Daily Archives: February 2, 2014

Nebraska Movie Review

Nebraska is one of the best  films of 2013. It is still playing in theaters so there is still time to see it.

Bruce Dern plays Woody Grant, a retired auto mechanic who lives with his wife Kate in a tiny run down house in Montana. Woody receives one of those annoying  junk mail flyers saying he has won a million dollars. However, unlike most people, Woody actually believes that he has won. He decides to go in person to the headquarters of the contest company to collect him money. Unfortunately the company is located in Nebraska and since Woody no longer drives he has no way to get their. He tried repeatedly to get their, including trying to simply walk from Montana to Nebraska. His son (played by Will Forte) finally decides that the only solution is to actually drive Woody to Nebraska.

This is a touching, emotional movie filmed in black and white. In some ways it is reminiscent of the road trip taken by Tom Cruse and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Main. Woody’s son learns more on this road trip then he ever knew about his father. In the beginning of the movie you just assume that Woody is nothing more than a senile old man. Along the way we come to see that Woody is a much more complex character than most of his family has ever realized.  One woman asks the son if Woody has Alzheimer’s Disease  to which the son replies sadly , “No. He just believes what people tell him.”

One of the best performances in the film is by June Squibb, who plays Kate Grant, Woody’s very outspoken wife.  At first they appear to be a bickering old couple, but later we see that there is a deep love and trust between the two. Woody is a gentle, non-confrontational type, while Kate on the other hand is not afraid to take on anyone who crosses her, or who dares to try to mistreat her man.

We will not give away the ending of the movie other than to say that they do make it to Nebraska and that even late in life there are all sorts of ways to be a prize winner.

10 Things That Are Better Than They Used To Be – by Gregory Farrell & Susan Marascofarrell

We promised ourselves that as we got older we would not be the type of people that are always complaining about how everything used to be better. So here is a list of 10 things that are better, or have made the world better.

10. Cars are better than they used to be. We had a lot of debate about whether or not to include this. We are taking a risk of getting hundreds of nasty e-mails or comments from people insisting that the old time cars were better. It is true that some of the old cars were beautiful works of art. Unfortunately many of them were also death traps. No seat belts, metal dash boards, no air bags. Take a look at highway death statistics and you will see that cars really have improved.

9. No more second hand smoke – It used to be there was no way to get away from it. Trains, airplanes, restaurants, offices, even doctor’s waiting rooms all had people smoking. For a first hand account of how it used to be just read the story Cigarettes in the Slipstream.

8. The internet – We take it so much for granted now that we tend to forget all the benefits it has given us. Information that used to take hours or days to find can now be found in seconds. Doctors in remote locations can instantly send data to a major medical center in order to get a better diagnosis for a patient. It is also spreading democracy world-wide.

7. Cell Phones – They used to be giant bricks. Heavy, expensive and with poor reception. Sure, someone talking on a cell phone in a restaurant is annoying, but that is more that outweighed by the benefits. People can instantly call the police or an ambulance in an emergency.

6. Medicine has improved tremendously. There was a time not too long ago, for example, when the diagnosis of cancer was essentially a death sentence. Now there are thousands of cancer survivors living long and happy lives. Transplants of livers, kidneys and even hearts have saves thousands of others.

5. Education for special needs children has improved. This is especially true in the early identification of issues.

4. The crime rate is way down.  Of course there have been very public shootings and tragedies and any crime is awful. However, the overall crime rate has dropped tremendously especially in large cities such as New York.

3. Race relations are very improved. It is hard explain to people growing up now, just how much hatred and mistrust existed  not many years back. There is a long way to go, and there will always bee some people filled with bigotry and hate, but  the overall trend has been positive for many years.

2. Opportunities for women and minorities are better than they have ever been. Today an Africa-American doctor or a female engineer was an unusual event. Now it is so commonplace we do not even notice it.

1. The future real. That may sound strange, but when we were kids there were only  two opposite extremes of the future presented to us. The first was  the  “End of World “. We even had bomb drills in school to prepare us for an atomic attack. (We were taught to hide under our desks, which is ridiculous when you think about the impact of a Hydrogen bomb). The second was the “Science will make everything perfect” scenario. This was the magical future presented at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was a wonderful World’s Fair, but completely unrealistic. People now have a much more realistic view of the future. The world is not about to end but no magic science discovery is going to make it perfect either. The future is something we are going to have to create ourselves, by a lot of hard work and recognizing what is what is real and what is not. That future may not be as exciting as the fantasy future of the past, but it is actually better.