Nebraska

No, not the Bruce Springsteen’s iconic follow-up to Born In The USA in 1985, but the new movie by Alexander Payne starring Bruce Dern. Here’s what our guest film blogger Ryan Davis says about it:

I really liked “Nebraska.” It’s sweet but not saccharine, affecting without being obvious, and encouraging because it’s a “small” film that’s made it big–and made a case for small films going big.

And of course, there’s the cast, right down to the extras. Much has been said about director Alexander Payne’s use of locals as extras, but more should be said about the act of making a film in a dying small town like Hawthorne, Nebraska. There does not appear to be a real Hawthorne, but there are certainly real towns like it, and the film was shot “on location”–just not this fictional one.

IMDB lists the filming locations as Hooper, Plainview, Stanton, and Osmond. Wikipedia says there are 228 families currently residing in Hooper, Nebraska. The website also notes this interesting detail:

Hooper is noted for a 24-foot (7.3 m) tower, with the town’s name in 18-inch (460 mm) letters, completed in 2010 as a road sign for the town. The tower was constructed alongside a new bypass on U.S. Route 275 that diverted the highway around the town and raised concerns that the town would be unnoticed by passing traffic.

Let’s hope “Nebraska” helps more people get off the highway to visit towns like Hooper. As is likely the case with your hometown (and if you’ve seen “Nebraska,” you almost certainly don’t still live in a small town), there is probably an interesting second-hand shop on Main Street, a town museum open on alternate Tuesdays from 2-5pm, and a tasty diner where the locals read their paper each morning. There’s probably also aging stately farmhouses, bypassed by the condo boom, unneeded by big-box stores in a town where space is not a premium. And there’s probably an aging population to go along with those houses.

In addition to asking what amounts to a life well lived, how to connect with your family, and how to be a man, “Nebraska” can’t help but make us all face this question. What’s going to happen to these great small towns?