Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Watch: The Descendants and The Artist

After a long week of fighting a viral fever, finally had the energy to leave the house this weekend since I've been back. Since the boyf did a lovely job playing man-nurse attempting to keep me well fed throughout the week, he was given free reign to choose a movie -- and declaring that he's outgrown action movies (says the guy who watched Crank), we bought tickets for The Descendants. And The Artist. The latter needed quite some convincing from me, especially hilarious when we sat in the cinema and the movie was about to start and it hit him: "Oh no, it's not just a silent movie, it's in black and white too!"
So it was a weekend of Golden Globe winners and Academy Award nominees and my verdict? 2011 was a year of slim pickings. Let's start with the movie that most people will probably watch: The Descendants. I'm not a Clooney fan and honestly don't see the appeal. While The Descendants was in no way a bad movie and if you're looking for a movie to watch, please do but I honestly don't really see it as ground-breaking Oscar material (then again, Chicago won Best Movie so what do I know!) -- it's basically a less depressing, more well told and better acted version of John Cusack's Grace Is Gone, in a way. Father attempts to deal with his two daughters and life after the death of his (dying) wife. It does help that the movie is set in Hawaii and has a beautiful soundtrack the real stars of the show is not George Clooney. Every time there was a close up of Clooney, my head goes "Nespresso!" because it's the exact same look that Clooney has in his Nespresso ads! The real stars are the kids -- Shailene Woodley who plays Clooney's rebellious, straight-shooting 17-year-old daughter Alex and Nick Krause as Sid, Alex's poster surfer boy friend (yes, boy friend); but Amara Miller who plays 10-year-old Scottie stole the show. If you remember being 10, you'll remember how confusing it was to be at that age -- not old enough to wear training bras but too old for sparkly clothes and toys, stuck in between being treated a child, but expected to be responsible for your actions and understand the consequences. And Miller played that to a tee, and more in The Descendants. Helped that she's cute as a button too. Step aside, Little Miss Sunshine. One of my favorite scenes from the movie though was an unexpected, quiet one. One that I felt would have easily been left on the editing room floor but I'm really glad it made the final cut. You'd think that Sid was written in as Alex's love interest but nope, his role helps balances everyone else's nicely. There's a scene where Clooney's character Matt King checks on Sid, who's sleeping on the couch in the living room (obviously to check that Sid wasn't with Alex) and in that short conversation between the both of them, Payne beautifully turns Sid's character from useless surfer boy to one of the family. So yes, check out The Descendants for an easy watch and something to warm the heart. If anything, it made me laugh and cry and cry some more.
The Artist, on the hand, is not a movie for everyone. I really liked that it gave me a completely different movie-watching experience -- one that made me rethink the way we watch movies today and the expectations we have when we step into the cinema. Although, it would have been cool to have a real orchestra in the cinema playing the soundtrack to accompany to movie -- you'll know what I mean after you watch the first five minutes of The Artist. Throughout the movie, one of my biggest struggles was the lack of dialogue and I found myself hungry for lines on the screen or strained to read the actors' lips -- only to consciously tell myself to be patient and ask myself why dialogue was so important to me. Why not pay attention to what's on screen? And I think that beyond it being a love story, The Artist wanted to do just that -- pace us. Why do we crave noise, speed, action, dramatic soundtracks? Do we really need all that jazz to make it a movie? The Artist calmed me, something that I needed and craved since returning from the South Islands, New Zealand a week ago. Watch it, and if you have to choose -- buy a ticket for The Artist, at least to support a movie to dares to be so different from everything that's out there today. For once, I'm really glad that The Artist won Best Motion Picture and Best Actor (for Jean Dujardin who played the lead George Valentine) at The Golden Globes and that it's nominated for 12 Oscars. At least this way, this movie's getting the kind of exposure it deserves.