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Road trips inevitably come up when conversing with the director Alexander Payne. His most celebrated movie, Sideways, sees an odd couple of middle-aged men journey from one Californian vineyard to the next. Jack Nicholson takes to the road in About Schmidt. Payne’s new film, Nebraska, stars Bruce Dern, who won the best actor prize at Cannes for his turn as Woody, an aging Korean war veteran living out his final years in Billings, Montana. When the film starts, the stubborn soul has set off on foot for Lincoln, Nebraska, 900 miles away, to claim a $1m prize promised to him by a piece of junk mail. Eventually, he is driven there by his son, an electronics shop salesman hoping that the trip will help them bond. »
Without announcing it, or perhaps even entirely intending it, Alexander Payne is becoming king of the road movie. About Schmidt (2002) took cantankerous widower Jack Nicholson across the Us on a mission to sabotage his daughter's impending wedding. Sideways (2004) saw Paul Giamatti's would-be novelist and wine connoisseur trek round the vineyards of California trying to heal his broken heart. The title of that movie, meaning drunk, also indicated the spiritual direction taken in any road movie: not forwards, or backwards, or even inwards, but sideways, a physical displacement, a geographical dislodging, a sortie from the comfort zone to a place where new perspectives may allow new insights – or perhaps not.
- Peter Bradshaw
Alexander Payne directed and co-wrote only six films, including Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants, but he’s regarded as one of the best American filmmakers working today. He’s directed some of the best performances from Hollywood’s top actors, including Paul Giamatti, Jack Nicholson, and George Clooney in starring roles, and he and his writing partner Jim Taylor have picked up two Oscars for best adapted screenplay. His new film, Nebraska, stars Bruce Dern, who won the best actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Nebraska adds another strong resonant chapter to Payne’s remarkable filmography, so we thought we should take a look back at his career. Here is our list of his movies in order of least favourite to favourite. Enjoy!
Directed by Alexander Payne
USA , 2011
In tone, approach, and general structure, »
Alexander Payne is steadily crafting a body of work that will cement his place as one of America's great filmmakers. He skilfully dissects the small fish in that biggest of ponds - the United States - tracing the spirit of optimism and defeat through films like Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants and, now, Nebraska, a priceless gem of a comedy drama starring Bruce Dern.
The ageing process emphasises that gradual erosion of hope, as does the gritty monochrome print he employs here. And yet, much laugh-out-loud comedy is derived from the futility as Woody (Dern) drags his broken-down body across Middle America to present a certificate that names him the winner of a million dollars. His son David (SNL alumnus Will Forte) bangs his head against a wall »
With the first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 set to arrive on Thursday, Sony Pictures has given us a sneak peek by releasing three very brief teasers showing Andrew Garfield's wall-crawler in action; check them out below...
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), life is busy — between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the person he loves, Gwen (Emma Stone), high school graduation can’t come quickly enough. Peter hasn’t forgotten about the promise he made to Gwen’s father to protect her by staying away — but that’s a promise he just can’t keep. Things will change for Peter when a new villain, Electro (Jamie Foxx), emerges, an old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, and Peter uncovers new clues about his past.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th 2014 in the »
- Gary Collinson
Alexander Payne, the director of The Descendants, Sideways and About Schmidt, has a new film, Nebraska. It's simple and brilliant, beautifully nuanced, funny, well acted and generous. It's in black and white and begins with an old man walking down the side of a highway in cold weather in Billings, Montana. This is Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), and he's planning to walk to Nebraska to collect his million dollars from a sweepstakes notice he's received in the mail. Every American adult has received such a notice. Printed like a deed, it says you've won a million bucks. Only in the fine print does it say you've won only if your numbers match. It's a trick to sell magazine subscriptions.
The movie refuses the »
Little White Lies Weekender, London
The best-designed film magazine on the shelf celebrates its 50th issue with a display of its unimpeachable good taste – mostly. The selection is largely overlooked/underpraised auteur classics, such as Harmony Korine's Gummo, Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love, Lynch's Mulholland Drive, and obscure 1970s road movie Wanda. There are also previews of future releases like Lukas Moodysson's We Are The Best!, plus 1980s Irish "thriller" (and Adam and Joe favourite) Taffin – a monumentally bad movie that definitely didn't get Pierce Brosnan the Bond gig. If you're quick, you can still catch Lwl's pop-up shop in Old Street, too.
