It's strange to think that, including "The Hunger Games," Gary Ross has only directed three films.

Those three films cover a lot of ground, too.  "Pleasantville" is very different than "Seabiscuit," and neither one of them would prepare you for what he's done with "The Hunger Games."  I'm going to guess he was not the first person on the list that Lionsgate put together when they bought the book and started talking about turning it into a film.  I'm not sure what I've been expecting.  I read the books last year, and since then, I've watched all the casting announcements and we've run the photos and the trailers, and honestly, none of it really told me what to expect from the film.

Garry Ross has made a film that may confound fandom to some degree at first.  It is not the obvious film.  There's a very slick, very glossy version of this movie that I can imagine Hollywood cranking out that would be a success and it would look "cool," and it would be painless and somewhat disposable.  It feels like Ross wanted to make a movie that stuck with you in a different way.

In this interview, we talk about his approach to the film's aesthetic, we talk about Jennifer Lawrence and casting, and we talk about the world-building he does here.

And believe it or not, I actually name-check Truffaut at one point.  I'll let you see how we got there.

I'll have a lot more to say about the movie next week when we can actually publish a review.  And since the books are out there in pop culture already, I won't feel bad really digging into the movie, which is worth that level of conversation.

I used to talk to Ross on a regular basis back in the early '90s, and at the time, he was a working screenwriter with some strong credits.  "Big."  "Dave."  And of course his father was Arthur Ross, a Hollywood screenwriter from the '50s who co-wrote, among other things, "Creature From The Black Lagoon."  Ross has been reared in this system, and I think he's made interesting choices his whole career.  This movie, though, may represent the best overall thing he's done.

"The Hunger Games" opens March 23rd.