I was a little surprised “The Descendants” won Best Motion Picture in the drama category in Sunday’s 69th annual Golden Globes.
The movie, based on the novel written by Kaui Hart Hemmings, beat out “Hugo,” “The Ides of March,” “The Help,” “Moneyball” and “War Horse.” (Read more in the New York Times here.)
I wasn’t surprised because it wasn’t good. Far from that. In fact, the movie, about a Hawaii land baron and his troubled family, was surprisingly good, very realistic and well executed. And I don’t usually like movies about Hawaii.
Residents will agree: Hollywood hasn’t done the best job depicting our life in the Islands. It’s like all we do is surf and walk around in bikinis. I’m glad this movie — and you can tell from the opening scenes — shows the real Hawaii. The traffic on H-1, the bustling lunch hour in downtown, the homeless. It wasn’t a romanticized version of Hawaii. The movie let Hawaii be the background, not the main character.
And George Clooney — who took home the Best Actor award on Sunday for this role — was spot on. He didn’t overact, he didn’t botch (too many) Hawaiian words, and he didn’t try to speak Pidgin.
Typically, I prefer books over their movie versions. (“The Help,” by the way, is way better than the movie. And the movie was pretty good.) But in this case, dare I say, I might have preferred the movie to the book in the way it visually told another story, the one about Hawaii.
Anyone saw the movie — or read the book? What did you think about the way Hawaii was depicted? Were the characters — haole-fied trust fund Hawaiians with membership to Outrigger Canoe Club — accurate? Did the music — either instrumental or sung in Hawaiian and no Iz — work?
i like the gossip stories of the behind the scenes of movies made in Hawaii.Almost always coming from the Coconut Wireless. Like Kevin Costner having his big hot and heavy affair with a dancer while filming Waterworld. Or Ted Dansen and Whoopi Golberg whooping it up. Or the time i saw DAmon Wayans at Zanzibar.Then watching the movie or tv show it has more meaning…
I haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet. But I was surprised in a very nice way to hear Hawaiian music played from the movie when it won! I hadn’t looked up much about the movie so I didn’t know about the Hawaiian music. To have an all Hawaiian music score for a movie is wonderful especially with the lovely slack key music. I tend to stay away from movie about Hawaii because I cringe at how they want to display the islands. But this might be the exception!
I am hanging my head in shame. My daughter says that we live like the Amish. Your blog today confirms it (despite the internet connection and keys at my fingertips). Not only did I not see any of the movies you mentioned. I have never heard of any of them. “The Descendants,” wha? Cat, you are my last and only connection to pop culture information.
All work and no play makes Oscar a very dull boy.
All work and no play makes Oscar not so Wilde. 😉
Hey Cat … haven’t seen the movie … and I don’t do “reading books” … haha! … but I am pleasantly surprised at the acclaim this movie has received … I definitely want to see this film now …
… and you’re right … Hollywood’s idea of Hawaii and Hawaii-life is not at all like the Hawaii we know … but I guess it helps bring visitors here … and that’s a good thing …
I haven’t seen the movie yet as I was worried it wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of Hawaii. However it does sound like Clooney did a good job of keeping it real. Your post has inspired me to go see it and judge for myself – thanks Cat!
I saw the Descendants and thought it was a good depiction of Hawaii and some of its people. Right after I watched it I knew I enjoyed it but I felt that my judgment of it was hinged on how others outside of Hawaii or unfamiliar with local ways would view it. I felt that maybe people wouldn’t get it? But after thinking about it and speaking to others who live on the mainland, and realizing they enjoyed it too, I didn’t feel as nervous about how others felt about it. I think people of Hawaii want those from the outside to understand us in a certain way, an accurate way, so our interpretation or view of something like this movie, is more critical. But yes, the more I think about it and am able to dismiss the concern for what others may think about the movie, I like the movie more and more. I loved the music, the scenery, the real shots of downtown and HI traffic, the land use issue, and the believable characters – mostly haole, punahou parents, outrigger club members, etc. (I don’t think I once cringed during this movie over someone mispronouncing or misusing a local expression which is usually the case with HI shows/movies.) I don’t know if the movie is golden globe or oscar worthy but that’s because I haven’t seen any of the other movies and also I think because, like i said, i may just be over critical of it.
Saw the film, haven’t read the book yet. The scene where people were gathering at the family home, I was thinking, “I haven’t seen this many haoles in one room in Hawai‘i since I went to summer school at Punahou. Never mind. No, not even then…” :p
Haoles in Hawaii? How did that happen? Plan on catching this movie soon. Glad to hear it was at least in the neighborhood of an accurate representation. Living there is a different animal than the normal fare offered up on TV and in movies. There is no way I would ever believe Clooney and Pidgin. Being haole kine it is worse than fingers on a chalkboard when I hear bleached white Ken and barbie try their hand at it. Might as well riase a sign that says ‘Idiot in training.’