“I just wonder if like, two people can ever stay together for good”

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

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Juno (2007)

Sixteen-year-old Minnesota high-schooler Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) discovers she is pregnant by her friend and longtime admirer, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). She initially considers an abortion. Going to a local clinic run by a women’s group, she encounters a schoolmate outside who is holding a one-person protest for pro-life vigil. Once inside, however, a variety of factors lead Juno to leave. She decides against abortion, and she decides to give the baby up for adoption. With the help of her friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), Juno searches the ads in the Pennysaver and finds a couple she feels will provide a suitable home. She tells her father, Mac (J.K. Simmons), and stepmother, Bren (Allison Janney), who offer their support. With Mac, Juno meets the couple, Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), in their expensive home and agrees to a closed adoption.

Juno visits Mark a few times, with whom she shares tastes in punk rock and horror films. Mark, who has set aside his rock band youth (now confined to memorabilia displayed in the one room of the house that Vanessa has designated for Mark’s personal belongings), works at home composing commercial jingles. Juno and Leah happen to see Vanessa in a shopping mall being completely at ease with a child, and Juno encourages Vanessa to talk to her baby in the womb, where it kicks for her.

As the pregnancy progresses, Juno struggles with the emotions she feels for the baby’s father, Paulie, who is clearly in love with Juno. Juno maintains an outwardly indifferent attitude toward Paulie, but when she learns he has asked another girl to the upcoming prom, she angrily confronts him. Paulie reminds Juno that it is at her request they remain distant and tells her that she broke his heart.

Not long before her baby is due, Juno is again visiting Mark when their interaction becomes emotional. Mark then tells her he will be leaving Vanessa. Juno is horrified by this revelation, with Mark asking Juno “How do you think of me?” Vanessa arrives home, and Mark tells her he does not feel ready to be a father and there are still things he wants to do first. Juno watches the Loring marriage fall apart, then drives away and breaks down in tears by the side of the road. Returning to the Lorings’ home, she leaves a note and disappears as they answer the door.

After a heartfelt discussion with her father, Juno accepts that she loves Paulie. Juno then tells Paulie she loves him, and Paulie’s actions make it clear her feelings are very much reciprocated. Not long after, Juno goes into labor and is rushed to the hospital, where she gives birth to a baby boy. She had deliberately not told Paulie because of his track meet. Seeing her missing from the stands, Paulie rushes to the hospital, finds Juno has given birth to their son, and comforts Juno as she cries. Vanessa comes to the hospital where she joyfully claims the newborn boy as a single adoptive mother. On the wall in the baby’s new nursery, Vanessa has framed Juno’s note, which reads: “Vanessa: If you’re still in, I’m still in. —Juno.” The film ends in the summertime with Juno and Paulie playing guitar and singing together, followed by a kiss.

Although Kazakhstan a glorious country, it have a problem, too: economic, social, and Jew.

Kazakh TV talking head Borat is dispatched to the United States to report on the greatest country in the world and get inspired by his learnings.

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Borat! Cultural Learnings of America (2006)

At the behest of the Kazakh Ministry of Information, reporter Borat Sagdiyev leaves Kazakhstan for the “Greatest Country in the World”, the “U, S and A”, to make a documentary. He leaves behind his wife Oksana and other inhabitants of his village – including his “43-year-old” mother, “No. 4 prostitute in all of Kazakhstan” sister, “the town rapist”, and “the town mechanic and abortionist”. His companions are his producer Azamat Bagatov and a pet hen.

In New York, Borat sees an episode of Baywatch on TV and immediately falls in love with Pamela Anderson’s character, C. J. Parker. While interviewing and mocking a panel of feminists, he learns of the actress’ name and her residence in California. Borat is then informed by telegram that Oksana has been killed by a bear. Delighted, he secretly resolves to travel to California and make Anderson his new wife. He makes excuses to convince Azamat to travel to California with him. Azamat is afraid of flying because of the September 11, 2001, attacks, which he believes were the work of Jews. Borat, therefore, takes driving lessons and buys a dilapidated Gaz ice-cream truck for the journey.

