julianne moore

The Oscars: Mockingjay News Edition

Last night was the Oscars, and Julianne Moore won for her role in Still Alice! She’s been nominated a few times, but this is her first win. Woo, make that 3 academy award winning actors in the Mockingjay movies.

julianne moore oscar

While Mockingjay Part 1 had no nominations, it was there in spirit right from the opening number, with Katniss pictured among other cinematic heroines as “small town girls who change the world by challenging the norm.” Yes, oh yes. Well done on that one, Oscars.

Josh Hutcherson was also a presenter, and he did a fine job of speaking and walking and not falling. (We’re not belittling this, when you know a billion or so people of watching, doing all those things is fairly impressive).  Host Neil Patrick Harris introduced him as “the Pe(e)ta who won’t throw paint at you” and we love the THG reference, and the Hanging Tree music that accompanied his walk to the stage.

It’s fitting that Josh was a part of the ceremony, because the last time he was at the Oscars was when The Kids are All Right, the movie where he played Julianne’s Moore’s son, was nominated.

We’re dying a little from the cuteness.

During red carpet interviews, we also got confirmation that yes, Josh will be shooting some final (epilogue) scenes later in the year. So breathe a sigh of relief, it looks like there will be no completely unexpected/crazy/insane plot twist where they kill off Peeta in the end (UNLESS THEY DO IT IN THE EPILOGUE!).

Sorry, sometimes I like to keep feeding the crazy 🙂

JJ

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Still Julianne– Also Alma Coin

Tomorrow is the Academy Awards, aka the Oscars and lo, nothing Hunger Games was nominated! That means one thing, right? Yup– we don’t have to watch! I’m imagining that crickets are sounding across the interwebz now. Sorry folks! I mean yes watch, tune in, make fake ballots, and themed mocktails, and cocktails to your hearts content, while you watch pretty people, and more pretty people traipse a red carpet in the Los Angeles sunshine, then read out loud from teleprompters like feeble, farsighted, novices! It’ll be a gas and

I think she's gonna win

I think she’s gonna win

a half!

There’s something very Capitol about the Oscars, no? Because when push comes to shove characters like Caesar Flickerman, and the style teams, are just morphed versions of the Fashion Police on the E! Network, or Ryan Seacrest, whom I think still hosts American Idol– but I’m not sure, ’cause I’ve never watched the show in my life. American Idol that is, I have watched the Oscars numerous times.

Tomorrow, however since The Hunger Games is yet again not recognized by the Academy for its feats in film making, we’re going to have to suffice with rooting for Julianne Moore for her work in the film Still Alice, as well as crossing our fingers, toes, and eyes that Josh walks across that stage without tripping, fumbling, or having his presenting partner be a foot taller than him!

Tune in at your own discretion everyone! I for one will sparingly do so, and the entire time I’ll be pretending that Boyhood is really about Peeta.

Them There Eyes

Breaking Down The Mockingjay Part 1 Documentary Snippets

You know, holding out for the DVD isn’t nearly as hard as we’d expected. Why? Because half the special features are already online anyway!

Not that we’re complaining, of course! We have no problem on getting closer to the Digital HD watchers level. And we’re learning A LOT from these documentary mini-clips! For instance…

1) BREAKING SHIT IS FUN!

Destroyed District 12 was an actual demolition site– an abandoned factory plant– with some set pieces added in. And tearing apart District 12 was apparently really cathartic for the crew, especially Production Designer Philip Messina!

2) DISTRICT 8 ALMOST HIT HORROR MOVIE LEVELS

Though the film wanted to portray realistic injuries, Francis Lawrence asked that most of the make-up be toned down from the department’s original plans, because they wanted to make people look gnarly. REALLY GNARLY.

3) THIS CAST IS MADE OF AWESOME

Not that we didn’t already know this, of course. Still, it’s great to hear how Julianne Moore was enticed into the series and Mahershala Ali checked off multiple boxes on his career bucket list by working on these films!

4) RAPPELLING FASTER THAN AN ELEVATOR DROPS IS INTIMIDATING

This was one of the few moments of the story caught and videotaped during the filming process, but back then, we didn’t realize how big of a deal it was. Considering our stomachs sometimes flips when an elevator lurches too quickly, this is kind of a thrill ride.

