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Alexander Payne Sets His Sights on the Wild West

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Western Cinema

In the world of cinema, there are directors who are known for their mastery of a particular genre. For Alexander Payne, that genre has long been comedy, with acclaimed films such as “Sideways,” “The Descendants,” and his recent Toronto International Film Festival entry, “The Holdovers.” However, the winds of change are blowing through Payne’s creative landscape, as he’s revealed his desire to step into the dusty boots of the Western genre. In a candid interview with FilmSweep’s Steve Weintraub at TIFF 2023, Payne spilled the beans about his upcoming project and his deep-rooted fascination with the Wild West.

“I’ve always wanted to make a Western,” Payne confessed, his eyes gleaming with the excitement of a new frontier. “These delightful comedies I’ve crafted have been leading me, I believe, to my true destiny, which I hope is the realm of Westerns.” While the ongoing labor disputes in the industry might throw a wrench in the works, Payne and his team are diligently hammering out the details of this exciting venture.

However, before you start donning your cowboy hat and spurs, know that Payne hasn’t yet saddled up with specifics. When asked about the nature of his Western project, he remained cryptic. Yet, he did express a preference for a traditional Western style, setting it apart from more avant-garde entries like Viggo Mortensen’s “The Dead Don’t Hurt.” “Who knows?” Payne mused. “Obviously, it will bear my unique stamp, but I lean towards the classics, the good ol’ traditional Westerns.” The allure for him lies in the exploration of uncharted territory, saying, “That’s why I’d like to make it. I want to discover what it truly is.”

While the plot and style remain shrouded in mystery, Payne did shed light on the geographical backdrop of his Western dreams. He’s committed to meticulous research to ensure historical accuracy, stating firmly, “I’m not just binge-watching old Westerns; I’m delving into late 19th-century American history, especially Nebraska history.” His vision? A Western set in central Nebraska during the 1880s. Finding a location that can authentically transport audiences back to this era is no small feat, but Payne is undaunted. He cited films like “The Revenant” and “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” as inspirations, which expertly resurrected bygone landscapes. “Sometimes,” he chuckled, “you set something in one place, but it ends up looking more like somewhere else used to look. And then, you have to navigate the whole tax incentive maze.”

As much as Payne’s heart beats for this Western endeavor, his immediate focus remains on “The Holdovers.” The film, starring Paul Giamatti, weaves a tale of an irritable professor at a New England prep school who forms an unlikely bond with a troublemaking student and the school’s head cook during Christmas break. It’s a heartwarming departure from the rugged terrain of the Wild West, and Payne’s dedication to promoting it is evident.

So, when can we expect to see Payne’s Western vision ride into the cinematic sunset? That, my friends, remains a mystery as enigmatic as the untamed West itself. For now, let’s saddle up for “The Holdovers,” premiering in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles on October 27, followed by a limited nationwide release on November 3, and finally, a wide release on November 10. Keep an eye out for our interview with the director and stay tuned for more coverage from TIFF 2023. The Wild West may be beckoning, but Payne’s comedic charm is still very much in the spotlight.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Western Cinema

Q: What genre of film has Alexander Payne primarily worked on in the past?

A: Alexander Payne has primarily worked on comedy films in the past, including acclaimed titles like “Sideways,” “The Descendants,” and “The Holdovers.”

Q: What new genre is Alexander Payne venturing into with his upcoming project?

A: Alexander Payne is venturing into the Western genre with his upcoming project, marking a departure from his previous comedic work.

Q: Does Alexander Payne have specific details about his Western project?

A: As of now, Alexander Payne hasn’t finalized specific details about his Western project, including the plot and style. He does express a preference for a traditional Western style.

Q: Where does Alexander Payne plan to set his Western film?

A: Alexander Payne plans to set his Western film in central Nebraska during the 1880s. He is dedicated to achieving historical accuracy through deep research.

Q: What is Alexander Payne’s current focus before diving into his Western project?

A: Alexander Payne’s current focus is on promoting “The Holdovers,” a film starring Paul Giamatti, which is set in a New England prep school during Christmas break.

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1 comment

FilmFanatic23 September 21, 2023 - 5:19 am

oh wow, alexander payne, comedy guy, now want do wild west?? cool story, no details tho.


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