Saturday, November 6, 2010
Darren Franich, a columnist for EW has concerns about the movie that he shares in his open letter to Gary Ross that I've copied for you below. After reading his letter, now I have even more stuff to worry about. I agree with Franich, though. Read the book meticulously, Mr. Ross. METICULOUSLY. Talk to Suzanne Collins. Jump inside her brain. Do NOT try to stamp YOUR "artistic" vision on this and turn it into a pop-culture disaster like Twilight. Granted, those movies have made mega-money, but true fans were sorely dissappointed. Stick to Collins's vision for this movie, and we will all leave you alone. That is all...;)
From Entertainment Weekly "Shelf Life" blog:
Dear Gary Ross:
According to Variety, you’re all-but-officially the director of the Hunger Games movie. Congratulations! You haven’t directed a movie in seven years — Seabiscuit, saw it– and now you’re at the center of the next big young-adult franchise. Hooray! Now, I hope you won’t mind, but I have one minor request: Please, please, please, please, don’t make The Hunger Games gritty. Don’t shoot the movie with handheld cameras. Don’t bleach all the color out of the film stock until everything looks like rusted Depression-era gunmetal. Don’t forget: Katniss Everdeen is not Jason Bourne.
Now, I’m no snob. Gritty can be cool. Heck, calling a movie “gritty” used to be a compliment. Saving Private Ryan, The Lord of the Rings, and The Bourne Identity all took sainted genres known for glossy excess — the war film, the fantasy epic, the espionage thriller — and smeared them in mud. Actors spoke every line in an angry whisper. The color scheme was monochromatic, mostly hovering between comatose-blue and industrial-gray. It was awesome…for awhile. But now, “gritty” is everywhere. We’ve seen the Gritty James Bond movie, the Gritty Superhero movie, the Gritty Twilight movie, the Gritty Terminator movie. We’ve seen Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, the single muddiest movie ever made.
I understand the impulse to go gritty with Hunger Games. It’s post-apocalyptic, like Children of Men and all the real-world scenes in The Matrix. Katniss lives in District 12, a coal-mining town that reads like a Soviet hellhole. The latter half of the book is one extended action sequence — sound like it demands the extreme-close-up/shaky-cam tension of a Bourne film, right?
Wrong. Reading Hunger Games, you’re struck by just how vivid and alive the forest is. It’s Katniss’ escape from drudgery, the one place she can really feel alive. Listen to her describe the valley outside of District 12: “teeming with summer life, greens to gather, roots to dig, fish iridescent in the sunlight.” That’s sounds more like the Technicolor-organic wilderness of Avatar than the dark, shadowy woods of Twilight. Conversely, the Capitol reads like a fascist version of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: too bright, too colorful, overpopulated with highly-caffeinated supermodels. But again, no gritty here.
Mr. Ross, Hunger Games has an instantly exciting storyline, and I have to believe that even a lame treatment of the book will result in a pulse-pounding action movie. But just because ugly things happen in Hunger Games doesn’t mean the film should look ugly. Heck, making Hunger Games gritty is the equivalent of adding a CGI stormcloud over President Snow’s head and adding explanatory subtitles to every scene: “VIOLENCE IS WRONG. DON’T DO FASCISM.”
Don’t make things too easy for the audience. Don’t forget about Suzanne Collins’ biting satirical edge, or her beautifully expansive vision of the world outside the fence. Don’t be afraid to unleash your inner Paul Verhoeven, or your inner Terrence Malick. Don’t go gritty. Hunger Games fans (and people who suffer from motion sickness) will thank you.
Darren J. Franich, anti-grit crusader and self-described Hunger Games expert
Kate Cary's contribution to the teen vampire phenomenon with her novel, Bloodline, will leave readers with a true definition of what an evil vampire should be, and they definitely do not sparkle in Cary's adaptation! As a sort of sequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula, Cary tells a majority of the Bloodline tale through the journal of John Shaw. Recovering from wounds sustained in World War I, Shaw has vivid flashbacks and nightmares of his time in the trenches. The horrors he witnessed are not only from enemies encountered on the battlefield. A majority of his shocking visions are memories of watching his commanding officer, Quincy Harker perform superhuman, impossible feats and although John blames his memories on the side effects of trench fever, he's almost certain that he witnessed Harker drink the blood of their battle enemies. John doesn't want to face the evil truth behind his commanding officer's abilities, but when Quincey Harker shows up to check on John in his England hospital, John must question who his commanding officer truly is. Harker also begins to show interest in John's younger sister, Lucy, and this recent infatuation which makes knowing the truth of Harker's origins all the more imperative to John. He begins researching Harker's bloodline, and makes chilling discoveries about the war hero and himself.
