The Running Man

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This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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It’s too bad I already recommended The Running Man this month (for post-Ender’s Game viewing), because even more than the first Hunger Games movie it really fits well with the new second installment, Catching Fire. But that’s okay, you can still add that to this week’s bunch of movies to see. I just won’t include it below. The same goes for Battle Royale, the most obvious movie to highlight for being similar to this franchise, though that one does make more sense as something to recommend after the first movie. Should Battle Royale II: Requiem take its place now that we’re talking about The Hunger Games 2? I haven’t seen it and hear it’s really terrible and it doesn’t seem to coincide plot-wise, so no. Instead I’ve got 12 other movies better worth your time as you wait for the first part of Mockingjay to hit theaters and continue the abruptly halted narrative of the Hunger Games story. As usual, the list will probably involve some spoilers if you haven’t seen Catching Fire.  

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By the time I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I had already read a few Harry Potter books and I couldn’t help but think of the earlier sci-fi work initially as “Harry Potter in space.” It’s a comparison that continues for many now that the movie is out. “Harry Potter meets Star Wars,” claims a blurb used in UK ads credited to Sky Movies host Craig Stevens. And if you search Twitter for “Ender’s Game and Harry Potter” the results of both titles mentioned together is aplenty. All this is natural for the lazy way we relate movies to each other. The sad thing is some kids might think of the new movie as a derivative piece of YA fiction modeled after J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard. I don’t know if Potter was at all influenced by Ender’s Game. It’s not like Card’s book was the first messianic tale. The website TV Tropes even labels the relevant trope as “A Child Shall Lead Them,” a Biblical quote that also appears at the top of the New York Times review of the movie, in which critic Manohla Dargis breaks out the ol’ “Christ figure” descriptor for the main character. Still, I wish that I’d both read and seen the Harry Potters after reading/seeing Ender’s Game. If you’ve somehow avoided all the Hogwarts adventures before going to Battle School with the new Ender’s adaptation, consider yourself lucky. Watch the entire series now to see what I’m talking about. And right there I’ve got […]

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The Hunger Games

Today, the odds may ever be in your favor. Just as The Hunger Games was named by Amazon to be the e-tailer’s all-time best selling book series, the film adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence hits shelves on Blu-ray and DVD. And as $684 million in international box office grosses might suggest, this one’s a fairly popular choice among movie fans. So as a site that invites movie fans of all walks of life to discuss their favorite films, we thought it proper to take The Hunger Games and build a little mini-marathon that you can act out in your own living room. Because if you’re into this movie, you may have a taste for blood. Or tough girls. Either way, pairing The Hunger Games up with some of cinema’s great fights to the death is far from a bad idea. Or perhaps you’re just a guy who is going to be asked to sit and watch the Katniss movie by the girl of your dreams. Why not propose a trade? “We’ll watch the teen lit film if we can also watch one of these…” With that in mind, we’d like to know which great blood sports you’d pair with The Hunger Games. But first, a few suggestions.

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Sure, Quidditch looks like a whole bunch of fun until you take into account the fact that you’re probably not very good at it. Not to mention how exhausting it must be. There’s a reason you barely see anyone over 20 on a broom in those films. So what’s a lazy person to do in these fictional universes? Luckily there are options, some of which are arguably cooler than trying to balance on some stupid piece of custodial equipment.

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The Hunger Games

Maybe our science fiction writers have failed us with all their damned pessimism, or maybe we’re all just obsessed with the world ending because it’s definitely going to stop spinning this year. Either way, everyone on this doomed planet is currently obsessed with the cold, distant Dystopian futures of hits like The Hunger Games. Now it’s time to figure out what it all means (which also means a bit of psychoanalysis). Good thing the Jennifer Lawrence-starring flick has people hungrily dissecting it for meaning. The results? Old Jewish heroines, our cinematic past, Occupy Wall Street, unspoken sexuality and the anti-Twilight.

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Boiling Point

AMC’s The Walking Dead and I have a strange relationship in that I watch it but don’t particularly care for it. I can’t really tell you why I tune in every week, but it has something to do with my great love for the comic books and a desire to see horror on television, mostly regardless of quality. The books by Robert Kirkman have always had a bit of melodrama about them, but the show has often taken that to obvious, soap opera levels. “The Walking Dead” comics feature a great cast of characters with complex motivations and relationships. Many of those characters made it to the television show – well, at least characters with the same names made it in. Things have changed so drastically from comic to screen that one has to ask – when does an adaptation stop being an adaptation?

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It might just be the mist of the weekend still fogging up my mind, but there are a few things awfully confusing about the saggy cloud of Arnold Schwarzenegger looming over Hollywood and threatening to rain down madness once again. Precipitation references aside, the last action hero has now publicly stated that he’s going to step back into the world of acting (and anyone who claims what he does is somehow less than hasn’t seen or cried at Kindergarten Cop, and obviously can’t be trusted). It’s kind of a cool idea. Schwarzenegger has impeccable charisma, he’s a veteran at the game, and he generally picks solid projects. But there are still some head-scratching loose ends here.

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Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: voted #1. Every week I force-feed you hot spoon-fulls of hot garbage from my personal celluloid landfill. These stinkers may have fallen short of technically proficient from the time their scripts were greenlit, but they nevertheless occupy a special, greasy part of my heart.

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We’re taking a time out to highlight the efforts of Lionsgate releasing to bring lots of great genre flicks into the high definition world.

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