Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (Spoilers)

Sooooooo. Another franchise has ended. I've seen through so many. The Hobbit (ridiculous), Harry Potter (epic but not without flaws), Pirates of the Caribbean... All the things.

I read the Hunger Games trilogy at uni and as I recall, I finished Mockingjay at about 3.40am and sat there on the end of my bed in floods of tears, feeling a huge pit of disappointment and betrayal.

I guess I finally found myself fully sympathising with poor, long-suffering hedgehog, Katniss.  I felt a huge sense of loss and a sense that everything was for nothing, whilst desperately clinging to the epilogue.

Did I feel this when the films finished?  Not so much.  I felt more that in an attempt to keep the age ratings down, everything was watered down. So many scenes failed to punch me in the gut the way the book managed to.

I did see one review title out there calling it a "Hot Mess" - this is hyperbole. It wasn't the strongest film in the franchise, no, but I don't think it was a hot mess... unless you are coming to it completely ignorant of the events in the book, in which case, yeah, I suppose it was sloppy.

It picks up exactly where Part 1 left off: Peeta had just strangled Katniss.
This was dealt with well - we see a pained Katniss struggling to flex her vocal cords after having been silent for so long.  Plutarch calmly explains that Peeta has been hijacked and that with the right care, he is 'optimistic' that he will be rehabilitated.

Under-used excellence: Jenna Malone was unable to shine as Johanna Mason.
There are lots of glimmers of page-to-screen faithfulness, but there are several changes to the plot that were deemed either necessary or more appropriate, such as Katniss sneaking to the Capitol to join the fight rather than training up with Johanna (which in some ways was a real shame).

I think I'll stick to the positives... Cause I don't want this to be a total moaner of a post.
There are lots of positives. The effects are great. They work.
The acting was good and the extra characters from the book were well-cast.

Donald Sutherland was finally able to show his full abilities in that monumental scene where Katniss faces Snow in the Roses Greenhouse. He was the perfect blend of unhinged with possible sincerity. The book was always ambiguous as to whether Coin was behind the bombing that killed Prim, and the film decided to leave it that way.

Julianne Moor showed more with her eyes than any other part of her utterly grey-clad body was allowed. I enjoyed disliking her and hating her more than I did in the book. No amount of background building done in the first half of Mockingjay would make me like her. Also who can trust anybody who wears the same shade of clothing as their hair?

Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson were unsung stars, in my opinion. They built their characters on screen and played with the chemistry they had as actors, encorporating a new dynamic to their relationship. In my view, that's all now canon.  Whether he immediately fell off the wagon in the book or not.

Personally, I thought Lawrence was able to continue with her emotive performances, though the scene with the cat was perhaps spoiled by the comical expression on the cat's face... perhaps if the cat had been mewing pitifully rather than looking at her reproachfully.  If they had had the time, they should have played out Katniss's emotional turmoil, PTSD and depression as well as showing the time between Katniss and Haymitch's return to District 12 and Peeta's.

They should also have included the letter from Katniss's mother. She was just dropped from all consciousness.

Overall, I think it was a satisfactory end to the series, however with plenty of room for improvement.
It was a 'meh', film. It wasn't as inspiring or emotional as it should have been. This was down to a combination of factors, a couple of which were unavoidable.

It did feel as though there should have been this version for the kiddies and the real version for the adults which went all out and ripped your hearts from your throats. I mean, I felt more in the anticipation of Finnick's death than I did from the actual scene!  I think that says a lot as somebody who has read the books, compared to someone who has not.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Going Coconuts #2

Well! I said I'd update you when I'd done it a bit longer, and so I am!

Oil Pulling - definitely cleaned up my teeth. They were definitely whiter for it and I shall keep doing it periodically. As with most things (flossing, mouth wash, moisturiser) I am not somebody who can make a commitment and use it every day...hell, I failed you lot by not even posting about it weekly... *ahem*. However! I found that even with periodic use, I could notice a discernible difference.

