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Entries in The Descendants (16)

Thursday
Feb232012

Distant Relatives: Kramer vs Kramer & The Descendants

Robert here w/ Distant Relatives, exploring the connections between one classic and one contemporary film.

The final Oscar campaign push for The Descendants painted it in the grand tradition of much Oscar-loved domestic dramas like Ordinary People or Kramer vs. Kramer. Okay, good enough for me. Let's compare. Particularly, for me, I like the Kramer vs. Kramer contrast, since both films follow the "absentee mom and fallable but ultimately well-meaning dad" narrative that seemed to really build steam in pop culture after Kramer vs. Kramer hit it big.
 
Consider it a kind-of anti-screwball comedy genre, not necessarily a response to men exiting the workforce, but to taking on roles that a quickly changing society had traditionally considered to be for women. At their best, such films could suggest that any gender-based definitions and divisions of spousal and parenting duties were ridiculous, cultural and social construct that need no longer apply. At their worst they featured the zany consequences of macho men taking on tasks that required them to be caring and nurturing... you know like women's work (I can't imagine a demographic or orientaton of people that films like this wouldn't offend in some way).


 

Both Kramer vs Kramer and The Descendants fall clearly into the better half of this equation. But there are other traps of which they skirt the edges. Consider, that the majority of films, then and now are made by men and for men...  [Continue]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb192012

Yet More Hardware For... The Help, The Descendants, The Artist

ACE and IMAGE statues. Why are trophies always nude men? Is Emmy the only girl among trophies?It's the last exhausting stretch of awards season and the mantles of everyone involved with The Help, The Descendants, and The Artist are about to collapse even before they take home their respective Oscars.

The ACE Awards which is short for American Cinema Editors has four film prizes each year for features and the winners this year were

Drama: The Descendants
Comedy: The Artist
Documentary: Freedom Riders*
Animation: Rango

* I mistakenly read this as Freedom Writers when I saw the release and momentarily panicked that the Hilary Swank teaching drama had resurfaced in non-fiction form. The Making Of... Now With More Swank.

The Drama winner at the Eddies generally goes on to win Best Picture, but this year may prove a semi rare exception since The Artist is expected to take home the Oscar. In the hoopla over The Artist being a silent film people keep forgetting that it's also a comedy and if it wins, we have our first comedy winner since Chicago (2002). They're all too rare on the big night.

It's also worth noting that Patton Oswalt hosted the ACE Eddie Awards, his third awards hosting gig of the season. This Just In (Inside My Head): Patton Oswalt To Host The 13th Annual Film Bitch Awards in January 2013! (Well, he does says "yes" a lot. Maybe I should ask?)

USC Scripter goes to an adapted screenplay and the book it rode in on each year and The Descendants won for what we assume was arduous carpel tunnel syndrome-laden man hours of copying and pasting the book's prose into onscreen voiceover. Yeesh. (I'm tired. I don't like The Descendants. Forgive me. Soon we'll be able to move on.) I'd feel worse for Moneyball, a far more graceful screenplay, if Aaron Sorkin hadn't just had a big year with The Social Network.

NAACP Image Awards were almost certain to fall in The Help's win column given its blockbuster status. But it was interesting to see it happen so soon after watching Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress winners Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have it out with Tavis Smiley about trophies going to black women playing maids in 2011. [Rant: When this Oscar season is over I think we need to have a long discussion in this country about class rather than race for a change. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a maid. It's honest legal work and why should someone feel ashamed about having a job and doing it? Maybe it's because I used to work in the hotel industry and knew a lot of people who struggled with people looking down on them because of the job they performed. These conversations about The Help feel very tone deaf to one particular fact: there are actual maids in the world and there always will be. These conversations always seem to be saying 'oh god. could there be anything more demeaning than being a maid?' and I'm just not sure how cleaning people's houses or hotel rooms is horrible work you should feel ashamed of but you know, it's fine if you're a white collar person destroying entire swaths of people's livelihoods with shady business practices or pension-fund robbing or lobbying the government for horribly unfair tax codes. I really wish we could over the deeply embedded notion that you're somehow a better person if you have money. The actual quality of a person's character has zero to do with the amount of dollars on their paycheck. The only thing a lot of dollars on the paycheck does, in terms of character, is make it more visible. You can do a lot of evil or a lot of good in the world when you have money but the money itself isn't the determining factor on which you'll choose. /Rant]

Ahem. Sorry. Had to get that off my chest. Speaking of...

Damn, Viola! She's proud of hers, apparently.

So...  The Help took Best Picture. Off the Oscar track, Pariah won best independent movie and Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey won best foreign film. Laz Alonso and Mike Epps took home the actor prizes for the wedding drama Jumping the Broom which also won Best Director. LL Cool J and Regina King won the top TV acting honors for their procedurals, one of those NCIS's and Southland respectively.

