Long overshadowed by Sideways, we’re giving this understated dramedy its due for depicting Midwest with the specificity Hollywood rarely gives it.
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is as unassuming as the regular Midwestern folk it depicts. Even though this small, quiet, black-and-white comedy was flooded with nominations during the 2013 awards season it won almost none of them. Ten years on, it remains overshadowed by Payne’s more popular works like Sideways and Election. But this odd little dramedy is not only one of Payne’s finest films to date, it’s also his one true love letter to his home state of Nebraska and the Midwest itself.
Elderly alcoholic Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) has fallen for a Publisher’s Clearinghouse–style scam and is convinced he’s won a million dollars. Determined to collect the cash in person, son David (Will Forte) ignores his mother and brother’s pleas and agrees to drive him all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska. On the way, the pair get waylaid in Woody’s hometown of Hawthorne, giving David a glimpse of not just who his father is, but how a place and the people in it shaped him. Continue Reading →
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken
It’s not easy being a teenager. It’s especially not easy being a teenager like the titular protagonist of Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken. As that title would suggest, Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) is a Kraken living in a seaside town with her family. Her parents and younger brother seem to have no trouble assimilating to the broader world, while Ruby struggles. All she wants is to blend in as a normal human-- albeit one with blue skin and no spine. However, to be an average teen, she’ll likely have to break some of her mom’s strict rules, namely, never going near the ocean. Continue Reading →
Is Satanic panic even a thing anymore? When’s the last time we’ve heard anything about backmasking, or songs somehow influencing impressionable teenagers to kill themselves? It’s entirely possible that this is all still a thing, and I’m simply too old and out of touch to know anything about it. B.J. McDonnell’s Studio 666, the feature film debut of Foo Fighters, is a lovingly hokey homage to a time when “the Devil’s music” was such a grave concern for parents (and Tipper Gore) that Congressional hearings were held about it, and lawsuits were filed against heavy metal bands in an attempt to hold them responsible for what was more likely caused by untreated mental illness and drug abuse. Continue Reading →
In the age of streaming, any movie, short of maybe Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, can become a TV show. It doesn’t matter if your original film was a box office turkey, these channels just want “content” and any previously established brand name will do. Through this phenomenon comes MacGruber, a continuation of a Saturday Night Live character and the star of a 2010 movie that crashed and burned financially. But when Peacock desperately needed something, anything, to release over the holidays, MacGruber rose from the aches like a conceited phoenix. Continue Reading →