Sunday, February 2, 2014

NEBRASKA Film Review


Before discussing this film, I wanted to say a few comments about the last week or so in embarking on my Movie-Pocalypse.

It's an interesting thing about the usual disconnect between the Hollywood elites and the general public that often amounts to a lot of grousing around the time of the Academy Awards. I know that in the last 20 years or so, most years I find I have either seen only 1 or 2 Best Picture nominees and even some years where I have seen literally non...e of them. And as my friends and family know, I see a lot of movies. I love movies. But quite often what garners the attention of the Academy somehow runs contrary to my own tastes and/or interests.

This year is an exception.

This year is one in which I am interested in seeing every single one of the Best Picture nominees. As a result of that, it has been intentional to frontload this first run with MoviePass with screenings of the Nominees I had not already seen.

In the past week or so I've seen JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, HER, I FRANKENSTEIN, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, THE BOOK THIEF, AMERICAN HUSTLE, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, and tonight NEBRASKA. Four of these are Best Picture nominees. JACK RYAN, THE BOOK THIEF, AUGUST, and FRANKENSTEIN are not. However, BOOK THIEF and AUGUST both are up for Academy Awards in other categories.

Here's what's interesting, when going to see the four Best Picture nominess (plus AUGUST) my wife and I were literally the only people in the theater. The ONLY people. And yet, by contrast the I FRANKENSTEIN screening was a sell-out.

There is something seriously wrong when these amazing movies starring some of the greatest actors of this generation giving performances that are on levels rarely ever achieved on film. These are sublime movies that are as good as every other great classic award winners of the past. And there we sit in empty theaters while we fight for a seat to see one of the stupidest and lousiest turds ever to grace a movie screen.

This world is seriously topsy-turvy.

On to NEBRASKA though. An excellent movie. I went into it completely cold. I had no idea what it was about at all. I only knew it had Bruce Dern in it and something about the black and white simplicity of the movie poster generated a desire in me to see it.

The movie is very simply about an elderly man (Bruce Dern) teetering on the brink of dementia obsessed with redeeming one of those bogus "You've Won $1 Million Dollars" letters. He sets off on a road trip with his youngest son (Will Forte) to drive to Lincoln, Nebraska to "redeem" that letter.

Along the way, the movie turns into a peek inside all of our lives and our families and examines the choices that we make (and don't make) and how they impact us in the present. Everyone who has ever gone and hung out with distant relatives they only see every decade or so is going to be uncomfortable sympathetic with Forte's character, Dan.

Speaking of Forte, both he and Bob Odenkirk who plays his older brother, are unexpectedly exceptional in this film. Whoever thought to cast against type for these two was inspired. In fact, the casting for this movie was brilliant all the way through.

This movie, while deeply affecting is also quite simple on the surface. I also laughed out loud a number of times. There is great humor in here but all of it is real and occurs organically from the characters and the moments. The beautiful black and white cinematography and the minimalist score enhance the reality of every moment making it all the more effective.

Simply wonderful.

★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

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