Tag Archive: alexander payne




I wish I could watch this movie in a vacuum. But I can’t so…

Alexander Payne’s farcical pitch here is still great: a group of scientists figure out how to safely shrink living organisms, which in theory could instantly solve so many of the problems humanity has brought onto this planet.

Of course, as expressed through Christoph Waltz’ character, there will also, instantly, be human beings who will take advantage of anything good for their own personal gain.  And there was more enough drama and conflict here for him and Matt Damon.

Then, beyond the superficial shrinking story, the movie turns when Matt Damon’s character takes an interest in a handicapped Asian cleaning lady who he recognizes as a former political activist…

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Matt Damon is taken to ‘the other side of the shrunken town’ which is filled with poor minorities who are not living in any way near the luxury of the public image that was the main selling point of the shrinking procedure.

By the time the story wraps up, Matt Damon has redeemed himself as a champion of the people, now in a loving relationship with the former activist (who never gets past speaking in broken English…)

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Again, in a vacuum, I could throw out everything Matt Damon has said the past couple of years and some of his movie choices, I could just watch the scene where the minority love interest (who really didn’t need to be a love interest) asks Matt Damon if she fucked him or if they made love…but…2018.

So yeah, I checked out mentally on this one.  Maybe I can come back to it in a few years and appreciate it.




Today’s post starts on a sad note as Harold Ramis passed away Monday morning.  All day, a generation that includes Aaron and myself has paid tribute to a fellow Midwestern who made his mark on this business.  Today’s post is about the directors; in that role alone he gave us Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day, and Analyze This just to name a few.  The vast majority of filmmakers who do comedy would be thrilled to have just one of those on their resume when they’re done.  He will be missed.

On to the task at hand.  Here are the nominees for Best Director:

American Hustle
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Who Should Win
MALIK: A part of me twinges to say it, but the film I was most impressed with from a directing stand point was Gravity.
ART: I don’t twinge at all at saying that. I completely agree with the opinion. While the story itself was satisfying, yet paper thin, the visuals of Gravity – the Special effects, cinematography and physical camera movement/placement was top notch. From a directing standpoint, nothing else was as ambitious and attained more “wow” moments than Cuaron’s space thriller.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Cuaron or McQueen.  Two low key guys with great vision (which I naturally admire).  I think the Academy is going to lean toward Gravity here.
ART: Scorsese had fun making Wall Street and it shows. David O. Russell seems to be Hollywood’s darling. Alexander Payne and his low key Nebraska effort are the black horse candidates. But, I think Gravity takes it. To see the opening six minutes on Imax was one of the more memorable cinematic experiences of last year. Curaon should take this, and then take less than four years to make his next film.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Give it to my man McQueen!
ART: Cuaron. 12 Years had more emotional resonance than Gravity. No doubt. But, Cuaron’s effort was the only one I couldn’t see any of the other directors pulling off. Much respect.
Tomorrow, we cover the Supporting Actor & Actress categories.




I’m not the biggest Alexander Payne fanboy, so I wasn’t crazy about Nebraska.  Still though, maybe it’s because I’m in the generation of the main character (Will Forte), that I appreciated this story more than I thought I would.  The plot revolves around a son who drives his stubborn father from Montana to Nebraska to collect a ‘sweepstakes prize’ he won in the mail.  The son of course, immediately recognizes the hustle of it (does Publishers Clearing House still exist?), but the father may (or may not) think he’s really won a million dollars.

The actual story in this mini road trip movie is of an adult son who wants to spend quality time with his father, who legitimately seems to be losing his mind.  Bruce Dern is the catalyst who drives the film as the father who drives his family (and old friends they meet along the way) nuts with his absent mind.  He’s nominated for Best Actor for his performance.  Not to take away from any of the actors, but my feeling is that a lot of the humor of this story was on the page (where it’s nominated for Best Original Screenplay).    If you’re into Alexander Payne, this one is right up your alley.