Short Takes: Mockingjay Part 1, Whiplash, Force Majeure & more

Hunger Games Mockingjay

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – The premiere dystopian young adult franchise continues its gradual steps forward in quality in this third installment, which is slightly more above average than the second.  In Mockingjay Part 1, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is at the center of a propaganda machine for a rebel group attempting to overthrow the sinister, Donald Sutherland-led central government.

This set-up, whether intentional or not, makes this third Hunger Games at times feel like a commentary on franchise filmmaking.  The rebellion’s leaders critique Katniss’ blank, disinterested performance in the propaganda in the same way Lawrence was picked apart for her apathy in the first film (to her credit she has vastly stepped up her game since then).  That’s the most interesting thing about Mockingjay, aside from seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore share the screen as those scheming rebel leaders.  Director Francis Lawrence choreographs the uprising with just enough ferocity to make it resonate while still restraining it enough for a PG-13 rating.  Grade: C+

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Ladykillers

Image courtesy of IMDB

The Ladykillers
Directed by: Joel Coen
Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen (screenplay), William Rose (the original screenplay)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, and J.K. Simmons

Adapting one of the most British films of all time for an American audience is no easy task.  Film makers Joel and Ethan Coen attempt the feat here, succeeding sometimes and falling short the rest of it.

The original film was based in post WW II Britain and centered on a group of criminals from different walks of life robbing a bank and hiding out in the home of a suspicious and nosy old woman.  The caper ultimately fails, ending with the fatalistic death of all of the criminals.

In this new 21st century version, there are still a group of different criminals planning a heist, but it’s now in hurricane-devastated Mississippi.  The American melting pot also applies to the criminals, as they all are extremely different.

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