In the Dark

Flyovers and Combovers

Nebraska
Produced by Blue Lake Media Fund and Bona Fide ProductionsDirected by Alexander Payne
Screenplay by Bob Nelson
Distributed by Paramount Vantage

American Hustle
Produced by Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures
Directed and written by David O. Russell
Distributed by Columbia Pictures

 

Few directors would have taken the chances Alexander Payne does with his latest film, Nebraska, a study of age in decay.  After winning critical respect with his provocative independent films Citizen Ruth, Election, and Sideways, Payne achieved commercial success with About Schmidt and The Descendants.  Now he has given us a bleak comedy about aging in the heartland—not a likely barn burner.  This low-key, poignant film, shot in black and white in real-life locations, reminded me of Italian neorealist films of the 1950’s.  While not as wrenching as Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D. (1952) or as ruthless as Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (1957), Nebraska is as startling as both with its remorseless eavesdropping into the lives of nobodies who will never rise above their anonymity.  Unless, that is, they can bring themselves to accept the advice the thoroughly alcoholic Woody Grant (Bruce Dern)...

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