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.
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Here are some of this week's highlights from Flavorwire, VH1, Celebuzz, and Hollywood.com, ranging from Jennifer Lawrence to libraries.
There's a feud going on between Jennifer Lawrence and Joan Rivers. Apparently, Jennifer Lawrence dissed Rivers' show Fashion Police in an interview, calling it damaging to women and the world. Rivers fired back on Twitter, suggesting that Lawrence was arrogant and hypocritical. Read the full interaction at Celebuzz.
VH1 offers likability tips to Anne Hathaway. Number one: Be more like Jennifer Lawrence. The actress has inexplicably drawn the internet's anger, but could there be a solution? Here is VH1's advice to Hathaway to end all the Hathahate.
Find out who the best pop culture librarians are. Whether they are the villainous shushers or the sexy nerds, librarians hold a dear place in pop culture. From Tammy II of Parks and Rec to Conan the librarian, check out which librarians made Flavorwire's list.
There's a lot of genre-bending going on. Hollywood.com picks up on the trend and lists the shows, both new and old, that created their own genres. Super Fun Night is labeled a sad-com, while Golden Girls invented the much-mimicked quartet comedy. Read the full list at Hollywood.com.
Ryan Reynolds landed the oddest birthday gift as he turned 37 on Wednesday (23Oct13) - his own waxwork. The Hollywood hunk was immortalised at Madame Tussauds Hollywood after staff asked movie and TV fans to vote for the star they'd most like to see waxed.
Reynolds beat out Ryan Gosling, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Hudson and Sofia Vergara.
More than 20 artists took two months to craft the lifelike Reynolds and the effort wasn't lost on the thrilled actor, who unveiled his new figure and said, "This is undoubtedly the largest and most spectacular birthday candle I've ever received."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's highly-anticipated directorial debut Don Jon hit theatres this past weekend, and the reviews are looking good. One of the draws to the film -- which focuses on a New Jersey guy and his porn addiction (and much more) -- is definitely the cast. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead, and a supporting cast that includes Tony Danza and Scarlett Johansson, there's plenty to get excited about. But in case you need five more reasons to check out the flick, here are a few cameo appearances we can't wait to see in Don Jon.
Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum
In Don Jon, JGL may play a porn addict, but his girlfriend (ScarJo) has her own addiction -- romantic comedies. Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum apparently play a couple in a phony movie, creating a movie-within-a-movie feel which should be pretty awesome. You can expect a hilarious, melodramatic love scene from the two esteemed actors.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Meagan Good
Upon first learning that Cuba Gooding Jr. was in the film, we couldn't help but wonder if he maybe played a porn star in one of Jon's favorite movies? It may sound bizarre, but if you've ever seen Gooding in Lee Daniels' Shadowboxer, you get it. But alas, he appears in a scene similar to Hathaway and Tatum's -- he teams up with the gorgeous Meagan Good for another romantic, tongue-in-cheek type love scene.
John C. Reilly
Okay, we actually have no idea what he’s doing in this movie, but really. Who cares? It's John C. Reilly! And this will be a nice hold-over until Anchorman 2 gets released.
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Ryan Gosling has topped a new list of actors lusty film fans would most like to see naked in a saucy sex tape. The Drive star has beaten out Channing Tatum and Brad Pitt on the latest sex survey from XCritic and Vivid Entertainment.
Gosling leads the pack with 21.6 per cent of the vote - 4.4 per cent more than runner-up Pitt.
Channing comes in third and Matthew McConaughey and Johnny Depp round out the top five.
Last month (Jun13), Jennifer Lawrence beat out fellow 2013 Oscar winner Anne Hathaway to top the XCritic/Vivid Entertainment survey for hot females.
Meanwhile, voters decided a Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel sex tape would be the hottest seller among celebrity couples. Mr. and Mrs. Timberlake beat out Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux and Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Royal couple Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge came in fourth and lesbians Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi rounded out the top five.
Jennifer Lawrence has beaten fellow 2013 Oscar winner Anne Hathaway to the top of a new sex tape poll. The Hunger Games star is the actress men would most like to see in the throes of passion, according to a new XCritic.com survey.
In the upcoming 2014 comedy The Other Woman Cameron Diaz plays a girl who finds out that her wonderful boyfriend is actually married — thus making her, you guessed it, the other woman. Diaz and the wife, played by Leslie Mann, then team up to get revenge on the two-timing cheater.
Photos from the movie’s set have surfaced and Diaz is seen cozying up to another other woman, but just who is this beach blonde lookalike? Diaz is sharing a smile with her body double while shooting a scene with Taylor Kinney in The Hamptons.
Want more pics of celebrities with their doubles? Take a look at our gallery below to see on set dopplegangers of Megan Fox, Zooey Dechanel, Jennifer Lopez and more!
13 Celebrities and Their Stunt Doubles
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Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence has found her newest newest cinematic adventure. The critically acclaimed actress will star in the upcoming drama The Rules of Inheritance.
