Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thoughts on ‘Mockingjay: Part 1’ – With Spoilers

Readers who are sensitive to discussions of sexual abuse should be aware that it will be mentioned in the discussion below. There will also be SPOILERS for Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. You’ve been warned.

We saw Mockingjay on Friday night. We didn’t sit in the back row and eat popcorn mixed with Milk Duds like Ethan Wate and Lena Duchanne, although that sounded awfully good when I was listening to Beautiful Creatures earlier in the week. We sat in the middle and didn’t eat anything, because we’d just been to Red Lobster. I had the lobster tacos (which, of course, made me think of the Simpsons joke. “I’ll have your finest food stuffed with your second finest.” “Very good, sir: lobster stuffed with tacos.”).

We arrived at the perfect time, as the commercials ended and the previews began. One of the previews was for Insurgent. The clip showed an action heroine Tris in a dream, bravely trying to rescue her mother Natalie (the ever-beautiful Ashley Judd) from a burning house careening through the air. Tit turned to me and said he’d just realized the same actress played Tris and Hazel Grace. Disney’s new live-action Cinderella movie looked very traditional, very close to the cartoon, but also very good.

We also saw the Night at the Museum 3 trailer. The movie looks fantastic  - it moves the setting to London, and Rebel Wilson (another one of my favorite Aussies, with the Hemsworth brothers) appears as a security guard. She gets to be sexy and do a British accent. Robin Williams plays Teddy Roosevelt, and it’s bittersweet to see his face on the big screen now that he’s gone.

Rebel Wilson also appeared in the trailer for Pitch Perfect 2, which I think I’ll also enjoy. I love me some Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick. They’re so funny and smart and pretty and really they can do no wrong – and I say this even after I’ve seen Kendrick’s screwball end –of-days comedy, which is…different. Pitch Perfect 2 also has our Effie Trinket, Ms. Elizabeth Banks.

Then Katniss Everdeen woke up from a nightmare in the bowels of District 13, pining for Peeta. Forced into a hospital bed, she reawakens to the sounds of Finnick’s tears.

Aw, Finnick Odair – how my heart aches. Finnick pines for Annie in a way that Katniss can’t yet understand. Her love for Peeta is mostly theoretical; Finnick and Annie’s bond is physical. He misses her with every cell of his body. They both know Peeta, Annie, and (my darling) Johanna are being tortured in the Capitol; they just can’t imagine the extent.

Finnick is still alive at the end of this movie, but he’s already gone on the air to tell the people what President Snow did to him. Fictional or not, it still makes me angry. All Finnick wanted was to marry Annie and have a quiet life with her, but Snow forced him to be passed around between the elites like a toy. Let’s be perfectly clear about this: there is no such thing as consent when you’re being coerced by the threat of having a loved one killed. Snow caused Finnick to be raped. In my mind, Snow might as well have raped Finnick himself. Forced prostitution makes Snow and his accomplices the lowest of the low.

Creative Commons image by dalekhelen
I don’t judge Finnick at all. He only did what he had to do to save Annie’s life. He has nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t judge consenting adults over the age of 18 for choosing sex work as a career, either, but Finnick didn’t choose it.

As if we needed another reason to detest Snow – we see him flat-out murder an entire hospital full of innocent wounded people in this movie. He’s scum. I’m trying to remember what President Alma Coin does in Mockingjay 2 that makes Katniss decide she’s scum, too.

But I like to think that once Finnick and Annie are reunited, they can't stop touching each other. They're both such damaged people, each other's presence is the only thing that keeps them going. I'd like to imagine that night is the night their baby is conceived. 

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson both do some exceptionally good acting in this film. She has to make Katniss believably traumatized, and I thought she did, especially in her reactions to seeing the bombed-out, burnt remains of District 12. He has to portray the effects of psychological torture (something similar to MK Ultra, in fact), which he pulls off chillingly.

Creative Commons image by slackerwood
Hutcherson looked physically traumatized in this, gaunt and with a swollen face. He almost looks like Christian Bale in The Machinist. I hope this effect was achieved digitally, similar to how pregnant Bella Swan looked emaciated and near-death in Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 without risking Kristen Stewart’s health. I’d hate to think of an actor as young as Hutcherson putting himself through such a harsh physical regimen.

If this movie has one fault, it's not enough Johanna Mason. 

Of course, it’s bittersweet to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last role as Plutarch Heavensbee. He played the character so well, too. 

Remind me not to see the second part, though. I don't want to see some of the sad things that are going to happen. Reading the book was traumatic enough. 

One of the side effects of reading is that it helps us understand other people's lives better. Right now, the entire United States is upset with the large number of innocent Black people who've been killed by poorly trained, racially prejudiced Caucasian police officers, who then escape legal consequences. Some of the victims are as young as 12. They're Primrose Everdeen in real life, only we're powerless to volunteer in their places. Unless the militarization of the police and the snowball effect it creates are somehow stopped, revolution will come off the big screen, out of the pages of the books, and into the real world. 

Every young person deserves an equal chance to grow up safe and healthy. The odds should ever be in all our favors. 

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