During the trip, Borat acquires a Baywatch booklet at a yard sale and continues gathering footage for his documentary. He meets gay pride parade participants, politicians Alan Keyes and Bob Barr, and African American youths. Borat is also interviewed on live television and disrupts the weather report. Visiting a rodeo, Borat excites the crowd with jingoistic American remarks, but then sings a fictional Kazakhstani national anthem to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, receiving a strong negative reaction. Staying at a bed-and-breakfast, Borat and Azamat are stunned to learn their hosts are Jewish. Fearful at the hands of their hosts, the two escape after throwing money at two woodlice, believing they are their Jewish hosts transformed. Borat attempts to buy a handgun to defend himself, but is turned away because he is not an American citizen. Borat purchases a bear for protection.

Borat seeks advice from an etiquette coach who suggests Borat attend a private dinner at an eating club in the South. During the dinner, he (unintentionally) insults or otherwise offends the other guests. When he lets Luenell, an African-American prostitute, into the house and shows her to the table, they both get kicked out. Borat befriends Luenell, and she invites him into a relationship with her, but he tells her that he is in love with someone else. Borat then visits an antique shop with a display of Confederate heritage items, and clumsily breaks various items.

At a hotel, Borat, just out of the bath, sees Azamat masturbating over a picture of Pamela Anderson in the Baywatch booklet. An angry Borat accidentally reveals his real motive for traveling to California. Azamat becomes livid at Borat’s deception, and the situation escalates into a fully nude brawl with homoerotic undertones,[9] which spills out into the hallway, a crowded elevator, and ultimately into a packed convention ballroom. The two are finally separated by security guards.

As a result, Azamat abandons Borat, taking his passport, all of their money, and their bear (whose head is later seen inside Azamat’s motel refrigerator). Borat’s truck runs out of gas, and he begins to hitchhike to California. He is soon picked up by drunken fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina. On learning the reason for his trip, they show him the Pam and Tommy sex tape, revealing that she is not the virgin he thought she was. After leaving the three students, Borat becomes despondent, burning the Baywatch booklet and, by mistake, his return ticket to Kazakhstan. He is also about to slaughter his pet hen, but then changes his mind and lets it go.

Borat attends a United Pentecostal camp meeting, at which Republican U.S. Representative Chip Pickering and Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith, Jr. are present. He regains his faith, and forgives Azamat and Pamela. He accompanies church members on a bus to Los Angeles and disembarks to find Azamat dressed as Oliver Hardy (though Borat thinks that he is dressed as Adolf Hitler). The two reconcile and Azamat tells Borat where to find Pamela Anderson. Borat finally comes face-to-face with Anderson at a book signing at a Virgin Megastore. After showing Anderson his “traditional marriage sack”, Borat pursues her throughout the store in an attempt to abduct her until he is tackled and handcuffed by security guards. Borat visits Luenell and they return to Kazakhstan together.

The final scene (set 8 months later) shows the changes that Borat’s observations from America have brought to his village, including the apparent conversion of the people to Christianity (the Kazakh version of which includes crucifixion and torturing of Jews) and the introduction of computer-based technology, such as iPods, laptop computers and a high-definition, LCD television.

The film plays out with a recapitulation of a mock Kazakhstan national anthem glorifying the country’s potassium resources and its prostitutes as being the second cleanest in the region. The visual melange of Soviet-era photos are mixed with the real flag of Kazakhstan and, incongruously, the final frames show the portrait of Ilham Aliyev, real-life president of Azerbaijan, a country that had not been otherwise mentioned in the film.

You don’t believe me do you?

A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter.

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It Follows (2014)

Michigan college student Jaime “Jay” Height sees a film with her new boyfriend, Hugh. In the theater, Hugh points out a girl whom Jay says she cannot see. Afraid, he asks that they leave. On another date, Hugh and Jay have sex in his car and he incapacitates her with chloroform. She wakes up tied to a wheelchair. Hugh explains that she will be pursued by an entity that only she can see, which can take the appearance of any person. Although it only moves at a walking pace, it will always know where she is and will be constantly approaching, and if it catches Jay, it will kill her and pursue the previous person to have passed it on: Hugh. After they see a naked woman walking toward them, Hugh drives Jay home and flees.

