Month: April 2014

Review: Nebraska

NEBRASKA

Nebraska is an American dramedy written by Bob Nelson and directed by Alexander Payne (also known for The Descendants). It Stars Bruce Dern, June Squibb, and Will Forte. It was released in the US November 15, 2013.

Nebraska tell the tale of Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) who is sent a pamphlet from an add and believes he has won 1 million dollars. To retrieve it, he has to go to Nebraska. He is repeatedly caught attempting to walk to Nebraska (much to the dismay of his wife and sons) and, eventually, his son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him to Nebraska. From there, the film chronicles a relationship between father and son.

This movie was slow. It was slow and nostalgic and lacked the big acting moments or spectacles prevalent in the front runners of this Oscar season. Despite this, it was nominated for six academy awards, including best picture. While i did not necessarily like Nebraska, while I would not have chosen it to be nominated, in retrospect, I really appreciate this movie and I really appreciate that it was nominated. It’s simple and, rather than showing us something big, it shows us something perfectly ordinary. We need movies like this.

There are parts that are outrageously funny (most of them belonging to the lovely June Squibb), but my favorite thing about this movie is the cinematography. Lead cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (also known for The Descendants and The Ides of March) puts something interesting into every scene. The camera angles and subtle moments, from the first to the final shot (which is my favorite shot), tell the story along with the words.

Overall, Nebraska was witty and perfectly subtle. The different elements came together quite nicely to tell a story, and they did a fabulous job.

star7/10

 

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Review: American Hustle

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American Hustle is am American dramedy directed by David O’Russell and written by Eric Warren Singing and David O’Russell. It has a wonderful ensemble cast, starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and  Bradley Cooper. It was released in the US December 13, 2013. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

American Hustle opens with a black screen and the words, “Some of this actually happened.” Which is, I think ,a great way to start a movie. It tells the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his partner (and muse) Sydney Prosser (Adams) as they are forced to work for the unhinged FBI agent, Richie DeMaso (Cooper). To add to the fun, we have Mayor Carmine Polito (Renner), a great guy who Richie DeMaso has decided to screw over to further his career, and Rosalyn (Lawrence), who is Rosenfeld’s nutso crazy wife. The plot is fun, the opening is fun. I was very prepared to love this movie.

The movie is fast paced and ridiculous, but I was underwhelmed. It was certainly a good movie, but for all it had going for it, I thought it would be better. I will admit, I have never connected to David O’Russell films (I thought the Fighter was okay, but I did quite like Silver Linings Playbook). I appreciate how this story is told, in that sort of awkward quirky everyone-in-this-movie-is-nuts sort of way. It also had several great acting moments. For all the hype around Jennifer Lawrence (don’t get me wrong, I love her and she was really good), the best performance, for me, would have to go to Christian Bale.

The cinematography (by Linus Sandgren) was awkward and, at times, pointless. The screenplay was clever, the acting was great. My favorite thing about this movie was Louis C.K. He had kind of a bit part, appearing throughout the film as Bradley Cooper’s boss. Throughout the movie, he was telling Cooper a story about ice fishing. I was more interested in that story than the actual movie, and i was a bit disappointed that we never got to hear the end of it. But, as it was allegory, I think I can guess.

Overall, I really, really wanted to like this movie. As much as I disliked it, I do have to admit that it was, technically, quite a good movie. And for that reason, my rating is as follows:

star7/10