Fans of Bram Stoker's classic will love the writing style of Kate Cary. She mimics the era of writing that encompassed the Gothic literature movement in the late 1800s. Telling the story through the journal entries and letters of different characters was also interesting, but at times kept the story from flowing as easy as it would have if the novel was told from third person POV, and interspersed with journal entries.
Descriptions of the vampire castle and the Transylvania vamps were truly chilling. Cary is a master of imagery when it came to her descriptions of the castle and the dark, shadowy chambers of the castle. I found myself unable to read this novel at night, for fear of Mina, Quincey, and the other vampires watching me from the shadows! There were a few scenes that intertwined blood lust and actual sexual desire that may be too much for teen readers. I would definitely say that grades 8-12 should be the target age-rage for this novel. Any younger might find the scenes from World War I and the Transylvania castle too graphic and gory. Teen vampire enthusiasts also need to take heed: Quincey Harker is NOT Edward Cullen's long-lost cousin. The Harker vampires embrace evil, blood lust, and find human life worthless.This chilling read will definitely leave you searching for the sequel, Bloodline Book Two: Reckoning.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
This is the wolf mutt, GLIMMER! Notice the green eyes and the jewel inlaid District 1 on her collar? Not what I would call a cuddly creature!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Mattie's memories of her mother and the warmth that her house once shared are palatable...I feel as if I know Mattie's mother, and her father is just as well-developed. Her sisters, friends, uncles, teacher, neighbors - each are critical pieces to the development of the plot and are so rich and dimensional, I would readily a novel written from the perspectives of each.
The murder-mystery surrounding Grace Brown is actually the least interesting sub-plot binding this novel together; this statement is meant as a complement to Donnely's writing. She's developed a cast of characters whose ordinary lives and struggles are just as gut-wrenching and page-turning as an action-packed murder mystery.
I loved, loved, loved the ending and how the plot was parceled neatly its well-wrapped package. Endings that tie to the beginnings always do me in...I love the small revelations I have during the moments after the last line of such books are read. Jennifer Donnelly did that for me, and that's why I'm giving this book a ten out ten stars and an exuberant "thumbs up".
Friday, September 17, 2010
© 2010 skellingt0n: Fan imagining of a
The Hunger Games movie poster (DeviantArt)
Isn't this fan-made movie poster AWESOME??? Notice how Katniss and I are mirroring poses in my costume pic. Ha!
If you've frequented my blog, you know that all things concerning The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins dominates most of my posts. I can't help it. I LOVE the book and series, and I'm estatic that I can teach the novel to my junior high students! Today in class we were discussing Katniss and her character traits, and I off-handedly mentioned that she was my favorite female character in teen fiction. My students didn't miss a beat and decided to turn the tables on their teacher, asking, "What makes Katniss your favorite?" Here's a David Letterman-style top ten list detailing why Miss Everdeen is beating out her teen ficiton counterparts for Top Teen Heroine (in my mind):
10. She's a bad Mamma-Jamma. Do you want to mess with a chick who can shoot a squirrel through its eye from fifty meters away? I think not.
9. She can sleep in a tree. Who can do that? Seriously?
8. Raw rabbit meat and pine bark: it's whats for dinner!
7. She is literally "The Girl on Fire".
6. Boys do not define her - they fight over her! (And...they are HOT BOYS...who bake...and kill things. ;)
5. Haymitch is her homeboy.
4. She refrains from punching Effie in the face throughout the duration of the trilogy.
3. Pig. Apple. Arrow. 'Nuff said!
2. Peeta loves her. I love what Peeta loves!
1. She could kick the snot out of Bella Swan. (We know I love Twilight, but you have to admit, Bella is one whiney chick!)