The next day, the police cannot find the woman or Hugh, who was living under a false identity. At school, Jay sees an old woman in a hospital gown walking towards her, invisible to others. Jay’s younger sister Kelly and her friends Paul and Yara agree to help and spend the night in the same house. Paul investigates a smashed kitchen window but sees no one; Jay sees a bloodied half-naked woman walking toward her. Jay runs upstairs to the others, who cannot see the entity. When a tall man with gouged-out eyes enters the bedroom, Jay flees the house.

With the help of their neighbor, Greg, the group discovers Hugh’s real name, Jeff Redmond, and trace him to his address. Jeff explains that the entity began pursuing him after a one-night stand, and that Jay can pass it to someone else in the same way. The group drives to Greg’s lake house, where Jay learns to fire a gun. The entity, taking multiple guises, attacks Jay on the lakefront. She shoots it but it recovers. Jay flees in Greg’s car but crashes into a cornfield, and wakes up in a hospital with a broken arm.

Greg sleeps with Jay, as he does not believe the entity exists. Days later, Jay sees the entity in the form of Greg. It then smashes the window to his house and enters. She tries to warn the real Greg on the telephone but he does not answer. She runs into the house and finds the entity in the form of Greg’s half-naked mother knocking on his door; it jumps on Greg and kills him. Jay flees by car and spends the night outdoors. On a beach, Jay sees three young men on a boat. She undresses and walks into the water. Back home, Jay refuses Paul’s offer of sex.

The group plans to kill the entity by luring it into a university swimming pool and plunging electrical devices into the water. Jay, waiting in the pool, spots the entity and realizes it has taken the appearance of her father as it throws the devices at her. Firing at an invisible target, Paul accidentally wounds Yara, but shoots the entity in the head, causing it to fall into the pool. As it pulls Jay’s foot underwater, Paul shoots it again and Jay escapes. Paul asks Jay if the entity is dead. Jay approaches the pool, which slowly fills with blood.

Jay and Paul have sex. Afterwards, Paul drives past prostitutes in a seedy part of town. Later, Jay and Paul walk down the street holding hands while someone walks behind them.

I love how she makes me feel, like anything’s possible, or like life is worth it

The film is presented in a nonlinear narrative, jumping between various days within the 500 days of Tom and Summer’s relationship.

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500 Days of Summer

The film is presented in a nonlinear narrative, jumping between various days within the 500 days of Tom and Summer’s relationship. This is a linear summary of the plot.

On January 8, Tom Hansen meets Summer Finn, his boss’s new assistant. Tom is trained as an architect but works as a writer at a greeting card company in Los Angeles. After discovering they have a similar taste in music, they have a conversation about love; Tom believes in it, but Summer does not. Following a karaoke night, Tom’s friend and co-worker McKenzie drunkenly reveals that Tom likes Summer, which Tom asserts is only “as friends”, something Summer agrees with. A few days later, Summer kisses Tom in the copy room at work. During the next few months Summer and Tom grow closer.

Tom shows Summer his favorite spot in the city, which overlooks a number of buildings he likes, though the view is somewhat spoiled by parking lots. After several months of dating, both Tom’s friends and his preteen half-sister Rachel push him to question Summer where they are in their relationship, though Summer brushes this off, saying that it shouldn’t matter if they’re both happy. One night, Tom gets into a fight with a man who tries to pick up Summer in a bar, which causes their first argument. They make up and Summer concedes Tom deserves some certainty, but that his demand that she promises to always feel the same way about him would be impossible for anyone to make. On day 290, Summer breaks up with Tom in a diner after an awkward conversation at the record store, where Summer appears to have lost interest in Tom. Summer wants them to remain friends, but Tom is devastated.

Summer quits her job at the greeting card company. Tom’s boss moves him to the consolations department, as his depression is not suitable for happier events. Tom goes on a blind date with a woman named Alison. The date does not go well as he spends it complaining about Summer until an exasperated Alison ends up taking Summer’s side. Months later, Tom attends co-worker Millie’s wedding and tries to avoid Summer on the train, but she spots him and invites him for coffee. They have a good time at the wedding, dance together, and Summer catches the bouquet. She invites Tom to a party at her apartment and falls asleep on Tom’s shoulder on the train ride back. He attends the party hoping to rekindle their relationship but barely gets to talk to Summer and spends most of the night drinking alone, until he spots her engagement ring. Tom leaves, close to tears. He enters a deep depression, only leaving his apartment for alcohol and junk food. After a few days, he returns to work with a hangover and, after an emotional outburst, quits his job. Rachel tells Tom that she does not believe Summer was “the one” and that his depression is being worsened by the fact that he is only looking back on the positive aspects of their relationship.

