Tag Archives: Books

Hunger Games Casting

I recently jumped into the Hunger Games hysteria, and I enjoyed the first book in the series (the only one I’ve read so far) quite a bit. It’s a fast-paced story (sometimes too much so), and though I hate to echo the masses, I basically could not put it down. It’s definitely not high literature, but it’s a really fun read.

Of course, Jennifer Lawrence was recently cast as leading lady Katniss Everdeen. I thought they would be going for a younger cast, but Lawrence was fantastic in Winter’s Bone, so I’m happy to see her in anything. (But since she’s also in the X-Men reboot, I was kind of hoping that she wouldn’t be in any more big franchises.)

That leaves the two key roles of Peeta (Katniss’ companion in the Hunger Games) and Gale (her childhood friend from home). Slash Film recently released this list of supposed good bets for each of the roles:

Hunter Parrish – 23 years old (Weeds)
Josh Hutcherson – 18 years old (The Kids Are All Right)
Evan Peters – 24 years old (Kick-Ass)
Alexander Ludwig – 19 years old (Escape to Witch Mountain)
Lucas Till – 20 years old (Battle: LA, X-Men: First Class)

I have to echo the popular vote here and put my support behind Hunter Parrish for Peeta. He just seems like the perfect choice. I think that he’ll ultimately get the part, because he already has a strong fanbase and seems to be just on the cusp of being a huge star. He and Lawrence would probably make a good match, too.

I initially couldn’t picture Hutcherson as Peeta, but aside from the age difference between him and Lawrence, the idea is kind of growing on me. But to be honest, I actually think that he should aim higher than The Hunger Games. Despite being the youngest of this group, Hutcherson is probably the most established. He’s already done a lot of action-y blockbusters (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Zathura, Cique Du Freak), and with two more on the horizon (a Journey sequel and the Red Dawn re-boot), he should move on. Or, at least, he should go for movies where it’s his vehicle. Really, though, despite his jock-ish looks, I think he’s better suited for more low-key fare. He was really good in Bridge to Terabithia when he was only a young teen, and though he wasn’t given much to do, he showed considerable charisma in The Kids Are All Right.

As for Evan Peters, I like what I’ve seen from him. He made a good sidekick in Kick-Ass, and though it was a random, one-episode role, I really loved him as Michael Scott’s bored slacker nephew on The Office. He was also on the short-lived show Invasion from a few years ago, and I remember really liking him on that, too. It’s great to see him getting considered for big roles like these, but he seems like a strange fit for Peeta.

Lucas Till looks the part alright for Peeta, but I’ve never seen any of his movies, so I can’t really comment on his acting skill. But I will say that I think Parrish has a sturdier, more outward charisma that is required for the role.

Liam Hemsworth – 21 years old (The Last Song)
David Henrie – 21 years old (The Wizards of Waverly Place)
Robbie Amell – 22 years old (Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP)
Drew Roy – 24 years old (Secretariat, Greek)

I have to admit, I know virtually nothing about these guys. I know Hemsworth was in that Miley Cyrus movie and dated her for a while (are they still together? I can never keep track of these things, nor do I particularly want to), but he seems way too flashy for Gale. The other three all look the part decently, but based purely on looks, my vote out of that group would be for Drew Roy. He has the strongest “boy-next-door” vibe going for him. At 24, he seems way too old to be playing a character who’s 16 (or is he supposed to be/look older than he actually is in the book? I can’t remember.) but if they’re going to cast Lawrence and (hopefully) Parrish, he probably wouldn’t look too out of place.

The Hollywood Reporter says that things are “not limited” to the names above, which makes things interesting. They’d be crazy to go with anyone aside from Parrish (please not Alex Pettyfer!), but based on that list, the role of Gale seems to still be anyone’s game. I personally think Matthew Beard would be a good choice (you may remember him as the perpetually ignored Graham in An Education).

People always clap for the wrong things.

Like many others have, I’d like to take a minute to share my thoughts on the death of J.D. Salinger. It was announced today that the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye passed away on Wednesday from natural causes at the age of 91.

Liking The Catcher in the Rye as a teenage is not a unique sentiment. And my feelings on it are not unique. But there’s a reason why so many people love that book in a way that feels so personal to them. It’s impossible to describe the story to people who’ve never read it, or to convince those who didn’t like it of Salinger’s brilliance. On the surface, not much happens. But the mind of Holden Caulfield is so beautifully portrayed throughout the course of that story. His idiosyncratic, often contradictory views on humanity are heartbreaking, hilarious, and perfect.

