President Coin

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

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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!

Mockingjay Still-O-Rama Reactions

Mockingjay is less than two weeks away! Besides press tour interviews galore (and the return to the entire cast seemingly getting sick at once), there’s something else coming in droves: NEW STILLS AND BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGES!

Of course, you don’t just see a still. You see it and you have a reaction. Sometimes it’s just a basic “Oh that’s cool!” or “Meh”, but sometimes it’s something much bigger. So let’s share those more substantial reactions:

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Effie’s eyebrows are in a semi-natural state! Now are they gray-ish from years of over-treatment, plucking, etc? Or are we actually supposed to believe that homegirl has naturally light blonde eyebrows? Because as a natural blonde, that does not happen! Wait, what’s Effie’s natural hair color? Does SHE even know?!

District13-5

WIIIIIIIIIG! It’s like “The Mole” scene from Austin Powers for us at certain points. It’s not a bad wig– it’s actually a good one, hairline-wise and all that jazz. But you started thinking about how shiny and perfectly wavy her hair looks and then OH YEAH IT’S A WIG. Because nobody’s real hair ever stays that nice. We mean, Woody has a wig too but his reflects his character, thus is a total mess.

District13-4

Is that District 13 schematic just like… their screensaver or something? When they don’t have anything relevant to their missions, is that always just there in the background like “HEY GUYS! THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE!”? We’ve seen a lot of that sucker!

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Paylor in contrast to Katniss, Gale, and the film squad is beautiful. She’s got this very salt-to-the-Earth look that’s we’re digging. She is a part of a grassroot rebel movement. They don’t no stinkin’ armor! Okay, they need it, but they don’t have it and they fight anyway. And that is true badassery.

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Snow’s office is awesome and all, but there are young people lined up in Capitol clothing in the upper right-hand corner of this photo. Why are they there? Are they supporters? Could they be consorts toted around the city like Finnick and Johanna were? What are you doing to them Snow?!

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So you’re telling me that the dude with the cowboy hat and mutton chops is NOT in the movie? DAMMIT! DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! WHY NOT?!

Caption Those New Stills

A few new stills have surfaced over the past day or so, thanks to Mockingay Part 1’s distributor in Russia. And we mean THANK YOU. We’ve been expecting more stills soon, as the various press articles start appearing. There have to be pictures to go along with those articles, right? The character images released a few weeks ago are great to have, but actual full movie stills are better. You’ve probably seen these stills by now, and you can probably guess what movie scenes they reference, but let’s have some fun and pretend like we haven’t read these books many times and have no clue what could be going on here.

Gale crossbow stillGale is eyeing that target pretty intensely. It’s not quite Blue Steel, but he does have a bit of smugness to his expression. I hope he’s eyeing a shooting target and not Katniss or something. Cause that would be awkward Gale, don’t do that.  And we have Beetee in the background paying attention to something else. He makes the weapons, he doesn’t shoot them.

Katniss RosesKatniss’s homecoming seems to be going well, someone even left her a “Welcome Home” flower arrangement. But damn it, they’ve all wilted except for a single white rose.  A florist in the Capitol is going to be hearing about this.

Cressida PolluxCressida is enjoying some well-needed outdoors time, letting her fabulously tattooed skin get some sun but keeps getting annoyed about WHERE Pollux is pointing that camera [*Update yeah I know it’s Castor. I was tired, but let’s pretend I really have no clue about things and go with it cause all of this is silly anyway].  Be careful there, buddy.

Peacekeepers in 7These Peacekeepers have wandered onto the set of The Return of the Jedi and are really worried about Ewoks. Nah, they’re actually pissed they got assigned to the tree-climbing district. First Katniss, and now these rebellious District 7 citizens. Who knew that tree climbing could be so effective at evading people with weapons?

Katniss CoinKatniss longs for the days when she had to maintain this fakely triumphant pose for the Capitol, cause at least it was Peeta’s hand she got to hold. And the outfits were better.