According to Deadline, The Rules of Inheritance is based on Claire Bidwell Smith’s memoir about a young woman who loses her parents to cancer, but then finds herself in the process. The full description reads, "While struggling to cope, she propels herself into many romances, adventures and travels in an inspirational, emotionally charged and surprisingly humorous journey that celebrates life, the people we love and lose and the discoveries we make along the way."
Directing the film is Susanne Bier who just helmed Serena with Lawrence and her Silver Linings Playbook co-star Bradley Cooper. The Hunger Games star is also set to produce the film alongside Silver Linings Playbook’s Bruce Cohen while FilmNation Entertainment will executive produce.
FilmNation’s Glen Basner and Aaron Ryder said, “We are thrilled to be working with the dream team of Jennifer Lawrence, Susanne Bier, Abi Morgan and Bruce Cohen. We have no doubt that this inspirational and hopeful book will be turned into an emotionally powerful movie that audiences around the world will fall in love with.”
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Anne Hathaway's decision to chop off her long locks for her Oscar-winning role in Les Miserables has paid off - her pixie cut has been voted the Most Influential Film Haircut of All Time, according to a joint poll by officials at the Hairdressing Council of Great Britain and Universal Pictures. She beat Jennifer Aniston's long, loose curls for Along Came Polly to the top spot, while Audrey Hepburn's famous updo in Charade came in third place.
Subjectivity aside, there are a few movies that maintain supremecy as the most influential of humankind's cinematic constructions. The art of film, the Hollywood business, and perhaps the vast sum of our planet's societies are forever changed by the triumphant elements of great titles, such as Citizen Kane and its foreboding cinematography, The Godfather and its superhuman performances, Along Came Polly and its sort of curly-on-the-bottom hairstyles.
Scoff all you want at the ranking of Ben Stiller's 2004 "comedy" (you have to muster at least one laugh before you can earn the branding without undermining quotation marks) among the likes of the business' most persuasive pictures, but Jennifer Aniston's flowing ringlets have earned her a silver medal in the Hairdressing Council of Great Britain's declaration of the most influential movie 'dos of all time. Of all time.
That means, Aniston's ferret-wielding locks overshadow the likes of Johnny Depp's fraying bulrushes in Edward Scissorhands, of Little Orphan Annie's red 'fro, of Princess freakin' Leia. The only follicular sculpting that did beat out Aniston's Along Came Polly 'do: Anne Hathaway's crew cut in Les Misérables, as reported by E!. The pair even topped Audrey Hepburn's game-hanging Charade updo, which earned third place.
Total hair-esy! Completely dis-tressing! They'd have to be fila-mental to make that ruling! In the generations of widescreen coiffures, spanning from Travis Bickle to Jack Dawson, we've surely seen a bob or a perm of some kind with more a societal impact than Hathaway in Les Mis, or certainly Aniston in Along Came Polly.
But maybe we're simply defining "influence" incorrectly. Maybe it's not how many immitators a 'do inspired, but something far greater by which the Hairdressing Council of Great Britain is setting its standards. Perhaps Hathaway's Les Mis frizz and Aniston's Polly topper changed the world in far greater ways...
Let's look at our dear planet on Dec. 26, 2012 — one day after the theatrical release of Hathaway's Les Miserables. In the wake of Fantine's Oscar-winning performance, the globe saw Egypt undertake a new Islamist-backed consitution; it saw Russia's parliament ban American citizens from adopting emigrating Russian children; it saw Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe take office, select his new league of cabinet members, and oversee the decimation of the Yen's value to a new low; it saw the appointment of Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz into the seat of deceased U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye; it saw the opening of the world's longest high-speed rail route, connecting Beijing to Guangzhou.
Now, we're not saying that all of these things happened solely because of Hathaway's haircut, but we can't be certain that they would have happened otherwise, now can we?
And let's look at the big blue marble on Jan. 17, 2004 — one day after Along Came Polly hit theaters. Following the John Hamburg-directed 90-minute jab-in-the-Adam's Apple, we saw NASA cancel its plans for the Hubble Telescope service mission; we saw the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou declare his intentions to sign a mutual agreement with Turkey to decrease military expenses; we saw Cyprian biologist Dr. Panos Zavos transplant a two-week-old embryo into a human woman's uterus.
Now, we're not saying that all of these things happened solely because of Aniston's haircut, but...
... yeah, actually, we are. They did. You can thank Rachel for the delapidation of our country's space program.
There you have it: definitive evidence that Hathaway and Aniston, and their respective vibrissa, changed the world forever, putting to shame the cinnamon buns of Carrie Fisher and the various cowlicks of an early '90s Jim Carrey. So, you can lay your complaints to rest, investing trust in the solid and steadfast assurance that these woman are indeed those most deserving of the title.
It doesn't matter that Universal Pictures, the studio behind Les Mis, Along Came Polly, and Charade alike, was involved in the Hairdressing Council of Great Britain's selection process... I mean, surely the company wouldn't stoop to favor their own projects in such a venerated title as Most Influential Hair. No, ye cynics. We live in a world filled with embryo transplants, high-speed Chinese railways, and trust. All thanks to a French hooker's buzz cut, and, to a slightly lesser extent, a flighty Friends vet's arching split ends.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
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