Michael Shannon

99 Homes

“It’s not your home anymore.” Director Ramin Bahrani has long been preoccupied with portraying the price of the American dream on the big screen – the theme is obvious in both At Any Price and Man Push Cart – but his 99 Homes finally fully capitalizes on that obsession to great effect. This time around, Bahrani is concerned with the bursting of the mortgage bubble, turning his attention to the swamplands of Florida, where regular people (oh, hey, just like Andrew Garfield‘s Dennis Nash) are desperately trying to hold on to their family homes, even as opportunists like Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) use their misfortune to fuel their own businesses. Dennis is already desperate when the film opens, mere days away from losing the Nash family home, effectively sealing that his inability to pay the bills has ruined his life, his young son Connor’s (Noah Lomax) life and even his mother Lynn’s (Laura Dern) life. Three generations of Nash are relying on Dennis, and he’s about to let down every single one (it must be noted that, while Bahrani is apparently intent on pushing the generational aspect of the film, Dern is underused and casting a mother as the sole female protagonist doesn’t make much sense). Dennis loses the house — Connor loses the house, Lynn loses the house — and a seemingly normal day is destroyed by the arrival of real estate agent Rick (who represents the various banks who own scads of unpaid mortgages), a pair of surly cops and a ragtag […]

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Michael Shannon in Young Ones

There wasn’t much hype surrounding Young Ones at Sundance. It was a movie on people’s radar, but after it screened, it didn’t generate much buzz. That’s a shame, because Jake Paltrow‘s second directorial effort is an excellent film. It’s a western with a twist of science-fiction. The sci-fi elements are mostly left in the background, though. Young Ones is a movie that could mostly do without all the futuristic machinery, it’s just an immensely cool cherry on the top. That CGI tech, by the way, is seamlessly rendered into these beautiful desert landscapes. They have a worn down, used quality that suits this old-fashioned story. Young Ones is about a family. At the beginning we see a father, played with charm and warmth by Michael Shannon, protecting his land from thieves. They’re there to steal his water supply. In this future — what year isn’t stated and doesn’t matter — there’s a serious drought going on. The father and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) hope one day to get some of the water that’s left to run through their land. Their journey leans more heavily on drama than genre thrills, but the trailer would lead us to believe otherwise.

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It’s no secret that everybody loves Ramin Bahrani. Roger Ebert hailed him as the “director of the decade” back in 2009. He’s been honored at film festivals, received a Guggenheim fellowship, and is pretty much considered by everyone to be an all-around smart guy. For his next, film 99 Homes, Bahrani will tackle the impenetrable quagmire that is the U.S.’s recent housing collapse. The film already has its star – Andrew Garfield – who will be playing a man who loses his home, but then finds himself a far more horrible situation when the only job he can get is one with the manipulative broker who stole his house away. And, as you can guess from the title of this article, it’ll be megalomaniacal rant virtuoso Michael Shannon who’ll be taking on the part of the broker. It’s an ideal casting choice. Shannon is the master of being completely unhinged, from Take Shelter‘s quiet, subtle crazy to Man of Steel‘s constant barrage of screaming and heat vision (and every point between the two). Plus, 99 Homes gives him the opportunity to take his particular brand of psychosis and wrap it in something a little more topical. And if Shannon ever wants to scream himself hoarse as a Spider-Man villain, he’ll have an in with Garfield. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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dunst

So far Jeff Nichols has only directed three films, but when those three films are as good as Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud, it really only takes three films for pundits to start painting you as being one of the most exciting directors currently making movies. And once somebody gets anointed as being one of the most exciting directors currently making movies, every time they announce a new project it tends to be a momentous occasion of celebration. That’s why we were so excited to hear that Nichols would be keeping his streak of working with powerhouse actor Michael Shannon alive for his next film, a father/son drama with a chase element called Midnight Special. Factor in that Nichols has since added another one of the top acting names working in the business, Joel Edgerton, to the cast, and things have started to look even more promising. With these three guys collaborating, Midnight Special has to be seen as one of the most notable movies currently being made, which is good news for Kirsten Dunst, because Deadline is reporting that she’s the latest name signed to come on board and help out the cause.

