Archive for the ‘Picaresque Comedy AKA Road Comedy’ Category


01 Feb

Nebraska – directed by Alexander Payne. Classic Comedy. 110 minutes Black and White 2013.


The Story: an old man sets out to walk from Montana to Nebraska to collect a million dollars, while his son and whole family do all they can to thwart him.

Isn’t it terrific!


You mean you haven’t seen it!

Well hie yourself down to the picture show and do so.

And when you do, be prepared to sink into this picture as into a somewhat worn, even threadbare easy chair which you’ve known all your life and has become your favorite.

It is very very funny — a classic comedy in the same way that one by Moliere is — The Miser, say — or Jonson’s Volpone — or better yet, Frank Capra’s comedy It Happened One Night. It has the same story. That is, one person wants to run away; another person wants to bring the first person home. Both of them are very stubborn. No one really wants to dance with the runaway, although some want to dance with his money. 

The pace of the picture looks anti-comedic, but is as it should be and should be no other way. The casting of the picture is as it should be, and everyone is just lovely. The music, editing, direction are ideal. It’s good to see it in a big old movie house because of the spaciousness of the land of Nebraska, which beckons and forbids by dint of its immeasurable latitudes. Cinemascope was invented for this.

Some of the folks you will encounter are June Squibb as his naggy bag of a wife – who grows on you. Stacy Keach as the old man’s mendacious former business partner. And Will Forte who has the essential and pivotal role of the old man’s son, in a lovely performance entirely.

And the geezer, played by Bruce Dern, always an actor of great resources, in the central role. Hobbling along in a profound stoop abetted by unlaced clodhoppers, padded torso, white hair learing about his head, the blowing desert of an unshorn beard on his face, and wearing specs – the actor has done everything to create and enhance the impenetrability of the character, the characteristic upon which the entire story depends. Dern makes him very taciturn, very slow to speak and very slow of speech. And gathering all this to him, Dern gives the wittiest performance in the world. It is the canniest piece of acting I’ve seen this year. You will so appreciate him, and the passage you will move through in yourself as you become acquainted with him you shall indeed be grateful for.

It’s a lovely suspense adventure. You don’t know how it will end. You know it has to. But you don’t want it to. It is the best written screenplay I have seen this year.

Make sure to go with your friends. They’ll hug you for it. After they stop applauding, as everyone in the audience I saw it with did.

Because – isn’t it terrific!



Withnail And I

02 Nov

Withnail ANd I — Directed by Bruce Robinson. Picaresque Farce. A couple of down-and-out actors jaunt off for a weekend in the country pursued by their homosexual uncle. 107 minutes Color 1986.

* * * * *

Picaresque Farce? Well, why not? I like films that are written. And then they have to be acted well. That’s what I prefer. Those are my indulgences and I do not look much further. If I am caught up by “the direction,” “the camera angles,” “the lighting,” then there is perhaps something wrong. Here we have a super-duper smear of a film, brilliant as gasoline in a rain puddle, very funny in its wording, and inhabited by four characters behaving with the most astonishing self-service and self-indulgence in the world — and I loved them. Perfect impenitence, you see: that’s what I strive for. I sought the film out for the great British actor Richard Griffiths who manned the lads in The History Boys. One of the great comic monsters in film is the dealer played by Ralph Brown. For this alone, I toss my hat in the air.



High Rolling In A Hot Corvette

02 Apr

High Rolling In A Hot Corvette – directed by Igor Auzins. Road comedy. Two hitchhikers make off with a fancy car, only to discover it contains a fortune. 89 minutes color 1977.

* * * * *

Joseph Bottoms is one really great actor! I have never seen him before, so I shouldn’t be so brash, but in this he has everything — verve, imagination, physical and emotional daring, looks, and just the shot of nastiness the part requires. It is a lesson in the finest acting to see him sink his great big white teeth into this role and shake it from side to side with a just delight. It’s a kind of threesome road picture of the kind we have seen before and always find hospitable. He is the rake. Grigor Taylor, the other boy is the quieter one. And Judy Davis in her first picture, and unrecognizably young, is the girl who tags along. She’s darling. So is the film.


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