Dense Blog Advisory

Lots of words, people. Lots of words.

The Hunger Games movie, or, how my fast-forward button got a workout September 9, 2012

The short version:

Well, that was a waste of $1.20 and two hours of my life.

The long version:

I’m aware that millions of people watched this movie, and many millions more have probably read the books.  I have not read the books, despite several family members recommending them to me.  I generally trust my family’s opinion on books, but I’m just not a fan of anything set in the future.  Dystopian plots leave me cold.  So do books written in present tense.  Perhaps it’s a personal failing.  If I had planned to read the books before seeing the movie, I definitely will never read them now.

On Friday night, my friendly Redbox kiosk enticed me to pay $1.20 for the privilege of watching this movie.  I have rarely been so bored, and then, so angry.  I ended up fast-forwarding huge chunks of the movie because (a) nothing happened and (b) it looked like shit and (c) nothing happened.

I do not understand why people like this movie.  Here is a short list of reasons why:

1.  This movie has no soul.  

Seriously.  Children killing each other should move me to a reaction.  I’m not made of stone.  Sometimes even commercials for greeting cards can make me cry.  I’m an easy mark.  I felt a twinge when the little black girl died, but other than that, everything was stark and devoid of emotion.  Note to filmmakers:  if you want people to root for a character, you have to give her a soul.  As written in the movie, the character of Katniss had no soul.  She was hard and cold and too cool for school.  This is not the way to help me bond with a character.  Not enough vulnerability.  Also, for some reason, Jennifer Lawrence’s dark hair and stone face reminded me of Katherine Heigl in One for the Money.  This is probably not a good thing.

The problem is that even when addressing super-dark topics, like kids killing kids, you need a pinch of humor.  This movie didn’t have that.  It completely failed to see that a pinch of humor humanizes the situation and makes the characters seem less robotic.  Everything was serious to the nth degree and this failing ended up sinking the movie.

2.  The characters all looked like they were either an extra for Schindler’s List or an extra for a cracked-out episode of the ’60s Batman show.

Seriously.  Explain to me how the main character’s family can live in the same world as the blue-haired announcer guy.  These are two different planets.  Does not compute.

3.  Complete lack of believability or explanation for why anyone seemed to think it was okay that these games are billed as an exercise in patriotism.

Maybe this is explained better in the book.  It was not explained in the movie.  But just a thought….anything called “the hunger games” can in no way be celebrated as a patriotic exercise, not even halfway seriously, with the feeble explanation that it has been done this way for 75 years.  This requires at least half the country to have lost its mind.  Yet some characters who participate willingly (the Woody Harrelson character) seems to have something of a conscience.  I am confused.  I cannot suspend my disbelief.  This is just plain stupid.

4.  If anyone said that “odds in your favor” phrase one more time, I was going to poke holes in my eardrum with a fork.

5.  Clothes made with fire?  Really?  Could these have looked any more fake?  Could this be any stupider or less believable?  People in the capital area can make clothes with fire, but everyone in the districts look like they belong in an Andrew Wyeth painting?

6.  Less than believable love story.  Really, people?  Smart-ass Katniss sets booby traps and avoids being killed for an hour or so in the forest, then falls in love with Peeta (I can’t type that name with a straight face) because the stupid announcement from the game controllers basically tells her to?  Again, complete lack of character development or reasonability.

7.  Those pit bull things at the end.  WTF?  Why not throw Predator in there, too?  That’ll really fuck some shit up.  Again, you want me to believe that this stuff is technologically possible while the rest of the country looks like a backdrop for American Gothic?  A lot more explanation is needed for this to be remotely believable.

8.  The rampant lack of creativity.  Maybe this is a fault of the book, but it’s basically Lord of the Flies meets “The Most Dangerous Game” meets Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”  I have seen every element of this before and didn’t really like them the first time.

9.  One-dimensional characters all around.  Everyone is evil or there to fulfill a super-obvious purpose (younger sister cowering in fear = older sister making heroic sacrifice; zoned-out mother = main character had to be a mother and a sister).  And I won’t even talk about the characters played by Lenny Kravitz (stunt casting, anyone?), Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks.

10.  The theme seems confused about what it wants to tell us.  Are we supposed to believe the government is evil for having these games in the first place?  Are we supposed to believe the advertisers and sponsors are evil because they participate and don’t care who dies?  Why don’t the people revolt?  Can’t they replace the mineral makeup of the city dwellers with good old-fashioned lead makeup or something?  Nothing about the government seems invincible, which makes the oppression of the people seem forced.  Again, maybe the book covers this, but the movie doesn’t do anything to help make this situation seem reasonable.

I could go on.  But I’m tired of typing.  Tired of thinking about that stupid movie.  It doesn’t deserve this much of anyone’s energy.

May the force be with you.


People Who Annoy Me: Kristen Stewart March 3, 2009

Okay, I hadn’t intended to write another one of these so soon, but this girl is pushing all my buttons lately. Full disclosure: I have read all the Twilight books, and LOVE them. I’m not picking on the books at all, nor on the movie in general. Just on her.

