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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Review

Published 20/11/2013 by crimsonghad

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (released nationwide 21 November) picks up where the original film left off **SPOILER** Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) having survived the ordeal of the brutal, murderous games through their love for one another **SPOILER END** Except it is not quite as simple as that… actually if you haven’t seen the first film stop reading, go and watch it then come back. Gone? Ok. I’ll continue. Katniss was always in love with Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), a local coal miner whom was kind to her as a child stricken by poverty. Her ‘love’ for Peeta was merely just for show to her, but poor Peeta does not feel the same way. This sexual tension is to the fore throughout the film with a theme of reality television celebrity smartly woven in to the plot for the first half of the movie.

hunger games catching fire

For those that missed the first instalment of The Hunger Games a very quick recap of crucial information of the world they live in:
• There are 12 ‘districts’ whose workers are responsible for the production of certain goods for the nation as a whole.
• Each year a ‘tribute’ is selected to represent one of these districts in ‘The Hunger Games’ – an annual celebration/reminder of the revolutionary past of the ‘Panem’ nation inhabited by the characters in which all children must fight to the death with only 1 survivor.
• 1 boy and 1 girl aged between 12 and 18 will be selected in this ceremony, called ‘the Reaping’.

hunger games katniss peeta 2

The victors of the 74th Annual Hunger Games are on tour in much the same way that reality TV contestants are forced to travel around the country to parade how happy they are and to show the public the love they so crave. The palpable sadness and tragedy endured by Katniss and Peeta is superbly juxtaposed by the overbearing and constantly happy TV presenter Caesar Flickerman (played with relish by Stanley Tucci). Indeed, much of The Hunger Games is orientated towards an indictment of game show and celebrity culture.

The contrasting themes of celebrity and revolution are daringly explored as Katniss’ fame has begun a revolutionary swelling that is overtly referred to on multiple occasions by the cast. The corrupt authority figure of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) realises this and threatens Katniss, her family and those of Gale if she does not carry on this charade of public love with Peeta. Rather than merely focussing on how this impacts on Katniss we do see how Peeta is fully aware of the situation and is complicit in enabling the public to carry on their belief of love through increasingly desperate measures and publicity stunts – once more mimicking many celebrities, especially film and pop stars, in their actions. Yet the underlying kindness of Katniss and Peeta merely compound their problems and create a deeper feeling of revolution within the growing discontent of the public. Indeed, the stark contrast of Katniss, Peeta and Gale’s decrepit home of District 12 with the extravagant overindulgence of the Capital is demonstrable and leads to Katniss and Peeta rebelling yet further to purposely enrage President Snow.

hunger games cast

The acting is uniformly good and while some characters are inevitably underused due to time limitations – Toby Jones as the announcer Claudius Templesmith, Jeffrey Wright as Beetee and even Liam Hemsworth as Gale – others are more able to utilise their limited time expertly – Donald Sutherland is expertly ruthless as President Snow, Woody Harrelson pitches it perfectly as laid back, yet informed Haymitch Abernathy and Philip Seymour Hoffman is perfectly cast as the new controller of The Hunger Games, the Machiavellian Plutarch Heavensbee. However, this is Jennifer Lawrence’s film and she is terrific.

hunger games jennifer lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence expertly brings layers to her character in a wonderful performance. We see how Katniss is suffering from some sort of post traumatic stress disorder while acutely aware of the troubles of her district, her family, Peeta, her true love and her new found fame and responsibility towards the nation as a whole to whom she is a symbol of hope. Indeed, the private and public persona of Katniss are so evidently different it is again a warning to the audience on how we are treating our celebrities and why we should not trust a public persona because the private lives of those in the public eye are so divergent. All of these adult themes are covered in a film rated as a PG. Impressive. This means that much of the violence and death is either implied or the camera diverts at the last minute to spare you from the blood. Yes this does detract from the experience slightly but I’m more than willing to forgive it for that.

