Critical Mass: Jennifer Lawrence is still an unstoppable force in Mockingjay …

21 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Hunger Games': How the dystopian film series changed the film industry.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2” is heading for an impressive opening weekend of $110 million — down 9% from the “Mockingjay — Part 1,” according to early Friday estimates. Elsewhere, Seth Rogen’s comedy ‘Night Before’ eyes $12.5 million-$14 million debut, while Julia Roberts’ thriller ‘Secret in their Eyes’ hopes for $8 million. Should the forecast hold, the fourth and final film in Lionsgate’s lucrative Hunger Games franchise will finish with one of the top 25 opening weekends of all time. The “Games” movies, which center on a young teenager (Jennifer Lawrence) forced to enter a deadly competition and go up against a totalitarian government, have been some of the highest-grossing films of the last several years.

Instead, posters for the movie will only feature a “fiery crown” in consideration of religious residents of Bnei Brak, a city near Tel Aviv, and select neighborhoods in Jerusalem. At a recent media conference, Jennifer Lawrence, the Katniss star of the franchise, joined Liam Hemsworth (who played Gale), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and fearless leader Francis Lawrence for a chat about the good, the bad and the in between of it all. Cast as Katniss Everdeen just a year after her breakthrough in Winter’s Bone, Lawrence was considered by many an undeniable talent but a little bit green, maybe not ready to carry the burden of such a massive franchise. The move comes as advertisers billed to promote the movie in Israel made the decision to refrain from stirring anger in the cities where images of women are routinely vandalized. “Unfortunately we are subject to unofficial coercion that forces us to be more careful,” according to Liron Suissa, VP of marketing for the company, Nur Star Media. “We have had endless vandalization, and clients prefer not to take the chance.” Images of women within ultra-Orthodox communities are considered to be lewd or salacious, and newspapers and advertisements are frequently edited to suit their sensitivities.

Lawrence, who have become a perfect fit.” — Manohla Dargis, New York Times Fresh: “As fashionable as it is to whine about blockbusters gobbling up all the young acting talent, I like visiting a world — even a brutal teen dystopia — where our big flicks are as smart as our small ones.” — Amy Nicholson, LA Weekly Rotten: “With its cynical political bent and relentless downbeat tone, consider this film the feel-bad blockbuster of the year.” — Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly When Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and director Jonathan Levine last joined forces, the result was “50/50,” a funny, heartfelt dramedy that was as moving as it was funny. One aspect of the books and movies that was praised by many was “Games” protagonist Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers for the deadly Hunger Games to save her younger sister and who is known for her skill with a bow and arrow. Last year, the Yerushalmiot movement won a protracted legal battle against ultra-Orthodox groups in Jerusalem to include women’s images in advertisements on Egged buses in the capital – despite occasionally violent protestations by radical haredi factions. After principal photography wrapped in Berlin, the actress returned for another sequence a year later that really did conclude the movie and the series. “I feel like I had two final endings with Katniss,” says Lawrence. “I had a last scene about a year later with my nephews, which was so special.” “So it was this amazing closure to this character whom I’ve loved for so many years.

Anthony Mackie joins them in their latest collaboration, “The Night Before,” and critics say the result is a surprisingly warm holiday bromance, even if its drug-fueled humor sometimes misses the mark. The contrast seemed especially stark when moviegoers compared the characters of “Games” to a movie series that was still being released when “Games” came out, the “Twilight” films. “Twilight” protagonist Bella had been criticized by many for her lack of defining qualities and her eager participation in what many considered an unhealthy relationship. The campaign to reinstate the images was spearheaded by Yerushalmiot head Shira Katz-Vinkler, and Deputy Mayor Rachel Azaria (Yerushalmim), who held the education and women’s rights portfolio, and whose own picture was once barred from buses during a political campaign seven years ago.

Russell into an A-list director again, she’s headlining a Steven Spielberg movie and a Darren Aronofsky movie and she’s setting a standard for a new type of female star, one who throws her weight around on the pay gap and doesn’t take any shit from anybody. Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, spoke recently about female roles onscreen. “It’s been a long time coming with good female protagonists,” Mr. At the time of her campaign, Egged refused to include her image, fearing a violent backlash from extreme haredi sectors, which routinely tore down such advertisements and threw rocks at the buses carrying them. And Jennifer Lawrence was still “rising star Jennifer Lawrence,” not “Oscar-winning megastar and meme-friend Jennifer Lawrence.” Hunger Games was a literary phenomenon: Would the movies follow suit? I got to say goodbye to both.” “We were all complaining,” confirms Jennifer. “All of our gear and all of our costumes were completely waterlogged – it felt like an extra 2000 pounds.” “Obviously I’d read the books, too, so I knew it was going to happen at the end,” says Hemsworth. “For this last part, (Gale) is front and centre, and is really able to make an impact. “Over years, we learned to let it go and not be so attached to having a routine,” Hemsworth says. “You accept that you’ve just got to go with it.” The filmmaker credits the three young headliners for the positive on-set environment, which includs the gruelling eleven months of shooting both Mockingjay films. “When I came in everybody was always on board which was an amazing thing,” he says. “There were no fights and it never changed throughout.

