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Phantom Thread (2017)
PTA and DDL made a movie for themselves...
This was a beautiful movie. Every scene, every shot was a feast for the eyes. The textures of the fabrics, the colors of the rooms, the lighting, the framing, the music ALL make it a work of moving art and worth seeing.
And the acting and direction were as perfect as the script could ask for. So why only a 7? Well, I remember reading about how DDA and PTA were obsessively involved in the script and the production; I was surprised that Day-Lewis did not get a writing credit. Although the script did have some some nice turns of phrase and a few smiles, there was no there, there.
The plot was thin as weak broth, and confusing in parts. My point is this: if you go to see this movie go for the beauty, go for the acting but don't expect a plot that is worthy of the excellence of all else cataloged above. And then I think the reason is that Day-Lewis and Anderson wound up talking just to each other living in their own universe and creating this for themselves without thinking of what we would think about the plot and the characters. Ultimately, it was too claustrophobic.
The review in the LA Times talked about a lot of other movies and directors that Anderson derived from, but to me this was a Kubrick movie.
Laavor et hakir (2016)
Noa Koler is a star...
The movie is very well done, but without a talent like Ms. Koler's, it would not be nearly as compelling, and compelling it is! It holds your interest from the opening scene to the last, and while some might consider it a chick flick, it certainly appealed to me.
What is love? What is marriage? Do faith and God fit in? Great questions, and while this movie may not answer them definitively, it certainly provides an entertaining way to ponder them.
The relationships she has with her women relatives and friends are uplifting...it's all good.
The Lovers (2017)
Love and Marriage
The only other review so far (by Bastille above) is on the money. He does a good job of describing the acting, script, etc. I would like to add another point, however: it also cleverly examines the issues of love, marriage, lust, and sex and how they are intertwined...or not.
Maggie's Plan (2015)
Julianne Moore should get a nomination here...
Without Ms. Moore, the movie would still have been good, but not a 7. Every scene she's in glistens, and all you can do is watch her. Credit must also go to the writer/director, Rebecca Miller (Arthur Miller's daughter) for a tight screenplay and terrific direction re Ms. Moore's performance, but the life the actor breathes into the role is awesome.
Moore plays an academic, and although early on you think she is a stereotype, that does not develop: she turns out to be the most human of them all.
Now for Greta Gerwig: she plays, essentially, the same character she played in "Greenberg" and the disappointing "Francis Ha." That is, the somewhat neurotic, ineffectual woman confused about relationships. She should def broaden her repertoire before she ends up committing career suicide; perhaps change agents. Oh--she is a talented actress to be sure--but she's got to get out more.
Ethan Hawke is good and believable, but is not asked for much here. This is a movie written and directed by a woman and about two women; the men are written well, but the character development focuses on the Gerwig and Moore characters.
The movie kept my interest throughout and moved along. But do not expect a comedy that will have you laughing out loud, because all you will get are a few chuckles. Also, this is a very New York City- centric work, so if that is not your cup 'o tea, do not bother. But no matter: although I have never seen Ms. Miller's previous works, I will certainly look forward to her next. Congratulations to you, Rebecca Miller, on a thoughtful and enjoyable movie. And nice casting with Julianne Moore.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)
Not the usual Tina Fey flick...
Well, there are glimmers of the funny, irreverent Tina in her character; but, this is a driven woman with courage and a strong moral compass. Another thing she shares with the funny Tina is that she's never boring.
The movie/book that this movie kept reminding me of was "Catch-22." It captures the insane mood of an environment that is pulled apart by war: whether it is Saigon in 1969, Italy in 1944, or Kabul in 2005 the usual rules and morality of society do not count: no one knows if they will survive another day. This is transmitted beautifully.
The United States Marines are also represented in a terrific manner...surprisingly, no condescension by the film makers.
And enough genuine smiles and laughs. Tina Fey's breakout movie.
Funniest movie I have seen since Animal House
I read a few of the negative reviews and can only imagine that they were written by reincarnated Puritans from Salem, MA. This was Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at their out-and-out best! Written by a woman who was the former head writer at SNL, it avoids the female gross out humor of Bridemaids as it hits a click or two above that.
Yes, there are sight gags and the physical humor that both of these women excel at, but the idea of having two sisters of different sensibilities played by these two works very very well. Poehler is the one who is the do-gooder who worries more about baby seals than she does her own life (e.g., she was the prom date for a boy with spina bifida back in high school). Fey is the partier who has even lost touch with her daughter and can never quite get it together; so, you see, they are both irresponsible but in very different ways. An interesting, more nuanced take on the duality thingy of humans (good and evil) that movies often portray, but this is one way to show that it's not black or white. Life is, after all, not quite that simple.
