Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ReelGeek Goes to TIFF07

Well hello again from the internet! A couple of weeks back Toronto held its annual Toronto International Film Festival, and I went up to our neighbor to the north with a movie I worked on that was premiering. Then I was hit with the genius idea to see some films while I was there and tell you all about it! I stopped in to see a few films that might interest the Gnerd crowd. So without further ado, here’s a little rundown on the festival, and a review of the upcoming film “Juno” starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera.

So after an early morning flight and a long explanation of why I was entering Canada with a customs agent, and whether or not a tape in my possession was coming back to the states after the festival (Canada has a little-publicized overabundance of tapes clogging their major waterways, and every format is strictly regulated when entering the country) I walked out of the airport and into Toronto. If you’ve never been, well, check out another American metropolitan area, and then imagine it a lot cleaner and a bit friendlier, and that’s Toronto. It was as if someone had spread New York out a bit and then run a vacuum cleaner through it.

Toronto was a pretty laid-back film fest, from what I’ve heard from friends at the other big fests like Cannes and Sundance. There was very little overtaking of the city by the festival, and the paparazzi/legit photojournalism wasn’t super intense, though I avoided the parties so I can only really comment on the premiers, screenings, and the everyday walk through the city. Tickets are a pretty penny for seeing a film, even when you’re from New York and used to paying egregious amounts for a movie. Basically, if you plan to go up on your own, try and get in a bunch of films that don’t have distribution or are smaller foreign or documentary films. These are the ones you’ll feel okay about paying 20$ or more to see, because you won’t have to deal with all of your friends laughing at you a month later when they just snuck into the theater to see it for free. However, it’s always tempting to jump on seeing those soon-to-be big hits first. And here’s a review of one of those movies:

“Juno,” the newest film by Jason Reitman (director of “Thank You For Smoking,” son of Ivan “Ghostbusters” Reitman) is in a word, fantastic. Starring Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, and JK Simmons, it’s packed with people you’ll enjoy watching for two hours. Page does a great job as Juno, an offbeat and sharp-witted 16 year old who manages to get knocked up by her close friend Bleeker, played by Michael Cera. If you think the thought of Michael Cera getting it on and then impregnating a girl is awkwardly hilarious, you’re correct, it is. Juno decides to keep her baby and adopt it out to a couple looking for a child, cue Bateman and Garner as a yuppie couple that could make Cape Cod itself barf from all the sweaters and khaki. The film basically follows Juno through her pregnancy, her strained relationship with Bleeker (Cera), and her attempt to learn more about the couple she’s going to be handing the fruit of her loins off to.

If I make the movie sound overly serious, I apologize. The film had me (and the entire audience) laughing from start to finish. First time screenwriter Diablo Cody’s dialogue is at once often honest and accurate to a 16 year old girl, and hilarious enough to match anything by Judd Apatow. If you liked “Knocked Up” or “Superbad,” you’re going to want to see “Juno.” I heard mixed things about the script/dialogue from super secret sources before the film finished, but Reitman and the actors do such a great job that it’s almost hard to understand why anyone would think twice before greenlighting a movie like this.

“Juno” is a great script, a great story, an awesome cast, and a hilarious film. The music, including Belle and Sebastian, The Velvet Underground, The Kinks, Cat Power, Sonic Youth, and a score of songs by The Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson fit wonderfully. It’s a great soundtrack and compliments the music-loving Juno’s character excellently.

The only downsides are that the film can get a little too sweet at times, with some of the whimsical songs by Dawson and some kitschy little moments. But these hardly subtract from the film, and they do balance out Juno’s hard-edged outlook on life, love, and being a pregnant 16-year-old girl. Cody’s dialogue can, like I’ve mentioned, come off a bit premature for a high school girl to sound off with, but Page’s delivery manages to remove any doubt you might have that a teenager would talk like that. I recommend you all see it when it hits theaters in December. And if you want to check out the trailer, hop over to the official site.

Oh yeah, the best part of seeing it at Toronto, aside from the fact that Reitman, Cody, and the cast came out to discuss the film after the screening? These guys:

As you may or may not know, Cera’s character is a cross-country runner, and is seen wearing his outfit quite a bit. Well the film had some of the “team” show up and jog up and down the lines, talking with people waiting to go in.

That’s all for this week guys, come back to see another review and rundown from TIFF 07!

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