March 2012 - Things I Read, Things I Watched & Things I Decided I Want to Read

March is over & it's time for another post devoted to the movies I enjoyed watching, books I enjoyed reading & books I decided I want to read sometime in the future.

Past posts - February 2012 / January 2012
THE BOOKS I READ & ENJOYEDOn Writing by Stephen King / The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson / Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson / Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson / Terrible, Horrible Edie by E.C. Spykman / Nicholas by René Goscinny
THE BOOKS I DISCOVERED THIS MONTH & AIM TO SOMEDAY ENJOY -... Virgina Wolf by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
What I Wore Today by Gemma Correll
Up & Down New York by Tony Sarg / Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé 

I rewatched Chinatown...
.... and Finding Nemo. I cried during the intro when Marlin's wife gets eaten. Pixar movies = always hitting you hard emotionally within the first few minutes. Finding Nemo gets a few tears but Up! Full on sobs.

Now, movies I saw in the theater....
Wanderlust. I'm a Wet Hot American Summer person, so I go see all the movies by those guys. Yeah, Wanderlust didn't get the greatest reviews, but parts of it were super-hilarious. & the scene with Paul Rudd talking to himself in the mirror made me cry almost as much as Up did (but obviously in a totally different fashion).
Jeff Who Lives at Home. It's funny, throughout the whole movie I sided with Jason Segel's character (Jeff).... cheering him on: "You follow your destiny, Jeff! Don't let your brother get you down! Stalk various Kevin's - it's fine! Borderline adorable even!". Meanwhile, I'm in the midst of rewatching Lost with people who have never seen it before and thus in the midst of hardcore John Locke loathing. "Loathing / unadulterated loathing" - Wicked style.  He's probably my least favorite fictional character EVER (although I'm also slowly making my way through Dawson's Creek in my quest to watch all the high school shows I didn't watch during high school, and man oh man do I have some major rage issues stemming from Dawson behavior. And Joey behavior. And Gram's "Oh Jennifer"'s.)

Watching Lost a few days after I saw Jeff Who Lives at Home I realized that I was being hypocritical: despising John Locke for the same behavior that I found endearing in Jeff.

"It's my destiny, Jack" - DIE JOHN LOCKE.

"It's my destiny, Pat" - OH JEFF LET ME GIVE YOU A HUG.

Oh well.
Finally, I saw The Hunger Games. I started to write a paragraph here with my thoughts, but that paragraph turned into like SIX paragraphs... so I'm going to paste them down in the comment section. If you want to read them, you can. But I'm not going to force my Hunger Games ramblings on you. In short - I liked it.


  1. I have a pretty specific way with dealing with book to film adaptations that I almost always follow. I read a lot of movie blogs, so I always know when a movie based on a book is going into production months and months before the movie actually comes out. If I see a book that I haven't already read but have heard about and have some interest in is going to be made into a movie - I'll read it then. That way when the movie actually comes out (ages later), I'll be able to appreciate it as someone who has read the book... but at the same time everything won't be so fresh in my mind that all the changes and omissions will be glaringly obvious and possibly annoying. It works well for me.

    I didn't know what I'd think about The Hunger Games. I saw it this weekend, not the opening one, so over the course of the past week I've read SO many reviews and opinions. From people who read the books and didn't read the books, people that liked it and people that hated it... I thought it was great. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

    One of the things that kept getting brought up in the reviews I read was that people thought that it wasn't made clear that Katniss / Peeta was partially a "showmance" on her part, but I thought it was definitely clear (and one of the people I saw the movie with hadn't read the books and they got that too).

    Other people were mad that it was shot in such a way as to avoid showing any blood and assorted viscera when kids got killed (whereas the book was pretty graphic). Yeah, that's true. And it is a shame because the whole point of all the violence is to make you uncomfortable and cringe and feel implicated as a viewer for watching it & so on and so forth, but I knew there was no way in hell the death scenes in the movie were going to be as graphically depicted as they were in the book. And I sort of feel like saying - "duh" to anyone who thought they were going to be. It's a pg-13 movie. It's not going to be super grisly. We're not going to see organs and gaping throat wounds. It would be a more affecting and horrifying movie if it was, but you can get away with a lot more violence in a YA book than you can in a movie. If it replicated the violence in the book, it would’ve been rated r. But then the audience the book was meant for wouldn’t have been able to go see it! That wouldn’t make any sense.

    And yeah - I wish there'd been a little bit more development with Rue's character (especially since I enjoyed the actress playing her so much) and Haymitch. And that we'd actually heard Effie's name. But those were all little things.