But look, this is not a Bergman movie and I apologize for sounding like a freshman in a Cinema 101 course; however, it does have this theme that joke after joke is piled onto. And, they are delivered-- mostly by Fey--in a rapid fire and perfect manner. The supporting cast features several current and classic SNL people (Bobby Moynihan, Kate McKinnon, Maya Rudolph and more) and the parents are played perfectly by James Brolin and Dianne Wiest.
I laughed in spots 'til I cried; and one of those spots was in the outtakes during the credit roll. This was one funny movie. Disclaimer: I have no social, financial or any other relationship or interest in this movie or with the actors, writer or director. I just laughed my butt off.
The End of the Tour (2015)
Not a lagging moment...should win statues for adapted screenplay and best actor for Jason Segel. The movie consists of eavesdropping on conversations between two very smart guys--one of whom is probably a genius; yet, David Foster Wallace is a regular guy who loves his dogs and has a love/hate relationship with fame. He is complex, yet simple.
Lipsky, the Rolling Stone interviewer who manages to get DFW to speak about things he likely has not before this interview,is very intuitive and plays David well; he gets what he wants for the article. The portrayal by Eisenberg as directed by Posoldt was the only disappointment for me. There is essentially NO difference between Eisenberg's Zuckerberg and his Lipsky here; the director should have guarded against this but did not. Ah well...someone should tell both of them that there is more than one way to play an intense, very smart New Yorker.
Ignore this failing and see this movie before all your friends tell you to see it. You can tell them.
The Age of Adaline (2015)
A well-crafted, creative and beautifully acted movie
We have been busy lately, and I have been watching a fair amount of sports, so my wife and I have not been to as many flicks as we usually go to: so, I wanted to take her to one that she would enjoy tonight, with me as a secondary factor.
I read a few reviews this morning and it sounded like my wife would love it; well, she did, and while I didn't necessarily *love* it, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
One way I judge a movie is how each scene stands alone, i.e., if any scene was extracted and shown with no context, is it worth watching? Well, the scenes in this flick pass this test. The art direction, cinematography, costumes, and most of all, the directing and acting made it all work beautifully.
A word about Blake Lively: she is in every scene, and because of the plot and structure of this movie, she must carry it. And she does-- she is completely believable in this fantasy story. Harrison Ford-- though he makes a late appearance--takes over all of his scenes. The man is a presence.
The Skeleton Twins (2014)
Brilliantly done dramedy with Hader stealing it
Upstate NY is the setting for this funny and poignant film about a set of twins who split apart but are brought together by near-death experiences.
It is difficult to make a movie that can go from laughter to the depths of anguish and remain entertaining or even believable, but "The Skeleton Twins" manages it well; but without Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig the degree of difficulty would have increased significantly.
Hader plays a gay wannabe actor who is not doing well out in LA and paying his rent by waiting tables; Wiig is his twin who has stayed in the small town where they grew up and she is a dental hygienist. Although the flamboyantly gay "Stephone" was a Hader favorite on Saturday Night Live, do not expect a stereotype with Milo: this is a human and not a joke.
Wiig's Maggie is a flawed character, and both sibs are scarred by their dreadful childhood. How they eventually come to depend on each other is a thing of beauty.
Finally, cheers to Craig Johnson for the way he wrote Luke Wilson's Lance: the straight guy who just wants Maggie to be happy and have his children. Johnson makes him a noble character unlike the buffoon so many in Hollywood would have made of this type.
The chemistry between Wiig and Hader is incredible, and Wilson is a joy to behold. This is a must-see.
The Giver (2014)
Another dystopian depressing snoozefest
My two big takeaways: 1) Boy--has Meryl Streep gotten old and 2) why does Jeff Bridges talk so funny? Very little tension, a lot of talking, asexual in every way, no violence, not much of anything, actually.
A bloodless society and a bloodless movie.OK...so is it an allegory for the possible direction of modern society? Perhaps, but neither the right nor the left appears to be moving in this silly direction. But it seems to me that more of the message was: if we give up our bad passions, we must also lose the good ones. Is it worth it? This movie doesn't seem to think so, and neither do I, but the way the story unfolds is too tedious to take. A movie that runs for 94 minutes seems to be 2.5 hours long.
