Archive for December, 2011

The Descendants

Posted in Review on December 9, 2011 by sdoob

This movie blows.  I mean it had its moments and everything.  But it was just bad.  Director Alexander Payne seems to be moving further away from the kinetic editing of Election, and limiting himself to the very basics of feature filmmaking.  In theory, this approach should not distract from the story and the characters whatsoever, but for me, it was the opposite.  It’s the style of a dead serious fourteen year old boy making his first drama.  Plain shots – nothing self-indulgent – and bare naked performances with no flashy editing to hide what we normally don’t see when we pay ten dollars to see a movie: actors not making it happen. 

When I suggested the idea of going to my friend, she said, “Is it one of those Middle-Aged Man Pain movies?”

“Yeah, it is,” I said.  “It really is, actually.”

“Those movies are so boring!”

I hadn’t considered it.  I like middle aged men who are in pain, unless they drive sports cars.  Regardless, this is very much a middle-aged-man-that-stares-into-space-a-lot-and-he’s-got-a-complicated-relationship-with-his-kids-and-he-has-to-try-to-fix-everything-and-he’s-such-a-mess movie.  So if that’s what you like – like if you liked A Serious Man or Alexander Payne’s 2002 failure, About SchmidtThe Descendants might do it for you.  It got a lot of good reviews.

Okay.  Positive things: the second half is better than the first half.  When can you say that about a movie?  The story sometimes gets better and it distracts from the stilted acting and clunky cinematography.  Also, the thesis, at least early on, is George Clooney cares on an emotional level more that his wife was cheating on him than that she’s dying.  But yeah, that’s it.  The movie blows.

Spirit Animals: Happy Feet 2

Posted in Review with tags , , on December 9, 2011 by sdoob

A joy. I don’t know if it will stand the test of time.  I don’t know really why I’m saying that.  There is a plot.  But frankly, it’s a little tedious.  The movie relies on good characters, a strong message, jokes, and stunning visuals.  Story fits in there but it’s the weak link.  That’s I guess why I wonder about the standing the test of time thing.  Maybe, too, it’s because it’s a sequel.  A sequel is not a classy thing.  It’s almost always about money.  Not that movies aren’t a business, but I think you know what I mean.  Except for Bad Boys II and probably some others I can’t think of, people don’t usually talk about sequels years after they come out.  But now it occurs to me, Babe: Pig In The City  and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior are both sequels directed by George Miller (director of Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two) so I’m probably completely wrong.    If you love chemistry between animated penguins, heart-wrenching opera sung by a baby penguin, or Matt Damon voicing a vulnerable krill – with Brad Pitt as the more confident krill on a life quest.  Let’s talk about that for a second.  I thought it was a little distracting, more than the other celebrity voices, to imagine Brad Pitt in a sound booth.  And I’ll tell you why: because I don’t really like Cormac McCarthy that much, or rather, I can’t pay attention to him for the life of me.  And one time I was doing a two day drive by myself and I went to the library beforehand to get some books on tape.  And there was All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and my thinking was This will be easier to get into, rather than reading the book.  So the next day, I put the tape in – after The Brothers Karamazov was not happening – but I hadn’t read the fine print in the library and when it started, it said, “All The Pretty Horses, read by Brad Pitt.”  And first of all, the man doesn’t enunciate – nor do I; that’s why I can spot it – so I couldn’t understand anything, but more distracting still was imagining Brad Pitt in a sound booth with the music stand and the photocopied Cormac McCarthy manuscript.  But anyway, Brad Pitt wasn’t as bad in Happy Feet Two because of the mind-blowing visuals.    I don’t know why this movie got bad reviews.  It’s so much fun; it almost made me cry four times – and I can’t cry so that’s basically like making me cry.  Happy Feet Two is another reason to not look at Rotten Tomatoes.  Rotten Tomatoes gave The Descendents a high number.    I recommend seeing Happy Feet Two in the theater, probably in 3D.  If you can stomach the price.