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Nebraska Blu-ray Review

Nebraska Blu-ray

“Nebraska” is a rewarding dramedy.

The plot: An elderly father and husband (Woody) with dementia is under the impression that he has won a million dollar prize located in Lincoln, Nebraska, but in reality, it’s just a mail scam. Despite the fact that his wife (Kate) and son (David) tell him he hasn’t won anything, Woody is still determined to collect his prize (even if it means he has to walk there). As David struggles in his own life, he decides to humor his father by embarking on a road trip to Lincoln. Unfortunately, after Woody injures himself, their trip is temporarily put on hold leaving them to spend some time in Woody’s small hometown of Hawthorne. While there, David and Woody reunite with family members and friends who become worked up (to say the least) when they learn that Woody has apparently won a major award.

On the day of the 86th Academy Awards ceremony, it seems only fitting to review a film that is not only nominated for Best Picture, but for other key awards as well. I am, of course, talking about “Nebraska.”

As many of you probably know, Alexander Payne is no stranger to the Academy Awards having won twice and been nominated a total of 7 times for writing and or directing projects such as “Election,” “The Descendants,” my personal favorite “Sideways,”  and now “Nebraska.” With “Nebraska,” Payne directs this film from a script written by Bob Nelson. As per usual, Payne excels at his directorial duties by giving viewers a unique slice of life tale (this time from the midwest) in a striking B&W presentation.

While the screenplay still feels very much like an Alexander Payne script in that its primary focus is on the characters, Nelson is the man who penned this particular project. And what a job he did. Initially, it might not seem like an eventful film due to the deliberately slow pacing, but once the ending rolls around, everything comes together in a skillful and rewarding fashion.

As award worthy as the direction and writing is, it’s the ensemble cast that really makes the film come to life. Veteran actor Bruce Dern has certainly had an illustrious (albeit underrated) career, but his performance as Woody is easily one of the highlights of his acting profession (as evidenced by his Oscar nomination). While he might just seem like a stubborn, gullible, grouchy, man of few words on the surface, Dern gives an incredibly introspective performance here. There’s so much going on under the surface as Woody is hiding a life full of regrets, alcohol abuse, and trauma from the war.

While Dern may be garnering the most attention, June Squibb is the real scene stealer of the film as the honest, foul mouthed wife of Woody, Kate. It’s not hard to see why she earned a Best Supporting Actress nod as she provides much of the film’s most memorable moments.

Perhaps the film’s biggest surprise is actor Will Forte (who plays David). I’ve never been a big fan of his comedic stylings, but much like Will Ferrell, Forte proves to be a more interesting dramatic actor. Considering the heart of “Nebraska” is about the relationship between Woody and David, I was really impressed that Forte held his own here by making the chemistry with his father entirely convincing. I hope Forte takes on more dramatic roles in the future. Not to be forgotten here is Bob Odenkirk (best known as Saul from “Breaking Bad”) who also shines as Woody’s other son, Ross.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.40:1 1080p. How does it look? The Blu-ray disc contains a beautiful B&W print of the film.

Audio Track: 3.0 DTS-HD MA (Yes, you read that right). How does it sound? This is the first 3.0 track I believe have ever come across and even though it may not be as strong as a 5.1 track, the music and dialogue still sound sharp.

Extras:
* DVD copy and Digital HD copy.
* “The Making Of Nebraska” contains film clips, set footage, cast and crew interviews and discussions about the script, characters, themes, and so on.

Overall Thoughts: “Nebraska” is yet another winner from director Alexander Payne. Recommended.

March 2, 2014 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , ,

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