The Descendants

Normally a George Clooney vehicle movie would not draw  me but the reviews and his Oscar (c) nomination got me thinking. When our special correspondent  – Catherine –  suggested it, I said why not. It is said that without pathos there is no comedy, there is plenty of pathos in this movie and more than enough comedy to prevent it from being as dark as it might otherwise be. There are a number of laugh out-loud moments, but it is the more subtle humour, often situational, that is far more affecting and adds to the film’s appeal.

Of course being a fan of Alexander Payne’s all to scarce work helped make the decision. So what about the movie? Well it is very much a Payne work and a Clooney vehicle, I don’t think there was a scene without Clooney in it. This is a dangerous gamble, if the lead fails so does the movie. In this case he probably gave the best performance of his career, every scene added to the experience even where he clumsily ran to his friends’ home in his sandles.

If I have one criticism of the movie it is in the publicity material, only Clooney’s name gets major billing; his co-star Shailene Woodley deserves co-billing for her part as his 17 year old daughter. I should also mention Amara Miller who plays her troubled 10 year old sister.

The movie revolves around Clooney’s attempts to bring up his daughters and come to terms with his wife’s deteriorating health as they essentially wait for her to die following a boating accident.  While this dominates family life there is the back issue of he trying to manage the sale of a large area of land which is in an extended family trust. As difficult as all this is, he learns of his wife’s infidelity and seeks our the other man.

As if life was not hard enough already, his daughter “Alexandra”, with whome he has a troubled relationship,  insists on her friend “Sid”, played by Nick Krause accompanying her during the dark days ahead. In a Cassablanca momment later in the movie we learn of just why Sid is so important to Alexandra and the entire family.  In many ways  this fine film in rather like “Little Miss Sunshine” – a road movie about a troubled family as they rise to life’s challenges and try to come out the other side without being too damaged.  How they actually end up is something you will have to watch the movie to find out.

In short this is a fantastically engaging movie where only the worst sociopath could not empathise with just about all of the wonderfully scripted cast in the King family. Payne has two more movies out next year…good! time to dig out Sideways again.

Rating = 8/10 – the movie is not flawless, but what little falws there are are not worth talking about  – watch it, enjoy it

Haywire

Now, you can  see this is an example of a movie that will never go down in history as one of the greats, but it is enjoyable.

From the opening bar scene Gina Carano is the star, we migh havw a new action hero in the making here. The support cast is largely first-class, however one problem in  having such talented support as Mssrs Banderas, Douglas or McGregor is that the not so great additional support is really shown up; Channing Tatum showed all the acting skill of the background paint – not his best effort (actually it might have been…).

The Scenes in Barcelona and Dublin were fun, the only distraction was in knowing both cities I was tempted to look for continuity breaks lke rounding one corner to come out somewhere on the other side of the citiy (as in  Flight of the Doves, 1971), but thankfully nothing too bad here.

The plot seems almost like an afterthought and I’m convinced that one or two scenes were added to try and explain it. In short the plot line was so loose and almost non-existant that there almost was none. That that was only a secondary issue, no body went to that movie for the plot, or at least I hope not!

The movie moved well, the action sequences were great and it was novel to see Dublinin a spy/action flic. Not the best movie ever made, but not the worst, well worth a watch, if for nothing else other than for a few minutes of good old fashioned escapism.

Does it live up to its name, yes it certainly is Haywire 🙂

Rating = 6/10 – average

W.E.

Let’s get straight to the point, she might be able to sing, but directing is not one of Madge’s strong points.

W.E. is a meandering, badly shot, trip along the day-dreams of a lonely middle-class New Yorker who dreams of W.E’s romance.

So what was wrong with the movie? From the very start the directing mistakes were obvious, the sound recording was off and the random “flashbacks” took some getting used to.

I’ll ignore the bad sound editing, the very badly held together plot threads and the Russian security guard with the NY Loft appartment full of antique furniture…if being a security guard at an auction house pays that much, well then I’m outta here!

Some of the more serious faults of the movie were the simple script mistakes compounded by the doubling over of props when they should not have been used.

Some movies you go to are just poor or bad, subjectively; but this movie is in my humble opinion technically the worst movie I have seen in years.

That said the soundtrack to the movie is good, or maybe it seems good given the low bar it has to work to…..if you are planning on seeing this movie, then I might suggest the time would be better filing some tax returns….

Rating 2/10 and that is only for the music

A friend loved the movie, because of the romance of it all. I might be all too hard-nosed but my biggest question as I sat in agony was – is it okay to walk out now?