[Reposted from Facebook, Saturday 1 Feb 14]

We just saw Nebraska this evening, finally, compelled by its Oscar nominations — a lovely film, better and more interesting and more moving than I expected. You might think from the previews that this would be a film by Hollywood elites sorta making fun of credulous Midwestern folk, in particular this old guy [Bruce Dern] who thinks he’s won a million dollars from a letter he’s gotten in the mail; the plot is about him compelling his son to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to collect his winnings. It is that, in crude outline, but it’s much more, in terms of family dynamic and character detail.

This film resonated with me — as few films ever have, the last one I recall being What’s Eating Gilbert Grape — in that it evoked the life of a small town in the Midwest, that I recognized from my experience spending time in one in small town in Illinois where my father grew up and where I spent a few summers during my teenage years, a town where my five cousins have settled and married and raised families and have never moved away.

Old folks sitting in a room talking; I’ve been there. A cemetery surrounded by flat expanses in every direction; I’ve been there. Folks who have settled, never traveled anywhere, have never read a book aside from the Bible; I’ve been there. I am glad I am not there. But I understand them and admire them in some sense — the salt of the earth, carrying on tradition, and life.

This film should win an Oscar for cinematography (never mind that it’s in black and white) — so many beautiful shots of huge landscapes with the action in a scene taking place at the bottom or in a corner of the screen. From the very beginning, I noticed that — the opening credits where in the upper/lower left/right corners; a challenge to DVD reductions.

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