The sad thing is there will probably be legit press articles with even more off-base photo captions coming soon.

More stuff to look forward to!

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

More Clues from the Mockingjay District 13 Posters

We’ve had some time to stare at every inch of the Mockingjay Part 1 character posters by now. When they first came out (or rather leaked, THIS HAS GOT TO STOP HAPPENING) I wasn’t filled with a whole lot of passion for them, but I told myself that this is somewhat appropriate. Effie’s poster was the only one that gave me some sort of visual surprise because she looks so different from her old self.

These posters are meant to set a mood, and for these six, the mood is pretty somber, no-frills, and grey. I saw some comments that it looked like they were in prison, and well, I won’t argue with that. It’s an accurate interpretation of the book, and I want that. I also know that a lot of thought and care must have gone into the creation of these posters. So I’ll try to dig out a few more hints (For Plutarch and Effie, see TTE’s previous post).

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Body positioning  immediately stands out, especially when you see all the posters together. Coin and Beetee facing the left, with Plutarch at a kind of lefty-angle. Effie staring head on like she’s getting a mug shot taken. Haymitch and Finnick to the right almost trying to escape off the print. The positioning made me kind of want them to have a “beginning of story” Katniss that is huddled on the floor in the shadows, turned to the right like Haymitch and Finnick. THAT would have been a really dramatic statement, but I suppose they are waiting to debut Katniss in another set of character posters with the field crew (Katniss, Gale, Boggs, Cressida, etc). That miss kind of hurts me though. I would have loved that (Any artistically-minded people, I implore you to create some fanart in that vein).

Dried Out Haymitch

We know there’s no alcohol in District 13, so Haymitch goes through severe alcohol withdrawl, and the pain of that (and everything else) is very clearly etched on his face as he stares down towards the floor. District 13 must have taken pity on the man and allowed him a hat and cardigan to ward off the chill, and in a way hide himself away through clothing. I love this one. Probably because I love Haymitch. It got my coveted phone lock screen spot.

Coin Stands with the Mockingjay

Suuure she does. But it does make a statement that she is the only one with the big Mockingjay symbol in the background. We all know that her support is only when it serves her own purpose. She’s a smart woman who understands the power of the symbol and wants to take it as her own. You better believe she’s going to be photographed with that in the background.

Beetee Pays You No Mind

The most striking thing to me about Beetee is not that he’s in the wheelchair. We expected that. But the fact that his body position is dead straight to the left, and he’s looking straight ahead to the left. He is in no way acknowledging us, but probably lost in his thoughts, focused on his task at hand.

Dazed Finnick

We know that Finnick will not be mentally well in this movie (or at least until reunited with Annie). Sam’s sad and dazed expression says it all. He is, dressed however, in the District 13 uniform, so no joking about him in his underwear right now. Just sad Finnick, trying to hold on another day.

What’s Next?

Yes, I was one of the people disappointed about the lack of a Katniss poster. If you’ve read any of my posts for the past few months, I WANT TO SEE KATNISS is kind of my mantra, so no surprise there. And I guess they are waiting to debut her in a more of a field / action type-setting.  Katniss standing in her Mockingjay suit with these grey walls behind her would have looked out of place, I agree (but wouldn’t you have liked to see damaged Katniss in the corner? I can’t stop thinking about it). I just hope this next set has a little more spark to balance things out. District 13 can be a really depressing place.

You know what they say about hope…

JJ

 

TRAILER REACTION: Our Leader The Mockingjay

The first traditional trailer for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 is finally here!

That means two things:

  1. Congratulations Glenn, the winner of our Third Anniversary Guess The Trailer contest! He won a Catching Fire fan camp poster signed by Josh Hutcherson, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, and Jeffrey Wright!
  2. OMG IT’S TRAILER REACTION TIME!

So watch the trailer again and prepare for pure, exuberant fangirl reaction!

