is the usual state of mind that follows a screening his work. It’s just that Synecdoche, New York takes things to a whole other level.
Kaufman lulls us into a state of false comprehension by opening with the family of small time theatre director Caden Cotard [Philip Seymour Hoffman] as they go about a depressing day – a day that seems to last forever and ends with his artist wife, Adele Lack [Catherine Keener] and daughter, Olive [Sadie Goldstein] leaving for a show in Berlin. The two-week separation becomes seventeen years.
In the meantime, Caden, following on the heels of a Broadway success with Death of a salesman, wins a genius grant of quite possibly billions and mounts a play that he hopes will bold and true and a bunch of other artistic stuff. What he winds up with is a scale version of New York – peopled by actors playing all the people in his life [however slightly or parenthetically]. But that’s all window dressing.
Besides being a pun on Schenectady [the Cotards’ hometown], synecdoche is a word that can mean “a part that represents the whole.” In terms of Kaufman’s film, this can mean any number of things – Kaufman himself says that it means what you take out of it. For me, the film is about Life. It grows and shifts in variations on a theme even as members of Caden’s cast quit and are replaced – even though the new actors are doing the same things as their predecessors, they are different because they are different people, much as we are different people at various stages of our lives.
Life, and Death, are both bigger than we are, and smaller. We can be replaced, though never exactly. We can be reproduced, though never exactly, in any number of media. In an odd way, Kaufman seems – to me at least – to be saying that life, the universe and everything is what it is. That can be both a comforting thought and a harrowing one.