    I didn't remember the book well enough to get angry about the changes to the very end so I didn’t get irked about these changes until later (thus my way of not reading things so close to the release pays off), but once I started poking around post-viewing, I DID get a little upset about how they changed the hovercrafts coming in to get Peeta and Katniss and her shouting for him when they got separated, because that made it clear that she DOES have feelings for him. She wasn’t totally faking the affection. Also - the way the end played out in the book was (to me) more cinematic than the way they did it in the movie! So I don't understand the reasoning behind change.

    I love the way the relationship between those two characters unfolds, so one of the few things I really DID want from the movie was for their relationship to progress in the same way as it did in the book.

    I love Peeta. One of my favorite characters ever.

    Okay I’ll stop with all that. Even though I have more to say about changes and all that. But…. I can’t go on forever.

  2. Warning; SPOILERS.

    Interesting - I am obsessed with the movie too. I think the amount of violence they showed was JUST about the amount I could handle. Any more and it would be far too much I think. I was a bit surprised that Rue was under developed too, in that the link between her and Prim in Katniss' mind was not really made clear.

    Also - how beautiful was Jennifer Lawrence! And how wonderful was the music! And the excesses of the Capitol were wonderfully different and horrible compared with the real life of people in the districts. Good movie I think.

    1. I love Jennifer Lawrence. I couldn't be happier with her as Katniss & she seems so awesome in interviews.

      I immediately downloaded the score as soon as I got back home.

  3. I thought it was clear that her feelings were showmance, but I thought it wasn't clear that his feelings weren't...and that over time her feelings kind of weren't either. I just thought their whole relationship in general got the shaft...the cave scene that is days in the book (days of MAKEOUTS) got like 5 minutes and one pathetic kiss. There are so many wonderful conversations between them in the book and they used pretty much none of that dialogue...including the last convo where he basically tells her how he feels, she's confused, he's pissed...why would you cut that!!! It's like 10 seconds long and clears up EVERYTHING about what their relationship is/was! Dumb.

    I feel like their relationship with Haymitch was also really shortchanged...how he starts as a depressed drunk who has to watch kids die every year and then grows to care for them over time. In the movie he went from drunk to sober real fast with no explanation. A big reduction, I thought, of a really complex character.

    And I didn't care about the lack of blood and violence as much as just the fact that I felt like the horror of the games was ever really shown; they focused so much on the Careers, the kids who want to kill, and not much on the others. There was one second on the ride over to the arena where they flashed on a kid who looked scared shitless, and I really wanted more moments like that. I thought the reaping was great...the look on Peeta's face when he is called was so heartbreaking (and Prim too) and I felt like more of the movie should have felt like that.

    I'm re-reading the book now and 50 pages in I am consistently pissed with all they changed, but I'm a big purist with books I love and want every moment to be exactly the same. But the biggest thing I miss is the emphasis on hunger. The Capitol uses hunger (among other things) to control the people of Panem, all Katniss thinks about is food, but that's totally lost in the movie. My boyfriend's biggest complaint, as someone who hasn't read the books, was that he had no sense for the environment of the nation, or district 12, and the relationship of the Capitol to the districts.

    Long winded rambling aside, I enjoyed the crap out of it and thought the casting was perfect. But I felt like there was so much great material to work with from the book, and so much missed opportunity in the translation.

    1. I agree with your paragraph about their relationship. It really WOULD have been super-easy for them to clarify it more. Hopefully the start of the next movie will have them talking about it / doing that?

      I read one article (maybe it was one of the ones you linked to on facebook?) about how the relationship / romance between the two of them was toned down in order to make the movie more palatable to anti-kissing-movie boys (like the kid in Princess Bride was with books). That was the only place I read anything implying that, but if it's true - TERRIBLE. Terrible. & terrible.

      And the kissing should have been steamier. They're teenagers! Yeah. My original comment made me seem happier with the portrayal of Peeta/Katniss love than I actually am now that I'm going off about it.

      Agreed Haymitch-wise. It's always the mid-sized characters that get shafted. They should've cut out a lot of the Snow stuff and given more Haymitch time instead. We didn't REALLY need to have him glowering around this movie with his bushy white beard.

      The reaping was the best part of the movie. It was so well done. That's why I liked the first trailer so much, because it mostly focused on that (if I remember correctly?). So you're right. That was horrifying while being utterly non-graphic, the games themselves could've done the same thing.

      Uh. As I write this comment to you I'm really starting to dislike the movie! hahahaha. But I was allllll about it when I was actually watching it (& you said you enjoyed it to, so I'm not alone in my dueling feelings). I guess that I liked it a lot because I DIDN'T end up hating it. I always have such low expectations for adaptations that anything that isn't total crap makes me happy. That's sad. But.

      I suppose what is most infuriating is that all of the stuff you / I just mentioned would have been SO EASY to add. Including the stuff about actually being, you know, HUNGRY. Cutting out the stuff with the mayor's daughter - totally understandable: taking that out of the movie cut out a nice chunk of time. But they left out stuff that could've been easily interwoven.

