Francis Lawrence Fiesta!


Hemsy and Lawrenced Squared. BECAUSE WE SAID SO.

Hemsy and Lawrenced Squared. BECAUSE WE SAID SO.

Today is Francis Lawrence’s 44th birthday! And we’re celebrating with this appreciation post!

Francis Lawrence is THE main man behind the last three films in The Hunger Games franchise. Though we’ve yet to see Mockingjay Part 2, we can definitely say they we loved his work on Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1.

If you were around when Gary Ross left the franchise after the first film, you remember the collective groan from the fandom and the general sense of “Now what?” It’s not that Gary Ross was the undeniable leader of the film franchise, but he had done a solid job on a limited budget. Who knew what to expect from a new director?! It definitely had the potential to be a disaster.

Then rumors of Francis Lawrence directing came about. He had three movies under his belt– one of which was Constantine (In retrospect, we blame the screenwriters, Francis!), but another one was I Am Legend, which was actually really good. More than his limited movie history, we went into throwback mode because F-Law started off with music videos and HE DIRECTED THIS:

This alone is proof of what this man could do with effects (which weren’t a strong point in the first movie) and a limited budget.

Soon after, Francis was announced as the definite director for Catching Fire. The first photos of Francis and Jennifer meeting wound up online and LAWRENCE SQUARED WAS BORN! Because unnecessary nicknames are our favorite!

This guy is immediately MOBBED by the fandom. He definitely feels the pressure. But he shoots his movie and the same and when fans get their first trailer… It’s really, really good. As more clips and footage finds its way online, it’s more than good. This movie looks fan-freaking-tastic!

Lionsgate announces that Mockingjay will be split into two films and Francis will direct both before Catching Fire is even out. We’re divided on the split, but no one has any complaints about Francis directing. He talks about the films passionately and articulately.

At the Catching Fire premiere, Francis comes out for a signing. The fansites stand in a media pit a few feet away, not expecting much attention. He introduces himself (as if we didn’t know!), asks up how we’re feeling as we stand in the hot sun, asks us what sites we’re from (Them There Eyes is wearing a Victor’s Village shirt and replies “It’s on my chest!” He doesn’t even flinch.) Someone thanks him for saving the franchise from a sophomore slump and we all agree pretty heartily. He’s nothing but gracious.

And then we watched Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1, which were tonally different but both superb. And we are super thankful for his part in this franchise!

At Least We’ve Stopped Calling Him Frank,
The Girl With The Pearl


Elizabeth Banks Goes Behind The Scenes

Big news from Elizabeth Banks… and it’s aca-awesome!

No, it’s not the Catching Fire DVD date announcement, though that was definitely pleasant. It’s the news that she’ll be directing her full-length feature film with Pitch Perfect 2!

And her character's last name is ABERNATHY.

And her character’s last name is ABERNATHY.

Why is this a big deal? Elizabeth Banks has directed two short films and a movie “segment” in Movie 43, but she’s never really been able to sink her teeth into a project like this where she was entrenched in several elements and responsible for the overall feel of the film. She produced and starred in the first Pitch Perfect movie and she promoted it very enthusiastically. Partially because it was a limited release, partially because she just thought it was that awesome. That first project was like her baby and we have no doubt that she’s even more invested this time around.

Oh, and did we mention that the first movie was great? If “snarky musical comedy” sounds like a genre you would enjoy, we totally suggest you watch this movie about a college freshman who reluctantly joins a struggling acapella group. Though she’s not featured prominently, Elizabeth Banks, who plays an ex-acapella star turned competition commentator, is silly comedy gold! It really shows that she can be all different kinds of hilarious on screen, as Gail and Effie’s quirky lines are nothing alike but still funny in both cases.

So far, the details on the second Pitch Perfect film are under wraps, but this really seems like Elizabeth’s territory. Though much more subtle than some, she’s a top notch comedienne (and an important part of comedy, we think, is knowing when to pull back the ridiculousness, which she’s always done well.) The first movie left expectations high, but she look forward to Elizabeth baring her soul behind the scenes and getting some Hollywood street cred for it!

Looking Forward To Some Aca-Awkward Moments On Screen,
The Girl With The Pearl

It’s Okay To Wonder

Earlier this week, Gary Ross said in an interview that it would have taken him at least eight months to properly prep and film Catching Fire. At the same time, Fox announced that it did not have a finished script for X-Men: Days of Future Past (the title apparently refers to a time jumping subplot of the comics. Thanks, floralsandstripes!) and thus will delay filming until April. If Fox had realized that they weren’t adequately prepared earlier, Gary would have gotten his eight months.

Gary Ross Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind Hunger Games director

Over us so soon?