5) IT’S MIGUEL’S FAULT

We didn’t really like the Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack much (CUE THE TROLLS! ..It’s a matter of opinion, y’all. Deal.) The most heinous song of all was The Chemical Brother’s and Miguel song, “This Is Not A Game”. We liked the intro of the song, but then it just went straight to hell. If we’re understanding Lorde correctly in this short, the intro is the only part of the song that The Chemical Brothers crafted. Soooo yeah… that disaster is Miguel’s fault.

We’d Like to Thank the Academy

This year’s Oscars ceremony is less than two weeks away. We’re pulling for Julianne Moore to take home her first Oscar for her role in Still Alice. She’s won a lot of the other Best Actress awards this season, so things are looking good, but there are always surprises. No surprises in this category, ok Academy? Julianne for the win!

We now have another reason to look forward to the Oscars. New Academy member Josh Hutcherson will be a presenter! You know what that means. JOSH. IN. A. TUX.

The last time Josh was at the Oscars was 2011. How time flies.

The last time Josh was at the Oscars was 2011. How time flies.

Please excuse the excitement, but it’s somewhat of a rare occurrence for him, or any man for that matter. It’s special attire. Why not dress up to the max, though? Being asked to present is a big honor, but very stressful as well. Even for the most comfortable of public speakers, there’s the massive pressure of having to speak in front of an audience of about 1 BILLION people worldwide. So just… enjoy it, you’ve earned it, Josh.

Another part of the whole Oscar presenter gig is the requisite Red Carpet gauntlet. That means talking to lots of Caesar Flickermans about that tux you are wearing and answering obvious questions like, “Does presenting make you nervous?” Dear Ryan Seacrest, please see the paragraph above and avoid that question. Instead, may I suggest you ask him if he has any additional (ie final) scenes to film for Mockingjay so we can put that speculation to rest?

Good luck to both Julianne and Josh. Be careful with those steps!

JJ

Awards Season and the Hunger Games Fandom

The new year brings new opportunities for the entertainment industry to get together and receive AWARDS. So many types of awards. There are the most prestigious awards: The Oscars, SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globes, Writers’ Guild, Producers’ Guild, etc.

There are a lot of highly lauded actors in the Hunger Games franchise, but their fancy awards are all for non-Hunger Games movies, sadly, because big blockbuster movie performances are rarely considered by these groups to be worthy of recognition. (One caveat – The Critics Choice Awards which has an “Action Movie” category, but those awards are somewhere down the line in terms of prestige). Some of our favorite actors will no doubt be in attendance for these prestigious awards. Julianne Moore is in awards contention for her role in Still Alice. Jennifer is a past winner of pretty much every award so she may present at some of these awards (definitely at the Golden Globes, where she won last year). Lorde will no doubt be at the Golden Globes since Yellow Flicker Beat has the sole Mockingjay-related nomination there. The Hunger Games movies only seem to get love in the original song category, so it seems that will continue again this year. We’re used to it. We know how it goes. We’ll be watching them in all their Capitol-esque glory where everyone comments on the dresses, the hair, shoes, jewels, and the inane interviews that go along with it. But some are a good time, especially the Golden Globes, because Tina Fey and Amy Poehler make it soooo fun.

good times at the pcas

The Good ‘Ol Days, when Lionsgate forced these guys to do these type of appearances.

There are also highly corporately sponsored entertainment events masquerading as “awards” like the People’s Choice Awards brought to you by seemingly every single brand P&G owns (It’s a lot). The fandom seems to get really excited about the People’s Choice Awards, but I think it’s only because in 2013, the big three attended and were cute buddies together. Ever since the franchise moved to debut movies in November however, the movies have been too off-schedule to be “nominated” (the “nominations” began before Catching Fire or Mockingjay came out in theaters).  Jennifer Lawrence has nominations this year, and there are rumors that she could attend, but my money is on a tapped “thank you appearance” at best. She doesn’t need these type of appearances anymore, the events need her to get ratings. So we’ll see how that ends up.

Outside of the glamour of these award shows, the popularity of our Hunger Games movies means that so many websites want to draw us in with their own magical internet pony voting awards where usually you can vote as many times as you want to encourage hits on the site.  (Yes, the People’s Choice is like that too, though most other magical internet ponies don’t get televised on CBS).There were a few of these in December, and there will no doubt be more soon to come, like MTV’s Movie Brawl, which I bet they’ll do again this year. And it’s so exhausting. But we get it. You want the thing that you love to be recognized in some way as “the best” so you get sucked in and vote and vote and vote. Just don’t let it take over your life and your social accounts too much.

At least it fills the dark time when there is no movie news.

