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Oct 2008

The Descendants - Not My Favorite Payne Movie

As the critics are just dying to tell you, "The Descendants" is an Oscar contender. George Clooney is fantastic. Shailene Woodley a starlet in the making. That may be, but I was not blown away by this movie. Alexander Payne is a smart guy - he uses words like "archipelago" and "reportage" to confirm as much - and all of his movies are better than your average big studio fare. But this one, about a lawyer trying to connect with his daughters after his wife goes into a coma due to a tragic accident, just kinda sat there on the screen for me. Certainly there are things to admire in "The Descendants": Woodley's scene stealing intensity, Payne's unique pictorial study of Honolulu, and George Clooney's understated yet effective performance. Payne's leisurely pacing is also enjoyable, and I was never fidgeting. But this film just felt insular and cold. I guess I couldn't relate to it. However, that's never stopped me from liking a film before if it is told in a moving and interesting way (see "Margin Call"). On the plus side, the legal phrase "rule against perpetuities" was used in this flick. I hadn't heard that since first year law school. Like I said, that Payne is a smart guy.


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