Monday, June 13, 2011

When Dreams Come True - You Scream

A few months ago when I learned that The Hunger Games was being made into a film, even before I thought of actors or a director who I thought would satisfy my then fledgling rabidness for the series, I thought of two people who I believed would be fantastic additions to work on the music for the film. This morning news broke that one of those people is in fact on board, and has reportedly taken the helm as their music supervisor, T-Bone Burnett.
    I was in high school when Burnett produced and released the Grammy winning soundtrack to the Cohen Brother’s reinvention of The Odyssey by Homer, O Brother Where Art Thou? I distinctly remember buying my copy of the album that’s still snugly tucked away in a faux leather CD case in the massive bookcase in my bedroom. I searched all over Music Millennium in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, finally finding it and getting a little thrill. At that point I had just seen the film a matter of days before, and was itching to hear what I heard in the theatre again, also the album was already getting buzz in music magazines as being one of the best soundtracks to be compiled in a very long time. Months later the buzz paid off, and it won the Grammy I mentioned above, but was also nominated for a BAFTA, and a Chicago Film Critics Association Award. Needless to say, it’s a damn good album of music.
    Years later, 2003 to be precise I became enthralled with yet another album that Burnett took part in, the soundtrack to Anthony Mingella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's American Civil War Odyssey, Cold Mountain. Many people seem to despise this film, which I really don’t understand, but that’s something to write about on another day. Cold Mountain’s soundtrack boasts tracks featuring Jack White, Sting and Allison Krause, as well as a bevy of folk singers specialising in Appalachian style singing and music as well 19th century style Quaker singers. It’s a very stylised gathering of music, that very much so reflects the era in which the film takes place.
    What the hell do these two albums I’m obviously a little attached to, have to do with The Hunger Games though?! Easy, The Hunger Games partially takes place in what’s remaining of Appalachia some time in the future, and Burnett with his attention to detail and previous knowledge of folk, blue grass, gospel, blues, rock and roll and country music, is in my opinion the perfect person to compile, arrange and possibly even write songs for The Hunger Games which already has Appalachian style folk songs peppering its pages.
    On another note, I literally screamed when I read that he was on board for this job, because it meant that a very far fetched dream of mine had come true.

Other work Mr. Burnett has worked on, Counting Crows August and Everything After, Jakob Dylan's Women and Country, Elvis Costello's King of America, The soundtrack to Crazy Heart as well as the soundtrack to Walk The Line.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Murder(in four parts)

It’s safe to say that I’m kind of obsessed with The Hunger Games trilogy right now, so when news breaks like it did a matter of days ago that the trilogy(meaning three parts of a whole), is potentially being split into four separate feature films, I was skeptical, a little pissed actually if I’m really being honest.
    Yes, I was pissed, and the reason I was pissed was and still kind of am a little, is because of what I well know, and what I hope many well know, is that the bottom line nine times out of ten in the big studio film sector is to make the most money as humanly possible out of the material. This is why initially I believe The Hunger Games is being split into four parts as apposed to the uneven three. However, after much thought and some back and forth debate and exchanges with several different people who are just as passionate and/or obsessed with the the trilogy as I am, some of my negativity has been assuaged or abated... sort of.
    Suzanne Collins, the author of the trilogy, and Gary Ross the man directing the first instalment of the series, as well as hopefully the next three, are working very closely together to ensure what I hope will be accurate adaptations of the novels. The fact that the author of the series is so closely involved is unprecedented to say the least, because what I know about the treatment of writers in the film industry is that they’re not treated very well at all. Although, with all the articles about the collaboration between the director and the author, as well as the letters from the author herself being released on the process of making the film, I’m three fourths reassured that the integrity of the story will stay intact in all four parts, but also one forth thinking they’re trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes. I’m an innately pessimistic person, and when so much love is going back and forth and between a director and an author, I think they’re hiding something. I have no proof of that though, just my horrible horrible tendency to think the worst, which I constantly try and talk myself out of, believe you me. Anyway, even if the wool is being pulled taught, I still have an immense amount of hope where it comes to this on going project, and seemingly solely because the author is so closely involved in the process. Seriously, that does not happen, most of the time in the film industry a novel or a screenplay is bought and everything within the buyers power is done to disallow the original idea maker anywhere near the writing room or even the set. This is why so many people end up being writer/directors, because they want to make sure that if anybody’s going to screw up their work, it’s going to be them them selves.
    One of my other biggest problems and somehow my simultaneous confidence booster I have with splitting the trilogy in four, is the fact that according to preliminary reports the last novel in the series Mockingjay, is going to be the novel that will be split in two. My problem with this doctoring so-to-speak, is that out of the entire series it’s the shortest in length, my digital copy clocks it at 158 pages actually, which by my English major standards, as well as avid reader standards, is a short novel, especially when you compare it to other monster Y. A. last editions like, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. I hate bringing up other Y. A. series' that have been adapted to film, but the splitting of the last book of a popular series has become sort of a trend in the film industry, and where all the franchises differ I feel is the genuine desire of the film makers to tell a good story, as apposed to just milking the material for all its worth. I say this, because I wholly believe that splitting Deathly Hallows in two was a very smart move, and ensured and ensures that many details will stay true to the novel. Sadly, I don’t think this is the case with Twilight: Breaking Dawn. My faith in the adaptation and editing of Mockingjay into two separate films is bolstered however, because even though it’s the shortest in length there is still so much that can be explored outside the perspective of the novels original narrator.
    All of this speculation and concern over three other films coming to fruition is frankly unfounded though, because even though the rights to the series are bought and paid for, there is nothing finite to prove that the franchise will continue after the first instalment is released. Like I said before, the bottom line is money, and if the the first film doesn’t make a satisfying amount according to industry standards, nothing could happen, and the series could possibly stall out after just one film. I honestly don’t think that will happen though, because the buzz for the first film is so so loud, and in this new age of near constant connection with fans via the internet, momentum and excitement for a series like this could very well sustain its self for the possible four to five years it could take for all the chapters of the story to be put on film.

As I like to say, fingers, toes and eyes my friends. Fingers, toes and eyes.

Title of this entry is taken from someone I deadly hope becomes part of the film series family.