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Digital Divide: September 2012

| August 31, 2012

The Hunger Games

Full disclosure: The latest and hottest young adult works of fiction have never quite been able to make an appearance on my reading list. Not because I’m a literary snob mind you (O.K., I’m a bit of a snob, sue me), but I stopped being the target audience more years ago than I care to admit.

A lot of people say you have to read the books because they’re so much better than the movies. While that may be true, I feel that I couldn’t have enjoyed the Harry Potter films more if I had several hundred pages of character development in the mental library, and I highly doubt reading the books about those sparkling vampires in skinny jeans would have made me like the flicks at all.

Still, I get the distinct impression that in the case of The Hunger Games, a quick scan of the source material would have greatly helped to fill in the gaps.
Apparently, according to The Hunger Games, the future of America isn’t all too rosy, as it’s been segmented into 12 districts. In this future, some sort of rebellion against the ruling class fell a little short. As punishment, every year, each district must serve up two members in the coveted 12 to 18-year-old demographic to compete against each other in a fight to the death to entertain the viewing masses. Think The Most Dangerous Game meets The Truman Show.

Each contestant owns a unique skill, with plucky Katniss Everdeen, straight out of the Appalachian backwoods, volunteering to take her bow and arrow to that party in place of her little sister. Jennifer Lawrence, again cultivating the backwoods vibe she modeled in Winter’s Bone, gives a wonderful performance and carries the film as Katniss. However, the rest of the tween contestants or “tributes” as they’re known, don’t fare as well. Not because they don’t try, but because they’re just not given much to do. Some of the supporting cast acquits themselves well, specifically Stanley Tucci as a smarmy television host and Woody Harrelson as a former Hunger Games winner and Katniss’ mentor. But Donald Sutherland is wasted, and Lenny Kravitz proves that as an actor, he makes a hell of a musician.

The Blu-ray release contains boatloads of features, including a whole disc with nothing but. On it, you’ll find interviews with director Gary Ross, a pair of features with Sutherland, and an exhaustive two-hour making-of documentary, just to scratch the surface.

Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live

Since his mid-80s masterpiece, So, Peter Gabriel has tossed out musical projects like a miser tosses out nickels. It took six years to produce the follow-up, Us, and a whopping 10 years to follow that one with Up. We’re still waiting for the next one. Gabriel didn’t exactly go hide under a table in the intervening years, taking the time to record a couple of world-music albums and the odd soundtrack here and there, but the work has been hit-or-miss.

1994’s Secret World Live might be his most significant release aside from the main albums, and the video just might be one of the best concert films of the past two decades.

Now, Eaglevision gives it the Blu-ray release it deserves. It’s been remixed and remastered since the original 2003 DVD release, and it looks and sounds terrific. A crackerjack backing band consisting of bassist Tony Levin, drummer Manu Katche, guitarist David Rhodes, and Paula Cole on backing vocals add richness and depth to the artfully designed stage show.

New on the Blu-ray is a bonus track of “Red Rain” and a 2011 performance of “The Rhythm Of The Heat” with The New Blood Orchestra, and special features include a time-lapse of the stage setup, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Secret World Live is the rare concert document: One with the ability to capture an elaborate stage experience and maintain interest throughout.

— Timothy Hiatt

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Category: Columns, Digital Divide, Monthly

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