Monday 28 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · The Descendants

The Descendants

Say ‘aloha’ to ‘The Descendants,’ a smart film about a fractured family that proves misery is as native to Hawaii as these contiguous states.

Rod Lott November 23rd, 2011

Arriving with serious Oscar buzz, “The Descendants” is the oddest kind of road movie: one in which the roads don’t exist at all.

The travels undertaken by George Clooney’s harried, married Matt King character in this dramedy are done so mostly via plane, as he criss-crosses three of Hawaii’s eight islands in search of a stranger he doesn’t want to face, but stalks with great determination nonetheless.

An attorney, Matt’s laid-back life is hit with a metaphorical tsunami — not once, but twice — when his wife (Patricia Hastie) is thrown from a boat and into a vegetative state. The news from doctors that she’s not expected to recover is worsened by the accidental revelation that she was invested deeply in an affair with a realtor by the name of Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard, who’d better be thanking his stars the title page of his script doesn’t bear the words “Scooby” or “Doo”).

Egged on by his estranged, troubled daughter, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley, TV’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Matt embarks on a search for this Mr. Speer — for curiosity, closure and/or confrontation, we’re not sure which.

What the audience can be sure of is this is the best Clooney has ever been. The man is always magnetic, but in terms of strict emotions, of being human, he’s right on target, with much of Matt’s regret and anguish told through Clooney’s hangdog eyes rather than lines from the page — until the end, when Matt has to tell his wife the words he’s kept bottled for years. It feels real, honest — just the sort of portrayal rewarded with trophies cast in any number of precious metals come year’s end.

So is the film, the first for director/ co-writer Alexander Payne since winning an Academy Award for 2004’s “Sideways.” Like that project, this one is full of fine performances, from Robert Forster (“Jackie Brown”) as Matt’s grumpy father-in-law to Judy Greer (“Love and Other Drugs”) as Speer’s down-to-earth wife. Behind Clooney, Greer gets the movie’s biggest scene; Forster, its biggest laugh.

Opening today at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, “The Descendants” is not perfect. The two daughters — newcomer Amara Miller being the other — lean a tad toward the sitcom side, and one of Payne’s scene transitions looks like someone clicked “wipe” on the iMovie menu.

Yet such infractions are minor; like an anti-“Terms of Endearment,” Payne’s makes a mature work for mature adults without the sugary overdose of sentimentality.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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