Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2013 #5: NEBRASKA

Simple. Sly. Subtle. Sensational. I’ve run out of words that begin with the letter “S” that describe Alexander Payne’s latest dramedy Nebraska. I’ve loved every movie that Payne has put his name on – everything always feels just right, as if there were no other options for him (it’s a very similar feeling I get while watching work from the Coen brothers). Bruce Dern breaks... your heart slowly and deceptively in the lead role of a lifetime, June Squibb steals every single scene that she appears in, and Will Forte hits notes of surprising emotional depth that I didn’t know were in him as a performer. This is the sort of movie that might hit home too hard for some people; as always, Payne wraps his dark story with an abundance of dry humor, this time courtesy of debut screenwriter Bob Nelson, whose sardonic touch fits perfectly with the shivery, black and white cinematography of frequent Payne collaborator Phedon Papamichael. Bleak yet filled with lots of heart, achingly sad yet strangely upbeat, honest when it needs to be, and frequently laugh-out-loud-funny, this is yet another small gem from one of America’s best and most consistent filmmakers.

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