Monday, March 26, 2012

May the odds be ever in your favour

I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy this past summer in the span of three days.  Before beginning I had this feeling that I'd go absolutely crazy over them, and I was right.  (I'm always right) After a full day of nonstop reading through the first, The Hunger Games, I sped off to Indigo to buy Catching Fire that was to be completed by the following day and Mockingjay, in two days.  Perhaps my only complaint about the book series is that the books feel too short: they are briskly paced, and a lot does happen, but I found that by the end of the trilogy a little too much happened tacked on at the end for the physical length (take Catching Fire, where there's a sizable amount of people left in the arena with only ten or so pages left to go, or perhaps Mockingjay, where I got the impression that Collins worked hard to cram everything into the three-hundred page framework she'd set up with the first two); naturally I would not complain if more books existed, but everything wrapped up nicely.  All in all, fantastic books series, disturbingly dark once you get past the glossy overlay that the theme of romance has over everything (and it even still it's important to the plot), majorly satisfying by the end, and a great source material for what I can anticipate will be a flawless film series.

The direction for this scene was, "Jennifer, imagine the awe you'll feel when you meet Matt"

With that being said, The Hunger Games was one of the best book-to-film adaptions I can think of aside from the Harry Potter franchise which, I think it's worth mentioning, did take quite a few liberties with its translation.  (regardless they were perfect) How The Hunger Games differs, then, is that I cannot think of things left out of the film by the filmmakers, maybe because it's been a while since I've read the book.  The only details of change I can think of might be Madge, the mayor's daughter, but she's relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things and Katniss finding the pin at the black market was just as good as anything; or maybe the fact that we miss out on a lot of internal feeling and struggle we get with Katniss as the first person narrator, but really, the point of a film is to show and not tell.  Point is, to find inconsistencies is to grasp at straws or at insignificances: in fact, I heard today that a criticism of the movie is that Jennifer Lawrence doesn't look hungry enough to come from District 12, but I think I'd only accept such criticism if the critics were prettier than Jennifer Lawrence is.  (fact: ain't nobody is) I see the spine of the book eyeing me from the bookshelf now and given that the Internet has crashed as I'm writing this, I might just have to pluck it and finish it within hours again.

I can start by saying that I am endlessly thankful that we got Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  Jennifer Lawrence.  This girl is my age and she's already an Academy Award nominated actress - not to mention she's freaking Mystique in my favourite franchise in the world, X-Men, and while I'm ecstatic about her being in both worlds of fantasy I'm afraid Catching Fire and Mockingjay will take precedence over appearing in the First Class sequel especially since it's a case of stand alone star versus ensemble member.  Choose the blue nudity, Jennifer.  The Hunger Games is no exception to her talent.  Thinking about her acting in the movie is giving me chills, specifically the scenes immediately following [spoiler]'s death - I though I might've lost it at that character dying but what made me legitimately emotional was Lawrence's reaction, and she is bloody fantastic.  What could have been a silly film adaption like, oh, I dunno, Twilight (not that the source is scripture..), THG was driven by a powerful performance from a phenomenal actress and I'm more than happy that the film is getting legitimate recognition as a great film (and not just as an adaption) because of her performance.  You always find that, huh?  Well, I do.  The idea that if it's an adaption of a franchise sort of movie, it becomes less like a 'film:' you'll never see something like The Avengers or even Harry Potter given the label of 'the best film of the year' even if, for all intensive purposes, it really is/was.  I'm not saying that THG will get nominated for any massive awards (though I dare say she should be, but she won't, because again, this is an adaption franchise film), but everything about this movie - the technicalities, the performances, the Jennifer Lawrence - screams cinematic perfection.

The rest of the cast was extremely well rounded and similarly great.  Shout out to Elizabeth Banks who nearly stole the show as Effie; similar kudos to Stanley Tucci (I don't think I've ever seen him less than great?) as Caesar Flickerman who actually did steal every scene he was in with that idiotic smile.  Hell, I even loved Liam Hemsworth.  Will I burn in hell if I say that, in his scenes with Jennifer.. I actually supported Katniss/Gale?

I can't quite put a finger on it, but I think I enjoyed the second half of the film - the Games itself - a great deal more than I did the first half, and I found myself straining to love the first half as I watched.  Pace?  Couldn't be: the frenzied passing through the grooming to the training to the interviews was as fast as the book.  Perhaps I wasn't crazy about physically seeing the weird people of the Capitol before me, though again, it was a perfect translation as if the words of the pages made themselves solid onscreen.  The closest I can think of as a reason might be that I don't like the shifting in atmospheres - that is, from a pioneer-like District 12 to a futuristic Capitol with Lady Gaga costumes and back to an earthy and primitive setting as in the arena - but again, I think that's the point.  Enough about that.  As for the Games, I cannot say this any other way: FUCKING PERFECTION.  I am in awe thinking about the second half of the film because, seriously, it was exactly like the book.  Exactly.  It was only when I actually saw kids killing each other with knifes or after seeing dead child bodies hacked up everywhere did it hit me that the concept is downright brutal, but the brutality was spot on and effective.  [spoiler]'s death was very hard to watch, but in comparison to seeing, literally, a hulking Tribute snap a child's neck out of nowhere, a spear through the stomach seemed like a walk in the part.  And so I appreciate the film for entirely encapsulating the brutality and the anxiety and frenzy of the book; even though I knew Katniss would survive the encounters with fire or tracker jackers (this is not a spoiler, fool, she is the bloody protagonist), I still felt the sense of urgent danger.  Run, bitch!

