ABC Television Network
The much-derided title notwithstanding, Selfie looks like quite the promising pilot, and here are a few reasons why.
5. People may be groaning about the title, but...
A TV show with a focus on social media is actually kind of a great idea. Already, lots of shows make heavy use of conventions like texts being displayed on screen, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Selfie looks like it's going to cover everything from viral videos to being "Insta-famous," and what a way to connect with that coveted 18 to 34 demographic, eh?
4. It's time for an Asian American male romantic lead!
Asian American men are traditionally emasculated by pop culture (see: Long Duk Dong), so it's great to see the hero of a romantic story portrayed by Korean American actor John Cho. Plus, we know from his excrutiatingly awkward (yet ultra-relatable) elevator rides with the girl of his dreams in Harold and Kumar that he's going to absolutely kill at the romantic comedy genre.
3. Speaking of the ever-awesome John Cho...
Dude has serious comic chops — have you seen Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle? Or his cameo on How I Met Your Mother? Or 30 Rock? The list goes on — basically, Cho as a modernized Henry Higgins is a stroke of genius.
2. And the other lead?
Doctor Who alumnus Karen Gillan is certainly no stranger to excellent comic timing either. And we're more than excited to see her particular brand of humor on American TV — we've missed her ever since the Weeping Angels spirited Amy Pond away to the 1930s!
1. Everyone loves Pygmalion/My Fair Lady!
It's the mother of all makeover stories, after all. Heck, the story has been told so many times we can barely keep track, yet we've thoroughly enjoyed each version. Here's a refresher: the original Greek myth Pygmalion, to George Bernard Shaw's play of the same name, to the musical My Fair Lady, to the '80s prom movie, She's All That. See? All delightful!
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
The Billy Liar and Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell writer passed away in his sleep on Friday morning (04Sep09). He was 80.
His death comes after a short undisclosed illness.
Born in Leeds, England, Waterhouse started his career as a clerk in an undertaker's office, which inspired his first bestseller and play, Billy Liar.
He served in the Royal Air Force and then signed on as a reporter for the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper.
He became a Daily Mirror journalist in the early 1950s and his literary skills were so renowned he frequently wrote speeches for top politicians like Harold Wilson.
He wrote his first novel, There Is A Happy Land, in 1956 and went on to create one of the West End's favourite shows Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, based on his friend Bernard's weekly Low Life columns in the Spectator magazine.
Waterhouse and Bernard also co-scripted two beloved British films, Whistle Down The Wind and A Kind Of Loving.
He was nominated for the Best British Screenplay BAFTA three years running in the early 1960s.