One day he suddenly finds the energy to get out of bed and rededicates himself to architecture, something Summer had pressured him to do. He makes a list of firms he wants to work for, assembles a portfolio, and goes to job interviews. On day 488, Summer is waiting for Tom at his favorite spot in the city and they talk. Summer explains that Tom was right about true love existing; he was just wrong about it being with her. She says she got married because she felt sure about her husband, something she wasn’t with Tom. Summer puts her hand on Tom’s and says she is glad to see he is doing well. As she leaves, Tom tells her he really hopes she is happy.

Twelve days later, on Wednesday, May 23, Tom attends a job interview and meets a girl who is also applying for the same job. He finds that she shares his favorite spot and dislike for the parking lots. As he is entering the interview, he invites her for coffee afterwards. She politely declines, then changes her mind. Her name is Autumn.

We should concern ourselves, not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of pursuit

Hector is a quirky psychiatrist who has become increasingly tired of his humdrum life. He tells his girlfriend, Clara, that he needs to go on a journey to research happiness. On a flight to China, he is seated next to Edward, a cranky businessman.

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Hector and his search for happiness (2014)

Hector is a quirky psychiatrist who has become increasingly tired of his humdrum life. He tells his girlfriend, Clara, that he needs to go on a journey to research happiness. On a flight to China, he is seated next to Edward, a cranky businessman. Edward takes Hector to a very exclusive nightclub in Shanghai, where Hector meets a young woman named Ying Li and instantly falls for her.

He asks to meet Ying Li’s family. She declines, ashamed of how she makes her living. Their date is interrupted by her pimp, who takes Ying Li away by force. Hector then ventures into the mountains and visits a monastery, where he befriends their leader and talks briefly with Clara via Skype.

Hector departs on a terrifying plane ride to Africa, where a woman invites him to her family’s house for sweet potato stew, and gives him a book about happiness written by one Professor Coreman. Hector meets up with his old friend Michael, a physician, with his bodyguard Marcel, and later meets a quick-tempered drug lord named Diego Baresco, who doesn’t believe in happiness because his wife is unhappy due to her medication, but loans Hector a pen to write down a prescription for his wife.

Hector discovers that Marcel is Michael’s lover, and they are happy. He Skypes again with Clara, who is going out in a fancy gown and seems uninterested in talking to him. He visits the local woman who he befriended on the plane and her family for dinner. His vehicle is carjacked and Hector is kidnapped and locked in a rat-infested cell. When the kidnappers decide to kill him, Hector claims to be friends with Diego to save himself, but cannot prove it. With a gun pointed at his head, Hector asks if he can make one final note in his book about what brings his captors happiness, revealing the pen engraved with Diego’s name to the kidnappers. Upon his release, Hector makes his way back to the village where he celebrates with the locals.

While flying to Los Angeles, Hector attends to a woman with a Brain tumor. Hector then goes to the beach in Santa Monica and encounters Agnes, an old girlfriend, who is now happily married with children. Hector calls Clara and they break up in an argument.

Agnes and Hector meet with Professor Coreman, who is studying the effects of happiness on the brain. During a lecture, Coreman points out that people shouldn’t be concerned with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of pursuit. Agnes and Hector check out a project Coreman has been working on, which monitors brain activity in real time and how it reacts to different emotions.

Agnes is instructed to go into an isolated room and think about three things: times when she was happy, sad and scared. Through his brain-scanning technology, Coreman is able to tell in which order she thought about the three emotions. When Hector takes his turn, he thinks about Clara marrying someone else, about his time being kidnapped, and about Ying Li, but his emotions are strangely blocked. He receives a call from remorseful Clara, who tells him she wants to be a mother. Hector explains what he’s learned, that the most unhappy thing he could imagine would be to lose her. Suddenly Hector’s brain scan erupts with a flurry of activity, mimicking the colored flags from the monastery and revealing that true happiness isn’t just one emotion; it’s all of them. Having finally achieved his own happiness, Hector rushes home and marries Clara.

