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November 25, 2013 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-25

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6A - Monday, November 25, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Payne talks origins
of 'Nebraska'

Acclaimed director
discusses casting
for latest project
By JAMIE BIRCOLL
Daily Arts Writer
In a conference call with
The Michigan Daily, acclaimed
director Alexander Payne ("The
Descendants") was asked if he
had any pre-directing rituals.
Citing his Greek heritage, he
said, "I anoint my entire body
with olive oil. It also keeps me
warm."
But once you get beyond the
sarcasm, you find in Payne an
artist grounded in reality who
wants nothing more than to
make his characters as reflec-
tive of real life as possible. It's
why so many ofhis films revolve
around similar themes, such as
the impact of adultery on famil-
ial relationships. It's also why
he chooses to cast non-actors in
supporting roles.
"My movies combine, typi-
cally, three groups of actors,"
he said. "One group is the
highly seasoned professionals.
The other is non-profession-
al actors, maybe people from
community theater and com-
mercials. And then another,
the third group, is non-actors.
That is to say, people who have
never acted in their lives before,
but who bring a certain level of
reality to a movie."
The casting process is a care-

ful one, even for big name actors.
For Payne, who is responsible
for launching the careers of the
likes of Shailene Woodley ("The
Descendants"), it all comes down
to an audition. All of the actors
must blend in such a way as to
ground the movie: "They're all
part of the same tapestry."
Payne's latest work is "Nebras-
ka," an examination of the gen-
eration raised on the American
dream and the dissatisfaction
that follows a lifetime of those
aspirations beingunfulfilled. The
film is shot entirely in black and
white, contrasting every hori-
zon with every crack in the black
road of this American pastoral.
"When I first read the script
nine years ago, I imagined it only
in black and white," Payne said.
"The very austere nature of the
screenplay to me suggested a
visual style in black and white."
In other words, monochrome is
simple: It's real.
"Nebraska" is one of a handful
of recent films from bigger-name
directors to use this style, includ-
ing the Oscar-winning silent film
"The Artist" in 2012. To him,
monochrome is a lost art that's
being picked up by independent
filmmakers.
"(The style) might be a format
which is so old that it's actually
new again and kind of exciting."
But he hopes this lost aesthetic
will become more than a trend.
"It's a beautiful form and
I don't think you're seeing -
younger people who have only
seen color TVs haven't seen

black-and-white movies and
don't know that our great film
heritage is largely in black and
white."
In explaining why he has shot
three of his four feature films in
Nebraska, he states that he feels
comfortable in his home state.
"Well, you never ask Woody
Allen why he likes to shoot
in New York or Paul Thomas
Anderson why he wants to shoot
in L.A.," he said. "You just accept
that. Why do you have to pester
me about why I like to shoot in
Nebraska?"
There's a certain comfort to
working with familiarity, but it
also allows for a deeper exami-
nation of one's roots; even as an
Omaha, Neb. native, Payne was
still unfamiliar with much of the
state.
"A lot of Omahans don't really
know the rural rest of the state.
So it was a nice excuse for me to
get to know the rest of my state."
Payne was so committed to
finding the perfect town for
"Nebraska" that he spent over
a year scouting and put 20,000
miles on his car in the process.
All in all, Payne always has a
reason to keep going back to
Nebraska.
"I'm from there. You wouldn't
ask William Faulkner why do
you continue to write in Oxford,
Mississippi? It's just where
people are from. And somehow
where you're from has an amaz-
ing gravitational pull over your
life. Not for everyone, but for
many people."

a

a

a

'Buyers Club' strikes
right emotional chord

a

by CONRAD FOREMAN
Daily Arts Writer
Matthew McConaughey may
forever be known as the guy
who needs to put a shirt on. But
dammit, the
man can act.
These last
few years, his Dallas
roles in "Ber- B
nie," "Kill-
er Joe" and At the
"Magic Mike" Michigan
have earned and Rave
him several
award nomi- Focus
nations (not to
mention, the fantastic "Mud").

McConaughey's performance in
"Dallas Buyers Club" tops them
all.
McConaughey may be per-
petually shirtless, and it's OK
to be annoyed by that. But you
know who else is shirtless? That
little golden guy atop the base of
an Academy Award.
Ron Woodroof (McCo-
naughey), professional electri-
cian and amateur bull fighter,
likes to party. His rampant par-
tyingincludes a steadystream of
booze, a hefty supply of cocaine
and enough unprotected sex to
put Trojan out of business.
In July of 1985, Woodroof
tests positive for HIV: He has 30
days to live, and he beats these
odds despite initially continuing
his hardcore lifestyle. Over the
next several years, his disease
(soon developing into AIDS)
leads him down a path littered
with depression, addiction and
hopelessness - bordered on
either side by a healthcare sys-

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RELEASE DATE- Monday, November 25, 2013
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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tem and a Federal Drug Admin
HELP WANTED istration more concerned wit
putting money into their ow
pockets than prescribing safe
effective medication. This i
WWW.STUDENTPAYOUTS.com based on a true story.
Paid survey takers need inA2.
100% FREE to join. Click on Surveys.
McConaughey
HAVE YOU delivers
Oscar-worthy
performance.
THE
Along the way, Woodroo
F T L befriendsRayon (Jared Lets
"Requiem for a Dream"), a ga
man who also suffers from AIDS
BOO K ( Leto, like McConaughey, may b
looking at an Oscar nominatio
for his performance. As Rayo
YET? helps Woodroof get over hi
h haabpbia AAswaaa, dnar f aciP

n-
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The most unfulfilled charac-
ter of "Dallas Buyers Club" is Eve
Saks (Jennifer Garner, "Juno"),
a physician torn between legal
medical protocol and what she
knows to be best for her patients.
You sympathize with her situa-
tion, but her character receives
sporadic screen time, causing her
emotional keynotes to appear flat
and underdeveloped.
The film contains several
problems of oversight in the plot.
Woodroof inexplicably smuggles
years-worth of unapproved drugs
across the Mexico border, and I
keeps his "buyers club" operat-
ing based on loopholes and tech-
nicalities with American drug
laws. How such subversionoccurs
remains murky throughout.
The screenplay, written by
first-timers Craig Borten and I
Melisa Wallack, spreads itself
slightly too thin, and gives us
too much what, not enough why
or how. Because the premise
creates skyscraping emotional
stakes, the film can afford to
scratch only the surface of its
important themes.
Director Jean-Marc Vallde
("Cafe de Flore") inserts some
beautiful shots, opening and
closing the film with artistic
sequences that, together, effec-
tively encapsulate the trans-
formation of Woodroof from a
homophobic, ignorant, under-
achieving cowboy into an activ-
ist with a fresh take on the value
of his life. His use of sound and
silence takes viewers into Wood-
roof's mind, forcing us to experi-
ence his disorientation.
Coupled with the superb
lead acting, the film draws its
power from the intense personal
struggles of its characters. Both
Woodroof and Rayon face their
mortality as young men, and we
feel their raw pain throughout
the ordeal.
A story that deals with an
array of human problems, "Dal-
las Buyers Club" will toy with
your emotions - provoking
anger, sadness and pity.

of
o,
y
S.
e
in
in
is

nomopnowa, wooaroor supp es
Rayon with something he needs
even more than medication: a per-
son that cares about him.

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6

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