A whole world of shoulda, coulda, woulda just opened up beneath our feet! Don’t feel guilty for wondering! We ALL wonder, even those of us who are cautiously optimistic about Francis Lawrence.

But then I remember my fiance’s response to The Hunger Games movie…
Him: Yeah, it was pretty good.
Me: Pretty good?! PRETTY GOOD?! Don’t you mean spectacular?
Him: I’m not saying it was bad. It was good! I just feel like something was missing.
(Quick Note: My fiance is not the movie critic type. He doesn’t hate on much of anything.)

The non-THG fanatics in my life had similar positive-but-still-pretty-neutral reactions. We can see it, even though that will never stop us from watching the movie repeatedly.

At the time, we weren’t really aware of Gary Ross’ process, as described by the man himself in this quote:
“I wear two hats. I don’t wear one hat. When you write and you direct that’s a linear process, it’s not a simultaneous process. I would’ve had to have written a script and prepped the whole movie in four months and on the first movie that’s a process that took me eight months. And I thought [Catching Fire] was a more difficult adaptation, not an easier one. I didn’t really feel I had the time I needed to live up to my own standards. And I haven’t had a moment’s regret.”

Before you get all hasty: COOL IT, HOMIES! YOU’RE MAKIN’ A SCENE! This is not a Gary Ross hate post! We’ve noticed that it’s kind of hip to hate on Gary Ross now that he’s left the franchise, but that ain’t happening here. Gary Ross was always be Boss for kickstarting this fandom right, but maybe this quote proves that a change in the reins isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Francis Lawrence experience director collaboration The Hunger Games Lady Gaga Water for Elephants

F-Law: Used to collaborating with some interesting characters…

The script for Catching Fire was the work of two Oscar winners, Simon Beaufoy and (allegedly!) Michael Ardnt, which probably wouldn’t have happened with Gary Ross at the helm. He writes the final version of all his film scripts. He’s a talented writer, but other talented writers may have been cut out of the picture. Gary had a very heavy hand in everything, including deciding every camera angle before shooting ever began and designing sets based on his specific vision. He describes his “neurotic” involvement in the DVD extras. Again, these aren’t bad things, but there’s valuable input from others being cast aside in what seems to be the “If you want something done right, do it yourself” approach.

We agree with what Hunger Games Fireside Chat discussed about three weeks ago: The more co-operative approach that Francis Lawrence is taking could yield interesting results. There’s more risk! It could blow up in his face. The costume designer or set guy or lighting supervisor could suck and an angry mob of fans will storm the Lionsgate office in an attempt to be the Mockingjay and lead a rebellion against Francis! We imagine they’d poke him with Mockingjay pins. BUT there could also be more surprise and vigor. One thing about The Hunger Games is that it’s pretty monotone. You can sense the strict control over the production as you watch it. Maybe Lawrence allowing other crew members be more actively involved in the creative process will breathe new life into the series.

Plus, if Gary Ross has no regrets about backing away from the series, maybe we shouldn’t feel that way either. We’ll always wonder what HIS Catching Fire looked like, but we’re interested to see the new team’s version even more.

“I Think She Would Tell You It’s Okay to Wonder” (Name that book!),
The Girl With The Pearl

Two Gentlemen

The short list has been shortened, so good-bye to the three fine gentlemen I wrote up on last Saturday, and hello to the two I am about to regale you with all the dirty nasty details on. Through the magic of the Internets it’s been determined that sometime later this week Catching Fire will have its new director, will it be Francis Lawrence or Bennett Miller, two very different directors with one thing in common, they’re up for the same job, and unless Lionsgate throws us a curve ball, and thrusts some name never even mentioned into the mix. Considering the time constraints they’ve put them selves under, I’m gonna make an educated guess here, and say that most definitely one of these men will get the job.

First off, let me state my loyalties, because I know some of you are itching to know “which one does Them There Eyes want?!” It’s Miller, and I’ll do my best to explain why. However, I think it’s best if I explain why Lawrence (Really? that’s going to be so confusing in interviews, think about it.), and Bennett are more, how do I say this nicely — economically viable than Cronenberg, Iñárritu, and Cuaron. Okay, well — both of them have less than five feature films under their belts, and the smaller the amount of experience you have means the cheaper you are to hire, unless you happen to be certain people who somehow hit the jackpot and won millions of awards with their very first film. Anyway their lack of experience is good for the studio, but it’s also good for these two men, because getting to helm Catching Fire means a hell of a lot of notoriety, and it’s pretty much a given that no matter what the end result is people are going to go see the film. That being said, both of these men have done good work, even though the work they’ve done combined together is less than 10 features. Miller wins my vote though, because of two reasons, Capote and Moneyball.

