“You see, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of…anything!” I’m posting this because Paramount Home Video’s Chinatown Bluray streets on 4.3, or two and a half weeks from now. I’ve never fully savored the subtler aspects of John Alonzo‘s widescreen cinematography, but I will soon.
Note: The spelling of the last name of Jack Nicholson‘s character is “Gittes,” but John Huston pronounces it “Gitts” all through the film.
36 hours ago Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy posted a “yeah, not bad, pretty good” review of The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, 3.23), declaring that “the arrow hits an outer circle of the target in this faithful adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ young-adult best-seller, which could have used a higher blood count in more ways than one.”
Still, director Gary Ross “gets enough of what matters in the book up on the screen to satisfy its legions of fans worldwide.
“A speculative fiction piece about a 16-year-old expert hunter, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who becomes one of 24 teenagers to compete in an annual televised combat spectacle from which only one will emerge alive, Collins’ tale rips along on the page with unflagging momentum while generating legitimate suspense and a strong rooting interest in its resourceful heroine.
The film has “visual spectacle but, along with it, a feeling of being slightly shortchanged; the long shots of gigantic cityscapes, of a fast train gliding silkily through the country, of massive crowds gathered to see this year’s gladiators before they set off to kill one another, of the decorative flames emanating from the leads’ costumes as the pair is presented to the public for the first time — all are cut a bit short, as if further exposure would reveal them as one notch below first-rate.
“Most noticeable of all, however, is the film’s lack of hunting instinct. The novel conveyed a heady sense of blood-scent, of Everdeen’s lifetime of illegal hunting paying off in survival skills that, from the outset, make her the betting favorite to win the 74th edition of the Hunger Games. While present, this critical element is skimmed over onscreen, reducing a sense of the heroine’s mental calculations as well as the intensity of her physical challenges and confrontations.
“One senses that the filmmakers wanted to avoid showing much hunting onscreen, for fear of offending certain sensibilities; stylistically, one longs for the visceral expressiveness of, say, Walter Hill in his prime. It’s also clear that the need for a PG-13 rating dictated moderation; a film accurately depicting the events of the book would certainly carry an R.”
Variety‘s Justin Chang feels the same way: “The first novel in Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy is a futuristic fight-to-the-death thriller driven by pure survival instinct,” he notes, “but the creative equivalent of that go-for-broke impulse is absent from director Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games.
“Proficient, involving, ever faithful to its source and centered around Jennifer Lawrence’s impressive star turn, this much-anticipated, nearly 2 1/2-hour event picture should satiate fans, entertain the uninitiated and take an early lead among the year’s top-grossing films. Yet in the face of near-certain commercial success, no one seems to have taken the artistic gambles that might have made this respectable adaptation a remarkable one.”
One-quarter down, three-quarters to go. Almost. Two weeks left but it’s all over but the shouting. The Hunger Games is the last film of any real intrigue set to open in March. The way I see it 2012 has delivered six films of serious distinction and seven or eight that could be called pretty good, not bad or relatively decent.
I’ve singled out 43 films in all, not counting Hunger Games. I’m 100% certain I’ve missed something. Please, have at it.
Best So Far: Haywire, Miss Bala, Michael, Rampart, 21 Jump Street, The Grey (6)
Won’t See It Until Monday Night: The Hunger Games (1)
Good or Relatively Decent But Curiously Not Enough To Inspire Any HE Jottings: Jeff Who Lives at Home, Declaration of War, Coriolanus, Footnote, Friends With Kids, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Woman in Black (7)
El Floppo, And…Okay, Tolerable In Certain Respects: John Carter (1)
Entirely Decent Tony Scott Film With An Ending That Underwhelms: Safe House (1)
Mildly Gripping: Silent House (1)
Mildly Likable, Amusing: Wanderlust (1)
Mute Nostril Asian Martial-Arts Agony: The Raid: Redemption (1)
Best Docs: Undefeated, Bully, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Pray for Japan, The Island President (5)
Slow-going: Turn Me On, Dammit!, 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2)
Lesser Dardennes: The Kid With A Bike (1)
Unfulfilling, Irksome, Bad: Contraband, Red Tails, Man on a Ledge, One for the Money, Flowers of War (5)
Labored, Less-Than-Likable Family Relationship Dramas: Being Flynn, The Snowtown Murders, Boy, The Deep Blue Sea, W.E. (5)
Didn’t See (Apologies): Chronicle, Act of Valor, The Forgiveness of Blood (3)
Avoided Like Plague: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Let the Bullets Fly, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, A Thousand Words (4)
When I was married I visited Ireland in October 1988. Myself, my now ex-wife Maggie and Jett, who was then four months old. We stayed at the 200 year-old home/farm of Chris Ryan in the town of Knocklong in County Limerick. Ryan runs a fabled riding-to-hounds business out of his home. Several horses and something like 40 black-and-tans reside in the rear stables and kennels. I felt safe at home, nourished. I wanted to hang around for months.
So don’t tell me about St. Paddy’s Day and what it really means or feels like to be Irish. Because I’ve been to the heart of it, and it hasn’t left me.
My first thought when I arrived in Ireland was “I could die here.” That country is about kindness, warmth and tranquility, and exhilarating gradations of green and brown flora. Every small Irish village has a tavern (the cliche is true), and the locals will often raise a glass, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those of Irish descent (real or imagined) who live in New York City are notorious on this day, of course, for gettng stinko, stumbling around and retching on the sidewalk. But they don’t get it, and most of them probably never will.