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Homework: Juno (2007) vs Whiplash (2014)

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Franklin Leonard and Kate Hagen, founders of The Blacklist will join Amy to talk about two Oscar-nominated films with (previously?) blacklisted scripts; Diablo Cody's Juno and Damien Chazelle's Whiplash.

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I'm not sure... both writers have had their share of backlash these days... Cody for inspiring sooooo many mediocre follow-ups, that kind of missed the smart and the heart of her own script, and Chazelle for letting Ryan Gosling explain Jazz to us for two hours. I remember liking both films quite a bit, and Whiplash is one of my favorite film experiences in the last couple of years. It's like a thriller, just without any kills.

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Chazelle for letting Ryan Gosling explain Jazz to us for two hours.

 

I am exceedingly tired of this reductive description of La La Land. That's not what the movie is about.

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I love Whiplash, but part of me really, really, really wants to fight for Juno. Maybe it's because I'm so sick of Chazelle and La La Land, but I'd rather fight for the scrappier film with the better soundtrack. Weirdly, Whiplash works for me for all the reasons that La La Land doesn't: Whiplash is tactile and polished, with actual stakes, and with an understanding of these two awful people at the center. La La Land is about two hyper-delusional people whose stories we're seeing because the camera isn't five feet to the left, focusing on any number of other Hollywood-stardom hopefuls. Either Chazelle isn't willing to lean enough into his own cynicism, or he just doesn't understand his own film.

 

As for Juno, plenty of films have spawned their fair share of poor imitations. Juno still holds up really well--the ending, in particular, is as poignant and tender as ever, and the film totally earns it. By no means is the film as well-crafted as Whiplash, but I'd much rather hang out with Juno and Paulie over Andrew and Fletcher any day.

 

So, we'll see what happens.

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Apart from the blacklist and JK Simmons connection what's really relating these films? I like when the versus have some kind of connective tissue that makes the Vs a bit more fun and competitive.

 

I really like Juno- but Whiplash was a transcendent experience for me. I can't wait to talk more about it in the voting thread.

 

I am exceedingly tired of this reductive description of La La Land. That's not what the movie is about.

Agreed- Plus, I hope we can stop putting Whiplash and La la Land in the same basket- very different films- only connected by the theme of the artists' connection with art (which is the main story in Whiplash and B Story in La La Land)

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Whiplash was my favorite movie of 2014. I like Juno but don't love it. I agree with Threshold and am looking forward to hearing more about why these are in a cage match.

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Whiplash was good on first viewing but watching it again in class (really? Yes lol) and then again on cable last month I've changed my mind on it being great to just pretty good. It's a sports movie whose character mocks sports, and his relationship to his family makes less sense each time I watch.

 

 

I remember LOVING Juno when it came out -- one of my first rightfully-admitted PG-13 films to age myself-- and a recent cable viewing held up surprisingly well.

This should be an interesting ep

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I think Whiplash will get a lot of flack from La La Land (which we are seeing here) but we have to remember that Cody's writing follow-up (Jennifer's Body) ain't all that great either. Both suffer from a "sophmore slump". Cody came back with the great and underrated Young Adult.

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Whiplash was good on first viewing but watching it again in class (really? Yes lol) and then again on cable last month I've changed my mind on it being great to just pretty good. It's a sports movie whose character mocks sports, and his relationship to his family makes less sense each time I watch.

I did not connect with Whiplash at all. I haven't been able to articulate why that's so, but this is as good a summary as any.

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A few weeks late, but I am very happy the Canon is back. I'm happy the forum is still going strong and I definitely look forward to reading your thoughts on some canon-worthy films!

 

This will be my first time watching Whiplash (the whole J.K. Simmons yelling a lot wasn't exactly appealing). It will have quite the competition in a film where Ellen Page and Michael Cera sing an adorable Moldy Peaches song together. Seriously, that song's great.