Ica, SW1, Fri to 8 Dec
Cinema Palestino: Bristol Palestine Film Festival
Two events to bring us up to speed on Palestine's unique cultural and political situation, both of which »
- Steve Rose
I’ve loved acclaimed writer/director Alexander Payne’s work since 1999s hilarious classic, Election (which is still my favourite of his titles). He’s continued to make remarkable, yet low-key personal indie dramas with a biting satirical edge, of which include awards favourites Sideways, About Schmidt and The Descendants.
His latest, Nebraska, is gaining further rave reviews with Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern as an ageing, booze-addled father. He decides to make the trip from his home in Montana to Nebraska alongside his estranged son (Will Forte), after believing an internet spam message has him as the winner of a million dollar Sweepstakes prize.
You can check out our review from the London Film Festival, by clicking on the link. In the meantime, why not check out these amusing character profiles and latest clip.
- Craig Hunter
Nebraska is the first film you've directed that you didn't have a hand in writing. How did it come about?
Two dudes who produced Election for me many years ago showed me the script and asked if I knew someone who would be right to direct it. I said, "How about me?" But I didn't want to do it right after Sideways because I didn't want to do a second road movie in a row, so I returned to it after The Descendants.
You grew up in Nebraska and this is your fourth film set there [after Citizen Ruth, Election and About Schmidt]. Is it a case of "film what you know"?
I like filming there. It's filming what I know but also filming what I don't know, because I don't know those rural areas very well. »
- Killian Fox
It’s taken ten-plus years for Nebraska to reach the big screen. Bob Nelson, a struggling sketch comic writer from Seattle, wrote the screenplay (his first) in between gigs on a dare from a colleague. Little did Nelson know that over a decade later, his script would be brought to life by one of the most respected writer/directors today: Alexander Payne (Sideways). Now Nebraska is poised to receive award’s notice for acting, directing and even screenwriting. This doesn’t seem to have phased Nelson at all – who in our fifteen minute interview, seemed equal parts humbled and surprised by the film’s attention and success. In the following interview with screenwriter Bob Nelson, he discusses recreating Nebraska (the place) on page, his family’s reaction to the screenplay/film, the rewriting process, and the original scrapped alternate ending to the screenplay. For the full interview, hit the jump. »
- Tommy Cook
I don’t know if it’s a gift or a need to do it,” observes Rolfe Kent (Wedding Crashers). “When I heard something on the radio I would spend time figuring it out, working it out.” Movies were also a source of intrigue. “I remember seeing Railway Children  as a kid and loving it. The point when I put the two together was when I was about 11 or 12 and realized I would have music in my head when I got home from the cinema.” The epiphany led to the British youth pursuing a career as a self-taught composer. “The business doesn’t require training. I started in student theatre and then did industrial videos and student shorts. I worked my way up. »
Alexander Payne is no stranger to awards season buzz, at least not after two Oscars and a slew of nominations for his last two directorial efforts. This time, for "Nebraska," the filmmaker's latest ode to the Midwest, it's Bruce Dern getting all the attention, after winning the Best Actor prize when the movie premiered at Cannes.
In the film, Dern plays Woody Grant, a retiree who's convinced that he has to travel from Montana to Nebraska to claim the million dollars he "won" in a sweepstakes scam. And since Woody can't be persuaded otherwise, his son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive him. Casting the right actors for the right parts has always been a crucial aspect of Payne's films, leading to a string of Oscar nominations for his casts, a streak that's likely to continue this year with Dern. It's why he was so confident in giving Dern what »
- Rick Mele
If Bob Nelson’s screenplay had been called Iowa, Alexander Payne would have never made Nebraska. “It found its way exclusively to me, because of the title,” said the Omaha-born director before a recent sold-out audience at the Tiff Bell Lightbox in Toronto. Indeed, Nebraska could be mistaken for one of Payne’s scripts, since it shares common story elements with The Descendants, Sideways and About Schmidt: a man hits the road to find himself accompanied by a buddy, uncovers painful yet funny revelations about his past, and arrives at peace with his imperfect life. ”Who am I really?” asks his heroes. In Nebraska, Bruce Dern […] »
- Allan Tong
Alexander Payne is one of those filmmakers, like Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, whose name alone conjures forth the kind of movie you're about to see. In the case of Payne, it's usually a slice-of-life film that combines elements of comedy and drama, in a winning concoction that can only be described as Payne-esque.
