Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2012 Catch Up (The Hunger Games / Sleepwalk With Me)

The Hunger Games (2012)

Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Gary Ross (screenplay), Billy Ray (screenplay), and Suzanne Collins (novel and screenplay)
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson saved this movie for me; because, despite the fact that there were many things about the film that frustrated, perplexed and annoyed me, I still was able to get some enjoyment out of the experience due almost entirely to those two actors. For such a long film, actual information about the film's universe is strangely sparse - by the end, I had only the most bare-bones knowledge of the world and more open questions than answers. (The District 11 revolt - why show one scene and then completely drop the plot thread?) The direction was very questionable: extreme shaky cam during actionless shots, no music in moments that cried out for an audio cue while apparently filler shots are lent gravitas with swelling score. I spent a good portion of the film baffled about what the director was actually trying to do with the scenes. And don't get me started on the actual "rules" of the Games. I can see why it plays well within its target demographic but if it weren't for the fact that they hit a home run casting their lead, I wouldn't be able to summon up much fondness for this project.

Score: 4 / 10

Sleepwalk With Me (2012)

Directors: Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish
Writers: Mike Birbiglia (screenplay), Joe Birbiglia (screenplay), 
Ira Glass (screenplay), and 
Seth Barrish (screenplay)

Stars: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, James Rebhorn

It may not be as good in this form as it is in his live performances, but Sleepwalk With Me is still quite endearing as a film. Birbiglia has a warm, friendly style that makes him seem instantly relatable and that really works to his advantage in front of the camera. Because of the changes to adapt the narrative to film the rhythm and momentum are altered, depriving the material of some of its outright hilarity. On the other hand, Birbiglia does a surprisingly solid job behind the camera, tying together snippets of his standup with the story he is telling and bits of narrative from his present-day self. As far as the adaptation goes, the ability to tie these strands together as well as visualization of the sleepwalking segments are by far the highlights. The eighty minute run time was refreshingly lightweight as well. A very solid effort, and I certainly wouldn't mind seeing future film projects from Birbiglia (as writer, actor or director).

Score: 6 / 10

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