Tag Archive: jennifer lawrence


Series Enders

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When you watch a movie that is the end of a series, there are a few things you can count on.

The action will be intense. This is the end and what action we see needs to be more than anything else we have seen. More blood, more gore, more creepy characters than ever before.

The emotions will be intense. This characters are dealing with issues of life and death. They know whatever is happening could be the end and they feel the need to sum up their life and their actions to conclude if they have lead a good life. What is their legacy?

While watching Logan, I knew the movie would be more intense as the husband and two boys went to see it in theaters. I did not and now I am glad because I needed to be able to walk out of the room at the worst bloody messes.

LoganThe year is 2029, mutants are nearly extinct. Logan and Dr. X live near the Mexican border in a fairly deserted outpost. Dr. X is suffering from seizure disorder and needs heavy medicines to keep the (deadly for others) seizures from happening. Then Logan is found by people on both sides of a mutant factory.

He agrees to take a girl to a destination in South Dakota, slowly discovering her mutant powers are just like his. But people are following her. They don’t care whom they harm. It gets bloody and nasty on a regular basis.

Along the way, Logan confronts the effects of his comic book heroism that have left a mark on the world. Once again, he pretends not to care about others but in the end we know where his heart lies.

It is a movie that is gritty, heartbreaking, and confrontational. There are not many happy moments, not that are ever many in an X-Men movie. But for those squeamish-at-heart, this will be a difficult movie. There are lots of bloody action scenes and heart breaking emotional scenes in which innocents are killed for no good reason.

Mockingjay part 2I felt this way as I watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2. Thrown back into the dystopian society of Panem, Katniss is determined to assassinate President Snow for the torture suffered by Peeta. She chooses to be the Mockingjay, symbol of the rebellion to a society that takes joy in keeping down the masses.

But it is during this time that Katniss also becomes distrustful of President Coin of the 13th district. Is this a person Katniss can trust? Is Coin’s desire for a free Panem an honest wish or is it hiding the desire for absolute power?

Katniss chooses to sneak into the capitol and is immediately recognized by the crowds and Gale. Soon, there is a troop of the best fighters, ready to help Katniss. And she needs it as they face a city booby trapped with awful killing devices and mutants.

While this movie has slicker production values than the previous movies in the Hunger Games series, it must also deal with thornier ethical issues. What is proper behavior during war? Is it right to bring good people into your fight, knowing they could die? How do you deal with a leader you are not sure of being a completely good person?

Perhaps because I am older and watching friends’ parents die along with their siblings, I feel the emotion of death being closer than ever before. I have those questions about my legacy and if I was good enough or worthy that Logan and Katniss ask themselves in these two movies.

It is one thing to ask these questions when death is a far off idea and another when it feels as if it could happen any time. Logan and Katnis both know death is a certainty in the near future for them which is why these two movies are intense emotionally.

Both had scenes which made me leave the room and feel frightened. Both made me wince at the emotional pain of each character. But there is no doubt in my mind I would watch each one again so that maybe my mind could wrap itself around the idea of finality.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Advertisements

Oh, Joy

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

The husband really wanted to watch Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence. But it never happened.

Joy posterWhen the movie was in the movie theaters, we never got to see it. When it came out on DVD, it took us months to finally get a copy. Once I had a copy in my hands, we never sat down together to watch the movie. I have since sent it back to the library. And if my husband wasn’t going to watch it with me, I was going to take the time to watch it anyway.

You know what? He would really like this movie.

Joy is about a woman who invents a new kind of mop that you never have to touch to wring out. She designs the item after a lifetime of failed dreams. She doesn’t get to go to college, she marries a man she loves but they cannot live together. After the divorce, they are friends but she is trying to support two kids and her mother on her salary at Eastern Airlines.

Joy creatingIt is during this period of stress and frustration that Joy invents her product. She has taken enough and she is ready to movie forward. That means borrowing money from Dad’s new girlfriend, forking over some control, and having to take action when things get out of control.

