These Three Kings

Three names have been released from the short list Lionsgate has allegedly compiled of directors they deem fit to direct Catching Fire. When I first saw the list I balked, namely because I know these three people’s work, I may not know it backwards and forwards, but I’ve been around awhile– so of course I’ve seen a film of theirs or two. I’m not proud of my initial reaction to their names actually, and I know it was because I was a bit too wrapped up in the “HE’S NOT GARY!” fervor. However, now that I’ve had time to marinate on all of this, and frankly come to terms with the fact that Catching Fire is going forward no matter what we say or do as a fandom — I’m genuinely excited by the three names released so far. I know, I know — I’m a total betrayer, I’m going to hell, blah, blah, blah. Well, no– I’m not, I’m just an honest-to-fucking-god-serious-film-goer, and I’m looking at these names and going, “ooh, this could kind of work.”

Let’s get this out-of-the-way. Alfonso Cuaron is a brilliant artisan director, but he has a tainted reputation where it comes to making book to film adaptations. Yep, talkin’ about Prisoner Of Azkaban. Bluntly I have to tell you all that I’ve never read the book the film is based on, and I also have to tell you now that I actually liked the film very much — but I know (oh, man do I know), that devout Harry Potter fans have a major bone to pick with Mr. Cuaron where it comes to what he did to their beloved book. Personally, I thought the film was innovative, layered, and dark, I also think that it was the first film in the Harry Potter franchise where the young cast was asked to actually act, and not simply react to things. I know that Dan Radcliffe credits Cuaron with being the first director to really challenge him as an actor, and that the Prisoner Of Azkaban project as a whole was the first to make him think that he’d possibly like to continue in the entertainment industry as an adult, which we all know he has now. As a serious fan of The Hunger Games, even though I respect Cuaron as an artist, and absolutely loved his work on projects like A Little Princess (still makes me cry my eyes out), Great Expectations (made me fall in love with Ethan Hawke… again), Y Tu Mamá También (died a few times watching it, it was that good, not for the kiddies though. Also introduced me to one of my many long time crushes — Gael Garcia Bernal), and Children of Men (where Clive Owen owned it, seriously), — the reputation he’s cultivated with his treatment of the source material of Harry Potter makes me very very nervous. The only consolation to the job going to Cuaron is that Simon Beaufoy has penned the script, and that Suzanne Collins has stated that she intends to be just as involved with Catching Fire as she was on The Hunger Games, and that she also intends to keep the details closer to the novel as well. These are the only things that would help me get through the possible heart palpitations his getting the gig would induce.

Alejandro González Iñárritu — I’m sorry, but this guy is kind of genius. The first project of his that I saw was Amores Perros, and I think my mouth hung open for most of the 154 minutes. This was the second film I ever saw with Gael Garcia Bernal in it, and he’s actually the reason I searched out the film to begin with, and I’m very glad that I did. It’s a film that has multiple story lines going at once, and they’re all interconnected. If you’ve ever seen the film adaptation of a whole bunch of Raymond Carter short stories called Short Cuts, directed by Robert Altman (you should see it), — it’s like that only set in 1999 -2000 Mexico City. He’s dark, very dark — but he knows people, and he tells their stories in a way that gets to the meat of it all, the emotion, the dirty dirty guts and slime of it all, and you don’t like it, and you don’t love it, but you fucking appreciate it as art, and as a representation of life as it truly is — imperfect. I would never kick up a fuss if he gets the job, because I know now, after much thought and consideration, that Catching Fire needs to go to a much darker place — and that if I’m really and truly honest — I always pictured Panem to be much more scary, and adult, and grim place than the way that Gary Ross envisioned it. Please don’t read me wrong, I loved what Ross did with The Hunger Games, but Catching Fire is not The Hunger Games — and Katniss, and Peeta, and also Gale all need to transition to even darker and more disturbed places mentally and emotionally, than they did in Hunger Games. Also, the principle cast is going to transition from mostly teenagers to adult characters like Finnick, Beetee, Plutarch, Johanna, and Chaff. Perhaps procuring a director whose dossier is more geared towards adults will prove to be a good way to go. I’m certainly not too nervous about Mr. Iñárritu in that sense — and you shouldn’t be either.

David Cronenberg — Um, well, he’s been working a damn long time, unfortunately I can only attest to having seen about three of the over 30 or so projects that have dawned his name in their credits. The films are: The Fly, eXitenZ, and Spider. Again, like Cuaron, and Iñárritu, Cronenberg is a director whose work is not for children, it’s probably not even a good idea for people under the age of 16 to see most of his works. He’s dark once again, just like the other two released on the list, and also like the others– he’s interesting. His work always makes you think about things on a deeper level than your average film. He makes smart-people movies, movies that get played in art houses, or the multiplexes that cater to more high end films. He’s not cookie-cutter “Hollywood”, where you eat a bag of popcorn and come out of the theatre feeling like you were entertained for an hour and a half. His films, in my experience, are films that leave you sitting for awhile, like I said before — thinking. Catching Fire needs to make us think, it needs to make the world think. Cronenberg, he’s not my favorite on this list — but I would not cry, or spit, or hiss if he got the gig.

Who do I want to get the gig though? If he was available, and he wasn’t neck deep in his current project — I’d want Sam Mendes.

Them There Eyes

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16 comments

  1. I really love the way Gary Ross directed the first one and how he chose the characters. But well okay, whoever the director might be, i hope that he’ll make CF a fantastic movie adaptation and not a disastrous one..maybe James Cameron can direct CF? *smiles*

    1. I hope you’re joking. James Cameron is predictable and recycles his stories repeatedly. Sure he’s got box office draw, but his films are no where near how I’d like to see The Hunger Games franchise go.

