917 People Who Are Hotter Than Benedict Cumberbatch
1. Martin Freeman
2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
3. Jeremy Brett
4. Your mom
5. Ron Artest
6. Metta World Peace
7. Prince Harry
8. Prince William
9. Prince Charles
10. This lady who got knocked over by the wind recently
11. Joan Cusack
12. Joan Didion
13. Joan Jett
The hierarchy of friends
1. A friendship of absurdity — absurd that it should even happen, that you should meet someone, or someones, whose company is consuming. You can’t get enough of them. That shouldn’t be logical or biologic, that humans should connect so deeply, that you and s/he have immediate access to decades of cultural cliches about closeness, live inside them, and break them open. Language hasn’t caught up to intimacy, in this way: it focuses on the wrong part of the phenomenon — not that you were incomplete before meeting but that, absurdly, you could become whole.
2. You grew up together, or went to the same school for many years, or have somehow been connected through many phases of yourself. It will be almost a decade soon. You have almost been friends with this person for 10 years. They are, in many ways, a better friend than you because they are more persistent, more obliviously faithful, in the idea that you are both equally good. You will always be friends. This will become an article of faith in your life. It will probably make you a better person, or remind you at least that you can entertain other, better people.
3. Friends of circumstance. A terrible phrase that, “of circumstance” — dismissively cliche, ignoring the importance of circumstance. Circumstantial here is in direct proportion to closeness — if you met in high school, you were fast friends, often a circle of you or some kind of cohort, all sharing the same social short-hand; always together. You were warned that this would not continue into college. You ignored that warning and it came true anyway. You pass now through everything that still connects you including, occasionally, one or two shared friends. You get the sense that you are both good people now, or settled somehow, and that you weren’t before (even then). This is an achievement. Leave each other. Take this instead.
4. Idol friends, the ones who used to consume you. These do not end well, often. The spell has to break sometime. Like a false start, you will realize you have spent all this time on a relationship. You will realize this, slip past one another, and come to a place of brief clarity and confidence. Your friendship will draw drastically down in scale. You will rarely refer to each other but will often hear about the other at parties. Names have a way of floating to the top of conversation.
5. Work friends. A ragged, complacent group but prone to miracles. Watch them carefully: all work friends begin this way, but they do not all stay. Circumstance, remember?
6. Passport friends. Chance encounters. Instantaneousness. Of a degree of absurdity much less than above but no less startling. When or where or why is often more important than who. An extra seat at the bar. An extra charger in the conference hall. A moment when you have found yourself left as the spare in some situation and then found that there is more than one of you.
This Is Gospel
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which is otherwise almost outrageously entertaining, is not very violent, though it ripples with possibility. The whole film seems quite alive actually; not like it’s been produced from a formula but that it takes place in a world. The work and value of this can’t be overstated. Too often, adaptations of popular young adult novels asphyxiate on release — well-intentioned, trying things that can’t find a gap in their worlds to use as doors. The audience has no way in and is rebuffed by all of the boys and the girls and their problems. The effect — as with the majority of the Twilight series or The Mortal Instruments or the boring-est parts of the middle Harry Potters — is a kind of bludgeoning impression of faith. You loved this thing as a book, so here is that thing, mostly, again. Not The Hunger Games. There’s always been too much there there.
Catching Fire recommences the charade first punctured by the Games. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) — who saved herself and her neighbor, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), from their lethal royale by pretending to be torrentially in love with him — can now find no relief from that lie. Her longtime friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), is wary of her professions of indifference. The country’s President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who otherwise drinks a lot of champagne and smiles sweetly at his granddaughter, insists that Katniss isn’t convincing enough — that her stratagem is being taken as a scheme. That it is inciting rebellion among the Districts against the Capitol.
