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November 14, 2011


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I quite liked it, too, to my surprise - I'm not really a "Payne man," as it were. Unless it's John Payne. Here's what I wrote for Slant:


David Ehrenstein

I liked it too. Caught the big press preview on the FOX lot last night. Payne was there along with George Clooney, Robert Forster, Beau Bridges and several fo the kids.

Beau Bridges is going into How To Succeed on Brodway playing opposite Darren Criss of Glee super-fame.

George was his usual devestatingly gorgeous self. He and Payne are the smae age.

This is a well-observed, senstitive film about the way families in crisis deal with things. It's not at all depressing, despite the fact that it's about "end of life issues."

Pete Segall

I've said for a while that there's no other way to describe Payne's segment at the end of Paris, Je t'aime than "humane." The line it toes between mawkishness and excess criticism is very thin but Payne does it adroitly, gracefully. I'm very glad to hear that The Descendants holds form.


Caught this at a press screening in NY. I kept thinking about a friend of mine who hated "Sideways" and how it made her so angry. I thought "The Descendants" could've been a response to her reaction, focusing on the people who were really hurt the most by other people's actions. Sort of the flipside of "Sideways" (building the story around the victims instead of the victimizers, I guess - not sure I'm entirely comfortable using those terms).


In the wake of your Tweet-dismantling of @3xchair's Jack & Jill rave, Glenn, I hope you could comment on Mr. White's capsule review of THIS movie: http://cityarts.info/2011/11/14/now-playing-film-capsules-by-armond-white-3/
I'll just say that there's a half-and-half chance that he'll acknowledge liking Payne's previous films in the full review.

Enver Erdogan

This movie is the best pilot never aired by ABC.

Glenn Kenny

"TV movie"-as-laugh-line is the new "Six hour Russian movie"-as-laugh-line. Only not really all that new.

Bruce Reid

Besides, that also ignores Mulholland Drive.

Glenn Kenny

Excellent point.

Enver Erdogan

I wasn't trying to get a laugh, Glenn. I was stating a fact. But you were, obviously. And you're very funny. Very clever. A little bitchy some of the time, though. You sound tense. You should pay someone to give you a handjob. I have some numbers if you need them.

Glenn Kenny

Oh, don't give me TOO much credit, EE; sometimes the jokes just write themselves!

Enver Erdogan

Maybe they shouldn't. Maybe you should write some of them. Maybe then they would be funny jokes as opposed to jokes that aren't.

Glenn Kenny

OK, so I'm not funny and you didn't like "The Descendants." I'd ask you what else you got, but I don't know that you'd recognize the question as rhetorical.

Enver Erdogan

You have no stamina, my man. Are you out of breath already?


Great conversation!


Oh, so it's a FACT that THE DESCENDANTS is an unaired ABC pilot? First I've heard of it.

Enver, you scamp, I bet you were trying to get a laugh after all.

Enver Erdogan

If it looks like a televison show, and it sounds like a television show, then it's a television show. Just because something is watched in a movie theater doesn't mean it doesn't resemble something else. Alexander Payne is a television director. A mildly subversive one, but a television director nonetheless. His movies do not require you to see them to be seen on a big screen. His career, to me, only serves to highlight the obvious erasure of boundaries between what is cinematic and is telematic. I think that's interesting. Sounds like most of you don't. Too bad everything is a joke to you. That must be boring.


Serge Daney said this 30 years ago. I think Godfrey Cheshire said it 20 years ago. You're not saying anything different or new.

Also, why is "television" or "telematic" an insult in 2011? BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN & LOUIE (and no-longer-airing shows like THE SHIELD, THE WIRE & THE SOPRANOS) are better than the vast majority of American cinema. Hell, BREAKING BAD is more "cinematic" than the vast majority of American cinema.

Glenn Kenny

There's also the matter that, even by the standards you cite, Steve, I myself don't find "The Descendants" in the least bit "telematic." But I'm also neither prepared, nor inclined, to offer anything like a detailed rebuttal to any commenter who just comes strolling in and throwing down and expecting respect, if not, indeed, shock and awe, for the mere assertion that the film is "the best pilot never aired by ABC," hardee har har. As if this BREATHTAKING pronouncement, backed up by precisely ZERO evidence, is supposed to make me take back my review, or whatever the fuck this guy expects it's going to do. If he's too lazy or too arrogant to put in a little bitty amount work to back up his "argument," then I owe him even less than what I did when we started the exchange, which was PRECISELY NOTHING.


In any event, I think I can live with a comedy in 2011 not being especially cinematic if it's really, not to be lazy, humane and sensitive and smart, which everyone seems to think this thing is.


So THE DESCENDANTS doesn't even possess the cinematic qualities of the cheapest poverty row production of the pre-television era? Or have those films become retroactively "telematic"? You're not one of those people who thinks only epic-scale stories "require" a big screen, are you?

Re "the best pilot never aired by ABC" -- if it looks like a joke and it sounds like a joke, then it's a joke. You can't open with a joke and then expect everyone else to get all serious.


Too late, but -- sorry, Glenn, for feeding the troll.


I guess that must make 'The King of Comedy' and 'Quiz Show' pretty damn "telematic" then, not only given their subject matter but (by Scorsese and Redford's own admission) they were shot in a deliberately restrained, simple 'televisual' style.


I actually ended up not liking this film at all and finding it really televisual myself.

Frank McDevitt

I guess it's no surprise that Julie Klausner, friend of Natasha Vargas-Cooper, hated this film.

Glenn Kenny

No surprise, and still I'm wary of making TOO direct a causal link...

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