November 30th, 2013

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Big House USA" would inspire a fine Quentin Taratino remake

"Big House USA" opens with the leading man Jerry Barker (Ralph Meeker) taking advantage of a sick child.  Bad things happen and Barker, a.k,a. the Iceman, ends up in jail with the likes of Broderick Crawford, Lon Chaney Jr. & Charles Bronson.

"Big House USA" works when this Rogue's Gallery is on camera.  The interaction between Crawford, Meeker, Chaney & Bronson is authentic, dark with gallows humor.   There are moments of sadism involving blow torches & betrayal, rare for 1955, 

The fllm falters when conforming to 1955 conventions;
 the confusing Elliot Ness imitation voice over,
the pat "crime does not pay"  conclusion
and the over the top dramatic musical score.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Hunger Games Catching Fire" - Political Intrigue

**The Hunger Games Catching Fire** was buoyed by additional screenings on the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery 5 story IMAX screen. In the continuation of Suzanne Collins Young Adult novel, the visual scope was not utilized until the actual **Hunger Games** begins.  The extra viewing space provides both intimate details of personal survival, in contrast to the large scope of voyeuristic political intrigue.
After their unique victory in their first movie, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutchinson) fulfill their obligatory celebrity roles.  Through their humane victory, Katniss & Peeta  has sparked a quiet political evolution against the president (Donald Sutherland) and his oppressive policies. The president recruits Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) as his trust advisor to quell the rebellion.
The first half of **Hunger Games Catching Fire** drags a bit in the first half.  However one must realize that these expository scenes are setting up a four movie arch of the **Hunger Games** story,  When the **Games** begin, the character and story intensity picks up with personal violence and hidden character motives.  Like **The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers,** **Hunger Games Catching Fire** is an entertaining middle film that promises a fine conclusion.