That tension doubles and triples, mirroring, throughout the movie. Katniss and Peeta, who are actually now even less than friends, go on their victory tour across Panem, ushered by their handlers, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks). The tour is a disaster splintered by images of anger and banality and a fusion of the two that strikes deep feelings: a proscenium ringed by police ringed by angry protestors; a wedding dress that burns to ash and rises, in a single twirl. The effect of this is lost on no one. The world of The Hunger Games has real, shifting weight. Characters die. They change, too.
And what fun to see the many charted moods! Most films like this are overly-, and poorly-cast. Panem pops and Catching Fire finds canny new ways to funnel that energy, including crucial time spent with new allies and past victors such as Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), a woman so scarred by the system that it no longer hurts her to start pulling it apart with her teeth. They keep pushing everyone else around them to fight or feel; like foils, Banks’ Effie and Stanley Tucci’s Cesar do tricky, micro-manic work as oligarchs who have forgotten the cost of either.
Francis Lawrence, taking over from director Gary Ross, seems less obviously worried about codifying a visual language that will bring all of this to life. Ross moved between aesthetic modes: shaky-cam; sun-bleached longueurs crumbed with dust; classic movements that introduced large spaces and then did away with them — the introduction was all. Lawrence does away with most of that; he doesn’t care to draw attention to himself. Working from a nimble, nuanced script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt (notice their attention to words — their sense of rhythm and expression instead of exposition; how they, too, have weight), Lawrence’s camera often trails before or behind bodies, or stays, framing them from the waist-up.
The effect of all of this is an accumulating acidic consideration that seeps into the film’s satire. Everyone is in a perpetual state of revelation — of how terrible things are. Katniss doesn’t want to be a rebel and she definitely wants no part of the special Quarter Quell, an all-star Hunger Games, which drives the film’s second half. But she can’t do nothing. No one can do nothing any more.
And still. I’ve never finished a single book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, though I find the films that have adapted them to be full, rounded, flawed works. Most everything stands and breathes on its own. As an antidote to stasis in many of its forms — franchise-freezing (this is a middle chapter that hums instead of bridges), foremost — Catching Fire is easily the year’s best blockbuster, about a world that has finally started screaming its way awake.
Listen to a key line in “22”: “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time / It’s miserable and magical.” It’s a classic Swift lyric: purple but precise, self-involved yet self-aware.
"There is no reason why one could not, on the one hand believe, that slavery should have ended, and also believed that black people were inferior and worthy of a lesser place in society. ‘Bigot’ … does not automatically blot out one’s other qualities such as ‘caring father,’ ‘good husband,’ ‘charitable giver,’ or ‘supporter of marriage equality.’ Black people—who have spent much of the history living around, working for, or working with actual bigots but have not had the luxury of dismissing them ‘globally’—understand this. I suspect that women—who have, for some time, had to live around, work with, and work for sexists and misogynists, but have not had the luxury of ‘globally’ dismissing them—understand this too. And I suspect the LGBT community, where people must function in families with other people who believe their lifestyle to be a sin, understand this as well. If you are gay your father or mother could be a ‘homophobic bigot,’ but you might well love him all the same."
Ta-Nehisi Coates, "Yeah, Alec Baldwin Really Is a Bigot"
"It’s not a joke; it’s the equivalent of a guy explicating the punch line of the ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ joke for four minutes twenty seconds."
"Thus it is that we are charmed by the funny-looking automobiles of the ‘30s, the curious fashions of the ‘20s, the particular moral habits of our grandparents. We produce and attend musical comedies about them and are conned into a false memory, a phony nostalgia about what they were. We are accordingly lost to any sense of continuous tradition. Perhaps if we lived on a crest, things would be different. We could at least see."
Thomas Pynchon, “V.”
I missed your skin when you were east.
FEELING: The kick-drum thud when someone you’ve been bumping shoulders and knees with for weeks, close enough to an accident that it could have been an accident after all, finally touches you on purpose for the first time.
HOW TO EAT IT: Are you crazy? Don’t move. Eat only what you can reach.