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Nebraska

by Michael  Cox
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Sunday Feb 23, 2014
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You’ve seen this movie done badly so many times: An important issue is addressed (like an aging parent with dementia), a cinematic canvas is painted in some genre or period that typifies it in the heart and minds of American culture and a star gives what may be his last tour de force performance. Tick off all the boxes for what will make critics hail the movie as a major Oscar-contender. But the biggest sign that a movie is important is when the studio lets the director shoot it in black and white. Almost no one is given that honor anymore.

What you rarely see is the voice of a true modern auteur like Alexander Payne who can deliver a remarkable work that remains distinctly in his voice, with and in spite of all these elements.

Nominated for six Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, Best Director (Alexander Payne), Best Actor (Bruce Dern), Best Original Screenplay (Bob Nelson), Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb) and Best Cinematography (Phedon Papamichael), "Nebraska" is a road movie about a Middle American Don Quixote (Bruce Dern) and his adult son (Will Forte). The two travel to Lincoln to claim a nonexistent million-dollar prize. This "fool’s errand" defines their most dearly held notions of belief and family.

The 1080p high definition presentation of this Blu-ray serves Phedon Papamichael’s Academy Award-nominated black and white cinematography well. There is an expansive gradient of grey tones in the compositions that deliver luminous textures on the screen. The way Papamichael shoots dawn is a sight to behold: It captures all the warm, provincial tenderness of this ephemeral moment of the day. And his colorless sunsets are somehow more remarkable than if they were hued.

But the cinematography is not just an homage to Ansell Adams. Even though there are many wide, still landscape portraits of the badlands of Middle America that feature barren tree branches and backlit clouds, there are also a lot of kitschy interiors and close-ups that feature quirky point-of-view photography.

The special features make this Blu-ray a must-buy, namely the wonderful "The Making of Nebraska" documentary, which features thought-provoking information about the script, the cast and characters, locations, shooting in black and white and testimonials about working with Alexander Payne.

The sound tracks are English 3.0 DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Digital French, Spanish, German and English audio description. Subtitles come in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and German.

"Nebraska"
$39.99 US (Blu-ray/DVD/UV Combo pack)
$29.99 US (DVD)
Runtime: 114
Rated: R for some language (US), PG for mature theme and language that may offend (Canada)

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