Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Weekend Update: Lovers and Fighters

One of the perks of having EFU home from college is that I have another person to see movies with. There are a lot of films that I'd like to see that I don't feel like dragging b&c to. We don't always like a lot of the same movies, and he's not the most fun person in the world to see them with. He'll either tell me that the movie was stupid, or he'll want to discuss it at great length. I long ago moved into my post-intellectual phase: there's a lot going on in my head, but I don't necessarily want to discuss it with you. Unless it involves sex of course. (Both of the movies I saw this weekend were disappointing on the eye candy front, by the way.) If I take EFU to a movie, then afterwards, when I ask her how she liked it, she gives me a three-word response, and we're both happy. Then, maybe, on the drive home, if we really liked the movie, we'll quote lines from it.

The three-word responses to Juno, which we saw Friday night in the fabulous main theater at the AFI Silver were "I liked it" (form EFU) and "It was funny" (from me). I would probably add "go see it," but I maybe don't know you that well. It's hard for me to imagine anyone under, say, fifty not liking it, but I'm pretty sure that b&c would have found it tedious. Then again, the man's idea of a good time is watching the gods perish in fire for six hours, so, well, finish that sentence however you like.

As it happens, the minister at my church mentioned Juno in her sermon Sunday, and I sort of wondered whether she'd seen the same movie. She was disturbed by what she saw as an overly rosy portrayal of teen pregnancy. I saw good people making the best of a difficult situation, which is what good people do. But I can't imagine any teenager seeing this movie and wanting to get pregnant.

I also couldn't help thinking (the day after I'd seen the movie) that maybe Mimi Smartypants wouldn't like it so much. Mimi Smartypants (along with the mister) is one of the few people I know of who adopted a child from China even though she had no fertility problems. Which is kind of cool if you think about it. I think that's also EFU's plan (I'm not sure which country, though), but since EFU is eighteen, she might still change her mind: I don't think her plan is to adopt (or otherwise acquire children) before she's thirty, which is a good thing because b&c really needs to be a grandfather at least ten years before I become one. Anyway, Ms. Smartypants has some, let's say, qualms about people who adopt because they feel like a child is what will make their lives complete, and the adoptive mother in Juno is like that, to an extent. But she's also a very sympathetic character, so I can't really say what Mimi would think. I'm sure, though, that she would know enough to stay away from the film if it was going to annoy rather than amuse her.

Me, I was just amused. I thought Juno was a cleverer version of Knocked Up. YFU also wants to go see it, but there's just no way. It's rated PG-13, but I wouldn't take a thirteen-year-old to see it, let alone YFU, who's eleven. YFU has, however, seen the ads for it, and EFU reported to me the following conversation.
YFU: Why do they call her "Juno"?
EFU: Because that's her name.
YFU: I thought her name was Morgan Freeman.

It seems like EFU and I are always rushing to make movies. Juno was playing at 10:15, and I got to where she works, a few blocks from the theater, right at 10:15. We rushed over, and despite a delay in buying tickets, we managed to get refreshments and to our seats by the time the opening credits started. On Sunday, we had to drop YFU off at her mother's at 4 and then drive several miles to make the 4:15 showing of Atonement.

I don't know exactly what to say about Atonement. The three-word assessment from EFU was "that was depressing." Kind of hard to argue with, really, but that was inevitable given the book. It was almost certainly a mistake for me to have read the book so soon before going to see the movie.

Anyway, James McAvoy is very handsome. Keira Knightley is very pretty. Both of them are fine in their roles, though, to my mind, Keira Knightley will always suffer from having been such a splendid Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice that no other role is likely to compare. (I mean, damn girl, you go from Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean to Jane Austen? And you're good! Who knew?) The rest of the cast was similarly fine, and the movie was both well made and faithful -- both in plot and in spirit -- to the book.

[This paragraph contains spoilers.] My problem with Atonement as a novel was that while it was written with great intelligence and sensitivity, the ending struck me as both mean and cowardly. The setting of the ending was different in the film, but the substance was the same, except that the small shred of ambiguity that existed in the book was removed in the movie, and this was not a happy occurrence. It was as if someone had added a coda to Pan's Labyrinth to say "Listen, the fanciful stuff was all in her head. Her stepfather killed her, and she didn't end up as a queen in the happy place." With Pan's Labyrinth it seemed to me that believing the supernatural ending was a reasonable choice for a viewer to make (it was the choice I made). In the novel Atonement, believing the happier ending was a tough choice to justify (which was why I found the ending mean and cowardly), but you could make the choice if you wanted to. In the film, all doubt has been removed and replaced with dead bodies. That was depressing.

Anyway, I'm glad I got to see both movies, and if you haven't read Atonement, I reckon you'd like the movie just fine. I'm happy to report that the popcorn and diet sodas were splendid for both films. And while there wasn't all that much eye candy on the screen, there was plenty in the audience.


John said...

I have to say I was mildly underwhelmed by "Juno" after all the lavish praise I had read. Excellent performances, but the dialogue was almost too clever by half (a complaint I don't think I ever have registered previously, but it just seemed contrived in places to me). Also, casting Michael Cera, a smart, sweet but totally endomorphic actor, as a track star was perverse. Seriously. It's a plot point that his character wins a major meet, yet his legs look as if he never has walked to the curb, let alone run track. I never knew that legs could be both skinny and doughy. A couple of times those skimpy yellow shorts started riding up and I was like "Gaaah! No!" Shut up. I am not shallow.
P.S. Kudos for including my favorite porn star of the past, Jason Andrews, in this gallery of hottitude.

Anonymous said...

You are very longwinded. I usually can't finish your post.

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

Oh, Anonymous. I only wish I had a dollar for every man who couldn't finish my post.

D-Man said...

Ah, that was an absolutely brilliant comeback. Bravo.

We often react strongly to things that strike a little too close to home, so maybe your minister has some history there...

BTW, The b&w pic melted my butter.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are long winded. I think your photos are so hot I get distracted from the text. Who wants to read all this with all this hot meat in your face?

Jason_M said...

Yeah, but back to the films. I'm well over 50 and I loved Juno and I love Cera's underdeveloped nerdiness. The language I found inventive. I'd like to know if it more a reflection of hip/smart/(white) teen talk and/or a creative take-off on it. A question is: Did Juno want to get pregnant?

Didn't read Atonement. My two-word assessment, "I cried." Generally liked the long "tracking" shot at Dunkirk, like a painting in time. Brittany's explanation of how and why she wrote the book sounded like rationalization. Wonder how people feel about her at end.