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Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 11:23 am

Nebraska now in Springfield


 Bruce Dern and Will Forte star as father and son in Nebraska

Those heading to the movies this holiday weekend who have tastes more earthbound than Middle Earth, or who perhaps appreciate comedy anchored in believable characters and situations rather than franchised absurdist bombast, might want to note that one of the most acclaimed independent films of the year is currently playing at AMC's Showplace 8.

Director Alexander Payne, best known for Sideways and The Descendants, turns his acerbic but empathetic lens on the deceptively simple story of Woody Grant, a grizzled patriarch in his twilight years who becomes fixated on collecting a million dollars of transparently fraudulent sweepstakes winnings. After the hard-headed Woody repeatedly attempts to make the trip from his home in Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska (where the sweepstakes is headquartered) on foot, Woody's son David agrees to drive him the distance.

A road movie in the tradition of The Straight Story and Harry and Tonto, Nebraska's biggest draw is Bruce Dern's volcanic characterization of Woody, alternating between explosive cantankerousness and heartbreaking, soulful silence. Woody's unshakeable belief in the nonexistent money is often simultaneously pathetic and inspiring. Meanwhile, Will Forte's portrayal of a son who seems to sense this may be the last chance to connect meaningfully with his father is by turns touching and hilarious. The stark black and white photography, largely depicting snowbound landscapes, is bleak and mesmerizing, almost like the flipside of the lush Hawaiian panorama of The Descendants.

Watch the trailer here and head out to see Nebraska while it remains in Springfield.

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