JJ

The Other Side of Coin

coin speechThe major new character in Mockingjay Part 1 is President Coin, and I was surprised by her in the film.  It wasn’t that she didn’t fit the image of the character in my head, she very much looked the part. It wasn’t that Julianne Moore didn’t nail her steely, powerful nature, she absolutely did. What surprised me was that she was almost likeable. Not likeable in the sense that I’d like to give her a hug or even share a casual meal, but there were plenty of moments where I found myself liking how she handled situations. Admiring her leadership. And then feeling weird about it because I KNOW things are not as they seem.

I think these confusing feelings about  Coin were intentional, to build suspense, but also just due to the fact that we are no longer completely stuck in Katniss’s head. Katniss never liked her, so the reader never gets a good impression of her. But in the movie, we get the scenes between her and Plutarch, the scenes of her in the control room during the attack on 13, and we get new scenes added and some left out that left me with a much more positive impression of her than I had midway through the Mockingjay book.

Knowing when to put Plutarch in his place, and when to accept his help.

Oh Plutarch, always wanting to give advice. Coin knows she needs him in this rebellion, and she knows where his talents lie, so when he suggests that she add some “salesmanship” to her speeches she rebuffs him at first, but by the end of the film we can see that she’s been letting him help craft her words, with good results.  When it comes to military matters however, she’s quick to shut down his suggestions. She knows her stuff, and she’s not going to let the salesman make her doubt her experience or her instincts.

I won’t send an untrained civilian into combat – we’re not the Capitol.

This line from Coin, during the discussion to let Katniss go to District 8, is chilling if you’ve read the books, because you know she will do this, along with proposing another Hunger Games. But if you were a participant in this discussion who did not know the future, you would think she was a responsible, moral leader, not wanting to put Katniss in undue danger. Does she want to protect Katniss because Coin is a good person or because Katniss’s service (alive) is valuable to the rebellion? The way Julianne Moore delivers the line makes you believe it’s both.

coin and katnissGiving Peeta credit for the extra evacuation time.

Coin does put up a mild fight against pardoning Peeta in exchange for Katniss being the Mockingjay, but when she tells Katniss that she “won’t forget” that Peeta’s warning gave them extra evacuation time, it’s meant to comfort Katniss. You think, oh, that’s nice of her to acknowledge the great risk Peeta took in warning them. We’re just on the road to friendship now! Well not exactly, but it’s a positive step, right???

The “You’re Strong Like Me, You’ll Get Through This” Solemn Pep Talk

Again, serving to build a rapport with Katniss, Coin visits her as she waits for news on Peeta and Gale’s fate returning from the Capitol. Prim has already revealed to us that Coin lost her husband and daughter to the District 13 epidemic, so moviegoers understand the woman knows the helplessness of watching loved ones die due to matters out of her control. In my first viewings of the movie, I felt this was a really kind moment, where Coin tries to console Katniss and remind her of her strength and ability to get through tough times. As the book reader, I look back at it now and wonder if by associating Katniss with herself, Coin is finally, discretely hinting through these similarities that she perceives Katniss to be a threat. Coin doesn’t want Katniss to become too strong, she needs her to remain somewhat unbalanced.

All of these moments come together to leave me with the impression of not really trusting Coin, because it’s clear she will do what is best for the rebellion to win, Katniss or her loved ones be damned. However, she’s not giving big clues that she sees Katniss as a direct threat YET, so as a viewer on Katniss’s side I don’t see her as a baddie (again emphasis on YET, it’s not like I can turn off the book brain). I’m curious to see how they make that shift in Part 2.

The added dimension to President Coin – one of the many benefits we get from MJ1.

JJ

REVIEW: Mockingjay Part 1 Is The Ultimate Game Changer

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** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!**

The Hunger Games Franchise: Come for the action. Stay for the bigger, more important message.

KATNISSIf you’ve been following reviews for Mockingjay Part 1 so far, you’ve probably noticed some media outlets griping about the change of pace or fewer action sequences or the lack of the games. But The Hunger Games has always been about more than just the games. The first two films did an excellent job conveying the danger and inequality in Panem through the games, but the story cannot simply be the games, otherwise the whole message Suzanne Collins intended for her audience is lost. The franchise is about the tragedies of war but also the need to question society’s parameters and to fight against injustice, even if it comes at a personal cost. That’s right, folks– We’re moving past the “Whoa, all these people are in a bubble trying to kill each other!” pull and into legitimate political thriller territory.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a tantalizing slow burn. Its pacing, emotion, and action are different from the other films, but in the best way possible. It starts out dark, ends pitch black, and finds moments of levity, anger, sadness, and just about everything else in between. As Katniss attempts to adjust to life in District 13 and reluctantly accepts her role as the voice of the rebellion, a new story element unfolds into something much deeper. Katniss and District 13 go back and forth in the ultimate game of cat and mouse with President Snow, one in which everyone they know is a pawn. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone supporting her in District 13 is really truly on her side, either. The result is a harrowing journey to incite a revolution, one that featured fewer action sequences but kept us more emotionally invested than any Hunger Games movie before it.

