Double Feature Review: “The Descendents” and “The Artist”
Interesting paradoxes of film that there can be an exceptional production you really don’t really want to see.
Sometimes emotionally disturbing content can promote critical thought as to the subject matter and can be worth the effort. Other times, the disturbing content can simply make you wish you were somewhere else. Sometimes you get into it and sometimes you wish you hadn’t.
“The Descendents” is technically and artistically a good film. Exceptional acting, good direction, photography and a strong, coherent story line that you should avoid. You really don’t want to witness the issues in “The Descendents” on a big screen. The issue of marital infidelity is appropriately prickly and doesn’t go anywhere. The issue of families dealing with severe brain injury and coma is handled reasonably well, but profoundly and open-endedly depressing. It sucks you into a black hole leaving you little in return other than hives.
Compare and contrast to “The Artist”, a film depicting bad luck, bad timing, bad tidings, bad life decisions and pathos. The story skillfully allows you into the world of the actors, lets you experience the story and then get out cleanly. The silent motif is profoundly successful in forcing you read the story line from the actor’s subtle body language. You experience the story through the actors in very different ways than usual, and it absolutely works.
Accordingly, I can’t recommend “The Descendents”, the Golden Globes not withstanding. An appreciation of good technical film doesn’t mitigate the pain you go through to be in the same room with it. If you must see it, get it off Netflix so you can mercifully turn it off without embarrassing yourself spilling popcorn all over the lady next to you as you make an escape from the theater.
* Best feature: George Clooney is an excellent actor
* Worst feature: Sticking your head in an oven before the film is halfway over.
I give it 2 of five pasty brain death preps.
Alternatively, “The Actor” is near perfection. The film is fresh, novel, creative, well acted, directed and photographed. It came from nowhere to the top of the heap on the wings of talent and originality.
* Best feature: The intricate subtlety of the lead actor and actress that leaps off the screen (silently).
* Worst feature: A little long and tedious, takes a while getting used to the silence and the ending is just a bit incongruous.
I give it 4.5 of 5 manicured moustaches. Must see on big screen