The Descendents is a fine showcase for George Clooney’s talent!

George Clooney is good!  We all know that–but it is a joy to see him shine in a performance and it seems that writer/director Alexander Payne and Clooney were made for each other.  The Descendants is a straight forward narrative, but Payne weaves emotions and subtleties that keep it interesting and unique.

Payne is a wonderful writer.  He has this great ability to really capture a character’s voice.  And all his films are slices of real people’s lives.  His talent is in spinning them in a unique way.  We can all relate to his stories–which why it comes across as poignant.  Payne’s directing style is simple and clean and it works to keep the focus on the characters. 

Another Payne trait is his use of creative settings–places we’ve heard of–but really do not know.  In this case it is the islands of Hawaii.  The island’s history plays a big part in the story and the islands themselves are an important and intricate character in the plot.  I love when the setting becomes more than just a place for action to take place–it makes it richer.  (Only negative aspect of the beautiful Hawaiian scenery was that there was a little too much a times–what is this a Terence Malick film :))

At times I felt the story dragged a bit–not enough to be boring–but just enough to feel disjointed.  Yet, it succeeds because of the performances.  As noted, Clooney is fantastic!  As the “back-up parent” who must step up and take care of his kids and as a detached husband who must come to grips with some harsh realities about himself and his marriage–Clooney knows how to relay the range of emotions while showing restraint.  He is a natural. 

Another stand out performance is Shailene Woodley as the eldest daughter.  Woodley has done mostly TV and I had never seen her before.  She is lovely.  Strong, yet vulnerable.  Again, very natural and believable.  I will keep an eye on this young lady.

Overall, The Descendants is fine film–well written, acted and directed–a triple threat! 😀

Ides of March is a full of Hollywood’s finest actors and it shows!

First let’s acknowledge the brilliant poster–one of the best of the year–It caught my attention right away and luckily the film delivered on its promise of awesomeness.   Actor/Director George Clooney is cool–he exudes charm and confidence–and obviously he attracts coolness towards him because he has gathered some of the most talented actors to work in The Ides of March and it pays off. 

How could it not?  Hard hitters, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti–each as the Senior Campaign Managers of opposing candidates, are amazing.  Young and promising Ryan Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood–both as enthusiastic, novice campaign members of Clooney’s “too perfect” Presidential candidate–are pitch perfect.  Even small parts to Jeffrey Wright and Marisa Tomei are played strongly .  Yeah, wow!

Then add a strong story from a former political communications director, Beau Wilmon–who also wrote the play the film is based on–Farragut North.  And you got yourself an interesting, compelling political thriller.  A thriller built on carefully chosen words and things left unsaid. 

I will say that Clooney is settling down nicely in the director’s chair.  He takes his time and uses close-ups to show more than words can say, yet it’s the stellar cast,  that makes this look way too easy. 

I walked out, as I do with most political tales, frustrated and a bit sad–not a the movie–but at the state of politics today.  I am a cynic and these stories only help to intensify my convictions. Ah, well.  Whatcha gonna do?  Nothing we can do–except go out –vote and have our voices heard.