Junebug

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Junebug is a quirky, moderately entertaining, mildly depressing, altogether frustrating work, with director Phil Morrison’s many sudden stops in the action to contemplate an interior empty scene that has nothing to do with… anything. Too artsy by half.

It may be not too far-fetched to imagine the state of North Carolina taking Morrison and writer Angus MacLachlan to court for defamation, or, at least, slander against the good people of the Tar Heel State.

The story – which deals with characters that resolutely remain immutable for 100 minutes (which feels longer) – takes place in rural/suburban North Carolina, into which descend, from Chicago, a British born art dealer (Embeth Davidtz) and her new, younger and hormonally-driver husband whose family lives there. The husband (Alessandro Nivola), a handsome lad, safely to be disregarded because he has next-to-nothing to do with the action besides constant groping.

Front-and-center are a trio of the family, quite unbearable a lot: a taciturn old man as the henpecked husband, Celia Weston as the prickly, bossy mother, and Benjamin McKenzie as the unspeakably, moronically rude younger brother one fervently wishes somebody would kick in the teeth… but nobody does.

If the "action," so called, went only so far, the audience would disappear in a half an hour, tops. To the rescue: Amy Adams (Catch Me If You Can, Serving Sara) as Ashley, the moron’s young, very pregnant, altogether delightful bride. Ridiculously naive ("Why hasn’t Johnny touched me for a year? He will change when the child is born!") and brimming with good humor and goodwill to all, Adams lights up Junebug and gets firmly in line for an Oscar nomination. Alas, it’s too little and too late, as those incongruous still images stay up on screen, seemingly forever, paint drying, nerves fraying.

– Janos Gereben

Born in Hungary, Janos Gereben landed his first newspaper job (back when there were still such) at age 15 in Budapest. After the Soviet revenge against the revolution in his country, he escaped, and learned English on refuge scholarship in Helena, Montana, and Atchison, Kansas. Starting as a copy boy at the NY Herald-Tribune, he worked his way up to the copy desk, later worked for TIME-LIFE, UPI, then switched coasts, published the Kona Torch, was a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and taught journalism at UH-Manoa. In 1970, he received an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship, reporting from the European political and cultural scene for a year. Gereben was arts editor of the Post Newspaper Group/East Bay for 20 years, wrote about performing arts and films for the SF Examiner, still is writing for the SF Classical Voice which he joined when Robert Commanday established this first professional online publication about music and dance. He also participated in the work of CultureVulture in the publication's first years.