Showing posts with label director. Show all posts
Showing posts with label director. Show all posts

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Alexander Payne At the Golden Globes

Yes it's true: the writer and film director Alexander Payne is of Greek descent.
So Payne was kind to the Greek Reporter shaggy-man behind the microphone below. According to the Alexander Payne Wikipedia biography, his real first name is Constantine and his ancestors come from Livadia, Aegio, the island of Syros, in Greece, and from Germany. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, studied Spanish and history at Stanford University, studied in Spain and later lived in Colombia.
So being Greek isn't the story he tells. (He is close to his elderly parents, a restaurateur-businessman and a French-Spanish teacher, according to a recent New Yorker profile.)
His latest film "Nebraska," one of four set in his home state, features black-and-white winter prairie landscapes that remind me of the ride from Chicago to Champaign, Illinois. That stark beauty helps tell the story. On storytelling, Payne paraphrases Anton Chekhov: "If you want emotional effects, you have to place them against a cold background, so they stand out in relief." (see The New Yorker on Payne Oct. 28, 2013, p. 50). Critics say Payne can be condescending in trying to balance satire and sympathy in his characters. He says he is "deathly afraid of beign too sentimental." Payne told The Guardian in an interview that evoking emotion is the goal:
"Sentimentality is a dirty word to me. It implies trying to wring tears from the audience. I don't want to do any of that crap. If you want to be moved, fine. If you don't, fine. I'm not going to force anything out of you."
I find something admirable about Payne's tenacity, his apparent un-Hollywood existence, and the length of time he spends scouting, writing, filming and editing. Even with success, The Guardian claimed he was not prolific -- now with more than six films to his name, an Oscar and new award nominations.
Creative minds should be condescending, given all the judgement one is constantly subject to.