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更新时间:2014/1/11 14:20:14 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Road Trip Through Alexander Payne’s Nebraska

With the release of his movie ‘Nebraska,’ the director Alexander Payne travels across his home state’s great plains and small towns to discover a place as quirky and authentic as his films.

导演亚历山大·佩恩(Alexander Payne)最近推出了电影新作《内布拉斯加》(Nebraska),与此同时,他驾车回到故乡内布拉斯加州旅行,穿越辽阔的平原和小镇,探寻那片与自己的电影一样奇趣而纯粹的土地。

Among Alexander Payne’s first five feature films, two are stories of men at existential crossroads who embark on road trips, and three are set in Nebraska. His sixth, “Nebraska,” which comes out at the end of the month, is both — two men, father and son, amusingly and movingly working through interior crises as they drive together across Nebraska.


From “Huckleberry Finn” on, in prose and then in film, the road trip has been more and more a go-to narrative spine for great American stories — “Sullivan’s Travels,” “On the Road,” “Travels With Charley,” “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” “Easy Rider,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Badlands,” “Paper Moon,” “Midnight Run,” “Thelma and Louise” and many more.

自《哈克贝利·费恩历险记》(Adverntures of Huckleberry Finn,马克·吐温的代表作之一)以来,在散文和电影等艺术作品中,公路旅行成为越来越多的伟大美国故事的叙事链,如《苏利文的旅行》(Sullivan’s Travels)、《在路上》(On the Road)、《与查理同行》(Travels With Charley)、《激动人心的兴奋剂实验》(The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test)、《逍遥骑士》(Easy Rider)、《赌城风情画》(Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)、《穷山恶水》(Badlands)、《纸月亮》(Paper Moon)、《午夜狂奔》(Midnight Run)、《末路狂花》(Thelma and Louise)等。

Yet despite having made three road-trip movies — or by his count, including “The Descendants,” three and a half — “I don’t have any particular fondness for road pictures,” the director tells me from the driver’s seat of his car, going 70. “Shooting in cars is a drag. Shooting in cars is awful.” O.K. . . . but he’s a single guy who owns five automobiles (as well as an R.V.): a 2003 Honda S2000, a 1977 Ford Ranchero, a brand-new top-of-the-line Tesla, a 2004 Audi A6 (which he’s just sold) and the station wagon in which we’re about to start cruising around Nebraska for two days. He just drove here alone from Los Angeles by way of Telluride, 1,770 miles. And he is behind the wheel of his hulking 1988 Ford Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park as we embark on our journey, me in the shotgun seat.

尽管亚历山大·佩恩已经制作了三部公路电影——按他自己的算法,《后人》(The Descendants)也算半部,那他已经有3.5部了——但这位导演一边开着汽车以70迈的速度驰骋,一边对我说:“我对公路电影并没有特别的偏爱。开车拍片累死人。糟糕透顶。”好吧……但这个单身汉拥有五辆车(包括一辆房车):一辆2003年的本田S2000,一辆1977年的福特牧场主,一辆崭新的顶级特斯拉,一辆2004年的奥迪A6(他刚刚卖掉)和一辆旅行车,此刻我们就坐在这辆旅行车里,即将为期两天的内布拉斯加巡游。他独自一人从洛杉矶出发,经由特路莱德(Telluride),驱车1770英里来到这里。他操纵着这辆笨重的1988年福特水星大侯爵殖民地公园(Ford Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park)上路了,我坐在副驾驶座上。

So he loves driving, then? Not really. “I had to move a car here,” he explains, although driving on an open road like this — we’re heading west out of Omaha into the Plains — is certainly preferable to city driving, “especially in L.A.” He pauses. ” ‘Repo Man’ had that famous line, ‘The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.’ ” When I was a teenager in the early ’70s in Omaha, Friday and Saturday nights were all about cruising the city in cars, searching for . . . whatever. Not so for Alexander Payne in the late ’70s. “No, we mostly got into a basement.”

