The Descendants

Sabin
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Re: The Descendants

Postby Sabin » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:54 am

My roommates got a screener of The Descendants and I watched it again. I'd be interested in seeing how many deleted scenes exist on the DVD. It's a bad film, but I didn't dislike it as much as I thought I would. It's not horrible, just impossibly overrated. At first, I blamed the direction more, and I still do. This is Alexander Payne's worst film by a mile! But the script is terribly overwritten with every scene past my threshold in expository, overripe dialogue. No behavior. No nuance. Had Alexander Payne been on his game he could have made this script work. But he wasn't.

My favorite aspect of the film is the one aspect that wasn't eligible for Academy consideration: the soundtrack.
"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: The Descendants

Postby Uri » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:38 am

As it happened, the day after I saw The Descendants, I stumble upon a movie called Every Day on tv a few minutes after it started and kept watching it for its cast – Liev Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard and the boy who played Kevin in Tilda's movie. And I had this major déjà vu – it was practically the same film. There's a guy in his '40s, dealing with domestic issues while having moral decisions to make at work, he's having two kids, a struggling teenager and a less attractive yet spunky preteen one, both of the same gender. There's death in the family and infidelity stuff in it and it ends with the nuclear family, warm heartedly reunited, scattering the ashes of a family member at the ocean. Seating in the comfort of my living room, not having to spend any money on it, watching it was as rewarding as watching that multi awards winning other film. Maybe even more so – I'm as a big Clooney fan as the next guy, but Schreiber is a more expressive actor. Hey – even Hellen Hunt was more animated than the wife in The Descendants (ok, that was a cheap one). But really, other than the unusual setting of it – the scenery was indeed great – I really don't see what this particular piece has going for it that countless of other programmers we keep seeing in cinemas and on tv don't. It's has nothing new to say about the American family and society, and what it does say it does in the most predictable way – there wasn't much in it one couldn't predict miles ahead. As was said before, the stature it's getting is a real mystery (ok, only when one ignores the current state of laziness Cinema and cinematic appreciation are in).

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Re: The Descendants

Postby ksrymy » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:56 pm

I won't be mad if/when Clooney wins but I am still praying they give it to Dujardin. But as, I can't quite remember who said it, Pitt would be an alright winner solely because he'd look better standing next to Michelle Williams with their Oscars.
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Re: The Descendants

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:22 pm

ksrymy wrote: Demián Bichir is far worse as is the movie he's in.



Bichir is the one I still haven't seen. He may be even worse than Clooney, but at least, unlike Clooney, he doesn't have any chance of winning.

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Re: The Descendants

Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:00 pm

Italiano wrote
About Schmidt - which objectively isn't a masterpiece - is still a great movie compared to The Descendants.

And now, after having seen George Clooney, I find absurd that not only Michael Fassbender, but even Leonardo Di Caprio haven't been nominated. Of the four nominees I've seen, he's by far the worst (and he's an actor that I used to like); an Oscar for him - which is possible - would be a sacrilege.

Yeah. About Schmidt is much better. About Schmidt is a very solid film where ultimately I just don't like the sensibilities involved, but it's controlled and I understand why people like it. It's just not for me. The Descendants? Just bad.

Like pretty much everybody that I know, I've yet to see Demian Bichir's performance in A Better Life. This isn't the strongest lineup for Best Actor that we've seen by a longshot. I wouldn't nominate any of them. Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt...all good performances. George Clooney has been for some time one of my favorite actors. Although he can borderline on self-satisfaction a bit too much, he's given a slew of pretty great performances that are often quite underrated. Out of Sight, Three Kings, O' Brother, Where Art Thou?, Ocean's 11, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air...it's not that he's excellent in all of these roles, but I know the names of these characters. It's not just a movie star coasting on his persona. Jack Foley. Ryan Bingham. Danny Ocean. Awesome.

Then we come to Matt King in The Descendants. George Clooney already has one Oscar that he does not deserve. For such a good actor to win two Oscars for his most forgettable performances is such a shame! I'm inclined to place a lot of the blame on Alexander Payne's poor direction. George Clooney can do comedy and drama, and he is quite adept at mixing them both together, but staying afloat in The Descendants is beyond him. I don't know many actors that could walk this tightrope. Beyond the fact that Clooney is ultimately just miscast in the film, there is zero connectivity between him and his children in this film. For not a moment did I believe that they were kin, and this is due to how they behaved around each other. This is not a family. This is sitcom reaching for gravitas, and Clooney's bedside speech to his wife reeks of bullshit.

