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In the Dark

Those Real Estate Blues

The Descendants
Produced by Ad Hominem Enterprises
Written and directed by Alexander Payne
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Young Adult
Produced and Distributed by Paramount Pictures 
Directed by Jason Reitman 
Screenplay by Diablo Cody (Brooke M. Busey)

 

The Descendants and Young Adult are dark satiric comedies that insist on an unpopular thesis: Sexual misbehavior between even the most consenting of adults can have devastating consequences.  They both examine this fraught precinct of the human comedy through the lens of property rights, suggesting that sexual relations can and do provoke nagging ownership claims.

In Alexander Payne’s subtly invasive Descendants we meet Matt King (George Clooney), a Hawaiian descended from an 1860 marriage between an island princess and a Protestant missionary.  Matt and his many cousins are the beneficiaries of that union, the princess having come with a dowry of 25,000 acres of virgin Hawaiian real estate with an estimated worth upward of a half-billion dollars.  An enviable position to be in, one would suppose, but not without its burdens, especially now that the Hawaiian law of nonperpetuity stalks the family.  They must dispose...

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