Monday, February 24, 2014

Saturday 22 February 2014 - Nebraska - Pathe Buitenhof

I had been looking forward to the intriguing Nebraska since I had read Mark Kermode's Guardian review of the film back in December 2013. This was followed by tantalizing snippets which appeared in  the trailers here in The Hague. The setup of this 'road movie' made it number 2 on my 'must see' list for 2014.
Bruce Dern has for me been one of those fringe actors who has never been a favourite of mine has been 'off the radar' for some time.However Dern along with the rest of the cast were given a dream of a script by writer Bob Nelson and director Alexander Payne..... From the opening image of
 a lonely old man trudging along the side of the highway, eventually 'pulled over' by the local police, sets the scene for this finely judged movie.
What a script.....it makes a masterpiece of pauses and short well observed 'one liners' and gives Dern a wonderful deadpan delivery that suits the character of 'Woody' like a glove.


We soon realize the futility of Woody Grant's obsession, as we are introduced to his close family, sons David and Ross and his wonderful wife Kate ( brilliantly observed by June Squibb) who has put up with Grant's madcap idea of claiming his $1million lottery win for too long. The family (an ordinary family) is revealed to us as we travel with Woody and David...from Montana to Nebraska
We meet Woody's siblings and their wider families, watch out for Bart and Cole. There is one great shot where brothers and sons are all sitting in the lounge watching 'the game' the image will long stay in the memory.
We are shown that Woody is a flawed 'Everyman' having been an alcoholic and failed business man, but we warm to our hero as he doggedly pursues his dream. We are introduced to Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach) the ex business partner who along with some family members wants his 'due reward' . We learn of how Kate and Woody got together in such a humorous way, it appears that Woody was quite the catch back in the day.
The pace of the film meanders along towards the final act,  where Woody now resigned to the fact that he will not be winning the much sought after prize is given a touching gift by David which allows Woody to get the last laugh.....
I return to the triumph of the script, it is superb.... one of my favourite episodes occurs when the sons determine to reacquire a compressor given to Ed Pegram back in the 1980's. The boys mistakenly enter a barn that they assume belongs to Pegram and return carrying a compressor. Woody states is not his after the boys have struggled to place the compressor into the back of the car...the following dialogue is delivered in a matter of fact way:
David Grant: Dad, why didn't you tell us that wasn't Ed's house? 
Woody Grant: I didn't know what the hell you were doing. 
Ross Grant: Have you ever seen us steal machinery before? 
Woody Grant: I never know what you boys are up to. 
Ross Grant: Why didn't you say it wasn't yours? 
Woody Grant: I thought you wanted it. 
Ross Grant: What would we want an old compressor for? 
Woody Grant: That's what I couldn't figure out.
Better yet, on returning the compressor  they spot the real owners returning... this gives Squibb some of her best lines.
As you may surmise I enjoyed this experience, the film is a triumph and is on my list of 'must see again' movies along with Inside Llewyn Davis and Captain Phillips. It gets a thumbs up and 8 out of 10 from this reviewer. Don't just take my words of praise for Nebraska take a look at what Catherine Shoard has to say http://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2014/feb/24/nebraska-should-win-best-picture-oscar-video.

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