Cannes Film Festival 2013: 23rd May Reactions Part 1 (‘Nebraska’, ‘Norte’, Tore Tanzt’)

Alexander Payne

Alexander Payne

Blue is the Warmest Colour blew the critics away last night; the ‘m’ word was uttered, as were proclamations of award-worthy performances and Palme D’or-pedigree direction from Abdellatif Kechiche. We’re back on conventional territory this morning with Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, though cinephiles wishing to get their fix of taxing arthouse need look no further than Lav Diaz’ Norte, quite literally: it’s over four hours long. Short by Diaz’ standards, perhaps mercifully long for a mass of critics that are currently getting by on fewer hours sleep per night than the film’s runtime.


Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

“A humanistic filmmaker at his core, Alexander Payne continues his streak of creating films that plumb the depths of a character’s life while asking you to ponder your own.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Perhaps punches are being pulled, just a little. It doesn’t stop Nebraska from being a thoroughly sweet and charming movie, and a reminder of Dern’s quality as an actor.”

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

“The film’s laughs are as low-key as Payne’s reflective but straight-shooting style of storytelling, and there’s a fair amount of sadness. There’s a last-minute dash for warmth, too, but mostly ‘Nebraska’ is fairly blunt about family relationships and friendships, while preserving the possibility that neither are necessarily bad for you and never getting too tragic or maudlin.”

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

“This is a resounding return to form for Payne: there are moments that recall his earlier road movies About Schmidt and Sideways, but it has a wistful, shuffling, grizzly-bearish rhythm all of its own.”

Jordan Cronk, Slant

“Ultimately, Payne’s films beg the question of whether or not the self-imposed journey of his protagonists have been worth the trip. In the case Nebraska, the trek is one worth embarking on, for both its characters and audience alike.”

Scott Foundas, Variety

“Throughout, Payne gently infuses the film’s comic tone with strains of longing and regret, always careful to avoid the maudlin or cheaply sentimental.”

Alex Griffith, Next Projection

“Ultimately Payne delivers an interesting but uneven eagle-eyed gaze on a Greatest Generation unmoored in the post-Reagan Midwest.”

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

“There’s an essence of falseness around the characters and the scenario, and the lack of full-throated bite holds it back from being harsh satire.”

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

“For the most part, this is a lovely comedy of regret and remorse that deals with how the prospect of death is viewed by the young and old. At its best, it shows Payne’s capacity for a melancholic humanism that captures a consumate mixture of tragedy and comedy.”

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

“Really “Nebraska” is a small-scale quixotic adventure about the importance of dreams, no matter how pie-eyed, in which the outlined flaws could all be forgiven, if it just went somewhere a bit more surprising. As it is, “Nebraska” follows pre-planned route map just too faithfully for us to take it fully to our hearts.”

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

“Payne’s homecoming will be treasured by his many devotees as a work of rueful, backward-looking humanity, but for this critic, it’s his earlier, more nakedly cruel films that still cut deepest; the home fires are kept flickering in “Nebraska,” but they don’t really burn.”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Echoing the director’s most recent film, The Descendants, in its preoccupation with generational issues within families, how the smell of money contaminates the behavior of friends and relatives and the way Wasps hide and disclose secrets, this is nonetheless a more melancholy, less boisterous work.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

“What rankles is the abyssal and abysmal disconnect between the filmmaker’s apparent understanding of his subject and how he executes that vision onscreen.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

NEBRASKA takes a while to get going but there’s some Payne gold once you pan through the sentimental sand. Bruce Dern is excellent.

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Alexander Payne’ NEBRASKA a lovely road movie about family ties and tensions and memories. Bruce Dern predictably excellent

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

Quaint and heartfelt, Alexander Payne’s ‘Nebraska’ is a warm portrait of a father and son journey through the heart of America.

Alex Billington, First Showing

Nebraska – Lo-fi nostalgic hometown charmer that works well. Payne really brings it home. Will Forte, Bruce Dern both fantastic.

Catherine Bray, Film4

Nebraska reminds me of Alexander Payne’s short, Carmen (rural re-do of classic), with Don Quixote the classic he’s riffing on this time.

