Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On Don Jon

This is something of a step-down from X-Men, but, what can I say, my roommate won't share his copy of Watch Dogs, and it feels dirty writing about a game that your only experience with is hanging over your buddy's shoulder breathing on his neck. 

I had heard Don Jon was on Netflix, so I decided to sit-me down and give it a peek. I honestly wasn't expecting much, and it wasn't until about twenty minutes in I realized I was actually having a blast with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut. Show's what I know, eh? 

Most Idiotic Review

"Don Jon is a sex comedy that just lays there and expects you to do all the work. Gordon-Levitt's direction is repetitive and dry, and his screenplay is a collage of badly cut out pieces from other movies. Its desire to be liked damns it, and the entire porn plot feels tacked on ... " 
— Odie Henderson, (Roger Ebert)

Far be it from me to attack a person for differing taste, but this review seemed out for blood from the opening line (spending most of the paragraph attacking Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson's accents (which I enjoyed but, oh well, obviously I'm just easy to please). 

A lot of this I'll deal with on its own, but I really found Gordon-Levitt's direction to cleverly utilize the motif of repetition and his script to operate as quite a successful satire for the entire genre of romantic comedies.

Most Accurate Review

"Funny, touching, smart, and supremely confident, Don Jon is also Gordon-Levitt's feature directorial debut, and it establishes him as one of Hollywood's most exciting new directors."

— Jess Cagle, (Entertainment Weekly)

I don't know a lot about directing, but the film didn't feel static to me, nor overly frenetic. The editing/directing seemed to flow smoothly to me, and at moments did indeed make me laugh out loud.

Don Jon titular character is addicted to porn, finding it far preferable to the real thing. Through his interactions with two women in his life he reevaluates his life. Since the movie is playing the satire card, it, in its own subverted way, adhere's to RomCom conventions, or, as Jon lists them, "the love at first sight, the first kiss, the breakup, the make-up, the expensive wedding, and they ride off into the sun." Except, you know, not. Cause that's not the joke.

The main focus of the film, told through Jon's eyes are his relationship with two women, his girlfriend, the dime, the perfect 10, Scarlett Johansson, and an older woman he meets at night-school, Juliane Moore. One teaches him his expectations aren't realistic and the other how to properly lose himself in another person. If these are spoilers to you, you have a very slim grasp of Hollywood convention and storytelling structure, and I cannot help you.

Honestly, I liked the characters. Some are painted as less sympathetic as others, but, I didn't feel like they were unrealistic. I know people like that. Hell, I made some similar mistakes to Jon (minus the porn addiction ... I think). I spent years chasing the girl I thought I should be--the Dime, the Great White Buffalo (I recently rewatched Hot Tub Time Machine) and man I got burned for it. Since Jon narrates the entirety of the film, and Joseph Godon-Levitt remains an engaging actor, I might have found myself more engaged than if a weaker performance had been given. The same goes for the rest of the cast too. But as is, I'll accept it. Besides, Jon's monologues early in the film about the reality of sex vs the fantasy of porn made me laugh. 

Personally, I look forward to seeing what other work Joseph Gordon-Levitt does in the future. 

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