March 10, 2008

‘Juno’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’

Posted in Movies tagged , , , at 10:50 am by myrlinn

I hadn’t seen a movie for many, many months now, perhaps even as long as a year or more, so it’s something of a coincidence that I got pulled in to watch two movies in the same week (last week). Incidentally, or coincidentally, I am in the middle of reading book titled Quirkology by Richard Wiseman which touches on… yup, coincidences.

Back to Juno. I loved, loved, loved it.

The main strength of this movie is in its script. Clever and funny dialogue with a very fresh feel. Really well-deserved Oscar for the screenwriter, Diablo Cody, there.

Another plus was the movie’s strong ensemble of characters. People who are fallible, real, while still remaining quirkily charming. Juno especially. Witty, plays to her own beat, yet with such a level head on her shoulders. Makes you want to be like her.

The soundtrack was also a winner. Alternative in style and delivery, it is a great fit for this film.

To top it all off, the film had a feel-good ending (I’m such a sucker for that).

The only weak link was Jennifer Garner. She was so good in Alias the TV series, where she brought just the right blend of toughness and vulnerability to her role. But in this movie, her acting seemed forced, stilted.

No Country for Old Men started off promisingly. The opening scenes were beautifully shot. I was also intrigued by the dialogue/narration, which reminded me of Beckett’s famous play, Waiting on Godot.

By the end, though, I was left with a feeling of disappointment. And it seemed I wasn’t alone. When I got up to leave the cinema, I could hear someone behind me remark to her friends, “I don’t know whether I like this film.” And my brother, who was the one who pulled me along to watch the film, said that it wasn’t as good as he expected it to be.

This may be inconsequential to others, but the plot/character line related to the man (a bounty hunter?) sent to hunt Chigurh was the breaking point for me. He was set up in the film as smart and resourceful. He found Llewellyn Moss in Mexico, and seemed to be able to anticipate Moss’s and Chigurh’s every move. Yet, Chigurh found and killed him so easily.

After that, I really started to feel that the movie was too pretentious, too overdone. It was trying too hard to build an All-Evil persona for Chigurh. And then came the ending. Too abrupt, and in a way, also too predictably open-ended and without hope.

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