Kristen Stewart's mantra

Kristen Stewart's mantra

The first offense? Her  acting in Twilight. This was a decent movie that exceeded my expectations thanks to R-Patz, the guy who played Jacob’s dad, and the gorgeous scenery. But Kristen Stewart made the rest of it a glassy-eyed pout-a-thon. Her coldness, her emptiness, her snub-nosed snobbery, her lack of enthusiasm for anything about this movie…the silver screen transmitted it all, in living color.

The other actors had to work twice as hard to regain my attention after every scene she ruined. I loved Charlie, Jacob, and Jacob’s dad. Once they calmed down with the white makeup on R-Patz, I fell for him, too.  I felt like this world and these characters were real to them, but I NEVER felt that way with her. The whole way through, she seemed dead and disconnected. The franchise would be better off without her.

I read about an interview she gave where she complained about the stupid questions her fans ask at publicity events (“What’s it like to kiss a vampire?”). She wondered why these fans don’t know the difference between reel life and real life.

Apparently, she’s too damn dumb to realize that some people have such vivid imaginations that things on a page can be just as real to them (or more real) than what they experience in real life.  Is she really so dense she can’t appreciate the childlike wonder of these fans? That it might be the first and last time a pre-teen girl thinks of love without disillusionment? That it’s a good thing kids are reading at all?

Is she really that thoughtless and callous? Is the world really all about her, and her need to be asked existential questions on each stop of the press tour?  Perhaps she could point out to us all where it states in the actor’s job description that they shall only be asked “intelligent” questions. Perhaps someone should just bitch-slap her with a copy of Swann’s Way. I’d sure like to know if that’s what it would take to wipe that holier-than-thou smirk off her face.

Kristen Stewart's approved interview material

Kristen Stewart's approved interview material

Now, let’s talk about her father’s quote explaining her refusal to appear at the Oscars. To paraphrase, he replied: She’d do it for a movie that’s good, not just one that makes money. Well, if money means so little to her, I’m sure she’d gladly do New Moon for half the cash, right? And boy, if all successful movies are critical failures that suck ass, she must hate Kate Winslet for lowering herself to do Titanic. And she must really loathe Heath Ledger for giving his all to a Batman movie. God, how humiliating to win an Oscar for a comic book movie! A comic book movie! That’s only one step above a vampire movie, for Pete’s sake.

I have no sympathy for this bitch. The more she whines, the more she reveals herself as (a) stupid, (b) naïve, and (c) downright unprepared for her own damn job. She must have read the Twilight script before signing on. Why does she appear so mystified and disappointed that it’s a cheesy vampire movie? Did she not read the book? Or even the book jacket? Did she not realize that a low-budget vampire movie was probably not going to be of the same caliber as Doubt or Milk?

Of course, if she had half a brain, she might have chosen to scope out the Twilight universe before signing on. If she had, she might have seen how large a following the series has, how seriously people take it, and at that point, could have backed off if rabid fan adoration and/or hatred really wasn’t her cup of tea.  But she didn’t. She took the job and the money, and she is responsible for everything that goes along with it.

Oh, she whines, but someone should have told me how lame and stupid it is to be famous for a movie that blows! Bitch works in HOLLYWOOD, where LOTS OF PEOPLE are famous for being in movies they think blow. Open your eyes, you stupid parcel. Observe the shit that happens in front of you everyday. It’s life. Get over it.  Even Michelangelo and Leonardo took painting commissions to make money. It’s all part of being an artist, sweet cheeks. Don’t complain about the test because you were too lazy or stupid to do your homework.

She also seems mystified by the requirements of being in a hit movie: press, publicity, late show appearances. She mentioned that she has no great stories to tell on Letterman, and doesn’t know how to respond with witty banter. Hmm…just a thought…MAKE SHIT UP. ACT. IT’S WHAT YOU SUPPOSEDLY GET PAID TO DO. PRETEND THAT YOU GIVE A CRAP ABOUT A MOVIE THAT’S MADE YOU UNDESERVEDLY FAMOUS. Or DON’T DO LETTERMAN if you can’t do it without being a TOTAL DOUCHE BAG. She acts like she’s never seen another actor on Letterman shilling for a movie because it was a part of the job.  It’s like she believed they really did just drop by to chat because they have so much cool shit to say.

As for the horrible slave labor she’s being forced to endure as she slogs through press junkets, all I can say is BOO FUCKING HOO. Oh, you were in a hit movie, and people are so excited about it they want to share it with you. Oh, doesn’t that just suck.  Oh, isn’t it terrible that you’re young and rich and traveling the world on someone else’s dime, and don’t have a job that requires you to be chained to a desk for eight freakin’ hours!  Cry me a river, bitch.  Cry me a river.


People Who Annoy Me: Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow. Damn it, I’m already annoyed and all I did was type her name.

