Fire on all cylinders

We saw Catching Fire today.

Much, much better than the first film, and it had interesting things to say about how totalitarian regimes operate that even so-called “serious” films have never said on screen: namely, that the very rules that they establish as their modi operandi are also their weaknesses, for if they violate those rules in an obvious-to-the-rabble manner it undermines their very existence.

Of course, they will and do violate their self-set rules all the time in an unobvious and obfuscated manner – however, the point is and was if they do so apparently, they demolish their own foundations because “rule” like money is just an idea in a bunch of people’s heads more than it is anything physical.

Much more could be said about that for the film both handles this point subtly and capable and better than the books, but I also want to keep this post finite in length and I have to tell you about the character Johanna Mason.

Jena Malone (whom I didn’t even recognize) burns off the screen with this character. She’s a wild animal, utterly feral and unleashed by anything, and even though she’s fighting on the side of right she’s as scary in her wounded intensity and unpredictability as anyone I’ve ever seen on film.

I told my partner I was going to write a love song to her called, “Johanna, I love You – As Long as We’re Far Apart and You’re in a Cage.”

She said that was not very romantic.

The film was just filled with great performances, really, and subtle ones –  for instance, how Elisabeth Banks humanizes Effie Trinket without breaking character is just absolutely masterfully done.

And of course Jennifer Lawrence is Jennifer Lawrence – normally, someone like Jena Malone’s brilliant Johanna Mason would’ve upstaged her, but that’s not really possible.

Catching Fire corrected nearly all of the flaws of the first film, and even bested the book in some areas – something not often done. I highly recommend seeing it in the theater as it’s a movie that nearly cries out to be seen on a big screen.