With nominates for acting in The Descendants and writing The Ides of March, George Clooney is having an excellent year. It's such a shame that his acting in The Descendants and his writing in The Ides of March represent some of the weakest moments of his career.
"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: The Descendants

Postby ksrymy » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:31 pm

ITALIANO wrote:Of the four nominees I've seen, he's by far the worst


And see, I don't understand this. Demián Bichir is far worse as is the movie he's in. Bichir stole Fassbender's spot. I still cannot believe that Bichir only had four precursor nominations and still managed to get an Oscar nod. And, besides the SAG, the other precursors almost never factor in (ALMA, Black Reel, and Independent Spirit).

The Descendants is a far better family drama than A Better Life and Clooney's performance is far better than Bichir's. However, The Descendants isn't a masterpiece. I'll agree with that, but I will not begrudge Clooney's nomination. It's moving, it's perfectly-cast, it deserves its nomination.
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Re: The Descendants

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:54 pm

About Schmidt - which objectively isn't a masterpiece - is still a great movie compared to The Descendants.

And now, after having seen George Clooney, I find absurd that not only Michael Fassbender, but even Leonardo Di Caprio haven't been nominated. Of the four nominees I've seen, he's by far the worst (and he's an actor that I used to like); an Oscar for him - which is possible - would be a sacrilege.

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Re: The Descendants

Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:33 pm

Italiano wrote
The acclaim this movie is getting is one of the big mysteries of this year.

I saw The Descendants three months ago and since then this is what I've been saying. However, I love that the cat is getting out of the bag. My roommates (one of them has nothing to do with film) both watched a screener last night and then call me into the room for a bitch-session. There was nothing - not a thing, save that scene where Matt goes with his daughter to the house by the beach - that they liked. This is true of most of my friends. I didn't know Alexander Payne was capable of making a film as fraudulent and lazy as The Descendants. I may not have liked About Schmidt, but I understood it.

Critics are giving this film a free pass because it looks like something they would like, and so they whipped themselves into a frenzy. If there is a lesson from The Descendants, it's this: if there is a film that is pretty bad, and yet it keeps winning critic's awards, has a star in it, makes a little money, and although Guild after Guild keeps lining up, you still have no idea why anyone would like it...you're wrong. I was hoping that the Emperor would get called out as the naked bastard he really is, but that is not the case.
"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: The Descendants

Postby ksrymy » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:11 am

Big Magilla wrote:I don't get why he is actually winning awards for this.


Because he's actually quite good. Also, probably because of the tear that runs down his nose in the hospital scene.
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Re: The Descendants

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:58 am

A big disappointment for me having been a fan of Payne's earlier films. Clooney is marginally on my list of the year's best actors, but he is just filler. I don't get why he is actually winning awards for this.

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Re: The Descendants

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:33 am

There isn't much to say about this movie. Or at least I don't have much to say about it - The Help made me angry, but The Descendants left me indifferent, which is even worse. Now I'm reading the enthusiastic reviews it received in the US and I wonder - did I see the same movie?! Because yesterday I saw a flat, bland, tiresome movie featuring a flat, bland, uncommitted performance from George Clooney - the title was The Descendants, but can it be the same movie which American critics call "very moving", "intimate and profound", "a meditation on life and death" and - when I read this word I know that I must expect the worst - "transcendent"? (Those who call The Descendants and other movies "transcendent" should go to the Louvre or to the Doria Pamphili Gallery to have an idea of what's really transcendent.) And most importantly, can this sloppy, uninvolving script be the same which will win an Oscar in a few weeks? The acclaim this movie is getting is one of the big mysteries of this year.

