Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ellen Page, Juno

I have to admit I don't really care that much about Juno. But writing about it won't kill me, sometimes the diversity of quality (IMO) makes the race more interesting. We can't always have just good sh!t. So I'm cheering up because I don't have anything personal with Ellen Page. I actually think she does the best she can given the material...

approximately 79 minutes and 41 seconds

86, 8% of the film


Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child. The 'unusual' decision is not to have an abortion, but to give it to a nice couple.

I have always considered Pretty Woman to be a very 'toxic' movie. :) It's a movie that makes you think (as a kid or a teenager) that's it's ok to be a prostitute wearing a vulgar mini-dress and kitchy wig because there's always gonna be a Richard Gere - handsom, rich, good intentions - that's gonna make you an honest woman.

Well, it's almost the same with Juno. It might not be the specific message, but the idea is that's it ok to be 16 and pregnant, because the parents will be cool about it, the teachers & colleagues won't mind, the baby will find a great mother and you: a super sweet boyfriend. Now who needs safe sex...

Bottomline is: great soundtrack, nice direction from Jason Reitman, great supporting cast; and some good one-liners. But the screenplay as a whole - NO. Diablo Cody (the writer) kills it for me by going over-the-top with the dialogue. And it won Best Original Screenplay; oh, you voters!

Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff

Juno is almost a tomboy: jeans, masculine, smart-ass attitute, being sarcastic all the time. There she is: drinking orange juice from a plastic bottle, suspecting the inevitable: she's pregnant, after trying sex with this nerdy, yet sweet & innocent looking friend (great Michael Cera).

But writer Diablo Cody loses no time. Even from the first scenes, she has crazy unreadable lines forced on her leading character. Using a strange voice, Ellen Page tries to reproduce lines like "Silencio, old man" or going through an unnatural phone dialogue with her best friend.

This should be a really emotional time for the characters, but we don't really feel that from the lines. So here is where Ellen Page comes in, trying to take her character in a more vulnerable direction. With a couple of close-ups she makes the character human again.

It's here where I get to see the real Juno and I give credit to Ellen Page for letting down the smart-ass guard of the character. In the abortion clinic, she decides she wants to give birth to the baby.

But then again, here she is juggling with the lines, making the character of Juno look like a clown, with no layers to it, just smart-ass words.

So the months pass by and she gets bigger and Juno must also find herself in less pleasant situations. She's jealous when the guy who got her pregnant has a date to the prom. And, more important, the harmony of the couple that wants to adopt her baby is breaking apart.

A crisis situation & some tears (done great, because as I said, she good at vulnerable, emotional moments).

But not to worry, things work out for Juno in the end. Obviously, what did you think this was? 4 months, 3 weeks & 2 days?

Now I'm not sure how I should rate the performance. I didn't like the smart-ass-normal-Juno-moments, but I really felt connected to the character in the vulnerable & truthful short scenes. Anyway, lots of potential for this 20 y.o. actress.

At first, I wanted to go for a 2/5, but as I'm feeling rather generous with the 2nd viewing, I'm giving to Ellen Page.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Julie Christie, Away from Her

I'm very honoured that my first profile is about Julie Christie's performance. Not just because it's a good performance. Not just because she was a sex kitten & a gorgeous woman. Not just because Al Pacino loves her. But because I truly think of her as one of the greatest actresses ever, always mysterious to me, charming and seductive. And once every ten years or so she gives a fabulous performance like the one we're gonna talk about...

approximately 49 minutes and 28 seconds
48.5 % of the film
Away from Her
A man coping with the institutionalization of his wife because of Alzheimer's disease faces an epiphany when she transfers her affections to another man, who, just like her, is a patient at the nursing home.

Unlike Julie's performance, I found the movie to be less interesting on a second viewing. When she's not around (because she's more of a co-lead) it doesn't work out that well.
The movie gravitates around the husband who's trying to cope with the fact that his wife is becoming a totally different person.
It's a classic Alzheimer story and it could easily work as a Hallwark movie. At times, I didn't buy the over-hyped direction of Sarah Polley and the Oscar nominated screenplay had some scenes that were too explanatory for me.

The camerawork, Julie & the ending made it to be a journey worthwhile.

Julie Christie as Fiona Anderson

It's a simple start for an apparently simple story. In the first 5 minutes, Julie's Fiona takes the frying-pan and doesn't know what to do with it. So she puts it in the freezer. This is the unrefined clue that something bad is about to happen.

It is just the first of many lost glances that will define Fiona throughout the film. Julie does the whole lost & Alzheimer thing with great talent, and it all looks so efortless (which is probably why she lost the Oscar).

Fiona loves her husband, but it's more to her that meets the eye. As she's slowly diving into forgetfulness, some memories about her husband cheating on her years ago just won't go away. In the first part of the film, Julie decides to alternate Fiona's long glances with moments of unexpected sincerity. With just one look, she can blame him for all his mistakes from the past. All the malice is justified in the story by the development of the disease.

If there's something good about Sarah Polley's direction is that she loves close-ups. For us, that's a blessing because it allows Julie to glow & quietly demonstrate us that she knows exactly what she's doing with the character. She is Fiona, as she capably maneuvers each of her face expressions.

Fiona seems calm and resigned with her disease, but this is until, at the nursing home, she has to say goodbye to her husband, as he won't be allowed to see her for a month. We've felt her vulnerability before, but now we see Fiona's first tears, as she tries to stay strong for her sake and especially her husband's.

Now, I don't like to spoil movies (maybe someone who hasn't seen it will read this), so I won't say much about the second half of Julie's performance.

But as the Alzheimer becomes more and more serious, Fiona goes into deeper emotions. From a schoolgirl smile, to a heartbreaking expression on her face, and to a river of tears.

Obviously, it's all done with perfect grace and it all seems natural, there's nothing overacted, nothing fake about Julie's performance; from the grey of her hair to the honesty of her reactions, the way she moves and talks.

That's why I give her a maximum of
Best Actress 2007

I am (almost) randomly starting with Best Actress 2007. [drums please] As you know, the Oscars chose these 5 ladies:

(from left to right)

  • Ellen Page for Juno
  • Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Laura Linney for The Savages
  • Marion Cotillard for La vie en rose
  • Julie Christie for Away from Her

Now, which one was my favorite? I'll just take each performance, one at a time and talk about it.

Please allow me to introduce myself...

Hello, kittens!
"Hello, Alex!", the kittens meowed impatiently.
Now it's the right time to start my blog. I do have to admit the *pressures* that finally made me take this step :) And it's also easier when you find yourself newly unemployed.

1. I'm a ranking freak. I'm also an Oscar freak. And these two go together well. I'm gonna make this blog my archive, just by moving personalized film info from my computer to my blog.

2. mostly Oscary things; also comments on tv series & reality shows I watch. And some personal sh!t, like photos and such. But mostly Oscar.

3. I hope I'll use it as a CV for some job. Not yet sure which job.
4. Stinkylulu's blog (more on this later)
oh, and p.s.: English is not my first languge, so don't kill me if I make a mistake once in a while.