A Trio of Trailers and a Study in Contrasts

I’ve watched one Hunger Games and two Allegiant trailers today and wanted to make a few comments.  First up:  Mockingjay 2.

Wow!  I would say the Gamemakers have decided, why change something that’s working?  We see a lot of familiar faces and sweet scenes (Annie and Finnick, Katniss and Haymitch, Katniss and Prim and even a Katniss and hopefully de-hijacked Peeta) interspersed with a lot of action. That is to be expected from the invasion of the Capitol, and I love Finnick’s “Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games” line.  I didn’t see anything that jumped out and said, “Hey, that wasn’t in the book!”, except for Effie back in her froo-froo clothes, and she was such a welcome addition Erika+Bierman+Premiere+Lionsgate+Hunger+Games+31Qa872Vrywlto Mockingjay 1 that I’ll let that one pass.  The only think that surprised me was the apparently lush and manicured garden for Finnick and Annie’s wedding, a luxury I didn’t think district 13 could afford.  But I am crossing my fingers for something as good as Catching Fire and Mockingjay 1, and the filmmakers seemed to have decided sticking to the book is good.

Besides, the lovely Erika Bierman, who stole our hearts as President’s Snow’s Nameless Granddaughter in her two brief scenes in Catching Fire, was spotted on the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere.  Here’s hoping she can do more than unbraid her hair in this movie!

On to Allegiant, with two trailers, one a “teaser” (with a recap of the first two movies and one a new “official trailer.”

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A Hogwarts Psychology Professor Counts Down to Mockingjay! Part one of Hunger Games and PTSD

Tonight, I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of the Mary Baldwin Psi Chi psychology honor society about psychology in the Hunger Games series, in honor of the premiere of the last Hunger Games movie.  I have recorded the talk in three parts and I invite Hogpro readers to view and comment.

Part one focuses on the fear conditioning process that was used to hijack Peeta, and how it develops, in some patients–including several of our favorite Hunger Games characters–into post-traumatic stress disorder. Which characters would genuinely be diagnosed with PTSD?  Tune in and find out!

The Hunger Games: Shared text and First Family Favorite?

President Obama joked about the number of candidates jumping into the 2016 Presidential fray, remarking that there are almost enough for a Hunger Games.  This isn’t the first time he has referred to the popular franchise; he mentioned it back at the 2013 Thanksgiving turkey pardon. Barack-Obama-shopping-in--005And we know Sasha and/or Malia were reading it as far back as 2010. The question is, did their father borrow their copy, or glean his knowledge from the movies?

In any case, I think Trump and Christie get cast as the Careers.

Insurgent Movie Strays from Book, but Strangely Satisfies.

Insurgent posterI went into the Insurgent film without a lot of high hopes.  I came out quite surprised at how much I liked it, and even more surprised by the reason.  Because it was the same reason that usually has me hating movie adaptations of favorite books.  Because the filmmakers deviated so much from the source material.  At the end of the day, this was an action movie loosely based on Roth’s Insurgent, not Insurgent:the Movie.  If you are expecting as faithful a book adaptation as the Harry Potter and Hunger Games franchises, or even the first Divergent movie, you will be disappointed.  The percentage of book-congruent material is closer to that of the Little House TV series. But remarkably, the film mostly worked for me.

To be fair up front, every worry I expressed in my comments on the trailers came true.  Except the one about the train.  Turns out Four did have a good reason for leaping in front of the train. But I digress.  Spoilers ahead, after the jump.

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Thoughts on Harper Lee’s “new” book

Mockingbird bookYou’ve probably heard the news:  Harper Lee is finally publishing a “long-lost sequel” to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Some consider Mockingbird one of the best young adult novels of all time—even though it was published before that genre was recognized—others argue it is not a YA work at all, and many think it doesn’t matter. But few would hesitate to classify it as one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century, and, as I have argued before the movie probably came the closest as anything in recent times to an authentic capture of the book’s magic. The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch its top movie hero of the last 100 years and even the current Superman says it’s his favorite.
Mockingbird boxOf course, once you read beyond the headlines, it becomes clear that the word “sequel” is a bit inaccurate. Apparently, this book was Ms. Lee’s original novel, depicting the adult Scout returning to Maycomb to visit her father, and looking back at the events of that summer with twenty years’ hindsight. She was advised to re-write the story from the child Scout’s point of view, though true book and movie fans will remember that the original book and movie still opened and closed with narration by clearly a grown-up Jean Louise Finch.

No doubt many are delighted to hear this news, but, in today’s world of Big Business Young Adult fiction, what will readers, old and (hopefully) young think of the different point of view? My two favorite Tweets on the matter:

Kaylee Webster: Is there going to be a midnight releasing? If so, I’m totally wearing a ham costume.
Kelly Lawler: If they make a movie out of this Mockingbird sequel, it’s totally going to be split into 2 parts.

atticusPersonally, I can’t help but hope that the book proves un-marketable to Hollywood, just because I can’t see anyone but Gregory Peck doing justice to Atticus.
The news of the release is also marred by suspicions about the text, and how it just happened to be “rediscovered” three short months after the death of Alice Lee, Harper Lee’s older sister and lawyer who staunchly protected her sister’s interests and privacy for decades, until she retired from her law practice at the tender age of 100. News stories about how Lee may have been cheated out of her Mockingbird copyright and about a recent maybe-authorized-maybe-not biography harper leehave re-surfaced and have raised questions over whether the 88-year-old author is in any shape to give informed consent to the publication of this material. Certainly she has a long-standing pattern of avoiding publicity and it seems odd for her to change her mind at her age. I sincerely hope there is a way of having someone with no financial stake in the matter look into the arrangement and confirm that everything is happening with kill a mockingbirdMs. Lee’s full understanding and in accordance with her wishes. As much as I’d like to revisit Maycomb, I would never want anyone to take Miss Maudie’s snow without her permission, even to build a rare and wonderful snowman for the neighborhood’s enjoyment.

If this story teaches us anything, it is that we need more Atticuses (or is that Attici?) to shield the Boo Radleys who prefer to stay indoors, advocate for the voiceless Tom Robinsons, and recognize the dignity of those as old and frail as the Mrs. Duboses. But then, we learned that back in 1960, didn’t we?