Tag Archive: The hunger games


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

The other night I started watching a show called Anne with an E

It is based on the Anne of Green Gables book series about a young orphan who is mistakenly sent to bachelor and his spinster sister.

Anne with an E

Anne With an E

I have never read this series but seeing the newest adaptation was fascinating and intriguing. I could see how Anne would get on the bad side of just about anyone.

I read one review that did not like the darkness of the new series or some of the liberties it takes with the source material.

And I understand that review, I really do. Except, I found myself loving the show and wanting to watch more. I felt some of the touches on the story were perhaps more realistic about the bleakness of Anne’s true reality. It also made me wonder how Anne could be so cheerful or hopeful feeling considering she should have been more bitter feeling about her life so far.

What I really felt was excitement that I could watch this show, thanks to our Netflix subscription. And I do love Netflix. But I also get frustrated that I cannot watch certain shows because Netflix drops them or removes movies from the streaming list.

Mocking Jay part 1Case in point, I finally saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Having read all of the books and watched most of the movies, I realized I was ready for that last movie, Mockingjay Part 2. I had avoided it not because I thought it was bad but because I know the ending. I know who lives and who doesn’t which makes me sad.

I thought for sure that Netflix would have it in their streaming collection and that there would be no problem in watching that movie at the moment I wanted to watch it.

The answer turned out differently. It was not available for viewing and I was lucky to have seen Part 1 on the cable station I saw it on. And to think that Mocking jay Part 2 only came out less than two years ago. I could rant about the unfairness of picky streaming services. But I’m not.

Thankfully, I have a library card. Thanks to that library card I have ordered a physical copy of the movie I wanted to see. Yes, it is possible for any of us to buy an out-of-district card. But what if we didn’t have to do that. What if we had a library here in St. Anne?

library card plastic2It could be a place with computer access for those kids who have chrome books from school but no internet access at home. Twenty-five percent of all Americans do not have internet service at home. A library could be a place where books, movies, and other tools for learning could be at a librarian’s or patron’s fingertips. A library could be a place for people to work on resumes or learn something new or read a classic novel such as Anne of Green Gables.

To have a library, a publicly funded library, would cost money. But you would pay for that after the first six hardbacks, or ten movies, or 50 prints from your email. People know where I work and some sigh with the desire of having a library of our own. I think about how great of a thing that could be as well.

Libraries aren’t just about books or movies. They are about the wonder of discovery and the beauty of the world that is all around us. I think Anne Shirley would agree with me that libraries are about hope. And hope can take you to many different places.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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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.

 

Fighting the Ban

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

While preparing for this week’s column, I remembered that it is Banned Books Week.

There are many freedoms we think about on a regular basis, but the freedom to pick and choose what reading material or other mediums of expression we want to consume is something dear to my heart.

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Every year the American Library Association puts out a list of books that have been challenged and it never ceases to amaze me what is being challenged. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, The Hunger Games, and Where’s Waldo.

The problem with with the first two is that they use language appropriate to the time period in which they are set that is no longer deemed appropriate in polite or mixed-race company. The Hunger Games is brutally violent in places. But what these three books and the Harry Potter series points out is the wrongs of bullying, racism, and tyrannical governments. They name the wrongs in our societies, display them for all to see and understand.

Sometimes it is hard for us to look at those ugly aspects. But if we are to become better as a society, we must view them and change accordingly.

Knowing what I was going to write about reminded me of stories my mother used to tell from her growing up years in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The Catholic kids would pay the protestant kids to see the biblical movies of the time because the Catholic Church had forbidden their parishioners from attending. The thought was these movies glamorized the bible stories, sexed them up a bit, and that was not appropriate viewing for anyone.

She talked about seeing Samson and Delilah along with The Ten Commandments. Other flicks from this time include David and Bathsheba, The Robe, Ben Hur, and Solomon & Sheba. In recent times, I have seen protests against The Passion of the Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

While I understand that some of these movies may not portray the picture of the bible as some people may want, I also understand that much – not all- of what is portrayed is fairly accurate for the time period. I, personally, can never watch The Passion ever again because of the level of violence in it but nor can I deny its ability to tell the story well.

When it comes to reading material or movies that kids in your family want to consume but makes you feel uncertain, I suggest reading or watching the movie/TV show first without them around. Knowing what is in that medium helps you direct the conversation as to why or why not you will allow your child to have that material.

In the end, I do not recommend banning books because you make the undesirable into something irresistible. Especially for people like me who want to know what made a book targeted for banning. When I found out Where’s Waldo was on the list because there was ‘reportedly’ a topless woman in a beach scene, I searched through that first book in the series.

I have yet to find her.

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.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I was prepared to send a different column this week. But then we went to the drive-in theatre in Gibson City and watched The Hunger Games.

I had not read the book beforehand although my daughter did. She loved it  and is now clamoring for the rest of the series.

Before we went, I admit I wondered if this PG-13 movie was appropriate for my 7-year-old. The storyline is about a reality game in which the participants have to kill each other in order to win. Twenty-four participants, one girl and one boy, are chosen from 12 districts of the country and must fight to the death.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

The game is televised so that the whole country can watch if their tributes make it. We follow Katniss and Peeta from District 12, the poorest region, as they are chosen and make their way to the Capitol to become participants.

That’s right, 24 young people must kill each other in order to win. It is brutal although not gory.  I was surprised at how the filmmakers were able to keep down the blood while never letting up on the tension.

We had turned the back of the minivan towards the screen, removed the back seat and faced it towards the screen. This allowed the kids to sit in the large back area and the middle seat stayed in place.

During intermission, I knew that we should not have gone to this movie with our youngest. It was too intense for him. He responded by moving around a lot in the minivan, at times hiding behind that middle seat.

He told us it was not too much. Our oldest wondered how this movie differed from so many others that dealt with killing. He is right, action pictures do get into high body counts. And that includes the comic book movies we love that have endless minions being killed off.

To me, this movie is different from those other action movies. The faces of the dead are not adult minions but children. And some of these children are young, age 12, who must fight against 18-year-olds.

Image by DHarder

As I watched this movie, I thought about the short story, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and the bookThe Lord of The Flies by William Golding. I remembered other reviews that compared parts of this movie to The Last of the Mohicans. Another movie that came to mind was an independent flick from about ten years back called Series 7: The Contenders, about a reality game show in which the willing participants killed each other.

How young of a child should see this movie? Personally, I think those 12 and older are the target audience. My 10-year-old daughter handled it fine although if she had been less mature I would have had second thoughts.

In the end, I felt that The Hunger Games was well-made and tells a compelling story with a heroine that you can support. The questions it asks about power and control, distribution of wealth and resources are ones we need to continue, and how we treat the people of our nation are ones we need to continue processing. But it is emotionally intense and will live on in your thoughts for days after leaving the theater.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.