REVIEW: ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

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Stanley Tucci is a po-mo Ryan Seacrest and Jennifer Lawrence a pouty heroine in ‘Catching Fire.’

I’m still not sure why The Hunger Games, with its heavy-handed Marxist moralizing about the inherent corruptness of the one-percenters, became the huge cultural phenomenon it did last year (yes, it was only last year), but it did. Maybe tweens were looking to glom onto another corny romance as The Twilight Saga was wrapping up, and on the lookout for a pouty heroine, found one in Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. The audience for that movie — and now Catching Fire, its first of three sequels, due in successive years, like hurricanes or the flu virus — was a mix of sardonic historians and giddy youth, lured by the barely-out-of-puberty heroics by Katniss, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and their ilk.

I don’t see the appeal myself. Both films are garish romps that tend to keep me off-kilter about whether the actors, set designers, costumers and director (this time, Francis Lawrence, who made Constantine — as if that’s a good thing) know what they are doing. When good actors like Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks ham it up like they’re being paid by the pork lobby, you wonder: Are they just excited to know they can do anything and still be in a hit, or are they embarrassed by their idiotic hair-don’ts as the audience is for them? Sure, Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman is meant to be a post-modern Ryan Seacrest, and the flittery inconsequence of the Capital City residents who vomit up their dinners to make room for desserts is meant to mirror the fall of Rome. But c’mon, is anyone under 30 gonna get that? And isn’t everyone over 30 appalled by the Mexican-whorehouse-on-angel-dust look of it all?

Best not to think too much about it — just shrug it off, make catty comments about Katniss, and enjoy watching our own culture play itself out.

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Sam Claflin

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Logo Channel unveils winners of 2013 New Now Next Awards, airing tonight

The New Normal - Season 1

I have to confess, I’ve never quite understood the NewNowNext Awards, the Logo Channel’s celebration of pop culture from a queer perspective. They always seem very arbitrary and unformed, with categories like “Beyond Style” (what the eff does that even mean???) and fan sites that seemed culled from the depths of geekdom.

Anyway, maybe that’s the point: They seek to be the barometer of breaking trends and that entails flexibility from conventional categories.

Anyway, tonight the awards show airs on Logo (9 p.m. our time), but the network has already announced the winners. Here they are:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Ladies and gents, we give you the worst film of the year

In Silver Linings Playbook, Pat (Bradley Cooper) — a mentally unstable romantic and Philadelphia Eagles fan (as if those aren’t all the same thing) — gets out of the loony bin a skosh too soon. He went in due to his nervous condition, to-wit: He nearly murdered a man who was buggering his wife, and went to a mental hospital rather than jail. But mom wants his home for the holidays and checks him out. Bad idea. Pat delusionally believes his wife still wants him back, and goes ape-shit all over the depressing ‘burb where his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, both slumming it shamefully) to prove he’s worth having back. Problem is, every time he hears the song “My Cheri Amour,” he gets violent. (The Stevie Wonder song that should set him off, though, is “Superstition” — his dad is a bookie who blames losses on the TV remotes not being properly aligned.)

Even the thumbnail description of this execrable piece of cinematic detritus sounds banal, and I’m not exaggerating to say my write-up is 10 times better than any 30-second stretch of SLP, which defiantly sets out from the opening scene to be the unchallenged Worst Film of the Year. It wins by a landslide.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones