Entries tagged with “George Clooney”.


The opening sequences of director ‘s The Descendants include a short (maybe less than one second) image of a powerful and beautiful woman surfing on the waves around Hawaii. For most of the rest of the film the woman will lie in a comma on a hospital bed and she will eventually die. What happens when a dear and close family member is suddenly taken by fate (a surfing accident in this case) from among us? How does the husband, how do the kids cope? Do we ever end discovering who the closer human being to us is? The answer this film gives is no, even after accident and death do us apart, we may not end discovering who we live or lived with.

 

spurce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033575/

spurce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033575/

 

I am no big fan of this genre of movies. I can cope with death on screen in horror flicks, action movies or westerns because I know that they are fiction. It’s more difficult to deal with such subjects in a realistic contemporary story, and none of the ‘romantic’ comedy or melodrama genres films succeed to my taste unless they are really very good. Actually one of ‘s previous films, the 2002 About Schmidt was one of these due to the extraordinary performances of and . Here we have in the role of the real-estate owner and super-busy professional whose wife accident brings back to the earthly dealings of coping with his two daughters – one just our of the teen years, the other just before her teen years – and a complicated property heritage selling in which family interests conflict with the keeping of the Hawaiian tradition and attachment to the land. Clooney is better in my view in emanating authority than emotions, his sense of humor helps him overcome the limitations of his acting skills, but in this film I had the feeling his playing on the emotional cords did not completely succeed.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R7OzS54hbo

(video source Fox Star India)

 

Yet, there are a few real good moments. I mentioned the opening scene which kind of opens the path to what follows. The performance of (as the younger daughter) when learning about her mother’s fate is simply amazing. is also acting well as the elder daughter. Moments of real truth surge here and there, when some of the supporting actors (like ) are left to express their emotions in the patterns dictated by the story. Hawaii gets its opportunity as the background of a real American story and I can just hope that more movie makers will come here for other reasons than filming beaches and waves. The good moments mix however with a too high dose of melodrama, expected turns of the story, sit-com like approach to dramatic situations. The Descendants promise much, deliver less, and its initial success seems to fade, like one of these beautiful color photos whose contrast fades in time blurring the persons and the landscape.

 

A few weeks back I wrote about Bridge of Spies and I was mentioning the fact that I expected more than an OK+ story about the Cold War from a script written by the  and brothers. This feeling was now enhanced by viewing Hail, Ceasar!. The trailer was so promising – the anti-establishment brothers made a film about the Hollywood.  as the drunken (not even, actually) star in the historic super-production.  as the blonde brainless starlet. The bigger the expectations, the deeper the disappointment, they say. The brothers seem to have ran out almost completely of ideas and spices.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475290/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475290/

 

Hollywood loves making fun of itself, but never forgets to mix a dose of nostalgia. This is what made The Artist such a huge success, plus of course the French charm. It’s 2016 however, and nostalgia should not be consumed in overwhelming doses. Yet, the Coen brothers seem almost to crawl in repentance to the big studios they succeeded to teach in the past a few things about digging for gold in the classical fabric of American stories. There is only one scene where the Coen spin and spirit succeed to remind the good old days – that’s the ‘ecumenical’ discussion in preparation of the Christ movie with the participation of Catholic, Easter-Orthodox and Protestant priests plus one rabbi. It looked and sounded like a good joke. The difference is that we used to have ten or more such good jokes in the Coen brothers films, now it was just one. The social content which is also present in many of their films is now reduced to a parody of the black-listing of the 50s combined with an incarnation of Communist hysteria (in a Malibu villa by the ocean of all places) which is maybe the second good joke in the film. Still insufficient.

 

(video source Universal Pictures)

 

In a season that was so deprived of comedies that The Martian got a nomination in the category at the Golden Globes, Hail, Ceasar! is still the funniest show in town, but it’s more by lack of competition. and looked genuinely bored in a film which should have been fun to make. is no comedy actor. The ones lucky to get more interesting parts are the amazing and who left me with the dilemma of guessing which film director he took revenge upon when building his character.

I am waiting for the Coen brothers to return.

