Juno: The Poll

Juno: The Poll

****
6
14%
*** 1/2
6
14%
***
12
29%
** 1/2
9
21%
**
5
12%
* 1/2
2
5%
*
1
2%
1/2 *
1
2%
0
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 42

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Postby Hustler » Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:48 am

I can´t believe all this fascination with Garner´s work. I´ve just seen a very conventional performance with no subtle elaboration.

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Postby FilmFan720 » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:55 pm

Sonic, I couldn't agree with you more about Jennifer Garner. The character she creates is fascinating, and she handles the nuance of the character so perfectly. In many ways, she has to be the straight man in the film, the normalest (or most traditional, maybe I should say) character in this quirkly little film. This can be the hardest role in the film, yet she carries it with such grace and elegance that it is wonderful to watch her. And yes, Sonic, she is a great actress. Her work on Alias was some of the best work on television in the past 10 years. It is nice to see her get some film work that shows off another side of her, yet just as wonderful.

As for the dialogue, I had a thought about this that no one else has yet mentioned to it. There has been much complaining about the dialogue at the top of Juno the film, which is annoyingly quirky in an Indie/Sundance sort of way. I think this serves a purpose, though. At this point, isn't Juno the character sort of annoying and quirky in an Indie/Sundance sort of way? She is not your normal teenager by any stretch of the imagination. She is very much a movie creation. Because of her condition, though, and the truths about the world that she must face, she grows up quickly through the film and becomes something more mature. As Juno the character does this, the dialogue of Juno the film also becomes more mature, and less childishly quirky. I don't know if this was a conscious decision by Diabolo Cody (and I doubt it), but I found it an interesting piece of the film.
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Postby Okri » Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:23 pm

Yeah, when I heard that line, I totally thought of you.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:36 pm

....oookay... Don't know why, but I kept getting an error message whenever I tried to post the fourth paragraph. I cut the paragraph in half, and it posted just fine. It took me longer to fix the post than it did to write it. Sorry about that. Anyway:


------


Glad to be back. (And what an auspicious beginning that was.)

I'm a little surprised to read everyone criticizing Juno's lines (the first 15 min. in particular) for being unnatural or over-written or unrealistic. I have issues with the film's dialogue - for other reasons - but what exactly is the problem here? Did we miss Reitman's direction, which is also stylized and slightly skewed, and in no way meant to capture the tone of life among the middle class with pinpoint you-are-there docu-drama accuracy, ala Mike Leigh and other kitchen sink-ers. Did we really think we were expected to accept the scenario of a pregnant girl looking in the Penny Saver for surrogate parents as anything other than absurd? And what about the characterizations which are purposefully exaggerated? As they tend to be in comedies, right? Juno's overflowing precociousness is a trait and a comic affectation. Were we really supposed to catch all the words and references in that opening quarter-hour? I doubt 16 year olds are able to do so. The humor isn't in what she says, but in how she speaks, sort of like the Valley Girl of the previous generation. And it's how she speaks that defines who she is. (My wife, by the way, loved the movie, which surprised me. Her English is pretty terrific, but her Slangwich is lousy.)

And yet... and yet... If the cast is uniformly good - and I think it is - it's DESPITE the screenplay, not because of it. As written, there's not much to distinguish these characters beyond a set of quirks. Allison Janney has her shining moment when she tells off a... doctor? nurse? (Sorry, it HAS been a few weeks.) It's a relief that her character doesn't fall into the evil stepmom stereotype. On the other hand, her lines could have just as easily been spoken by J.K. Simmons, the father. These characters all have swell lines, but it's the lines and surface descriptions that define the characters, and there's not much beneath them, nor is there much opportunity for the actors (save one) to truly break through. But that's often the consequence of verbose screenplays. Since Juno is a very pro-active central character, this works to Page's benefit, and if I relate to her performance it's because my subjectivity is at play. Anyone who says the way Page carries herself in this role is wholly unrealistic hasn't met my old and long-lost friend Jen, who almost exactly matched Juno's manner; her blunt fearlessness, her offhandedness, her disdain for the mainstream, her tomboy aura, her unrestrained wit... even her diction, which sounded as if the upper palette is slightly obstructing her speech, so that all her vowels have a trace of 'r' in them, like a 'Peanuts' character. But regarding Juno's family and friends, they're just mouthpieces for Diablo's verbal acrobatics.

