Nebraska: Alexander Payne And Bruce Dern On 3D IMAX Tricks And Making Movies About People

By Sean O'Connell 2013-11-22 06:31:06discussion comments
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Payneís use of black-and-white cinematography strikes me as offbeat. Studio executives are falling over each to greenlight IMAX and 3D projects. Directors like Peter Jackson and Bryan Singer experiment with 48 frames-per-second presentations. Instead of looking forward, Payne looks back to the way movies used to be made. I ask him if those modern tools interest him at all as a storyteller.

"Not really," he says with a shrug. "I just saw Gravity in IMAX 3D, and I liked that. I saw Avatar in IMAX 3D, and I liked that, tooÖ Itís a magnificent vision, and a magnificent stunt. It was just magnificent. Itís not what you do, though, itís how you do it. You know?"

"I canít think of any movie Iíve ever done where the [special] effects are what the movie is about," Dern chimed in on the topic. "We did a documentary called A Decade Under the Influence, which is about the movies of the Ď70s. At the end of it, Martin Scorsese says, ĎYou know, Iím just blown away by the wizardry, the technology, and the propensity to make money fast.í Meaning making $100 million on opening weekend, or some crazy number like that.

"But at the end of the day, you miss the people," Dern continued. "I make movies about people. Alexander makes movies about people. Not that nobody else does. They all do! But thatís basically what we are in to. Iím just interested in telling a story, and if you can invent a way for us to tell a story using whatever device enhances the story, Iím all for it. If it doesnít enhance the story, then why do it?"

"It all depends on the screenplay," Payne continues. "If the screenplay calls for it, Iím interested. But am I attracted to those toys in and of themselves? No. Itís hard enough just to shoot two people sitting next to each other like you and I are."

Hoping to better understand, I ask him if, when it came to Gravity, he was hooked on the characters as opposed to the special effects.

"Oh no!" he exclaims. "What characters?"

Nebraska is in theaters as we speak.
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