 

 

Almost every pre-Academy Awards season brings for me the big Hollywood movies disappointment. A big studios film, usually directed by famous or at least interesting directors, getting raving critical acceptance and breaking audiences records for the year or for the eternity. A few years back the name of the sensation was Avatar, last year there were two – Argo and  Lincoln. I go, I buy my popcorn, I sit down with the best intentions of enjoying it, and … flop. When I exit the cinema theater I ask myself ‘Is this all?’. ‘What is the fuzz about?’.

This year with Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity it’s even worse than in the past years.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1454468/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1454468/

 

Before you ask – yes, I have seen the 3D version in a well equipped cinema theater. I saw it in good visual and sound conditions and I was not enthusiastic at all about the cinematography and sound effects. I actually believe that cinematography was quite banal, and the few moments when some screwdrivers flew to our faces could not compensate for a film that takes place 80% in the open space – meaning open stellar space, and cannot provide even the National Geographic documentaries effects or emotions. The story is completely incredible from any point of view. If this is supposed to be science-fiction the science is completely flown, and the fiction non-credible. In other words, impossible on all grounds.

 

(video source Warner Bros. Pictures)

 

Neither can Sandra Bullock and George Clooney save this film. To their defense I should say that they are given a very clichee relationship to act. Clooney’s hero text actually provides some of the rare sources of emotion and fun in this film, but this is too little.

Alfonso Cuaron directed previously at least one science-fiction film I fell in love with – Children of Men. What a difference between the action-ridden and the human tension there and the routine stuff we get in Gravity. I can understand his attraction into making such a film, it’s a challenge for a director to film a story in either a small and confined environment or in the infinite space as here, and some of the greatest successes came from movies with theme like this. Unfortunately, he was not up to the challenge on almost any respect.

This will not prevent Gravity getting its plethora of awards, I am sure.

2012 is an electoral year in the United States, and every electoral year is preceded by a few months by the electoral films year. It must be a few months in advance which makes the electoral films year be a little different than the calendar year, but, hey, we do have the financial year, not to speak about various religious years and all are different. There are at least two good reasons for the electoral films year being different than the calendar year – the Oscars season, of course, and the fact than by June or September the real thing becomes too interesting for the Americans to care about movies any longer. So the time to watch electoral movies is about now, and The Ides of March is probably the first significant movie of electoral films year 2012.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1124035/

 

George Clooney is again here in front of the cameras as democratic presidential candidate governor Morris and behind the cameras as the director of Ides of March. I liked his work in Good Night, and Good Luck and I liked it here again. He has a precise hand, a good cinematographic feel, is inspired in casting and directs well his actors. However the show is completely stolen by Ryan Gosling, the actor who seems to dominate the season and is better and better each film I see him in. In a focused performance Gosling succeeds to bring to screen the vision, the hope, the doubts, the ambitions of political manager Stephen Meyers who in a matter of a few campaign days apparently makes the transition from idealism to real-politik campaigner and has to decide on the delicate balance between personal truth and the greater goals of politics. Philip Seymour Hoffman who has disappeared from my radar screen after a few great roles is back with a key role in the story, Marisa Tomei has a smaller role than I would have liked but it’s always a pleasure to see her, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood are fine in a balanced and well directed cast. The Ides of March works well without being astonishing.

 

(video source trailers)

 

Passionates of the genre and of American politics, George Clooney and Ryan Gosling’s fans will all love the film. The rest of us can watch it as a reasonably well made and well acted political thriller, and as a story of political coming-to-age in today’s American system, as well as an undeniable sign that the electoral films year has really started. There is one story line which seemed all by neglected to me and this is the personal tragedy of the young intern which is just a pretext in the development of the drama of the main characters. For once I think that what this movie lacks is a small dose of melodrama.

