The Descendants

The Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Movie Lovers

It may shock you to realize that you, dear reader, are a reader. You are reading this right now! Bizarre, right? And, if you can read things on the Internet, you can certainly read things that come in the traditionally accepted reading format, better known as a “book.” And if you can do it, surely the people in your life that you love enough to buy holiday presents for can do it, too! Enter The Holiday Gift Guide, and more specifically, enter this particular contribution: 18 Books for Movie Lovers. So shiny and wrap-able! So easily order-able and ship-able! So key to preventing widespread illiteracy! After the break, check out seventeen (but really eighteen) books for the movie lover in your life for holiday season gift-giving. Unlike some of those other guides, not all of these books hit shelves in the past eleven months, as I stretched beyond just this calendar year to come up with some unexpected literary picks to make your gift-giving that much more original. Did I make an egregious omission? Of course I did. Put your obvious suggestions in the comments. And, hey, if you gift one of these books and it’s a big hit, let us know which one it was. It’s always nice to hear praise. Happy Chrismakwanzakuh, you guys.

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Movie News: Justified Returns

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that doesn’t mess around. If it tells you to leave town or else it will shoot you on the spot, then you’d better believe that it will shoot you on the spot. Lucky for you, it would never ask you to leave town. All it asks is that you come back and read on a nightly basis. Or else. We open tonight with a bit of news for your boob tube. FX has set dates for the return of Justified and Archer, two favorite shows of mine. Both are coming back in January. They’ve also given the green light to an animated comedy called Unsupervised, which features the likes of Justin Long, Kristen Bell, Fred Armisen, Romany Malco, Kaitlin Olson and Alexa Vega. It’s about teens who are forced to navigate through life without parental supervision. Either way, did I mention that Justified is coming back? Walton Goggins, man…

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Remember all the way back to last night when the Gothams announced their annual awards and thus declared that awards season was like, so totally on? No? Really? It was just last night, come on. In that vein, the Film Independent Spirit Awards have just announced their nominations for their annual awards (held in February, on the beach, as ya do in Los Angeles), and their picks come with their own surprises. Remember (no, seriously, I need you to remember back less than twenty-four hours) how the Gothams didn’t give squat to Take Shelter or 50/50 or Martha Marcy May Marlene? Or Drive? Or The Descendants? Well, the Independent Spirit nominations are here to ease that pain. Leading the nominations pack are just those very films, along with Gotham darling Beginners and black and white sensation The Artist, with Take Shelter and The Artist tied for the most nominations, with five each. Following the lead, with four nominations each are Beginners, Drive, The Descendants, and Martha Marcy May Marlene, with 50/50 logging three noms. And, coincidentally, it’s those top nomination-getters (save MMMM) that are all nominated for Best Feature. Funny how that works out, right? Other nominations of note include Best First Feature (Another Earth, In the Family, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Natural Selection ), Best First Screenplay (Another Earth, Margin Call, Terri, Cedar Rapids, 50/50), and the John Cassavetes Award, which is given to the best feature made for under $500,000 (Bellflower, Circumstance, Hello Lonesome, Pariah, The […]

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That’s not to say it didn’t make blockbuster dollars this weekend. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 did make its groove on several record charts. It had the third biggest opening day with $72m. It had the second biggest opening in November behind New Moon, the second film of the franchise. And it had the fifth largest opening in history. Those are some impressive placements in the grand scheme of things. But this is Twilight we’re talking about, and any way to shed a negative light on the subject is grounds for some back-patting. The fourth film of the series, and first of the two-part finale, still had a very impressive debut, another clear indicator the franchise is anything but losing steam. Summit Entertainment did just right for themselves when they bought the rights all those years ago. It was a risky gamble a la Warner Bros. committing to the seven-part Harry Potter series, but, like Harry Potter, this one has proven to be paying off in abundance. With an additional $144m in foreign markets, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is already nearing $300m worldwide, a three-fold return on the reportedly $110m film. With the final final movie of the series hitting November 2012, Summit is sure to be looking for their next big venture in long-term franchising. I’m not sure the Step Up series has it in it to make up for the Twilight movies ending, but, in a perfect world…

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The Reject Report

There are only a few proven constants in the known universe. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, mixing Pop Rocks and Pepsi in your stomach will cause you to burst from the inside out (actually, this one hasn’t been proven), and the Twilight movies make a crap ton of money. And here we are again, ladies and germs, at the period of the box office year when Twi-hards feast their ever-loving eyes on yet another one. But this isn’t just another Twilight movie. This is the beginning of the end, the first of a two-parter that finishes off the franchise for good. Or, at least, until they reboot. I’m guessing it’ll make some dough this weekend. Aren’t you? It’s the Reject Report, and teen angst is eternal. At least, that’s what teens tell me.

