A group outing to the movies. The group choice is to see “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. It’s a very Canadian type of choice: no one is dying to see Hunger Games, but it’s preferable to the other films playing at the theatre that’s close, it’s playing at a time that works for everyone and it’s unlikely to offend anyone. We brace ourselves for the chilly walk to the theatre, arrive in time to sit through all the trailers and enjoy the no crowd atmosphere.
You get hungry during Hunger Games because it seems so damn long. Everyone wears great clothes, even if they’re fighting for their lives. Katniss looks dewy and curiously detached. The combatants seem to represent an exercise in diversity: an old person, science geeks, a girl who may have wandered in from a Marvel film. Not enough Woody Harrelson. I can’t understand why this got mostly good reviews. It’s forgettable even as you’re watching it. The trailer for “Divergent” looked reminiscent of the Hunger Games premise. It’s funny, once something takes off, immediately there are other creations that offer the same theme, with a slight variation. Vampire films and TV shows, zombie ones, psychopath protagonists, unlikable heroes and heroines – prickly and escapist visions.
And then there are documentaries. Public television is great for that. The other night I watched on TVO part 3 of a BBC documentary on paediatric neurologists working at a hospital in Oxford, dealing with life and death situations on a daily basis. I was struck by their dedication and perseverance. But even more remarkable were the family members of the patients. The love for their children was inspiring. Facing constant obstacles, health setbacks, waiting in hospital rooms for the doctors to deliver the news – and still finding joy in simple things like playing with or feeding their child. “Brain Doctors” is not for the faint of heart. Brain surgery is shown in all its visceral, gory detail. But so is the compassion of the doctors and the strength of the parents.