MOVIE REVIEW: DOWNSIZING (Alexander Payne, 2017)

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The central concept of shrinking people with the belief that overpopulation was mankind’s biggest long-term threat sounded like the kind of novel idea from a certified tree-hugger. Midway through, it turned into a commentary on social classes and capitalism before settling down as a saccharine “finding your purpose in life” enlightenment film.

As a certified fan of Payne’s social satires and a huge lover of cheese, I was a weeping mess by the time it ended.

Great performances from the cast, especially Hong Chau.

(Note: This is not a late April Fools’ Day joke.)

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published May 21, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: NEBRASKA (Alexander Payne, 2013)

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My notes on Nebraska:

1. Simple yet powerful, mundane yet life-affirming, dark yet funny, and gorgeously shot in black & white.

I really have a penchant for old people movies (see 2012’s Amour). I find the last years of someone’s life very fascinating. Does that make me weird and creepy?

2. Bruce Dern deserves an Oscar for his excellent work in this movie. Plus he’s the father of Laura Dern. Now I have lots of reasons to love him.

3. It would be hard to classify this film as an all-out comedy but I was laughing in almost every scene from start to end. Alexander Payne has mastered the art of dark humor (see also Election and About Schmidt).

4. I feel like I would get a verbal whipping if I don’t mention the wonderful work of June Squibb. She was a natural and possibly one of a few actresses who could call a dead woman a slut and still sound funny and honest.

5. Remember those misleading “You won a million pesos!” or “You won a brand new car!” complete with a key promos in those bulky Reader’s Digest envelopes? I fell for those as a kid. My mom did, too. She even subscribed for a year (of course she’ll reason out now that she wanted to read the articles). Marketing’s such a bitch.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 25, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE DESCENDANTS (Alexander Payne, 2011)

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It was nothing more than your average Hallmark/Lifetime TV-movie. Although there was no disease-of-the-week involved, there was a mother in a coma whose secrets just might break her family apart (since this was a feel-good movie, of course we knew it’ll hold them closer together). Sometimes witty, oftentimes sluggish, this was completely underwhelming for a Payne film.

George Clooney was fine in the lead but I didn’t see it as Oscar-worthy (he was much, much better in The Ides of March). If there was a standout here, it was Shailene Woodley who reminded me of a young and spunky Natalie Portman.

Rating: ★★★☆☆