Silly, but quite entertaining nonetheless
...and then, of course, there's Scarlett Johansson, without whom the movie would have been less fun. She is a talented actress, but also has that intangible screen presence that fills every frame and makes it impossible to look away. Even with all the CGI, it is still her movie.
She gets to play a broad range here, from vulnerable, none-too-bright young woman living in Taiwan with a roommate (Taiwan? Why there? We're never told...) to a super brainy, other-worldly creature. At any rate, in this very creative version of a 'drug deal gone bad' she winds up exposed to a new illicit agent that is being set up as the new 'it' drug to take over hipster-world; however, she is exposed to a mega dose and that has her mental capacities increased ten-fold. In her new, enlarging brain capacity state (it shows her capacities at various stages of increased percentages of neural function) she is capable of feats any super hero would envy. It's just fun to watch.
But please do not expect a biology lesson from Morgan Freeman, who is again brought back in his recurring Hollywood role as The Smartest, Wisest Man on Planet Earth (only his names change) who is a major neuroscientist here with theories that are pure dreck . At any rate, he is given so much bad biology to recite that I winced several times ('we only use 10% of our brain capacity; dolphins use more than humans; cells have two choices: become immortal or divide'). Yuk.
And late in the movie, he is meeting with five other world-class neuroscientists in Paris, anot one is a woman. I have a daughter who is a neuroscientist and there are many women in the field-- what kind of BS is this in 2014? (And I'm a guy--but it just seemed so 1957 it irked me).
Wish I Was Here (2014)
Braff deals with parental issues again...
I am not quite sure why this movie by Zach Braff has engendered so much negativity--and on two fronts: how he raised the money for it (a little over 2 million on Kickstarter) and the movie itself. I believe that some of the negatives about the movie were affected by people angered a bit about a Hollywood guy worth 20 million bucks raising 2 mil from working stiffs to fund his project. This is not an unfair criticism, but let's leave that issue behind and look at this work.
Garden State, his previous movie (with the stupendous soundtrack), has a major theme that is repeated here: the relationship between a son and his father (or non-relationship to be more accurate). The fathers are similar in both movies (Ian Holm plays Mr. Largeman in Garden State while Mandy Patinkin plays the father here, Gabe Bloom) in that they are of a certain type of a Jewish father--extremely judgmental towards their sons and always disappointed in their approach to life. Braff's relationship with his parents has obviously not left him and he seems to be trying to work out his issues through cinema. Not the first guy to do this, to be sure. The other similarity between this and his first movie is dealing with dying or dead parents; yes, related to the first, but coming with a new set of problems and issues.
However, Braff's characters in the two movies are different: in the first, he comes home to NJ for mom's funeral and must face his stern father again. But, he is a success out in Hollywood and people know who he is. In this movie, he is a struggling 35 year old actor wannabee who shuns responsibility for his family and puts up with his father's kvetching just so he can continue to go on auditions, yet keep his two kids in private school (his dad pays for yeshiva). **SPOILER ALERT FOR NEXT SENTENCE** Although his father, his wife, his brother and his rabbi ALL tell him to get a job and stop being so selfish, his selfishness prevails...not an appealing character.
Another thing struck me as I watched this movie after the coming attractions of two movies: "I Origins" and Woody Allen's "Magic in the Moonlight." All three movies have as a theme the existence of God (while Allen's movies have frequently dealt with this issue, his latest appears to be the most explicit about this). Is Hollywood going through an existential crisis? The issue is not about religion per se, but God. Wonder if more like this are in the hopper? Interesting phenomenon.
One can also see similarities with the self-involved characters that Woody Allen used to portray in his earlier movies, and with the recurrent Ben Stiller characterizations: the ineffectual, comic, Jewish guy who fails in important ways. The essence of this character was Stiller's portrayal of Roger Greenberg in the excellent movie "Greenberg." Braff could play any of those roles.
Another thought: did Braff pick the name "Bloom" as a nod to Joyce's Leopold Bloom? The uninvolved passenger in life (and also--half, at least--Jewish]?
At any rate, the movie provides some real laughs and many smiles; it can also bring a bit of dewy-eyedness at times. Kate Hudson is terrific, the kids are awesome and Mandy Patinkin gives a wonderful performance. It is a small movie, but enjoyable; and the soundtrack is good, but not as good as Garden State's--but that would have been very hard to duplicate (there is one song by the Shins in this movie).
Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
The producers of this movie showed inner fortitude in bringing this series to life knowing the dismal history of RevWar movies in either general excellence, box office success or both.
