Film Friday #157

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy picks up directly after the end of the first with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) about to embark on their victory tour. Desperate to avoid the limelight and conflicted about her feelings for Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss shies away from the attention and is even more concerned to discover that she has become a kind of beacon of hope for the increasingly rebellious districts of Panem. Initially Katniss avoids being caught up in the “trouble” but when her own district comes into the firing line she cannot help but intervene, angering President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who makes the terrible announcement that the tributes for the seventy-fifth annual Hunger Games will be reaped from the  existing winners. Katniss will be forced to face the horror of the arena again… but this time things are different and the seemingly ruthless new games maker, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) will stop at nothing to make sure Katniss doesn’t survive the games. While I felt The Hunger Games dispensed with a lot of the politics in favour of the action, Catching Fire to some extent does the reverse and it’s very, very long. However, it is also very, very compelling and exciting and Lawrence does an outstanding job of portraying what a reluctant and very human heroine Katniss is. The whole film looks fantastic and is brave enough not to shy away from the darker elements in the novel. The only thing that really made me wonder is if any human straight woman would even consider picking Josh Hutcherson over Liam Hemsworth… and seriously what is up with those Hemsworth genes? So much pretty in one family should be illegal! 4/5

Katniss was worried Cinna had taken the disco inferno theme a step too far

Katniss was worried Cinna had taken the disco inferno theme a step too far

Dom Hemingway

Safe-cracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is released from prison after spending 12 years inside, having taken the fall for his boss, Mr Fontaine (Demian Bichir). Determined to collect what he believes is owed to him, Dom heads to France with his former partner, Dickie (Richard E. Grant) but after first losing control of his seemingly unstoppable temper and then letting the celebrations get the best of him, Dom ends up penniless on the sofa of his estranged and very unimpressed daughter, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke). Now he must attempt to put his life back together and rebuild his relationship with Evelyn but when you’re your own worst enemy, nothing is ever easy. This film starts with a five minute monologue from Dom about the wonders of his cock so you kind of know what you’re in for straight off the bat. Law does a good job of playing against type as the sexist, racist, drunk and utterly repulsive Hemingway but it’s not enough to get past this film’s biggest flaw, it’s unevenness of tone. Dom Hemingway can’t decide if it wants to be a slapstick comedy or a dark look into a the after effects of incarceration and ends up being a weird mishmash of the two that just doesn’t work. I also found the introduction of Dom’s guardian agent/philosopher prostitute, Melody (Kerry Condon) to be wholly unnecessary. There are some laugh out loud moments though, which prevent it from being a total write off. Just watch Lock Stock again instead. 2/5

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Dickie couldn’t help going nuts at the sight of Dom’s naked body

The Baader Meinhof Complex

This biopic follows the life and times of one of Germany’s most notorious terrorist groups, The Red Army Faction (RAF) in the 60’s and 70’s. It explores the fears of the generation raised by the Nazi generation who see American imperialism (supported by the German establishment) as a new kind of fascism to be destroyed. After starting out as a peaceful protest group, police brutality leads to the militarisation of the RAF lead by charismatic revolutionary Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and journalist Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck). While the ideals of the group start out lofty, chaos soon ensues as the government gets ever closer to tracking them down. This starts quite thrilling but it drags on for ages and if you’re not already aware of the RAF becomes quite confusing. The character development is very limited and by the end you’re not really bothered about what happens to any of the characters and it’s quite ironic that the most interesting person in the film is Horst Herold (Bruno Ganz), the government official in charge of the manhunt. Probably only for serious German history buffs. 2/5

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The hipster gun party was getting off to a slow start

From Dusk Till Dawn

Morally bereft brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Quentin Tarantino) are on their way to Mexico after committing a bank heist with the intention of rendezvousing with a connection that’s going to set them up with new lives. In order to make it safely across the border they kidnap a minister who has lost his faith (Harvey Keitel) and his two children (Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu) and hold them as collateral at the Titty Twister overnight. But it turns out all is not right at the sleazy biker bar and if they’re even going to be around in the morning, kidnapper and kidnapee are going to have to stick together.  No one but Robert Rodriguez could have directed this shlocky horror train wreck and made it work but somehow he does and it does work. It’s obvious that everyone in the film is having a whale of a time and not taking it seriously at all, which gives the audience permission to kickback and go along for the ride. There are some very dark moments though and if you think about some of Seth and Richie’s behaviour for too long it kind of makes it hard to root for them but overall the blistering dialogue and hilarious catchphrases won me over. 3.5/5

You're facing the wrong way boys

Film Friday #157 You’re facing the wrong way boys

10 Comments

  1. MIB

    I really enjoyed the Baader-Meinhoff Complex. I found it to be a very powerful and thought provoking bio pic that managed to get the plight over over without making them seem like cool anti-heroes, showing them as victims of their own darkened egos.

    1. Abbi

      I think you’re definitely right about the authenticity around showing how their egos influenced their behaviour. Baader in particular becomes more irrational and despotic by the minute and the way Meinhoff leaves her children is horrifying. However I kind of think it might have worked better as a mini-series. Somehow the film manages to feel rushed and overlong all in one go.

      1. MIB

        Fair point. If you haven’t seen it already there is a companion film of sorts If Not Us,Who?, that is set around the same time and features a future BM member. I’ve reviewed it on my site: http://wp.me/p2mMDp-Dk 😛

  2. I’m really looking forward to see Catching Fire.

    1. Abbi

      I really enjoyed it. They’ve done the book proud.

  3. I’m jealous – you’ve seen Catching Fire! I hope to see it this week. I’d always heard the Meinhof thingy title but never knew what it was about! Don’t like the sound of Hemingway – I’ve never liked Jude Law. And I’ve always thought Hayek was super sexy in From Dusk Till Dawn! I mean, she’s no Chris Hemsworth… Btw – you can have Liam & I’ll take Chris. 😉

    1. Abbi

      You should see it ASAP. It does not disappoint. Dom Hemingway is totally forgettable. The only role I have ever liked Jude Law in is Watson in Sherlock Holmes but this was hubby’s pick. I am not willing to make this Hemsworth agreement you speak of. Can’t we share both?

  4. Great selections! I still want to see Dom Hemingway, even if it’sjust to watch Jude Law in a completely different role. Watched Catching Fire last night, and even though it’s really long, it’s also very entertaining! Had a great time with that one.

    Even though he’s real pretty and I’m not a straight woman haha, I would so pick Hutcherson over Hemsworth.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! This really is a completely different role for Jude Law so if that’s what you are looking for you definitely won’t be disappointed.

      I am so glad Catching Fire was good. It had a tough act to follow after the first one and it’s great that they managed to up the game.

      Would you really pick Hutcherson? Why???

      1. I felt relieved after watching it. I really hoped it would be good and it was! (a bit long, though).

        I don’t know. He’s more my type 😉

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