It’s a druggie comedy, to be sure, but a sweetness about vulnerability, honesty, friends and family cuts through the haze.” — Sandy Cohen, Associated Press Fresh: “Seth Rogen may have grown up a lot since Knocked Up, but The Night Before still fits precisely into that wheelhouse of raunch comedy with heart. Thompson said. “Now we’re seeing many female superheroes.” But Katniss is different, Thompson points out. “Katniss is much more a regular human being,” he says. Noting the prevalence of hardei vandalism against buses with women’s images affixed to them, the government agreed to compensate Egged for any damage caused by the reinstituted practice. Thank goodness he hasn’t grown up too much to make movies like this one.” — Katey Rich, Vanity Fair Rotten: “Motoring affably along from one comic set-piece to the next — and a few are very, very funny — ‘The Night Before’ never falls apart, but it never really comes together, either.” — Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle Rotten: “‘The Night Before’ wants to make you laugh and cry, but it doesn’t give us enough opportunities to do enough of either.” — Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic Not every American remake of a foreign language film is doomed to failure; some, like Best Picture winner “The Departed,” have equaled or surpassed the originals. Unfortunately, critics say “Secret in their Eyes” (based upon the Oscar-winning Argentinian film of the same name) never justifies its own existence, despite the best effort of an A-list cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, and Nicole Kidman.

Mockingjay – Part 2, based on the second half of Suzanne Collins’ third book, follows Katniss as she fights against the corrupt government of Panem and its ruthless leader, President Snow (Donald Sutherland). She has every reason to mail it in at this point; these movies have gone on forever, she’s moved beyond them, she has been making them for nearly 20 percent of her life at this point. Catching Fire helmer Francis Lawrence returns to direct, and the film also stars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Some dystopian films haven’t found audiences, such as this past summer’s “The Giver.” Will audiences get tired of these depictions of gloomy societies? Thompson says he doesn’t see these going anywhere anytime soon because they continue to appeal to us as a culture. “When did we not feel we were in a dangerous, dystopian society?” he says. Unlike the ra-ra endings of stories like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight,” where the series conclude with the villains being defeated and the characters’ problems apparently over, “Games” ends on a somewhat more ambiguous note. In the climactic moment, she decides to kill the rebel leader. “It’s less cliché,” Thompson says and notes that real revolutions don’t always have picture-perfect endings, either. “It’s not like it doesn’t reflect history. Nominally, it should be the most action-packed installment — its subject is nothing less than a revolution across the entirety of known human civilization — but the first half is talky and cerebral.

Thompson says young adults and even children want different kinds of stories just like adults do. “One vision of the universe is what we see in Hogwarts and all those characters,” Thompson says. “Games” is another. “Potter” writer J.K. Philip Seymour freaking Hoffman!) to take down the evil President Snow (a cackling, awesome Donald Sutherland) and save all the districts from the garden-variety dystopia their society has become. Rowling is writing a screenplay for an all-new movie set in the “Potter” universe titled “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which will come out next year. “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer recently held a contest in which female directors created short films based on Meyers’ books and the pieces were released online earlier this year.

This is all pretty familiar stuff, and to be honest, a lot of the world-building and mythology of this franchise has started to become a little dense and irrelevant to me. The Capitol has been fighting the rebels for four movies now, drawn out as long as possible for maximum box office, and it’s not difficult to run out of patience for the whole process. And there’s a flat-out brilliant sequence where Lawrence sings “The Hanging Tree,” a quiet moment that cuts to a populist uprising worthy of Eisenstein.

When you’re shooting arrows and busting gender roles and saving the goddamned world, who cares who she “chooses?” The only correct answer is neither. 5. The franchise’s first entry has about half the budget of Mockingjay – Part 2, with none of the more obviously showy action scenes that define the latter books in the series. The miscasting of Josh Hutcherson is understandable, maybe even acceptable: Peeta is supposed to be powers-of-ten less threatening than Katniss. (Gale isn’t around for much of Hunger Games, and Liam Hemsworth is best when he’s offscreen.) The movie has some fun with the Capitol’s candy-colored media frenzy, but it also promotes President Snow to a looming supervillain. Newcomer Gwendoline Christie is in maybe three shots, while the film tries to find final-act grace points for everyone: Effie, Haymitch, Plutarch, Katniss’ sister, Katniss’ mom, even freaking Buttercup. It’s the most straightforward plot the series has ever had. (Another title for this last movie: Kill Snow.) And it gives Francis Lawrence the opportunity to showcase his talents as a stylist, with grody blackwater assaults and subterranean mutate fight scenes giving way to helplessly resonant images of war-torn refugees searching for safety.

The best Hunger Games movie is a bummer, like all the others, but there’s an urgency to Katniss’ despair, a sense of rebel energy building all across her world. Francis Lawrence got his start in music videos and the goth-chic Keanu Reeves gem Constantine, and he has a blast with the wilder element of Capitol living. Newcomers Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, and Hoffman all get good moments, but the movie’s mascot is unquestionably Jena Malone, playing the maniacal Johanna as the funniest and most homicidal person in the room.

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