March Madness: Let the Hunger Games Begin

Wow. What a glorious week here in NE Ohio. We’ve had record high temps for this time of year and more days with sun than not. Talk about March Madness. And Ohio State has advanced into the elite eight of the NCAA tournament, with Ohio U in the queue tonight. Wonder how difficult it will be to land a seat at The Crystal in Athens?

Probably not as difficult as getting in to see the flick The Hunger Games. Talk about March Madness. As best I can tell, this is the only movie showing at the multi-screen theater complex I generally go to, with various showings available virtually throughout the day and night.

I hope the movie lives up to the expectations. And that’s often difficult. Hey. Let’s be honest. Has there really been a good adaption of a best seller for the big screen since Gone With the Wind? Just sayin’.

And there is actually a section of Gone With the Wind that should resonate with The Hunger Games fans.

Hunger gnawed at her [Scarlett O’Hara] empty stomach again and she said aloud: ‘As God is my witness, and God is my witness, the Yankees aren’t going to lick me. I’m going to live through this, and when it’s over, I’m never going to be hungry again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill – as God is my witness, I’m never going to be hungry again.'”
-Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind, Ch. 25

I finished The Hunger Games book this week, and it is compelling. Whether the movie can remain true to the book — from the standpoint of the ethical and moral dilemmas presented in the context of essentially kids killing kids — without watering down the violence remains to be seen. But the movie has a PG13 rating. So I expect I’ll be able to get in without flashing my Ohio Golden Buckeye card. (Except for any ticket discount, if available.)

And given that the NYT has given the Hunger Games a lukewarm review, it most likely will be a great movie.

For as long as this brief scene lasts, it seems possible that Gary Ross, the unlikely and at times frustratingly ill-matched director for this brutal, unnerving story, has caught the heart-skipping pulse of Michael Mann’s “Last of the Mohicans” if not that film’s ravishing technique and propulsive energy. Alas, Mr. Ross, the director of the genial entertainments “Pleasantville” and “Seabiscuit,” and whose script credits include “Big,” has a way of smoothing even modestly irregular edges. Katniss, who for years has bagged game to keep her family from starving, was created for rough stuff — for beating the odds and the state, for hunting squirrel and people both — far rougher than Mr. Ross often seems comfortable with, perhaps because of disposition, inclination or some behind-the-scenes executive mandate.

It may be that Mr. Ross is too nice a guy for a hard case like Katniss. A brilliant, possibly historic creation — stripped of sentimentality and psychosexual ornamentation, armed with Diana’s bow and a ferocious will — Katniss is a new female warrior, and she keeps you watching even while you’re hoping for something better the next time around. (Mr. Ross is onboard to direct the follow-up, “Catching Fire.”) For some fans of the three novels, the screen version will inevitably be disappointing, especially for those keeping inventory of the details, characters, grim thoughts and cynicism that have gone missing. For others the image of a girl like Katniss taking up so much screen space with so few smiles may be enough to keep faith.

I can’t wait to see Hunger Games at Thanksgiving. Long after either Ohio State or OU cut down the nets as NCAA champs.

And here’s another quote from Gone With the Wind to help guide those at OU and elsewhere watching the game tonight:

Rhett Butler:
“I’m very drunk and I intend getting still drunker before this evening’s over.”

Ah, March Madness.


One response to “March Madness: Let the Hunger Games Begin

  1. Nice post, Rob. I’m a huge fan of The Hunger Games books; I read Book 1-3 in less than one week and have re-read book 1 twice since. I was lucky to see The Hunger Games Wednesday night at one of just two Ohio pre-fan premieres. I give the film an A-. The PG-13 rating really limited the violence so the imagery from the book isn’t carried through well, but some parents will think it’s too violent for their middle-schoolers. And while the emotion delivered by the actors is amazing, a lot of the internal struggles felt by Katniss in the book are lost. Eager for Catching Fire but it sounds like at least a two year wait is likely.

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