The Descendants

(R) ★★★★☆

Writer/director Alexander Payne’s (Sideways) return is one of this year’s best movies. In a deceptively tranquil Hawaiian setting, Matt King’s (George Clooney’s) reckless wife, Elizabeth, lies in a coma. A few weeks into the crisis, Matt learns what his older daughter (Shailene Woodley) already knows: Elizabeth had taken a lover. Matt and his daughters must confront this lover in some way or another. Stellar acting and Payne’s even-toned, sardonic handling of his characters make this work well.

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Sex With a Vampire

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Sex With a Vampire

By Michael Phillips, Tribune Media Services

The fourth film in the Twilight series reveals a flash or two of real filmmaking (mostly in a suggestively grotesque birthing sequence), enough to save it from pure lousiness. But a significant number of its 117 minutes do seem like hours, and whenever certain actors take the lead and set the pace of the dialogue, time itself begins to crawl backward and the breaking dawn begins to feel like yesterday’s breaking dawn, or last Tuesday’s.

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