While most bio pics take the “based on a true story” a little seriously, this movie takes what it wants to be true and walks away from the rest. Characters are compilation, some events happened or didn’t happen, and the director never shies away from the fact that his movie may or may not be the whole truth. There are quirky bits that feel so strange one wonders if they must be real. Those bits kept me watching.

There there is Jennifer Lawrence who gives a gung-ho performance. Her character is the glue that holds everyone together but she is not there for herself. Strange how strong women always do that. I believed Lawrence as this woman who works through her fears to create more than a mop.

Joy FamilyIts not just Jennifer who is great in this movie. Her supporting cast includes Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd who make scenes crackle and spark. We watch them as strongly as we watch Lawrence. What will they do next? Even though I knew the outcome of this movie, I was rooting for Lawrence’s character to win, to shine on.

When the movie was over, with some interesting shots and some implausible action scenes, I felt great. There were times I felt as if I was watching a mob family and other times that I wondered if some of the characters could change so quickly.

This is not a kid movie although it’s one you can watch with your teenagers despite there being some tiny bits of language. No, this is a movie to watch with friends or the spouse, because we all know a Joy, we all know someone who has an idea that could go far. When the movie is done, you want to talk about it, you want to dissect it down, find out what is true and what is not.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Lately, I have been reading books and watching movies about the Holocaust. What saddens me the most about this time period is the absolute hatred for Jews that seemed to go beyond hating Jewish Bolsheviks, it went beyond the desire to have a pure Aryan race. It was an evil that went beyond the need to be right no matter what.

I saw this in The Book Thief, I read about it in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. In the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva I see the long term effects of being a Holocaust survivor – whether it is you or a family member.

XMen Days of Future PastHowever, this past weekend the husband and I went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. Suddenly, we were right back in a holocaust of those who are different. I know the title sounds like some horrible grammar rule gone crazy but the story requires that you suspend disbelief at all costs.

As the movie starts, we see a world in which mutants are hunted down by giant robots called Sentinals. But as with any campaign to eradicate one group, it stops being about only those creatures and includs anyone who aids them or are related. We see piles and piles of bodies and bones in a darkened world in which Sentinals have the ability to use any skill from any mutant.

They were created by a scientist named Trask who used DNA and other tissue from Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). It is at this point that Professor X/Charles (Patrick Stewart), Magneto/Erik (Ian McKellan), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Storm (Halle Berry) find a lone surviving group of mutants who can escape the Sentinals on a regular basis using a form of time travel.

That is when Charles and Erik come up with a crazy plan to send Charles back in time to talk to his younger self. When it is deemed that Charles would not make the trip, Wolverine goes in his stead. This is when things get really strange as Wolverine eventually meets up with a younger Charles and Beast, plan to break Erik out of prison (it’s complicated), and stop Mystique.

I found this to be an interesting movie, slow only in a few parts, and yet able to laugh at itself. The acting is top tier by the key players of Jackman, Stewart, McKellan, Michaeal Fassbander, James McAvoy and Lawrence. The special effects for this movie are outstanding. My favorite moment has to be when Quicksilver stops an attack during the prison break scene to the soundtrack of Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. That might be the last time we have a good laugh but it is a fascinating scene.

It is a dark movie that I would not recommend for kids under the age of ten because I don’t think they are going to understand the total context of this movie. We live in an age where scary things happen but not like this in which neighbors and family members might turn you in for being ‘different.’

Nazi Germany would have never happened without the fear of wondering if you would be next to disappear, to be marched to death camps, or killed before your family’s eyes. Especially if you had spent the last several years watching this happen to neighbors and friends or anyone who disagreed with the powers that be.

The X-Men have always had the Holocaust as an undercurrent, that those dark times could and will return. It is that fear which permeates the movie, making it compelling and terrifying all at the same time.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

When the date for the opening night of Catching Fire, the second movie in the Hunger Games series was published, my daughter wrote it on the calendar.

 

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

We were going to the midnight screening and that was all there was to that.

 

That is until we found out we could go see the movie at 9 pm instead of midnight. I was happy for that since I worked the next day.

 

I have read the books and know what to expect. The story continues from the last movie in which Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) must now live as victors and go on tour. They must continue pretending to be in love or risk the lives of their loved ones.

