“The Confirmation”: Proof that “Nebraska” was no fluke for writer-director Bob Nelson

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“The Confirmation” is now playing at AMC Johnson Creek 16. R, 1:37, three stars out of four.

I want to live in the depressed Washington State town that’s the setting of Bob Nelson’s “The Confirmation,” because it seems to be populated entirely by great character actors. Clive Owen, Maria Bello, Robert Forster, Tim Blake Nelson, Patton Oswalt, Matthew Modine, and Stephen Tobolowsky all live here. While you don’t see him, you just know Paul Giamatti presides as mayor.

I’m guessing all these fine actors were drawn to the film by Nelson’s low-key but utterly convincing screenplay, which lets these performers convey a lot with just a little. Nelson wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” and there are definitely areas of overlap here — a focus on a strained father-son relationship, an unsentimental view of small-town town life. But “The Confirmation” might be a little less bleak, a little more forgiving of its characters and their shortcomings.

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“Words and Pictures”: Love comes to the teachers’ lounge

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“Words and Pictures” opens Friday at Point and Star Cinemas. PG-13, 1:51, three stars out of four.

The danger of trying to make a smart movie is that when you do something truly dumb, it really sticks out like a sore thumb. Fred Schepisi’s comedy-drama “Words and Pictures” has a couple of truly dumb moments, the worst being when the screenplay has Clive Owen say the name of the movie. That’s corny enough, but he says it with a shameless “See what I did there?” grin. Oh, Clive. Continue reading