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I will probably vote Whiplash, but I will be interested in hearing the argument for Juno. That movie gets a lot of flack from people who seem to think that the style of dialogue offered up in the first 10 minutes (the scene with Rainn Wilson) is representative of the entire film, which it is not. It's much more naturalistic and grounded than the hot-take criticism would let you believe. (Just as La La Land has much more going on than a guy pontificating about jazz, which is exactly one scene of the movie.)

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I'll have to get Whiplash at my library. It's always there. I know I should see it but I've put it off. Given a choice of film genre, I never pick a straight drama.

 

I had massive dislike for Juno when it came out -- partly the hype and my contrarian nature. But man, that movie has grown on me. It's almost embarrassing. If it's on cable, I'll watch big chunks of it. There are a lot of strong actors in little parts, but I think Ellen Page simply won me over despite my bitchy nature.

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At first glance I thought this was Juno vs. Whip It (both starring Ellen Page).

 

I'll be curious what kind of discussion this actual pairing will elicit. This is certainly the oddest pairing for a versus episode yet.

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If you're going to keep throwing versus episodes at us we really need a neither option.

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Man, there really needs to be an option in the Versus polls for "Neither." I think these are both entertaining and enjoyable movies that are nowhere near good enough to make it into any canon, and barring being convinced otherwise during the show, that means I will have to abstain from voting for a second week in a row (wasn't able to find Sign O the Times).

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Hmmm? What is the connection between the two movies? I don't really think this is a useful comparison.

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I guess they did away with the original Episode 100 idea? I guess I'm happy because of how brutal that would have been, but I was still looking forward to it. Also, a Best of 2016 episode would still be welcome even though it's a little late at this point.

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Man, there really needs to be an option in the Versus polls for "Neither." I think these are both entertaining and enjoyable movies that are nowhere near good enough to make it into any canon, and barring being convinced otherwise during the show, that means I will have to abstain from voting for a second week in a row (wasn't able to find Sign O the Times).

This has been brought up often in past "versus" episodes, so I wouldn't hold your breath.

 

Everyone can approach this show in different ways, but I think of the Canon itself as being besides the point. It's a useful means by which the hosts can discuss a film (or group of films) and has the added bonus of inviting audience participation.

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Everyone can approach this show in different ways, but I think of the Canon itself as being besides the point. It's a useful means by which the hosts can discuss a film (or group of films) and has the added bonus of inviting audience participation.

 

This. It's not like this Canon is actually "official" in any meaningful capacity. Heck, Devin and Amy used to sometimes forget about what was in the Canon and what wasn't!

 

It's just a fun framework for two knowledgeable critics to talk about a lot of different kinds of movies.

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That movie gets a lot of flack from people who seem to think that the style of dialogue offered up in the first 10 minutes (the scene with Rainn Wilson) is representative of the entire film, which it is not.

 

Ha! I tried to watch this 10 years ago and literally turned it off after the first 10 minutes. I'll give it fair consideration this time around, but I kind of already like Whiplash a lot.

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Hmmm? What is the connection between the two movies? I don't really think this is a useful comparison.

 

Well, it's a stretch, but I'd say:

 

-J.K. Simmons is pretty amazing in both of them

-Both main characters are Teenagers

-Both are kind of disguised comming-of-age stories

-Both main characters deal with an extraordinary situation, that will presumably change their life

-In both films deal with not-quite intact family structures. In Juno's case, it's that she needs to learn to respect her stepmother, in Whiplash, Andrew has to deal with his family that doesn't have a sense for what he's doing. The one close-up of his father in the final showdown tells us, that he "gets" it in the end.

-And, finally, in both films the soundtrack plays a crucial role to tell the story.

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It seems that since this episode is themed in honor of The Blacklist that the connection between the films at the forefront is their strong writing and their announcement of a new voice.

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It seems that since this episode is themed in honor of The Blacklist that the connection between the films at the forefront is their strong writing and their announcement of a new voice.

