Mar 25, 2012

"Stupid People are Dangerous" -- A Hunger Games movie review

a Kirbie original :) (via etsy)

If you plan on seeing The Hunger Games and haven't, or want to read the books and haven't... I wouldn't recommend reading any further. Fair warning. There will be spoilers. So don't start yapping when I divulge crucial parts of the book and movie, folks!


Seriously, I'm warning you...


Alright so here it goes. I saw The Hunger Games on Thursday evening/Friday morning at 12:02 AM. I'm getting too old for this crap. I don't know why I subject myself to these things still -- I'm usually in bed by 10:30 and to be honest, the next day at work, I felt like I had a hangover without consuming any alcohol at all. As my coworker put it, we had a "Hunger Games hangover." 

What did you think? Not that I'm the end-all of movie reviews, but I give it a Solid A. Why you ask?

As far as cinema goes, it had everything: action, a bit of romance, and a heroine you grow to love and admire. The production value exceeds anything Twilight could ever think of doing -- even though I hate the comparisons, which I'll get to in a second. The acting was spectacular, but what else could you expect from Jennifer Lawrence? She's more than deserving of the fame and recognition she's getting, and it's a bit humbling when you realize this chick is only 21 years old.

I think I would have given it an A+ if I didn't read the books, because I'd have had nothing to compare it to. As per usual, books always trump the movies, because (I'm quoting myself like a d-bag) "Imagination always trumps movie magic." And it's true. We simply can't do things in real life that our imagination can conjure up. I went with two girls who didn't read the books and thought the movie was phenomenal -- one of the best they've seen. And I agree. It's hard to take a beloved book and make it that good. But as a die-hard reader and fan, it's near impossible not to be critical of the movie and wonder why things were not included and why others were.

High points of the movie:
  • Lenny Kravitz was perfectly cast as Cinna. I saw an interview where he said he thought, in the books, Cinna was more flamboyant and they decided to play him more like a Yves Saint Laurent. Did any of you think that? I never thought Cinna was flamboyant. In fact, my mind envisioned Cinna as a fashion-forward, silent-type stylist that was more 'metrosexual' than anything. I don't know if I saw him as gay, or if that's what they were trying to portray in the movie, either. He reminded me of my gay friend Rocky. Rocky might fancy men and work at a salon, but he's not a diva and I'm pretty sure if we wasn't gay that we'd be married. Just a really chill dude who has a passion for style and beauty. That's how I saw Cinna and Lenny Kravitz was perfect casting.
  •  Woody Harrelson as Haymitch? Spot on. I will always love Woody (Kingpin, anyone?) but he emulated Haymitch perfectly. I mean, granted, I read these books in a frenzy the past few weeks for work, so I knew who was cast as who, but while I might have envisioned some characters a little differently, I think Woody is essentially Haymitch, just (hopefully) without a drinking problem.
  • Rue. Ugh. The whole scene with the flowers and everything... if you're a big sister or a mom, that motherly instinct makes it impossible not to tear up!
  • Elizabeth Banks blew my mind when I first saw her a few months ago -- she's unrecognizable -- but she brought Effie to life perfectly. Equally funny and somewhat annoying, she gave Effie the heart she needed.
The movie stayed true to the first book -- for the most part. Now, I know when you make a movie based off a book that's first person, things have to change, and you get cinematic freedom to adapt it for the big screen. I liked that they showed us what was going on behind the scenes, with the Gamemakers, and what people back in District 12 (Gale) and 11 were up to while the games were going on. But there were some parts of the movie that felt rushed. For instance, in the book, the train ride to the Capitol seemed like such a huge ordeal, and it seemed to go by in a flash in the movie. I wish they would have developed that a bit more, to set the tone for Peeta and Katniss' relationship a bit more. 

On that note, the train is where Katniss gains all her weight for the games. She was practically starved in 12 and on the train she's gobbling down delicacy after delicacy. Which brings me to my next point: her body (Jennifer's) in this movie was nothing short of AMAZING. She looked super thin, but had beautiful curves too. It was insane. I looked at her and wondered, "I wonder how much she's not eating for this scene."  But then there's always the critics, and more than a handful have pronounced her as "big boned," "large" and "too big for Peeta," especially for someone who's supposed to be acting like they've been starving in 12. Maybe if they had focused more on the train, the people would understand why she looked a bit "healthier" for the actual games. But still, it's infuriating that people are saying this about her. She's 5'7'' (from my understanding) and something like 120 pounds. I'm 120 pounds and I'm 5'5, which is about average. SHE'S A REALLY THIN GIRL. And frankly, she has a beautiful, curvy body that's being put to shame by critics who "don't believe" she was actually starving in District 12... Newsflash: if you're a curvy girl like myself, you know that when you lose weight, the places you have the curves and usually the last places to lose the weight. I could have a 20-inch waist and my hips would drop to maybe a 33 or 34. You still maintain the shape of your body even if you don't have the weight there.

courtesy Lionsgate

Now that I've let that rant out... some other things:

The Hunger Games is not Twilight. It's actually well-written and it's not fantastical. Everything about these books could be true, and they do a great job of incorporating the third-world country aspect to modern-day living, taking the past, the present and the future and bottling them all up into one, fluid story. The messages are powerful: our obsession with other people's pain (and fame), with looks; the things the government probably does behind closed doors.

