I was worried for my man Josh Hutcherson. After a series of SNL episodes hosted by people with big-name recognition and/or scrolls of juicy press — Gaga! Miley! Edward Norton! — and plenty of material to spoof, Hutcherson is mostly known for playing Peeta in The Hunger Games (or perhaps you were a Laser-head fan of The Kids Are All Right, and I would not take that away from you). Several times over the week leading up to Saturday's episode, I would ask myself, "Who's hosting SNL?" and have no idea what the answer was. A year ago, when Jennifer Lawrence hosted the show, a Hunger Games panel skit poked fun at Peeta's diminutive height and the relative dimness of his star next to the almighty glowing J-Law. In fact, Hutcherson was a funny and subtle performer, even if he rarely took the lead on SNL; there were no traces of a big, throbbing ego, and his subtlety complemented the material — the strange, strange material. "Bugs: Where the Heck Do You Gotta Be?" and Beck Bennett's baby-bodied "Office Boss" gave me the same sillies as Zach Galifianakis's "Darrell's House" did earlier this year (Parts 1 and 2).
Earlier this week, as I was leaving the Grantland offices, I was immediately reminded that it was Hunger Day. The entire plaza at L.A. Live was filled with mostly teenage and college-aged women lined up for the premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, blowing on their peppermint mochas and talking excitedly to one another as they waited to catch a glimpse of the film's stars on the red carpet. One of the interesting things about working at L.A. Live is that every week a different subculture descends on our parking structure and Starbucks. Directioners. Swifties. E3bies. After a while you start to take notice of the broadly defining characteristics of each of these crowds, demographically, sartorially, behaviorally. Last year I crossed the sidewalk and made a visit to Camp Twihard, a sprawling tent city that took over the complex for a week leading up to the release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, which was more or less like walking into a Twilight fan forum made three-dimensional. There was no such encampment for the Catching Fire premiere, but a similarly heavy excitement hung in the air, just with less glitter and more olive drab parkas.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are at the height of the Katniss era.
Every morning for the past three months I have watched The Best of Elmo. It's only 30 minutes long, so I usually watch it two or three times in a row. I watch it again after dinner. After 300 viewings, I now can't hear a tapping sound without humming "Happy Tapping With Elmo," and whenever I see a face, I identify the parts of it in Ernie's voice. I drink my coffee while Whoopi Goldberg explains to Elmo that she can't pull off her skin and hair and trade it for his fur, and eat my bagels to the trippy tune of "In Your Imagination." I have seen it more than any other film, television show, or commercial in my life; I have never wanted to see something 300 times, and if I did, I would not choose to watch Elmo. But I have no choice.
I see movies alone. I am happy to do so. Getting a babysitter and staring at your silent phone, waiting for it to light up in an emergency, is distracting. I have had to cut down on my movie theater quota and replace that time with the never-ending Elmo feature. I don't know what makes Elmo so seductive to people under the age of 3, but it's such a universal parent experience that you can identify your familiars at the grocery store (even when they're without their children) because they're picking up carrots and whispering "This is the song, la la la la, Elmo's Song," like they have been body-snatched and sent on a vegan zombie mission. But I forgive Elmo (and let's not confuse Elmo with Kevin Clash, the third puppeteer to provide his voice to the puppet, who faced charges of sexual abuse a year ago) for taking such a giant piece of my brain and using it to reteach me what a nose is and what a person can do if it rains and they don't have a driver's license or the ability to read and drink wine. I like Elmo (and the rest of the Sesame Street clan) because he acknowledges the adults who are in a media hostage situation.
Any video that opens with "time to fuck with some customers" is good in my book. While this one's built in the mold of candid-camera shows designed explicitly to freak people out, something about it going down in a New York coffee shop, skewering even the most jaded espresso-swilling souls in the process, elates me. I like how the one woman takes out her smartphone after the dude gets slammed against the wall, but once tables start flying, she's outta there. And then the thing ends with #flexlikecarrie. I mean, just, no critique. A-frigging-plus. Viral marketing that sends people screaming into the streets and spending the rest of their lives telling friends about the haunted girl in the haunted coffee shop in the West Village is everything I'm about.
If you're still genuinely upset about the Batfleck, well, I feel bad for you, son: The world isn't done messing with your tender comic-fan heart, as proven by Justin Bieber Instagramming a photo of himself holding a Batman vs. Superman script (otherwise known as the Man of Steel sequel) with the most inflammatory hashtag: "#robin?" Obviously (for reasons outlined by ScreenRant, and also reasons you could probably supply with your own brain), it's a fake, and likely relates to an upcoming Funny or Die skit Bieber recently shot. Think of this as your intensive training course in cinematic anger preparedness, and learn to alleviate your fury with repeated viewings of Batfleck tossing sandwiches into the back of the Good Will Batmobile, as seen above.
Silver: Second films in trilogies (see side note) have a distinct advantage over their predecessors and followers. They don’t need to establish a world, a tone, a visual, a style, or characters — they simply can start a story. They also don’t need to lead a narrative to a definitive conclusion, but rather can end on an emotional and/or unresolved high note (a.k.a. “leave em’ wanting more”), which is sometimes trickier than it sounds. When executed properly, the results are Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II, Aliens, Scream 2, and The Two Towers. (There are far too many pathetic examples on the other side to list, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Matrix Reloaded. Oof!)