hunger games president

All of this so far covers the first part of the film which is terrific. The second half is more standard fare blockbuster and it is very similar to the original in its concept. This time Heavensbee and Snow use a ‘wrinkle’ in the laws to allow previous survivors to take part in the ‘Third Quarter Quell’ or 75th Annual Hunger Games – once more an allusion to reality television shows changing the rules as they go along. All these characters perform the usual parade and showbiz nonsense aiming to receive backing from the public and their fellow competitors – Lenny Kravitz’s costume for Katniss is especially good by the way, to his cost. There are a few differences such as The Truman Show style setting and the more multi layered plot alluded to throughout which I won’t spoil but in general it gives those more predisposed towards action and sci-fi adventure their fill.

hunger games beach

More than anything though it does set things up nicely for a third instalment and I for one cannot wait as it was 2 and a half hours (!) that really went quickly and enjoyably. If you can get past the stupid character names (yes I did notice) then this is a wonderful movie which leaves you wanting more but pitches it perfectly between action, sci fi and intelligently well thought out acting. If, like me, you never intended to watch the original The Hunger Games (I saw it on a plane to Australia and was very impressed) give it a chance. And then watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It will be worth it. The second instalment is far better than the first which itself was pretty good.

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TOWIE Live – 4 December 2012 – Review. End of the world?

Published 04/12/2012 by crimsonghad

“Worst. Show. Ever.” Comic Book Guy – The Simpsons

The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) is the original British version of Jersey Shore and The Hills. It has spawned other popular shows like Geordie Shore and Made In Chelsea. I have never before watched TOWIE. I will never watch TOWIE again. However, after reading some newspapers say this was the worst TV show ever I was compelled to watch. Wow. Just wow. Which incidentally is a more coherent sentence than at any time on TOWIE last night.

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The one positive I can give that it was all in aide of Breast Cancer Care charity. However, my grandmother died of breast cancer and she was in less pain than I was watching this drivel. It started with a paparazzi driven intro including all the main characters in the show, a (really shit) Colin Farrell look-a-like and Pat fucking Sharp. I must admit that I love Pat Sharp due to Fun House being one of my favourite shows from childhood. Indeed, my sixth form 6-a-side champion football team was called ‘Fans of Pat Sharp’ – no more Pat. No more.

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I’m not going in to great depth mainly because there was no depth in this entire programme. However, the basic format was switched between on stage performances and backstage character interactions mainly focusing on relationships and especially the ‘will they, won’t they’ marriage of Joey and Sam.

It began with Trousers Man (I had to watch it back to find out his name was James or ‘Arg’) who had no trousers on wandering around backstage shouting, ‘I’ve lost me trowsers’, over and over while also managing to talk over everyone else and looking at the camera – impressive. Once he found them and made it to the stage to introduce the show he was CUT off mid sentence (a recurring theme).

It CUT to Chloe and Joey who very loudly and menacingly shouted, ‘Tonight is gonna be creepy SICK…it’s gonna be sick’. And he was not wrong. Some guff about him proposing ensued with sub-Hollyoaks acting. Seriously. And they all look like Hollyoaks rejects too.

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The CUTS were ridiculous and I won’t mention every single one because it will take up too much space. Suffice to say they were almost always mid sentence and it ruined any continuity that may have built – there was none anyway. At one point they CUT from Cara on stage (miming) to Sam and Kirk. Audibly you could hear them being told, ‘you’re on!’ after a five second silence.

Debbie was on stage performing some magic, possibly, while Gemma and Bobby were in the audience talking. Neither could be heard as they all talked simultaneously and the sound editing was horrific.

A dull exchange with Lauren, Chloe and Billie (all looking like the Three Little Pigs dressed as Barbie) occurred before Diags (terrible name) said possibly the most insightful line of the night to Joey, ‘Um, what’s going on?’ EXACTLY . EX-FUCKING-ACTLY. WHAT AM I DOING WATCHING THIS SHITE?!?!

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Sam and Kirk were talking about Kirk going on a date with Jasmin, the highlight of which was Kirk saying, ‘It’s, it’s like, like, you know yeah’. Despite this memorable Oscar Wilde quote it was actually the BEST exchange on the programme – I’m not kidding. It was like a conversation with a friend so I can understand the relatability factor which makes this show popular.

