The Descendants (2011, Alexander Payne)

Kind of like Sideways – a good-enough (but never great) drama about cheating (and now death) with an immensely appealing lead actor (was Giamatti, now Clooney). A very emotional journey for the characters involved, if not for us.

Robert Forster is going to hit you:

Hawaiian one-percenter Clooney takes care of 17-yr-old misfit daughter Shailene Woodley (star of an ABC Family drama) and 10-yr-old budding-misfit daughter Amara Miller (plus Shailene’s surfer-grinning friend). While his wife is dying in a coma, Clooney tries to find the realtor (Matthew Lillard of Hackers and 13 Ghosts Remake) who’d been having an affair with her. More wackiness as Clooney deals with a father-in-law (Robert Forster) who never liked him, and work with his co-inheritor cousins to decide what to do with a huge plot of unspoiled land (obviously they’ll keep it in the end). Except none of these things are wacky – it’s all played for sadness and empathy, which is fine if I’d been feeling it.

Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne)

Finally the hype has died down enough that I feel safe watching Sideways (still 2 more years to go for LA Crash, and at least that long for Babel).

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Giamatti is a schlub with a bad novel, an ex-wife, a wine obsession and a poor social life. His buddy Sandman is a womanizer but about to get married this saturday. Road trip! Out to wine country to golf and drink and fuck strangers! Enter oscar-nominee Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh to complicate things. Sex ensues, and Sandman gets his nose broken and goes and gets married even though he’s an ass and P.Giamatti ends the movie getting back together with V.Madsen.

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Extremely not-bad, but never great in any way. I mean, I love watching Paul Giamatti do things, and nudity is fun and drunkenness is funny and relationships are hard, but the movie’s saying big ol’ nothing and seems a step down from Election (though I forgot About Schmidt came in between). Guess I could go back and read those hundred thousand reviews and discussions about Sideways posted online in 2002 and 2003, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of movie worth going on and on and on about either, god it’s less exciting than Little Miss Sunshine.

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Katy likes it, and kickball said it was crappy.

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