Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

 Facsimiles of life

I've been postponing writing this review. I'm terrified of it. Synecdoche, New York, directed by Charlie Kaufman (writer of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), is a terrifying film. In its breadth it's all-encompassing. Like every Kaufman effort it spits on conventions, rejects standard structure and dares to poke uncomfortable places. It's about all of life. Real life. Fake life. There's no distinction. I'm so glad this was made, but I'm at a loss for how to put it in words. It almost feels like one of the director's own scenarios.

Mission: Impossible 3 (J.J. Abrams, 2006)

I'm gonna hurt her. I'm gonna make her bleed, and cry, and call out your name.

We live in a world where, for better or worse, franchises rule the day. Making an original piece of work to expose your ideas to the world is tough, more so when you can earn better money directing the next Iron Man or James Bond. The end result is usually a formulaic experience, marred by the constraints of an existing idea. And yet, ever so often, the framework is used to create something that elevates beyond the source material.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)

 We now turn to the subject of dystopias

It was a while since I saw the first Hunger Games, but the setting quickly returned to me. A future nation with twelve impoverished districts ruled over by one highly advanced, sophisticated city state, a little like a less cannibalizing Morlocks versus Eloi, or quite like, if you're into political parables, modern day US versus most second and third world countries. The nation's name, Panem, instantly brings 'bread' to mind, after the Latin word. It nicely links up to the idea of the Hunger Games as a way to not only punish, but also pacify the populace. Bread and circuses are the oldest means of appeasement, after all.