Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bench Man

Having spent the past three months commuting by train, I've started to recognize some of the same people travelling at the same time, every weekday. One of these is a guy I have dubbed, "Bench Man." He wears a suit and looks like a business type. My suspicion at his profession is reinforced by the fact that he heads towards London every weekday morning. That's not unusual, as there are lots of business types on the eastbound train, in the morning. Many of them fumble with Blackberrys.
What's so special about Bench Man? Every time I see him, he's standing in front of one of the benches provided for passengers to sit on,while they wait at the station. That's his unique selling point. He stands in front of a bench. He stands so close to the bench, that he blocks one of the spaces on it, yet I never see him sitting, just standing in front. So why does he do it? This inconsiderate goon wastes one of the limited bench spaces and hes not even using it himself. If he would just move a couple of feet away from the bench, someone else could have a seat. Are you a Bench Man, blocking other people from using something, while deriving no benefit for yourself? Am I the only person who is considerate of others? I enjoy a small thrill when I arrive before Bench Man and sit in the spot where he usually stands. Gosh, the benches are ugly and not very comfortable, either.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008


Late last year, I received an invitation to attend a screening of a new film, in London. The idea was to invite a load of bloggers to see the film, with the hope that we would then write about it. Given that the screening was free and there was a party afterwards, with free food and drinks, I was happy to attend. You know me, always happy to get freebies. The film I ended up seeing was "Juno." As it opens tomorrow, in the UK, it seems timely that I make good my end of the deal.
I wasn't expecting much. The title didn't give much away. Somewhere along the line, I learned that the film is about a teenager, Juno, who gets pregnant during her first sexual experience, then decides to give the baby away in adoption. It was supposed to be a comedy, but the description didn't exactly sound hilarious. Sometimes the best results come when one's expectations are lowered. The film is great! Ellen Page plays the 16-year-old, Juno and is quite convincing, as she looks very young. It's funny, which is a good thing for a comedy. The dialogue is filled with understated sarcasm, which is a form of humour I particularly enjoy.
The screenplay, written by Diablo Cody, has a full helping of great dialogue. What's even more impressive is that it's Cody's first film. Cody is a novelist and after this sample of her work, I definitely plan to check out her novels. She also is a blogger and was discovered by a film producer, who stumbled on her blog. He became a regular reader, then contacted her one day, offering her screenwriting work. This is the kind of blogger Cinderella story that entices us to sit for long hours in front of our keyboards, creating written matter for the world, unpaid.
Although the story is about a teenager, it's not a film only for teenagers. Those of us who are post-teens can find a lot to relate to. Between Juno's parents (played by Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons) and the prospective adopting parents (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), there are plenty of adult characters to empathize with. If you're like me, you will find the teenagers ones you can relate to, as well. No matter what your age, you can remember what it was like to be a teen...unless you have Alzheimer's. Juno says the kind of stuff a lot of us would like to say, if we could return to our teens, but still know what we know now.
Directed by Jason Reitman (son of Ivan Reitman), it's one of the best comedies I have seen in a while. My opinion is supported by the fact that the film has received four Oscar nominations and a BAFTA nomination, since I saw it. The only slight flaw in it is that Juno has so many killer lines, it's almost unbelievable that she's a teenager. Also, if she's so clever, why the heck didn't she use a contraceptive? In any case, it's a film, not real life. It's easy to suspend disbelief. If she had used birth control, there'd be no story.
If all of this isn't enough to make you want to rush out a buy a ticket, the film as a fantastic soundtrack. The film is a total package: good acting, great screenplay, good directing, good music, and it's funny. It opens in Britain, tomorrow. Go see it. If you're the type of person to go to a film on Valentine's Day, the timing of the release couldn't be better. I can't think of a better date movie, out now.

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