We were more disappointed with The Descendants than with the straight-to-DVD film Columbus Circle.
Given the multiple Oscar nominations and oversaturated hype surrounding The Descendants we expected to be blown away by this George Clooney starrer.
Having watched the film today, now we can say with confidence that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did the right thing in snubbing The Descendants for the three big prizes (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor) and awarding them instead to the French silent production, The Artist.
An abiding affection for George Clooney or the endless priapic ecstasy over Shailene Woodley’s bikini clad figure notwithstanding, we decided to award no more than an ‘Above Average’ grade to The Descendants.
As is by now common knowledge, the movie is set in Hawaii with Clooney playing a middle-aged father/lawyer/husband coping with a dreadful family tragedy, a boat accident that has left his wife in a coma.
As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s a startling disclosure of infidelity, the responsibility of taking care of two mealy-mouthed, rebellious young daughters and the pressure of making a big decision on the sale of a huge tract of prime land.
How does a man cope under such terrible circumstances?
If you want to know, that’s the raison d’etre of the movie.
By no means is the movie an unwatchable affair, it’s just that the hiatus between heightened expectations and the reality seemed too large for us to ignore.
Our principal grouse against the film is that not for a moment did we get a sense of three main characters (father and the two daughters) being under the strain of having a close family member seriously sick and near death.
Instead, the sick person Elizabeth is pushed into the background and the curtains drawn over her hospital bed to let the movie focus on other subjects – infidelity, uncouth children, a tactless boy friend, sale of the land etc.
Just didn’t make sense to us.
Maybe, the American mind tackles family tragedy differently from the Asian model.
Since it’s George Clooney, it’s impossible we’ll ever see a rotten performance from the actor. Banish the thought if you’re nurturing it.
George Clooney on a bad day is a million times better than any Bollywood actor on his best day!
But still we did feel shortchanged a bit by Clooney in a few scenes. Like, for instance when the doctor breaks the news to him on his wife’s prognosis. One would expect to see more than a deadpan expression (even if it’s only for a few seconds).
As the older daughter Alexandra, Shailene Woodley turns in a fine performance.
We bet, like us, you too will be surprised to learn that The Descendants is her first feature film. Bravo Shailene!
Alexander Payne directed The Descendants on a screenplay he co-wrote with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
The movie is based on Kaui Hart Hemmings’s debut novel of the same name.
You can rent The Descendants DVD at Netflix or RedBox.
Columbus Circle – Predictable Unthriller
In no time we had hazarded a guess as to what was gonna happen!
And, boy, did it happen exactly the way we thought it would.
Now we know why this movie went directly to DVD without the fig leaf of even a single week at the theatres.
A wealthy young woman is leading a reclusive life in a penthouse apartment at Columbus Circle, New York City.
She hasn’t stepped out of her apartment in a long time.
The concierge has worked there for eons and even he hasn’t seen her in all these years.
The death of an elderly neighbor sets in motion a series of events that ultimately is to have serious consequences for the recluse.
When new neighbors move into the penthouse apartment, the recluse’s life, just like her pretty large porcelain vase, is shattered.
But by this time we knew where the movie was heading and so the thrill was lost to us.
What ruins the film is, above all, the mediocre writing that robs the film of any suspense save to the completely daft.
George Gallo directed Columbus Circle and also co-wrote the film with Kevin Pollak.
Selma Blair plays the wealthy recluse.
We have mixed feeling about the twist in the ending. It certainly could have been handled a lot less clumsily.
And what’s with the NYPD cops just staring at her in the end?
Don’t tell us they’re that stooopid.
The Columbus Circle DVD too is available at Netflix and RedBox.