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Man of Steel

We first meet Kal-El exiting his mother’s alien vagina. It’s no different from an Earth woman’s vagina aside from, presumably, its reinforced structural walls, but the birth is of extreme importance on the dying planet of Krypton. The infant’s father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), has accused Kryptonian politicians of dooming the planet and its people through short-sightedness and ignorance. General Zod (Michael Shannon) agrees with Jor-El, but instead of talking it out with those in power, he orchestrates a violent coup to seize control. It’s amid the ensuing chaos, both natural and man-made, that the baby boy is shipped off to Earth. More than two decades later Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is a quiet loner, traveling the world anonymously in search of answers to who he really is and performing amazing feats of rescue along the way. His lack of identity never gets in the way of his desire to help people, but when an alien ship is discovered frozen beneath the ice, his curiosity triggers a chain reaction of events that provides him with answers while simultaneously leading to the brink of mankind’s destruction. Man of Steel is every inch a Zack Snyder/Christopher Nolan production, and there’s both good and bad in that statement. Snyder’s directorial hand ensures the film is a visual powerhouse filled with real spectacle while Nolan uses his producer powers to find the traditionally bright and colorful superhero’s darker, grittier and more angst-ridden tones, but they also bring with them a shared preference of imagery and […]

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Man of Steel Zod

It’s official. Supervillains breaking into our TV feeds to deliver sloppily edited messages to the masses is something we have to deal with in our summer comic book blockbusters now. We saw The Mandarin do it continually in Iron Man 3, and apparently he gave Zod the log-in codes, because the Superman baddie is interrupting your Sports Center rerun in this new trailer for Man of Steel. What to say at this point? By now we’ve all seen a half dozen trailers for the Zack Snyder movie coming June 14th, and you probably already know whether you’re buying a ticket for opening weekend or not. It’s doubtful that anything in this new look will convince the unconvinced or suddenly shock the true believers (no matter how many punches they line up with musical beats). On the other hand, it’s great to see a movie finally have a villain ransom a superhero’s identity/capture against the well-being of society at large. Check out Zod’s demands for yourself:

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Take Shelter

This is the kind of news that’s always thrilling to hear despite how unsurprising it is. Michael Shannon has acted in all of Jeff Nichols‘ movies, and according to Variety, the streak continues with a sci-fi flick called Midnight Special. Regarding the project, Nichols recently told The Playlist that he “wanted to make a government chase movie. And see if I could make that not suck. Make that not cliché.” So either Shannon will be running from the government, chasing someone for the government, or helping out somehow along the way. The film is set up with Warner Bros. for distribution, and it’s great to see 1) Nichols getting that kind of studio recognition that could lead to broader audiences and 2) that Warners still has faith in some mid-budget projects made by filmmakers with strong voices. Take Shelter is one of the best movies of the last few years — the kind of film that sets up shop in your veins and ignores your eviction notices. Yet, it remains something of a sleeper despite how powerful it is. Nichols was just named by many critics as one of the best directors under 40 (along with some stunning young talent), so hopefully all of this gives him a bigger stage to share his vision. More Jeff Nichols movies are always a welcome development.

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Michael Shannon Iceman

Michael Shannon has explored a great deal of history in the past few years: he got rowdy as Kim Fowley in The Runaways; stern as hell for Boardwalk Empire; and, who could forgot, supplied comic relief for Michael Bay in Pearl Harbor. He once again plays period in The Iceman, based on family man contract killer Richard Kuklinski, a.k.a. “The Iceman.” Shannon can be seen donning old man sweaters, thick mustaches, and, best of all, dancing to a Blondie song. If there were any reason for a period piece to exist, it’s for Michael Shannon to groove to “Heart of Glass.” Besides showing off some moves on the dance floor, Shannon infuses a surprising amount of empathy into a man who takes lives for a living. The movie and performance never approve or sensationalize his actions, but, for a guy who killed over 100 people, Shannon’s portrayal paints a portrait of a guy who isn’t pure evil at his core. He’s human, and a genuinely good family man. That dichotomy is the heart of The Iceman, and according to Shannon, that’s what convinced him to sign on. Here’s what else Shannon had to say about the film’s focused narrative, invoking period, and why us talking in our underwear wouldn’t make for a different conversation:

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The Iceman

When you see in a film synopsis that Michael Shannon is going to play a serial killer/hitman, it’s safe to assume that you are poised to see an amazing performance. And, yes, in Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman (Vromen co-wrote with Morgan Land), Shannon more than fulfills your hopes and dreams as real-life serial killer turned mob hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. He claims to have killed over 100 men over the course of his killing career while at the same time being a fiercely devoted husband and father to his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and their daughters. The film perhaps suffers from some structuring issues, making Kuklinski’s story somewhat fuzzy at times, but on the whole, it delivers with its amazing performances from Shannon and the stellar ensemble cast, as well as with its beautiful, unrelentingly dark cinematography.

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IMG_7996.CR2

Editor’s note: Allison’s review originally ran during Sundance earlier this year, but we’re re-posting it as Jeff Nichols’ film hits theaters in limited release this weekend. What would be most exciting to two young boys living a slightly boring life along a river bank in Arkansas? An adventure, of course. And that is exactly what Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) think they have found when they come across a peculiar sight — a boat trapped high up in the tree tops thanks to a recent flood. But what the two boys end up finding in that boat is a much bigger adventure because they are not alone, and are not the only ones looking to get it down. Enter Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a charming drifter living on the boat who, unlike the boys, is not looking for adventure, he is looking for a way off the island that the boat (and Mud himself) is trapped on. Ellis is quickly drawn to Mud with his cross-heeled boots and endless stories, but Neckbone is more wary, especially when Mud asks the boys for a favor. Ellis remains intrigued, and it becomes clear that it is not simply the prospect of adventure that has his attention, it is Mud’s story explaining why he is stranded on that island — the pursuit of true love.

