Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Everything I Consume: And Then We Came to The End and Juno

I've fallen way behind in recording my consumption so I'm lumping And Then We Came To The End and Juno together. This may seem odd, or you don't care, but they have a lot in common. Both were over-hyped, have a hipster vibe and are overrated but certainly worth reading/seeing.

And Then We Came To The End or ATWCTTE is the story of an imploding Chicago ad agency in 2000 and 2001. I'm a big fan of workplace fiction—100% of my unpublished novels are set in an office—so I enjoyed looking at the relationships of the people we are forced to spend most of our lives with and often discard in an instant. The book is told in a first-person plural that takes some getting used to but is very effective.

WE WERE FRACTIOUS AND overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise. At least those of us who smoked had something to look forward to at ten-fifteen. Most of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals, one or two people loved everyone and everything.
Quickly, you feel like part of the story and part of the agency. This helps relate to the characters since there is no one main character. The writer, Joshua Ferris, is very effective at going back and forth in time. The problem with the book is the office is filled with only colorful characters and ridiculous situations. It quickly went from slice-of-life to over-the-top. There are murdered children, rumors of cancer, fired employees who won't leave and even a totem pole. All this stuff is better handled on The Office or Mary Tyler Moore. But, you know, that's not really fair, because the week-in, week-out of a television show is so much better at capturing the feel of office life than a novel. I know Joshua Ferris lives in Brooklyn and I don't want him to get mad at me if I see him on the street or my neighborhood bookstore.

As you probably know, Juno is about a too-cool-for-school high school student who gets pregnant. I liked it but I wanted to punch the soundtrack in the face. It had the subtlety and charm of someone yelling, "I am Quirky! Look at me!". Oddly, the annoying lead, Ellen Page was nominated for an Oscar yet the excellent supporting cast was overlooked. Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera and J.K. Simmons were all fantastic.

Finally, I have to call out to the world to stop making movies where a woman's water breaks and she rushes to the hospital. It happens in 90% of movies and TV shows and 1% of the time in the real world. Show a scene where a pregnant woman argues with a nurse that she's in labor and should be admitted to the hospital and not sent home. That would have been hilarious in this movie. It would have made up for half the soundtrack's annoyance. Don't make me do your job for you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You forgot to give props to Allison Janney. I thought her take on the step-mom -- a bit annoyed with the step-daughter, but protective and funny and organized -- totally believable and refreshing. (I LOVED that right after the daughter announces she's keeping the baby, the step-mom whips out a notebook and starts making a list: pre-natal vitamins, schedule a checkup, pick a hospital...) I really liked that she wasn't just some bitchy character for Juno to rail against.