Director Dissection with Seanc and Rauldc

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So you will probably notice a lot of similarities about the way I talk about Payne and Russel. That extends to how I feel about their first movie. I watched Citizen Ruth late in the game, just a year ago at this point. As I have mentioned it hasn't been too long since I have paid attention to directors in general. When I did and realized I loved four of Payne's films the next step was to watch those that I hadn't yet. Enter Citizen Ruth. To me it is pretty much indistinguishable from his other films. In theory I think the concept is ripe for comedy. The pro choice and pro life movements both battling over this unborn child, who's mother can't take care of herself, much less a child. The problem is it isn't funny. At no point did I life at any of these caricatures that Payne creates. This movie may have worked better back when these two factions were much more, for lack of a better word, vocal. That is to say when there was a lot more protesting and things were more heightened physically.

Anyway, this movie didn't work for me on any level. I found Dern insufferable, which I guess is part of the point, but she would have worked better if she had been at least a little sympathetic. I thought it would be fun to see Kurtwood Smith playing against type, but that novelty didn't last long. I didn't find the usual greatness in Payne's dialogue. This feels like a first feature to me. i am glad it wasn't my first experience with Payne, that's for sure.
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Questions:

What was your first Payne film, and how did you react?

Payne is casting a movie with actors he has never used before, pick a male and female lead.

Pick a classic movie for Payne to remake, cast it if you wish. Why did you choose this movie?



My first Alexander Payne film experience was actually The Descendants. I went with the wife to see it in the theater because I had been hearing great things about the movie and about George Clooney's performance in the film. It is now one of my favorite movies of all time and because off it I got curious about the rest of his filmography, although I didn't see a good chunk of it until these past couple of months. As for The Descendants I had a very positive reaction to it and I was definitely in its camp for the Oscar season. I mean, I didn't mind The Artist but I so badly wanted The Descendants to win all the awards. And predictably that did not happen. But overall I was just very happy that it was nominated and that other people appreciated the film.

If Payne were to have a male lead he's never used, I would think a cast choice of Bill Murray would be interesting. He just seems like a guy that could potentially fill an Alexander Payne role. For the females, I'd obviously like to see Rachel McAdams get a great character, I know she's capable of it and I know Payne could make it work.

I am about the last person that is rooting for remakes these days so I will have to think about that one for a moment.



As for Citizen Ruth, now this just was not good. I thought Laura Dern could have potentially been pretty decent for the role, unfortunately the premises of the film were all too faulty. The dilemma of her keeping or not keeping the baby weren't all that dramatic because she wasn't cast as the type of lead that you could really have any type of feeling or remorse for. They showed that she was fragile and dangerous but I think it would have been nice to see her being lead that way and once not being that type of person. They made her out as this person that has been this way for years. The story was just overall goofy. I wouldn't say terrible, I gave it a 4/10, but it is not at all a good film. Luckily I hadn't seen this film until about two weeks ago or it could have been a potential thorn in my liking of Alexander Payne movies. Still, it is the only one that I do not care for in the least that I have seen from Payne. I think Payne has certainly learned from it. It's weird that you can see a little glimmer of goodness in everyone's worst films for the most part though, so there's that.




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1.Election, and i despised it. At the time Reese Witherspoon was my sisters favourite actress, and i ended up watching it with her. Needless to say my opinions have greatly changed since i rewatched it, i'll wait until we get on to it to elaborate.

2.Alot of my absolute favourite actors wouldn't fit to great with Payne, while his films aren't pure comedies i feel you need to have some comedic ability to function in his films, and alot of my favourites happen to be largely Dramatic Actors.I'm going to back Rauls choice of McAdams, no joke i actually nodded my head in agreement when i saw his comment, she'd fit perfectly. For an Actor i'd pick one obviously influenced by a recent viewing, in Michael Keaton possibly used in a similar role to Nicholson in About Schmidt.