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Editor’s Note: This review was published on October 18 as part of our New York Film Festival 2011 coverage. With The Descendants hitting (limited) theaters this week, we’ve gone ahead and republished it for those of you who need further reason to check out a George Clooney film that takes place in Hawaii. After seven years of waiting, Alexander Payne finally has another feature film coming to the big screen. While the wait has been tumultuous and tedious, seven years for films like The Descendants makes the anticipation worth it. Heartfelt, sweet, funny, touching, and every other adjective that describes Payne’s movies applies to his fifth feature. Like his past work, this is another exploration of a search for manhood and meaning. Payne has a real knack for writing men who have been reduced by women. Matt King (George Clooney in another career-best performance) has a line about how all the women in his life bring him down; that applies to the thought process behind all of Payne’s leads, from Sideways to About Schmidt to Election. Both uncomfortably and honestly, the writer-director understands emasculated men who, for lack of a better phrase, are simply trying to get their shit together.

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George Clooney in The Descendants

Sure, what we’re about to show you is a 30-second commercial for The Descendants, the George Clooney led indie comedy that’s beginning to spark up some Oscar buzz. And sure, it will likely be preceded by a 15-30 second advertisement, courtesy of our advertising company and our robust hosting bill. But isn’t it nice, just knowing that you, the reader of Film School Rejects, are seeing something that people who read /Film aren’t seeing… like a commercial with a big pull-quote from Peter Sciretta at /Film? It’s the must-see TV spot of the night, especially if you’re into things that involve George Clooney.

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When I first read on Empire that Alexander Payne was looking at a project called Wilson for his next film, I thought to myself that finally, finally somebody was going to take a long overdue deeper look at the always obscured, wisdom filled neighbor from Home Improvement. But then I read a little further and realized that’s not what this project is going to be at all. I was disappointed. But then I read a little further and realized that what this project is could be even better. “Wilson” is a graphic novel created by Daniel Clowes, who film fans will probably recognize as being the guy who wrote “Ghost World,” another comic that went on to become a Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi-starring feature film. That film was much loved, so much so that the Clowes and Terry Zwigoff penned screenplay was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar at The Academy Awards that year. Seeing as Clowes is once again working on the adaptation for this project, and Ghost World had a dry, biting sense of humor that seems to fit very well with Payne’s sensibilities, it looks like this could be a project to watch.

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Last month the Oscar season officially kicked off, and this month we’ll be getting plenty more Oscar baiters and real contenders to add to the mix. We’ll get another Brett Ratner film, the 25th film of the decade from Clint Eastwood, another upbeat audience friendly film from Lars von Trier, and the most expected and clichéd, a Martin Scorsese “kids” film. A fairly promising month, right? I’ve already seen a few films coming out this month, and there’s plenty of good-to-great films to see, even one or two that didn’t make it on this list. Honorable Mentions: My Week with Marilyn (an extremely enjoyable film with a great performance by Kenneth Branagh), Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, and London Boulevard (a solid anti-cliché gangster film). But here are the names who made it all the way to the top ten:

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Alexander Payne’s next planned film, Nebraska, is about “a geriatric gin-hound of a dad who takes his estranged son with him from Montana to Publisher’s Clearing House headquarters, with a detour through Omaha, Nebraska, in order to claim his million-dollar sweepstakes prize.” Personally, I love Alexander Payne’s painfully realist aesthetic and pitch black humor, so this is a project that I’m interested in. When I hear that Payne wants to shoot the film in black and white, I get even more intrigued. Pre-production has already hit a snag, though. Apparently the studio will only let Payne film it in black and white if he gets a big name star to attach himself as the father. That might be a problem, except that we’re dealing with a director whose upcoming release The Descendants is doing well on the festival circuit, gathering some Oscar buzz, and improving his already well-respected position in the film industry. Surely he must have someone in mind for this role that he can convince to sign, right? Well, word has it that he has a few people on his short list, and any one of them would be awesome. The list reportedly consists of Robert Forster, Robert Duvall, and Jack Nicholson. Any of these actors would be great news in my mind, and Nicholson has already worked with Payne for About Schmidt, so that pairing isn’t unlikely at all.  There is, however, a fourth name on the list that’s really got me excited. Apparently Payne is looking to get the retired-from-acting […]