That's interesting, because while Whiplash has a great script- it's not particularly flashy in the same way Juno is. The reason Whiplash works is due to the directing, editing, JK Simmons going above and beyond, and then the screenplay. Whereas Juno seems to be an almost exclusively screenplay-driven film.

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Just re-watched both.

 

I'm leaning towards Juno, honestly. Don't get me wrong: Whiplash is a fine-tuned exercise in filmcraft. While being about music, the film could be muted and still feel thrilling and alive as every viewing of Whiplash does. Miles Teller is amazing. J.K. Simmons earns his Oscar wholesale. I love Whiplash, and totally get why it'll have a huge chunk of the vote.

 

But I really hope we all revisit Juno. I hadn't seen it in nearly a decade. These are both films I've watched several times, and as undeniably electrifying as Whiplash, I believe Juno has so much to offer. Juno is known for its colorful, borderline-garish dialogue, but the core of the film comes from two characters who don't know how to speak to each other--something that a Juno-descendent, Obvious Child, would do with similar aplomb. Juno has a heart and grace to it that is easy to miss over its louder elements.

 

What Juno immediately has over Whiplash is an unstoppable ensemble of well-drawn characters--with MIchael Cera as the lone weak link. What is so beautiful about Juno is that, for all of the stylized conversation, the film is built on subtle beats that inform us on who these characters really are. As precocious as Juno MacGuff is, the film is also aware that she's naive, and that, for all of her self-awareness, she's still kind of a dummy, and she's also super reckless.

 

Jason Reitman is really generous to Diablo Cody's script this way. This leads to some of the bigger problems of the film, where characters need to talk about a problem exactly when there is a problem as soon as a conversation begin--first screenplay problem, one among a few. Reitman paints a world that is funny, poignant, and vibrant, but also really lived-in--though it has been years, I do remember listening to the commentary with Reitman and Cody, where they described having to call every band that Juno has a cutout of in her bedroom, among other tidbits.

 

A quick rundown of details I love.

-Any number of quotes

-Numerous instances of parallel construction, the best one being an early shot of Juno pushing her way through the halls of her high school; two acts later, she's parting the seas of people as the "cautionary whale."

-Mark's wardrobe gets less adult every time we see him, starting with a v-neck sweater/button-up combo to a wrinkly Superunknown t-shirt by the end.

-J.K. Simmons telling Juno that she'll be back on the hospital on her own terms, and Juno looking at him with this blank look that suggests that she might not even want to do that, but that she recognizes he's trying to be comforting and supportive in his own way

-The abuse of Bren's urn

-Leah being into teachers and Woody Allen--which is on-the-nose, but still pretty funny

-Sort of already mentioned this, but the fact that the most satisfying moments between Juno and Paulie are whenever they have little-to-nothing to say.

-Juno's crush on Mark

-Jason Bateman and Michael Cera in a love triangle, several years before the UNDERRATED FOURTH SEASON of Arrested Development--and, honestly, as needlessly shat upon as that season is, it can really only be underrated at this point.

 

Maybe the thing that really won me over with Juno was the film's ending. I'm positive that I'm in a minority in this way. Whiplash has a conclusion that is one for the ages. Whatever the film's flaws, Andrew's final performance never gets old. But I prefer the far more meaningful, graceful, messy climax of Juno. This is a film I've seen so many times, but it wasn't until this viewing that I found myself crying. I don't know if it was because Paulie was finally there for Juno, or if it was because Jennifer Garner--who should have gotten an Oscar nomination for this film--nervously, cautiously allowing herself to be a mother, or because of Cat Power and The Moldy Peaches. I prefer a moving ending, and Juno has a final stretch that just works.

 

So, I don't know. I have a feeling Whiplash is going to be the winner, because it's the flashier, more immediate experience, and that's fine, I guess. Please revisit Juno, if you haven't done so yet. I was pretty sure it would fall apart--and maybe a pro orange Tic-Tac film isn't the most welcome in this day and age--and while there are definite flaws, it's the film's pathos that makes it work.

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