      Okay. Enough rambling, but thank you for responding to my rambling with rambling of your own, Laurie.

    2. Agree agree agree with everything you said. I also really liked the movie when watching it, but then it took a few days of thinking, reading articles, endless discussions, and re-reading the book for me to start getting angry with all its flaws. But I guess that's better than hating it outright! And I certainly didn't hate it. They totally should have cut Snow for more Haymitch/Peeta/Rue time...I think it's awesome and terrifying that the first time we really see him in the books is when he COMES TO HER HOME to threaten her...why not stick with it? And I actually liked that Seneca was more of a character and the scenes in the control room, but would have much rather had cave makeouts (which yes, should have been steamier! They need to make it up to me with some hot beach love in Catching Fire. I want shirtless Peeta, dammit.)

      I hadn't heard that they cut the romance down for the boys...that is incredibly dumb if true, especially since the fan base tilts heavily female. Something a co-worker pointed out is that if you don't know the books you might just think Gale is her boyfriend, further muddying the very open/ambiguous love triangle. Clarification, people! Exposition!

      But yes, I think your point at the end was really what it came down to for me...I didn't understand WHY they made the changes they did. It was all laid out neat and easy for them in the book, and they discarded a lot of it for inferior choices that really make no sense. If it ain't broke...

  4. I completely agree with you about the movie (and I love your formula. I kind of do this, too) I read the books last last Christmas and then listened to the audiobook again last Christmas (the woman who does this does a TERRIBLE job but this way I could listen while i was at work) so that I could converse with my friends who all decided to read it when the trailers started playing. So it wasn't terribly fresh in my mind but fresh enough.

    I loved the casting and thought everyone did an excellent job. The main changes they made story-wise I was ok with. The only thing I wish I had felt more of was the relationship between Peeta and Katniss. I thought it was ok, but I really was not in love with Peeta like I was when I read the books.

    I thought the set and costume design was fantastic. The disparity of District 12 and the excess of the Capitol were both pitch perfect.

    What I thought made it a good movie adaptation was their addition of the gamemakers and making them such a key part of the movie. While this would have been impossible to do in the book the way it was written, I loved seeing this in the movie and thought it really added an element that set it apart from the book. Making Seneca Crane a more important figure and seeing his interactions with President Snow really showed how much of a pawn he was and humanized his character, I felt.

    I agree that the ending to the book seemed more cinematic and I'm curious to see how that plays out in the next movie. Overall, thought they did a really excellent job, though.

    Also, completely in love with the Arcade Fire song that plays during the credits and how it slowly builds until the song starts playing at the end.

    .....end of rambling.

    1. 1. I agree with loving the casting choices. It's one of the only adaptations that I've ever seen in which not a single casting choice infuriates me.

      2. Agree about the Peeta/Katniss thing. Especially after just responding to another comment. I feel like I loved Peeta in the movie because of the BOOKS not because of anything the movie actually did to get me to love Peeta. If that makes sense.

      3. Agreed again about how well they did the contrast. It would've been so fun to work on the costumes / production design of the movie.

      4. I'm glad you agree about the original ending being more cinematic.... I'm hoping that the next movie begins with lots of time spent on the whole romantic struggle between Peeta / Katniss so people that haven't read the books really understand the complicated feelings going on between the two of them. Because right now there's no way anyone who hasn't read the books understands just how much Peeta cares about her, and how it wasn't faked at all for him.

    2. Ok, reading all of the long rambling posts and your long rambling replies and starting to dislike the movie more. I still like it and think they did a good job adapting a book that is told entirely from one characters perspective without having cheesy overdubs of her thoughts but there have been excellent suggestions for easy little fixes that would have taken it to the next level. It just makes me wonder how they managed to not include some of these things and still have the movie be 2.5 hours long. And I completely forgot the lack of explanation about the mockingjay as Scout pointed out. Especially since that becomes such a crucial detail later on. This DVD better have a damn good directors cut! Maybe in thirty years they'll make it into a miniseries.

    3. Right?!?!?! I walked out being like - "YES! So good!". And now I'm like, "Damn you Gary Ross!! It could've been so much better!"

      Ultimately, I wish that EVERY book would be made into a mini-series instead of a movie. I read all the Game of Thrones / George R.R. Martin books and thank GOODNESS they're a tv series, not a series of movies because that would have been a nightmare leaving-things-out-wise.

      Mildred Pierce is a super-slim book - and yet they managed to make a mini-series out of that. Most (good) books could sustain one.

      I always say that if I was super-wealthy (like SUPER SUPER wealthy, or else I wouldn't be able to afford this) I'd make a tv show out of A Series of Unfortunate Events. My god would that be amazing. I don't know if you've read them... but. Yeah. Just... wow.

