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.
How would you like to spend a night shopping with the stars? It's all possible thanks to the ever-intimidating Anna Wintour! The Vogue editor-in-chief came up with an idea in 2009 where retailers in NYC would stay open past their normal hours and offer in-store events to promote shopping and help stimulate the struggling economy. She called the night Fashion's Night Out, and it always takes place the Thursday before New York's fashion week begins.
FNO has become such a phenomenon that celebrities even take part in the festivities. From performances to guest appearances, A-listers are stepping out to support this stylish shopping extravaganza. And so in case you plan to participate, here is a list of where you can go tonight (in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago) to rub elbows with some of your favorite Hollywood stars.
NEW YORK CITY
Bloomingdales (1000 Third Avenue New York NY 10022): Actor Eddie Cibrian (6-8 p.m.), star stylist Rachel Zoe (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
Bottega Veneta (699 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10022): Actress Rose Byrne (6-11 p.m.)
Coach (595 Madison Avenue New York NY 10022): Saturday Night Live's Seth Myers (7-9 p.m.)
Completely Bare (25 Bond Street NYC NY 10012): RHONY's Cindy Barshop (6:30-10:30 p.m.)
DASH (119 Spring Street New York NY 10012): Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Jersey Shore's DJ Pauly D (6-8 p.m.)
David Yurman (712 Madison Avenue New York NY 10065): Camilla Belle (6-11 p.m.)
Dolce & Gabbana (825 Madison Avenue New York NY 10065): Justin Bieber (6-11 p.m.)
Giorgio Armani (760 Madison Avenue New York NY 10065): Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett (8-10 p.m.)
Jeffrey New York (449 West 14th Street New York NY 10014): Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe (6-11 p.m.)
Kiehl's (109 Third Avenue New York NY 10003): AJ Maclean of the Backstreet Boys (6-11 p.m.)
Lord & Taylor (424 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10018): Solange Knowles (6-9 p.m.) and Ivanka Trump (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
Lucky Brand (535 Broadway New York NY 10012): Project Runway star Tim Gunn (6-11 p.m.)
Macy's Herald Square (151 West 34th Street New York NY 10001): Tommy Hilfiger (5:30 p.m.), celeb DJ Samantha Ronson (6-7 p.m.), Kelly Rowland (7-8 p.m.), Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell (8-9 p.m.)
MAC Cosmetics (109 Spring Street New York NY 10012): Beth Ditto (8-9 p.m.)
Manolo Blahnik (31 West 54th Street New York NY 10019): Sarah Jessica Parker (6-11 p.m.)
Marc by Marc Jacobs Men's (382 Bleecker Street New York NY 10014): Bar Refaeli (6-10 p.m.)
Marc Jacobs (163 Mercer Street New York NY 10012): Dakota Fanning (6-10 p.m.)
Michael Kors (610 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10020): Michael Kors (6-11 p.m.)
New York & Company (715 Lexington Avenue New York NY 10022): Real Housewives of NY cast mates Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, Kelly Killoren Bensimon and Ramona Singer (6-10 p.m.)
Payless Shoe Source (716 Lexington Avenue at 58th Street New York NY 10022): Designer Christian Siriano (7:30-9 p.m.)
QVC (428 Broadway at Howard Street New York NY 10013): Kris Jenner, Heidi Klum, Donald Trump (6-11 p.m.)
Rag & Bone (119 Mercer Street New York NY 10012): Stars of Lala's Full Court Life Carmelo Anthony and La La Vazquez (6-11 p.m.)
Saks Fifth Avenue (611 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10022): Kris Humphries (6:30-10 p.m.), Ne-Yo (8-9 p.m.)
Sephora Times Square (200 West 42nd Street New York NY 10036): True Blood's Kristin Bauer, Kat Von D, Kate Walsh (6-11 p.m.)
Stuart Weitzman (625 Madison Avenue New York NY 10022): Michelle Trachtenberg and Hayden Panettiere (6:30-10 p.m.)
