Nebraska

A new film, Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt and The Descendants), features Bruce Dern with a supporting cast of eminently watchable characters, including Bob Odenkirk and Stacey Keach.

Dern portrays Woody Grant, an irascible old guy with borderline dementia who lives in Billings, Montana, and receives a sweepstakes letter from a magazine publisher announcing he has WON a million dollars!

His car keys having been taken away by his serpent-tongued wife and two grown sons, he decides to walk to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up his winnings. There are several false starts, in which one or the other of the boys collar him as he ambles alongside the highway in a southeasterly direction. Finally, the younger son agrees to drive him to Lincoln, to prove to him that the letter is a scam.

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And so the adventure begins — a road trip across the Great Plains, a boy and his dad, with many stops and adventures along the way, particularly in Woody’s old hometown of Hawthorne, where things get complicated with his brother, nephews, old flames and a former business partner, when they learn, mistakenly, that Woody is now a millionaire.

Like most good movies, this one is fundamenally about relationships and growth of character. And it is shot in black and white, with stunning photography of the big sky and barren plains, the broken-down old towns and farm houses, and the worn faces of the people who inhabit these places.

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