September 17, 2009

TCBFF and Another Swing at Juno

Check out my capsule preview of the seventh annual Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF, doesn't exactly roll off the tongue) in tomorrow's Minneapolis Star Tribune. I'm not going to make it to any of the screenings, but I think The Wiz on Friday night and Harlem Mart 125: The American Dream on Sunday afternoon are a couple of the highlights. Too bad because I'd like to check out the Capri Theater. Nice locations for the festival parties, too - the Guthrie, the Favor Cafe and the Aloft Hotel.
Also, on the occasion of the release of Jennifer's Body this weekend, I'd like to pose a question: what's worse - the new movie (and its RT rating), or the fact that Diablo Cody has an Academy Award for her writing? In case we've forgotten, this is the kind of dialogue between high-schoolers that made critics and audiences gush:

Leah: Yo Yo Yiggady Yo.
Juno MacGuff: I'm at suicide risk.
Leah: Juno?
Juno MacGuff: No, it's Morgan Freeman. Do you have any bones that need collecting?
Leah: Only the one in my pants...
Juno MacGuff: I'm pregnant.
Leah: What? Honest to blog?
Juno MacGuff: Yeah. Yeah, it's Bleekers.
Leah: It's probably just a food baby. Did you have a big lunch?
Juno MacGuff: No, this is not a food baby all right? I've taken like three pregnancy tests, and I'm forshizz up the spout.
Leah: How did you even generate enough pee for three pregnancy tests? That's amazing...
Juno MacGuff: I don't know, I drank like, ten tons of Sunny D... 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!

Here are a few of the movies that lost to Juno for Best Original Screenplay:
Lars and the Real Girl
I'm Not There
Across the Universe
In the Valley of Elah
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Knocked Up
Eastern Promises
Hot Fuzz

Tragically, the Oscar win is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet.


  1. Hey Daniel, thanks for covering the TCBFF. I was hoping you were game for it.

    As for Juno/Diablo Cody/Jennifer's Body: do I detect a little bitterness?!

  2. Yeah I hope the TCBFF goes well and am glad they got some press - the Capri Theater looks pretty amazing.

    Re Cody...haha, well in my generous review of Juno (in which, ahem, I called the Oscar nom and win a few months early) I wrote that, "It wasn't the premise or the characters that were off, but Juno's outrageous lines - and outrageous doesn't always equal hilarious. This isn't really a coming-of-age movie - Juno has already come of age, and she's a 30 year-old trapped in a teenager's body. As such, she was an annoying character for me a lot of the time."

    In other words, I feel like Diablo Cody's gimmick is making high school students talk like witty, culturally-informed 30 year-olds - like Diablo Cody. And most of the one-liners were from her daily conversations. And that deserves an Oscar? And a BAFTA? And a WGA Award? And 17 other Best Screenplay awards?!?!

    See, now you've got me all worked up. But my argument is that Jennifer's Body and Juno probably share very similar dialogue, but oh by the way it's not as funny the second time around, is it? And you can forget trying to convince me that Juno was lauded not for its dialogue, but instead because it was a "thoughtful", "heartwarming" American coming-of-age teen pregnancy story.


  3. Hey, you don't have to convince me! I thought Juno was average at best, annoying at worst.

  4. I know, I kind of threw that out there as a general defense more than a response to your comment!

    Hey, at least it didn't win Best Picture over No Country for Old Men. Because - lest we forget - it actually could have.

  5. I don't think I've heard anyone talk like the characters in Juno. That's not the problem, though. No one talks like the characters in Woody Allen movies either. But the problem with Juno is that the dialog is ridiculously over-the-top that I didn't care about the characters as real people anymore. Only robots talk like that. Or actors.

    I guess it's sort of amusing...

    Plus, I could never wrap my head around how Juno, this very intelligent "30 year-old trapped in a teenager's body," pretty much planned to have sex with her best friend, but forgot all about birth control. Am I really supposed to believe that?

    But I do like Ellen Page and Jennifer Garner's performances. And I'm starting to like Diablo Cody a little more because of her entertaining pop culture column on "Entertainment Weekly."

  6. I still haven't seen Juno and have no plans to catch Jennifer's Body either. A twinge of "hateration" towards the Diablo Cody Phenomenon has a little to do with it, until I read comments like yours and Marcy's that lead me to believe that maybe the haters have a point this time.

  7. Good point about the talking, Marcy - same with Judd Apatow movie dialogue. When characters only speak in punchlines it's kind of hard to relate to them. I think that's why I hate sitcoms and love Seinfeld - because the comedy in Seinfeld isn't from the lines, it's from the situations and coincidences. Anyway, that's a tangent for another time. I agree that most people don't talk like Juno MacGuff, but I truly believe Diablo Cody does.

    I thought Garner was terrific and Page was fine for the role, too.

    Joe, I admittedly bought a ticket on the Juno backlash bandwagon pretty soon after it was came out, but had it just come and gone like any other quirky teen indie movie (i.e., Rocket Science) I wouldn't have had such a big problem with it. The fact that it received 4 nominations in the Big Six Oscar categories was the real kicker - especially in a year as incredible strong as 2007 was. Same goes for Michael Clayton and its 7 (?!?!?!) nominations.


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