I know many of my South Dakota friends got a shot of adrenaline from the above headline.

“Who isn’t trying to escape Nebraska?”

Others may be excited at the thought of Tommy Lee Jones playing an older Snake Plissken (you know, from “Escape from New York”) in a dystopian future where Nebraska is an industrial wasteland.

Well, that’s not quite what you’ll find in the story of “The Homesman,” which Jones directed.

Rather, Jones’ plays a claim jumper in the Old West that teams up with a pioneer woman (Hilary Swank) to escort three mentally ill women from Nebraska to Iowa.

It looks really good — and anyone who saw Jones’ 2005 film “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” knows the man can direct.

Check out the trailer:

It was announced today that the film will play at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

John Lithgow, James Spader and Meryl Streep are also among the cast.

While set in Nebraska, it doesn’t look like any of the film was shot in my home state. The Internet Movie Database lists shooting locations in Georgia and New Mexico.

In other Cannes news, I’m also excited to see that David Cronenberg has a new effort called “Maps to the Stars” premiering at the festival (and the trailer is NSFW):



Sad songs and Sundays.

This is among my favorite couples, and I’m enjoying my time with them today.

We are reminiscing, laughing, conducting amateur therapy sessions and hopefully cooking something delicious this afternoon.

It’s lovely.

We snatch the hours of fire from life and make our own light in the darkness. I’ve learned you cannot count on the sun to illuminate the path before you. It has no vested interest in the proceedings and is just as likely to lead you nowhere as it is to lead you somewhere. It’s the light from within that will probe the cracks and knock on walls to find the secret passages and the hidden worlds to which they connect.

But there are times when that internal flame must be tampered down and sculpted into a new form. For that, you need the damp presence of sadness. It can exaggerate your perspective, and it can give you clarity. Sometimes, those are complementary attributes.

Today, we are cultivating sadness so we have the right tools to rebuild the flame.

For this, I love sad songs and Sundays.


“Even though it hurts, even though it scars,

Love me when it storms, love me when I fall,

Every time it breaks, every time it’s torn,

Love me like I’m not made of stone.”


“And all this rain, love, don’t wash away shit …”


“Chasing Sundays round and round …”


“Today, you were far away, and I didn’t ask you why …”


“What are they doing in heaven today,
Where sin and sorrow are all done away?
Peace abounds like a river, they say.
What are they doing there now?”

Did you miss the weird and wonderful Future Islands performance on the “Late Show with David Letterman?”

If so, you need to watch it now and actively participate in its glory. Letterman loved it, and I think you will, too.

Lead singer Samuel T. Herring will guide you.

I came across Baltimore’s Future Islands in the last year or so when one of their songs was played on the “Sound Opinions” podcast, and I have been listening to them ever since.

The video for the song above — “Seasons (Waiting On You)” — was released in January, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. The song goes surprisingly well with scenes from the cowboy lifestyle.

The band released the newest video for their upcoming album, “Singles,” this morning. Check it out:

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”; Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”; Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”; Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Nathan says: I look at this field and recall all the great performances I saw this year in great films. I wouldn’t be unhappy with any of these choices. I was particularly impressed with newcomer Barkhad Abdi’s difficult yet sympathetic performance in “Captain Phillips.” It’s tempting to argue Michael Fassbender should get the award for all the great performances he has given us. My heart is ultimately with Jonah Hill. However, Jared Leto’s transgendered Rayon was a standout performance that will earn him gold.
WHO WILL WIN: Jared Leto
DARK HORSE CANDIDATE: Michael Fassbender
WHO GOT ROBBED: Jonah Hill’s teeth, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Matthew McConaughey, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Will Forte, “Nebraska”; James Franco, “Spring Breakers”; Ben Mendelsohn, “The Place Beyond the Pines”

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”; Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”; Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”; Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”; June Squibb, “Nebraska.”
Nathan says: I’m in love with Jennifer Lawrence along with everybody else, but I found her role in “American Hustle” to be rather slight and not particularly worthy of a nomination. And who is surprised that there has come a day when a Julia Roberts nomination is met with virtual silence? I would love to see June Squibb win for her biting, spot-on performance as a bitter Midwesterner in “Nebraska.” I think Nyong’o’s heartbreaking turn in “12 Years” will end up winning, though. She earned it.
WHO WILL WIN: Lupita Nyong’o
WHO GOT ROBBED: Margot Robbie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale, “American Hustle”; Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”; Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Nathan says: I would really, really like to see Bruce Dern win for his dazed and confused performance as Woody. He deserves to win. But it doesn’t look like that is in the cards. All the momentum seems to be behind the emaciated Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” McConaughey has been on an incredible streak lately, and I love watching him. Still, I thought he was outdone by Dern and Leo DiCaprio this year.
WHO WILL WIN: Matthew McConaughey
WHO GOT ROBBED: Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”; Mads Mikkelsen, “The Hunt”

Best Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”; Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”; Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”; Judi Dench, “Philomena”; Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County.”
Nathan says: For the first time in many years, I enjoyed a Sandra Bullock performance. (Maybe she was good in “The Heat,” but I have yet to see it.) In “Gravity,” she was completely mesmerizing. With the most recent scandal involving director Woody Allen, it could impact Cate Blanchett’s chances of winning and open the door for the always brilliant Judi Dench. Overall, I find this category rather weak this year, I have to admit.
WHO WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett
WHO SHOULD WIN: Sandra Bullock
WHO GOT ROBBED: Amy Seimetz, “Upstream Color”; Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”; Adele Exarchopoulos, “Blue Is the Warmest Color”

