“For the first time, I felt that numb terror that all of London has known for months. It is the terror of not being able to do anything but fall on your stomach and hope the bomb won’t land on you. It’s the helplessness and terror of sudden visions of a ripping sensation in your back, shrapnel coursing through your chest, total blackness, maybe death.”
71 years after the day of infamy, the WP publishes a graphic first-hand account of the Pearl Harbor attack by journalist Betty McIntosh, now a hale and hearty 97.
After a brief pre-credit moment of zen with the woman (Patricia Hastie) whose boating accident is the crux of the story, we meet Matt King (George Clooney, very good), a Honolulu attorney with a lot on his plate. His wife is still in a coma several weeks after the incident, and her condition isn’t improving. His younger daughter Scottie (Amara Miller) is more than he knows how to handle (he’s “the backup parent”), and his older daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley, a real find) is fast becoming a reprobate at a boarding school on the Big Island. The beautiful parcel of Kauai land his (haole) family has owned for generations is up for sale, and he alone has to choose a buyer — a decision all of his many cousins are watching with keen interest. And, it soon comes out, the woman he has spent his life with, and who he must now help his family and friends say farewell to, has been having an affair with a local real estate agent (Matthew Lillard), and was, in fact, planning to leave him. Life in a Hawaiian paradise? “Paradise,” King tells us in a voiceover early on, “can go f**k itself.”
Like Schmidt and Sideways, most of the rest of the film involves a road trip journey of self-discovery — this time to beautiful Kauai (where, if you’ve ever visited there, Princeville and downtown Hanalei both get their druthers.) Along for the ride is Alexandra’s amiable, dim-witted boyfriend (Nick Krause), and at various times we meet Matt’s take-no-guff father-in-law (Robert Forster), beachbum cousin (Beau Bridges), and the Other Man’s sweet, unknowing wife (Judy Greer). But, unlike say, About Schmidt, where Dermot Mulroney and his family of rednecks were mostly just joke fodder, The Descendants is less sneering and more open-hearted toward its cast of extended characters (even Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man, who shows up as the husband-half of the Kings’ couple-friends.)
Along with best adapted screenplay — this is based on a book by Kaui Hart Hemmings — I would also expect The Descendants to garner Oscar nods for the very naturalistic Woodley and another for Clooney, who maintains his record of quality here. (Does any leading man have a better one? Even his bad films — The Good German, say — are usually interesting failures.) We’ve already seen Clooney suffer existential crises the past two years in Up in the Air and The American, but this one also stands on its own. His King isn’t the hyper-competent individual of those other two films — He’s just a well-meaning guy, who’s been distracted from his life for too long, trying to make the best of a bad hand.
“It is the place where I feel if things get too hectic, I can come back and get centered, and it will always be in my heart, and I hope if we are successful, I would come to Hawaii. Certainly it would be my preference over Crawford, Texas.” And No. 10: Sen. Obama crushes Hillary Clinton in the home state of his youth, 76%-24%.
|Honolulu is no utopia; its socioeconomic climate is far from Edenic. However, Honolulu’s complexity and diversity are great gifts for a reflective future leader. To grow up in Hawaii is to see the United States from the inside and the outside. The inside view comes from pride in statehood and military tradition. Long before September 11, residents of Hawaii knew what foreign attack was like and valued American protection–Pearl Harbor remains a vital piece of Hawaiian history. The outside view of the United States comes from geographic distance. The Hawaiian islands stand as tiny meeting points for immigrants from Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, and the far reaches of Polynesia. Hawaii is an outpost among many nations, not a state connected by highways to other states. As a meeting place, the islands are cosmopolitan. As an isolated island chain, the islands are also parochial. The haves in Hawaii travel and see the world. The have-nots, many of them native Hawaiians, lack the means to get away. To grow up in Hawaii is to envision the future of a multiracial society, and also to view up close the disappointment of those left behind.|
In TNR, Allegra Goodman makes a case for the importance of Barack Obama’s Hawaiian youth. “To envision a world where racial identity is more fluid, where men and women are more mobile, and where segregation is a thing of the past is not to envision a post-racial world. Obama knows this, as anyone who has lived in Hawaii must.”
