The Hunger Games Movie Casting (thoughts)

If you’re like me–a not-so-secret Hunger Games fangirl–you’ve probably prowled the four corners of the web waiting for any tidbits of casting news for the forthcoming movie. I’ve been known to indulge in book to movie fantasy casting in the past and I’ve even assembled my own Hunger Games cast last year, so when the actors for the Peeta/Katniss/Gale roles were announced, how could I let the opportunity slip by without offering my two cents?

This whole Hunger Games movie brings about so much nail-biting anxiety, especially in lieu of ‘The Great Twilight Debacle.” Because I love The Hunger Games so freaking much, I will be devastated, no, inconsolable, if the movies descends into a Michael Bay meets Twilight CGI noise-fest. In short, I’d like to impart a few words to Hollywood: Please don’t F**k this up!

KATNISS: Any actress cast in this role is sure to receive criticism. After all, these are large hunter boots to fill…Jennifer Lawrence has Oscar creds, I’m actually rather relieved she’s going to play my favorite YA heroine, though I speak from Oscar awe and not from having seen Winter’s Bone. My first choice (highly improbable due to age) was Summer Galu the Terminator girl: so perfect for the role but alas, we’re about five years too late. So Jennifer Lawrence, huh? I’m trying to imagine her sooty-faced and shooting arrows into people’s asses and you know what? I could totally see it! Give the girl a bottle of hair dye and some archery lessons and let’s see if she can incite a revolution. Plus, she’s got Suzanne Collins’ personal approval but the verdict is still out until I’ve seen Winter’s Bone.

Katniss by LitCon on Polyvore.com

PEETA: My first reaction upon hearing that Josh Hutcherson was going to play the baker boy was “Who the heck is Josh Hutcherson?” followed by “This dude has Batman’s (of the Animated series) jaw! So strong, so square!” Plus, the pictures of him sporting a fohawk was not helping his cause. An IMDB search revealed Josh H. as the somber, doe-eyed kid in 2007’s Bridge to Teribithia movie… Ah. What a relief! There was a lot of soulful ‘staring-off-into-the-distance as I contemplate my mortality’ scenes in Bridge to Teribithia, which Josh H. OWNED and he was all of twelve years old. I hoped he’s brushed up on his meaningful stares because Peeta waxes philosophic ALL THE TIME. Remember “Real vs. Not Real?” in Mockingjay? Or the “Let us stand on the rooftop and gaze upon the city while we decide how we should die with dignity” scene in Hunger Games? This square jawed, chin-dimpled boy has my seal of approval! As for the hair, I’m sure the stylist who bleached Tom Felton’s hair in the Harry Potter movies will welcome the commission…

Peeta by LitCon on Polyvore.com

GALE: Liam Hemsworth?!!!!  As in the Captain America look-a-like who romanced Miley Cyrus with BABY SEA TURTLES in The Last Song?!!! Oh God… OH MAN! Oh GOD! OH MAN! Let me take a moment to drop to my knees and howl: NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! As you can see, I was not pleased with the casting. Up until the end of Mockingjay, I was waving the Team Gale banner to victory. I knew it was a lost cause but guys, Gale… Hunter. Adonis. Henry Cavill in the movie of my mind! Perhaps I’m being unfair to Liam and yet, the taint of that sacchrine Nicholas Sparks movie coupled with being Miley Cyprus’ off screen arm candy is hard to shake.

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The Thief and Mini Flavors of the Week

The Thief is a book I wished I read when I was twelve. I would have harbored a MAJOR literary crush on the narrator Gen. He is like a darker, more cunning version of Nat Eaton from The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

I picked up The Thief over a year ago. It came highly recommended by Mems, one of my regular readers who was also Witch of Blackbird Pond obsessed. She commented that Gen was like Nat Eaton and she couldn’t choose which one is better. In other words, Team Nat vs. Team Gen! So I promptly checked out The Thief from my library, read the first 50 pages, and abandoned it. The beginning was slow, crawling along at a snail’s pace. And while Gen was clever, cunning, and nimble (all enticing and crush-worthy character traits), I must admit I was bored by everything else…particularly the long and arduous quest through what seemed like an endless grove of olive trees in search of Hamiathes’ Gift.

Last week I stumbled upon this Book Smuggler’s glowing review of the entire series, which sparked a renewed interest in the book. In fact, every review I’ve read of The Thief praises the ‘TWIST at the end that will make you re-examine the entire book with new eyes.’

I picked up where I left off (yes, I know it’s freaky how I could remember precisely at what point I abandoned a book). On the whole, I have a new appreciation for this book. It does get more exciting toward the middle and the twist was rather clever. But I am riddled with guilt because I’ve convinced myself I should love the book yet, sadly, I am just mildly fond of it. I am flogging myself for not being more excited or wowed by this twist. Is it because I spend my every waking thought constructing shocking twists that I saw this twist coming? I connected the dots and picked up on the clues long ago! Damn my Ghostwriter watching days! I am now too good of a sleuth to be allowed to read mysteries and middle grade novels with blow-your-mind endings.