Best Director
Nominees: David O. Russell, “American Hustle”; Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”; Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”; Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”; Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Nathan says: Because of the pure technical spectacle he created with “Gravity,” I think Cuarón is poised to get the best director award. Some have said that “12 Years” was done so skillfully that it seemed undirected. I find truth in that line of thought. This may very well be one of those years wherein the best director and best film go to different movies — both of which are very deserving in each category.
WHO WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuarón
WHO SHOULD WIN: Alfonso Cuarón
WHO GOT ROBBED: Jeff Nichols, “Mud”; Shane Carruth, “Upstream Color”

Best Picture
Nominees: “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Nathan says: What a great field. Five of these films were in my top 10 for 2013, and three others were honorable mentions. “Gravity” was a tour de force in technology and vision. Slightly cliched at times when it came to storytelling? Perhaps. But wow. I didn’t name it my movie of the year for nothing. “The Wolf of Wall Street” was a close second, and I’m probably rooting for that just because I love Martin Scorsese so much. But my feeling is that the historical and moral weight of “12 Years a Slave” will win the night.
WHO WILL WIN: “12 Years a Slave”
WHO SHOULD WIN: “The Wolf of Wall Street”
WHO GOT ROBBED: “Mud,” “Before Midnight,” “Upstream Color”
Some awards you won’t see at the Oscars:
MOST REALISTIC LOVE SCENES: “Blue is the Warmest Color”
BEST USE OF SATAN: “Post Tenebras Lux”
BIGGEST D-BAG IN FILM: Steve Carell, “The Way Way Back”
COOLEST GUY IN A FILM: Sam Rockwell, “The Way Way Back”
COOLEST GIRL IN A FILM: Brie Larson, “Short Term 12”
FUNNIEST DIALOGUE: The magazine argument in “This is the End.”

BEST COMEDY: “Bad Grandpa.” (I’m a sucker for fart jokes. I can’t help it.)
BEST BAD FILM I CAUGHT UP WITH IN 2013: “Miami Connection.” It’s hilarious. Watch it immediately.
WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR (THAT I SAW): “Man of Steel.” Its monotonous destruction, tasteless 9/11 references and laughable plot points left me with a steely gaze of hatred.


Painting by Haruko Maeda. Learn more about the artist at http://harukomaeda.blogspot.com.

The sun sets on your silhouette. I can’t believe that it’s you.

I saw the birds lift your spirit to the sky, and I thought that was it.

I thought you had departed.

But here you are among the trees, shrouded by their skeletal hands.

It’s hard to comprehend.

I wonder if you can hear these words. Can what remains of you forgive me?

If I ignite the trees tonight, can you go to the light and leave? Because I’m incapable of so much these days.

I’m incapable of finding a way to live.

I call this place home, because my heart is buried in its depths.

The roots of these trees wrap it tighter and tighter, but it won’t collapse.

It won’t quit.

It’s like a stone that drags me deeper and deeper, but there is no bottom.

What I couldn’t say to you then, I’ll say to you now.

The reason he left was because he loved someone else. I promised my silence.

I didn’t know there were demons whispering in your ear.

Maybe that knowledge wouldn’t have changed your mind. Maybe your pain was too deafening.

But I can’t help but feel like I failed to speak when I should have known you were hurting.

The snow came, and you withdrew into your room.

A door can be so foreboding if you don’t know what you’ll find on the other side.

When your seclusion ended and you flew to the river, I didn’t notice until morning.

The water washed away your dreams, but the winter preserved your body.

Now you are here, to glow and behold.

You stand so still, and you’re not speaking.

Tell me what you want me to do.

I can help you find your way.

Or is it something else you need?

Is it me?

Have you come for me?


“Engloutis No. 49″ by Rafael Sottolichio. Find out more about the artist at http://www.rafaelsottolichio.com/.

With your arms outstretched, you attempt to sing me to sleep.
I won’t listen. I can’t listen. Too many things to think.
But you don’t stop. You sing so believably. Like it could only be for me.
I haven’t slept with a soul as old as yours, as soft around the corners. But I know. I know what awaits.
Those sad spirits in my heart go right to my dreams. They call for me incessantly.
Please keep trying. I want you to try for me.
Do this, and I won’t ask for another thing.
I want to wake with you, within you. I want to know a different day.
Tell me when … Tell me when … It’s safe to fall.
Keep your arms outstretched, and I’ll trust you to catch me.
I may just be a shadow at first with this slow descent.
Sooner or later, I’ll end up with you. I want to believe I’ll end up with you.

(Want) I Hope You Do, Too

Posted: February 18, 2014 in Fiction, Life
Tags: , ,

“Islands” by Brad Kunkle. Find out more about the artist at bradkunkle.com.

It’s a little better.

It’s like the clouds have begun to clear.

I can see.

I can see you. And what you are. What we are.

It’s not just happenstance.

We worked for this.

When the foundations began to crumble, we held each other up. We put the bricks back in place.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever built, this alchemy of you and me. I expect you’d say the same.

Between the laughing, the crying, the anger and the optimism, there is that something that science can’t explain.

But we know it’s ours. It’s as rare as our DNA.

I’ve said “love” and forgotten what it meant. I know you have, too.

Sometimes it’s just the easiest way to end a conversation.

But when we feel the weight of that word, it’s unlike anything.

It wraps itself around us and squeezes the breath from our lungs.

It’s in those moments that we know what we have is real.

So forgive me when I close my eyes and my heart goes to sleep.

Forgive me when I fail to remember these important things.

It all comes back when you’ve the patience to remind me.

Patience has always been your specialty.

I know what you’ve done, why you’ve brought me here.

And, yes, the clouds have begun to part and some light is showing through.

I’ve just had a hard time understanding everything lately. I can’t put it all together.

But I can listen. I will listen. I’ll try to understand.

With your help, I can be myself again. We can be us again.

We’ll put this dark patch behind us. Everything we’ve worked for will still stand.

That’s what I want. I hope you do, too.