A man in love with a woman from a different era

2011’s Midnight in Paris, shows him in revitalised form by borrowing magic realism elements from his Purple Rose of Cairo to create a comment on nostalgia.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)

While Woody Allen’s work since his classic years (1976-89) has been extremely hit and miss, 2011’s Midnight in Paris, part of his European period, shows him in revitalised form by borrowing magic realism elements from his Purple Rose of Cairo to create a comment on nostalgia and its essential shallowness.

Owen Wilson plays Allen-substitute Gil Pender, a screenwriter holidaying in Paris, enrapt with the romantic history of the city, whereas his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) is less engaged. During a late night scroll Gil stumbles upon wormhole to 1920’s Paris and, starting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, the opportunity to meet the great artists of the era.

The characterisations of the artists themselves are extremely fun – the unstable Zelda Fitzgerald, the ultra-masculine Ernest Hemingway (“who wants to fight?”) and the obviously surreal Salvador Dali.

Midnight in Paris holds up Paris in an almost mythical light: Its opening montage of the iconic sights besmirched by the effects of modernity, of traffic and clutter and the like, shot in harshly over-exposed digital, is juxtaposed with the tinted, artfully shadowed pastels of the past. Narratively the film amusingly begins to eat itself near the end, concluding that while dreamers on occasion need to be realists, it does not mean that they can no longer dream.

The flighty dreamer Adriana played by Marion Cotillard is the kind of romantic that draws comparisons to Amélie, and Cotillard herself as a French actress is no doubt sick of the tired comparison between her and Tautou. But the fact remains she is a dreamer, a rarity in itself as demonstrated by a pornography seller’s quote: “These are hard times for dreamers”.

In the 1920’s dreamers were less rarefied: Gil, Dali, Buñuel, and most artists in general can be categorized as “ones who dream”. Midnight in Paris’ theory of Golden Age-thinking (believing that a different era is better than one’s own) may have inspired Jeunet’s idealized vision of Paris, despite the modern technology it has a palpable classic vibe.

“Ask me how deep the ocean is”

Submarine,a hilariously awkward romance blooms, but this quest to lose one’s virginity is wholly unlike its American cousins.

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Submarine (2010)

Different countries, though sharing a language, still sometimes come across as “foreign” – where the US cinema release of the Scottish-accent inflected Trainspotting was shown with English subtitles, Welsh set Submarine’s US version starts with an explanation of what Wales is.

Its soundtrack comprises of a collection of sombre yet obtuse acoustic ballads by Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, soaked in nostalgic remembrance of lost youth. The lost youth in question is Craig Robert’s Oliver Tate, unsure about his place in the universe, unsure of himself and having had “a brief hat phase”, meets similar teen outcast, Jordana. A hilariously awkward romance blooms, but this quest to lost one’s virginity is wholly unlike its American cousins.

As director Richard Ayoade’s debut feature Submarine has some rather implicit visual influences: Jean Luc Goddard, Hal Ashby and Wes Anderson are apparent, with camera movement-inspired laughs taken from Edgar Wright and Jordana’s red coat stolen from the girl in Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now.

It is the kind of cinematic magpie-work that is most associated with Tarantino but instead of spaghetti westerns and kung fu movies the inspirational sources are decidedly art-house in aesthetic and for mostly comic effect. Ayoade’s second film, The Double, continues this trend with more of a Lynch/Gilliam vibe.

Though very much a tiny detail and not the obvious point to focus a resemblance between films on, is that both Submarine and Amélie feature a moment where they imagine their own funeral. While on a base level it is a hollow similarity, it shows both protagonists’ desire to be loved, and their deep insecurity which they both deal with in different ways. Oliver, at least in narration, covers this up with false confidence.

Whereas Amélie is a moral creature, Oliver does seem to lapse to the side of wrong if its in his self-interest or is unbearably awkward. Minor compared to the impeccably hued Amélie, but Submarine has a subtle character-based colour scheme – Oliver is blue and Jordana red and as the film progresses Oliver’s chromatic tendency becomes more red in conjunction with his feelings for Jordana.