Mini Flavors of the Week

I usually twitter my mini flavors of the week, i.e. random crap I’m interested in. But Twitter is a flighty medium for chronicling your life.  Sometimes I want to chronicle this random crap so that five years from now I’ll scroll through my archives and say “Hmm. I wanted to dress like Willy Wonka. What was I thinking?”

1. Classic movie kick: I recently watched Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and then watched an entire documentary on Bette Davis. I wish I can be half the alpha female she was. I also wish my eyes were half as big as B.D.’s. That being said, I’ve got Bette Davis Eyes stuck in my head.

2. Speaking of songs from movies: I’ve been singing Peggy Gordon from The Proposition for the past two years. Okay, you may think this is really weird: I’ve watched this montage repeatedly, mostly for the song but also for the ‘meaningful looks.’ These ‘meaningful looks’ break my heart! I find them very existential, like “maybe the meaning of life exists in the lyrics of Peggy Gordon.”

3. I’ve watched the Plastic Jesus banjo playing part of Cool Hand Luke more times than I can count! Paul Newman sings a requiem for his dead mother and a single solitary tear falls down his cheek. It’s a lot deeper than I’ve made it sound. SOB! This movie is the reason I want to learn to play the banjo!

4. Night of the Hunter anyone? It came to me while I reading Monsters of Men that if Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy were a movie, I’d fantasy cast Robert Mitchum as Mayor Prentiss. Of course, Robert Mitchum is dead, hence the term ‘fantasy casting.’ But this clip perfectly explains my reasoning. Sometimes I sing ‘Leaning’ when I want to be creepy and scare little children on Halloween.

 

 

POV

I like to browse books on Amazon and click on the “Look inside” button of possible books to stack on top of my To Be Read pile. Last night, I was reading the first paragraphs of mostly YA and Middle Grade books when I began to see patterns in narrative points of view. YA books (most, not all) are written in the 1st person POV while Middle Grade novels are told from 3rd person limited.

Why?

My very rough interpretation: Teens want to be in the story whereas children are still in the ‘tell me a story’ stage. A divide between  Being the protagonist vs. Reading about the protagonist?

Lend me your thoughts! Curious minds—mostly my curious mind—begs an answer. Educate me!

Anne of Green Gables

Of the many things I regret in life, one of them is not reading the Anne of Green Gables series when I was a child. Instead, I read Anne of Green Gables when I was 17. It was immedatiely following my AP English Literature exam and I was sick of reading the classics so I bought home a stack of children novels and trashy paperbacks. Although I was still able to reveal in the magic of Anne of Green Gables, a part of me couldn’t help but wonder if I might have enjoyed it more had I been 10.

I was, however, exposed to the Anne of Green Gables mini series when I was 10. In fact, my 5th grade education was composed strictly of in-class movies. I suppose my 5th grade teacher was on some secret hiatus or decided that the mighty VHS would teach us our readin’, ‘rightin’, and ‘rithmetic, because we watched a lot of movies that year. I suppose I must have taught myself how to read—the wonders of public education, eh?

Since I loved the mini series and have only one Anne novel under my belt, I think it’s time I continue with the rest of the series, starting with the second book, Anne of Avonlea.

What’s my favorite part about the Anne of Green Gables story? Why, the Anne and Gilbert romance of course! I still utter a hopeless romantic sigh every time I hear the word “carrots,” which makes ordering a salad difficult.

If it has been a while since you’ve thought about Anne of Green Gables, here’s a video to refresh your memory. So join me in re-living the nostalgia…

The Egypt Game

Back when I was in 5th grade, my teacher assigned The Egypt Game by Zilpha K. Synder to the entire class for silent reading hour. At age 10, the idea of ‘assigned reading’ was so distasteful to me that I hid it in my desk and ignored it for the rest of the year. I’d rather read Choose Your Own Adventures than a Newbery Winner. So why did I suddenly decide to pick up The Egypt Game now? Maybe after 13 years, I’m finally starting to feel guilty for blatantly defying my 5th grade teacher. This book report may be 13 years overdue, but now I can say I tied up loose ends. So, Mr. Boomgars, I hope you’re reading this, because this post is for you. And I forgive you for making me copy the Encyclopedia Britannica as punishment for my idleness, it improved my penmanship after all.

One-minute plot summary: Ten year old April is the new girl in town. She befriends Melanie and the two girls quickly discover a common interest in Egypt. Soon April, Melanie, & Co. are sneaking into a secluded backlot where they pretend they are in Egypt, hence ‘The Egypt Game.’ (The plot summary is always the painful part. I’m trying to top myself in being more concise. I wonder if I can get away with: New girl meets local girl. Girls joined by classmates. They play Egypt Game. Game good).