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jeff

Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter are no lightweight cinematic affairs, and writer/director Jeff Nichols certainly didn’t pull any emotional punches when making them. While both Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter put put their audience through the emotional ringer, his third film, Mud, is a departure. While Nichols’ old-fashioned picture deals with heartbreak, for both youngsters and oldies, it’s more of a crowd-pleaser than the filmmaker has made previously. That’s not because Nichols decided it was time to lighten up and make a movie for everyone, however, but unlike Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, his last film follows the perspective of two kids. Centering the feature on children gives Mud a more innocent and adventurous spirit, while also pushing Nichols as a filmmaker on a technical level. Here’s what Mr. Nichols had to say about his “big American movie”:

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teaser man of steel shannon

Fair warning to anyone who thinks they can avoid a certain piece of information regarding who exactly Michael Shannon plays in the upcoming Superman film Man of Steel… this new teaser confirms something that’s been rumored for a while. So stop reading now if you’re still hoping to steer clear of that reveal. WB has released a new teaser for Zack Snyder‘s darker-looking continuation/reboot of the Superman films, but instead of including new footage (or any footage at all) they’re going the viral route a la Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight marketing. But just because we’re not seeing anything doesn’t mean there isn’t something to hear. Check out the teaser for Man of Steel below.

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Peter Dinklage

What is Casting Couch? It’s a quick compiling of the day’s casting news. Today it has quite a bit to say about the Fanning sisters. If you had to pick one breakout star from HBO’s wildly successful fantasy series, Game of Thrones, it would have to be Peter Dinklage. Sure, the guy has been doing solid work for years, but post-Game of Thrones he’s now a name. It’s quite a coup for first time director Paki Smith then, that he’s just cast Dinklage in his first film, A Long Way Home. According to Variety, this one is a story of magic, adventure, and a young boy who’s questing to be reunited with his family…which kind of sounds like kids’ stuff. Hopefully it still finds reason to give Dinklage ample opportunity to be drunken and perverse, because that’s when he’s at his best (worst?).

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2012year_jfc

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; eat it, Mayans! Eat it with cheese! Yes, despite our best efforts, we’ve managed to survive another year and therefore it is once again time, in clear defiance of your best interest or our lawyer’s behests, for the Junkfood Cinema Awards. This year’s Junkies marks the third anniversary…of Film School Rejects’ editors proving monumentally lax in their duties. This year, we’ve rolled up our sleeves (because of the gravy stains) and dug deep into our own 2012  archives to craft a host of new and exciting (read: meaningless) categories for which let’s face it, there could only really have been one winner. And the winners are… …not going to like being associated with this column.

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Michael Shannon

What is Casting Couch? It’s the roundup of casting news that knows what Gillian Jacobs is going to be doing with her upcoming break from Community. All that time in the bushes finally paid off. Most people probably thought Wild Things director John McNaughton’s career hit its zenith when he directed Wild Things. That movie was basically the most ’90s thing ever, and it practically introduced the concept of the three-way to the square community through the communicative power of Denise Richards’ boobs. He may yet top that work though, because Deadline reports that he’s just recruited the best actor in the world, Michael Shannon, to star in his upcoming thriller The Harvest. The film will star Samantha Morton as a successful heart surgeon and Shannon as her co-dependent husband. Its conflict comes in when their sick son meets a new friend, and suddenly the very controlled routine that Morton’s character has created starts to break down. Sounds like a creepy mom.

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Channel Guide - Large

This season, the most consistently compelling part of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire has been its opening title sequence. (Impossibly cool Steve Buscemi smoking a cigarette on the beach as the clouds morph above him, empty bottles of booze float onto the shore, and Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Straight Up and Down” plays over the scene—it’s gorgeous.) Humdrum episode after humdrum episode, I’m left asking, “Why am I still watching this show? What kind of unholy power does it have over me?” Boardwalk Empire has never moved at a terribly fast pace. It’s about 1920s bootlegging and all of the politicking and scheming that comes with that, which gives most of the scenes between Atlantic City top dog Nucky Thompson (Buscemi) and his co-conspirators an expository quality—the show revolves around characters brokering shady deals or, as is the case with the current third season, discussing the Volstead Act ad nauseam. But there are also unexpected deaths, unlikely dalliances, and, of course, there’s delightful gangster drama. These flashier story elements in combination with the fact that patience is usually rewarded (sometimes with a character being scalped, other times, simply, with smart writing) make the slow pacing bearable. But we’re now nine episodes into the third season and Michael Shannon’s Nelson Van Alden—one of the most complex, tortured, and surprising characters on the show—is hardly ever present and any time some glimmer of excitement pops up, it’s quickly stomped out.