The Bateman-Garner marriage is another matter altogether. Damien, you really didn't think Bateman's character was realistic? For real? Bateman's character is a grade A asshole, no doubt. But the foundation of his motivations perfectly symbolizes the marriage dilemma: you commit in the throes of passion and accept the compromises. Then the passion inevitably stabalizes (yeah, even with a babe like Jennifer Garner) and suddenly you see your life defined by all the compromises you've made. Successful marriages somehow work their way through this conundrum. Bateman is too self-absorbed, and his passive-aggressiveness is pretty disgusting, especially since Garner clearly dotes on him. And yet, full disclosure, I'd be lying if I said I didn't sympathize, since he and I have a lot of similar interests.

But it's the handling of Garner's character, and her performance, that elevates the film. Garner is the one cast member that's able to transcend the screenplay. I'm looking at all the other posts here... mmmmm... gosh, that's funny. Garner is one of those actresses I'm not supposed to like. I sorta knew this going in, but I couldn't quite remember why. It's now occurred to me I've never SEEN Jennifer Garner in anything before. I never watched Alias. I've never seen any of her movies. Daredevil, Pearl Harbor, 13 Going on 30, Elektra, The Kingdom... nope, sorry. I've seen Catch Me if You Can, but damned if I can remember what her role was. Well, maybe she is a terrible actress. But here, as the cloying, upper-class feminine ideal? She's the only one out of the entire cast that's allowed opportunities to create a

character apart from the words written in the script. Her scene in the mall when she presses her ear to Juno's abdomen allows her a display of tearful bliss, honest emoting, not relying on words to clearly spell out how she's feeling. And when she learns her marriage is about to fall apart and we expect this seemingly vulnerable woman to collapse in weakness, we instead see another, stronger layer to her personality. So, good or not (and I'm convinced it's very good), at least the performance stands out. She's affectionate, self-assured, too normal yet a tad crazy, with more dimensions to her than we've been expecting, a truly well-rounded character rather than a few quirks passing as human.

But more remarkable is the film's view of Garner, with little to no condescension. Her character embodies convention; Juno is repelled by convention. Were this a John Hughes film, Juno would shake off her rebellious nature and embrace boring ol' convention (like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club). But Juno doesn't defy convention because she's misguided and unhappy, or because they're the whim of a youthful spirit. She defies convention because the things she loves are totally cool. By the end of the movie, she has grown but the cool stuff remains cool, too cool to outgrow. But Juno, the character and the film, are openhearted enough to accept that everyone lives life according to their own personal criterion. (This, after preparing us to look upon her with disdain and root for her husband.) The message is, cool and conventional can co-exist in this universe, so long as neither are presumptive enough to declare themselves the touchstone by which others must live by.

I assume this theme is meant to carry over into the Juno-Michael Cera relationship, but here Diablo's REALLY pushing it. Sorry, but what do those two SEE in each other?? I get why one would be drawn to Juno-Page. I get why one would be drawn to Cera's nebbish. But these two to each other? Sorry, no. If this was meant to be credible, then it wasn't developed enough for me. And that's just one of several undeveloped strands. My memory's hazy on this, but I kinda sorta recall a brief digression involving another student who has a crush on Juno, but he knows it's not reciprocated so he immaturely mocks her in front of his friends, or something like that. By the end, when it's clear he's never going to have Juno, he puts on a sour face of defeat as she flips him the bird. Really, was anything gained by including this fleeting bit of business? Or the friend who (unbelievably) had a crush on a middle-aged teacher? And the bookended lines "It begins/ends with a chair" is straight outta freshman Writer's Workshop.