Picture by graysee at deviantart.com
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Kaya Scodelario (39% of the vote)
Best Known For: Britain's Skins, Clash of the Titans
Alexandra Daddario (19%)
Best known for: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Hunter Parrish (40%)
Gaspard Ulliel (40%)
Best Known For: playing the young Hannibal Lector in Hannibal Rising
Drew Roy (38%)
Best Known For: iCarly, Hannah Montana
Kristen Chenoweth (51%)
Best Known For: Pushing Daisies, Broadway's Wicked
Emily Blunt (15%)
Best Known For: The Devil Wears Prada and The Young Victoria
Hugh Laurie (37%)
Best Known For: House
Robert Downey Jr. (36%)
Best Known For: Iron Man
Alli Shearmur from Lionsgate is listening to the fans and is quoted in the article as saying that "some of the actresses who fans have identified as the best potential Katniss are being considered." Smart move,Lionsgate! Movie makers should know how opinionated and passionate fans of a book can be when their beloved characters are going to be projected onto the big screen. Here's to hoping they make the right choice...we can't find out the official cast list soon enough!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
1. I wake up on Tuesday morning at 6:00am, ready to start back to work after a long weekend. Boo.
Holy cow! Like a knife to the heart! In a bar mere miles from my home! Oh, why can't I be drinking on a random Monday evening? Curse you, husband, children and career! ;)
Lucky hoochies. And to quote Tessie Hutchinson, "It isn't fair! It isn't right"...and then, they were upon her.
This experience proves to me that God has a sick sense of humor. Why in the world would he send the only celebrity who actually causes me to swoon to my craptastic town? Nothing ever happens in Lubbock! Nothing besides football, drinking, and the occasional City Council skirmish...events that are equal parts boring and in no way pique my interest! The only celebrity we've ever had step foot in our city limits is that blasted Matthew McConaughey, and I can't like him because he's a Longhorn fan. That's against all of the blood oaths I took when I graduated from Texas Tech University. Something like "thou shalt not covet an attractive celebrity who has the audacity to wear a burnt orange leather coat." Honestly. He wears a burnt orange leather coat to Longhorn games. I don't care how attractive you are. It's never good form to insult a cow by dying his poor cowhide burnt orange. Anywhooooo, I digress....
Back to The Precious. Turning off my ringer at night cost me the chance to hang out with my celebrity crush. My husband even felt sorry for me. I would've taken him to a bar to catch a glimpse of Angelina Jolie. She's on his list, just like RPatz is on mine. He understood the horrific feelings of loss I was experiencing and actually offered to take me around town to troll random hotel lobbies in the hopes I would bump in to him. Sweet offer, but I didn't want to miss reporting to work. I was secretly banking on the possibility that Oprah was hiding in my classroom, (cameras ready to surprise me) with Robert Pattinson at her side, eager to tell me what an awesome teacher I am. Unbeknownst to me, (I was praying) some sweet, former student had sent in a request for me (thier favorite teacher) to meet my favorite fictional character; and Oprah, being the sweet lady that she is, read the heart-wrenching profession of educational excellence and came to Lubbock to bestow the gift that is The Precious upon me in person! Whew!
After succumbing to the fact that I missed my one and only chance to meet such a lovely hunk of man, I quizzed my friend who was able to make it into Cricket's Bar & Grill before the wolves descended. I asked him how Rob behaved in the bar...could you smell him? Was he as dreamy in person as he is in front of the camera? Here is the short q & a with my buddy, who was able to live the dream for me - if only for a few minutes:
Me: Was he (Rob) interacting with the people in the bar or keeping to his table of friends? Did you get to actually sit in the bar?
Buddy: He was personable...texted a lot...smiled...laughed when his friends were singing karaoke. Hearty laugh, head thrown back. I was inches from him when he went to the potty.
Me: Did he speak? DETAILS!
Buddy: He nodded and said hello and I almost wet myself. I think I may have giggled.
Me: Oh, heck, I would've! I'm too polite to bother a celebrity. Why?? I wouldn't have had the guts to interrupt his night to ask for a pic or an autograph!