3.Like Raul i'm not a fan of remakes, but i like what you are getting at with this question. I can't think of a specific example, but i'd say a subtle comedy similar to The Apartment, not similar in story but in it's blend of comedy and drama. Something that's got some good ideas, but is somewhat lacking in Character Development and Dialogue. Sorry i couldn't come up with a title, but i honestly did rack my brains about this since this morning and could only really come up with a general idea of what Payne could improve on.



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For raul, I give Citizen Ruth 6/10 [
], so it must be great!!
How would you rank/rate Paynes films Mark? Citizen Ruth really looks like something i'd dislike, but the negative comments seem to be having the opposite effect because i kinda want to see it now .



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Citizen Ruth 6/10

Election 7/10

About Schmidt 6.5/10

Sideways 6.5/10

14e arrondissement from Paris, je t'aime 6.5/10

The Descendants 7/10

Nebraska 6.5/10
Clearly you like all of his films around the same, while agreeing with most that Citizen Ruth is his weakest. If i was to guess i would've said Election or About Schmidt would be your favourite from his, so it was good to see i was kinda half right .



Here's a few more questions:

Do you see any behind the camera trademarks that Payne is able execute well?

What is your favorite scene and why?

What will more than likely be the next film of his that you go to or REWATCH?



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Both of you come up with really great and difficult questions. I'll have to think more about the first question, i'd also like to see Nebraska before i comment on it.

2.Another impossible question you sadist . Anyway if i had to pick it would be one from my joint favourite Payne film, The Descendants. There's multiple scenes that i could pick from this, but i feel the scene when Clooneys daughter breaks to his completely oblivious self that his wife was cheating on him, Clooneys reaction feels unbelievably realistic; he can't start blurting out what he thinks of his wife in that moment, so all that comes out is this dismayed look, followed by as calm words as would be possible in that situation to his daughter.

I must admit i was kind of cheating picking that scene, since it was the game-changing one; either side of it could be said to be Part 1 and 2 imo.

3.Well it's going to be Nebraska, but as i said earlier the reaction to Citizen Ruth kind of makes me want to watch it. For a rewatch, The Descendants no doubt still only watched it once a few months after it was released.



Camo you stole my scene. Him running out of the house and down the street in his boat shoes at full speed will never leave my mind. I am going to think about it and come up with another. I wanted to think about that first question for a bit anyway.

I will answer #3 now. About Schmidt is the only one that I haven't seen in a long time. I love it and am already thinking about watching it again since we started talking about Payne's movies.



One of most emotional scenes for me is the Shailene Woodley pool scene in The Descendants. I think it really hits home for me because I've had devasting news like that in my past, and she truly made that a very heartbreaking scene. I know under water and on the surface the scene is just a girl crying but the lead up to that moment and the cinematography of the scene was executed perfectly. It is the first time that Shailene Woodley's character is shown as a vulnerable character. Before this scene you aren't sure if you can sympathize so much with her character. The first time we see her we see her drinking and sneaking out of her college after hours and she seems like an 100% problem child that just will not be able to grow up. However, you suddenly see that her life has been surrounded with tragic circumstances and you just really feel for her. But not only is this one of Paynes best scenes ever, it is one of the best executed scenes that I have ever seen of all time. Just the way George breaks the news to her and the under water camera work is truly sensational. A definite powerhouse scene.



I legitimately believe I will be rewatching 3 of Paynes films this year. Nebraska, The Descendants, and Sideways. And it won't be long before I will want to watch Election again.



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About Schmidt is the other half of my joint favourites, it's also the underrated script i spoke of earlier. Seriously other than a few i disliked at first like Chinatown and The Royal Tenenbaums, About Schmidt is possibly my most rewarding rewatch, it's the main reason i have such high hopes for Nebraska.



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Excellent scene and writeup Raul . Hopefully that wasn't the next scene Sean was planning on picking .

Also Sean can i ask if there was a remake you had in mind for Payne, or if you could think of one now? I really thought that was an interesting question and forgot to ask if you had something in mind.



I really didn't. I think he would do well with Wilder stuff which made me think of the question, so it is interesting you mentioned The Apartment. Of course I really wouldn't want to see most of Wilder's stuff touched. The Lost Weekend might be good. That is one that to me has potential but feels dated.