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Re: The Descendants

Postby mayukh » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:57 pm

I feared this would be one of those movies I actively loathe. The film is so simplistic in the way it deals with human emotions that its central thesis really becomes "rich people suffer too". Humanistic my ass. Someone said that this movie's critical inflation was really a reaction to/denial of OWS and I think that's on the nose. This is the kind of tripe Oscar voters eat up. Clooney is horribly miscast. His physical gestures seem so uncomfortable and he does nothing to illuminate the mindset of his character. Payne's tone, like many have said here, is completely off, too – Greer's bedside speech to Elizabeth was one of the few true moments of the picture yet it was severely undercut by Clooney's "okay, okay, that's enough". I think Payne intended this to be comical. It felt so dishonest. By evidence of this movie (I've liked some of his other work), I don't think he really understands very much about human relationships.

Beau Bridges is always a refreshing presence. Judy Greer is mannered as hell but she affects anyway. Lillard was engaging. Robert Forster seemed to be acting in a completely different universe. That's the problem with this film. Nothing gels. The cast lacks chemistry and the director doesn't have the skills to overcome this, so their interactions ring hollow.

I will say that Shailene Woodley was very affecting. She's not yet a very fluid actress, so she can't deal with some of the terrible lines given to her ("twat"?), but her performance is one of the few vaguely insightful elements of a movie painfully lacking in insight. In terms of revealing her character's motivations, she absolutely nailed the complex and contradictory set of feelings you have when you're a teenager (duties vs impulses). It's a good performance I wish was in a better movie; if she had a more adequate script she could've knocked this one out of the park. (Don't get me started on the other two kids.)

Side note: one could write a dissertation on how superficially "Hawaii" is portrayed and used as a backdrop in this movie.

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Re: The Descendants

Postby bizarre » Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:05 am

I was ready to trust you up until this potshot:

Damien wrote: But basically, this is the most loathsome crap imaginable this side of Mike Leigh.


But I still doubt I'd like this - if I ever saw it. Payne's appeal is lost on me.

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Re: The Descendants

Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:27 pm

I consider myself a fan of Alexander Payne, but really what that means is I like 3 of his 5 films quite a bit. His first two took full advantage of his misanthropy and Sideways is a nice little movie that got a little too overrated too quickly. I didn't much care for About Schmidt, but I have no idea what happened with The Descendants both in terms of execution and reception. I have no idea what movie people think they saw here. Everyone I've talked to about The Descendants does not like it. That it could win the Golden Globe for Best Picture is pretty amazing to me. It seems like the likeliest non-starter on Oscar morning to me. I really don't understand the across the board glowing reviews it's getting.
"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: The Descendants

Postby Damien » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:07 pm

One of the most sour movies in recent (or not so-recent) memory, this is a film in which each character has no redeeming quality – or even any recognizably human trait. For a filmmaker who is character- (rather than narrative-) based, Alexander Payne has oddly always seemed to have nothing but disdain for people. It’s not even that Payne is condescending towards his characters, the way the Coen boys are; instead he has contempt for them. The people inhabiting this picture behave in a way that has no resemblance to any way identifiable people act in the real world. Worst of all is Nick Krause’s stoner teen kid – he makes absolutely no sense either in the way he is written/performed or in his involvement in the narrative. There are actually moments in which characters are set up to act in a sympathetic or at least empathetic way, but then Payne undercuts things with his shallow cynicism – a shallowness that doesn’t ring true even with these awful characters. Oh, and the first part of the picture has a narration that Payne loses about a quarter of the way in – damn, is that thing over-written and absurd. There is a pitch-perfect performance from Beau Bridges, but who could have ever imagined George Clooney to be so bereft of his signature charm? The Clooney character’s late movie dramatic move (well, if refusing to sign a contract can be considered dramatic) is a pathetic cop-out desperately attempting to get this jerk some audience sympathy. If I cared about Alexander Payne’s subsequent career, I would tie him up and force him to watch Leo McCarey movies non-stop to see that you can recognize individuals’ foibles and absurdities while still presenting them with affection as fully realized, likable human beings.I have no idea why he continues to make intimate character-driven movies when he's so obviously a misanthrope. The only positive thing in this farrago are some nice, sad Hawaiian songs on the soundtrack, which were a pleasant distraction from what I was seeing on screen, and some views of everyday, non-touristy Hawaii. But basically, this is the most loathsome crap imaginable this side of Mike Leigh. It’s grotesque. The worst movie of 2011.
1/10
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