For example, does anyone remember Al Pacino in the 1985 movie "Revolution?" He played an American frontiersman of Scottish ancestry-- "Yo...the British are comin'." Or "the Patriot" from more recent times, a Mel Gibson vehicle that was really "Lethal Musket: This Time It's Personal."
"The Crossing" was the best RevWar movie (a series, more accurately) up until now, AFAIC. And, for completeness sake, HBO's "John Adams" was a another excellent series, but this was not about the RevWar, specifically. But "Turn" is brilliantly conceived, written, cast and outfitted; as an amateur RevWar/George Washington guy, I have long anticipated this AMC series and expected a lot. I was not disappointed.
The first 90 minute episode concentrates on how the Culper Spy Ring was put together among a bunch of small town chums from Setauket, Long Island (NY). The producers stay as close as possible to the real story, and the mix of accents adds to the realism. The writers/director do not shy away from violence as is not a surprise for cable--so little kids may not be right for this.
But, in an age when the American Revolution is hardly taught in schools, this is a welcome addition to the meager film history of that period, and great documentation of the sufferings that our Patriot ancestors went through for our freedoms.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
It was profound, but not that good...
Chiwetel Ejiofor delivered his usual brilliant performance; he is one of the most compelling leading men around. McQueen has a great eye, and the cinematographer captures his vision. The film is often beautiful.
And yet...and yet...the screenplay (some of the characters sound as if they are in a Shakespearean play) is uneven, crushingly slow at some points, and the acting of several of the secondary characters is, in some cases, not good. McQueen should have done additional takes rather than let some of those early scenes stand. At any rate, he does not seem to be an actor's director.
And, while the subject of slavery in the US is a deep subject, the film seemed hollow; there was no real attempt at character development or background.
Back to Ejiofor. Without him, the movie would be a 3 or 4.
Pain & Gain (2013)
Although it wasn't "Transformers," there were transformations...
Hey folks, you must give Michael Bay credit beyond his usual 'blast and ass' flicks for this one. He shows himself here to be an actors' director (who knew?) and gets great performances from everyone in the credit roll, with special mentions to Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and ESPECIALLY Tony Shalhoub (who just might get an Oscar nomination as a supporting actor).
Based--to a fair degree--on actual events in south Florida in the '90s (is there a crazier state?) it tracks a bunch of dimwitted juicer muscleheads who become horrorshow sociopaths. Transformers IV?
Pursuing the American Dream via the criminal shortcut, the pumped up Danny Lugo (Wahlberg) has feelings of entitlement, envy and jealousy coupled with just enough glibness to get him over in his dealings with his marks. He is able to manipulate and transform others so they buy into his sick plans or do his bidding. The big muscles don't hurt.
And let's not forget Bar Paly who provides some incredible eye candy for the guys. All in all, a very entertaining and well put-together movie that will give you an enjoyable 2 hours and 9 minutes.
Side Effects (2013)
Soderbergh ends his directorial career with a piece of cinematic art
A brilliant work by the man who burst on the scene as a 26 year old when he was the writer/director of "Sex, Lies and Videotape" back in'89. He's come full circle now, after making political movies,caper movies, the incredible "Traffic," and even a male stripper movie. Well, back to the darker side of human nature.
The whole piece is set in NYC (with side trips to Westchester and suburban Connecticut), but it could have been LA or Atlanta or Seattle, etc. When you see a Woody Allen movie set in NY City, it becomes a co- star; he even does the same when he shoots one in Paris. Soderbergh does the opposite here: the NYC he portrays is either just out of focus in a street scene or through a window, or, when a long shot is used, it's of a nondescript part of the city. The characters are *there*, but they exist in their own time and place disconnected from the vibrancy, geography and people of the city. There's nothing romantic, thrilling or beautiful about Soderbergh's New York.
He also skillfully uses the music to further set the mood, yet it's never intrusive. He lets you know it's there on a few occasions, but never pushes.
The cinematography is used in a way that helps wonderfully with character development: many tight shots of skilled actors using nuanced and subtle facial expressions along with medium shots that appear slightly off; that is, one frequently gets the feeling of being off balance. A bit like the van Gogh painting of his room in Arles. Brilliant.
Yet he is also an actor's director: Jude Law and Rooney Mara were incredible. No spoilers here, but I will tell you that the script would have made Hitchcock proud. And here's a prediction: this little beauty will be used to teach the next generation of auteurs in film schools from NYU to UCLA for years to come.
A 'must see' for Jason Statham fans...