So as Catching Fire is the most engaging and most fully realized story of The Hunger Games book series, and as Gary “Hyperbolically Vanilla” Ross has relinquished the directorial reins to Francis “I’m Really More Than a Music Video Director, Come on, Believe Me” Lawrence, this sequel has the potential to be thrust into the age-old cine-geek argument "Is the sequel better than the original?”
The Futurist is a new, periodic dispatch from the front lines of tomorrow — a gleefully wigged-out examination of science, science fiction, technology, culture — and all their lunatic fringes. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, we will think the unthinkable, do the undoable, and eff the ineffable.
Season 3 of Game of Thrones is over, and I'm going tell you why I never watched it.
In fact, I'm going to tell you why I've never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, why I never will, and why I tend to avoid anything even remotely like Game of Thrones. If you, like everyone I know, are a fan of the series, this will annoy and exasperate you, but please take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. You're having a wonderful time with all your friends, gathering in dens to drink beer and piggyback on each other's HBO GO accounts. You're on Twitter, squawking about spoilers and dropping mysterious medievalish surnames with familiarity. You're reading Grantland, thirsty for the wisdom of its resident Throne scryers.
I, on the other hand, am very much alone. I've been waiting this one out, hoping the feudal roar dies down before I'm forced by social rip current to hold my breath, dive under, and just binge-watch the damn thing. In this manner I also largely avoided The Hobbit — which I’m told, anyway, was one long scene of a troll’s greasy paw gripping a chicken leg — and the bulk of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises. As for Thrones, I know I’m depriving myself of what people tell me is maybe the best televisual experience of our time. But I’ll continue to petulantly hold out, like a fool, just to bear this one specific cross: I don't fuck with fantasy.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — Teaser (November 22)
Silver: The withholding of imagery from the actual Hunger Games themselves was blatant in the marketing of the first film — the trailer gave only a brief glimpse of Tributes darting off their posts, choosing instead to focus on the characters, and specifically on Katniss’s plight.
This tactic worked so well the first time around that Lionsgate appears to be running it back for the sequel, since this (long) teaser is put together with moments from the first third of the book. It’s a nice reintroduction to the leads, but it also gets that “What the hell is Philip Seymour Hoffman doing in this movie?” moment out of the way, so as not to distract us too much later.
For a couple of years now, Lenny Kravitz has been futzing around the outer edges of the motion picture game, with small roles in Precious and The Hunger Games. Now, though, our man Lenny has gone and landed a big fish. As Deadline reported on Monday, Kravitz has booked his first lead role — and in a Marvin Gaye biopic, no less.
The untitled project will be directed by Julien Temple and "will focus on the time Gaye spent in Europe in the early 1980s, when the soul singer attempted to get his addictions under control and career back on track with the help of British music promoter Freddy Cousaert." Ambitious! OK, look, I know some of you are concerned. Should a guy that's been on-screen for roughly six and a half minutes, you're thinking, really take on one of music's most treasured icons? And to that I say: Bro, Cinna can handle it.
Parents of teen and tween girls must have felt somewhat conflicted when Suzanne Collins's young-adult novel The Hunger Games came out. On one hand, it featured Katniss Everdeen, a young female protagonist who, unlike Bella Swan of Twilight, exhibited agency in her life and choices and wasn't particularly interested in either of the boys in her orbit, never mind mooning over them to the exclusion of all other activity. On the other hand, part of the reason Katniss doesn't waste a lot of energy thinking about her future romantic prospects is that she's determined not to bring any children into a dystopia in which teenagers are forced by the state to battle each other to the death until only one is left standing.
Right down to today's news of her engagement to boyfriend of three years Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus has gracefully walked the line between showbiz glitz (marrying a Hunger Games star!) and down-home values (she's 19!). She also gave Hemsworth a penis cake one time for his birthday, which exists entirely outside of the Nashville-to-Hollywood spectrum. Cyrus and Thor's brother have been on-again off-again for the past couple years — word to all young lovers, it may "just last 10 minutes," but salvia sows the seeds of eternal discord. Now it seems these two finally realized that the only way to ensure that an on-again off-again relationship stays on is to buy a ring (and a trending topic on Twitter). Basically, Miley and Liam will be in love forever and we should all wish them the best and be very jealous.
For the first time since it hit theaters a month back, The Hunger Games has not won the weekend box office. In a surprising development, the honor has gone instead to Sony Pictures' ensemble romantic comedy Think Like a Man, an adaptation of Steve Harvey's best-selling self-help book. The flick finished in the vicinity of $33 million, doubling its own studio's predictions for how it would do. How did Think pull off the upset?
With Gary Ross out, Lionsgate is making moves to find a director for the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. And, as could have reasonably been expected, they have no shortage of fancy names to choose from. Deadline's Mike Fleming reports: "Lionsgate met with The Orphanage helmer Juan Antonio Bayona, and ... also discussed Attack the Block director Joe Cornish. But Bayona appears to be busy — though he’s not completely out of it — and Cornish didn’t get to the point of a meeting. If I had to guess, I would think the likely candidate to be [Moneyball's Bennett] Miller ... The sticking point: he wanted to push until spring so he could make Foxcatcher for Fox. Lionsgate wants to start by August and doesn’t want to wait. That could put [I Am Legend director Francis] Lawrence in the driver’s seat. We should know the answer in a matter of days."