By Gary Singh
THE LEGENDARY Herb Caen invented what is now called three-dot, or dot-dot-dot, journalism; that is, using the ellipsis to separate sections of his commentary. In my case, I'd rather call it splat-splat-splat journalism, which suits this week's cinematic musings—in honor of Cinequest, of course—much better.
Everyone is arguing about whether Juno should have won any awards last weekend. If you haven't seen the movie, here's the idea, without spoiling it: Juno is a bohemian outcast teenager who, like many beyond-the-pale types in high school, has an extensive knowledge of music and pop culture that predates her existence, thus resulting in square adult critics calling her "unrealistic." The boyfriend who knocks her up shows no concern and after dissing the abortion idea, she finds a seemingly loving couple to adopt the baby. This couple, played by Jennifer Gardner and Jason Bateman, live in a hideous McMansion and immediately come off as the most realistically bound-for-disaster folks in the whole movie: She's a materialistic yuppie control freak hell bent on having a kid no matter what cost; he's a seasoned musician and composer living comfortably off his trade while collecting classic splatter flicks on the side.
Most discussion downplays this couple, but since I saw much of myself in the Bateman character, I feel the need to salute the guy first and foremost. The teenage Juno comes over to show him the ultrasound snapshot of the kid in her stomach and he later turns her on to the Herschell Gordon Lewis flick The Wizard of Gore, which was sitting there on the coffee table. I'm thinking: hmmm, I have that movie on tape, too. Right or wrong, that's probably exactly what I would have done. In a later scene that probably gave a few folks the creeps, he and Juno slow dance to Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes"—a tune she brings over—and he tells her it reminds him of his prom dance in '88. I'm thinking: hmmm, mine was 1987. That's probably also what I would have said.
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In that screwed-up sense, if I had to rifle through all this year's performances and single out for worship one heroic character who goes above and beyond the call of duty to prolong adolescence, Bateman would get my vote. Any more analysis would spoil the movie, so consider that my take on it.
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I Think We're Alone Now, a documentary Doug Hawes turned me onto a month ago, features characters nobody anywhere would consider sticking up for, so I feel the need to do so. During Cinequest, it will play on March 8 at 2pm at Camera 12. A few people involved with making the film will probably attend, methinks. You can read a short explication in our Cinequest guide, but for now, it's safe to say that this is a true epic of unrequited love in Shakespearean proportions. You have two protagonists—Jeff Turner, an encyclopedic repository of conspiracy theory from Santa Cruz, and Kelly McCormick, a hermaphrodite from Denver—longing for '80s pop star Tiffany, who is obviously unobtainable, but there exists poetic beauty in the process of their longing, even if it does morph into obsession. Here are two individuals who honestly want to be in love. They truly desire companionship, but they just don't know how to ask for it.
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Best of all, the municipality of San Jose even pops up during one exchange between Jeff and Kelly. Yes, it is here in town that Jeff says Tiffany first kissed him on the cheek in front of 500 people. Now that's something the Capital of Silicon Valley should brag about.