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Film, "Nebraska": Alexander Payne Launches Another Offensive on the Midwest

"Nebraska": Alexander Payne Launches Another Offensive on the Midwest

The films of Alexander Payne (Election, The Descendants) routinely walk a fine line between exhibiting empathy and condescension for their characters, and with Nebraska, that balance swings toward the latter. Shot in stark, beautiful black-and-white that amplifies its atmosphere of…
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Film, Film Feature Interview: Alexander Payne Discusses "The Descendants," Pessimism, Failure, Filmmaking

Interview: Alexander Payne Discusses "The Descendants," Pessimism, Failure, Filmmaking

"I don't think about the home where my films will land," says Alexander Payne, free-range in a film culture fenced off into art house and multiplex, to the detriment of both. He describes the audience that he writes for as…
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Film, "The Descendants": Alexander Payne's Latest Is Surprisingly Predictable

"The Descendants": Alexander Payne's Latest Is Surprisingly Predictable

Why has it taken Alexander Payne seven years to follow up on Sideways? And what's blunted his edge? Payne's earlier movies have been driven by richly flawed characters — Reese Witherspoon's monstrous high school striver in Election, Jack Nicholson's thoroughly…
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Calendar, Night&Day A Very High School

A Very High School

The great American student-government election: Teenagers exposing their fragile egos to public ballot-box rejection and spending a small fortune on poster board, all for the possible distinction of assigning Homecoming subcommittees and allocating school funds for a laminator. This is…
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Film, Drift Wood

Drift Wood

The problem with making black-lacquered high school satire is this: Heathers came out in 1989, and it pretty much did the trick. There's always room for an excellent addition to the genre, and in 1999, it appeared in the form…
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Dining, Eat Whining and Dining

Whining and Dining

"This is my favorite movie of the year," I realized as I watched Sideways for the third time with the same sense of delight and pleasure as I had the first time, six weeks earlier, at the Toronto Film Festival.…
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Film, Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

When was the last time you saw Paul Giamatti? And when the film ended, did you realize how much you would miss him? It was just last year that Giamatti played the hilariously beleaguered Harvey Pekar in American Splendor, a…
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Film,

High School Unhinged

Election Directed by Alexander Payne. Screenplay by Payne and Jim Taylor, from a novel by Tom Perrotta. Starring Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, and Jessica Campbell. At the AMC 1000 Van Ness. The latest release from Paramount Pictures'…
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