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
The entertainer died at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut on Thursday (12Aug10).
His Broadway credits include The National Health in 1974, a 1975 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness!, and a revival of The Glass Menagerie that same year.
He also starred in the original production of John Guare’s comedy Bosoms and Neglect in 1979, was part of the original Broadway cast of David Rabe’s Streamers in 1976, and starred as Romeo in a 1977 production of Romeo and Juliet.
Alongside Meryl Streep and Philip Bosco, Rudd played the title role in a 1976 production of Henry V for the New York Shakespeare Festival.
On U.S. television, he starred in Beacon Hill, and in 1977 TV movie Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye. He also appeared in The Betsy, the 1978 film based on the Harold Robbins novel, and continued his TV career throughout the 1980s with guest roles on TV series Hart to Hart, Moonlighting and others before leaving acting to raise his children.
Rudd is survived by his second wife, Martha Bannerman, their three children, Graeme, Kathryn and Eliza and his mother, Kathryn Rudd.
The Canadian star - real name Louis Harold Jacobovitch - passed away in his home in Manhattan, New York on Friday (23Oct09), reports the Associated Press.
Jacobi made his debut on Broadway in 1955 with a role in The Diary of Anne Frank before starring in nine other Broadway plays, including 1959's Tenth Man and Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn in 1961.
He also starred in a number of movies, including Arthur with Dudley Moore, Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex * (*But Were Afraid To Ask), and I.Q. alongside Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins.
Jacobi is survived by his brother, Rabbi Avrom Jacobovitch, as well as sister Rae Gold.
On Emmy night the only place filled with more glittery winged statuettes than the trophy room at the ceremony was HBO’s annual after party, thanks to a series of sweeping victories – 26 in all – by the pay cable network’s programming, including the miniseies John Adams, the telepic Recount, the drama In Treatment and the comedy Entourage.
West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center served as the epicenter for HBO’s bash, converted into a swanky, sprawling blue-green Brazillian-themed party palace as a sea of stretch limos deposited an increasingly starry contingent of Emmy-toting actors, writers, directors and producers, as well a dozens of famous faces from film and television.
Appropriately for a glitzy blowout filled with free-flowing champagne and low-cut gowns, the gang from Entourage led the party pack: Adrian Grenier greeted In Treatment star Gabriel Byrne at the door and congratulated him on his Emmy victory effusively, along with Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen; Kevin Dillon and Jerry Ferrara huddled up with the show’s upcoming guest star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the only member of The Sopranos family on hand; Kevin Connelly belied up to the bar alongside Stacy Keibler; and dapper Jeremy Piven worked the room with a stogie in one hand and an Emmy in the other before DJ RAVIDRUMS invited him to the platform high above the dance floor to play the drums for an appreciative crowd of stars that included the show’s sexiest guests, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino who swayed to the Piv’s beat.
The octogenarian “Mr. Warmth” himself, Don Rickles, held court at a table by the door alongside his shiny Emmy, circled by a crowd filled with HBO’s comedy superstars Larry David, Bill Maher, Cynthia Nixon, Jeff Garlin and Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement and Brett McKenzie. Baby mama Amy Poehler parked her pregnant frame in a nook near the outdoor patio overlooking a specially created candlelit “pond” while hubby Will Arnett fetched food for her.
John Adams executive producer Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson cruised in with the latest addition to his already impressive trophy mantle, and Hanks told Hollywood.com that even with his abundance of awards each honor had special significance to him. Looking at each honor, “you go back and remember all of the people that were working on it with you,” Hanks said.
The Hanks fam slipped out early, just missing the miniseries’ Emmy-winning stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, and as the night wore on the celebrity wattage only increased, with appearances by Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Michael C Hall, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, Tina Fey, Denis Leary, Mary-Louise Parker, John Krasinski, Hayden Panettiere, Sally Field and Lost-ies Daniel Dae Kim, Harold Perrineau, Jr. and Michael Emerson.
The party raged on into the wee hours – even Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa took a turn on the drums! – and even after spending hours squeezed into her Christian Laboutin shoes all day, Kate Walsh danced the night away as long as she could. “I’ve gotta work tomorrow,” she lamented, “but not too early.”