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Friday, April 25, 2014

A Nerd & A Melancholic Walk Into A Bar In Nebraska...

Being a movie nerd, I usually see most of the Academy Award nominees for best picture before Oscar night. 2014 has been a bit hectic so this year I got behind - still two left to see. How many have you seen?

Also, although I respect the talent of Director Alexander Payne, I knew his nominated film "Nebraska"
centered on an old man (Bruce Dern) chasing an illusion. I still haven't shaken a scene from an earlier Payne movie ("About Schmidt") when Jack Nicholson (Schmidt) sees 40 years of his work sitting near a dumpster on the day after his retirement. So, nomination aside, rushing to see "Nebraska" wasn't a high priority - I'm already pretty good at getting myself into a funk. And that memory of mine doesn't help the situation.

I'm glad the nerd inched out the melancholic. "Nebraska" does have somber moments but it is also very wise and laugh out loud funny. Dern is a revelation; June Squibb gets most of the funny lines. Her scene in a cemetery exposing herself to the grave of an early-in-life admirer had me sputtering. The criminally under-utilized Stacey Keach is wonderful as a smarmy small town creep. The nicest surprise is how the skillful direction and perceptive script develop the character played by Will Forte of Saturday Night Live fame. As Dern's feckless younger son, Forte reluctantly agrees to drive his Father to Lincoln. By the time the film concludes, Forte's character has selflessly helped his Dad reclaim his dignity. It's a completely believable transformation - the final scene with Dern driving and grinning and Forte hiding and smiling strikes the perfect note.

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