After much traffic and lateness from both sides, Emily (tigeremme) and I finally managed to meet up in Berkeley. I had gotten to Shattuck Cinemas a little before 6, and there was already a line forming for the Juno screening. Within the next half hour, the line quickly grew to stretch around the corner. I took the remaining half of my burrito to-go, which was a wise move, as it wasn't too long before they ran out of tickets. Those of us lucky enough to have a place in line also got very orange Juno shirts with lines of dialogue on them. This made two free T-shirts in one week for the both of us.
Meanwhile, my world crumbled around me as I discovered that the word bedraggled is pronounced be-draggled, not bed-raggled.
While it hadn't seemed like we were exceedingly far back in the line, when we got into the theatre, it looked like all the good seats were taken. We took two in the front row. I noticed they had some chairs up in the front, so I thought they might have people to look at that we would now be close to. Of course, it also meant that we would be looking up at giant Ellen Page and giant Michael Cera, but I guess that wasn't really a bad thing for either of us (Emily now has a humongous crush on Michael Cera).
Juno is really good. It's a lovely little small story about a sixteen-year-old girl who gets pregnant and decides to give her baby to suitable adoptive parents (who she finds in the PennySaver). And it struck me near the end of the movie that all that happens is that the audience follows Juno on her journey. It's very simple, but it works, especially because the script is full of laugh-out-loud lines and the cast is pretty stellar: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, and no one knows who Olivia Thirlby is, but she's very funny as Juno's best friend. (Rainn Wilson has one amusing scene in the beginning.) Ellen Page has to pretty much carry the whole movie, though, and, after Hard Candy, it's no surprise she pulls it off. Michael Cera is, of course, adorable.
There were some moments where the script felt like it was trying a little too hard to be cool and indie and hip, but it wasn't really egregious. And the soundtrack is very song-heavy, which gets a little tedious because they all start to sound like variations on the same song. It does, however, help to establish tone. I liked Thank You for Smoking, and there are a few bits of quirky directing here, but not a whole lot. It's mostly a very human story.
So I liked it. It's basically this year's Little Miss Sunshine, you know? The little indie flick everyone loves, the one the Academy chooses as its Token Indie Flick. My duty as a viewer of a promotional screening is to tell you all to go pay money and see it when it comes out, but first check if you can see it for free. If you can't, go pay money and see it to support independent film.
The audience clapped when it was over, and it did not go anywhere...because we had been told before the movie that Ellen Page was coming in afterward for a Q&A.
Good thing we sat in front, eh?
Some lady from a radio station was going to moderate the Q&A. She came down and introduced Ellen Page, who is so tiny! Tiny and adorable! She mounted her chair, breaking a part of it in the process, and perched. (Her word.) Ellen said that she had poked her head in at the end of the movie and we were the greatest audience ever.
The radio station lady asked her the typical questions about choosing the script and such. Ellen said it was one of the best scripts she'd ever read, and she felt like she had to do it "or bad things would happen." Luckily, Jason Reitman liked her in Hard Candy, and he already had Michael Cera and J.K. Simmons in mind, so he had the three of them do some cold reading, and, boom, cast. The radio station lady also asked about finding smart young female characters in scripts, which led to Ellen talking about how people never say anything like, "That Emile Hirsch [in Into the Wild] is playing a strong, young male character!" They only bother to mention "strong female characters" because there's still that discrepancy, which is straight out of Joss's Equality Now speech. And now I want Joss and Ellen to work together. He totally would, right? SHE'S FUCKING KITTY PRYDE!
Then they started taking people from the audience. They said to get in line by the front so they could use the microphone. Two people immediately got in line.
The first was a girl who asked if she could sit in the chair, and they let her, so she perched right next to Ellen Page and asked her...some stuff. A couple questions, neither of which I can remember now. Then a guy asked her what ice cream flavor she would be, and something else.
I was a little preoccupied trying to decide whether I should go up. I would get to perch with Ellen Page! How could I pass that up? Plus, the line wasn't filling up very fast. Who were all these shy, diffident people?