      But a Hunger Games miniseries! Or a tv show on hbo or something that would only last for a few seasons... they could go in depth into all the other districts! Expand on things that aren't even in the book! IT WOULD BE AMAZING. AMAAAAAZING.

    4. Oh my gosh A Series of Unfortunate Events would be an amaaaazing tv show. I forgot how disappointed I was by that movie. I thought the end credits were the best part.

      Hunger Games is the number one movie, book, AND album in the country right now. I think it deserves to be made into a tv show, too. They're doing Spiderman again already! They can do this.

  5. Oh, also I loved the way they designed the cornucopia. In my head, it was just a giant Thanksgiving cornucopia which I thought was silly, but I guess I'm not that creative haha Their design made made much more sense.

  6. I have SO many things I want to say! First, I'm so glad you posted your thoughts :)
    Second, the change that bothered me the most was that they didn't explain the meaning behind the Mockingjay pin. And I didn't care that they left out the other girl, until someone pointed out that her father was mayor.
    Third, I loved Seneca! When I read the book, I kept forgetting who he was, so I was really excited to see how they developed him in the movie, and I'm sad he won't be there anymore.
    Fourth, I thought the Katniss/Peeta relationship was confusing in the movie, and I've read the book! I thought they could have explained things more, but if other people understood it, I guess it's okay :) There was one part when she thought Peeta had died - the cannon went off or something and she didn't know where he was. I thought that part was a great depiction of her real feelings for him.
    Fifth, I loved the Capitol. The sea of neon was fantastic :)
    Sixth, I was super impressed with Jennifer Lawrence :)
    Finally, let me agree with Marisa - I pictured a Thanksgiving cornucopia, too, and it just didn't work.

    1. I understand leaving out the mayor / his daughter as far as trying to keep the movie from being 7 hours long, but they should've explained the Mockingjay more. They're going to HAVE to in the next book.

      Agreed on the Seneca love. His beard was a work of art.

  7. Like you and the commenters above I enjoyed the movie while watching it, then the disappointment settled in afterward. I hate to think I was influenced by negative reviews, but I was nodding along with them in agreement (for example http://www.theawl.com/2012/03/the-hunger-games-bloodless-sexless-and-not-very-hungry).

    I think mostly I'm consistently amazed at the things filmmakers choose to linger on (who cares how the game makers built those fake-looking mutts? haha) versus the things left unexplained, that would be so simple and quick to clarify (they showed the Peeta / bread flashback three times, but not once mentioned that it was important because Katniss was starving, because Peeta had never even spoken to her before and he got in trouble just to help her). I would be happy to have the job of watching films and pointing such things out to filmmakers, haha. I understand it's hard to keep everything straight! But why do I find myself stressed out worrying about the things people who haven't read the book must surely be confused about? haha.

    I too loved the casting but wonder at the emphasis on the whole love triangle thing, when while that DOES matter, particularly in the next two books, I thought it was refreshing in the first book that Katniss is all about survival / family and doesn't let boys define her (at least at first, can't help fallen' in love yo)...oh well.

    (I also am the only person I know who liked Gale but that was said in a whisper because I don't want to get shouted at. :( I like Peeta too!)

    Anyway. In other news THIS amazing video is almost more faithful to the book than that film was, I've watched it several times and love it...no judging :)

    1. I agree about not caring about the mutts, Sally. In some reviews I read, people were mad that MORE attention wasn't paid on the mutts / that they didn't have the faces of the dead tributes. The mutt's having the eyes of dead tributes was a wonderful detail in the book but I didn't think it was one of the things the movie really needed to be successful. Some things CAN be given up!

      And yes! The bread flashback! Showed three times but never clear!!

      I liked Gale, too! Which is important, I think. I'm a complete and utter Peeta person but there's nothing wrong with Gale..... he's just not Peeta, hahaha.

      & I haven't watched that video yet but I've had it bookmarked. Later tonight.

    2. Yeah, when it comes to the smaller details, you've just got to let them go...I also was surprised by those who wished for more violence, I thought it was fairly tasteful and I'm glad they didn't make it more disturbing than it already was!

      And THANK you! I really don't think there's any reason for people to virulently hate Gale...yeah, he turns kind of callous/dickish by the end (hope that's not a spoiler), but he's so good to her! Ultimately I just found him more attractive than Peeta I think? (Yes, always the BEST reason to like a character, haha.) I guess I just dig the whole "friends-yet-more" type romance. ...Plus in my mind Gale = Panem's Jon Snow.

      Hahaha okay I'll stop proving my nerdiness in spades. Enjoy the video...I gasped out loud when they poured water on the Beanie's head!? (spoiler #2) but I care way too much for the well-being of stuffed animals.


Thanks for your comment you wonderful person you.