Hammerle on ... 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire','Dallas Buyers Club'

Robert Hammerle
December 4, 2013
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bob hammerle movie reviews“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” combines the adventure, power and allure of such classics as “Avatar” (2009), “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the unforgettable “Harry Potter” films. However, there is one significant difference, as the central star of this superior film is not a hero, but a heroine, something not missed by young women of this country.

As the unforgettable Katniss Everdeen, Jennifer Lawrence dances in the same cinematic galaxy as Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” and Vivian Leigh in “Gone with the Wind,” both released in 1939. Trying to save her country and family, she repeatedly risks her own life while dancing on the edge of destruction.

Not to be overlooked is the simple fact that she is also wrestling with her own personal life. Emotionally drawn to two endearing young men, played by Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, she may be the first young actress in a great film to repeatedly kiss two men.

hammerleIn summary, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” picks up following the triumph of Katniss and Hutcherson’s Peeta Mellark in the original film. Becoming the symbol of a growing public dislike of the central government, Katniss is involuntarily sucked back into another fight for her life.

Donald Sutherland is again magnificent as the malevolent President Snow, a man now dedicated to seeing that Katniss dies. The film is further helped by the appearance of the great Philip Seymour Hoffman as the president’s right hand man, a guy who you sense from the beginning has questionable loyalties.

Despite the film’s multiple tragedies – you see protesters whipped at the stake and killed – several brilliant performances inject enjoyment and humor into this adventure from the very beginning. Woody Harrelson is perfect as Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss’ adviser, a guy who will drink anything just to keep his edge.

Stanley Tucci again appears as Caesar Flickerman, the patron saint of all game show hosts. He is a man with a great ponytail and a record number of gleaming white teeth.

Elizabeth Banks, playing the ostentatiously dressed Effie Trinket, is again Katniss’ guide, and she begins to show a bit of sympathy for the beleaguered young girl. And good grief, take a look at her eyelashes and clothes, as costume designer Trish Summerville is surely destined for Oscar recognition.

Finally, don’t overlook the performance of Jena Malone as Johanna, a Hunger Games contestant who teams up with Katniss and Peeta. She is both daring and attractive, and she has a sarcastic edge that makes her memorable.

Unlike the “Twilight” movies, there is nothing cheap or artificial about “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” A government is suppressing its people while trying to divert their attention with young people fighting to the death. A growing number of participants aren’t buying it for a second, and it is clear that a civil war is brewing.

There are two more films to be released in this saga so Katniss’ battle with President Snow continues. My money is on Jennifer Lawrence. Enjoy the ride!

“Dallas Buyers Club”

“Dallas Buyers Club” is the type of movie that all loyal cinema fans cherish. It stomps on your heart while simultaneously soothing your soul. Much like “12 Years a Slave,” it recreates a staggering moment in our country’s history that brings shame on our national heritage.

hammerleMatthew McConaughey continues his resurrection, here playing Ron Woodroof, a Texan living in 1985 who rides bulls in the rodeo when not working as an electrician. Skinny as a rail, he cares about little else other than gambling, whisky, cocaine and having sex with strippers whenever they are available.

In failing health, he ends up in a hospital and is stunned to learn that he has HIV. A morbid heterosexual who hates gays, he retreats into the dark corners of his pedestrian life. Think of him as related to the present mayor of Toronto or the prior mayor of San Diego.

Facing a medical projection that gives him 30 days to live, the film erupts beyond description from captivating performances by Jared Leto and Griffin Dunne. Leto is devastatingly compelling playing Rayon, an AIDS-stricken transsexual that Woodroof meets in the hospital. Initially repulsed by Rayon, they become unexpected business partners after Woodroof flees to Mexico for drugs that are unavailable in the States.

Leto’s performance is magnificent on multiple levels. He is as attractive as he is vibrant, and you never can take your eyes off of him while he travels his painfully slow road to the great beyond.

As for Dunne, he plays Dr. Vass, an unlicensed American physician who has retreated to Mexico. He takes Woodroof under his wing, providing him with non-FDA approved medication to take back to the States. Dunne is charming at every turn.

The film then centers around Woodroof and Rayon forming a company known as the Dallas Buyers Club. While they are not selling illegal drugs, they allow AIDS patients to join on a monthly basis so that needed medications can be provided. Everyone is smiling but the United States government and America’s pharmaceutical industry.

The performance by Jennifer Garner should also be noted, here playing Dr. Eve Saks, one of Woodroof’s original treating physicians. She becomes the centerpiece of the AIDS treatment controversy experienced by all physicians in our country at the time. She and her colleagues had to choose between the accepted treatment with a drug known as AZT or tolerate clubs like Woodroof’s that won’t wait for the FDA to get off its reluctant butt. Simply stated, AIDS patients were left to sink or swim under a national policy dictated by the political influence of drug manufactures.

This is a film that will force you to remember how horrified the country became when Rock Hudson died of AIDS. Citizens had to ask a difficult question, namely “If Rock was gay, then who else is?”

When you see the moment Woodroof hugs Rayon publicly simply to provide him with a bit of dignity, you know the answer to that question remains “Who cares?”•


Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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  1. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  2. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  3. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  4. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  5. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.