'Nebraska' continues allure of black-and-white
This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Will Forte as David Grant, left, and Bruce Dern as Woody Grant in a scene from the film "Nebraska," about a booze-addled father who makes to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Merie W. Wallace)
NEW YORK (AP) — Black-and-white movies are a rarity today, of course, but they nevertheless cling to a persistent and exceptional existence among more flashy fare at the multiplexes.
Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," which opens Friday in limited release, follows several notable films this year that have opted for monochrome over color, including Noah Baumbach's New York tale "Frances Ha" and Joss Whedon's Shakespeare-on-the-cheap "Much Ado About Nothing."
This undated publicity photo released by the Independent Film Channel shows Greta Gerwig, right, as Frances, with Adam Driver as Lev having dinner in a scene from the film, "Frances Ha." As an iconoclastic group, modern black-and-white movies stand out for their classical photography and their willful connection to an earlier period of filmmaking.(AP Photo/IFC)
Filled with handsome, austere plains photography, "Nebraska" is a Midwest road trip film about an aging father (Bruce Dern) and his son (Will Forte). As a studio release (Paramount) and a film set in contemporary times, "Nebraska" is unusual among modern black-and-white films, which have tended to be independently made or period pieces.
Usually black-and-white is attempted by ambitious young filmmakers or veterans with enough industry pull. Payne has said his "Nebraska" was budgeted for less because it was in black-and-white and considered to have less box-office potential as a result.
This film image released by Roadside Attractions shows Amy Acker, left, and Jillian Morgesen in a scene from "Much Ado About Nothing." As an iconoclastic group, modern black-and-white movies stand out for their classical photography and their willful connection to an earlier period of filmmaking. (AP Photo/Roadside Attractions, Elsa Guillet-Chapuis)
Yet audiences have proven open-minded about black-and-white: The crowd-pleasing 2011's "The Artist" won best picture without the benefit of color or sound, just as did Steven Spielberg's black-and-white "Schindler's List" (1993).