Ted Gibson Salon (184 5th Avenue 2nd Floor New York NY 10010): Twilight star Ashley Greene (8-10 p.m.)
Tiffany & Co (727 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10022): Leighton Meester (8 p.m.)
Versace (647 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10022): DRAKE (7-10 p.m.)
Victoria's Secrets (591-593 Broadway New York NY 10012): Angels Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Erin Heatherton and Lily Aldridge (7-10 p.m.)
The Beverly Center (Beverly Blvd lvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048): Nicole Richie (5-11 p.m.)
The Grove (189 The Grove Dr Los Angeles, CA 90036): Lauren Conrad (7-8 p.m.)
Westfield Topandga Canyon (6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Canoga Park, CA 91303, USA): Tori Spelling (6:30 p.m.)
900 Shops (900 North Michigan Avenue Chicago IL 60611): Bravo fashion guru Brad Goreski (6-9 p.m.)
Macy's State Street (111 North State Street Chicago IL 60602): Kelly Osbourne (6-8:30 p.m.)
Macy's Aventura (19535 Biscayne Boulevard Aventura Miami FL 33180): Real Housewives of Miami's Alexia Echevarria (6-7 p.m.), Real Housewives of NY's Jill Zarin (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
When award season rolls around there’s only one show that no one in Hollywood wants to be a part of ... the Annual Razzie Awards. The only competition honoring the best of the worst in film.
Even the biggest stars can’t dodge the occasional stinker and this year Mike Myers’ was no different. His summer flop The Love Guru received seven nominations, including worst picture, worst actor and worst screenplay for Myers. Ouch!
Myers shouldn’t feel too bad, Paris Hilton didn’t fair much better with nods for worst actress and worst screen couple for Hottie and the Nottie and worst supporting actress for Repo! The Genetic Opera.
Hilton’s Hottie and the Nottie will also compete for worst pic alongside The Love Guru, The Happening, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and spoof flicks Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans.
The 29th Annual Razzies, determined by the 687 members of the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation, will be announced Feb. 21, the morning before the Academy Awards.
And the nominees are:
Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans
The Hottie and The Nottie In The Name of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
The Love Guru
Larry the Cable Guy, Witless Protection
Eddie Murphy, Meet Dave
Mike Myers, The Love Guru
Al Pacino, 88 Minutes and Righteous Kill
Mark Wahlberg, The Happening and Max Payne
Jessica Alba, The Eye and The Love Guru
Cameron Diaz, What Happens in Vegas
Paris Hilton, The Hottie and the Nottie
Kate Hudson, Fool's Gold and My Best Friend's Girl
The entire cast of The Women (Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith and Meg Ryan)
Uwe Boll, 1968 Tunnel Rats, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and Postal
Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer for Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans
Tom Putnam, The Hottie and the Nottie
Marco Schnabel, The Love Guru
M. Night Shyamalan, The Happening
Worst Supporting Actor
Uwe Boll (as himself), Postal
Pierce Brosnan, Mamma Mia!
Ben Kingsley, The Love Guru, War, Inc. and The Wackness
Burt Reynolds, Deal and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Verne Troyer, The Love Guru and Postal
Worst Supporting Actress
Carmen Electra, Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans
Paris Hilton, Repo! The Genetic Opera
Kim Kardashian, Disaster Movie
Jenny McCarthy, Witless Protection
Leelee Sobieski, 88 Minutes and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans (jointly) - written by Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
The Happening - written by M. Night Shyamalan
The Hottie and the Nottie - written by Heidi Ferrer
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale - screenplay by Doug Taylor
The Love Guru - written by Mike Myers & Graham Gordy
Worst Screen Couple
Uwe Boll & any actor, camera or screenplay, 1968 Tunnel Rats, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and Postal
Cameron Diaz & Ashton Kutcher, What Happens in Vegas
Paris Hilton & either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore, The Hottie and the Nottie
Larry the Cable Guy & Jenny McCarthy, Witless Protection
Eddie Murphy & Eddie Murphy, Meet Dave
Worst Rip-Off, Prequel or Remake
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans (jointly)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
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