Remember, our reaction posts get kinda long, so most of this baby is under the cut! Also.. SPOILERS. DUH. (All screencaps courtesy of Jabberjays.net!)

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Yep. A little haunting.

IN WHICH THE TRAILER DARKENS OUR SOULS
The Girl With The Pearl: Let’s start with the usual– describe the trailer in one word!
There Them Eyes: Teasing
JJ: You took mine… I’ll say appropriate?
TGWTP: I’ll go with haunting. Which is not my usual direction with these, because trailers usually make me giddy.
TTE: PSH
JJ: Ok haunting is better But for me, it did its job. It set the stage for what the movie’s about.
TGWTP: Which is scary, messed up shizz
TTE: There’s nothing happy about Mockingjay… ok, wait… yes there are happy points, but it’s not full of as many light moments as the previous stories.
TGWTP: And yes, PSH was a big part of the haunting feel, though not the only reason for it
JJ: But no it didn’t make me dance around the room. It was much more dark. But yes, the subject matter here is a whole different level
TTE: Even the trailer music is somber.

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EEEEEEEVIL, WE SAY!

PLUTARCH, COIN, AND A SHOWDOWN WITH FICTIONAL CRITICS
TGWTP: Where you surprised that they opened it with Plutarch and Coin?
JJ: Before I was spoiled?
TGWTP: Yes LOL
JJ: Yes, I was surprised with it. But I think it was a good choice. So much of the movie is Plutarch and Coin’s planning.
TTE: Pleasantly surprised. Oh, wait.. I was the only one who was surprised?! This is what happens when you work all day, and don’t spend a lot of that time searching Twitter!
JJ: Twitter is life, ok?
TTE: Twitter is… yeah, I’ll leave my Twitter opinions at the virtual door.
TGWTP: Maybe it’s just me, but I got the feeling Coin will be more openly eeeeevil in the films. She had one line and I was like “YOU DECEITFUL WENCH!”
JJ: Hmm. Yes, maybe they don’t want there to be any doubt that she’s a baddie to avoid confusion for those non-book readers
TGWTP: True. Anyone who sees her as ambivalent or possibly decent will be raging about the end.
TTE: I think having Coin and Plutarch being the first characters we see in the trailer is a very strategic move. It’s playing both on the mythology of the series, which will make fans happy. But to newbies, seeing Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman is a draw, sort of like “Whoa, it’s those people! They’re in this… take my money!!”
JJ: TAKE THIS MOVIE SERIOUSLY!
TTE: Stop calling it the next WHATEVER! If you want to call it the next Star Wars… sure, fine– but stop with the teen drama comparisons.
TGWTP: You’re not too cool for fantasy, jackass!
TGWTP: I love yelling at this fictional critic person!
TTE: Fictional critic person looks like a troll and we love to poke him.

Is this just here to piss off Peacekeepers? We doubt many district rebels are airbourne!

Is this just here to piss off Peacekeepers? We doubt many district rebels are airborne!

THIS REBELLION IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE X-FILES
TGWTP: Anywayyyyy… Next, we get district drama! Starting with— How long do you think it would take a person to pull off that crop circle?
TTE: One night.
JJ: It was not people. It was aliens. Plot twist!
TGWTP: OMG DISTRICT 13 IS FULL OF ALIENS MASQUERADING AS PEOPLE!
JJ: Explains a lot, right?
TGWTP: YES.
TGWTP: And how did they get it so accurate?!
TTE: How you make a crop circle accurately: You take geometry in high school, ace it, and then use those skills. I learned this from The X-Files.
JJ: Or aliens.
TGWTP: That was probably the only part of the trailer that allowed me to be happy. Death, depression, distrust, CROP CIRCLE!
JJ: Yes, that was a bit weird now that you mention it, but a cool effect.
TTE: I know I think I texted JJ, like “Well, that crop circle thing is pretty cool.”

(more…)