如此说来,他酷爱驾驶,对不对?并非如此。“来这儿我只能开车,”他解释说。当然,比起在城里开车,他更喜欢此刻在乡间的公路上飞驰。我们已经驶出了奥马哈市,正一路向西,直奔大平原。“特别是在洛杉矶开车,情况更糟糕。”他停顿了一下。“《再生人》(Repo Man)里有句台词很有名:‘越开车,你就越笨。’”记得二十世纪七十年代初的时候,我还是奥马哈市的一名少年,每个周五和周六的夜晚,我和小伙伴都开着车在那座城市里到处游荡,搜寻着……嗯,一切。而对于七十年代末居住于此的亚历山大·佩恩来说,生活并不是这样。“不,多数时候我们是去一个地下室。”

And unlike me, who went away to college and became a New Yorker, Payne today divides his life between a coastal megalopolis (a house in Topanga Canyon, Calif.) and Omaha (a loft in a renovated 1929 hotel). He’s set four of his six films in Nebraska — “Citizen Ruth,” “Election,” “About Schmidt” and now “Nebraska,” all deeply observant and slightly melancholy comedies that celebrate and satirize very real-seeming fellow Nebraskans. He even still talks like a Nebraskan, referring to a woman as “a gal,” and beginning a sentence with “Anyhooo . . . ”

佩恩的经历的确与我不同。他后来负笈远游,成了一名纽约客。而今他主要生活在两个城市,一个是海滨的大都会(他有一所房子在加州多潘加峡谷),一个是奥马哈(住所是一座阁楼,由一家1929年的酒店改建而成)。他的六部电影中有四部以内布拉斯加州为故事背景:《公民露丝》(Citizen Ruth)、《选举》(Election)、《关于施密特》(About Schmidt)以及最新的《内布拉斯加》(Nebraska)。这些作品都是喜剧,洞察入微,却又弥漫着淡淡的哀愁,用赞美且讽刺的基调刻画了真实可信的内布拉斯加人。甚至他的谈吐至今仍像典型的内布拉斯加人,用“姐们”(gal)指代女人,用Anyhooo开始一句话。

“I like being here as it’s blossoming,” he says of Omaha, “witnessing that, being part of it.” He and I are both board members of Film Streams, an Omaha nonprofit cinema that shows first-run independents and classics. “Omaha is the Paris of Nebraska,” he says. Or more precisely, “If Minneapolis is the Seattle of the Midwest, then Omaha is swiftly becoming its Portland. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, tons of good restaurants. It’s fantastic.”

“我喜欢在它欣欣向荣的时候来到这里。”佩恩谈起奥马哈,“目睹它繁花似锦,纵身跃入它的风景。”他和我都是“电影流”(Film Streams,奥马哈市一家非盈利电影院,致力于独立影片的首轮放映和经典影片的播放)的董事会成员。“奥马哈就是内布拉斯加的巴黎,”他说。更精确一点儿,“如果说明尼阿波利斯是美国中西部的西雅图,那么奥马哈正在飞速变成中西部的波特兰。这儿有全食百货(Whole Foods)、乔氏超市(Trader Joe’s)和不计其数的好饭馆。棒极了。”

His deep fondness for the non-Parisian rest of Nebraska has come from making films here. “I hadn’t gotten to know the state until recent years, with ‘About Schmidt.’ A great thing about making any movie is that for a couple of months you get to see every sunrise and sunset. And in Nebraska . . . ” he adds, waving toward the infinite green fields and blue skies enveloping us, leaving the rapturous end of the sentence implicit.


“That’s relatively good-looking corn,” he points out. “Last year when we were shooting, it was a drought.” He and his cast (Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, Bob Odenkirk) spent two months filming mostly in Plainview (population 1,246) and other little towns in northeastern Nebraska. “I enjoyed it. The crew got a little restless. They were ready to go home.”

“那片玉米地挺漂亮的。”他指给我看。“去年我们在这儿拍片的时候还是一片干旱。”他和布鲁斯·邓恩(Bruce Dern)、威尔·福特(Will Forte)、斯泰西·基奇(Stacy Keac)、鲍勃·奥登科克(Bob Odenkirk)等工作人员连续拍摄了两个月,大部分镜头都是在普林维(Plainview,人口1246)以及内布拉斯加东北部其他小镇拍摄的。“我呆得很舒服。剧组有一点焦躁不安。他们想回家。”

Interstate 80 is how most people cross the state by car, racing, oblivious, but for this trip we stick mainly to two-lane state highways and unpaved county roads. “Why take a road trip,” Payne figures, “if you’re gonna be on the Interstate?”

显而易见,想要穿越内布拉斯加,大多数人会开车沿着80号州际公路(Interstate 80)飞驰,但我们这趟旅行却主要行走于双车道的州道甚至未铺柏油的县级公路。佩恩说:“如果你只走州际公路,那还算什么公路旅行?”