The highlight of the stage show was possibly Arg’s rendition of Singin’ In The Rain which was average but in this company made him look like Gene Kelly’s better, fatter and more tanned brother. It may have also been the end when Cara proved she could sing Wham’s Last Christmas (Arg and Gemma proved they could not).

The lowlight of the stage show was the Three Little Pigs, inevitably, singing Barbie Girl. I have repeatedly written, ‘KILL ME NOW’ on my notepad during this rendition.

After this, though, was a potentially good segment. Some genuine (probably not genuine) animosity between Charlie and Jasmin over her relationship with Kirk bubbled over. That fact that he got her name wrong was excusable so her castigating him for it merely took me out of the (only good) moment. Worse still, another female cast member in a blue dress (don’t know her name, sorry) wandered in to shot by mistake seconds later before reversing quickly out of shot. They then CUT to a commercial break and suddenly this mystery woman appeared on stage bouncing around to One Direction’s That What Makes You Beautiful, sung (mimed) by Mario, Diags and Joey. Good job.

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The show was meant to be on a roll by now but it CUT straight to a 10 second silence while Arg, Debbie and Lydia were on screen inaudible. Then we could hear Nanny Pat shouting, ‘lose a bit of weight…go, go, go…everybody has done really well’, and various other comments while a tiny, scrambled part of the conversation between the 3 on screen could be heard. This nonsense continued for 2 MINUTES until we saw Kirk MURDER Frank Sinatra’s song, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.

Finally, we reached the ‘thrilling’ conclusion of Sam and Joey. Will they, won’t they? Except Joey’s acting was so bad it makes a giant redwood look fast moving. He repeatedly moaned, ‘I’m stressed out’, for what seemed like 30 minutes but was more like 4 minutes. He showed this also by shaking his head and rubbing his arms continuously in a trance like state, possibly not helped by his beau Sam telling him not to worry over and over while desperately failing to avoid looking at the camera like a gormless idiot. So the ‘thrilling’ conclusion was so poor they had to CUT back to the stage where the cast sang Last Christmas to rapturous applause from the clearly traumatised/lobotomised audience.

I try to be positive but really, come on. I can’t write a proper review of something that has had SEVEN series of such bullshit. I may never watch it EVER again but it averages 1,500,000 viewers. Was it the worst show ever? Impossible to say. It was not so bad that it was good. It was so bad that I was incredulous. I could not hate something which looked like a play I put on as a 15 year old. I just cannot believe ITV2 have broadcast this. Watch it yourself. The end of the world on 21 December 2012 cannot come soon enough.

http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=328496

Chantelle Houghton – Celebrity Culture

Published 31/10/2012 by crimsonghad

So I was at work minding my own business at lunchtime yesterday and I looked on Twitter. Lots of journalists I follow were saying things like, ‘Chantelle Houghton. Bloody hell.’ So, for the first time ever, I took a look at this facsimile of a celebrity on Twitter. Wow. Take a look yourself for 30 October, she hasn’t deleted it (correct at time of writing). https://twitter.com/chantellehought

I feel sad for her. She has had to put up with this terrible man who has, ironically, become famous for his association with famous people. I remember watching Chantelle on Celebrity Big Brother as a non-famous person pretending to be famous. And she became famous (well, sort of) because of it. She has used this association to make money. Good for her. If people are willing to pay money for this then I won’t criticise the celebrities for exploiting this niche. I will criticise the society we live in for accepting that and buying in to it.

 

As this is a blog about writing I’ll comment on that. Surprisingly good spelling. Congratulations.

 

In a wider context it says more about privacy and content laws. Twitter has put people in prison for racism and bomb hoax jokes, as well as getting overpaid footballers whacking great fines. However, it also allows us mere mortals to contact celebrities and cross our fingers that by some luck one might just reply. It’s a matter of time before Twitter becomes the new YouTube and some sensation is discovered. This is a good thing but it can also be used as a tool far too personally as in this case. I don’t blame Chantelle for her reaction. She’s obviously been trolled by people telling her what a bad person she is and cracked.

On a more serious note this type of violence – be it physical, mental or other should not be happening to Chantelle. Or people like Rihanna. Or even Tina Turner going back. Here is a great appeal from Sir Patrick Stewart (featuring my friend Anna by the way) on behalf of Refuge.