Xan Brooks, The Guardian

Alex Payne’s Nebraska, a drawling, maudlin ballad of the American Depression. Sweet, sad, soft in the middle. But Dern is great

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

CANNES: Alexander Payne’s ‘Nebraska’ is a low-key charmer. More brooding, less contrived than ‘The Descendants’ but far more poignant.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is a resounding return to form: an ultra lo-fi, black-and-white elegy for the American family

Adam Cook, MUBI

Fond of the way Alexander Payne represents America(ns)—stark contrast w/ Coens—but am entirely ambivalent towards NEBRASKA

Jordan Cronk, Slant

NEBRASKA (A. Payne): A modest charmer after the forced emotionalism of THE DESCENDENTS is welcome. No tho 😦 B-/B

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Nebraska (Payne): 71. “Does he have Alzheimer’s?” “He just believes things that people tell him.” “Oh, that’s too bad.”

Peter Debruge, Variety

NEBRASKA (Alexander Payne, 2013), – 5/10

What others are calling “a minor Payne” is slight, sentimental doodle strangely lacking in texture & blandly filmed in B&W on his home turf.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

Alas, Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA—mostly an elevation of all of Payne’s condescending worst instincts—is one of the low lights.

William Goss, MSN Movies

Nebraska: a lovely antidote to The Descendants – just the idea of money tests a family. America’s never been more endearingly plain.

Tim Grierson, Paste

NEBRASKA: Alexander Payne’s emotional wallops may be getting a touch formulaic. But they still get to me.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

NEBRASKA (B-/B): Effortlessly sublime and yet not entirely satisfying as a study of familial sadness. Moments of greatness.

Eugene Hernandez, Filmlinc

Tender & touching, building towards a terrific finale, NEBRASKA is a movie I really want to share with my parents!

Aaron Hillis, Movie Maker Magazine

NEBRASKA: So slight and snoozy it almost evaporates. Is this in comp for French love of Americana or Payne’s auteur club membership?

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

I’m not emotionally stable enough for all the heartache in these Cannes films. NEBRASKA is a knockout.

NEBRASKA and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS make a nice double-shot of likable assholes. This is no SIDEWAYS, but what is? It’s very good.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

NEBRASKA: American Dream sours to American Delusion. Alexander Payne in minor key.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

NEBRASKA (Payne) Think there’s something in my eye… Intensely bittersweet b/w farewell to old America. Dern magnificent.

NEBRASKA very rote in its construction, but details and texture lift it.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

The real star of NEBRASKA? June Squibb, who gets all the good lines, dominates all the strong moments.

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

Alexander Payne’s black and white Nebraska has Bruce Dern as Don Quoxote and Will Forte as Sancho Panza, with a dollop of corn syrup.

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

I think it’s fair to say that Alexander Payne and I just don’t get on anymore.

NEBRASKA (C) Less misanthropic, more amusing than Descendants, but just as patronising. Aren’t Midwesterners simple? Aren’t old folks funny?

Special perfs could elevate material, but Dern’s just doing dignified surliness, and Forte’s a blank space. Also, the score wants murdering.

I’m a sucker for bleak Americana imagery, but come on: Phedon Papamichael doesn’t magically become Roger Deakins when the image is in B&W.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Nebraska was just delightful. Slighter than most of his works but masterfully acted and pondering weighty themes

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Nebraska’s a simple, sentimental slice of Americana. Unexpectedly sweet considering Payne’s past work. A wonderful ensemble.

Nebraska still has that darker edge though. Bruce Dern’s father character is in a devastating decline. Stunning stuff.

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

NEBRASKA – sweet/sour unsentimental Americana, beautifully acted & shot. Touch of Straight Story but so deadpan it could almost be Finnish.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

NEBRASKA (B+) It’s gentleness may make it seem slight but a lot of its smart writing reveals the depth of the story in a subtle manner.

Nigel M. Smith, Indiewire

NEBRASKA gets better as it rolls along. Still, marred by a clunky screenplay and an inert Will Forte. Payne’s weakest.

Jason Solomons, The Observer

Alexander Payne’s entry Nebraska is sublime – funny, wise, sweet and mythic. Best American road movie since the Straight Story.

Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

Just saw next year’s best picture winner or a very strong contender

Nebraska – maybe Payne’s best? This and Sideways. But this is a richer experience overall.

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

Tipping the current Twit scales the other way, I found Payne’s NEBRASKA a mostly rank exercise in hicksploitation sentimentalism.

Jeff Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere

Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” is an earnest and straight meditation on death, aging, resignation & midwestern banality & beautifully shot…

…but too often it feels as banal and resigned as its subject[s]. It’s really quite a dark capturing about delusion and memory and loss.

“Nebraska” is a good, respectable film but it’s minor Payne. It’s a somewhat glummer, flatter, artier ( by way of b&w) “About Schmidt.”

Blake Williams, Indiewire

NEBRASKA (7.0): So nails an essential sadness of the American middle class that I spent half the running time fighting back tears.

Damon Wise, Empire

Nebraska is fantastic, not least for Stacy Keach singing In The Ghetto

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

NEBRASKA: Alexander Payne back to his best with melancholic family road movie. Sweet, honest and sad (but in a good way)

Neil Young, Jigsaw Lounge

NEBRASKA (Payne ’13) 6/10. Lays on the b/w Americana – and some of the humour – a little thick, but gets much else spot-on. Charming, minor.


Kieron Corless, Sight & Sound

“It’s a mesmerising experience that grows deeper and broader the longer it goes on, completely justifying its duration. It seems to be pitched in a completely different key to the other films I’ve seen in Cannes this year, with its own rhythm and rules, a different mode of address to the viewer, the ambition to reach for – and attain – a metaphysical dimension.”

Daniel Kasman, MUBI

“The vividly human scale of Diaz’s film, its telling of a classic story specifically within a topical context, its remarkably simultaneous magnitude and minuteness, it is a work so powerful that its tendrils of suggestion seem capable to connect all of the films of Cannes together.”


Adam Cook, MUBI

NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY by Laz Diaz is a highlight: gorgeous, surprising, brilliant!

Jordan Cronk, Slant

NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY (L. Diaz) Youthful ideology turned malcontent maturation. Filipino advancement as recycled society. B+

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

Holy crap, Lav Diaz’s NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY! That’s all I’ve got at the moment, but that is definitely one of my highlights.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY: Equal parts brilliant and frustrating. My first Diaz, and what an experience. No grade necessary.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

The 4-hour Lav Diaz NORTE is worth every second. Finally something transcendent. Amazing.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY (Diaz) Mythic state-of-the-nation address has epic drama and character journeys of classical literature. Stunning.

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

Lav Diaz’s NORTE, what a triumph. Raskolnikov in the Philippines, beautifully controlled storytelling with an apocalyptic final left-turn.

Blake Williams, Indiewire

NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY (7.8): Dunno if I’ll ever want to see it again (same w/MELANCHOLIA, my fave of his), but this is next level shit.

Taken aback by the technical leap forward here. Photography & acting have never been a strong suit in Diaz’s cinema; here they’re both whoa.

Neil Young, Jigsaw Lounge

now in a foul temper after Lav Diaz’s pointlessly protracted, four-hour NORTH: THE END OF HISTORY. Never mind the quality, feel the length.


Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

“A tighter edit would have helped here. All the same, Gebbe has made a robust and compelling first feature, deftly shot and ably acted, especially by its younger cast members.”

Lee Marshall, Screen Daily

“So determined is the director to rub our faces in the graphic details of the abuse suffered by Tore that she loses her grip on character.”


William Goss, MSN Movies

Tore Tanzt (Nothing Bad Can Happen): my last film at schools my first, Heli, in how to provoke within a fascinating moral context.

Tim Grierson, Paste

TORE TANZT: Agreeably bleak and asks some hard questions. What if there’s no God? And if there is, why won’t He help this poor kid?

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Tore Tanzt proves heavily divisive. Potent depiction of the brutal finality of religious indoctrination. 3/5

David Neary, Next Projection

Nothing Bad Can Happen: Finely crafted but heavy-handed Christ allegory. Torturous at times, the booming score and swaying focus are notable

Blake Williams, Indiewire

NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN (0.6): Some next level *shit*. Close to the worst film I’ve ever seen.


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