I think I'm a serial question-asker. Maybe it's the famewhore in me, but it's like I am required to take the opportunity if it presents itself, even though it never gets any easier. My heart is always pounding beforehand, and I always talk too fast and stumble over my words. But it's like I have a pathological need to make small connections with celebrities, especially in front of an audience. Because I don't like to be the center of attention except when that's exactly what I want. Honestly, it's almost like a game now. I have so much experience that I might as well keep doing it, especially if others won't.
So I got in line. Questions, answers. No one since the first girl had sat in the chair, but when I got the microphone, I was so bold as to do so. I tried not to break anything.
There I was, perched next to Ellen Page. "So I just saw Hard Candy this Saturday," I began, "in preparation for this. And then I was really scared of you for the next four days." I asked her what could have made Jason Reitman think, after seeing her in that role, that she'd be good as a pregnant teenager.
She was flummoxed. "I don't know," she said. "Acting?"
I laughed. "Yeah, you were really good in that, so you'd probably be really good in this, which you were," I said. "Do you think there are any similarities in the characters?"
"Not...really?" she replied. She said she wished she could tell me what Jason Reitman was thinking, but she couldn't. She wished he were there; it was a lot more fun when they were all together. Not being able to give me a satisfactory response, she turned into a little ball of cuteness and said, "You make me shy."
"I don't usually have that effect on people," I said. "It's usually the other way around."
We sat in awkward silence. I made the Karen face. The lighting must not have been that bad, because it sounded like people saw it and laughed.
She apologized for not being able to give me a good answer from Jason Reitman's brain, and I tried to rephrase and ask her directly what she thought, but it was all over, and before I could ask her what her favorite television shows were, I was being given the call to leave. "I'm being shooed off," I said, sadly, as I went back to my seat, and she called out, "Sorry!" We had a thing there for a bit!
"You ruled, dude," said Emily.
There were a few people after me, and the Q&A continued to be entertaining because Ellen Page is entertaining. She's a little spunky, and she's very sweet and appreciative of the fans asking her stuff, and she has a tendency to get very excited when a topic strikes her fancy. She reminded me of Kristen Bell. "I'll bet Cate Blanchett isn't this fun," she said. "All prim and proper and British."
One girl asked her about the songs in the movie, which were done by Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches. "Oh, you're going to love me," said Ellen. Because Jason Reitman had asked her what kind of music Juno would listen to, and she had said the Moldy Peaches, and he had said who now? "Let me see your laptop, old man!" And he fell in love with them and used a song in the movie and then got Kimya Dawson to write a bunch more. Ellen was also responsible for introducing him to Cat Power, who also has a song in the movie.
One guy hilariously asked her if she was a Thundercats fan (because there was a reference in the movie). "I always like being asked a question I've never been asked before," she said. "And I'm pretty sure that's a first." Unfortunately, she had no Thundercats knowledge at all.
The last girl was entirely awkward and named Melissa, which was Ellen's sister's name. She asked, because she had never been in a movie, whether the actors got to mix it up beforehand to develop a dynamic, since it felt so real onscreen. Ellen said that no, actually, they didn't have a lot of time to get to know each other before they started shooting. As the girl attempted to ask the last and final question, Ellen said, "Have you ever considered a career in comedy?" She compared her to Sarah Silverman. And, appropriately enough, the question was about...well, something at the end of the movie, sorry. No spoilers!
It was time to leave. Emily had noticed that people were going over to Ellen to get her to sign stuff, so I figured I could get a picture. Thankfully, Emily had her camera with her. Ellen was signing shirts, so I got mine out.
As we waited, Ellen looked back, saw me, and gave me the upward head jerk of recognition: 'Sup?
Someone named Stacey was having her record a PhonePost to her journal! Hee! "Hi, Stacey's LiveJournal. This is Ellen Page. Go see Juno."
Then Ellen turned back to me.
"Sorry about making you shy," I said.
"It's okay," she said, "I was just teasing." I had my shirt out for her to sign, and she was looking for a place to sign, and I told her to just pick a place.
"I hope I'm not ruining your shirt," she said.
"No!" I said. "You're...making it more valuable." Which was such a stupid thing to say because it's not like I planned on selling it on eBay or something. I don't even know whether I should wear it. Sharpie won't come off in the wash, will it?
I asked if I could take a picture, and she said I could.
Now those were some good shenanigans.