Buddy: Our friend did, but he politely declined...you could tell he was just wanting a break, a beer, some laughs, but he smiled and didn't get ornery.
I can picture beautiful Rob, tossing his head back to let loose a hearty laugh. Can't you? I would've even loved to have been his waitress that night, but I can tell those chicks probably annoyed the tar out of him. Check out this video from our local news to confirm my theory here.
ARRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH.....TO BE IN THAT BAR!
No such luck. Sorry I missed you, Rob. Like two ships, passing in the night...
Saturday, September 4, 2010
The USA Today reported on Wednesday that there is a bit of buzz surrounding the Lionsgate casting of Katniss Everdeen for The Hunger Games movie. Apparently, actress Chloe Moretz is said to be on the top of a very short list for nabbing the role of the tough heroine. Who is Chloe Moretz, you may ask? Her most recent works include Kick-Ass and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Chloe is only 13 years old, and in my humble opinion, looks more like Prim than Katniss, if we are going on looks alone, which I know shouldn't be what gets her the job - looks. I do know for a fact that her acting skills are noteworthy, and Perri Nemiroff gives her a huge thumbs up for the part in his article, "Daring to Dream: Casting 'The Hunger Games' Movie". He makes some great suggestions for our beloved character's parts. Check out his article for more!
So... just in case the casting directors of The Hunger Games need a bit of help, let me give them a slew of character traits mentioned in the book. In fact, take out a sheet of paper, directors, and let's make a t-chart for our lovely Ms. Everdeen, shall we? (We do this in my classroom while studying the novel, and it will serve as a valuable exercise for you, too, my dear casting directors.)Notice I even provide you with page numbers to Suzanne Collins's descriptions in the book. THE BOOK should be the golden standard here when referencing traits, shouldn't it? After all, those of us who will be in line with tickets in hand to see your production will be dedicated fans of the series. PLEASE attempt to have some regard and respect for Collins's vision of the character, Katniss Everdeen. This movie will be an epic fail if Katniss is miscast, but no pressure, huh?
In other Hunger Games movie news, the final round of directors are also rumored to be vying to take the helm of this much-anticipated movie. Sara Gundell from Examiner.com reports that David Slade, Gary Ross and Sam Mendes are named as the top three directors for the job. I've obviously heard of David Slade (director of Eclipse) and have enjoyed many Sam Mendes films (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road). Ross is behind the film Pleasantville (amongst others), but Pleasantville being the only one I really recognized and a film that is one of my cinema favorites! Surprisingly, I do not have an educated opinion for my Lionsgate friends as to who should be the director. It sounds like the three that are leading the crowd are more than qualified for the job.
So there you have it, Hunger Games fans, a bit of news on the film all of us are chomping at the bit to see...LET'S GET GOING, LIONSGATE! Call me if you need a consultant to quote book passages and such!
Click HERE to vote for The Hunger Games movie cast - a poll created by Entertainment Weekly.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
That brings me to rereading the second book, Catching Fire. When I was first able to lay hands on it, I DEVOURED it. I had to know what would happen to the characters I had come to know and love. When I devour a book, I tend to skip over stuff. My eyes skim the lines with anticipation, and I end up missing out on little details. I'm only through the first two chapters and I'm noticing all kinds of stuff I didn't the first go around. Has anyone else had this experience? I'm planning on chronicling my eye-opening discoveries in a post I'll publish the day before Mockingjay is released! Any tidbits you guys would like to alert me to while I'm rereading? Feel free to leave me a comment!
Totally off the subject, but check out this pic of actress, Kaya Scodelario I found on the Twilightlexicon blog. They were discussing who should play Katniss (aren't all of us?), and a fan recommended her. Add some tan-in-a-can, and I think she looks PERFECT if we are judging by looks alone.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Reading the book with the mental images of Rob as Jacob might have made the book better for me than if I'd read it before movie production began. Call me shallow and a petty, but I thoroughly enjoyed the entire novel because of Rob and let's not forget the fabulous writing of Sara Gruen. I can't imagine the effort and research it took to know so much about the Depression era circus business. Gruen creates a seamless world of circus life that was engrossing and real. I'm hoping the movie can recreate the amazing imagery Gruen supplied producers with, and from looking at the movie stills, I'm seeing that they may be on the right track. I also love the juxtaposition of narration between old Jacob and young Jacob. It reminds me of The Notebook, but with less Alzheimer's and more elephants.
