Downsizing reviews

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:26 pm

Sabin wrote:
Mister Tee wrote
I have to say, despite my frequent enthusiasm for Payne's work, I doubted this one, figuring by law of averages alone he was due to come a cropper. If he gets film/director nods, it'll be his fourth consecutive time -- that'd be a record, yes?

William Wyler almost did it, but fell victim to his own prolific output. He directed Wuthering Heights, The Letter, Little Foxes, and Mrs. Miniver to Picture and Director nominations but just HAD to make The Westerner in 1940 as well. Refresh my memory: was it possible in those days to receive more than one nomination for Best Director?

A better argument for Wyler would be to include 1937 and 1938 Best Picture nominees Dead End and Jezebel, which would have given him 7 consecutive nominations from 1936 through 1942.

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:17 pm

Downsizing is a movie with an A+ premise, and for about the first 45 minutes, I was convinced that Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor were going to spin out this idea in increasingly inventive directions, because they set up the world of their story so well, with such great comic imagination in those early scenes. I was reminded of the buzz I felt at the beginning of Eternal Sunshine, laughing at the details of this reality (the oversize Saltine cracker, the way the nurses scoop up the newly downsized people with spatulas) while also finding a pleasing strain of melancholy beneath it (when full-size Damon and Wiig take off their wedding rings, knowing they'll never wear them again, you can feel the weight of the life-changing decision they're about to make). And the movie has a great first act plot turn that made me fascinated to see where the story was headed, and how it would wrestle with all of the emotional and social issues it had set up so far.

But I think the movie's second half is a bit of a let down. I generally feel like one should critique the movie the filmmakers made, as opposed to your own idea of the movie they should have made, but even keeping that in mind, I think it's fair to express disappointment at the way the movie basically forgets its own premise about half way through. It would seem to me that the purpose of telling a story like this would be to explore what life is like for downsized people in a world where the vast majority have NOT downsized. And while there are compelling ideas raised intermittently that tie into this idea (an early conversation about whether or not little people should have full voting rights, the fact that people can be downsized against their will), the second half of the movie doesn't seem that different from one that could have taken place in the full-size world. (Honestly, I'm flabbergasted that at no point does the physical danger of being a little person, at greater risk from the elements, animals, or larger human beings, play a significant part in the narrative).

This flaw is only exacerbated by the fact that the movie's characters just aren't very compelling. Damon's protagonist, especially, is essentially a lost sad-sack, and I can't say I found this character engaging enough to hang a whole movie on. Every moment Christoph Waltz appears on screen is completely insufferable -- is there a more consistently godawful actor with multiple Oscars? And Hong Chau's character -- a comic one-legged Vietnamese woman speaking in pidgin English -- is the kind of broad creation that is understandably making some critics uncomfortable. And her relationship with Damon doesn't remotely feel like anything grounded in reality. (That said, I think the actress commits to the part completely, and shows a good bit of range here -- there's humanity beneath the more shticky elements of the performance, and she manages to bring the character some dignity in a manner that even works against the script's tendency to treat her as a punchline.)

The movie is not without its ambitious ideas -- white privilege, health care, economic inequality, global warming, and the danger of cults pop up as serious strains beneath the movie's comedic surface. But for me, I kept feeling like they were tied to a story that just wasn't going in a direction I found that interesting, leading me to find the movie more like a first draft of a great idea than something that had been explored to its fullest potential.
Last edited by The Original BJ on Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Sabin » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:00 pm

Mister Tee wrote
So, in my mind, Wyler holds the record, and Payne can only tie hm. Of course, any director who ties William Wyler for an Oscar record has nothing to feel ashamed about.

Yes, but The Westerner could have been nominated for Best Picture and it wasn't. I think that might rule against him a bit. If anything, that means Francis Ford Coppola is the closest for his 1970s output.

The current record is three, held by Bob Fosse, David O. Russell, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, David Lean, William Wyler, and George Stevens.

A quick search reveals that Frank Capra came VERY close with nominations for Mr. Smith Goes to Wasington ('39), You Cant Take It With You ('38), and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town ('36) and in 1937 he had Lost Horizon with nominations for Picture and six other nominations.
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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:36 pm

Sabin wrote:
Mister Tee wrote
I have to say, despite my frequent enthusiasm for Payne's work, I doubted this one, figuring by law of averages alone he was due to come a cropper. If he gets film/director nods, it'll be his fourth consecutive time -- that'd be a record, yes?

William Wyler almost did it, but fell victim to his own prolific output. He directed Wuthering Heights, The Letter, Little Foxes, and Mrs. Miniver to Picture and Director nominations but just HAD to make The Westerner in 1940 as well. Refresh my memory: was it possible in those days to receive more than one nomination for Best Director?

No: the one-man, one-nomination-per-year rule was implemented in 1939 (pretty clearly in response to the Michael Curtiz double in 1938). Not sure when it was reversed -- sometime after 1974, when Coppola was only eligible once, but prior to Soderberg's coup in 2000.

So, in my mind, Wyler holds the record, and Payne can only tie hm. Of course, any director who ties William Wyler for an Oscar record has nothing to feel ashamed about.

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Sabin » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:21 pm

Mister Tee wrote
I have to say, despite my frequent enthusiasm for Payne's work, I doubted this one, figuring by law of averages alone he was due to come a cropper. If he gets film/director nods, it'll be his fourth consecutive time -- that'd be a record, yes?

William Wyler almost did it, but fell victim to his own prolific output. He directed Wuthering Heights, The Letter, Little Foxes, and Mrs. Miniver to Picture and Director nominations but just HAD to make The Westerner in 1940 as well. Refresh my memory: was it possible in those days to receive more than one nomination for Best Director?
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:27 am

Sonic Youth wrote:Seems to be following the usual trajectory. Rave reviews from the "legit" critics? Check! Next comes the online pans, the generational gap discussions, the numerous end-of-year critics awards, the $30-50 million box office, the 5-7 Academy Award nominations, until it finally all comes down to the Screenplay award.


...specifically, winning or barely losing best picture from the LA critics. They can't get enough of him.

Can anyone think of another case, in the Internet era, of such a gap between the feelings/expectations of (generally) younger bloggers and mainstream critics? Maybe Nolan, in the opposite direction, but, even there, he doesn't evoke the outright hostility Payne has in some quarters from Sideways on.

I have to say, despite my frequent enthusiasm for Payne's work, I doubted this one, figuring by law of averages alone he was due to come a cropper. If he gets film/director nods, it'll be his fourth consecutive time -- that'd be a record, yes?

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Sabin » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:13 am

Didn't understand why there were doubts. Whether we like it or not, it was silly to bet against it before it was seen.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:09 am

Another rave from San Brooks of The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/a ... tival-2017
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:34 am

At one time I read that Reese Witherspoon was going to star in this. She seems to have been replaced by Kristin Wiig (so wonderful in Bridesmaids - and one note in everything I've endured her in). Such a shame. I'm sure under Payne's direction I'll be forced to eat my words when I do see the film.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:32 am

Seems to be following the usual trajectory. Rave reviews from the "legit" critics? Check! Next comes the online pans, the generational gap discussions, the numerous end-of-year critics awards, the $30-50 million box office, the 5-7 Academy Award nominations, until it finally all comes down to the Screenplay award.
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Re: Downsizing reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:25 am

The reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated?
Wesley Lovell
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Downsizing reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:12 am

Looks like Alexander Payne may be on a 'winning' streak film wise with another critically acclaimed film if these two reviews are anything to go by....

http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/do ... 202541777/

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review ... ew-1032268
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.


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