I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was fifteen years old, which to me, was the perfect age to be introduced to Holden Caulfield. Tenth grade was a low point for me, because I felt so incredibly disconnected to the rest of the world. I felt so angry at myself for not being able to connect to anyone, even though I hated most of the people at my school, and told myself that I didn’t want to be friends with them, anyways. So to find a book that carefully laid out every emotion that I was feeling was a pretty special thing. Also, it was unlike most books that I read at the time. My literary tastes had fallen more along the lines of the work of Meg Cabot prior to reading Catcher. Not only did it make me feel a little less lonely, it also opened my eyes to the possibility of reading books that were both entertaining AND had something important to say.

Catcher is obviously Salinger’s most famous work. It’s going to live on forever as a literary classic. But his short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (which can be found in his Nine Stories compilation), is another masterpiece. It takes a while to make its impact, but once it does, it’s unforgettable.

J.D. Salinger is responsible for what is arguably the most iconic novel of the 20th century, and he’s inspired countless writers to write their own stories of teenage angst (for better or worse). As an aspiring writer myself, Salinger is definitely one of my heroes.

Rest in peace.

Review: Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

When I say that I want Chuck Klosterman’s career, I am not kidding. The guy grows up in rural North Dakota, writes a book about said childhood in the Midwest (with some heavy metal commentary interspersed), wins a few awards, and writes for Spin. Now he gets to write books about whatever strikes his fancy. I’m sure the road wasn’t quite that smooth, and sure, plenty of people seem to hate his guts. But you know, that general career arc sounds pretty good to me.

Eating the Dinosaur is Klosterman’s fifth non-fiction book (he released a quite-good novel, Downtown Owl, last year), and his first containing entirely unpublished material since 2005’s Killing Yourself to Live. And while Killing Yourself to Live was more of a road journal/memoir of Klosterman’s trip across America in search famous musicians’ death sites, Eating the Dinosaur is essay-based, and returns to the winning formula of 2003’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. He covers everything from time travel to the Unabomber, all with his signature sarcasm and “post-modernist” slant.

If you like Chuck Klosterman, I can’t see Eating the Dinosaur as being much of a disappointment. He discusses more of the “low culture” topics that can be found in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, but I also found that he takes it a step further and considers why he likes to discuss such things. He’s always been a self-conscious writer (sometimes painfully so), but in the book’s final two essays in particular, “T is for True” (which discusses authenticity vs. irony) and “FAIL” (which, in part, examines modern technology), he seems very wrapped up in the emotional disconnect in modern culture. “My existence is constructed, and it’s constructed through the surrogate activity of mainstream popular culture,” he writes. “Instead of confronting reality and embracing the Experience of Being Alive, I will sit here and read about Animal Collective over the Internet…Reading about Animal Collective has replaced being alive.” This passage will make some people roll their eyes, but I think it’s some of the most accurate criticism of our modern culture that I’ve ever read. And that’s the genius of Chuck Klosterman. He takes common feelings and opinions, spells them out in purposely obvious ways, and makes it feel like a revolutionary statement.

But a few of Klosterman’s topics feel less fresh. “‘Ha ha,’ he said. ‘Ha ha.'” maligns sitcom laugh tracks. But is there anyone in the world who actually likes laugh tracks? And “ABBA 1, World 0” offers very few new ideas on the oft-discussed ABBA. But that being said, a good portion of the book’s essays do offer a unique perspective on common topics. “Oh, the Guilt” takes on one of my favourite topics, Kurt Cobain, and compares him with infamous religious fanatic David Koresh. The comparison isn’t totally convincing (which Klosterman admits: “It is unfair to compare Cobain to Koresh. I know that…If you stare long enough at anything, you will start to find similarities.”), but it certainly is interesting. “Through a Glass Blindly” discusses voyeurism, while “It Will Shock You How Much It Never Happened” skewers modern marketing schemes, and these topics fit perfectly into Klosterman’s comfort zone.

My overall feelings on Eating the Dinosaur are a bit conflicted. I feel like “FAIL” and “T is for Truth” are some of Klosterman’s best, most mature work. But I also feel like Klosterman has sacrificed some of his comedic touch in tackling these issues which are “deeper”, but ultimately feel a bit cyclical (he acknowledges that he is the type of person that Ted “The Unabomber” Kaczynski “hates most”, despite the fact that he is defending some Kaczynski’s ideas). Perhaps this isn’t a bad thing – it might just be a natural evolution of his work. But while there were some typically wry Klosterman quips, I found myself laughing less as I read this book than any of his others.

If you’re not a Klosterman fan, this book is unlikely to change your mind, and if you’re unfamiliar with his work, I would recommend checking out Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Killing Yourself to Live first. But for those who have been eagerly awaiting his latest book, this is pretty satisfying. Klosterman offers plenty of interesting ideas, and the evolution of his work is evident. At 37, Klosterman seems less certain than ever about the world, and themes of reality, media saturation, and identity run throughout to satisfying effect.