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This weekend’s 38th annual Telluride Film Festival has just announced their slate, including a number of buzzed-about titles from the likes of Cronenberg, Payne, Ramsay, Kaurismäki, Scorsese, Herzog, and McQueen. Telluride differs from other film festivals by keeping mum on its lineup until the day before the festival opens, though speculation runs high in the weeks before opening, with a bevy of well-educated guesses often revealing the festival’s top picks well in advance (an example from this year would be We Need to Talk About Kevin, as star Tilda Swinton is a consistent Telluride favorite). The festival will continue to announce additions to its lineup throughout its run. The festival seems to have a taken a number of cues from Cannes and Venice, with Cannes picks The Artist, Le Havre, Footnote, The Kid with a Bike, Bonsai, and We Need to Talk About Kevin showing, along with Venice films A Dangerous Method and Shame. The festival also announced that they will be bestowing the Silver Medallion Awards (which “recognize an artist’s contribution to the world of cinema”) to George Clooney (starring in The Descendants at the festival), Swinton, and French filmmaker-actor Pierre Etaix. The festival runs this weekend, from September 2 through September 5. Check out the full lineup for the festival’s main program, which also includes Albert Nobbs, Living in the Material World, and The Tuirn Horse, after the break.

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If you’re like me, then you probably don’t pay much attention to what goes on in towns outside your own. As far as I knew, the only thing Toronto had going on was gripes about Maple Leaf hockey and reminiscing about when The Kids in the Hall used to play that tiny theater down the street. But what do I know? I haven’t been there since The Ultimate Warrior pinned Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 6. Turns out they have a really awesome film festival every year. This year the events go down between September eighth and the eighteenth, and the first fifty or so films announced for the lineup have me wanting to take a trip. There are too many to discuss, but just to give you an idea of what we’re working with, let’s look at a few.

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When I heard that Alexander Payne’s next film was going to be starring George Clooney, what I was picturing didn’t look anything at all like what we get in the new trailer for The Descendants. Payne is a director who finds inspiration in the mundane. He casts regular looking people and shoots them in real life settings. There is always a relatably human element to the way he presents his characters, but there’s a sort of mocking, exploitive undercurrent as well. His films can be funny, but the humor is dark, it comes from exploring the baser nature of the human animal. Whether it’s an alcoholic Paul Giamatti drinking the spit bucket at a wine tasting in Sideways, a thrifty Jack Nicholson cutting corners on his wife’s funeral in About Schmidt, or a perverted Mark Harelik seducing a teenage girl with a Diet Mug Rootbeer in Election, Payne has always presented us with characters that you couldn’t 100% sympathize with.

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It’s been seven years since Alexander Payne has directed a feature length film, and he’s coming out of the gate with The Descendants – a film featuring George Clooney that apparently isn’t a biopic of the punk band. Instead, it’s the story of a father trying to forge new bonds with his daughters. According to the fine folks at The Playlist, Payne will continue to explore those paternal instincts (and his road-tripping ways) with Nebraska, a story about a father taking a trip to Nebraska to claim his Publisher’s Clearing House Prize with a son (who doesn’t believe the ticket is really a winner) in tow. The bonding ensues. It’s exciting to see so much work from Payne after a nearly decade-long drought. The director has an incredible talent for choosing subject matter and getting dynamic performances out of actors taking on emotionally corrosive material. Somehow, he does it all with a smile on his face. That’s a skill few possess, and it’ll be a sunny day at the theater when both The Descendants and Nebraska get released.

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upintheair-header

George Clooney is currently flying around the world, promoting his three new movies that will hit theaters in the next two months. Yet, that still hasn’t stopped him from finding even more work…

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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