Currently browsing the "Alexander Payne" tag.

Review: Downsizing

Downsizing starts with a fun premise: What if you could make humans really small so our impact on the earth is also really small? It’s a great jumping off point for a silly comedy, but what makes Alexander Payne’s (Nebraska, Sideways) new film Downsizing work is that it winds up being more than that. Matt Damon stars as everyman Paul Safranek who’s convinced that he and his wife (Kristen Wiig) can have a better life as tiny people. More money, a bigger house, more leisure, (and yeah, save the planet.) But after he’s already downsized, she backs out and he’s left all alone in tiny town. Fortunately for the audience, he soon meets two new friends: the irrepressible Dusan (Christop Waltz, Inglourious Basterds), his upstairs neighbor and man of multiple schemes, and Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau Treme, Inherent Vice), a former Vietnamese dissident and now Dusan’s one-legged housekeeper who drags Paul into a more interesting life. Not that Matt Damon isn’t good, it’s just that these two steal the show.

Nebraska

I have been appreciative of Alexander Payne’s quirky films (Sideways, The Descendants) since he began with Citizen Ruth, and Nebraska does not disappoint. This time we have a delusional father (Bruce Dern) and his big-hearted son (Will Forte of SNL) on a road trip. The father, Woody, thinks a letter he received in the mail announcing that he won a million dollars is real. His son David knows it is a scam, but after trying and failing to talk Dad out of walking to Nebraska to claim his winnings, he decides to take a long weekend and drive him there to prove it is fake. And of course things do not go as easily as one would hope.

The Descendants

If you’re looking for an adult movie that can appeal to the mainstream, adventurous and arty crowd this holiday weekend, then I highly encourage you to seek out The Descendants. It’s got George Clooney. Need I say more? Actually, I do need to say more – because this is Clooney at his best. He delivers a powerfully low-key performance as a fairly regular guy named Matt King who is forced to step it up as a father when his wife suffers catastrophic injuries in a boating accident. As she lies comatose in a hospital bed, Matt is left to process her impending death, comfort and support his rebellious and rambunctious daughters, and oversee the difficult sale of a large piece of pristine land that his Hawaiian ancestors left in a family trust (thus the title, The Descendants). On top of that, he learns his wife had been having an affair.