I should probably mention that I have not seen Moneyball yet, but I did see Capote — and it was no fluke, it was pretty close to a masterpiece. It had the magic combination of all the right people working on it that made it as extraordinary as it was. The script was penned by Dan Futterman, who everyone will probably know as the actor who played the son in The Birdcage, Dan was nominated for an Oscar for his work. The script was beautifully written, and adapted from the biography also called Capote by Gerald Clarke. The cast was nothing to turn your nose up at, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his work on it. And then there was Chris Cooper, and Catherine Keener fleshing out the best known end of the principal cast. The rest of the cast was rounded out by talented but less known actors and actresses like Clifton Collins Jr. and then surprisingly Mark Pellegrino who’s best known for his recurring roles on Lost, Supernatural, Being Human, Dexter, and The Closer. The cast aside, the behind the scenes people were pretty damn good too, Avy Kaufamn who cast the film has worked on such films as Syriana, Shame, Brokeback Mountain, and even Zethura: A Space Adventure which Josh Hutcherson starred in way back in 2005. Adam Kimmel who was cinematographer on the project did some pretty stellar work as well, in fact that’s one of the most gripping aspects of the film, the way in which it was shot. Kimmel since Capote has gone on to work on films like Lars and the Real Girl, which starred Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer, and the heartbreaking book to film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let You Go. The crew and cast made some sort of magic happen, and the film was nominated for 45 different awards, and won 52, including Seymour Hoffman’s best actor award at the Oscars. Miller himself was nominated 16 times for his work on the film. And I haven’t even got to Moneyball! Ah, perhaps I won’t — as I have no experience with that particular film, I think it’s best that I not comment, except to say that it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars this year, it won AFI’s Movie of the Year, as well as several film critics awards all over the world. It was a screamingly well received film, and critical praise for it, and for Miller’s other works, that’s what makes me hope he gets the job, because it means that Catching Fire, if everything falls into place, could receive the same kind of treatment from both Miller, and from the critics.

Francis Lawrence — I have to say this, I think he’s going to get the gig. I know as much as I hope Miller gets it, Lawrence is a much more commercial film maker. His background is mostly in music videos, he’s worked with people like Britney Spears, Greenday, and Jennifer Lopez. Somewhat recently he’s focused his work on feature films, and television dramas. He directed the pilot episode of Touch, Kiefer Sutherland’s comeback to television since 24 ended its run, and he’s working on a made for television film right now, well according to his IMDB page he is, called Gotham. Most notably though, and what I think will sway Lionsgate, is his work on the film adaptation of Water For Elephants. He’s made two other films to date, and I’ve only seen one of them, they are I Am Legend, the Will Smith disappointment, and Constantine. Back to Water For Elephants, this film surprisingly was a pretty damn accurate adaptation of a beloved book. True some elements were eliminated, and I think one performance could have been pushed harder by both Lawrence and by the actor (Christoph Waltz), but as a film — it was sweet like the book, but nothing truly special. Since I’ve gone on far too long, we’ll end it here.

Lawrence, for Lionsgate is the safe choice in my opinion, personally — I don’t think they should go for safe. Safe is boring.

Them There Eyes

Can We Stop Worrying Already? Apparently Not.

All we do is...

As you can tell from our posts this week, Gary Ross’ departure from Catching Fire shook us, and we’re not alone. To say that The Hunger Games fandom has been upended is a bit of an understatement.

We’d been following Hunger Games movie news from the very beginning. Every casting decision was questioned, every bit of news dissected, every photo and second of footage examined and debated about. And then we saw it and in general were impressed and very happy about it. We were supposed to be okay for Catching Fire! “Who’s your choice for Finnick/Johanna/Beetee/etc.?” they’d ask. “I trust Gary!” we’d say. His decisions turned out to be pretty spot on regarding pretty much everything and we knew he’s a fan like us, so we weren’t worried about Catching Fire.

Until now.

Now it feels like it did all over again. All the uncertainty we felt regarding The Hunger Games movie is back, and it feels as if it’s gotten even worse. Now we’re worried that this little franchise that could will get derailed because they’re bringing in someone new. We’re worried that the choice of director will be all wrong. We’re worried about an inconsistent vision for the series. We’re worried that some of the most beloved characters in the series will be cast poorly and in a strictly superficial way. We’re worried that this new guy won’t stick to the book because they don’t have the same respect for the source material. We’re worried that whoever directs won’t have enough time to do a good job.

Credit: Indiewire

Of the 3 named directors, I'm most ok with Cronenberg, but I'm dying to know who else is on the list (Credit: IndieWire)

It’s a little unfair. I don’t exactly envy whoever is coming in to replace Gary because there is so much doubt among such passionate fans. Whoever it is will have a lot to prove to us. The bar was set pretty high, and frankly, we’re kind of pissed off that we have to worry again.

