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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Descendants

The Descendants is the new film from Alexander Payne, the creator of Sideways and About Schmidt. It’s the story of a detached husband and father (George Clooney) dealing with difficult daughters, a failing marriage, real-estate troubles, and death of a family member. 
Sounds like a lot of laughs, right?

I'm not sure how, but most of the film is surprisingly lighthearted. And Payne expertly makes both a Hollywood star like Clooney and also a lush locale like Hawaii seem quite everyday.

The stellar supporting cast help Payne and Clooney create a story about life and loss that feels very human. By the end of the movie, you are completely invested in these characters. And it's probably the only movie with this subject matter that I'd recommend for the holidays.

Simply put:  Expertly enjoyable film about some serious subjects.

Award potential: Big contender for Picture. Director. Screenplay. Actor. Supporting Actress.

The Ten Buck Review:  Worth ten bucks.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

J. Edgar

In both The Aviator and Gangs of New York, Leonardo DiCaprio seemed trapped in his youthful boyishness and unable to transcend to those strong adult characters. He has no problem here. It's a fully realized, subtle performance.

But Clint Eastwood's film is all over the place. The film spans seven decades and you feel every one of them.  Flashbacks. Highlights of history. Layers of aging makeup. And I'm not sure if the film was about his personal life, his rise to be the most powerful man in government, or his contributions to the modern FBI. The likely intention was to tie these all together but I felt like I was watching three films.  For your entertainment or biopic bucks, this is no King's Speech.

Simply put: Leonardo has his acting moment. Too bad the movie was an epic miss.

Award potential: Nomination and possible win for Leo. Picture and Director are likely for this high profile film. Potential supporting noms for Judi Dench and Armie Hammer. 

The Ten Buck Review:  Not worth investigating.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Nigel is a young boy who loves food. Perhaps this is because his mom never quite got the hang of cooking anything without ruining it - except for toast. After Nigel's mom dies, his father takes interest with the new cleaner (Helena Bonham Carter) who knows her way around both the kitchen and the bedroom.  This is the setup for a coming of age story that wants to be the Billy Elliot of food movies.

It's mostly lighthearted fun, but unfortunately everything is overplayed.  The mother is such an overstated bad cook that she actually misses the bowl when putting butter in it. The father too dismissive. The cleaner too sinister.  With such obvious characters, this comic movie would probably play better at home than on the big screen.

Simply put: Like toast itself, this film is just OK.

Award potential: Helena Bonham Carter will have to wait a little longer.

The Ten Buck Review:  Pass. Not worth your ten bucks.