Gruen begins the novel with a 90 year old (or 93 year old....he's not quiet sure. What do a few years matter when he's already this old, he wanders?) Jacob. He's lonely and stuck in a nursing home, with ample time to reflect upon his life. The arrival of a traveling circus in the adjacent lot next to his nursing home stirs memories of his young-adult life. Jacob begins the long and mysterious track down memory lane, and his involvement with a traveling circus in the 1930s....
Jacob Jankowski is days away from completing his degree in veterinary medicine at Cornell University when he receives heartbreaking news about his parents. This news rattles him to the core, and sends him in a tailspin that leads him to the moving train of the Benzini Brothers Circus. Hoping aboard the train with only the clothes on his back, Jacob leaves behind everything and everyone he has ever known. His almost-degree in veterinary medicine makes him a perfect candidate to care for the rare and exotic animals on the tour, yet also separates him from the other working-class men he is surrounded by.
Immediately enamored by the beautiful and talented horse trainer and performer, Marlena, Jacob decides to stay on with the circus. Never mind that Marlena is married to the paranoid schizophrenic animal trainer, August. A man who immediately identifies Jacob as a threat, and has no qualms about getting rid of the new vet.
The gritty, often terrifying world of the Benzini Brothers Circus is the most unique and rare settings of any novel I've read this year. Water for Elephants is a brilliant novel, and will hopefully be complemented by an equally spectacular movie!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Nina is an American born Pakistani-Muslim girl doing her best to fit in to her suburban town. Never mind the fact that she was born and raised in Deer Hook, her ethnicity and religion separate her from her predominately white friends. Nina is a hysterical narrator, who keeps the reader thoroughly entertained with her humorous outlook on her situation. Any teenager could relate to her plight and perhaps find humor in their own situation after reading Skunk Girl. An entertaining addition to my teen fiction collection!
Thirteen year old Kyra lives a quiet, simple life with her 19 brothers and sisters, her father, and his three wives. (Yes. She is one of 19...and I thought I got the short end of the stick being the middle child of three girls. No complaints here!) As a member of the polygamist cult, The Chosen Ones, Kyra lives in isolation with her people; only learning about the outside world through the books she sneaks into the compound from the nearest town's mobile library. (She likes to go for walks around the dirt roads surrounding the compound, and happens to encounter the County Mobile Library on one of her walks. She sneaks the books into the compound in her dress to read at night.) Reading these forbidden books has planted seeds of doubt in Kyra's mind about the preachings of Prophet Childs - the iron-fisted leader of The Chosen Ones, who claims to have a direct line of communication with Jesus himself. Prophet Childs has forbidden books and travel to the nearby town, warning the cult members that only the devil and his evil can be found outside the chainlink fences of the compound.
Kyra shares the secret of her books with another compound teen, Joshua. Through their secret meetings and discussion of books they become much more than friends and develop feelings for each other that also break the boundaries established by Prophet Childs. When the Prophet proclaims that he had a vision of Kyra marrying her 60 year old uncle, Hyrum, Kyra's world is tossed asunder. Is the world she lives within her books and in secret meetings with Joshua the right path to follow? Should she risk it all (and the possible safety of the family she loves dearly) to avoid marrying her cruel and aged uncle? Did I mention Uncle Hyrum is 60 and Kyra is 13. THIRTEEN! Yuck.
I read this novel in the span of two evenings - biting my fingernails and holding my breath with every turn of the page. I've always been curious about the lifestyle one must lead to be a part of a polygamist community, but I never really ventured what it must be like for the children who are brought up to know nothing but this lifestyle. I love how Williams uses books as Kyra's escape from the Compound. The view they give her of the outside world is what opens the window in Kyra's mind that her way of life might not be the only way to find fufillment and rightousness. This novel is by far and away one of the best teen reads of the summer!