  2. Since Simon Beaufoy is writing it Danny Boyle should direct. 28 Days Later blew my mind the 1st time I saw it. And can I jump ahead to Mockingjay and say Toby Whithouse (creator of BBC3’s Being Human) should write the script. That show is mad genius & I always yell ‘WTF!’ at least once an episode. He would be the perfect person to bring the bent mental state of Mockingjay to life.

    1. Boyle’s tres busy, but if he was available… I’m sure Lionsgate is working on it.

      Whithouse — he is an amazing writer, but I don’t think Mockingjay is where he should cut his teeth with feature film writing. Also, I’ve detested the way series 4 of BH has gone, and stopped watching after awhile, because the new cast has not jelled, and the timing was terrible on everyone’s part.

  3. I agree that Prisoner of Azkaban was the mostly artistically stunning of the Harry Potter films, but it was the worst content-wise. The acting was better (besides the “HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!” scene *shudders*) but Cuaron actually changed the story much more than any other Potter director. He cut out a major part of the backstory for no apparent reason, leaving it to be oddly shoved into later movies, and threw in his own stuff in other places. He also took a blatant liking to Emma Watson to the point where he actually added in material for her (I know, Gary did the same for Donald Sutherland, but 13yo Emma was NOT Donald Sutherland) AND gave her famous lines that belonged to other characters— Dumbledore and Ron, respectively. Meanwhile, Ron became the pathetic guy comedy trope.

    I’m okay with Cuaron directing Catching Fire as long as there’s someone breathing down his neck to make sure he’s respectful to the source material. Which is probably not how he’ll want to work.

    1. The stuff about Emma getting other characters’ lines had NOTHING to do with Cuaron. That’s got Steve Kloves written all over it and he does that throughout the series because he’s got a major hard-on for Hermione. It’s the reason why I HATE Kloves and what he did to the Harry Potter adaptations he wrote.

    2. I’m not a die-hard HP fan, so all the information I’ve gleaned is that PoA wasn’t accurate — but still, I think it was a good film, superior to the first two films actually, and I think that’s a testament to Cuaron’s directing. I also don’t mind the “he was their friend!” scene. Guess I’m weird.

  4. I’d honestly love to see Alfonso Cauron direct ‘Catching Fire’. Sure, he made some stupid changes to PoA (the shrunken heads), but after directing a film in a large franchise, I think he’s learned not to play around too much. His film is by far my favorite of the films, despite the changes. It just . . . made me feel something. Plus, Suzanne Collins can keep him on track, as well. 😛

  5. I loved The Hunger Games, but come on. Gary Ross made WAY more changes and additions to that movie than Cuaron did to PoA. Nothing taken out of PoA was crucial to enjoying the movie, I think. Cuaron is brilliant artistically, detail oriented, commands emotionally gripping performances of his actors, and generally rocks effing faces off.

    1. Like I said in the article above, I have not read Prisoner of Azkaban, so I don’t know what he changed, or what Kloves changed. Personally, I don’t think Ross changed so much that people should be angry at all, and so far I’ve only seen small hiccups of “he changed this! He changed that!” I don’t think he and Suzanne altered anything that could change the plot or the motivations of the characters in the subsequent future films either. That being said, Cuaron, like you said… he demands more of his actors than most, maybe even more than Ross does. I’d be happy with him taking the gig, but again… hopefully Suzanne and possibly Nina Jacobson would keep him in check if he wants to change anything drastically.

  6. See, I’m in the minority because I loved Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s probably my favorite of the Harry Potter movies (Order of the Phoenix is my other favorite) so I don’t have too big of a bone to pick with Cuaron, especially since he isn’t credited for writing the screenplay. If Steve Kloves were chosen to write a Hunger Games screenplay THEN I’d be freaking out. I also loved Y Tu Mama Tambien. That being said, I AM in the minority and I’d rather not have a director that so many fans will distrust. Also I’m afraid he’ll make Catching Fire a little too stylized. I’m not familiar with Inarritu’s work so I have no comment on that.

    Cronenberg is my choice of the 3 named directors. I saw A Dangerous Method recently, and while it isn’t my favorite movie, it was dark, beautiful and brilliantly directed, and I think he can do an amazing job.

    The thing I love is that these directors direct movies for grown-ups and the film savvy. They’re not blockbuster makers, they direct dark and thought-provoking movies that have substance. It’s a good sign.

    1. You need to watch more by Iñárritu! He’s seriously amazing! I’ll watch more Cronenberg if you watch more Iñárritu, deal?!

      Oh, I also really liked Prisoner of Azkaban, it introduced us to Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black — what’s not to like!?

      Wait, you’re in the minority because you don’t want a director that so many mistrust? Do you mean you’re NOT in the minorty, because a lot of people DON’T want him to take the job at all, which means you’re like everyone else!? No minority status there, just agreement with a whole bunch of nervous people.

      1. Haha I mean I’m in the minority of not being angry with Cuaron so I know a lot of people don’t want him, and it would really be better for my sanity that I don’t have to spend the time leading up to Catching Fire trying to defend Cuaron as a choice.

  7. I’ve always liked Cuaron’s work. Amores Perros was very dark and YES to gael garcia bernal. I wouldn’t object to any of the directors but only ask the read the source material on their own first. If they are a fan, maybe it will help? I always worry when directors cut out portions of stories and then later films have to infodump to get the audience up to date.

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