Friday, January 18, 2008

Why Should It Sound 'Real'?


I have been really floored by the amount of hatred I have seen thrown towards Diablo Cody and her script for JUNO, specifically the dialogue which has proven apparently catastrophic for people who demand their movies sound just like real life. I don't have any problem with people who don't care for the film but for the folks who seem so absolutely offended by Cody's 'unrealistic' dialogue my question is this. Why do all movies have to be accurate reflections of real life and, perhaps more to the point, how many actually are? Are the characters in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN really representative of the kind of people you meet in everyday life and does the dialogue sound like what you are hearing? Or how about SUPERBAD, another Michael Sera film from this year that has had a load of acclaim thrown on it. I've never met two guys as consistently funny or equipped with so many powerfully great one liners as the two leads in this film in 'real life' but damn if I am going to let that spoil my enjoyment of the film.
Anyway the anger thrown at JUNO and Cody has really surprised me. Honestly a lot of it sounds like a threatened boys club scared of a talented young woman knocking at their precious members only door.

This letter to Roger Ebert expresses a lot of what I am feeling as does his response. I am especially taken with "Why do people continue to expect every film they see to be a flawless reflection of reality when no film, not even a documentary, could ever accomplish such a feat?" and Ebert's response of, "Movie characters don't talk like real people. If they did, they'd drive us nuts."

5 comments:

Rogue Spy 007 said...

I've not seen this film so it's hard for me to really comment. How often do any characters in films talk like people in real life. Look at how many films are unrealistic anyway. I don't expect films to be just like real life. Part of the reason I like watching movies, even those that have a more serious topic, is because it gives me a chance to escape. No matter what gender, race, religion, etc. an artist is, their material should be judged on its own merits and not criticized simply because they don't fit into the good ole boys club.

Brandon Colvin said...

For me, I don't much care for things being real. The dialogue doesn't bother me because it isn't realistic, but because, to me, it's distracting and it de-intensifies the rest of the story. It doesn't flow well for me. For example, I think the dialogue in NO COUNTRY is extremely formalist and unrealistic, but it flows for me, it feel right. It doesn't feel overwritten at all and it doesn't detract from the meat of the story. The dialogue in JUNO, however, and only in some parts, felt overwritten and tonally inconsistent. I didn't feel the same kind of formal and tonal unity in JUNO as I have in many other films this year. I think it's mostly a matter of a film staying true to its own world and I think JUNO has issues there, which is not to say it isn't a very good film, because it is. JUNO almost feels like two different films to me: a short comedy at the beginning, and then a subtle, intricate drama after Juno talks to her parents. To me, that is an inferior way of making films. I favor holism and consistency of tone, which, of course, is rather subjective.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith...I will be curious to hear your thoughts on the film when you get a chance to see it...

Thanks Brandon,
While I don't agree with all of your thoughts on JUNO they are totally clear and understandable. My main problem is with the people who are attacking Cody and the script specifically for not being 'realistic' and going so far as to name it the worst film of 2007 (I have seen that on several sites and to me that is insane)...if the dialogue doesn't feel true to to a particular viewer then that is a totally viable complaint but some of the stuff I have seen thrown at her and the film has just been needlessly cruel and oddly offensive which is why I posted this.
Thanks for your well thought out and legitimate comments. Much appreciated...

B-Sol said...

I couldn't agree more. Movies are art--the characters are NOT required to necessarily speak like us. That's what I love so much about old school Hollywood films--the stylized dialogue. And for all those who proclaim the "realism" of today's movies, how many people do you know who act like Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson or Dustin Hoffman???

The Vault of Horror

Bob Turnbull said...

The entire Film Noir genre would've been much less interesting if everyone talked "normally"...Can you imagine Hammer or Marlowe not ready with a quip or some unique way to describe a "dame"?

Touching on what Brandon was saying, I just like to see a movie at least stay consistent within the world it has set up. I think Juno does this (though I agree there are some tonal shifts and the script is overwritten at times).

I mentioned this over on the "Wine And Werewolves" blog, but I think much of the hub-bub of late are people reacting to the fact that they wanted the reality in the pregnancy storyline. Juno herself just doesn't seem overly affected by what she has gone through. I kinda see where they are going with that, but it's just not what the movie was about (at least for me). It's about a girl of 16 coming to grips with the fact that the world may not revolve around her.