4.30.2008

Six Months Late Movie Reviews: No Country, Blood, Juno

There are lots of things I thought were bullshit until I had a kid, but one of the main ones was hearing people say "I never go to the movies anymore." It always sounded kind of defeatist and stupid, like, Dude, if you really want to go to the movies, you can go -- don't blame the kid. But here's the thing: man, I never go to the movies anymore (it's simple economics: in order to go to the movies, we need to pay somebody ten bucks an hour to sit on our couch and watch our television, so there are very few movies that seem worth the cash; if we're going to pay somebody to use our interwebs while we're out, we're going to get drunk). Anyway, the point of this post isn't to bitch about how I never go to the movies anymore, since my friend Netflix sends them directly to my house. The point is to finally weigh in on some movies everybody else saw six months ago.

No Country for Old Men:

Damn am I glad I didn't pay somebody to sit in my house while I watched this movie. I'm really surprised it won best picture -- was that some kind of lifetime achievement award for the Coen Brothers? If it was, then I'm cool with it. After all, those cats made Fargo and Raising Arizona and O' Brother Where Art Thou and the Big Lebowski, so their lifetime achievements are pretty fucking impressive. If it was just for that one movie, then what the fuck?

It's not that I thought it was bad. It was well done, well acted, interesting to look at, an obviously compelling story by Cormac McCarthy. The thing is that I really didn't give a shit about anybody in that movie at all. Nobody. They were all kind of half interesting, but, not to get all workshoppy and all, but I just didn't care whether Josh Brolin or the dude with the haircut or Tommy Lee Jones won/lived in the end. Without that, it was kind of like watching a bunch of insects attack each other -- interesting, but not really compelling.

But the worst thing to me was that it was so straightforward -- where was the Coen Brothers' trademark wit? Where was the quirk? I was expecting Fargo but it was actually kind of like Fargo with all the character stripped away, like Fargo made by Clint Eastwood. A bowl haircut is funny -- I'll give you that -- but it can't carry a whole movie.

There Will Be Blood

Like Old Country, a sprawling story featuring people who are mainly no good. Unlike No Country, for some reason, I really gave a shit about Daniel Day Lewis and that kid from the Little Miss Sunshine movie. I'm honestly not sure why -- maybe because we saw the entire relationship develop, or maybe because we get to watch them grow and change, or maybe because they didn't so much change as reveal themselves very slowly over time. Whatever the reason, I thought this was great.

A little too Paul Thomas Anderson, in that it was long and a little overacted (although that even worked for me -- it felt epic, rather than stupid). Thankfully, no raining frogs.

Juno

Since I'm soaking in pop culture all the time, and I devour Entertainment Weekly every Friday afternoon as soon as it arrives, I knew all about Juno. What I knew was the perhaps-too-snappy dialog, the no-way-does-this-really-exist 16 year old girl who loves the Stooges and classic slasher fare, Michael Cera as George Michael Bluth in funny running shorts, the stripper turned screenwriter thing. All that was there. And yeah, the dialog was too clever by half, but only in spots, and sometimes it was totally brilliant ("Juno: You're so cool because you don't even try. George Michael Bluth: I try really hard actually.).

But I was really surprised at how much else was there. For the lack of a better word -- and I guess I'm supposed to be some kind of writer or something, so I really should be able to find a better term, but, well, I need more coffee -- it had a lot of heart.

Most of that was supplied by Jennifer Garner, who I thought was amazing. This might have a lot to do with the fact that I'm an adoptive parent, but man, every time she was onscreen, you could just feel the keening. (Trust me, young people, if you don't recognize the look, you will when you get to your thirties -- I"m not saying you'll have it, but you'll see it. A lot.).

Back to the dialog: I thought one of the best lines was when she looks at Jason Bateman, in the middle of a very heavy conversation about their relationship, at a point where it seems like the thing she wants most -- a kid -- is going to vanish into thin air because Bateman basically can't come to terms with the fact that he's in his thirties and he's not Dave Grohl and he's actually a suburban dude about to lock in his suburban-ness with the addition of a kid (hmmm....been there...), and she looks at him, and you're expecting this big Grey's Anatomy lecture/breakdown, and she just says "that shirt is stupid." To get all writer-like, that line says everything she's thinking, in a totally surprising way that's absolutely true to both characters, and, since we know both characters pretty well, totally devastating. I know, because it would work on me.

Okay, that's all for now, tune in six months from now when I review Shine a Light and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

[cross posted from Ryan Seacrest is Famous]

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3 comments:

Mike said...

You know, I guess I'm just gonna have to see Juno again. I think I got turned off by the too-cute dialogue in the beginning and never really keyed back in. But other people I like and respect -- not just, say, Entertainment Weekly, or the Oscar voters -- keep saying it's good, so you know what? Fine. You win. I will give it another shot.

As for NCFOM: I actually felt that way about the book. I mean, I know it's supposed to be all genius and shit in its minimalism, but I kinda just didn't care all that much. Every conversation seemed like one of those King of the Hill fence talks: "Yep" "Uh-huh" "Sure 'nuff," etc.

Mel Sue said...

Thanks guys,
That's what my gut was telling me about all three movies. I haven't seen a one of them, but now I know. Stick with the gut.

JP said...

For being a Barrelhouse Bitch, I have to admit I'm the worst consumer of cultural capital lately. I've only seen one of these three movies--Juno--and, just like the masses, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't even have complaints about the overly witty (read: unrealistic) dialogue and characterizations. In fact, I thought they made the movie. Without "Your eggo is preggo," "They make his junk smell like pie," and "Honest to blog" I might not have even liked it, honestly. Because cute and witty is just how I roll, playas. It's how I tumble.

The others? I'll see them eventually...but obviously they aren't witty and cute enough to be on my watch-immediately list.

That being said, I'm going to go buy some pink clothes now. Pink terry cloth clothes. And some hello kitty accessories to go with them.

Tore up from the floor up,
J