Mockingjay-Part-1-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-Julianne-MooreThere’s a stunning tension created throughout the film by the entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence proved herself as our Katniss long ago, but earns new respect as she handles Katniss’ fragile emotional state with realism and care. Donald Sutherland is an absolute maniacal genius now that he has a chance to flex those baddie muscles. Julianne Moore is a smart, welcome addition as President Coin, who plays beautifully off the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. The decision to keep Effie in the story was a stellar one and Elizabeth Banks is more perfectly Effie than ever before. Liam Hemsworth plays Gale with much more vulnerability and depth than recent promos have suggested– the rage scene is definitely there, but many others prior to that make it easy to see just how truly torn he is. However, if there’s a “Stepping Up To The Plate” award for this movie, it goes to Josh Hutcherson. Peeta’s transformation is gut-wrenching and visceral, the stuff that makes your breath catch in your throat every time he comes on screen because the agony and instability feels so real. It’s the first time in the series Josh has really been asked to be something beyond the caring, careful version of Peeta we all know so well and he exceeds expectations.

There is still action in this film but it isn’t scene-to-scene as it was when Katniss fought off danger after danger in the arenas. However, please don’t confuse less action with a plodding pace. This movie’s action sticks in your brain and feels much more warranted than in previous films. It is not, as the games were, for anyone’s entertainment. Even in the scenes without explosions and hovercrafts and arrows flying, there’s still plenty of things happening and for us, the entire film felt like it moved very quickly, faster than its actual run time.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenBecause this movie is a Part 1, you’re not going to get instant gratification around every turn (another sticking point for critics, it seems). But ask yourself– Did you really with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, either? Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig used the opportunity to get more in depth with the story very wisely. Rather than being thrust into District 13, there’s a world-building that you don’t always get in film. President Snow and Plutarch in particular benefit from the books expansion into two parts, in terms of both screen time and character development. Boggs, Cressida, and the film crew are also rewarded a richer understanding than we’d expected. Random gushing: Elden Henson as Pollux was easily our favorite part of the film crew without saying a word, though everyone else played their part very well too.

For all the guessing in the world at the ending, we will only tell you this: You know the ending, but you don’t. You’ll leave the theater feeling charged up and overwhelmed, already eager for the final film.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. We have a few gripes but realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty minor. We’ll nitpick at a later date because to do so would be to spoil everyone. Even so, we know that Lawrence Squared and the rest of the team have delivered us a stellar film that is sharp and thought-provoking.

We can’t wait to discuss it with all of you!

The Mockingjay Challenged (with the #ALSIceBucketChallenge)

It’s swept the internet over the past couple of weeks and made over $50 million (and counting for) ALS Association. Some think it’s wasteful and silly, but from a fundraising perspective, it’s worked phenomenally. And it’s given us some priceless videos of people getting cold water dumped over their heads.

ice_bucket_promo3
And some of the Hunger Games Mockingjay crew have taken up the challenge too, offering us a fun little respite from the August blahs.

Thanks to a fan and PanemPropaganda, the challenge got on Nina Jacobson’s radar, who took up the call and nominated the Mockingjay cast’s leading ladies.

Then Francis Lawrence joined in the, fun, nominating the Mockingjay boys.

Julianne Moore heard your cries for MORE WATER.

Liam Hemsworth showed love for Ninja Turtles his challenge.

hems

Willow Shields put on a brave face (but it was COLD).

Jena Malone has plans to take part too. Anyone else thinking about how Johanna was tortured with water? Ok, this just got dark.

Sam Claflin seemed to be game, but we’re still waiting on him too.

He’s probably just devising a plan to out-water Benedict Cumberbatch (I know he’s not Mockingjay, but this was impressive. *Applause*)

And what about Natalie Dormer, Josh Hutcherson, and Jennifer Lawrence? No word on their plans. Though Josh and Jen may be having flashbacks to those freezing days filming Catching Fire water scenes?