The Reaping kind of tore me up a bit -- especially when Gale picks up Prim and takes her to her mother while she's screaming; and when Peeta gets picked. The tears in his eyes. For a second I was like, "Why isn't anyone hugging or consoling him?" But then I thought back to the books, where the parents had to stand around as bystanders and watch as their child took the stage, after they'd been reaped. And then when he's crying on the way to the train with Katniss and Effie... you think he's crying because he's upset about being picked, for leaving his family, that he might die -- and then remember he's torn up because he's going to have to fight against Katniss. 

I know a lot of people left the theater and were like "OMG IT WAS SO SO AMAZE OMG!" But I didn't leave the theater giddy. In fact, I felt anxious. My stomach was turning a bit. I mean, come on: the trilogy is morbid.  A 16-year-old girl has to fight to stay alive among other 12 to 18-year-old children? She has to hunt for her family to provide food for the table? That's traumatizing, in my opinion. I know it's a book, but I also know that this isn't far from the truth for some people. It actually disturbed me. Many critics complained that not enough people felt this way, and that the movie didn't do its job. I think it did. The teeny-bopper fans will obviously obsess over Peeta and Gale, and aspire to be like Katniss, but this more mature audiences probably left with a sense of hollowness or even guilt for having witnessed it all.

Peeta seems to be a topic of conversation... how did you envision him? I never once saw him as a strapping young boy. In fact, I saw him just as he was on screen, with a bit more of a surfer boy vibe -- longer, bleached-blond hair. I think Josh Hutcherson did a great job though. Peeta is a emotional being. He's basically the "Come to Jesus" moment that everyone needs. He's not supposed to be a buff or as tall as Gale. And I think it was a good move to make Katniss a bit taller than him.

The cornucopia, the arena and all of that -- exactly as I pictured it. The tracker jacker scene, the fire, the medicine she puts on her burn. All of those things were spot-on, in my opinion. They really brought it all to life. And they did the same with the Capitol and its citizens.

And Stanley Tucci was a great Caesar Flickermann. Basically Ryan Seacrest on steroids.

my magnum opus of manicures

And now, the parts I was a bit disappointed with:
The cave scene. In the book, they were in there FOREVER! And there was so much more romance in the book -- the warming of the bodies in the sleeping bag, the endless kisses, Katniss poisoning him to head to the "feast." I was disappointed that all we got was one kiss, and that they left out the part where Peeta talks to Katniss about her father, and his dad having a crush on her mother. I think those were all crucial to how their relationship develops. In the book, I thought that Katniss may love him, even if she was playing parts up for the cameras; in the movie, I didn't think for a second that she had romantic feelings for him at all, except maybe when she hears the cannon and thinks Peeta has been killed. It'll be interesting to see how they play out their romance in the next movie. I think they might do some flashbacks to the first movie to play up the Peeta-Katniss love story. OR SOMETHING. Because I'm going to need this love story to do some justice to excuse the end of the series (which left a bad taste in my mouth). In fact, I had a REAL hard time enjoying Mockingjay. While I could barely put the first two books down, the only thing keeping me engaged in Mockingjay was that I had to know how it all ended. I feel like Suzanne Collins just wanted to finish the book and be done with it. So many parts were drawn out that didn't need to be, so by the end of the book, the parts that needed to be explained more, weren't. Ugh. So frustrating! I have like 6,000 questions that will never be answered. I will say, however, I do like the outcome of the trilogy, and she ended it the best way possible. I just needed her to be more thorough with other parts, more so than others.

Did anyone else laugh during the Girl on Fire scene? Not how I envisioned those costumes looking at all. In fact, it wasn't even close. I never thought they were flaming; it was more like they were engulfed in blue flames, creating an aura around them. While on the chariot, they looked like they were burning and trying to get away from the flames. It wasn't as powerful for me.