So, future director of Catching Fire, be careful. We want you to do well, we do. It only benefits us if you turn out to do a great job, because we’ll get a good movie we can be proud of. But we are worried, and we don’t like being this way.

All this worrying is not good for my health

The Other Men of The Hunger Games Part Three

Third time’s a charm right? Well here goes part three, hold on to your butts!

Our first man worth mentioning is quite the catch, he’s been in the business for a while now and– okay fine it’s Gary Ross!

Seriously, if you didn’t already recognize him you should have your Hunger Games fan membership card revoked, because Ross is none other than the director of The Hunger Games! Now, we have to say it took the power of suggestion to make us realize how bleeding good-looking this award-winning writer, director and producer is. Ross, you have to agree with us is a stone cold silver fox, and his appeal only increases when you watch his recent Skype interview with MTV, where he gushed and pretty much displayed his true nature i.e. his Hunger Games fan boy-ness. Oh, also the fact that he’s the man who wrote Big and Dave, two of the most charming comedies of the late 80s and mid 90s. This guy wrote a scene where Tom Hanks jumps on a trampoline in a tux– without irony. This is a man who wrote a scene where essentially Ripley from Alien sings a song from Annie, and enjoys it. That’s hot, okay– just is. It should also be addressed that he directed and wrote both Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, two films that while they both seem to air on the side of lightness, they simultaneously deal with quite heavy issues that we all can relate to on some level. Furthermore Pleasantville is notable because of its innovative use of color or better yet its lack of color, as well as multiple homage’s to great films of the past, art criticism, social criticism, not to forget some pretty damn great acting performances. Seriously though, the man’s got a fantastic smile, and that’s key when choosing a director, right?

Our last man, can we just say it out right, is the best looking behind the scenes guy we’ve come across in this painstaking (it was so painful guys, you have no idea) search. That there is Mr. Chad Stahelski, and he’s what can only be termed as tall, dark and handsome. Chad’s a stunt man and stunt coordinator by the way, so obviously he’s likely in fantastic physical shape. Let’s see what might we have seen him in, granted not him him, but him doubling for other people; he’s pretty consistently doubled for Keanu Reeves on several projects including all The Matrix films, on The Crow he doubled for Brandon Lee (awe), he doubled for David Boreanaz on Angel as well. So, now we can all get out our DVD’s and try and pick him out in frame by frame mode. Chad’s sadly not performing any stunts in The Hunger Games though, he is however a stunt coordinator on the project. Other films he’s had the same or similar title on are Killer Elite, Iron Man 2, Speed Racer, 300, V for Vendetta, TRON:Legacy and on two of The Matrix films he was the martial arts stunt coordinator meaning he’s got a specialized background in martial arts– which is decidedly sexy (yeah, we said it). The best project in our opinion that he’s had his hands all over is Serenity, the Joss Whedon project that continued the short-lived and much-loved cult series Firefly. The stunts on that film are something to be in awe of, notably Nathan Fillion’s because he did a lot of his own including a pretty visceral face plant right into a glass floor (he did it more than once, he may have chipped his cheekbone), and Summer Glau– wow Summer Glau, can’t say much about her physical work in that film other than wow. Honestly, just knowing Chad had much to do with such a beloved project other than The Hunger Games, well it warms the cockles of our hearts (we’ve got a lot of hearts).

So that’s it! No it’s not, two honorary mentions have to go to two chaps both from the Eastern Seaboard, Mr. Russ Bowen, come on down!

Mark with Leven Rambin. Photo taken from Mark's Twitter.

Russ Bowen is a news caster from North Carolina who during the duration of the filming of The Hunger Games was a wealth of knowledge and tid bits where it came to everything and all he could get his hands on having to do with the film. Russ has been mentioned here before, but we thought it was high time it was addressed that not only is he an enthusiastic unintentional member of the fan community, but he’s not too hard on the eyes either, and the accent–that’s just a bonus.

Lastly we have to mention someone who spent large chunks of his time on The Hunger Games set this summer. Mr. Mark Reardon, aka Alexander Ludwig’s good friend, house mate and fellow USC student. Mark has no official credits on the film, but it’s been feigned to multiple times that he participated in the film in one way shape or form. Our guess is he may have been an extra or a stand in for someone, but you’re guess is as good as ours! Either way, Mark’s a fit bloke, (good-looking) and engages with fans on a semi regular basis. So in all those capacities it’s felt that he’s worth mentioning.

That’s it guys, time to go back to our lives. Lives? What are lives?

Them There Eyes