Game Change

Game Change (2012)

Based on the book of the same name, Game Change chronicles many of the events leading up to the 2008 US Presidential election. Although much of the book is dedicated to the respective journeys of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the HBO movie focuses almost exclusively on Sarah Palin.

And perhaps that is for the best. This helps to provide a more defined narrative and it really gave Julianne Moore a fantastic opportunity to shine as the Governor of Alaska. And shine she did. The performance by Moore was positively uncanny, capitalizing on all the mannerisms and “folksy” talk made famous by the hockey mom from Wasilla. Even the casting of the rest of the Palin family was impeccable. And yes, not surprisingly, Sarah Palin is depicted as an incredibly ignorant Vice-Presidential candidate with no knowledge of foreign policy, domestic policy, the “Fed,” or why there are two Koreas. You see her struggling with index cards and turning back on her promises to the campaign team.

But Julianne Moore wasn’t the only star. Woody Harrelson as political strategist Steve Schmidt was equally amazing, really letting us experience the frustration and excitement that surrounds a Presidential bid. It was an eye-opener to see how little Palin and McCain communicated with one another and it is because of insights like these that Game Change is certainly worth your time. Heading into this year’s election, it’ll be interesting to see if another book is produced that gives us more “behind the scenes” gossip, this time for Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and maybe even Herman Cain.


The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

While I was aware of the Tintin character beforehand, I really didn’t know much about the franchise when I watched The Adventures Of Tintin movie. In short, we follow a young reporter as he travels around the world, accompanied by his dog and a drunk sea captain, in search of treasures and model ships.

There are several scenes with a contrived sense of fast-paced action, like a fun chase scene through a busy marketplace, but as a whole, the movie feels like it drags on a little too long without really providing the satisfaction of a well-drawn narrative. In like manner, while the amazing animation — which is more like Polar Express than, say, Toy Story 3 — is a feast for the eyes, the near-expressionless Tintin leaves you feeling disconnected from the characters. There’s just no emotional investment, resulting in a cold tag-along that is, nonetheless, undeniably cute.


The Descendants

The Descendants (2011)

No matter how rich you may be, no matter how well-off you may appear, you are still at the mercy at very real, very human problems.

And that is the message at the core of The Descendants. George Clooney plays Matt King, a successful attorney whose family happens to own a huge plot of untapped Hawaiian paradise. Faced with the decision to sell it, and pushed on by the rest of the King family, he encounters another struggle: his wife is in a coma when he learns that she was cheating on him.

The tone of the film is a strange one. At times, it feels terribly tragic with absolute heartbreak and emotional vulnerability, but at other times, it has these moments of out-of-place humor. And somehow, it all works. The boyfriend of King’s eldest daughter, for instance, makes terribly inappropriate comments when King visits his in-laws. The Descendants manages to ride the line between comedy and tragedy, resulting in a film that leaves you with that uneasy reminder: money doesn’t buy happiness. Family is what matters most.