 

But all around them, rebellion is on the rise. They can only watch as people are killed for believing in the hope of rising against the capitol. What can the government do but propose another Hunger Games for the 75th Anniversary in which past tributes are reaped for the games.

 

The acting is tremendous. Jena Malone made me forget she was ever in Pride and Prejudice. Donald Sutherland continues his great performance as the wicked and devious President Snow. Jeffrey Wright shines as Beetee. Philip Seymour Hoffman is simply perfect. I was enthralled most of the time despite having read the books and knowing what to expect.

 

For those people who have not seen the first movie or ever bothered to read the books, you may be wondering if this is a stand-alone movie. Let me be honest, it is not. It is the second movie in a four-film series. If you are new to the series, I strongly suggest renting Hunger Games before you go see Catching Fire. Relationships between the various characters will make sense to you once you do as will the reason for the games in the first place.

 

That said, I can only tell you that with an increased budget, you will notice better sets, cinematography, and costuming. The world portrayed in this story is still bleak but interesting as hope filters down to the oppressed districts. The movie does what it sets out to do – propel the story while giving us the battle scenes from the games. 

 

 

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

Haymitch’s house, Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

What intrigues me is the mix of eras in this movie. Design of the homes is Victorian while societal norms appear to be Depression era. The computer technology is farther along than we are now but they still use coal for heat and fueling factories. Costuming also appears to be a mix of eras although anything from the Capital seems to go for the most outlandish things possible.

 

I have to admit I would love to see this movie one more time on the big screen in order to catch details of what I might have missed as well as to enjoy the spectacle. And if I do, I would take no one younger than ten because I believe the context of this movie is meant for those who are an older pre-teen and up. It deals with issues of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, government corruption on a large scale, and how people deal with stress in times of oppression.

Catching Fire Hunger games poster 4

It was a near perfect movie that slows in the middle till it picks up again and we are back on that roller coaster ride of thrills.

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

 

Review: The Hunger Games

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

Since Harry Potter came on the scene, movie studios have been looking for a book series that would captivate young audience members and their parents into watching a package deal.

 

Many books came to the big screen: The Spiderwick Chronicles, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Narnia, Judy Moody, Bezzus and Ramona.  Some worked out while others didn’t make it beyond the first film.

 

I hear a lot of people say “Well, they are just family movies. You shouldn’t expect much.”

 

I disagree with that because if I am plunking down my cold hard cash – which I do not have in abundance – I want the product to be of good quality. I want a family movie that has a well-told story and good action. I want characters to be believable. If my heart gets a little broken, that is Okay.

 

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

When The Hunger Games was announced as a new movie project, I knew little about the book. My daughter had read it which meant I stole her copy and read it for myself.

 

I really loved the book. It was exciting, subversive, and dark. I could see all of these characters living in a dangerous world, where any sort of rebellion was quickly slammed down. At the end of the book, I understood why Katniss never wanted to have children.

 

When the movie came out last spring, we were happy that it was going to be at one of our favorite drive-in movie theaters. We took our seven-year-old with us but I do not believe this was a movie he should have seen. The age of ten might be the best starting age for this movie.

 

You understand that as the games begin and we watched Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Petra (Josh Hutcherson) and the other tributes navigate the playing field. We see what their life is like back home and come to understand the grinding level of poverty. They have to take everything they know to a treacherous Capitol where image is everything and the more outlandish the better.

 

The story telling is well done, drawing on the constant fear. The cinematography is beautiful and nearly seamless with the necessary CGI effects. What grabs my attention, however, is the performances by Lawrence, Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson. These three people have to see the worst of humanity through a process not of their choosing. To see how each character copes is as interesting as the game itself.

 

If you have read the book first, be aware that not every detail makes it into the movie. That is simply the way of movie transformation, especially when you have a limited time frame to tell the story. We will not get the whole story of the connection between Katniss and Petra . Nor will some of the subtleties of other characters be on display.

 

What we do get is suspense, great storytelling, a connection to characters and a look into a world that could be ours if things had gone differently.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.