The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.
- Che Guevara
The last Hunger Games movie opens this week and it's hard not to love a literary-based movie arc where a young girl comes of age by overthrowing a despotic, totalitarian government — especially when that girl is played by one of the most watchable actresses of the past 20 years.
After four years, Jennifer Lawrence might be slightly too good for the content in this final flick of the red-hot, teeny-bopper franchise, but she elevates the script and wraps up the saga in fine form.
This one has all the battles, betrayal, mutants, mayhem and action to ensure it eats everything released from now till Star Wars and the filmmakers opted to stick close to author Suzanne Collins' source material. Mockingjay Part 2 is the bleak, deadly, war film conclusion that drags a tiny bit too long but also includes some nice scenes with now-deceased Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Back for his third Hunger Games film in a row, director Francis Lawrence doesn't hold back as Katniss Everdeen et al. punch their way into the Capitol/stronghold of Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland, adeptly putting the "dick" in "dictator"). Director Lawrence also highlights actual pertinent themes and ideas like the role of the media in times of war and how the battle of perception is too-often the key victory. The medium is the message and as the human attention span shrinks to parallel that of a goldfish (real study, look it up) it's refreshing that the world's most popular Young Adult films are a warning about propaganda. And told with a unified, stick-it-to-the-man moral lesson as well. What's not to love?
How about that it's mid-November and Western civilization seems totally comfortable with trying to convince us it's the holiday season? Welcome to a prolonged season of Christmas shopping, Christmas coffee cup controversy and, the least offensive of the bunch, Hollywood Christmas movies. The Whistler Village 8 still has Meet the Coopers and on Friday they're opening what looks to be the next decent Christmas movie for people who hate Christmas movies. The Night Before is an R-rated comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper, Brick), Seth Rogen (Neighbours, This is the End) and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Pain and Gain) as three childhood friends out for one last sweater-wearing Christmas on the town before they enter adulthood (in their late 30s).
Directed by Jonathon Levine (The Whacked, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, 50-50) this one looks notable for the fact that it's an R-rated Christmas comedy and because Vancouver-boy Seth Rogen gets to use his acting while portraying the effects of a literal treasure chest full of hard drugs. Christmas movies have to hit those Hollywood feel-good moments. This one is riddled with '90s nostalgia and even gets a bit sappy at times but hey, 'tis the season (in over a month) and there is still enough Grinchiness in The Night Before to make it very worthwhile as a post-Christmas-dinner, doobie-with-the-in-laws kind of flick.
Speaking of, a teaser just dropped for a Netflix original revival of the old Celebrity Christmas Special show and in a stroke of easy-call genius they are doing it with Bill Murray. A Very Murray Christmas drops on Netflix on December 4th with Bill starring as himself starring as the host of a Christmas special when a freak storm prevents any of the guests from attending and he's forced to make due. It's meta but also looks The Larry Sanders Show-esque. It's also directed by Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Bling Ring) and co-stars Amy Poehler, Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, Miley Cyrus and George Clooney.
Bill Murray never lets you down (remember Scrooged?) and this is gonna be awesome. But forget about any Christmas special until at least December 7 because the Whistler Film Festival runs December 2-6. The fest is 15 this year and they have so many awesome movies coming in this year you're gonna wish you were Jeff Goldblum in The Fly so you would have enough eyes to watch them all. WFF is better than Christmas.