Jalebis, Google Earth and Lost Children in Lion

lion-sunny-pawar

The unexpected presence of jalebis (an Indian street food/sweet treat) at a friend’s party in Australia transports Saroo (Dev Patel) back to India and memories of being a hungry child desiring that delicacy, which was always out of reach but his older brother promised him he would have one day. Saroo was adopted at age five from a Calcutta orphanage by a loving Australian couple living in Tasmania. Lion would have you believe this jalebi moment is the first time he has thought about his birth mother and family (a dramatic interpretation from this true-life tale) since then, but we the viewers have that story and its compelling images and emotions seared into our brains by this point. Thus we willingly go along with adult Saroo’s journey back to those moments on his quest to find his original home and family.

The film wisely plays out the drama in chronological order. We first meet Saroo and his family when he is five, where they live a harsh but happy rural life…one that disappears when Saroo falls asleep on a train that takes him 1600 km from home to Calcutta where he becomes a street urchin running from danger at every corner. Even in light of the clever cinematography (aerial shots early on meld into dream-like memories and scanning of Google Earth for home in his adulthood), the star of the film is without a doubt young Sunny Pawar, who leaves an indelible mark that follows the proud tradition of orphans and lost and wandering children in such classics like Pather Panchali and Salaam Bombay! The episodic nature of the film’s first half is effortlessly compelling and casts a Dickensian spell over the viewer as Saroo encounters increasingly shady characters before finally connecting with those who could help him. Continue reading

A Review of Jason Reitman’s “Juno”

Ellen Page and Michael Cera: Finally, a teen movie where the kids look like real kids. 

For Realz, 17 December 2007
8/10

Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

Ellen Page (in a star-making performance) plays an accidentally pregnant smart-alleck 16 year-old named Juno (named after the Roman goddess, not the town in Alaska) in the latest hyper-smart comedy from Jason Reitman (director of “Thank You for Smoking”). “Juno” follows the latest Hollywood trend of quirky comedies that actually deal with some heavy issues. Unlike most of those films, “Juno” manages to stay funny even as it gets serious and treats its characters and audience with respect by keeping the jokes coming even as it gets cutesy or plays for tears.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody (a pen-name destined for greatness) has a knack for writing hipster dialog that doesn’t wear thin or get annoying. She manufactures big laughs from both quasi-goofy pop culture references and nervous situations inherent to adolescence. She keeps things fresh even when the film starts showing its sweet side. Think of her as Judd Apatow without as much of the raunchy humor. Director Reitman gives the film the appropriate indie-feel and populates the movie with a great soundtrack of songs whose lyrics perfectly match Cody’s storyline and dialog.

Ellen Page is eternally likable in the lead role, and the decision Juno makes in the end feels totally organic and true to her character, giving the film a ring of truth instead of feeling manufactured to make the audience feel good. Michael Cera proves again to be one of the most amiable and subtly funny young actors working today. His performance is a perfect companion piece to his more overtly hilarious work in the riotous “Superbad”. The rest of the supporting cast is equally likable, and even Jennifer Garner, and actress who always seems to try so hard, seems perfectly cast here as an adoptive mother-to-be who tries way too hard.

Though not as laugh-out-loud funny as most of Apatow’s films, “Juno” swings as one of the best of the quirky indie-comedies of the past five years. It’s funny and has a heart, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it like “Little Miss Sunshine” did, and instead, thanks to Ellen Page and Diablo Cody, feels like the real deal.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0467406/usercomments-57