Payne says, “Morning!” to the dozen cattle grazing near the road. He points out a hawk flying with a snake in its mouth. In Nebraska there are no mountains to gape at, not many lakes, no real forests — just the homely grandeur of an occasional giant concrete grain elevator or small-town water tower.


Driving through Alma (population 1,333), he spots an old soda fountain and parks the car to take a look, but the place has just closed for the day at 5 o’clock. A couple of freckled boys with bikes greet us. The stranger from Omaha and Los Angeles knows it’s a cliché, but he can’t help himself: “Man, it’s still wholesome here.”


As his films demonstrate, though, he has an eye for the goofy and sad as well as the noble and sweet. “Here’s the breadbasket of America,” he says, back on the road, “and the only vegetables they eat are canned green beans and corn and iceberg lettuce.” He reads a road sign out loud — ” ‘Monsanto Wildlife Preserve.’ Somebody at Monsanto has a sense of humor” — and on one main street full of empty storefronts, he points out the open tanning salon. “All these little towns have tanning salons.” At the gas station near Hampton (population 423), what must be half the town’s female citizens between 55 and 75 are seated around a table, having some kind of meeting. They stop talking as we approach on the way to the bathroom, then fall silent again when we emerge to pay for our gas. They eye us a little suspiciously. That, I say as we walk out, was just like a scene in an Alexander Payne movie.


When we arrive in Cozad (population 3,977), our westernmost stop, Main Street is blocked off. There’s a big hand-painted “GO COZAD” sign. Cheerleaders. A football team. A marching band. Queen’s “We Are the Champions” playing over loudspeakers. An all-town pep rally is under way. As we learn from a stupendously friendly woman in her 30s, the Cozad Haymakers are playing the Broken Bow Indians tonight. It turns out she’s the football coach’s wife, and recently visited New York City for the first time. “If I’d visited at 25 I might’ve never left,” she gushes.


Looking for a place to eat lunch in Fairbury (population 3,942), we discover Crystal’s Cafe, a roadside vision attached to the livestock sale barn, where a horse auction is just getting under way. It’s a big old place with a zigzagging counter, paintings of livestock on the walls, aromas of grease and grilling, a sign that says “SMOKING ALLOWED IN SALE RING.” The customers in Crystal’s Cafe look exactly as one would expect — but not Crystal Franklin-Fees, who is African-American, serving biscuits, bacon, sausage gravy and “loose beef” sandwiches to the room full of white Fairburians.

我们在凡尔波利(Fairbury,人口3942)找地儿吃午饭时,发现了克里斯托咖啡馆(Crystal’s Cafe),这个牲畜交易棚坐拥美好的路边风景,一场马匹拍卖正在火热进行中。这是个古老而巨大的场所,柜台曲曲折折,墙上贴着牲畜图,空气中飘着油脂与烤肉的香气,标语牌上写着“卖场内允许吸烟”。克里斯托咖啡馆内的顾客与想象中完全相同,但店主克里斯托·富兰克林-费斯(Crystal Franklin-Fees)却出人意料。他是个非裔美国人,把饼干、熏肉、香肠肉汁和“松牛肉”三明治卖给满屋的凡尔波利镇白人。

“So many people experience our country as a five-hour plane trip” from coast to coast, Payne says. “And that’s not our country.” Close up, you see the details of humanity and geography. Again and again during our two days, stereotypes are serendipitously alloyed by counterintuitive reality, like our lunch at Lo Mejor De Michoacan in Lexington (population 10,230), whose huge Tyson meatpacking plant has lately transformed it into a majority Latino town. (Payne wants to make a Nebraska-set comedy with Mexican-immigrant major characters speaking Spanish.) And in Red Cloud (population 1,020), Willa Cather’s hometown and literary wellspring, we end up spending the night in a splendid 1880s house restored by Jay Yost and Wade Leak, a stupendously friendly and unabashedly gay couple who are the energetic nonprofit impresarios behind the Willa Cather Foundation. Yost is from Red Cloud, but they spend most of their time in Manhattan (population 1,619,090), where Yost is a banker and Leak a music executive.

