“Thundercats Are Go!”
Boy was this year’s Academy Awards a depressing affair. With movies I’d probably never watch if it wasn’t because of their Best Picture nominations (e.g. brooding & bloody There Will Be Blood & winner No Country For Old Men) leading the pack, I was grateful for some uplifting moments thanks to Enchanted songs’ performances & Juno’s Diablo Cody (stripper-turned-1st-time-screenwriter) delightful but deserving win for Best Original Screenplay. Yup, on that night, I snored at the big picture, director, actors winners as always. For me, the more memorable & jubilating moments came from an impressive show-stealer Amy Adams who first sang “Happy Working Song” live & solo, then danced during Jon McLaughlin’s “So Close” performance, & ended the night as a presenter. It was perhaps a tad too cruel for Enchanted (Alan Menken, again) to have 3 nominations & performed 3 times that night, but still ended up losing in the Best Song category, but winner, indie Once with the song “Falling Slowly” put up an engaging performance enough to justify the win. I was also elated when The Bourne Ultimatum ended the night with 3 awards for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing & Film Editing, as well as for Diablo Cody’s marvelous win, but almost spat my food on the TV when The Golden Compass was announced as winner of Best Visual Effects. Excuse me?
But I’m not here to talk long about the Academy, I’m here to specifically share my views on the other 2 Best Picture nominations. I’ll start with Atonement. I must say, new director Joe Wright, who brought us 1 of my favourite movies of all time, the wonderful Pride & Prejudice, is 1 talented dude. This time he attempts a much more challenging turn, to tell us a story of a novel within an adapted novel, & though with several flaws, the end result is nevertheless still impressive. With yet another fantastic cast (Knightley, McAvoy, & newcomer Saoirse Ronan), I thought the movie was horribly slow-moving most of the times but it did enough to keep my eyes, & mind, on the screen. & then, came the massive blow, the extremely powerful ending. I’m not going to spoil anything for you guys, but I must say that though it was not the typical tear-jerking ending, it was shocking as much as it was moving. McAvoy certainly gets a lot of screen time, with Knightley being slightly more limited perhaps undeservingly. However, Briony Tallis is the central character & the main focus of this movie. Saoirse Ronan was so good as the young Briony that I hated her so much (exactly what you should be doing, in case you are wondering). Romola Garai, though massively talented herself, didn’t quite fit the teenage Briony & presented a bump in Briony’s growing-up flow. I don’t know how to put it, but she sort of portrayed things that the Briony character just wouldn’t seem to do. Perhaps the hardest character to fit as the old & aging Briony, Vanessa Redgrave gave the most expressive close-up performance of the 3 “Briony”s, especially when delivering the honest reality beyond her novel.
However, I didn’t like the ending scene of Cecilia & Robbie together at the beach. It just didn’t quite feel right especially after the tell-all by Briony. All in all, though Joe Wright gives us a much more dramatic & epic-scale movie in Atonement, the sweet & simple Pride & Prejudice will remain much more memorable for me. The same could be said for the soundtrack, when you compare Dario Marianelli‘s epic work for Atonement to his lighter but charming Pride & Prejudice scores. Yes, it was yet another awesome score from Marianelli for Atonement (thus his Oscar win), his trademark piano tinglings ever present, delivered with smart but over-used typewriter syncopated beats. That can get tiresome after a while & before you realize it you’d be saying “dang, those typewriters again!”. At times I also felt the music was too dramatic, but it perhaps represented the heavy & looming consequences of what was happening on screen well. I guess everyone will also notice that rather amazing but too intentional long fluid shot of Dunkirk beach, even having time to include the choir of soldiers singing to perfectly match the accompanying sweeping music score.
Now I’m not going to stop myself on my 2nd movie review, I’m gonna rave all I want about Juno! Oh man, how long have I waited for something like this. Juno is, quite simply, witty, charming, & engaging all in one! Hey, so it’s a little too over-rated, but no one can deny it’s a must-watch. It covers a story about how a young woman is coping with an unplanned teenage pregnancy told in the wittiest of ways. By now everyone would know that Ellen Page is talent beyond her age (I still get a surge of pain in my balls when remembering her disturbing but effective turn in Hard Candy) & that she was way more than a cutesy face who runs through walls away from a dumb-ass Juggernaut (Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand). Sure as hell she stole the entire show, & only she could pull off Juno’s quirkiness & those kick-in-the-nuts lines Diablo Cody wrote. Aiye, she WAS Juno. But I must also mention the supporting casts, no one was less than stellar in their respective roles. From Jennifer Garner’s tight wife role, to JK Simmons & Allison Janney as Juno’s supportive family, to an equally quirky Olivia Thirlby as Juno’s best friend, Leah, what a cast! Even Jason Bateman & Michael Cera’s under-rated turns were brilliant!
Much has been said also about the superb script, & yes, the lines churned out by Juno & the other characters are the most memorable, aside from Page’s performance. I’m gonna let them do the talking then, through these favourite quotes I took from IMDb:
Rollo: [to Juno about her pregnancy test] This is your third test today, Mama Bear. Your eggo is preggo, no doubt about it.
Tough Girl: [ to Juno] It’s easy to tell. Is your nipples real brown?
Rollo: Maybe your boyfriend’s got mutant sperms. Knocked ya up twice.
Juno MacGuff: … Anyway dude, I’m telling you I’m pregnant and you’re acting shockingly cavalier.
Leah: Is this for real? Like, for real for real?
Juno MacGuff: Unfortunately, yes.
Leah: Oh my GOD. Oh shit! Phuket, Thailand!
Juno MacGuff: There we go. That was kind of the emotion that I was searching for on the first take.
Mac MacGuff: [after Juno told her parents she was pregnant] Did you see that coming?
Bren: Yeah… but I was hoping she was expelled, or into hard drugs.
Mac MacGuff: That was my first instict too. Or a DUI… anything but this!
Juno MacGuff: As far as boyfriends go, Paulie Bleeker is totally boss. He is the cheese to my macaroni.
Juno MacGuff: When I see them all running like that, with their things bouncing around in their shorts, I always picture them naked, even if I don’t want to. All i see is pork swords.
Vijay: I’m gonna stop wearing underwear. Raise my sperm count.
Mac MacGuff: Thanks for having me and my irresponsible child over your house.
Vanessa Loring: You think you’re really going to do this?
Juno MacGuff: Yea, if I could just have the thing and give it to you now, I totally would. But I’m guessing it looks probably like a sea monkey right now and we should let it get a little cuter.
Vanessa Loring: That’s great.
Mark Loring: Keep it in the oven.
Leah: I wish my funbags would get bigger.
Juno MacGuff: …Whoa Bren! You’s a dick! I love it!
Juno MacGuff: OWW! OWW! Fuckity OWW!
What a riot.
On another note, I’ve noticed Paramore has garnered a steadily growing fan base especially since their Best New Artist Grammy nomination, so good for them. Just keep on churning those great rocking music guys, along with those awesome acoustic videos too! & Hayley, you were flaming red hot that Grammy night, but throw away that dress! There are rumours of internal issues within the Paramore clan, fueled even more after news of the cancellation of the remainder of their European tour. I can only hope the rumours will remain rumours. The Grammys this year: absolute bore. Winehouse was totally weird, & Tina Turner performing? What a fiasco. At least Kanye West gave a blazing glow-in-the-dark show, while Alicia Keys & Foo Fighters were, as always, dependable live. Oh, all the surprising piano performances were superb, weren’t they?