Friday, September 14, 2007

"Where am I going to get a pair of beautiful women's legs on such short notice?"


(Above: a possible still from Napolean Dynamite 2: Awkward Boogaloo)

Roger Ebert has been covering the Toronto Film Festival and gives a typically generous heads up (Yes, I said "heads up." I dare not infringe his copyright) about the latest Quirky Indie Comedy that will be driving me nuts in a couple of months... probably without me ever actually seeing it. Juno stars Ellen Page as a 16-year-old pregnant with Michael Cera's mumbleseed, and everything Ebert writes about it gives me an uneasy feeling: The film received a warm, loud, standing ovation (So did Clerks II at Cannes. Means nothing. Plus, the audience was probably packed with these shills); The characters in this situation are unlike any others he's seen before (i.e. they're all driven by precocious child logic that has no bearing on reality); and he predicts the film will be "quickly beloved when it opens at Christmas time" -- most likely by an audience suddenly demanding their comic heroes stride across the screen decked out in a demeaning mish-mash of 70's/80's/90's retrogeek fashion. Michael Cera doesn't need a goofy costume to be funny, but such sloppy visual cues are apparently the new definition of crowd-pleasing for nostalgia-addled... whipper snappers (there, I said it!) who watch too danged much VH1. Why doesn't that channel ever play Amy Grant videos anymore, anyway?

But, we'll see. I could be very wrong, as I was in my little-read 1997 essay on The Sweet Hereafter, "Tragically Hilarious: Atom Egoyan's Bus-Crashing Laff Hoedown." First-time screenwriter Diablo Cody previously adapted her blog Pussy Ranch - which chronicled her time as an "unlikely" stripper - into a book that landed her this Letterman appearance. Wikipeida not-inaccurately notes that Dave was "imbued with fascination with the sex industry and her observational prowess" during the interview. Hey, it beats listening to Paul Schaeffer's constant cackling. I just found out about Cody 20 minutes ago, but my cold assessment is that her friendly demeanor, calculated wit and anime-ready moniker clearly mark her as a savvy purveyor of Fleshbot-friendly geek chic (I demand that appear as a blurb somewhere). Ultimately, that means she would probably charm me out of my nothin-happenin' schlubdom with ease if we ever met, before she returned to her multitude of fulfilling projects and I to my pretentious Netflix rentals, respectively.

Boy, this post really went in an unintended direction. It's almost like I got my just desserts for complaining about a movie I haven't seen yet; But how could that be?

Update (non-all caps version): I waited until after I posted this to read Michael Hirschon's notes on the proliferation of quirk in The Atlantic, which gets off to an immediately shaky start with its use of the term "Gen-X" but mostly recovers. Looks like I avoided too much overlap, except for a shared disdain of Napolean Dynamite, as Hirschon's big target is Ira Glass. Between this and the Onion's recent smackdown, isn't it odd how there's apparently a This American Life backlash suddenly brewing? For what it's worth, I agree that the one episode of the tv version I saw didn't work at all, with Glass' "And now for something completely different" transitions serving as the nadir. As for a couple of Hirschon's other examples, if anything Arrested Development is more zany than quirky, and Flight of the Conchords ended up charming me to the point where it was my favorite show of the summer. Granted, the only other competition was John From Cincinnati, but still.

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