Update: Friday night, Josh took up the challenge (while wearing one of his signature white tees, of course). The person pouring the water did it tortuously slow too. Eeeevil.

Update #2: On Saturday, Sam bundled up and got dance-y!

You can show thanks to all those who’ve spread the word with their challenges and support ALS by donating.

Stay chill.

JJ

President Coin – A Role Worth Seeking Out

After last week’s little blurb of an article and repetitious “first still” of Katniss Everdeen in Entertainment Weekly come two online articles today with a little more to chew on. There’s some hints about the tone and greater world building and also about the expansion of President Coin’s character in the movies.

One surprising thing about Coin’s casting was that Julianne Moore approached them about the movie. According to Francis Lawrence,

She actually sort of tracked us down and had an interest in the books through her kids.

First of all, a big THANK YOU to Julianne Moore’s children for getting the books into mom’s hands. Last spring/summer Coin was THE top role that we were all wondering about with Mockingjay casting. Fansites collaboratively did a “Campaigning for Coin” set of posts thinking about different actresses who could fit the role. Julianne Moore was included in the lot. (Read it, it’s fun to see now).

And seems like Francis Lawrence saw it right away too because,

She didn’t audition. Once we knew she wanted it, that was it—done.

Did anyone question this casting? No. Why would you???

Did anyone question this casting? No. Why would you???

When she was cast, I think there was resounding joy among fans that someone of her caliber would play the role. But the fact that she already knew about the books and was captivated enough by them to pursue playing Coin makes me so happy. She didn’t have to be courted. She knew the power of the story and the potential of the character.

With big movies like this sometimes you worry that top actors are just “in it for the money” so they can then go off and do low-paying indie passion projects without going broke.  I’m sure she’s getting paid well to play Coin (as well she should, it’s only fair considering the box office of these films) but seeking out Francis Lawrence with her thoughts on the character is a good sign for the complexity of the role, which the article says has been expanded for the films.

Yay, President Coin! Wait, that sounds weird.

JJ

We’ve Got Character Posters

There’s good news, and there’s bad news to report. Let’s start with the good news shall we? Okay. WE’VE FINALLY GOT MOCKINGJAY PART 1 CHARACTER POSTERS! And yes, that sentence deserves to be written in all capital letters, thank you very much. We sure do like our characters posters in this franchise, also this genre, I can remember all the way back to the revealing of The Hunger Games character posters, and the collective sighs of relief that sounded across the Internets. I think that sigh was echoed today, and b21cc9aa25d9683d52cf39fa70eb23b6a0cbb880perhaps some of those sounds felt a little bitter-sweet for some. I know that when I personally thought on the idea of a character poster being revealed of Plutarch Heavensbee this time around, I felt some trepidation. I think you all know why. And then there’s the reveal of Finnick in his drab District 13 garb, and then remembering what will happen to Finnick in Part Two. But then there’s the simple excitement of seeing Julianne Moore in all her Coin glory, and not just in a clip from the teaser trailer.

The highlight however may be the unveiling of Elizabeth Banks’ poster of Effie Trinket. If you’re unaware at this point, book canon has gone the wayside, and Effie has for all intents and purposes, taken the place of Fulvia Cardew. At least that’s the educated guess more than half the fandom has made about her presence in District 13. Oh also, I believe Suzanne Collins mentioned something about it. Book canon as we all know is more often than not something that goes out the proverbial window when it comes to book to film adaptations. In this instance knowing that the author of the series condoned the “tweak”, I think makes the poster reveal a little vindicating. Also, leave it to Effie Trinket to pull off a stylish ensemble by refashioning a District 13 issued button down as a mini dress, might I add as well that her re purposed head scarf is very on trend right now. And I’m even on board with this trend! Seriously, it’s perfect for bad hair days, which I’m guessing happen a lot in District 13.

I said there was bad news however. And the bad news is two things. One being that the poster reveal today only happened because they were leaked on line before their slated released date of tomorrow. To some fandom members this is good news, because hey– we got the posters early, and that’s all we should really care about! Right? No. Bottom line those images were stolen, and you all should know by now how I feel about stealing. So, while it’s great to see the posters finally, I wish it hadn’t been in such a discombobulated, and frankly– clunky manner. What can I say? I like my social media campaigns to run smoothly? Yep, that’s what I’m going with. The other bit of bad news though is this– ’cause of course I didn’t forget that it’s two things. No Katniss poster.

Seriously, cough up the rock– we want our Mockingjay already!

Them There Eyes