I brought this up to many people and they forgot it even happened, but I was waiting for Peeta's leg to get ripped to shreds. One of the most climatic moments in the book (for me) was when they're fighting Cato on the cornucopia and Peeta's leg is nearly mauled to death (except I think he can still stand on it or something bizarre), and then (after waiting a few hours) they put Cato out of his misery with the mutts and are about to take the berries together (which, on another note, I saw happening at the break of dawn, not during daylight). Instead, they get beamed up and they separate Katniss from Peeta. He's unconscious in the operating room and Katniss is screaming and banging on the glass and crying for him. I was waiting in anticipation for all that, and instead they both basically walk away from the arena unscathed, which seems nearly impossible. In the book, his leg has to be amputated! Plus, that part helps play up Katniss' "star-crossed lovers" act, and sets the tone for their interview with Caesar, when she's dressed as a child and sitting in Peeta's lap and all that. I guess it was too graphic for a PG-13 movie? Who knows where they'll take this, but Peeta's bum leg affects him in the next book so it'll be interesting to see how they play it all out.

Basically, I wanted more romance. Yeah yeah, I'm such a woman. Sue me. But when reading the first and second book, I couldn't put them down. I would lose sleep to read them. To see what would happen next. To see what absolutely wonderful thing Peeta would say to Katniss. How she would deal with Gale when she got home. There was little of that in the movie, so I hope for Catching Fire they pull out all the stops for the love triangle that's about to ensue. 

All in all, however, it was a great movie! But while I'm a huge proponent of the magic a film can make you feel, it doesn't come close to the emotions books can stir up.

Mar 4, 2012

The Carrie Conundrum: Fat Girl Slim

I had a conversation on Thursday that is plaguing me. I can't stop thinking about it. It's driving me MAD. 

I don't know why I can't let go of this, exactly. Maybe it's because I'm shocked. Or maybe it's because I feel naive. I don't know. Now, I'm making this sound more serious than it is, but still, it's quite hurtful to me... so let's just dive in to it.

I went out to dinner with three of my best girlfriends: all old coworkers, all grew up in SoCal. We got to talking about Carrie Underwood for some reason -- the patron Saint of my heart -- and talked about how beautiful she was, how great her legs were, and so on. OH. Now I remember: I was going to talk about how I've been handling the negative Youtube comments that come with my job. I've been told not to read them plenty of times, but given my goal in life is to get people to "know" me, I frequently have to read comments and respond, you know, to get a good rapport going. Anyway, the nasty comments don't sting me as bad anymore. I think of it this way: people have probably said things like that about me before -- behind my back -- but now it's easier  to see them because people can hide behind computers and tell me I look weird or that they need a new host without any consequences. Granted, for every negative comment, there are two positive ones, which is nice. But still. You tend to focus on things people find wrong with you because, let's face it, everyone wants to be amazing at what they do. At least I do.

So I was telling my girlfriends that I was listening to Carrie's new song, "Good Girl," on and one of the first comments on the page goes, "Oh there's Carrie Underwood with another song that sounds the same and those weird legs of hers." First off, people are penning this song as a Shania Twain-esque track -- one that doesn't a need a fiddle in it to be considered country music. And HELLO -- her legs are amazing. Weird legs? Who are you? Where do you come from? They're TO DIE FOR. I spend my life in the gym aspiring to get those legs!

We're all agreeing about her fab gams and I am about to mention how it made me feel better that even Carrie Underwood has negative people around her, so I don't take things too seriously, when one of my girlfriends says, "Yeah, I mean, and she used to be fat and now look at her."

She used to be fat.
She used to be fat?

I immediately interjected. "She was NOT fat. Are you serious?" 

They all kind of look at each other, nodding. "Yeah, she was big, Kirb!"

I know they weren't being mean. But never, in my life, in all of my Carrie fanhood, have I considered her fat, or big. I remember thinking she went from a normal size to losing a lot of weight, but attributed it to her being vegetarian (vegan now perhaps?) and becoming famous. If you have money, you can lose weight.

I pulled up photos from Carrie back in 2005, while she was on Idol. She was 22 and just about to graduate college. To me, seeing her in that pink top during first round auditions and watching her perform throughout the show -- she never once looked "big," "chubby," or "fat," -- all things she was referred to at dinner.

I'm not saying these girls were being malicious. They're my friends, and I know them and love them. What was shocking to me was how different their viewpoints were from mine. I grew up in Texas, and while Carrie wasn't super thin, she was a normal, southern/midwest sized girl. 

Carrie has admitted that she gained 20 pounds while filming Idol, but now I've done some research and it's speculated that today she's 110 pounds at 5'3. She's svelte. But being 5'3 and 130 pounds, that's about average. For someone 5'3, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a normal weight would be between 104-140 pounds (which puts one at a Body Mass Index between 18.5-24.9) Not too heavy, not thin. She's actually on the lower end of the weight spectrum at her current weight, which is understandable since she's constantly on camera -- and trust, it does put some pounds on a person. 