“许多人只是坐在飞机上,把整个国家从东海岸到西海岸匆匆浏览一遍。”佩恩说,“但我们的国家不是这个样子的。”走近细看,你会留意到许多人文与地理的细节。在为期两日的自驾旅途中,我们一次次地发现自己内心的刻板印象不断被违反直觉的现实熔化,比如在莱克星顿(Lexington,人口10230)的洛美捷德米可肯(Lo Mejor De Michoacan)饭店吃午饭,发现最近几年来,这里的大型工厂泰森(Tyson)肉食包装厂已经把此地变成了一座拉丁裔重镇(佩恩想拍一部以内布拉斯加为背景的喜剧,主角是讲西班牙语的墨西哥移民)。在薇拉·凯瑟(Willa Cather,美国女作家,作品以西部拓荒故事为主——译注)的故乡与文学创作之源红云镇(Red Cloud,人口1020),我们在一座由十九世纪八十年代老屋改建的绝美客栈里度过了一夜。客栈主人是一对特别友善、落落大方的同性伴侣,杰伊·优斯特(Jay Yost)和韦德·里克(Wade Leak),他们也是薇拉·凯瑟基金会的负责人,为这个非盈利性机构倾注了极大的热情。优斯特老家在红云镇,但两人平时在曼哈顿(人口1619090)生活,优斯特是银行家,里克是唱片制作人。

The Times’s photographer decides he’ll shoot Payne and me just outside Red Cloud, in the middle of Highway 281, sitting in the front seat staring out at the prairie sunset. The director can’t resist a little directing — making sure the sun is hitting our faces properly and that both of our faux-contemplative horizon gazes are fixed on the same fence post. It’s awkward and fun, absurd and great, once again like a scene from an Alexander Payne film.


If you spend 30 hours with a movie director, you end up talking a lot about movies. A couple of times he makes Hollywood phone calls, like when he decides a certain best-selling book he’s passed on adapting might make a good film after all. He dials his assistant, asking her to buy it on Amazon — a used copy, he tells her twice. (Frugality: very Nebraskan.)


But mostly the movie talk concerns other people’s films. Driving through Seward (population 6,964), we pass the Rivoli Theatre, where “Blue Jasmine” and “The Grandmaster” are playing. “They’re showing Woody Allen and Wong Kar-wai in Seward, Nebraska! Hip little town.” Out in Ogallala (population 4,737) a decade ago, he recalls, “I met a guy who remembered Coppola shooting ‘Rain People’ there in 1968!” Again and again he thinks of some decades-old obscurity he wants me to see — “Make Way for Tomorrow,” “The Naked Spur,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” (“the best Hollywood picture ever”), Japanese silent films from the sound era, Czechoslovak New Wave films printed on East German Orwo stock “that look sort of psychedelic.”

但大多数时候都是讨论别人的电影。穿过苏沃德(Seward,人口6949)时,路旁的李沃利电影院(Rivoli Theatre)正在上映《蓝色茉莉》(Blue Jasmine)和《一代宗师》(The Grandmaster)。“他们在放伍迪·艾伦(Woody Allen)和王家卫的电影!在内布拉斯加的苏沃德!这小镇真够潮的!”他又记起十年前在奥加拉拉(Ogallala,人口4737),“我遇见一个人,他知道科波拉(Coppola)1968年在那个小镇拍过《雨人》(Rain People)!”一次又一次,他对我讲起许多几十年前的朦胧旧事。《明日之歌》(Make Way for Tomorrow)、《血泊飞车》(The Naked Spur)、《玉女奇男》(The Bad and the Beautiful,佩恩评价说,这是“好莱坞有史以来最好的电影”)、有声时代的日本默片以及东德奥沃(Orwo)胶卷上的捷克斯洛伐克新浪潮电影,“看上去光怪陆离”。

His passion for history extends beyond cinema. Every time we pass a roadside historical marker he pulls over. As we follow the Platte River, perhaps the least picturesque major river on earth, he says, “This is the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Gold Rush trail, the transcontinental railroad. This is the way west. The Via Appia of Nebraska.” He is also a collector of vintage Nebraskiana. Originally he’d plotted a northerly route, because he’d bought an old milk can from an eBay seller in Hubbard (population 236) but the guy foiled that plan by shipping it. He probably has the world’s premier collections of Omaha postcards and plates from defunct Omaha hotels. A few years ago, in an act of historic preservation, he and an old friend became landlords of Omaha’s King Fong Cafe, a dim, ornately Chinese restaurant unchanged from when it opened in 1920.