If you've read the book or if you haven't, go see this movie.  Buy into the hype, because it's worth it.  I can't wait to see it in IMAX this weekend.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A St. Patrick's Day Photologue

Yesterday's St. Patrick's Day festivity was a great one.  I was lucky enough to spend it with some of the best people on the earth at one of my favourite travel destinations, Thorold.  The thing about Thorold is that it's full of surprises - more often than not when I'm eating in the cafeteria at school I look up to see news reports about "man drives van into building in Thorold" or "dead body found in Thorold" - but in the comfort of the affectionately named Brockhouse I have the time of my life every time I visit.  And I owe it all to you.

Indeed, many a time have I found myself throwing up into a trash bin after being ejected from a bar without standards to begin with, or witnessing a fraction of the sort of debauchery that occurred last night, but I am proud to say that I know I'll always have a good time when I visit.  Naturally, then, coming for St. Patrick's Day wasn't even a question, and born from the excitement of the day came the idea that I would take a picture of myself with every new can of Old Milwaukee that I opened.  I'm happy to say that I followed through - I have twelve, even though I did drink more than that (we started playing beer pong and beersbee [beer Frisbee] under the hot sun around one in the afternoon) - and hopefully the deterioration of my state over the images is visible.  (I think it certainly is) And so I bring this to you, my reader: I invite you to relive my day yesterday through this shameless column of Matt portraits.  I had every intention on sharing these in some sort of social networking facet from the beginning so humour is the name of the game.  Enjoy the progression through intoxication and varying light exposures!

Commencement!  (lies, though: I had played beer pong already so this is technically number three)

Snazzy time

I think this came right after a Jagerbomb, in my defense.

Alright there's just no defense for this,

This isn't even my face.

I look like a feral child.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Creatively, I'm stumped.

This was one step away from becoming another drunk post because truth be told I've been drinking tonight, but I think I have enough sensibility to form cohesive sentences and muster actual human thought, or at least enough to drive this post.  I suppose it's worth mentioning that I decided to write this many hours ago, but I ended up sidetracked by the prospects of eating and procrastinating and listening to new music and mostly drinking: the only purpose mentioning this achieves is the verification that, yes, these are very much sober thoughts, but they happen to be produced in a not-so-sober state of mind.  In keeping with that I've proofread every single one of my sentences five times before I've moved onto the next, and if you happen to find a gross mistake, feel free to berate me.  (I'm not overly drunk, either, but I'm certainly not sober, and you almost read the word "stober" if not for my swift backspacing)

As I've exhausted already, I have too much free time on my hands.  You could imagine, then, that I've felt the need to post here more often (frequent in comparison to the rate in which I've done so for the past few months, if you will - I need to mention I upset myself when I scroll down the front page of my blog and find posts from the beginning of January), but try as I may that creative inspiration has yet to slap me in the face.  You might ask yourself, then, the point of this, and I can confirm there is no purpose to this post so if you have the slightest bit of disdain for me I'm giving you an out and you can show yourself elsewhere - liking me enough to respond will come into play very soon.  I decided, then, those many sober hours ago, that I might pose a question to those who actually read the project that is my blog, and that question is: what do you want me to write about?

And so we reach the kernel of this truly irrelevant and largely useless post: for the first time, I offer the floor to my reader.  Whether you leave a comment here on this very post (anonymous or not, I don't care) or if you comment on the Facebook link I'm minutes away from creating to this new entry or if you even tell me upfront in a text message or in person or (hopefully!) by telegraph, carrier pigeon or telepathy, I formally ask you - yes, you, the reader at this very moment - to partake in the ignition of my creative mindset by providing me with something reminiscent of a theme that I might choose to write about in the near future.  Give me some deep, philosophical concept; give me something polarizing enough that it'll be impossible for me to write a neutral response to; give me something absolutely ridiculous or shockingly personal or just mediocre overall, I don't care: all I ask is for creative, thematic aid, and I should hope I at least get some mature response.

