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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Don't let this affect your opinion of Juno...

View image ... whatever it may be.

UPDATED (below): There's Ellen Page on the cover of Entertainment Weekly next to the headline: "Juno: The Little Movie That Did." Subhead: "How a Teen Rebel Delivered Oscar's 100 Million Dollar Baby." This is when I feel a little sorry for people who didn't see the movie back when they could still at least feel like they were discovering it for themselves -- even if the "Little Movie That Could" was just a Fox Searchlight marketing ploy all along. Anyway, it turned out to be a great way to sell the movie: 4 big-time Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Actress, Director, Original Screenplay) and triple-digit milliones in theaters. (And that's a digit that can't be undid.)

Game blogger Surfer Girl even started a hilarious rumor that "Juno: The Video Game" was in development, "the most realistic teenage pregnancy simulation to date, for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii. Crave could not get Ellen Page for the game, so in her place will be Jamie-Lynn Spears. For portable fans, a track-and-field title set in the Junoverse will hit DS and PSP."

(Just imagine wielding a Wii pork sword. Can you impregnate Juno -- and win?)

The post was labeled "joke," but that didn't stop Gamespot News from reporting it as a really maybe sorta true story, straight outta DICE Summit. (BTW, just above the "Juno" item, Surfer Girl offered this: "For the Blu-Ray release of 'There Will Be Blood,' Backbone Entertainment is working on 'an epic milkshake drinking adventure' that will feature the likeness of Daniel Day-Lewis, it will take up an estimated 5GB and feature at least twenty hours of slurping action, plus multiplayer.")

"I drink your milkshake!" is the golden ticket that will sell this thing with the people who are too lazy to read reviews and don't care that much about awards. It's simple, it's viral, it's primitive...it will travel. Make the "I drink your milkshake" T-shirts, hand out the buttons and bumper stickers, cut the TV and radio ads that emphasize the line over and over, and sell this brilliant but undeniably gnarly film as a kind of half-melodrama, half-hoot." -- Jeffrey Wells, January 9, 2008

The proper response to this hype and hoopla would be: "So what?" It's all after-the-fact anyway, and it has nothing to do with the movies themselves. Although, at least, the now-ubiquitous "I drink your MILKSHAKE!" catchphrase from "TWBB," which by now even USA Today has reported as a viral phenomenon, was inspired by the delivery of a line that's actually in the movie. (The brief "Friend-o" fad seems to have passed.)

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