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Juno: Marketing, The Dancing Elks And…Oscar?

As many have mentioned, Fox Searchlight might just reap gold with the possibly counter programming genius, that being the release of Juno in December when theaters are otherwise jammed with serious “awards films” and some movie goers simply want some diversion from the onslaught of There Will be Blood, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Kite Runner and No Country For Old Men. Not to disparage these films, of course. I’ve seen the Coen Brothers’ pic (genius), will be seeing Blood on Friday and am looking forward to seeing the others, but sometimes you need something….else. Juno fills the “funny and smart” niche to a T. You know what else? It’s also a bona fide Oscar contender for best original screenplay and has an outside chance at best actress, as well. I’ll definitely continue to be watching and posting on the awards buzz for this and the rest of the “contenders” as the winter unfolds!
Word of mouth on this film is overwhelmingly positive and so far it has an 81 on Metacritic but it ain’t just the critics who are pushing this pic. While the film is indeed worthy of praise (but there are two critics on the Metacritic list I am ashamed of agreeing with…guess who!) the studio has been pretty smart in building buzz at fests, in part by employing local teams of “Dancing Elks,” dressed like Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) the progenitor of the “sea monkey” (Juno’s phrase, not mine!) being carried by the title character. They even hand out orange tic tacs, a favorite of Bleeker’s. No one knows what’s going on, so of course they ask and then are intrigued. Seems to be working at the three places I’ve seen it, Toronto, AFI and Denver. I wonder what they made of it in Thessaloniki and Gijón?
After the jump, some pics from Toronto, AFI and Denver:

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Review Redux: Juno Opens Today

The following is an excerpt of, update to and further thoughts on, a review that originally ran on September 13th, as part of our Toronto International Film Festival coverage. Needless to say, since I wrote that review fresh off the film’s bow in Telluride, Fox Searchlight’s Juno Juggernaut’s been going full steam and I fully expect it to have a smash 5 day opening. I’ve since seen it a second time (and soon will a third, I am sure) and every person I mention the film to, and I mean every one, is looking forward to seeing it, ages 16-60. At AFI a table of 3 male film writers who were probably pushing 200 years old combined were all gushing about it. A typical “teen” film, this is not. That’s not to say it’s not appropriate for teens, it most certainly is, but it’s far more than that.
From my original review:
While the tendency might be to lump Juno, the sophomore feature from director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) and first-time writer Diablo Cody into the group (new genre?) of quirky comedies, a la I *Heart* Huckabees, Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore, don’t. The thing is, while it contains elements of those oddball-laden films, Juno is its own animal in that it’s smart, funny and above all, real. The film should mark the coming out of several major talents, including writer Cody and Juno herself, Ellen Page. While I won’t shoot myself if Cody doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, I will be gobsmacked. While we’re at it, how about one for Page, too?
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The New York Times’ A.O. Scott writes that Juno “respects the idiosyncrasies of its characters rather than exaggerating them or holding them up for ridicule. And like Juno herself, the film outgrows its own mannerisms and defenses, evolving from a coy, knowing farce into a heartfelt, serious comedy.” That hits the nail on the head just about as well as any other review out there and relates to something I wrote in my original piece. In short, there are teenagers this smart and smart-mouthed, there are parents as cool and understanding, eventually, as Juno’s dad and stepmom and there are indeed teenage pregnancies that don’t end in utter disaster. That said, don’t think this film shies away from portraying that everything is not hunky dory in pregnant Juno land. Juno describes herself as a “cautionary whale” and while it’s a clever line, it also speaks to the point behind the laughs. Being pregnant at 16 is no joke and as Scott remarks in his review “Kids, please! Heed the cautionary whale. But in the meantime, have a good time at Juno. Bring your parents, too.”
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Photos TM and © 2006 Fox and its related entities. All rights reserved.

AFI Fest 07: On The Road Again!

102011592,52C1DF427992D0ECF18.jpgOn the road again….. Yes indeedy. I am, as they say, on the road again. Or at least I will be a scant 35 hours from now, winging my way Westward towards AFI Fest and the American Film Market. After AFI comes the Starz Denver Film Festival and after that, a liver transplant, more than likely. Maybe I should call the trip the Rabbi Report’s “Ruin the Liver” tour… with opening act Bacon ‘n Onions? Nah, too meta and WAY too off the track.
Back on point, AFI Fest has grown in stature and size over the past several years to the point where I feel like I can’t cover it adequately by myself, such is the fact at so many festivals these days. Next year I am thinking I need a 2nd reporter but this year it’ll have to be solo. At any rate I figure I owe you guys a little bit of a primer on what to expect, should you choose to attend AFI Fest (and I strongly urge you to do so). I’ve seen several of the films on offer and am looking forward to seeing quite a few more, so without further ado, here’s a look at a (very) small selection of what’s on offer in Hollywood for the first 11 days of November.
A Pair of Pages: Juno and The Tracey Fragments
Do yourself a favor and catch this double shot of “The Tiny Canadian,” as she’s been dubbed (according to IMDb). Maybe you’ve read my thoughts on upcoming Fox Searchlight release Juno (more coming, to be sure) and perhaps you’ve heard that Juno scribe Diablo Cody is a possible best original screenplay Oscar nominee, well let me put the “possible” to rest. She’s a mortal lock and as soon as the Academy and critics groups get a load of Ellen Page’s performance as the titular Juno, she’s going to start pulling down kudos, too. The thing is, she’s no fluke.
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Photo © 2007 Twentieth Century Fox

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