Payne's newest movie is "Nebraska," the beautifully shot (in black-and-white, no less!) tale of an elderly man (Bruce Dern) who travels to Nebraska to collect his phony sweepstakes winnings, along with his more-than-tolerant son, played by Will Forte. Featuring typically excellent performances (some from non-actors) and a kind of bittersweet, ramshackle charm, it's a movie that chokes you up and makes you giggle, often at the same time.
Speaking with Payne is a similar experience: he isn't buttressed by the usual Hollywood ego and self-aggrandizing. The closest he comes to boasting is when, during our conversation, »
- Drew Taylor
Directed by Alexander Payne.
An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.
A scam letter from Mega Sweepstakes Marketing worth "$1 million" is the MacGuffin in Alexander Payne’s solemn dramedy Nebraska. It encourages senile Oap Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) to take a trip cross country from Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his ‘winnings’, and sends son David (Will Forte) along with him as a safety net.
Predictably, it’s a bonding experience on the cards for father and son. Atypically, Nebraska keeps the relationship between David and the faltering Woody mostly distant, providing plentiful helpings of bitter with its sweet. Nebraska makes no false promises about advancing age, as Alexander Payne never »
- Gary Collinson
Julie Taymor, Antonio Monda, Jeffrey Eugenides in a backstage Le Conversazioni: Films of My Life discussion. Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze The 2013 Le Conversazioni literary festival celebrating the relationship between art, architecture, literature and film concluded at the Morgan Library & Museum on Thursday, November 7 in New York. Artistic director of Le Conversazioni Antonio Monda discussed with Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides - whose novel was adapted into Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides (1999) starring Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, James Woods, and Kathleen Turner - films that influenced their lives and work. Clips from each of Taymor and Eugenides' chosen movies were shown, plus one from the moderator at the end.
Antonio Monda introduces Le Conversazioni Films of My Life Photo: »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
For the second week in a row, "Thor: The Dark World" remained in first place at the domestic box office, barely beating the African-American comedy "The Best Man Holiday," which performed better than anyone expected. "Thor: The Dark World" grossed another $38.5 million this weekend, bringing its worldwide total to $480 million, already surpassing the $449 million that the first movie grossed in total. The sequel has a 66% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes. "The Best Man Holiday," starring Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs, landed in second place with $30.6 million. The comedy, which as a 65% fresh rating, cost only $17 million to make but went on to earn the fifth-biggest opening ever for an R-rated romantic-comedy. Black movie-goers made up 87% of the audience. Meanwhile, Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" was released in four theaters, grossing $140,000. That's an impressive $35,000 per theater. The $12 million film, which has a 90% fresh rating. will likely begin expanding next weekend. Payne »
With Cate Blanchett back in the derby, 'tis time for us to recall her victory as Best Supporting Actress of 2004 ("The Aviator") when she beat Laura Linney ("Kinsey"), Sophie Okonedo ("Hotel Rwanda"), Natalie Portman ("Closer") and Virginia Madsen ("Sideways"). She was the fave to win. Portman had beaten her at the Golden Globes, but Blanchett rallied at the SAG Awards. At the Oscars, it was deliciously ironic that Blachett won for portraying the biggest winner of Academy Awards: Katharine Hepburn. -Break- »
Chicago – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new drama “Nebraska” starring Bruce Dern from the director of “The Descendants” and “Sideways”!
“Nebraska,” which is rated “R” and opens in Chicago on Nov. 22, 2013, also stars Will Forte, Stacy Keach, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Mary Louise Wilson, Rance Howard, Tim Driscoll, Devin Ratray and Angela McEwan from director Alexander Payne and writer Bob Nelson. Note: You must be 17+ to attend this “R”-rated screening.
To win your free “Nebraska” passes courtesy of HollywoodChicago.com, just get interactive with our unique Hookup technology below. That’s it! This screening is on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 at 7 p.m. in downtown Chicago. The more social actions you complete, the more points you score and the higher yours odds of winning! Completing these social actions only increases your »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
For a black-and-white road-trip comedy set in the Heartland, Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” was never a guaranteed winning lottery ticket — but the popularity of the prolific director, coupled with a buzzed-about performance from Bruce Dern, gave the film a solid-enough jumping-off point, averaging $35,000 at four locations in New York and L.A.
The road ahead for the film is far from smooth sailing, however.
Paramount will need to nurture the film as it platforms throughout the rest of the country. An inevitable awards push will help.
See Also: Indie Auteurs Delve Into Gray Areas of Black-and-White Film
- Andrew Stewart
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