Diablo Cody's New Movie 'Paradise': 5 Reasons You Need to See This Smart Film
This weekend is a big one for the movies, with several major films, from the Oscar favorite 12 Years a Slave to Kimberly Pierce's remake of Carrie, celebrating their big-screen releases. Yet with so many high-profile movies entering theaters, it's easy to forget about the ones that haven't gotten as much attention over the past few months, like Paradise , a smart, funny little indie written and directed (in her debut) by Oscar-winning Juno scribe Diablo Cody.
Paradise stars Julianne Hough (Dancing With the Stars) as Lamb, a sheltered, religious 21-year-old who, after a near-death experience, travels to Las Vegas to shed her innocence and experience life. Co-starring Russell Brand, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman and Holly Hunter, the movie is filled with great performances and Cody's trademark witty dialogue. Paradise became available to watch on DirectTV back in August, but its theatrical run only begins on Oct. 18.
Here are five reasons you need to see it:
1. It's Made by Diablo Cody
This woman is an emblem of feminism and filmmaking. In 2007, she made her screenwriting debut with Juno, a funny, poignant film that went on to win critical raves and a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Cody picked up an Academy Award of her own for her work, and she hasn't stopped writing since.
She wrote the criminally underrated Jennifer's Body, the incredible Young Adult, nearly 10 episodes of The United States of Tara (which she also created and produced), and Paradise, which, in addition to being her third written feature film, marks her directorial debut.
Cody's works are often divisive (ask two people how they felt about Young Adult and you'll get two very different answers), but almost every project has received nearly unanimous praise for Cody's whip-smart, pop-culture-reference-filled writing. Thankfully, Paradise has no shortage of the witty dialogue we've come to know and love so well.
2. The Supporting Cast is Amazing
Hough gives a strong performance in a complex leading role, but it's the supporting cast of Paradise that gives the film its real strength. As a bartender and lounge singer, respectively, who take Lamb under their wings, Russell Brand and Octavia Spencer are wonderful. In smaller but equally impressive appearances, Holly Hunter and Nick Offerman add to the perfection of the cast. It's a real pleasure to see these talented actors working together on-screen.
3. It Doesn't Have an Agenda — Or At Least Not The One You Think
Yes, Lamb renounced her religion, screams blasphemy, and heads to Vegas, but the movie's much more than anti-Catholic propaganda. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Cody discussed her own intensely-religious upbringing, and how she still considers herself a religious and spiritual person. She wanted the movie to reflect on the concepts of faith and enlightenment, and not simply rail against Catholicism.
"[Lamb's] entire body has been transformed by this accident she’s been in," Cody said in the interview. "From a community that values purity and beauty more so than creativity and intellect, at least in women, for her she feels like she’s completely damaged goods."
Discovering one's feminism? Now that's an agenda we can get behind. Speaking of which...
4. It's Another Big Step for Female Filmmakers
From January to October 2013, only 10 movies directed by women, including Cody's, were released. To put that in perspective, there are approximately 20 movies released each month. The film world is majorly, blindingly male, and despite how much progress has been made over the years, female-made movies are still a rarity.
Cody, however, is one of the few women working to change that. Not only is she breaking barriers by getting her movies made in the first place, but every film she's written has featured a complex, three-dimensional female protagonist. Hollywood's gender problem won't be solved by Cody's work alone, but hopefully, her feminist movies will continue to inspire other female filmmakers to follow suit.
5. We Need Cody to Make More Movies
Male or female, Cody is one of the best screenwriters working today. Her movies are honest and powerful, filled with realistically flawed protagonists and affecting relationships. We want to see Cody making movies for a long, long time, but if Paradise flops, that might not be the case - Hollywood doesn't tend to give women second chances as easily as they do men.
By seeing the movie, you'll not only be supporting Paradise, but also Cody's future work. She's a hugely talented filmmaker, and it'd be a shame if we never got the chance to discover all that she's capable of. So see Paradise and support Cody; as feminists and movie-lovers, we'd hate to see a world without more of Cody's amazing movies.