In Cinemas: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' (2015) + 'Güeros' (2015)
2012's opening film adaptation of 'The Hunger Games' was perhaps expectedly a commercial success, but more unexpectedly, also impressed critics. Adopting the now familiar policy of splitting a franchise's final instalment in two, we finally have the conclusion to the wildly popular series in the form of 'Mockingjay Part 2' (★★).
Having almost been killed by a previous ally, a shaken up Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself at the forefront of the rebellion offensive to dethrone President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and liberate the oppressed people of Panem. Unfortunately, 'Mockingjay Part 2' features some of the most stilted dialogue of the series, and combined with the overt melodrama, the finale is the weakest offering of the four films.
A pretentious black and white movie with no clear meaning? That’s the gist of an extremely meta comment directed at 'Güeros' (read the full ★★★★ review from last year's London Film Festival here) by a protagonist in one of the film’s wry fourth-wall-poking moments – but it’s a comment that doesn’t accurately reflect the charm of Alonso Ruiz Palacios' clever coming-of-age odyssey.
Listless teenager Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) is packed off to stay with his equally listless older brother, Sombra (Tenoch Huerta). Adventures ensue, driven by an uplifting human element, with even the minor characters that crop up having their own amusing idiosyncrasies and tales of heartbreak and joy to tell. Ultimately, this is a film about love – romantic, platonic, fraternal, love for a cause, and everything in between – and how it can fill you with purpose.
At Home: 'Master Of None' + 'Together'
Aziz Ansari writes and directs 'Master Of None' - a new Netflix-only sitcom that features Ansari as Dev, an exaggerated version of his real-life personality, balancing in-roads into what he hopes to be a fruitful acting career and a quest for love in the modern age. Ansari opts to tackle subjects such as sexism, cheating in relationships, but most prominently addresses the lack of Asian characters in US TV, even roping his real-life parents into several episodes.
'Master Of None' may not hit the ground running as per his hilarious stand up, but it excels in other ways, with a cat-obsessed Colin Salmon being a particular treat. There's often a 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'-esque cringe factor, but equally, there are wonderfully human moments to contrast the comedic sequences - from PARO the robotic seal to heartfelt acknowledgements of maturity in the latter episodes. The hilarity however bubbles around the surface, most notably, in a cheeky exchange with a hotel receptionist - "Sir, I have to blink, but it doesn't indicate a guest was murdered."
On a similar note, BBC Three sitcom 'Together' has been addressing love in contemporary times - albeit with a considerably more absurdist zeal. (Which is actually saying quite a lot, considering 'Master Of None' often opts for the leftfield.) Jonny Sweet writes and stars as Tom, a twenty-something unemployed Londoner living with his parents, who is brought together with Ellen (Cara Theobold) in unusual circumstances.
Over the course of its six episodes, 'Together' follows Tom and Ellen as they try to consolidate their slightly confused romance, demonstrating a wonderful capacity for the ludicrous along the way. Which usually involves Tom's somewhat bizarre parents (Alex MacQueen and Vicki Pepperdine). An enjoyable, light-hearted romp, available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
TV & Movie News
Den Of Geek talks about how rear projection was effectively the "original" green-screen, referencing films including 'North By Northwest' and 'Airplane!
Perhaps surprisingly, director Peter Jackson et al have openly admitted their lack of preparation and difficulties for 'The Hobbit' trilogy:
Chicago Mag does a retrospective of 'Home Alone', as it hits its 25th anniversary.
In case you missed it, relive (relieve?) Shia Labeouf's recent self-reflective filmography-watching odyssey.
Read previous On Camera columns here. Drop us a line at film(at)fadedglamour.co.uk if you have something you think might be worth featuring in a future column.