Well, SURE, there are places where you must suspend disbelief (it's not THAT easy to steal a car, is it?), and SURE there are plot holes, and SURE there are times when you say to yourself "How did he know to go there?" BUT...this is one enjoyable movie!
The acting, the action scenes, and the eye candy (Statham for you XXs, and J-Lo for us XYs) are all great. Oh...and a word about J-Lo. While I've never been a great fan, the poor reviews she received made me curious. Well, she was excellent...and hot as a pistol. That woman has more sex appeal than 5 centerfolds. Patti Lupone plays her mom...very well, I might add.
Statham plays Parker and Parker-like characters in an intrinsically believable manner; that is, marginal characters who live on the edge of the law or beyond it (think "The Transporter" series) with an honorable streak. He slips into this part easily, and like his "Transporter" character, Parker seems little interested in sex. No...he has a singular purpose here as he has had in previous movies: get the job done, and no time for recreation. And once again, his singularity of purpose rings true.
There is, of course, violence, but we all have seen worse; my wife only had to look away twice, and she does not enjoy these types of movies, but goes to humor me (I agreed to see that dreadful "Moonrise Kingdom" after all). But she liked "Parker"--her direct quote was "It kept my interest"--and that was high praise for this kind of flick.
And as Tosh might say: "And for that, we thank you."
It keeps your interest, but not great cinema...
The REAL Hitchcock buffs will be disappointed, in that this movie does not delve deeply into the mind of this brilliant, creative filmmaker. It deals with the superficialities of his existence, and not the big issues of, for example, what propelled his interest in the Wisconsin serial murderer Ed Gein? Was this interest tied to his pursuit of his 'blonde girls?' The dark side of his personality was shown through his hallucinatory 'relationship' to Mr. Gein--who pops up occasionally--and could be considered a clever device; I thought it a cop-out.
As another reviewer on this board wrote, the most enjoyable parts of the movie revolved around the casting, writing, filming and editing of "Psycho." Jessica Biel and Scarlet Johanssen were adequate, if not inspired; Helen Mirren was the movie's anchor, while Anthony Hopkins seemed to be trying too hard, and I was always conscious of him 'acting.'
BUT, as noted earlier, it moves along and is enjoyable. Just don't expect too much.
A Late Quartet (2012)
Ultimately disappointing, but did not have to be
There were several reasons we went to see this movie this evening: 1) we read that the Beethoven Opus 131 C-sharp minor quartet was played and discussed; 2) Christopher Walken was in it and 3) Phillip Seymour Hoffman was in it.
We have been listening to the late Beethoven quartets for years, and thought that creating a drama involving the sounds of the Opus 131 along with the interactions of the string quartet that plays it was brilliant; the execution--not so much.
Morgenstern reviewed this in the Wall St Journal today and liked it more than we did. He did mention that the scenes where the quartet members are together outshines the scenes where we follow them alone--and boy is he right. The script was the main problem, and was more uneven than the acting: other than a few scenes, it was humorless, cliché-ridden and dull. The only good parts for us was when the music was being discussed.
Cathrine Keener was...how shall we say...just awful. We could not understand how the director could allow some of her scenes to stay. Walken gave a very good, measured performance as did Hoffman (he never disappoints); but even their efforts were not enough to save this.
Too much talking and not enough music. And I would love the writer/director to explain to me why--with the Opus 131 available--he chose to use other music as dramatic background. Sheesh.
Two good things were the art direction and cinematography--especially in the early scenes. Some of the shots reminded us of Vermeers with more light coming through the trap door.
We wish we could recommend this film...we truly wanted to love it being huge fans of Ludwig van, but that did not happen.
End of Watch (2012)
A riveting, two hour 'ride-along' with the the LAPD.
Gritty, real and lots of action. The director/writer, Ayer, grew up on the streets of El Lay and it shows. Jake Gyllenhal and Michael Pena are just electric as partners in a black and white, and the performance by Cle Shaheed Sloan as the street hood with a sense of honor named Tre is awesome. The dialog is so good, that half the time you think this is an episode of Cops without any bleeps.
Ayer uses various camera techniques brilliantly to tell the story. I usually do not like a lot of hand-held (it sometimes makes me dizzy), but he uses it very well here and I suffered no side effects.
I look forward to Ayer's next movie: just see this one and you will too.
Much MUCH better than I was expecting...
About two months ago, the wife and I saw this play at a regional theater (it had run off-Broadway a few years ago). It was very dark and disturbing, but a good theater experience. When I got home and Googled it to learn more about it, I found that there was a movie coming. However, everything I read was almost apologetic about it; it seemed that many people were disappointed with the flick.