One time, a friend and I were playing Taboo and her name was the phrase we had to get each other to say. We didn’t even need the list of words we couldn’t say. My friend said, “We hate her,” and I snapped back, “Gwyneth Paltrow.” Talk about the easiest Taboo point ever.

Oscar? Uh-uh. Chris? Pshaw. I'm blond, bitches.

It took me a really long time to figure out why I don’t like her, but I think I finally got it: she has no balls. Think of an actress with balls (Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Frances McDormand, etc.). These are great actresses who aren’t afraid to make us wince, to make themselves into ugly people on camera-they go places most of us can’t fathom, and they do it without hesitation. Now compare them to Gwyneth Paltrow.  What does Gwyneth do to make you think? When has she gotten down and dirty and really laid herself bare? She hasn’t, and she won’t. I don’t believe she can.

GP is the dilettante who gets mistaken for the PhD.  Let’s examine her acting chops, starting with her so-called Oscar winning role in Shakespeare in Love. Okay, so she put on a fake moustache, swooned a bit, and sighed romantically in a ridiculous British accent with vowels as loose as Karl Lagerfeld’s old pants (and there are people who agree with me). Big whoop. Any high school Heidi playing Viola could do what she did in that movie.

Iron Man? Please. She was stiffer than a Brit’s upper lip during WWII, and as frigid as a cryogenically preserved Simon Powell. No spark, no life, dead-eyed all the way through. This woman has no idea how to have fun on camera, to be less than serious. Compare her with Anne Hathaway in Get Smart or Kate Winslet in Titanic or Charlize Theron in Hancock. Real actresses in action-oriented movies who do more than furrow a brow or blink stupidly at the camera. Yes, Gwyneth, it can be done.

Additional entries in the GP catalog of failure: Possession, Plath, The Royal Tenenbaums, Great Expectations, View from the Top, Emma, Sliding Doors. Box office winners all.

I honestly think GP is pathologically incapable of playing a woman who is fearless, invulnerable, hated, or unshakable. She doesn’t know what these things are. Instead, she has to constantly beg the audience for affirmation. She has to be the pretty one, the adorably confused one, the tragic one, the woman who needs to be sheltered, loved, protected, coddled, cosseted, etc. Could you imagine her playing Charlize Theron’s character in Monster? Or Hilary Swank’s in Boys Don’t Cry? Or Jennifer Jason Leigh’s in Rush? She couldn’t do it. She wouldn’t know how.

There is no fire in this woman. She has no real passion, and so she can’t act the part of any woman who does. Instead, she simpers, whines, or pouts because that’s what she knows. Love me! Look at me! Adore me! Admire me! Validate me! Respect me! My question to her would be: why?

She talks a lot about being devastated by losing her father. Okay, that’s valid. It sucks. No one wants to lose a parent. But guess what? Millions upon millions of people do it every day. And get over it. And stop obsessing. They grieve, and love, and move on. They don’t yap about it for 10 years, because you know what? People with real lives have to go on living them. There are problems more pressing than what to wear to a premiere.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, what’s up with those hoo-ha baring outfits she showed up in this past summer? COVER THAT SHIT UP.  I just want to shake her and say, “You’re old, but you have decent legs. I get it. But can you please make your desperate need for media coverage a little less obvious? A soft-rock husband and millions in the bank just don’t satisfy you? My corneas are STILL recovering from that Stella McCartney black doily dress thing…anyone who told you it looked good lied like a rug, and shame on you for not knowing it.  I mean, really, honey…did you look in the mirror at all that night?  Did you think we all really just needed to see your underwear? You have kids. There’s such a thing as the Internet. Think this shit out a little better.”

SPEAKING OF WHICH, what’s up with her website? It’s called GOOP, which coincidentally rhymes with POOP. This piece of shit advises me to “nourish the inner aspect.” Aspect of what? This isn’t even a complete thought. I hope she’s not homeschooling her kids, because they’re going to grow up saying things like, “Rehabilitate the within.”

What in holy hell qualifies her to give anyone advice on cooking, shopping, or life in general? Anyone with houses, cars, nannies, trust funds, and an upper east side pedigree really shouldn’t pretend she’s anything like me. I’d really love to share an amazing paella recipe I discovered while backpacking with Mario Batali in Catalonia, too, but you know…I sort of have to work for a living, and I sort of have a mortgage to pay, and it would really just be a whole lot more helpful if someone told me how to get dog drool stains out of satin.

A lot of people have come down hard on her for the sheer ridiculousness of this website. She snapped back by saying that anyone who criticizes her website just “doesn’t get it” and if “they got it,” they wouldn’t criticize it. Does that also apply to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, GP? If she were a teacher, is this what she’d say to her students?  “You just don’t get it….if you got it, you’d be a better student.” If people aren’t getting the point, perhaps it’s because (a) there isn’t one, or (b) she’s a nutjob who can’t communicate usefully.  My guess? (c) all of the above.