1 December 2014

Panem's Got Talent

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A few years ago I made an exploitatively low wage as a videographer. We made everything from promo videos for crap businesses to wedding films for some fat brides and their toothless husbands. It was not an easy job though because at the end of the day it was less about filming what we saw and more to do with rolling a turd in glitter. One video for example was a message from a family to their son who was about to move away to Australia. At one point they wheeled the old Nan in to say goodbye with her knowing full well that she would likely be dead before he returned. With tears in her eyes she gave an emotional rendition of an old war time song and it was beautiful. Or at least it would have been had the walls to the house not been so thin that we could clearly hear the sound of somebody pissing in the adjacent bathroom. Ah well, moment ruined, let’s move the fuck on. Oh and on top of that there was also another video we made in which one man demonstrated- on his brother- the methods used in measuring people for bespoke clothing. As the man measured the inside of his brothers leg, we followed the tape measure up to the groin were we found that he was now sporting a rather profound erection. What is it they say about incest? That it's fun for all of the family! Anyway, the point is that people are fucking idiots and making them look good is not easy.
This all very obviously leads me to the clunkily titled The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part One. If you've not seen the previous films in the franchise then I really wouldn't bother with this one as it relies on so much assumed knowledge that it feels more like the next episode in a big budget TV show. At this point in the story, the dirtbag towns from the previous films have decided that it's time to rise up against the rainbow-spunk-coated Capitol with Katniss being forced into the position of their mascot. Although let’s not forget here that the character has only really risen to fame due her success in the Hunger Games which is essentially just the reality show of the future. If we were to follow a similar train of thought then in our modern day civil war, I'm pretty sure our icon of hope would be Susan fucking Boyle. Anyway, rather than having Katniss fight, get killed, and ruin the morale of the people, the rebel leaders have decided to make some propaganda videos featuring her instead. Like my old lady singing to the sound of piss and the two brothers I filmed wank each other off though, this proves harder than it might sound. Katniss isn't a natural actress and so the lines they force her to say appear clunky and badly delivered. To counter this, they decide to send her out into the parts of the real world that look more dangerous than they actually are in order for her to deliver some heroic speeches a little more off the cuff. If Jennifer Lawrence has learnt anything this year, it must surely be how to seem both natural and appealing in front of a slightly more candid camera.

Anyway, opposing this is Peeta who has been kidnapped and imprisoned by the rival Capitol for firstly being associated with the rebellion and secondly being one of the most boring fucking characters in anything ever. Draw a face onto a sloths anus and I reckon you'd have a more charismatic character than this one. Here he too seems to be being forced to appear in some rival propaganda videos in which he claims both Katniss and the rebellion are in the wrong and should stop. You should see them, they're so powerful. He pleads with all of his will which is about equal to that of a baby squeezing out its first uncomfortably large turd. I don't like him. I should also say that these interviews with Peeta are being conducted by Stanly Tucci's character which again would also be pretty random if applied to our world. Kind of like if Dale Winton was the new host of Newsnight where he interviewed an allegedly repentant member of Al-Qaeda. Anyway, as a result of this, Peeta is barely in the film in comparison to his previous appearances and as such I think it might be the best installment in the franchise so far.

I think it's worth stating that I have never read any of the books and had even managed to avoid seeing any trailers for this before paying to see it. For all I know, this franchise could end with Katniss tearing off her face and revealing herself to be a 5ft cock from the planet Schlong. I thought the first film was fun and the second would have been even better had it not been a carbon copy of what had come before. I enjoy the series but I'm not sure why the world seems to bone off them quite so much. However, as I say, I think this may be the best of the lot for me and not just because it features significantly less of Peeta the Dullard. For a start, it's basically just a dystopian war movie and what's not to love about that? The first two movies were just tween adaptations of Battle Royale and Running Man but with a dash of the Joan of Arc thing thrown in for fun. I'm not slagging them off for that, it's just that if I have to pick a side then I think I'm going to go for the future war than I am a slightly unsubtle satire of reality TV. However I also think that Jennifer Lawrence is at her best in this film too. There aren't enough movies with female leads and there are even fewer that are action franchises. Generally it seems that in films where the main actor is male, the happy ending is when he brings down a powerful villain intent on world domination. In films where the main actor is female, the happy ending is that she finally gets fucked by the man of her dreams.

