Friday, January 3, 2014
Alexander Payne is known for his funny, and occasionally sad, films that seem to almost make fun of their characters. My favorite of his is Election, although I thought The Descendants was alright too. His newest movie, Nebraska, is about a reluctant son, named David Grant (played by Will Forte), who takes his aging drunk of a father, Woody (Bruce Dern), on a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. Why? To claim the million dollars Woody "won" in a bogus sweepstakes scam in the mail. David knows he hasn't really won, but he takes him because he wants to spend time with his father, and make him happy. Nebraska is filmed all in black and white. There seems to be more films in black and white recently, like Frances Ha and Computer Chess. Sometimes black and white can make a film feel retro, and possibly make it fit the time period. Other times, as in the cases of Nebraska, it sets the mood for the film, giving it a certain feel. Nebraska feels kind of tired and old, but not in a bad way. The movie's style and feel are reflective of it's main characters, mainly Woody. Woody Grant is quite old, obviously affected from his heavy drinking, and tired. Tired of his life. That's the reason he's going to Nebraska, to try and find something to live for. He says he wants to buy new truck if he gets his million, but he can't drive. He just wants the truck to feel like he has something. Woody isn't the only one who's old and tired. On the way to Nebraska, David and Woody stop in Woody's hometown of Hawthorne, Nebraska. Everyone in Hawthorne is old and worn out, some are still hanging on to old debts and grudges form years ago. Alexander Payne does a great job of showing the whole thing. Payne is good at directing actors, showing their emotions and such. But what he is really good at, is using his films' setting to reflect or affect his characters. He did it here, and he certainly did it in The Descendants. he's also pretty good at choosing acting talent, because the actors here are top notch. Bruce Dern is great here as Woody. Dern doesn't seem to ever get a big part. He always gets supporting roles or cameos. Well even if the guy is 77, he's certainly found his perfect role in Nebraska. He's already gotten a Golden Globe nomination for it, and he will definitely get an Oscar nod. It is well deserved. Dern plays his confused yet determined character quite well, putting so much emotion and sadness into a very stoic and generally emotionless character. The rest of the cast is fairly terrific too, namely June Squibb. Squibb plays David's mom and Woody's wife. She's angry, full of gossip, and downright hilarious. While this film could be considered a comedy, it's very serious a lot of the time. She provides a hefty amount of laughter to the movie, that is with the help of this films' wonderful screenplay. Her character uses her acid tongue to berate Woody every chance she gets. Eventually you see she obviously loves him very much, and there's one scene towards the end where she expresses it, and it's really beautiful. Will Forte is decent in this too. It's good to see him acting out of his usual comedy comfort zone, but he's not much compared to some of the others in the cast. He's still pretty good though. I won't ruin it for you, but I will say that I really liked the ending of Nebraska. It's slightly subdued, but it was almost poetic in a way. And it didn't go on too long, which was good. The film occasionally drags a bit and I felt some parts could have been done a bit better, but otherwise it was pretty good. I give Nebraska 4.3 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. Remember you can always follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.