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Are reviews a good thing ?

February 9, 2012

Well in answer to my own question – in general yes they are, after all we all use them to help us sift through the myriad of options available to us so that we use our time and money most effectively in seeing, listening, visiting, viewing what we hope we will enjoy.  With the broadening of blogging, twitter etc there are many more options available to guide us through the cultural soup but I can’t help but wonder if all this help makes us lazy and unadventurous.  I used to regularly buy albums based purely on the album artwork which of course meant that I ended up with some total stinkers but also there was a sense of anticipation when I first put the record on (yes that’s how old I am) as I had no idea what sound was about to come blasting out after the first needle crackle. I also suspect that easily over half the books that I still read I know very little about until I open the front cover, read the first paragraph and experience that feeling of adventure and anticipation in discovering something new and, however fleeting the feeling might be, it is something that should not be lost.

The other night I went to see the Descendents, which of course has been widely advertised, won some awards and features a big A lister in the lead role only I’d somehow managed to avoid all of this and any reviews of the film.  Yep I knew that Clooney was in it (and that would usually be enough to put me off) but what drew me to the film was that I knew that someone behind the film (turns out it was the director) also had something to do with Sideways.  Now Sideways was a film that snuck up on me and gave me a big warm hug when it came out so I was intrigued to know what the Descendents would be like.  The only similarities are of a beautifully crafted, intelligent and warm film.

Of course having started out asking the question about reviews I’m going to talk about the film but without giving any plot lines away.  I think that the beauty of artistic endeavour in whatever form it takes is, that at it’s best, it gets you to think, to reflect and to feel emotion of some sort and the very best hold up a mirror to your inner self and for me the Descendants did all of those things.

Although Gorgeous George is very good in the film he is for me also a bit of a distraction and can’t help sneaking in a few of his trademark little nods and winks but that aside the film takes a look at many issues that affect us all.  Howies have a lovely T-shirt that simple says Life is Complicated Sport is Simple and while there is no sport in the film the Life is Complicated bit certainly rings true.  I was made to think and reflect on my own relationships with family, friends and loved ones; how much do we know about the people that we love and visa versa; love and it’s many different shades; friendship; generational differences; parenting; how we preserve our family and cultural history (or don’t as the case may be); what is it that we are really handing down to those who will follow us; death and how we handle it; Alzheimer’s; fidelity; dignity; what values do you really hold; money and wealth.  It’s a pretty good list of things and questions to be sparked by a film.  All of these are touched upon, some in detail but many through the nuances of the dialogue which is really well written and delivered.  Yes Clooney delivers a measured and effective lead role but is ably supported by the cast around him, notably those playing his daughters and the older daughters boyfriend.  It’s also worth mentioning the music which really matches the tone and mood of the film superbly.

So sometimes just walk in sit down and watch something, listen to something, view something, experience something that you know nothing about – you will have no preconceptions, the thrill can be heightened and the experience deeply rewarded.  Oh yes but go and see the Descendants.

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