I explained this (120-130 pounds) was a normal weight for the midwest and one of my girlfriends said, "Well, maybe that's overweight to the rest of the world's standards."

Listen people, I have news flash for you all: that is NOT overweight. It's not fat. It's not chubby. She might look bigger, but give it a rest. I'm sorry that I'm getting really butt-hurt over this, but it hurt my feelings. Maybe I'm in denial about my own weight, but let me say my piece:

I have seen plenty (plenty, plenty, plenty) of overweight, chubby people in my life and someone who looks the way she did in 2005 is a far cry from both of those terms. I know the south and midwest are known for down-home cooking and eating things that Paula Deen probably conjured up, and we get a bad rap when it comes to health. I get it. But Southern California, while it has tons of people focused on doing the best for their bodies and eating the most healthy, natural foods possible -- which has helped me focus on a better diet (massive sweet tooth ova here) -- also has a distorted view of fat and skinny. We constantly have to care about what we look like on camera and while we could look thin at one weight, are focused on looking thin for the camera. Everyone here is offensively beautiful, either due to good genes or great doctors (if they're truly great, you won't be able to tell the difference), and when you're trying to stand out in a sea full of pretty people, it's hard not to worry about if your hair is the right shade, if your nose looks good in your profile, and if your body is appealing enough. (Tip: be yourself. My cowboy booties, my pseudo-accent and my southern disposition all have helped me meet great people and make true friends out here.) Everyone looks fit and thin -- and they look good -- but does that make them normal? So many people here have aspirational bodies. Should that be the standard for the rest of the country?

Plus, what does it say about those who are a little heavier than Carrie at that stage in her life? How do you think that makes them feel? I'm sure she'd look a bit bigger at 138 pounds, but that's still a normal weight for her height. And what about those women are are actually overweight? Does that make them obese? Words slice us. We need to think about these types of things, and how it's affecting girls' confidence and vision of themselves.

Since moving to LA, I'll admit that I started caring a lot more about what I eat, when I eat it, and how often I hit the gym. It's a fact of life. This is what happens out here. But the mindset is SO different. I'd say that approximately 55% of my friends are vegetarian or vegan. When I grew up, we ate chicken or beef with every meal, pasta wasn't banned from the dinner table, we always had rolls, and my mother baked sweets to put out for when my friends came over. I lived off sweet tea at The Main in college. Yet we were not overweight children. We might have gone through puberty and gained some weight every now and then -- a normal part of growing up -- but never would the terms "chubby" or "overweight" have come to mind.

At least not to us.

I guess the reason I'm so irked by this is because when I moved out here, I was in good shape because I really focused on my fitness my senior year. But things got stressful and I lost the physique I had. Now, I feel like I could spare a few pounds, but I'm not dwelling on it. I will lose them with hard work. But I like to have fun. I like Moscow Mules. I like dessert. Sue me. However, I feel (currently) that I'm a few pounds shy of looking like Carrie Underwood on American Idol! Could she have lost a few pounds? Sure. Did she need to? No. (She did.) So hearing girls who are so close to my heart talk about her in that way, it kind of hurt my feelings. I know they weren't, but I couldn't help but wonder if at work the next day they'd be talking about how I looked or if I needed to lose weight. 

Granted, I told them all this, and they were quick to assure me I didn't look "big" or "chubby." But what if I did look like that? Would I be considered "fat," "chubby" and "overweight"? Sadly, I guess I would. And that's hurts my heart. I am somewhat pissed that I'm even writing about this because, as I re-read this, I'm getting annoyed that I'm talking about weight in the first place. This is a minor issue. This is nothing of substance (or at least not that much). I feel like I have good self confidence and rarely am I ever wondering if my friends are gossiping about my weight when I'm not around, but here I am. Good Lord.

I'm am only writing to this show how different viewpoints can be. I'm not criticizing anyone -- especially my friends, who I love dearly -- I just want to write about it because, well, it's been bothering me. What do you think? Is Carrie chubby? Or did we all think she was just because she's in her prime, thinnest shape ever now?

Also, if you want to lose weight, I have a few tips: give up carbs. Yes, it sounds like complete and utter insanity, but Katniss Everdeen could starve for days and survived (like my Hunger Games reference?) so I think, if you truly want to drop the L-Bs, you can give up carbs for two weeks. Also, quit coffee for at least three days. Stick to eating lots of green veggies and have eggs in the morning for breakfast and I promise you'll see a huge difference. Last year I was on a paleolithic diet. I lost two pant sizes and I felt amazing. My skin was clearer, and while it was super, super difficult the first three days, I felt like I was on cloud nine afterwards. My friend Terry is a Crossfit trainer and lives a strict paleo lifestyle and he can help answer any dietary needs you may have. So give it a try if you're really looking to turn over a new leaf in your life.

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