Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So Nice, So Smart

With all it's critical buzz and an opening weekend per screen average that was through the roof, Juno is already this year's little movie that could -- ala Little Miss Sunshine. One of the reasons that it's such an easy movie to root for is the underdog soundtrack that backs it, revolving around the music of Kimya Dawson, and we have actress Ellen Page to thank for that connection:

(Director) Jason Reitman and I were meeting...and he simply said, "Well, what do you think Juno would listen to?" ...I hopped on his computer and I played the Moldy Peaches for him. The next thing I knew he'd fallen in love.... and was in contact with Kimya Dawson, who is the female in the band, and he added the song ("Anyone Else But You") at the end of the film, which is a Moldy Peaches song. That song's been in my life for years, actually; there's a lot of sentimental value there. And the next thing we know Kimya Dawson is doing the music for the film. It was really incredible how that all worked out because it just feels perfect.
--Ellen Page, interview Pitchfork, 11-21-07
Dawson's quick and clever delivery in her songs are the perfect match for the Juno character, as the songs also evoke a strong feeling of innocence. While screenwriter Diablo Cody has such a strong presence in the film that the characters around Juno start to sound like her, the same could be said of Kimya Dawson and the rest of the music in the movie. As a result, we get "All I Want is You" by children's singer/songwriter Barry Louis Polisar, The Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking with You," a Cat Power cover of "Sea of Love" and even Buddy Holly's "Dearest" -- all sounding like extensions of Dawson's music in the context of their surroundings.

Even Sonic Youth gets pulled into this precious sphere with their smart Carpenters cover of "Superstar," taken from the tribute album If I Were A Carpenter. Mark (Jason Bateman,) the prospective adoptive father, tries to use this song to connect with Juno -- the point where he turns from cool to slightly creepy. It's an interesting parallel having Mark identified with Sonic Youth, and Juno with The Moldy Peaches, as both bands were leaders of NY art-based reactionary movements some 20 years apart -- No Wave and Anti-Folk respectfully.

Besides the artists already mentioned there's The Kinks, Belle & Sebastian and Mott the Hoople to please the ears, but it's what's missing that is surprising. Juno, when asked to name her favorite band, says "a three-way tie between The Stooges, Patti Smith and The Runaways" and none of these appear in the soundtrack -- they're instead accompanied by a flash of black & white photos. It's just as well, because it's a construct of her character that seems too fantastical to believe, even buried under the spitfire of Cody's witty dialogue.

Playlist: Rssmbld Sndtrck - Juno
1. "Tire Swing" - Kimya Dawson
2. "My Rollercoaster (Juno Film Version)" - Kimya Dawson
3. "Once I Loved" - Astrud Gilberto
4. "All I Want Is You" - Barry Louis Polisar
5. "So Nice So Smart" - Kimya Dawson
6. "Besame Mucho" - Trio Los Panchos
7. "I Like Giants" - Kimya Dawson [mp3 - kimyadawson.com]
8. "A Well Respected Man" - The Kinks
9. "Doll Parts" - Hole
10. "I'm Sticking With You" - The Velvet Underground
11. "Dearest" - Buddy Holly
12. "Reminders Of Then" - Kimya Dawson
13. "Why Bother" - The Drop
14. "Sleep (Instrumental)" - Kimya Dawson
15. "Superstar" - Sonic Youth
16. "Up The Spout" - Mateo Messina
17. "12/26" - Kimya Dawson [mp3 - kimyadawson.com]
18. "Piazza, New York Catcher" - Belle and Sebastian
19. "Tree Hugger" - Kimya Dawson
20. "Expectations" - Belle and Sebastian
21. "Loose Lips" - Kimya Dawson [mp3 - kimyadawson.com]
22. "All The Young Dudes" - Mott the Hoople
23. "Anyone Else But You" - The Moldy Peaches [mp3]
24. "Sea Of Love" - Cat Power
25. "Vampire" - Antsy Pants
26. "Anyone Else But You" - Ellen Page, Michael Cera

More: Topless at The Mall - Juno and Iggy Pop

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