If not, I can always pretend this post never happened.  ;)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Another day, another obsession, another challenge, or: go watch Awake

Life presses on.  Unfortunately tonight I don't offer much in terms of cohesion: I always feel as if I'm abusing my power as a writer when I publish these disjointed and subheading-laden posts, but I fear that the cocktail that is a mixture of the itch to write something with a bunch of semi-topics floating around in my head (all pressing enough to be written though not significant enough to stand alone) proves to be a little bit too toxic for me and my creative standstill to handle.  My antidote, then, is this: voila.  (besides, I think this lets me get lighthearted and silly if I intend for these little snippets of my borderline obsessive-compulsive - though always illuminatingly charming - thought process to exist on the basis of humour, anyways)

It has happened.

My obsession with this girl is so, so far gone.  In fact, scroll down the main page of my blog and you'll see not one but two images of the beauty (two out of three, if you count Madonna's endless tripping.  Silly, silly Madonna), and here's a third.  Rejoice!

I'm still very aware that Lana Del Rey has an extremely polarizing effect: you will love her voice, or you will hate it; you will love her songs, or you will hate them; you will see her as a travesty live, or you will see her as refreshing.  (I'll say that I think she's got some work to do when singing live but I won't hold some inexperience and nerves against her) Yeah, yeah, I drone on about her.  She's commandeered my iTunes, especially now that I've downloaded demos and unreleased songs and her first unofficial and unreleased full length album on top of Born to Die which was only released a month ago.  Point is, she's my new it when it comes to music; suffice to say I got myself a little bit sick of Lady Gaga and the obsession I've had for her - still love her, not to worry - but as she's faded from the forefront for now and her music's grown really stale for me (BTW, unfortunately, does not have a lasting effect, and I'm patiently waiting for what's next), I desperately needed something else.  Now I've gone and went gaga over another.

An update from the land of television

Speaking of things I've let get a hold on me this year: my love for television, the love that gets me through my single, free-time ridden nights here holed up in my room on residence.  (doesn't help I've gone into the deep end when it comes to torrents, and they are now my entire existence) The Walking Dead's latest offing had me staring at shock upon my computer screen, and though I blame Twitter's trending topics for spoiling the massive character for me minutes before I started my video, I was still taken aback by the violent manner of this character's end as well as feeling slightly affected (although I didn't like them at all) by the brutal emotion from the rest of the cast of characters as they came across the devastation.  Well done, cast.  As for Smash, I'm coming off of an emotionally charged episode aired only tonight with a sizable shocker in its final minutes, and I'd really implore anyone with an inkling of interest in Broadway (and I don't even mean you need to love it; just a flare for the performance) to watch it, because the performances are incredible and I'm impressed at the quality of writing for an NBC show.  On a related note: stop what you are doing right now and watch Awake.  If you haven't heard of it, it only just premiered on Thursday, and the basic concept is a man, after getting in a car accident with his wife and son, experiences two separate realities on an alternating daily basis where out of his wife and son one is alive and the other is dead, and vice versa.  The mystery of the show is the thinking that: is one a dream?  Are both real?  Neither?  The psychology is interesting, as is the fact that the two cases the protagonist works - he's a cop with two different partners depending on the "world" - begin to overlap with each other.  Quality at its finest, I promise you.  Finally, working off of "quality," I recently watched the Canadian miniseries Bomb Girls on suggestion from a friend, six episodes dealing with the women workers of a bomb factory during World War II.  Great television, especially for a Canadian production: I'd wager that, in recent memory, I have not adhered to characters as quickly as I did with this series - specifically a tomboyish worker and her growing attachment to another, a meek runaway - and the finale is heartbreaking.  Interesting on the historical side and compelling in terms of the drama.

But go watch Awake.  Now.  If it means not reading on, so be it - I've already got your page visits. ;)

A personal challenge

You may think to yourself that, damn, I must have a ton of free time on my hands to watch as much television as I do (all of the aforementioned plus many more), and you'd be right.  In the final haul of the semester, I only have three essays to turn in - the first, I've finished; the second has an alternative creative assignment option I might take heed of; the third is based on Watchmen, so let's all laugh out loud at the ease this will pose for me - and just two final tests in the last week, both in film classes which knock on wood aren't a grand challenge for me.  And so, with all this free time: I'm sure you recall my venture into the world of fiction once again with my attempt at NaNoWriMo this past November, so I thought to myself, "why not make things full circle and do it again for the final third of my semester?"  It's true that my November was relatively stress-free regardless of the sheer amount of work I had to do, but I attribute that entirely to having a creative outlet.  I recently reread what I managed in November and I've decided I've fallen out of love with my concept; and yet, reading the words made me yearn for that output once more.  This brings us to now, as I sit on top of a solid concept with an actual direction this time as well as a brief 3000 words under my belt.  Naturally, there's no time constraint this time, which I think might encourage my ongoing writing past the close of my semester.

Tis my life.  I eat a lot of cafeteria food because of the amount of money left on my meal plan, and I cackle in my room at the anomalies of my life with my trusted fellow assholes a swift text message away, beer in hand optional.  Oh, and Lana's probably playing.  She is now.