My 100 favourite films. Entry #32: Junebug.

Junebug (2005)
written by Angus MacLachlan
directed by Phil Morrison
starring Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, Ben McKenzie and Amy Adams
country: usa
genre: drama

Visuals: 9
Writing: 8
Everyday watchability: 6

Let's start with this: I cried while watching this movie. For those who know me, this is no small feat. Furthermore, it made me cry while I was eating a sandwich. That takes something.

After that, I'm not sure where to start. The imagery perhaps? The performances? The structure?

I'll start with this. Junebug is a film that recognizes that life is made up as much from the small, seemingly insignificant moments as it is the epiphanies and big turning points. Shots of trees, driveways and empty rooms pepper the film with the feeling of the everyday and mundane. Shots of a father blowing up an air mattress for his returning child seem to linger too long, first on his frame, then on the mattress. I say "too long," but the timing is perfect. Things move slowly in this world, much as they do in ours. When the important moments happen however, we are very aware of them. A key scene involves George, who has come home with his big-city wife Madeleine to small-town North Carolina, singing a hymn. Madeleine has never heard George sing before, and she is clearly blown away; not for his singing ability, but for the soul and passion in his voice.

The acting is astounding as well. Amy Adams plays a dumb-as-paint but sweet-as-candy southern girl who's 8.5 months pregnant. Despite her dimwittedness, she's the only one of her family that seems to know that they're going about life all wrong. Near the end of the film, she states that she had hoped for a baby because she "wanted something good to come out of all of this."

Celia Weston plays a domineering, passive-aggressive mother who has almost no heart. Her husband claims that's not how she is inside, but it's impossible to believe him. She undercuts everyone at all times, except possibly her son, who she describes to his face as perfect, making him laugh out loud. It's another moment in a film full of meaning for the viewer to glean. Nothing's handed on a silver platter. You have to work to get it. I still don't get it really, and that's why I love it.


My 100 favourite films. Entry #31: Brick.

Brick (2005)
written and directed by Rian Johnson
starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner and Lukas Haas
country: usa
genre: drama

Visuals: 7
Writing: 10
Everyday watchability: 5

Some films get by on great acting. Others get by on great direction. Some films, such as Sweet Smell of Success and Brick, are so immaculately written, as to leave no question about the filmmaker's intention. This isn't to say that Brick isn't well-directed and well-acted. It is both of those things. But it's acted and organized in such a way that the dialogue is always taking center stage. It's found the right balance between the word and the screen (like David Mamet when he made House of Games), but doesn't let the viewer lose interest in the visuals (like David Mamet when he made The Spanish Prisoner). Whereas the dialogue in Brick is verbose and laden with metaphors, euphemisms and clever turns of phrases, the cinematography is straight-forward, peppered with just enough dashes of flair and points of detail to keep it interesting. Instead of grand sweeping shots and panoramic vistas, we get close-ups of slamming phones, contemplative frames of a dead girl's hair swirling in the water and hands solving a Rubik's cube.

The movie is the story of a high schooler played by a 20-something investing the murder of his ex-girlfriend between classes. He takes a page from Dashiell Hammett with his speech, referencing regular high school stuff while talking drugs and murder. It's a world where 26 is considered old and the drug kingpin's mom brings him a cookie and makes corn flakes for his hostages. When he goes to visit the vice principal, he says, "I don't want you to come kicking in my homeroom door because of something I didn't do."

Sometimes the words are so dense that almost nothing sticks. "Look, I can't trust you. You ought to be smart enough to know that. I didn't shake up the party to get your attention, and I'm not heeling you to hook you. Your connections could help me, but the bad baggage they bring could make it zero sum gain or even hurt me. Better coming at it clean." These lines are spouted off rapid-fire, making it nigh on impossible to get every reference the movie makes. It's not completely out of reach however. With time and patience, everything pretty much adds up. Well, most everything. I suppose it's my nature to love movies I don't completely understand.


Reaction final layouts.

These were sent to the printer today.


New Reaction nameplate.

I know said that the last time I put this logo up that it was the final version, but some changes were required. First, instead of a line weight change for "re", it was suggested that I do a color change. It would be a different color for each issue. This one reflects the color used inside the issue to represent Satyajit Ray. Also, the shutter had to change because the wrong part of the aperture was see-through. It was illogical, so instead of making the iris inside the "o," I made it the "o" itself. I think it gives it a much cleaner look.

And here it is in action.

Alchemy cover final version.

I am very happy to say that this project is finished. It's always nice to put one in the bag and I'm quite pleased with how this came out. It's probably some of my better work. It's clean, has good hierarchy and a concept that works well. In case you can't tell, I've replaced the elements of the periodic table with classic books. I snuck in a few of my favourites that I doubt many people will have heard of. Can you spot them? (hint: they're both divisible by three)

I've included a separate image of both the front and back and also the entire spread so you can see how it wraps around. Also, an image of me reading the book—we had to actually wrap our design around an old copy of the book. It looks so neat.