Between the release of the much anticipated Hunger Games movie and the long awaited 5th season premiere of AMC’s Mad Men, I’ve been a pretty happy “fan” this week…
I recently read a piece in the New York Times about fiction and neuroscience. (Joceline, as an expert in the human brain I expect you to leave a comment below!) Soaking in stories either by book or film can be a socially educational experience. This tickled me – espeically since fans/bookworms have a reputation for being introverted and odd. Studies show that certain words and linguistic devices we pick up in novels (metaphors, poetic/detailed descriptions, etc.) stimulate our “sensory cortex” (whatever that means…) essentially making our neuro response to fiction identical to that of equal real life experiences. People who are experienced readers/viewers can therefore use their fictional encounters to better navigate nuanced social situations in the real world, making them more observant, tactful, and empathetic. How bout that.
I fully intend to use the above information to justify my continued love affair with fiction – whether on screen or in print. I therefore (without shame) will now dive into the two subjects I wanted to talk about in the first place…
So, I jumped on this bandwagon pretty late. I read all the books in one weekend about two months ago and I was relieved to discover that the hype around the trilogy was justified. Also, I’ve always had a soft spot for good quality contemporary young adult fiction.* Ask former LiL blogger Lauren. The two of us used to really nerd it up in elementary school over Tamora Pierce…Oh, and no one had to make a movie adaptation for us to like it. Just saying. =)
Anyway, I found the books really interesting – more for the story and characters than the actual writing. Katniss Everdeen was refreshing as a young adult heroine. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she’s a compeltely orginal invention, but it was nice to see a female protagonist whose virtue doesn’t stem from being outwardly angelic or overly idealistic. In fact, I read Katniss as endearingly unlikeable (if that makes sense…). She’s a good person, but not always a nice person.
Overall, I liked the film adaptation. I thought Jennifer Lawrence did Katniss justice and the pacing of the movie was well-done. I appreciated the purposefully chaotic handheld camera touches during the shots in the arena and in District 12. A few elements of the novel were, however, lost in translation. Without Katniss’ first person narrative, her relationships with Peeta and Rue were simplified – an unavoidable cost of a movie adaptation, I suppose.
If you haven’t seen/read Hunger Games and have no idea what I’m talking about right now, I apologize. As penance, I shall post this genius Beanie Baby Hunger Games video which is both hilarious and informative. Apparently some UVA students made it. I’m unspeakably proud.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Mad Men fan. Heck, I made everyone on this blog write up a themed week based on a memorable episode from the show. Mad Men is the one television show I actually watch and follow in real time – no excuses. This means that when I move to a new apartment in April and no longer have access to cable, I will either 1) drop-in on friends at 10pm on Sundays (convienient, right?) or 2) strategically time my workout in my apartment complex’s gym so that I can watch AMC on a communal television. Obviously, I’m very stingy…stingy, yet dedicated.
Anyway, the 18th-month wait was definitely worth it. The series is now in 1966 and I’m excited to see what the characters are going to do when faced with Civil Rights, Vietnam, shorter skirts, plaid suits, and Don Draper’s new French Canadian wife. It’s still too early to tell whether she’s brilliant or crazy. See for yourself:
Some choice moments from the 2-hour long episode (besides the deliciously awkward party song above) include:
- A man holding a newborn [incorrectly] while a cigarette is dangling from his mouth.
- Good ole fashioned sexual harrassment in the workplace (though, at least in this season, the men feel guilty when caught…progress?)
- An opening scene that was literally taken from the front page of the May 28th New York Times in 1966.
- The part where they all smoke and drink. Oh wait…
I’m so excited that this show is back on the air. If you have Netflix, I believe you can watch the first four seasons streaming online. It’s definitely worth your time. The writing and acting is fabulous. I know that’s what everyone says…but they say it because it’s true.