I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, February 25, 2008

Juno (2007)

Juno (Ellen Page) is a sardonic 16 year old who after taking several at home pregnancy tests has to deal with the fact that she's with child. She tells her geeky track star boyfriend, Bleeker (Michael Cera), but seemingly lets him off the hook as far as taking responsibility. Juno then tells her dad and stepmom, Mac and Bren (J.K Simmons and Allison Janney), who expected her to tell them she had done something even worse.

Juno decides that she can't go through an abortion. The teenager quickly finds a yuppie couple, Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) who want to adopt a child. It is apparent early on that Vanessa really wants a child. It is not explained why her and Mark can't have their own children. Mark seems to want to do what is going to make his wife happy, but there are clues that he's not quite satisfied with going along with everything Vanessa wants. As the plot continues, it appears that he has a lot more in common with Juno than he does with Vanessa.

We learn that Juno's mom and dad divorced when she was a kid. Her mom moved out of state, remarried, had other children, and did not keep in contact with Juno. There's a hint that Juno suffered a lot of emotional stress behind that. Her smart-aleck attitude appears to be one way of dealing with that. It also speaks to why Juno is so adamant that her child have parents that will be there for them and stay together.

The film is okay, but Juno came off smarter than most teenagers really are. Her parents seemed to be a little too laid back about the unplanned pregancy, even though they were upset about it. I did like how the isolation some teens feel who are in that situation was shown. Juno hung out mostly with her friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), who didn't judge her about the situation unlike the other kids and teachers at their high school.

J.K. Simmons was Peter Parker's boss in the Spiderman movies. Michael Cera was in Superbad (2007). Jennifer Garner was the lead in the TV action hit "Alias" (2001-2006). Allison Janney was a cast member on "The West Wing" (1999-2006). Rainn Wilson, a cast member on "The Office", has a small part.

Diablo Cody wrote the script. She won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

"Project Runway" (2005-present)

I am not very interested in fashion, but this reality show is surprising engaging. Several designers who want to move up in the fashion world are picked to compete against one another. Each week, they are given a challenge to create clothing. They could be asked to make something for a fashion icon. An episode found them designing pieces for actress Sarah Jessica Parker's clothing line. They could be asked to work with a certain type of fabric, like denim. Whatever the task is, they are exhorted by Tim Gunn, who was the Chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons The School For New Design, to "make it work". Gunn has since become the Chief Creative Director of Liz Claireborne, Inc., but he is still on the show. Gunn is like a dad of sorts, checking up on the designers as they make their clothes and admonishing them when he feels it is necessary.

Gunn's partner in crime is supermodel Heidi Klum, who also serves as one of the judges of the contestant's designs. She warns the designers every week that after a challenge, "you will be in or you will be out". Klum sounds awfully cold when she tells them this, but is otherwise warm towards the designers.

The judges -- usually Michael Kors (a top fashion designer) and Nina Garcia (fashion editor of Elle magazine) are always on this panel, plus guest designers -- can be very cutting. When they like something they see at the runway show that happens at the end of every episode, they praise it to the heavens. But God forbid they see something they don't like. The claws come out.

The contestants are a mixed bag of people who come from all over. Per the usual in reality shows, there are ongoing conflicts between two or more persons before the season ends. All of them struggle to not get eliminated so they can show their stuff during a fashion show that is staged at Bryant Park. Apparently, Bryant Park is a big deal in the fashion world. After that showing, the winner of the competition is announced. The winner gets money, a car, and an opportuntity to push their fashion careers forward.

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"The Sophisticated Gents" (1981)

Several African-American men gather for a 25-year reunion of their athletic club, and to honor their coach, Charles David (Sonny Jim Gaines). There are secrets and lies swirling around the reunion, as well as a murder investigation, which threatens to knock everything off course.

The men include Ezra (Robert Hooks) who works for an African-American magazine where employees are fired on the spot if they are late for any reason. Ezra is in a troubled marriage; he has cheated on his wife, and his wife, Christine (Rosalind Cash) is hiding the fact that she had an abortion. D'Artagnan (Raymond St. Jacques) is a singer in the manner of Johnny Mathis, and his career is on the skids because of an indiscretion that happened years before. Snake (Thalmus Rasulala) is in an interracial marriage, and his committment to African-American causes is in question. Silky (Melvin Van Peebles) is the one member of the old club who went down the wrong path. He's under investigation by the police for criminal activities.

This is one of the better mini-series that were produced for TV during the early 1980's. The characters are well defined, and audiences are left guessing until the end how everything will work out.

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