However if the lead character here wasn't female, I don't think it'd work as well at all. Look at the kind of things that Katniss does and imagine if the role was played by some bloke. You'd basically be left with the boring old farmboy character that we've seen a million times and who is usually upstaged by the more interesting side-characters. I'm obviously not saying that Katniss being female is a gimmick but rather simply that, that gender in that role is depressingly kind of refreshing. Of course it helps that I'm male and that she's fit, but at no point is she particularly sexualised or anything like that. The movie just does the bizarre trick of entertaining me with a good story and strong characters. Weird. Speaking of which, despite the strength of Lawrence's performance, she is surrounded by a few other brilliant people. Obviously Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks are back as the pisshead and the bimbo and they're pretty entertaining. But for me the standouts were Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore as the leaders of the rebellion. It is those two who are orchestrating this media war and, in all honesty, I could happily just watch an entire film of them just in a room and talking. I used to wonder why Hoffman would occasionally appear in blockbusters like this and Mission: Impossible 3 when he's clearly one of the greatest actors ever. For me, he's up there with Daniel Day Lewis and it'd be weird if he showed up in a mainstream movie like this. However I think he did this one because clearly it has intelligent things to say about the role of propaganda and by simply showing up, he alone makes something seem so much more important. Also, I suppose in hindsight he had a raging heroin addiction and it wasn't going to pay for itself. 

On the downside though, it was kind of annoying that the film didn't really have an ending. I won't ruin where things do just stop, however I will say that it's on a cliffhanger and not an improvised resolution. So essentially you have two hours of a good film that ends with the cinematic equivalent of blue-ball. Rarely there'll be a film that justifies being split in half with Soderbergh's Che being the only one that is springing to mind. But for the most part it's done because some greedy twonk is trying to wank out the last few dribbles of cash from a franchise that would otherwise be over. In every case too though, I think I'd rather just sit there for four hours and watch one massive movie. If they really feel that story has to be stretched out so much then that's fine but don't charge me for chunks. If it's half a story then why the fuck am I paying full price? So much for the good old days of a nice, neat trilogy. I mean, just look at the title for this film. There's so many clauses that it reads like the heading of a fucking spreadsheet. It's a shame really too because as a slab of entertainment I would even go so far as to say that I loved this film whilst it was lasting. Even the Braveheart style speeches didn't sound corny when coming out of Lawrence's mouth. In fact, it made me realise how crap I'd be as a leader of a revolution. Katniss is asked to deliver a message to camera for President Snow and she bursts into an emotional monologue that feels remarkably natural and still manages to give people the energy they need to fight. I think if I was in that same situation, the best I'd be able to come up with is probably "Shove your capital city up your wrinkly arse you bearded cunt". So.. yeah... it's a shame that there's basically no ending to this film. 

So there are obviously a few narrative issues now that it's lost the neatness of the eponymous ‘games’ structure and also having split a book in half, however I do think that it's the best half a film I've seen this year and certainly the first time I'd say this franchise has justified its hype for me. Most blockbusters don't seem to have anything to say except "Give me your fucking money!" so it's nice that although this is saying that too, that at least it also has a comment on the role of the media in times of conflict. In this film they have pretty people telling each other to stop being naughty and in our world you have mad bastards chopping peoples heads off. In fact, there's even a scene near the end when we see the leaders watching their troops infiltrate the enemy base that reminded me of that photo of Obama watching the attack on Bin Laden's compound. For a movie aimed at teenagers, I suppose I can't fault it for attempting to sneak in some degree of real-world politics. There was no need to have a camera crew following Katniss but the fact that there was simply adds an extra layer that was so much more interesting. Like I said at the beginning, I was a videographer and compared to scummy old ‘real people’, I think that making somebody as charismatic as Jennifer Lawrence look good in a time of war would be the easiest job possible... even if somebody was pissing very loudly behind her. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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