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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Movie review: 'Nebraska' is an instant classic

The sun doesn't shine too much in Nebraska. That's because it's set in black and white, and after a while, you don't notice, since the spoken, street, facial, and landscape lines carry you away.

Moviegoers, this is one heckuva film, one of the year's best, and pretty much aimed at an older crowd, those above 50, all of whom can identify with one or more of the characters and the mental wrestling which comes with age.  I don't guess that few, if any, millennials (I am already so sick of that word) will appreciate it too much, unless they are film aficionados, so they can stay at home and Facebook.

I loved Nebraska.  There is one scene outside a bar which I am certain was designed from the grave by Edward Hopper (1882-1967). 

Will Forte, left, and Bruce Dern in Nebraska

The number of spoken words might be the lowest heard in any movie in quite a while (Being There with Peter Sellers comes to mind), but what does it matter, except to make it more powerful?  The reverse of the predictable occurs (thank you!) in many scenes:

Now, is he going to die? 

Prove them all wrong.

Will someone take a fist to the bullies?
The mother and wife, June Squibb, is par excellence, and will certainly be nominated.  The role is a bit too extreme and stereotypical, but who can match her mouth? (I don't suppose it occurred to the writers to reverse the roles and make the female the central figure.)  Whatever, she will make you reel, gasp, and sometimes shriek with laughter.  You've likely seen the cemetery scene somewhere, and that's just one funny part.   

But the best performance has got to be Bruce Dern's, the old man in more ways than one, the resigned, the battered, the lifeless, yet showered by his son's attention, played by Will Forte, who is likely to be nominated, too.  Dern's mannerisms will remind you of every old man you've ever known or observed.  (Gooosssssh, he is 77.  I thought it was all makeup.)  I couldn't quite understand the reasoning for the existence of the older brother played by Bob Odenkirk, unless to provide physical support and counterbalance his brother.

At least one reviewer called the movie depressing, but it wasn't depressing to me in the least.  It's inspirational and provides hope that someone is listening, after all.  At the end, I wanted to stand up and shout:  Right on, bro'.  Let's give our time and love while we can.

Costuming by Wendy Chuck is perfect, and the music (Mark Orton) reminded me of the score for Lars and the Real Girl (2007), if anyone besides Carla and me saw that. 

Several days later and I am still thinking about Nebraska. That's a sign of a very good flick in my book which I hope you'll go quickly and see, because I have a feeling since it's a touch bit arty, it may not be around as long as Thor or the ones featuring blood and gore.

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Hawthorne, Nebraska, but the real one is purty different from Nebraska's Hawthorne.
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A few Oscar nominations:

Best Director:  Alexander Payne (of Sideways)

Best Actor:  Bruce Dern

Best Supporting Actress:  June Squibb

Best Supporting Actor:  Will Forte

Best Casting Director (new award this year): John Jackson

Best Costume Design:  Wendy Chuck
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