Saturday, March 24, 2012

‘The Hunger Games’: Never Go See a Teen-Targeted Film on Opening Weekend

I saw The Hunger Games on opening night yesterday which was probably a big mistake. It wasn’t a mistake seeing the movie itself, because it was actually a very good and faithful adaptation of the novel. It feels wrong to say that I enjoyed it because it’s such a disturbing story about children killing children, but as a Hunger Games fan, I appreciated it. Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic, as always, and more than carried the film with her powerful on-screen presence. 

However, I do have two points to make. One, do yourself a favour and never go see a preteen-targeted film when it’s first released, because anytime a boy appears on-screen and there’s anything even remotely romantic, there will be unwarranted amounts of squealing and shrieking, which is not only very annoying, it ruins the mood. So whether you’re Teem Peeta or Teem Gale, shut the hell up because amidst all of the oohing and aahing, dialogue gets lost.

Two, it was extremely disturbing to witness a theatre full of children cheering when the so-called villainous tributes were killed. Yes, there was actual clapping when children were being slain onscreen. Obviously there’s been a disconnect of sorts between what author Suzanne Collins intended and how the audience was reacting. It seems like the audience kind of got lost in the drama of it all and forgot that the story is about how unjust and wrong the Hunger Games are. It’s supposed to show that no matter who is being killed, it’s horrific and sad to subject children to murder for sport. But somehow the movie audience was doing exactly what the Capital’s residents were – getting off on watching kids killing kids.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Back! It's Why You Need to Watch 'Community'

After all the hoopla surrounding the cancellation or postponement (whatever you want to call it) of Community, I ploughed through the existing two and a half seasons and I LOVED IT. It's exciting that the social media world could literally bring back Community from the dead, with Facebook pages, petitions and Tumblrs all in support of the show. Unfortunately though, these folks may make a lot of noise online but it hasn't been translating into viewer-ship. So spread the word - Community is an awesome, hilarious and smart comedy. The unlikely gang of misfits at Greendale Community College will steal your heart and keep you laughing (out loud - which is quite an accomplishment these days). We have to fight back against crappy TV. Enough with the Jersey Shores, the Glees and the American Idols. If you're going to watch network TV, then at least watch something good. Like Community. Which returns tonight with new episodes! Six seasons and a movie, people. Let's make it happen.

Friday, March 9, 2012

'Sons of Anarchy's Kurt Sutter Talks Social Media at Paley Fest

Kurt Sutter is hands down one of the best show runners in the business. He doesn’t just write and produce one of today’s best television shows, but he actually gets what makes a show successful today – and that’s social media. He gets that it’s not just about putting together 12 solid episodes for fans to watch each week, it’s about making connections with fans, connections strong enough so that if your show is ever in danger of cancellation, like Community was earlier this year, fans can actually make a difference. At this week’s Paley Fest panel for Sons of Anarchy, Kurt explained his use of Social Media so eloquently that I just have to share it. I’m paraphrasing of course, but this is pretty much what he said...

“For me it’s just about staying connected to the fan base. I don’t underestimate the power of social media and when you have a show that has this strong a fan base and when you’re only on for three months out of the year, I feel it’s my responsibility as a producer and a show runner to continue to engage people and keep them interested and keep them excited about what’s coming up. And I do that as much as I possibly can. Sometimes for my own survival because I want the show to be successful but also because I know how difficult that is and I appreciate that. We really struggled with that on The Shield, we would lose fans with each season because of the break. And I didn’t want our show to suffer that same fate. So I stay engaged, I try to stay active and really sometimes it backfires on me but for the most part it’s been great.”

Kurt Sutter manages his Twitter feed, a blog, and puts out weekly production videos on his YouTube channel.

Part 1: Sound's a bit off in the beginning.

Part 2 (with the bit on Social Media):

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Demián Bichir Breaks Hearts in 'A Better Life'

A Better Life, a film about a Mexican gardener living in East LA, does a great job of bringing attention to a considerable cultural issue among immigrants. The so-called ‘melting pot’, celebrated in the United States as something meant to eliminate cultural differences, does more to make kids resent their cultural individualism, something so wonderfully highlighted in A Better Life. The relationship between single father Carlos, played by Demián Bichir, and his teenage son, to be honest, kind of broke my heart. Carlos spends the film slaving away to make something of himself for the sole purpose of providing opportunities for his son in America, opportunities that don’t include joining a gang or dropping out of high school. All the while, his son Luis lazily slacks around the house and gets into trouble whenever he does choose to go to school.

As a first generation Canadian, I know and understand the struggle to maintain your cultural individualism while attempting to ‘fit in’ and mould into a Canadian. It’s tough – especially with parents who’ve sacrificed so much to give you a better life in a more secure country. So it hits home, and Demián Bichir’s performance was more than deserving of his Oscar nod.

Oh, and remember when he was Nancy Botwin's spank-buddy slash Mexican drug lord husband Esteban on Weeds?! Yeah, couldn't believe the transformation either.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Best TV Dramas of the Past 25 Years, one of the best culture blogs around, is doing a series to determine what the greatest TV drama of the past 25 years is, and it got me thinking about what I consider to be the best. HBO revolutionized the TV drama, making it more about the overall narrative of the series, and less about what happens in each individual episode, and it’s because of shows like The Sopranos and the emergence of TV DVDs and DVR, that the way we watch TV has changed. We're now more likely to sit and watch an entire season in a few sittings, as opposed to waiting a week for a new episode.

My picks:
The Sopranos
Six Feet Under
Breaking Bad
Friday Night Lights
Sons of Anarchy

Notable mention goes to Mad Men. And as for #1, it’s hard to choose. My gut tells me to go with The Sopranos because I love every minute of every episode of every season, including the phenomenal cast, the acting, and the narrative, but I think each show I’ve selected brings something very different to the table. It really is impossible to compare a show like Friday Night Lights to something like Sons of Anarchy.