My fingers have all but passed out, and I didn't even get into the abortion waiting room scene which deserves real scrutiny. What was the consensus on that scene, again? But I'll say I'm grateful Reitman tamped down his more indulgent urges which ruined "Thank You For Smoking". And I'm STILL at a loss as to how this quiet, fleeting, appealingly minor film ends up with an outstanding box office take and a Best Picture slot. But then, I still haven't figured out how such an un-Oscar film like "No Country" is the frontrunner and likely winner. It's just the freakishness of the year, I suppose. Anyway, better "Juno" than "American Gangster" or "Sweeney".

Oh, and no one has to ask me what my favorite line was. "By the way, I listened to the Sonic Youth CDs you lent me. They suck! It's just noise!" :p




Edited By Sonic Youth on 1203560224
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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:32 pm

Apparently, it's not able to handle lengthy posts.

Little by little, I posted what I had written one paragraph at a time, then went back and added another through "edit". I was able to to post three paragraphs successfully this way. When I tried to post four paragraphs, I received the error message.

In any event, I'll divide my post into 2-3 parts and see if that works.




Edited By Sonic Youth on 1203557764
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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:42 pm

He means not copying and then pasting the message into the body.
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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:41 pm

Yeah. I get the problem and can't figure out why.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:41 pm

I'd say what I was trying to post WAS a straightforward message, unless I'm not fully comprehending the meaning of the term as you're using it.



Edited By Sonic Youth on 1203557364
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Postby Steph2 » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:37 pm

SPAM!!

(I kid, I kid...)

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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:29 pm

I've gotten that error a few times myself, usually when I'm copying or editing. Posting a straightforward message seems to work better.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:50 pm

Test

Um... I'm trying to post something here, and I keep getting an error message. The test message is fine. EDITing this message doesn't work either. What's going on? Is there space limitation?

The resource cannot be displayed
The resource you are looking for cannot be opened by your browser.



HTTP Error 406 - Not acceptable
Internet Explorer




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Postby HarryGoldfarb » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:51 am

LOL, nice post Damien, very explicative... according to your criteria maybe I'll move it up to ** 1/2...
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Postby Damien » Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:25 pm

Harry, I guess everyone has his or her own criteria, but here's mine:

**** = A great film/masterpiece

*** 1/2 = A very good film/one that approaches greatness but has real flaws

*** = A good solid film/a nice little film/a film trying for greatness but falling short

** 1/2 = A failure but not without some interest

** = A really lousy movie, but not quite torture in its entirety, only in spots

* 1/2 = Awful, painful, worthless

* = A crime against humanity

========================

Juno for me is ***

Citizen Kane is ****

8 1/2 is ****

Little Foxes is ** 1/2




Edited By Damien on 1203303956
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Postby HarryGoldfarb » Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:13 pm

I've just seen and I'm on the side of the people that just don't get the hype over it. By the way, I just don't get this polls... 3 stars? really? then films like The Little Foxes, Citizen Kane, Raise the Red Lantern and 8 1/2 need a different scale with more-stars-options... I don't know, it's my opinion but this is a film that we've seen before. Of course it has good performances, a nice, simple though effective screenplay and that's it. A nod for Best Director? why? In any other year Page's nod would have been enough for recognition but how come is she a real possibility is way ahead of me!

Best Picture? I was of the early ones that mentioned the possibility of it managing to grab a nod for best picture (we needed the comercially and critically well received light comedy ala LMS, Jerry Maguire and The Full Monty) but now that I've seen it I'm scared that it can actually win!

I know great pictures can come out only a of a fine screenplay, good performances and a good director. We have masterpieces with that formula, without big scenaries, great cameras, great editing or anything. Actually films technically poor can be great cause in order to do a great one all you need is passion. This is just a nice film to watch... I guess it's way overrated...

** and I think I'm being generous...
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Postby Hustler » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:08 pm

I´m going with ***stars. Funny, well directed, fresh movie. solid screenplay. As for the acting, is Ellen Page really playing a character?


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