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This year’s New York Film Festival ended on Sunday night with the world premiere of Robert Zemeckis‘s Flight, a big Hollywood movie that many saw as too mainstream a selection for the event. But it’s apparently decent enough to currently have a very high rating on Rotten Tomatoes — our own Jack Giroux gave it a “B” in his review from the fest — so it’s not like they closed things out with Alex Cross. Other big movies that some didn’t see as fitting were opening night film Life of Pi (review)and the “secretly” screened debut of Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln (review). However, for the most part the 2012 programming was the typical New York cinephile’s dream smorgasbord of highbrow indies and foreign films. And these seemed to mainly meet the approval of our two primary critics covering them, Daniel Walber and Caitlin Hughes (both of whom are new additions to the FSR team and did an excellent job). And all together, our 22 reviews of NYFF features averaged mainly in the range of “B” to “B+” grades. And the only thing to get less than a “C” was Brian De Palma‘s Passion, to which Caitlin gave a “D.” We weren’t only interested in new works, either. Caitlin had some fun with the anniversary screening of The Princess Bride, while Daniel had requested that one of his picks of the fest be an older film: “If I can say the new (Dolce and Gabbana funded) restoration of Satyricon that made its […]

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Writer/director Ariel Vromen (Rx) has chosen an interesting subject for his latest film, The Iceman; a New Jersey native named Richard Kuklinski who served as a mob hitman and killed somewhere between 100 and 250 people between the mid 50s and mid 80s, all without his wife and kids having any idea how he put food on the table. Vromen’s film follows Kuklinski from the point where he met his lady love and first got into organized crime back in the 50s, all the way to his capture and incarceration in 1986. It explores his psyche, his methods, and the way New Jersey fashions have gotten increasingly more ridiculous as the decades have gone on. Oh yeah, and one more thing… it’s got Michael Shannon playing the title role. Given what an intense, captivating actor Shannon has developed into over the years, any movie that puts him in a starring role is pretty explicitly setting up his performance as being its main attraction, so it feels necessary to spend a lot of time talking about how he does. Unsurprisingly, he’s good. Kuklinski was best known for being merciless and unflappable, and Shannon gets that across by doing a silent, stone-faced, De Niro type thing that feels authentic in its competence and menace. As his turn in Take Shelter proved, Shannon is best when he’s got repressed emotions boiling just beneath the surface of his skin, and the role of the dangerous killer playing wholesome family man gives him multiple chances […]

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Michael Shannon in The Iceman

t’s been a big week for Michael Shannon. Just seven days ago his latest film, Premium Rush, hit theaters and earned the man heaps of critical praise for his quirky, Dick Tracy villain performance as a dirty cop; and now the trailer for his latest starring vehicle, The Iceman, has hit the net. This is big news because, oh boy, does this true telling of the life of contract killer Richard Kuklinski look like it’s going to be a doozy. Detailing the life of a hired gun all the way from the late ’60s to the early ’80s, The Iceman doesn’t just give Shannon a chance to do that intense, conflicted, rolling sea of emotions just beneath the surface of his skin thing that he does so well, it also gives him the opportunity to experiment with all sorts of ridiculous facial hair combinations. Oh wait, and who’s that? Why, it’s Captain America himself, Chris Evans, and his sleazy Lemmy beard looks like it wants to get in on the action too.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; training wheels are sexy, dammit. You cycled your way through all the worthwhile content on the Internet, and fifteen minutes later you wound up here. Every week we examine movies so bad, watching them is like riding a bicycle without an overused simile. We kick the tires so hard they go spinning off the frame and irrevocably disrupt the game of ultimate Frisbee going on in the park we’re apparently in for this scenario. But then, just as we’re about to reach the highest gear of snark, we hit the brakes and admit that we’re head-over-handlebars in love with said bad film. To help ease the resulting bloody wounds, we will indulge in a delicious themed snack food item to tide us over until the ambulance arrives. Bikes! As we all know, any films made after  1989 are inherently inferior to the inferior movies of the years prior. However, there are miraculously rare occurrences when inferior movies from the inferior inferior movie era, i.e. right now times, are the type of inferior we find superior. In these instances, the movies playing in the multiplexes actually manage to exemplify the highly low standards we demand from our schlock. This week, one such glorious failure is Premium Rush. Starring that little Chinese girl from 3rd Rock from the Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Premium Rush is about a group of people who ride bicycles for a living. No they don’t wear fancy yellow jerseys nor, disappointingly, are they circus […]

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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