Conditioner - yeah, no, I did not continue this practice. It was much too heavy for my hair for weekly use and so I gave up pretty quickly.  I have instead gone Veganese! once a week or whenever my hair's been used and abused. It works much better without over-greasing things.

Body Moisturiser -  Another thing I did not keep up with in the end. Although it continued to provide very very close shaves, I ended up nicking myself a few too many times (the razor's fault, not the oil's... probably.), but I also started getting mild rashes from it on my legs. So definitely something to test for your skin a few times...

Face Moisturiser - my face was a lot less sensitive and I was certainly getting to the stage where my skin was going "the hell you doing to us, Maus?! STOP IT OR I SHALL ACNE YOU" by the time I had to pack up and move house. The oil is now still in the garage with a load of other stuff I've yet to actually sort through... who knows. If I pushed through the spots I was getting, I might have had glorious-er skin than I do now.

It was still the most amazing smell I've ever shoved onto my face though - would do it again, even if it was still only periodic.

The beauty of Coconut Oil is it takes ages to go off! Hurrah!

Film: Suffragette

 This film was well-shot and well-cast and most importantly, fairly important. Not only did it provide some historical backdrop to the younger generation of feminists out there, but it also went from a different angle. The working class angle.

What struck me was the irony that Emmeline Pankhurst, for the period of the film, was at that point just a figurehead. A name. A speaker. She didn't actually do much. She was in hiding, not willing to be arrested, while her working class "sisters" were getting medals for each time they were incarcerated.

This same character appears in the film for about... 5 minutes. Maximum 10. She has very few lines in the entire thing.

She is played by the wonderfully talented Meryl Streep, who is arguably the biggest name in the cast - and it is Meryl Streep who was used in a lot of the advertising!  

The beauty of following the fortunes of reluctant suffragette, Maud, was that we could see just how big the divide was between the privileged minorities and the not-so-privileged minorities. Emmeline had a pretty easy ride of it compared to the mere "canon fodder" (as described by one of the detectives). It was only when a working class member accidentally got hit by horse when desperately trying to get the press and the king to notice her that the movement finally gained any impact.

It's a pretty powerful film. Full of heart-wrenching scenes, incredible acting and some very detailed depictions of what happened when on hunger strike in prison back then. 

One of the things about this film is how, if you are tuned into these issues enough to notice, the opponents of Equal Voting rights spouted the same misogynist rubbish that a lot of anti-feminist and anti-woman men do today!

There was a beautiful (but painful) scene where Maud's husband is quite clearly shamed and ridiculed because she'd been arrested at one of the protests. He was told to "put her in her place" and to "rein her in" and to "be a proper man" (toxic masculinity - something most feminists, male and female, will point out is part of a misogynist society).  It was this shame and social backlash that resulted in their marriage falling apart. 

Feminism is a result of inequality of sexes. The only fault this film had was that it was pretty white-washed. Ok, so there weren't that many POC well-known leading Suffragettes at the time but it wouldn't have hurt to have some in the extras, something the writers have since acknowledged when grilled about it by insightful teenagers. To start with it was for all women, everywhere. It only became fractured when the Black Freedom movements gained a lot more motion and black males were given more rights than white and black women combined.

Powerful white men have had a lot of their power stripped from them - they can't own people anymore. They can't tell "inferior" races what to do or where to go. Power and superiority over women is the only thing that they have left. Which is why sexism is so prevalent today.
Just look at any "Gamergate" news.  If the female market is given just one small token, those who feel their superiority threatened immediately wade in and spout abuse. If anybody totes equality of everybody regardless of gender, they open themselves to abuse online. If this post gained any traction, I'm sure I'd get a couple of hate messages as well. 

Let's face it, even game developers are reluctant to announce their character designs were female original, for fear of alienating these sorts of people....

Suffragette isn't about current inequalities. We've come a long way from there; we have the vote. We have the right to custody over our children. We are allowed a full and fair education. But the dialogue and actions of many of the characters within the film highlighted just how far we still have to go to combat sexism.