Monday, December 30, 2013

Movie Review: "Nebraska" (2013)

Movie: "Nebraska"
Director: Alexander Payne
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
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Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a lifetime drunk on a mission to get to from Billings, Montana where he lives to Lincoln, Nebraska to "collect his million dollars" that he won from a sweepstakes. His son David (Will Forte) informs him that the sweepstakes is a scam and that he didn't really win any money. After several attempts to walk to Nebraska only to be foiled by friends and family. David takes is upon himself to drive his father there in an effort to spend some time and connect with him and to "let him live out his little fantasy." On the way, they stop at his father's small Nebraska hometown and stay with relatives who become aware that Woody has "won millions." Everyone from the town begins to hit him up for money, and even after insisting that he didn't win anything, David is still hounded for dough as old debts get rehashed, and new stories come to light. David learns a lot about his father and mother and their past in the small town.

Not in a very, very long time have we seen a "true to life" movie as accurate as "Nebraska."

Bruce Dern is simply spectacular in this film. More than likely, he will be getting recognized for at least one of the many awards shows in the coming months. He plays that delusional, disconnected old man so well that it's hard to tell if he's acting or not. It's just fun to watch him on screen even though he's not a particularly interesting character. Will Forte really shines in this movie, too. All we know him from are SNL and various other comedies, and while this movie is funny, it's nice to see him in a more toned-down, less outrageous dramaedy. June Squibb also steals the show as Kate Grant...her foul, no-filtered mouth is so hilarious and unexpected that we found ourselves rolling with laughter. She was so brutally honest that it was sort of shocking!

There are a lot of scenes in this movie that not only stick out, but stick with you long after you've seen it. The one in particular that's so well done and very honest is the scene with all of Woody's brothers, who haven't seen each other in years, and they just......sit. They are just sitting in the living room, all the same way, all old and with their necks slightly sticking out, they are just watching TV, not saying very much to one another Catching up consisted of simple niceties to them, no complex conversation, simple one word answers. We have seen this happen in real life, and that's what makes it so perfect. It's simple, but real! People really do that, they really act like that, even after years...some people are just not conversationalists.

I love that this movie is in black and white. The choice by filmmakers to do this encapsulates the mundane life of one clueless man in all its bleakness. Woody is not an extraordinary person, he's just a fan of alcohol and thinks he struck it rich without having to do anything for it. He's very trusting and believes everything he hears, no matter what, without question, and yet still seems to know nothing. Also, the cinematography, while pretty much just long stretches of farmland, is extremely accurate and incredibly well-shot. Stunning all around.

There are some people who will not like this movie because they will say it is boring or slowly paced or too simple or overrated. We don't see that at all. In fact, this is probably in my top 10 favorite movies this year. It's so poignant and honest that to call it boring or overrated, to us, means you might not know anything about life as it really is in all its potential banality. This movie is almost poetic in its realness. Spectacular!

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!

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