 

I fail to get enthusiastic about ‘Up in the Air’. It may be because corporate life is no strange thing to me, it may be because romantic comedies or professional dramas are not my piece of cake, it may be because I was starting to develop so high expectations about George Clooney that seeing a film where he is just good, and not better than in a previous one comes as a disappointment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7k6FwXJhNk

(video source TrailersUpdate)

Or maybe it is the subject. Firing people from their jobs (‘terminating’ theme as the euphemism goes in this film) is no laughing matter and even if it was unavoidable that it becomes subject to a major movie some day, the intermingling of this theme with a few other (like life of the big corporate travelers addicted to their frequent fliers programs, or the romantic them of the eternal bachelor facing mid-life crisis and catching the opportunity to make a change towards the conventional track) did not really work to me. The story of corporate job terminator Bingham (Clooney) facing the termination or at least radical change of his own job because of the appearance in his own company of rookie Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who tries to revolutionize the business endangering his jet style of life, while his personal life seems to be at pick when he meets his female mirrored image in Alex (Vera Famiga) combines several conventional threads, and cannot make out of the combination an original movie.

(video source Qtv)

I do not have anything special to say about director Jason Reitman does most of the time – he does a fair job but having Clooney in the lead role is like coaching a soccer team with Messi in the opening squad. Actually Clooney although well cast does not do anything special, he just plays his own role – enough for a good performance, disappointing if we consider how well he changed skins in most of his films lately. Famiga is OK, and only Anna Kendrick succeeds to break the ranks and to bring to skin an emotional ingenue which crosses the screen in a sincere interpretation.

(video by mdelar)

The best part of the film are the one shot scenes of people being fired. It is here that Reitman had his touch of genius. He put an add in a St. Louis newspaper and gather real people who lost their jobs recently, and enacted their feelings and emotions in the moments when they received the hit for the camera. These are the moments when we feel the true life, these are the scenes when we can understand the dramas that take place at the personal level, part of the bigger picture drama of the economic crisis that engulfed America. This is actually the best cinema in this film, the rest is just Hollywood wrapping.

There is one mis-perception that this film fixed in my mind – there are not really funny films about stupid people. Stupid people are … well … stupid, their behavior is by definition subject of easy jokes, so for smart and educated audiences laughing at stupid people comes together with a feeling of guilt. No fun.

What makes ‘Burn After Reading’ different then? I think that one of the reasons is that this is not only a comedy about stupid people, but more about a stupid people in a stupid system. The Coens attack, catch, and dissect a lot of holy cows of the American political system (the CIA, the government secrecy), morality (matrimonial fidelity), social habits (Internet dating, the gym) and national obsessions (the shrink, the divorce lawyer, the plastic surgery). Almost nothing that is a cliche in the average American behavior escapes becoming a victim of their cynical look.

While the script has certainly its role in the success of the comic experience, the story by itself does not try to be more than a funny chain of coincidences that hit a bunch of characters that act according to their immediate instincts and bad planning, something that brings us back to the time of the great comedies in the 30s and 40s of the past century. It would have been of no special effect without the master story telling skills of the Coen brothers, which pace their gags and laughs in the 96 minutes of screening (low figures well below recent Hollywood average).

Overall however the film succeeds through the perfect casting, and the brilliant manner by which the Coens succeed to bring the best out of their actors. John Malkovitch is an actor of all seasons, one of those that brings his personality in any role he does. Not here, where he melds into the alcoholic spy clerk, who loses his useless job and wife, hates the whole world and nobody cares about him, his life, or even about him losing the secrets he was supposed to have learned during his career. Frances McDormand who was the Coen’s unexpected heroine in ‘Fargo’ is back in the role of a gym clerk who does not hesitate to betray her country to finance plastic surgery, but worries even more being in time at her workplace after leaving the Russian embassy. Brad Pitt is her gym trainer companion, looking flat-minded and younger than in the teen years of his role as Benjamin Button.

And then George Clooney. I feel every time that I write about Clooney in the last few years that I need to apologize (to myself of course, as he does not read me or care) for having underestimated his talent and having considered him yet another TV actor and beautiful face. His work as a director and his last performances as an actor are better and better. Here he is superb, the happy husband who cheats his wife with Internet dates without knowing the reason, the involuntary and hysterical killer who associates with other stupid people in senseless actions.

Yes, it’s a cynical view of the world – but hey, this is entertainment, these are the Coen brothers. I am only worried a bit as I heard that the subject of their last film are the Jews!

More information about the film and reviews can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0887883/.