February 25, 2014

Nebraska (2013)

Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Will Forte

I get that black and white movies are like, so trendy again (thanks, Frances Ha), but the beginning of the movie really just made me think it was trying too hard to be The Grapes of Wrath. Which, by the way, I don't understand because I really hate that book. I know it's supposed to be a classic and everything, but it's really effing boring. I mean, all I can remember is that the entire second chapter is about a turtle crossing the road. And it's about Oklahoma. Coincidence that it somehow also blows? I think not.

This movie doesn't make Nebraska look much better, however. Beyond the stretches of absolute nothingness (that, by the way, look even drier and more depressing in black and white), at one point, they actually drive past a sign that reads: "Nebraska: Home of Arbor Day." Really? 

That said, I do think a lot of the nuances of the movie can probably be better appreciated by people that have lived in the Midwest. I may not have grown up in a small town, but I don't believe my San Francisco-born brothers and sisters can ever understand what it's like to grow up in a place where people drink because there is nothing else to do, have an irrational love of pick-up trucks, and always, always "buy American." So to me, watching this movie was a bit like going home. Of course, I moved away from my beloved hometown the moment I turned eighteen, so my nostalgia here is really all rhetorical...

In a way, this movie reminded me of Big Fish - a story of a son just trying to get to know his dad a little better through an adventure while simultaneously living the mundane, everyday life. You could see why the relationship was strained and couldn't decide to whose side you felt more sympathetic. Of course, I'm partial to Ewan McGregor and things that have been Baz-ified, but this movie was pretty darn good too. Just less colorful.

So, thanks Academy. Your Oscars may just be a ploy to make me watch movies I wouldn't otherwise give a second thought to, but it worked. It turns out, the Academy voters sometimes know what they're doing. (Key word: sometimes. I still want an investigation into that year Rene Zellweger won for Cold Mountain.)  The Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress were all well deserved.

Final word: This may bring the state more visibility than Arbor Day.

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