Reaction: I’m keen on the whole idea of kids using their imagination and conjuring up exotic places in an enclosed backlot. Nowadays, kids have so much technological stimuli at their fingertips that I wonder if after-school ‘make-believe’ is a lost art. (I’m only 23, why did that sentence make me sound like I’m 80? Allow me to banish my cane…)

Z. Synder did a great job at capturing the new and inventive ways these kids’ built an imaginary Egyptian world, but what I liked most about this book is the back story of April’s wanna-be starlet mother who lives in Hollywood and eloped with her agent. In the meantime, April is staying with her grandmother, pining for the day when her famous movie star mother will send for her. In reality, April’s mother is probably a waitress in Hollywood trying to make it big while spinning illusions of grandeur for her daughter.

I might be reading too much into this, but I see a parallel between the children’s Egypt fantasy and the adult version of the same fantasy, only when you’re an adult and still pretending, it’s sad. April idolized her glamourous mother but she eventually discovers that her mother is only human. I guess that discovery, in so many words, summaries growing up.

You see Mr. Boomgars, you can’t get insight like that in the 5th grade…

Goosebump Contraband and Stephen King

I didn’t like to read until I was 10. Prior to that, I’d shy away from books completely, reading only when I must or at least pretending to read when I’m under the stern eye of a teacher who loveth not idleness. I’d whittle away my spare time watching afternoon cartoons and Save by the Bell reruns. I don’t know what bought upon this sudden love of reading, but I’m willing to attribute it to rebellion.

My mom is superstitious and one side effect of her superstitions is a banned on all objects of the macabre. Black is strictly forbidden in the family wardrobe, stray cats are promptly shooed away from our garden, and there is a strict rule against bringing home any objects associated with death and the otherworldly. It’s almost as if the mere possession of these objects is an official invite for ghouls of the afterworld to merge with our reality. There goes my Halloween projects…

Around that time, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series were the popular literature amongst the 5th grade crowd. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be interested in reading at all, but the temptation to piss off my mother was too great. So during the summer of ’95, I’d visit the library and industriously file through the big bin of tattered Goosebumps paperbacks, smuggle the literary contraband home in my backpack, and read them secretly on the porch or at night, stashing them away whenever my mother entered the room. What a thrill! The access to forbidden stories, the unauthorized merging of realities.

Of course, R.L. Stine never scared me with his cheesy stories and even at 10, I was skeptical about my mother’s unfounded beliefs that the dead flitted unseen among the living. But at night, with images of haunted masks and headless ghosts swirling in my head, with stray cats fighting in the garden below my window, their vicious purrs like the wailing of sickly infants, it wasn’t so easy to laugh at the existence of ghosts, demons, and bloodsucking fiends. Unable to sleep, I’d look over at those Goosebumps covers, harmless and even laughable in the day, but then there was something about that dummy’s wooden mouth, a grotesque elongation of the oral orifice that revealed a black, bottomless void made many times more sinister by the moonlight streaming in through my window. It was like staring into the eye of a hopeless, abominable abyss. I quickly flipped the book over and vowed never to fall asleep next to Goosebumps again.

In a year’s time, I’d read all the Goosebumps at the library, I even saved my lunch money to buy the newest Goosebumps from the bookstore, but I’d read those in less than 2 hours. It became apparent that the prolific Mr. Stine and his monthly installments weren’t enough to satiate my obsessive need to consume horror stories. Then began the brief transitional period of reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series and Christopher Pike; it wasn’t until I was nearly 12 that I discovered Stephen King in my childhood quest for the next twisted image.

And Stephen King provided plenty of twisted images—twisted images, dismembered corpses, wife-beating men, bloodsucking prostitutes—I’ve officially exited Sweet Valley High territory. Stephen King covers weren’t as obviously “horror” as Goosebumps covers, so my mom was okay with me reading King over Goosebumps. I’m just fortunate enough that my mom never heard of Stephen King and his penchant for foul language and fictional gore.

Was my mind sullied after reading Stephen King at age 12? Like a white handkerchief trampled in the muddy thoroughfare, my impressionable young mind was sullied through and through. I can confidently say that my imagination is more elastic (and by elastic, I mean twisted) because of Stephen King.

You wouldn’t think, what with all my blogging about Jane Austen and Diana Gabaldon, that I was a horror novel fanatic. When I turned 13, I had one foot in horror and the other in romance. How did this dramatic change in genre occur? For that, I credit V.C. Andrews for bridging the thin line between love and the macabre with a genre I would like to coin as “Horror-Romance”…but that is a topic best saved for another post.