When I got to work Friday morning, I found the Arts and Culture editors, along with our publisher, huddled outside a cubicle, mouths agape. I joined them. A large rectangular box sat on the desk. Reminiscent of the strange stone tablet from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), it rose up from the desk, black, and ominous, only this one gleamed with golden letters, spelling out “Catching Fire.” Inside, I found chocolate.
(Here’s a quick rule of thumb in the newsroom: You will get promotional gifts. Another one: rarely will a promo grab your attention. But my favorite is: Do not let thy promo go to waste.)
I did what any food writer would do. I tasted each and every last chocolate bar — a total of 12, one for each “District” inside the post-apocalyptic world of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games. (The timing of this delivery, of course, is to whet one's appetite for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, out Nov 22). Crafted by chocolate makers Vosges through their American farmer-sourced Wild Ophelia line, each chocolate bar incorporated aspects of American geography, on which Panem, the segregated, classist country where heroine Katniss lives, was based.
FILM The stars say the director was brutal. The director says he wishes the film had never been released (but he might make a sequel). The graphic novelist is uncomfortable with the explicit 10-minute sex scene. And most of the state of Idaho will have to wait to see the film on Netflix.Read more »
FILM Daniel Farrands' 400-minute documentary Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th received coverage last month in an unlikely outlet: the New York Times. "A Seven-Hour Documentary About a Horror Franchise? The Director Explains," read the skeptical headline.
"A seven-hour documentary about a horror franchise?" I said. "Gotta get my mitts on that!"Read more »
FILM By now you've heard of Fruitvale Station, the debut feature from Oakland-born filmmaker Ryan Coogler. With a cast that includes Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and rising star Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Friday Night Lights), the film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, winning both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize en route to being scooped up for distribition by the Weinstein Company. A few months later, Coogler, a USC film school grad who just turned 27, won Best First Film at Cannes.Read more »
FILM Pop-culture historians who study 2005's top movies will remember Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the so-so action flick that birthed Brangelina; Batman Begins, which ushered in a moodier flavor of superhero; and Tim Burton's shrill Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.Read more »
FILM/LIT A few weeks before our scheduled interview, Laura Albert mails me copies of 2000's Sarah and 2001's The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Inscribed on Heart's title page is a note: "Thanks for being available to revelation." The volumes are signed "Yours, LA and JT" — the latter, of course, referring to JT LeRoy, the identity under which Albert penned both books.Read more »