~OLD MAN GOES AFTER . . THE PRIZE
‘NEBRASKA’ – a film by ALEXANDER PAYNE. WRITTEN BY BOB NELSON. MUSIC BY MARK ORTON.
is . . an artists’ movie, no doubt about it.
made by artists: storytellers, cinematographers, musicians, prop guys .. who pretty much followed their inner guts . . and kept it, real.
to be viewed by artists.
esp those who live in big cities, far from the sparsely populated and old-school American prairie homeland, or heartland .. as is called, and with good reason.
this low profile, small budget .. yet sweeping American panorama will be viewed by artists, of all genres . . with profound appreciation, as the simple but compelling story unfolds across a wide screen of stark, yet absolutely picturesque, black and white midwest landscape.
the raw-feeling footage was shoot across 4 states.
BRUCE DERN, 77, won BEST ACTOR at CANNES for his work in this film. it’s a beautiful multi-layered performance that is so nuanced with ‘cluelessness’ . . it’s scary.
WILL FORTE carries off the role of the son perfectly. it’s his ultimate ‘kindness’ to his aging dad, who apparently hadn’t been that kind or good to him in childhood .. that is the redeeming factor of this movie, and the ‘key’ on which it all turns.
as the younger son, he could have been, well . . judgmental. impatient. all the way to .. blaming his alcoholic, unambitious ‘bit of a loser’, not much of a dreamer, either .. dad for his already washed-up going nowhere existence . . I dunno maybe that’s just a New York thing ?
but instead . . he rises to the reality of life’s ‘last call’, with tenderness, patience and no .. belittling.
an absolutely riveting low fi character ‘capture’.
the only, very small flaw that caught my attention was the portrayal of the dad, Woody’s .. long suffering wife, Kate Grant, as played by JUNE SQUIBB. she almost almost nails it, but seems too ‘happy’. too happy to have landed the plum gig of her life, out of nowhere. and at this age.
we don’t totally fall into the depth of her being, as we do with father and son.
I’m thinking she should have been a touch more tired, a touch more bitter, a touch more ‘angry’. a touch more in touch with the dialog. it’s not so much that she should be a ‘shrew’, as just more disappointed. and well, fed up. though I did love her screwball moments exposing the underside of small town sex life.
too much info, mom !!
watch out my young ‘uns.
as your baby boomer parents head into their last chapter . . you could do well to watch this, and prepare yourselves . . for what’s ahead !!
more than anything, BRUCE DERN as WOODY GRANT reminded me of . . DAN ASHER.
same mannerisms. same not . . ‘getting it’.
and, that’s exactly how Dan dressed too, even to the glass frames.
same rumpled plaid shirt, same jacket. same physical build. walk.
same everything. except for the wife and kids, of course.
and, not even close to 77 .. of course.
DAN ASHER. a brilliant, quirky, real-life character on the NYC art scene going back to the 80s, who had had some success, but ultimately considered himself a failure . . career-wise. there was no ‘air’ left to breathe, for the rest of us when Jean Michel’s concurrent star ascended and fell.
that was DAN, cantankerous, and stubborn. frustrated by life and where it took him.
the most telling moment, and a wonderful testament to a great fiction portrayal by an actor in any film .. ever, takes place in this bar. when some big mouth from Woody’s past, spills a few too many beans, to his son, also played almost musically, it’s so pitch perfect a performance by WILL FORTE.
it’s the scene where the son, David Grant learns he almost was .. well, NOT.
that his dad Woody had had a moment where he thought he had ‘really fallen in love’, with a half-breed over in the reservation, before he returned to the fold of married life.
the amazed David looks back to his dad . . who just sort of half nods with unspoken guilt, as we see him lost in thought, time traveling back to the brief days of a long long ago, forbidden, and probably .. quelle steamy session.
that look was priceless.
that look was .. Dan Asher.
I did catch the film’s writer, BOB NELSON in person .. at an advance Writer’s Guild screening.
he said, that .. yes this was his family. Alexander Payne, the film’s director grew up in Nebraska, and BOB NELSON grew up in the midwest .. so no wonder the film comes across with such authenticity.
Mr. Nelson said his real-life uncles were all like that. they didn’t say much, and what they did say was football, or cars.
in ten words, or less !!
his family fought, but it was mostly over . . “toasters”.
my family fights over missing vintage 1950’s 18K gold charm bracelets. guess that’s what I get . . for being an immigrant New Yorker with roots in Montreal.
hope my kids don’t fight over .. the Dan Ashers.
see: the trailer
about the music. which is really like a kind of silvery Americana on-the-road ‘silence’ in this film.
below is a brief clip of TIN HAT band member, MARK ORTON . . who wrote the score, and performs on the soundtrack. in it he hits the nail on the head, as to why .. the soundtrack is so on-point. which is that 9 times out 10, it plays along to visual footage, without any concurrent dialog.