As you may have noticed, I’ve added a few pics from my recent weeks in Hawaii over at Flickr. Enjoy.
“While it is the infrequent shark attacks that make the headlines, drowning claims far more lives in Hawaii, where coastlines of sand, coral reef and lava rock create shorebreaks and currents that cause many swimmers to encounter peril entirely unexpected.” Hawaii tries to lessen its drowning rate, highest in the nation. Memo to myself: Avoid Sandy Beach.
Aloha y’all…In keeping with recent Murphy tradition, I’ve joined the family for a late-summer jaunt to Hawaii. Unclear how this will affect the updates around here the next few weeks — on one hand, fun activities like snorkeling and pleasure-reading (note the cue at left is finally moving again) have been eating into my usual blog-hours (and the 1998-ish dial-up here doesn’t lend itself to much time spent on the Internet anyway.) But, then again, I’m already on the verge of sunburn, so I’ll have to find some way to wile away those safety hours indoors. At any rate, I’d expect the intermittent summer posting schedule to remain the norm around here for now, so, as always, mahalo for dropping by.
“‘Everybody in the conservation community was surprised. This was not expected,’ said Dr. Dennis Heinemann, senior scientist for the Ocean Conservancy.” Don’t look now, but Dubya may actually have done something laudable for once: namely, he has declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, “securing strong and immediate ecological protections from the federal government” for the region. “‘It’s the single largest act of ocean conservation in history,’ said Conrad Lautenbacher, NOAA administrator. ‘It’s a large milestone.’“
Aloha and mahalo from lovely, splendiferous Maui, where — textbook work complete — I’ll be spending the next few weeks swimming, snorkeling, hiking, recharging, and reading the occasional tome on New Era progressivism. What with the sun, sand, and sea, I expect the lax updating schedule of the past few weeks will continue for the duration…Sorry about that. I’ll make it up come September.
Hello all…my intermittent cable woes continue over here, which is severely cutting back on GitM updates. (The Time Warner technician, having proclaimed that nothing is wrong on Friday, will be returning next Wednesday.) But, in the bright spot of connectivity this morning, I uploaded a sampling of the first wave of Hawaii pics, which you can see here: [1/
4]. As you can see, life there was good.
Hello all…I’m entering my third and final week of my Kauai vacation, so updates here will continue to be intermittent for at least another ten days or so. There has been much swimming, hiking, snorkeling, windsurfing, and rejoicing over here, as you might expect (As per usual, though, my Gaelic complexion has resisted any and all attempts at procuring a tan.) I’ve also been derelict in taking pictures, but hopefully I’ll have a few to post some time after my return. ‘Til then, mahalo for continuing to stop by, even though I haven’t been posting much worthwhile.
Hello all from sunny and wonderful Hanalei. The good news is I’m having lots of fun here enjoying the sights and surf of Kauai. (Our 3-day hike along the Na Pali coast begins tomorrow.) The bad news is our resort here only has dial-up Internet access, which will no doubt compound my lack of blogging in the days and weeks to come. So, please keep checking this space, but don’t expect much in the way of timely info, at least for the time being. Sorry!
As I leave tomorrow for August in Kauai, expect updates to be intermittent and at stranger hours than usual for the next couple of weeks. Be good.
I’m back from a week-long sojourn on the lovely garden isle of Kauai. (I would’ve mentioned the trip here, but some members of my family didn’t know I was coming, so I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.) Much snorkeling, hiking, and other outdoorsy fun was had, and I now feel quite recharged for the semester to come. Alas, I managed to hideously (sun)burn my feet on a Catamaran cruise we took. (Think hot dogs in the microwave too long…swollen, bubbling…well, you get the idea.) Fortunately, I have so much research work to do this week that I can spend much of it propped up at the PC. At any rate, forgive me if I blog a few things today that may seem stale…I have quite a bit of catching up to do.