Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
"Now a major motion picture" is the worst thing that can ever happen to a book — short of, say, an open flame. And in this day and age, no one is safe. It happened to Life of Pi; it happened to The Great Gatsby; heck, it happened to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And now it has happened to William Faulkner. James Franco's scowling mug now takes up 70% of the cover for As I Lay Dying.
Since our copies of the novel are lovingly battered, dog-eared, and annotated, and, that being the way we like it, we haven't been in the market for a new edition recently, we didn't make this discovery until Time Out New York's Keith Uhlich tweeted the travesty (below). A facepalm has never been so well deserved.
Oh for fuck's sake. pic.twitter.com/3V0dMgB9fI
— Keith Uhlich (@keithuhlich) September 12, 2013
We've been skeptical of this adaptation for a long time, due less to Franco's involvement than to the seemily unadaptable nature of the book, but now we hate it. We hate the whole project and what it's doing to American literature. We hate James Franco's stupid face. (Well, not really, but it's about as close as we've ever come.) We need someone to blame for this crime against literature, and he's literally the poster boy.
More:James Franco Gets Intense in 'As I Lay Dying' Trailer12 Best Lines from James Franco's Comedy Central Roast Check Out James Franco’s LinkedIn: He’s Had Every Job Ever
| Follow @abbeystone
From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Former Bay City Rollers founder Gordon Clark and bandmates Ian Mitchell and Pat Mcglynn have learned they will not profit from an ongoing legal battle between the band and Arista Records bosses. The trio sued as part of a dispute between the Bye Bye Baby hitmakers and the record label executives, which was launched in 2007, but lawmakers in an appellate court have dismissed their claims that they're entitled to a share of any potential royalties from movie licensing, digital downloads and ringtones.
Brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir, who formed the Bay City Rollers with Clark in the mid-1960s, Eric Faulkner, Duncan Faure, Leslie McKeown and Stuart Wood are still in court attempting to win a share of unpaid royalties after a judge allowed the case to move forward in a partial summary judgment victory for the bandmates in 2011.
Clark, Mitchell and McGlynn attempted to sue the six plaintiffs and Arista for declaratory relief over anticipatory breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
Judas Priest have signed up to 'teach' fans all they need to know about heavy rock at Las Vegas' first all-metal Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp. Frontman Rob Halford, guitarist Richie Faulkner, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis will serve as counsellors alongside former Queensryche singer Geoff Tate, Lita Ford and Vinny Appice at the four-day head-bangers school next spring (27Feb-02Mar14).
Halford tells Billboard.com he can't wait to meet the fans who pay to play with him and his pals: "I'm sure some of those Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Campers will be full-on. I will be interested to see if there's some Metal God, Rob Halford lookalikes wandering around Vegas in metal and studs and whatnot - although I'm sure you can find that in Vegas on any given day, right?"
But he thinks many of those who sign up for the camp will already be good players looking for tips to become great: "I think they're just looking for some professional tips and want to hear from the voice of experience.
"It's one thing to sing in the shower and it's another thing to sing on stage. They're two totally different worlds. So it'll be an opportunity for me to do the best I can to answer questions: 'How do you sing this note? How do you manage to scream like that? How do you breathe? How are you able to keep up that type of intensity?'
"I'll try to explain myself as best as possible and give some insight into what it's like to be a metal singer."
Sony Pictures Classics bosses are celebrating after winning a copyright infringement case filed against them by the owners of author William Faulkner's novel Requiem For A Nun. Faulkner Literary Rights, LLC officials filed suit against the movie studio, claiming that a nine-word quote from the novel which featured in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris film equated to copyright infringement.
But, on Thursday (18Jul13), a federal judge in Mississippi declared victory for the defendants, who argued that the Faulkner quote, uttered by Owen Wilson's character in the movie, was a "fair use", according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In summing up the case, U.S. District Judge Michael Mills noted, "The copyrighted work is a serious piece of literature lifted for use in a speaking part in a movie comedy, as opposed to a printed portion of a novel printed in a newspaper, or a song's melody sampled in another song. This transmogrification in medium tips this factor in favour of transformative, and thus, fair use."
He added, "No substantial similarity exists between the copyrighted work and the allegedly infringing work, and Sony's use in this matter was de minimis (of minimum importance). The use is not actionable, and this claim is dismissed."
Actor/director James Franco is preparing to tackle a second film adaptation of William Faulkner's work after receiving favourable reviews for his take on the writer's acclaimed novel As I Lay Dying. The star teamed up with his pal Matt Rager to adapt the story and it was warmly received when he unveiled the drama, which co-stars Danny McBride, at the Cannes Film Festival in France earlier this year (13).
He has now set his sights on turning Faulkner's 1929 classic The Sound and the Fury, about a family of Southern aristocrats who fall on hard times, into a film, which he plans to direct and star in, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Franco has already penned the script with Rager and he is hoping to recruit Mad Men star Jon Hamm to portray the family patriarch, Mr. Compson. McBride and Franco's actor brother Dave are also expected to be cast.
The star is keen to begin production on The Sound and the Fury this autumn (13), but admits there are still some funding issues to straighten out: "We're in pretty good shape (financially), but there are a few more things that have to happen before we're good."
The Sound and the Fury was last adapted for the big screen in 1959 by director Martin Ritt, with Yul Brynner in the lead role as Jason Compson.
British singer Newton Faulkner is inviting cameras into his home to record his every move while making a new album. The Dream Catch Me hitmaker aims to stream the entire recording process online to create a live video documentary, commencing next week (begs10Jun13).
The dreadlocked rocker will record the film, titled Studio Zoo, at his home and studio, and his recording sessions will feature special guests and live performances.
In a fan newsletter he writes, "Obviously this is pretty adventurous and will either prove to be the best or the stupidest (sic) thing I've ever agreed to. Only time will tell."
It’s a new week so naturally we’ve got a sneak peek at yet another accent-heavy persona that James Franco has perfected on screen. Unfortunately, this character does not brag about having shorts in every f**king color or blue Kool-Aid. In fact, this character and his family don't have much of anything at all.
The trailer for As I Lay Dying — the big screen adaptation for William Faulkner’s iconic and highly-acclaimed Depression-era novel — was released early Monday evening, and we’ve got your first look at the intense new footage, below. Franco directed, co-scripted, and starred in the Cannes film about a Mississippi family as they set out to fulfill their dying matriarch’s final wish, and features an impressive cast that also includes Logan Marshall-Green, Tim Blake Nelson, and (surprisingly enough) Danny McBride.
Take a look at the clip below for all the dark drama, and treat yourself to Franco’s latest accent: a deep southern drawl.
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
MORE:James Franco Gets Punked By 'One Life To Live'The Gay Jokes In Lonely Island's New Spring Break Video With James Franco Don't Make Any Sense5 Reasons James Franco Dating 'Game Of Thrones' Star Emilia Clarke Is A Terrible Idea
From Our Partners:What Happened to 33 Child Stars (Celebuzz)40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)