Well, it opened today, and yes, the reviews were mediocre at best (including those at IMDb.com), but we *still* wanted to see it (at least as a follow up to the play). So, in sum, we were ready to hate it.
Well, surprise surprise...it exceeded all expectations. It was VERY different from the play, which, I think, is a good thing. One area that the play DID do well that the movie fell down on was the character development of the three main women; but other than that, the movie was the winner.
Kirsten Dunst was terrific...her energy, comic timing and presence were wonderful. Lizzy Caplan, however, stole every scene she was in.
This is perhaps a rare example of the movie being better than the play. One caution: although there are a few LOLs, this is NOT a comedy, so do not expect one.
The script was more made-for-television movie than for the big screen
And why is Shia LaBoef always on screen somewhere? He's just not that good...he cannot carry a movie, he just does not have the presence.
This was a formulaic flick with very little you haven't seen before (other than the repeated use of knuckledusters); characters appear to fill roles that are needed to broaden the story.
Jessica Chastain plays one of those roles; for us, she was one reason to see it (she was brilliant in The Help). And yet...even she was flat. She could have phoned it in.
The positives: good music and the period furnishings looked great. No need to run out and see this...it will be available at home soon.
Hope Springs (2012)
Rare, nuanced performance by Tommy Lee Jones...
He shows well here, since his roles have traditionally called for one expression, one attitude, one way to deliver lines--but here, he reaches in and shows his talent. As a CPA in Omaha and husband who is really not a husband anymore, TLJ gives a great performance.
But, let's talk about Meryl Streep. Aside from pure talent and acting ability, there's an intangible that this woman has that allows her to fill a screen in a way that few have ever done...you just cannot take your eyes off her. She has not always played women that you love, but you certainly will fall head-over-heels for her character in this flick. Yes...she dazzled us in so many movies (think of her portrayal of Julia Child), but her performance of this sweet-as-sugar but unhappy wife is a work of pure art. See this movie for these performances. Awesome.
The movie overall was quite good, and Steve Carrell was a wonderful presence. Two issues: it was NOT a comedy, and should not be presented as such. The script could have used a few more funny lines; but, what REALLY bugged me was the soundtrack: while it was not always awful, there were a few times where the background songs were dreadfully intrusive. Why did the director think he had to punctuate the on-screen feelings of the protagonists with pop music that echoed their emotions? Geez...we GET it (and the songs aren't even that good).
Finally, if you're under 50, think hard before you see this...it's not meant for you.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Does Wes Anderson have a really REALLY big family...
...that writes reviews for his films on IMDb.com?? Boring script, not clever, not funny, big name cast who slept-walked through their scenes, cliché-ridden, blah blah blah. Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton...really?
I will never see another Wes Anderson movie. Never. And the 8+ rating here? Are you people absolutely crazy? I have lost so much for the ratings on this site that I now consider them meaningless.
This was really humorless dreck...with two twelve year old unsmiling quirky kids given the task of carrying the movie. Nope.
But, for the pedophiles in the crowd, there is the twelve year old girl in her underwear getting felt up by the boy. Yuck...goodbye Wes, and good riddance.
The Descendants (2011)
A movie that you do NOT want to end...
The director of this movie, Alexander Payne, was the guy who made "Sideways." This is a very different movie in that it focuses on family relationships rather than those between friends and lovers. But, Payne displays--in this touching and very real movie--the same incredible talent for doing two things better than almost every other movie maker (at least as far as I'm concerned): 1) he brings the viewer into the geography and milieu of the time and place in a gritty way that clearly presents the natural beauty of the area without over-romanticizing it and 2) he fits the characters into this environment and achieves a reality for these people that transcends the 2-dimensional characters that populate the multiplexes. You really care about these people.
Another similarity between the characters in "Sideways" and this movie is that the protagonists are, in at least one important way, lost. They both are also honest with themselves.
And thank God Payne did not use an orchestra for the soundtrack that would foreshadow and punctuate the scenes telling us how our emotions should run...I will not tell you what the soundtrack is, other than to say it's perfect.
This is not a comedy though there are a few laugh lines. Clooney will get the Oscar for this...how can he not? He is in every scene, and I cannot imagine him being better. And Shailene Woodley plays his older daughter: just amazing. A beautifully realized character.
I tried carefully here to give nothing away but to encourage you to see this as soon as you can. Brilliant.