Tag Archives: Jennifer Lawrence

Extracts from a travel diary


17th December, Heathrow Airport

We’ve just come through security and collapsed in front of a Costa. The gentleman next to me smiles, but nevertheless departs so quickly for his plane he leaves a flurry of five pound notes, which we find fifteen minutes later. I have this brilliant idea to give the money to the people at Costa, to pay for the drink of the next person in the queue. What a glorious Christmas good deed, etc, etc. I am already wiping away tears.

I join the queue, and end up in front of a trainee barista whom, it soon transpires, does not speak good English. I ask her whether she can use the note to pay for the next person’s drink, and she asks me whether I want a single or a double. No, I clarify, I want to pay for someone else’s drink. Single or double, she responds, menacingly. I end up impatient and loud, she ends up waving the fiver in my face. The chap behind me gets his free drink but we’re all terribly embarrassed about it. I don’t think Jesus ever had social awkwardness problems.

17th December, somewhere above Chicago

On the descent, and Henry is sobbing on Tim’s lap. Ohhh, I think, clutching Teds and my own head, he got my ear problems. Poor baby. What have I bequeathed upon you?

On and on it goes. It’s a long descent. I am cursing my genetics and the seatbelt sign that prevents me going to help him.

‘His ears!’ I say to Tim once we’re off the plane, my tone a wilderness of self-reproach and sympathy.

‘No’, Tim replies. ‘He was cross I turned the iPad off’.

18th December, the front drive

Having an argument with the cat about where butts should not go, viz. in my face; on my trousers, between the covers of my Agatha Christie. He gives me a five-clawed scratch in response. Violence does not win debates, Ugly (his name really is Ugly).

19th December, the mall

There’s a whole shop selling merchandise for the Alabama football team. Its motto appears to be ‘Crimson Tide’.

I cannot be alone in thinking uncomfortably of periods.

19th December, Airport Boulevard

Really, though. Would you use a garage called Budget Brakes?

20th December, the back bedroom

I’ve forgotten about the voltage difference in America, because I am an idiot. My straighteners use variable voltage, and are fine. But using my hairdryer is like being caressed by the warm breath of a horse standing at some distance.

This may be the last time I wash my hair.

21st December, cinema, screen three

On a double date with my bros. Jennifer Lawrence is crawling away from poison gas, bellowing like a stuck pig. Tim leans over.

‘That’s what you sound like when you give birth’.

Next time I’m in labour, I will meditate on the image of Jennifer Lawrence in poison gas, and I’ll feel pretty good about myself.

22nd December, LDS chapel

Someone just said ‘lackadaisical’ in a Southern US accent, and it was the most beautiful thing I ever heard. Andrew Lloyd-Webber should set it to music, when he’s finished lurking creepily in corners and getting his eye-bags monitored from space.


The Hunger Games review: The World Will Not Be Watching With A 12A Certificate

Ok, just this one post, and then I’ll stop going on about The Hunger Games.

Credit: Lionsgate

The film is good. Very good. Visually stunning, perfectly cast, and tightly plotted, without (as far as I could tell) changing any of the major scenes or introducing audience-friendly filler that didn’t need to be there (*cough* Harry Potter *cough*). Everything on-screen was exactly how I’d imagined it. Involving Suzanne Collins as screenwriter obviously kept it as faithful to the page as it could’ve been.

But the film doesn’t really capture the shock-factor of the book, and that’s down to how the imagination works, and how it doesn’t.

We spend nearly half the movie building up to the moment the Hunger Games begin, and it’s time well spent, establishing the contrasting worlds of the oppressed, starving districts and the pampered, effete Capitol. In punishment for a long-distant rebellion, the Capitol keeps the districts in grinding poverty, where everything comes in grey and probably tastes of sawdust, come to think of it. As if that weren’t bad enough, once a year it throws two children from each district into an arena and makes them fight to the death for entertainment. The people of the Capitol, over-frilled, over-filled and garish with makeup, cheer on this blood sport like it’s Strictly Come Execution.

That this works so well onscreen is mostly down to the visuals and casting. Jennifer Lawrence makes a wonderfully sympathetic, resilient Katniss. You believe she could stick an arrow in your throat from ten metres away, but that she’d do anything possible to avoid it. Josh Hutcherson is underwritten as Peeta, but grows on you. Woody Harrelson is an appealing Haymitch, and Donald Sutherland lisps it up as the cold and tyrannical President Snow.

Ah, but the Games. The Games, and that 12A certificate the filmmakers were desperate to keep hold of. In the book, the decadence of the Capitol is disgusting because of the brutality of the Games. Death is shocking, and violent death for someone’s entertainment even more so. In the book, people die, horribly, and other people watch them on screens, cut together and narrated for their enjoyment. But on a page, that’s ok. The beauty of the imagination is that it’s tailored to your own head. A twelve-year-old reads a violent scene and cobbles together something from what they’ve seen around them. A twenty-seven-year-old does the same, but has more extreme material to work with.

In a film, you have one interpretation and it’s right there in front of you. So people don’t really die, in The Hunger Games, and they certainly don’t bleed: they run around a bit and then lie on the ground with their eyes open. With every confrontation, the camera cuts away at just the right moment, as though modestly averting its eyes. It’s the same elsewhere: Haymitch isn’t a nasty drunk, and the people in District 12 aren’t starving to death, just coal-dusty and in need of a good hairbrush.

We’re not supposed to be averting our eyes from scenes like this. The point of the Games is that the world is watching. It’s the watching that shocks, that repulses, that makes the reader and the viewer, in the end, complicit with the empty-headed audience. It’s not often I’d consider more gore to be a good thing, but you can’t paint an audience as bloodthirsty when you forgot to include the blood.

UPDATED because I remembered how much I loved the fact that Collins spelled ‘Peeta’ so it has to be said with an English accent. They all sounded like they were trying for a part in Downton Abbey.

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