Saturday
Feb182012

Just Enjoy The Show

Cope and Dalton have made another spoof video of the Oscars. This one is just as offensive, though less consistently funny, than last year's (the presence of Inception in 2010 helped for the alternate reality comedy).

 

My favorite skewerings are of the self-pitying The Descendants and the eliptical structure of The Tree of Life "the earth. a dinosaur. a shoe. Sean Penn" and the "Rise of..." twist on the All Hell Breaks Loose finale is fun.

You know it's alternate reality and satire when Woody Allen runs screaming through the crowd. Everyone knows Woody never attends the Oscars! 

If you're interested, here's their satirical jab at the forthcoming Oscars...

I want my money back. I want my money back. just enjoy the show ♫

Tuesday
Feb142012

Curio: Oscar Unsheets, Part III

Alexa here.  With less than two weeks till the Oscars I'm spotting more and more fabulous unsheets (or fan poster art) inspired by the nominated films. (See last week's post for some criminally overlooked films). This week I'm moving on to the Best Picture nominees.  Interestingly, The Help seems to be one of the nominees most posterized this year; is it the lure of illustrating pie? 

The Help by Hector Pahaut.Here are some of the best celebrations of the Mississippi Maids, along with some key-themed designs for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, mathematical minimilism for Moneyball, and evocative staircase imagery for The Descendants. Click for more.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb082012

LA, NY, HI, AE, LINK

The Film Doctor makes a passionate case for Hawaii and The Descendants... but I'm still having trouble. I just don't think it's very good. And also it's hard to be receptive to the arguments when they start by dissing The Artist. 'Can't we all just get along?' That said I do agree that the final shot is pretty wonderful. Just wish the rest of the movie was.

They Live By Night
Awww, there was an Amadeus Blog-a-Thon and I didn't even know about it. Blog-a-thons just don't have as much outreach as they used to. Totally would've done that one.
The Awl  (speaking of the 80s...) remembers The Thorn Birds in a funny piece. OMG. I was so into priestly Richard Chamberlain when I was a wee boy. 
Cineuropa Iceland's Volcano didn't go the distant with Oscar this year in the Best Foreign Film Category but it's doing very well at home to augment its critical reputation. 14 nominations at Iceland's own Oscars!

Coming Soon. So wait let me get this straight. Will Smith turned down Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) but signed up to work with M Night Shyamalan? Has he never seen these things we call movies? Here's Will & Jaden on the set of After Earth (formerly titled One Thousand Years A.E.). They're filming in beautiful Costa Rica.

Oscar 2012/13 Notes (Too Early?)
Playbill Les Miserables... will all the Oscars belong to it. Apparently they have their sights set on Best Original Song as well. They're giving Hugh Jackman a new number as Jean Valjean.
Empire Tom Felton of Potter/Malfoy fame will play another spoiled kid, Glenn Close's in fact, in Therese Raquin. Now that Close is about to tie Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter for Most Losing Oscar Nominated Actress (6 times) ... I am kind of excited for her to try to beat Peter O'Toole (8 times. no competitive wins). Think she can win attention again for this classic story? I know SHE would prefer to win but it's kind of exciting for US to have someone fighting for these records. Kind of. I mean, we still feel for her. Don't misunderstand

Goings about town(s)...

Los Angeles Readers
Recover from the Oscars in a couple of weeks with some classic animation. On March 7th-11th, the LA Animation Fest happens and there's special screenings of The Iron Giant and Akira, two unmissables. Both are presented by Sean Lennon who is this year's artistic director. Would that the Akira screening could convince Hollywood to abort their current plans and only pursue this live action adaptation madness with Asian leads. More on the fest at its official site.

New York Readers
This Friday the Film Society of Lincoln Center starts a four day tribute to 70s sex symbol Raquel Welch. The brunette bombshell will be appearing at some of the screenings over the weekend. The big ticket is undoubtedly bizarre cult camp object Myra Breckinridge this Friday. She'll be interviewed by Simon Doonan (!) after the screening. No word yet on whether actor turned critic Rex Reed will appear but it would be kind of hilarious for Raquel and him to pose for a photo op I think. The actress will also be at the One Million Years BC, Last of Sheila, and Three Musketeers screenings. You can read more about Welch's allure and legacy at the New York Observer.

Need a suggestion for next weekend? You can't really go wrong with a Barbara  Stanwyck Double Feature. Author Dan Callahan (full disclosure: a friend) just released a new book on the legenadary actress and he's introducing two of her most beloved films, the screwball comedy The Lady Eve (heaven) and the western Forty Guns.