他对历史的热忱不止在电影领域。每次道旁出现有历史意义的路标时,他都要靠边停车。那天我们沿着普拉特河(Platte River)行走,那恐怕是全世界风景最丑的大河,他却说:“这是俄勒冈之路、摩门之路、淘金热之路,是横贯大陆铁路。是通向西部之路,是内布拉斯加的亚壁古道(亚壁古道是古罗马时期一条战略要道,对古罗马的扩张有重大意义——译注)。”他酷爱收藏内布拉斯加的旧物。最初他曾筹划过一条北行路线,因为他通过eBay,从哈伯德(Hubbard,人口236)的某个店铺买了一只旧奶罐,但却因卖家要船运而毁了这个计划。从许多倒闭的奥马哈酒店里,佩恩收集了全世界最多最好的奥马哈明信片和盘子。几年前的一场历史保护活动中,他跟一位老朋友成了奥马哈清风餐馆(King Fong Cafe)的老板,那家幽静而精美的中餐馆自从1920年开业以来就没有变过。

“Yes,” he admits, “I live a little in the past.” He writes letters on a Royal typewriter. On our trip he navigated with a paper map, and although he uses an iPhone, he brought along a 20th-century-style handset to plug into it.


On this perfectly sunny early autumn weekend, the state looks ripe, verdant, golden, gorgeous. In “Nebraska,” however, Nebraska is not conventionally pretty. “I wanted leafless trees. I like the beauty of that austerity.” He didn’t even want snow beautifying the stubbly landscapes, so he shot in November and early December. “Anymore — that’s a very Nebraska usage: ‘Anymore . . . ‘ — anymore, snow doesn’t come until after the first of the year.” And after “12 months of horse trading” with the studio, he got the O.K. to shoot in black-and-white. He thinks black-and-white “puts a ‘period’ perspective on the present,” and more generally, he wanted to show “what feels real, not what feels beautiful — then do a beautiful representation of what feels real. A beautiful representation of the quotidian is what I think about with all the films. Flaubert said if you look at anything long enough, it becomes interesting. I feel that way about Nebraska.”


His embrace of authenticity extends to actors, some of whom in “Nebraska” “had never been in front of a camera before.” In one of the movie’s funniest scenes, an old Nebraska friend Dern’s character and his wife haven’t seen in years, played by a local lady, asks about the wife’s hairdressing business back in Montana. “The script said, ‘Are you still doing hair out there?’ But she said ‘Are you still fixing hair out there?’ With nonprofessional actors, you get gifts.”


Our trip offered up serendipities of its own. During two days on the road we discover that the house where I spent my first few years is 300 yards from the house where he grew up and his mother still lives; that as children we’d both bought our school clothes from Krug’s Men and Boys; and that as teenagers we’d attended the same language camps in Minnesota. At one point, a discussion of Payne’s Winnebago, the one Jack Nicholson drove in “About Schmidt,” leads him to mention the fact that Clarence Thomas and his wife, Virginia, “are R.V. people,” taking summer vacations in their Winnebago, sometimes camping in Walmart parking lots. Which leads me to tell him that Mrs. Thomas, then a girl about my age named Ginni Lamp, grew up in the house directly across from mine.

这场旅行本身也充满意外之喜。在自驾两日游期间,我发现自己幼年居住的房屋距离他家只有三百码的距离,而她的母亲至今仍然住在那里;童年时,我们的校服都是从克鲁格男装店(Krug’s Men and Boys)买的;少年时,我们曾去明尼苏达参加同一个语言训练营。有一次佩恩谈起自己的温尼巴格(Winnebago)房车,就是电影《关于施密特》中杰克·尼克尔逊(Jack Nicholson)开的那辆,他说大法官克拉伦斯·托马斯(Clarence Thoma)和妻子弗吉尼娅(Virginia)都是“房车发烧友”,夏天他们常常开着房车度假,有时候就在沃尔玛超市的停车场里过夜。我告诉他托马斯太太婚前名叫吉妮·兰普(Ginni Lamp),是我的同龄人,小时候就住在我家正对面。

Approaching metropolitan Omaha toward the end of our 574-mile drive, the traffic in the opposite direction is bumper to bumper. “Right,” Payne says, “game day.” Around 5 percent of the state’s citizens are about to convene in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln (population 258,379) to watch Nebraska beat South Dakota State, 59 to 20. I ask if he was a big Cornhusker football fan. He shrugs. So not Nebraskan. “My dad had season tickets.” And his mother still pays for seats every year, then gives them away to friends. So Nebraskan.