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Movie Review: The Descendants

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Mike Finkelstein took a flight to Hawaii to escape all the troubles of life.  Turns out he met some people that made him realize there is no place out there that is perfect.  Here is his review of “The Descendants.”

PLOT: Matt King (George Clooney) is a very simple man with a very big responsibility: he is the descendant of Hawaiian royalty and trustee of a huge chunk of his beautiful island.  When his wife is left in a coma by a boating accident, it is up to him to figure out how to care for his two daughters (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller), as well as make the right decision concerning the land that would either make his family even richer than it already is, or keep a little bit of paradise intact.  On top of all of that, he finds out that his wife was carrying on a long term affair.

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MIKE’S REVIEW:  Alexander Payne is excellent at crafting stories about older characters in crises.  CITIZEN RUTH and ELECTION were both tremendous, but it is in the subtle, humanizing world of ABOUT SCHMIDT and SIDEWAYS where he seems to be most comfortable.  With THE DESCENDANTS, Payne has returned to that world for the third time in a row, and somehow, he has delivered yet again a funny, heartfelt, and life affirming film

George Clooney is Matt King, a man with many problems.  First off, he and all of his cousins are the descendants of Hawaiian royalty, but while he has decided to not live off any of his inheritance (a moral instilled in him by his father), most of his cousins have already blown theirs.  When they have a chance to sell the huge chunk of island land they still own for a massive payday, it is up to Matt alone as the trustee to make the final decision.  Add to that the fact that his wife just got into a major boating accident that leaves her basically brain dead.  Suddenly, Matt has to break the news to his two daughters and step up as a parent, only to be hit with the news from his oldest that his wife was cheating on him.

Clooney is very good at playing the everyman.  It seems like over the past couple of years, from UP IN THE AIR to MICHAEL CLAYTON, he is getting nominations for roles that are not exactly characters, but different offsets of his personality (usually pretty confident, somewhat defying…).  We get to see the insecure, destroyed side of George here, and while it may not be something like O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU, he draws us in with his emotion and gives us some pretty funny moments doing some ridiculous things that we wouldn’t want to admit we’d do in the same situations.

The real meat and potatoes of this movie, however, come from the Matt’s daughters.  Shailene Woodley plays older daughter Alexandra charmingly, and shows the skill level of actresses twice her age…something definitely apparent in a pretty emotional scene early on where she breaks down in her pool, and then goes toe-to-toe with her father.  Amara Miller is also adorable as Scottie, throwing off curse after curse, trying to be like her sister.  When the three finally start to come together and understand each other, you can’t help but feel that heart and soul Payne was aiming for.  Besides George getting a nomination for Best Actor, I wouldn’t be surprised if Woodley’s recognized with a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

The rest of the cast also lends some great support, with Matthew Lillard as the ‘other guy’ (the man has matured tenfold since the days of SCREAM and SCOOBY DOO) and Robert Forster as Matt’s angry and blaming father-in-law.  A special mention goes out to Nick Krause as the hysterical comic relief in the form of Alex’s friend, Sid.  The kid is stupid, and you hate him in the beginning, but by the end, he is part of the family.

THE DESCENDANTS may not be a blockbuster, but it doesn’t have to be.  Alexander Payne is in the business of creating films that tell “simple, human stories”, and he does a striking, elegant job of it (calling the nominations for Picture and Director now).  Just like SIDEWAYS and ABOUT SCHMIDT before it, the tale works on a simple, intimate level, backed with some beautiful, grounded performances by its cast, and a final, life affirming message that’ll have you leaving the theaters feeling just a bit better about life.

GRADE: A-

Mike’s LIKES:

1) GEORGE CLOONEY: What can I say?  George Clooney is George Clooney through and through.  Yes, maybe he suffers from the syndrome of “Hey! That’s George Clooney on screen!” but either way, the man plays his roles well.

2) SHAILENE WOODLEY: Woodley is a beautiful young actress, and here, she shows amazing range for one of her first lead film roles.  More Dakota Fanning than the Disney Channel group.

3) NICK KRAUSE: Krause is the full comic relief as Sid.  At first, I thought I hated the character for being so stupid, and then I realized just how good the actor was.  You absolutely hate him in the beginning, and by the end, you love him.

4) MATTHEW LILLARD: The man has matured drastically since playing Shaggy in SCOOBY DOO.  I hope he’ll have a chance to show us more in the future.

5) ROBERT FORSTER: “I’m going to hit you now.”  That line sums it all up.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) NONE: Just an enjoyable, heartfelt, human story throughout.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) George Clooney actually wanted to play the role of Jack in Alexander Payne’s last film, SIDEWAYS.  Payne turned him down because he wanted someone lesser known for the role.

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst

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Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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Priest Accidentally Forgets To Turn Off Filters Before Live Streaming Mass

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The internet is having a field day with the innocent mistake of biblical proportions.

With new social distancing guidelines, many churches have closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And while that doesn’t justify all the wine you’ve been chugging during your self quarantine, it does have many people practicing their faith from their homes. One Italian priest was just trying to recite a little prayer for his followers when he accidentally left a filter feature on during the broadcast! In the clip the priest is digitally adorned with a space helmet, workout gear, a fedora and sunglasses and more.

Social media went nuts for the video, which has now gone viral. One comment reads “He just doubled his holy power.” Another reads “Father, Son and Holy Influencer.” One commenter couldn’t resist a good pun and said the video is having a “Mass effect.”

Enjoy your daily blessing and take a look at the funny video below!

 

Priest in Italy live streams mass, activates filters by mistake from r/funny

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Danny DeVito Passionately Urges New Yorkers To Stay Home…And Twitter Agrees!

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For the love of Danny DeVito, stay home!

The world is in a dark place right now and I am not sure how much more bad news we can handle. That’s why when I saw Danny DeVito’s name trending on Twitter I froze. Our great nation could very well crumble if anything bad was to happen to such an icon right now. With extreme trepidation I clicked on the social media link and was relieved to see that good ol’ Danny boy is just strumming up hype because he is passionately urging New Yorkers to stay home.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been driving New Yorkers to stay home and has taken every precaution short of shutting the state down completely to help prevent the virus from spreading. Because New Yorkers can be hard headed, it doesn’t hurt to have some famous friends reiterate your message. Big names like Lala Anthony, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller have all made appearances on Cuomo’s social media pleading with New Yorker’s to heed the governors warning. Only one celebrity was able to make it to Twitter’s trending page however and that was none other than Danny DeVito. DeVito’s message is simple…stay home! In the two minute video, DeVito reminds fans that it’s not just up to the elderly to isolate themselves. “Young people can get it and they can transmit it to old people and the next thing you know – I’m out of there” says the actor. We must save him!

Twitter went into a frenzy with many users agreeing that we need to stay home for Danny. One user wrote “When Danny speaks, I listen.” Another passionately wrote “If you idiots kill Danny DeVito I SWEAR TO GOD.” One promoted DeVito from the icon status I previously awarded him and said “WE GOTTA PROTECT WORLD TREASURE DANNY DeVITO.” 

Take a look at the video below and for the love of the newly minted national treasure, stay home!

 

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