Take Shelter

Mud

If there was one film missing from our 2013 film guide, I’d say it was Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. Although he only has two films under his belt, Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, Nichols has quickly risen to prominence as an A-list art house director. With Mud, the filmmaker finally has his chance to move into the mainstream, and this first trailer for the film does a decent job of pushing it as something easily digestible. Take a peak at Jeff Nichols’ newest film (via Yahoo! Movies):

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Take Shelter

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Take Shelter (2011) Curtis LaForche (played by Michael Shannon) lives a relatively uneventful, normal small town life. He and his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain in one of many standout performances in a quite busy 2011 year in film) get by on his income as a construction worker and her selling of homemade pillows at a flea market. Despite their financial troubles trying to afford a surgical procedure to aid their young daughter’s hearing disability the two don’t have much in the way of a disheartened life. Then, Curtis gets struck with a nightmarish vision of a looming mega-storm that could represent the apocalypse. Initially, he brushes it aside as just a terrible dream, but as the experiences get increasingly more frequent, personally violent, and unsettlingly ‘real’ Curtis decides to throw caution to the wind and prepare for his family for what he believes to be an imminent threat of a frightening, indescribable major disaster. As he succumbs further and further to his visions Curtis also battles the known reality that paranoid schizophrenia is not foreign to […]

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Culture Warrior

For the first time in recent memory, I’m going into Oscar Sunday having no idea who is likely to take home many of the major awards. I’m sure there are entire websites out there devoted to an accurate prediction of who and what will take home the gold on Sunday, but there seems something a bit different about this year. Of the nine films nominated, I don’t have a clear sense of what would be the top five had AMPAS not changed the number of entries in the top category. While The Artist may clearly have more of a chance than, say, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, there’s no grand battle between likely leads like there was between The King’s Speech and The Social Network last year. And I don’t think I’m alone in stating that this year’s uninspiring list of nominees seems to reflect a growing indifference against the ceremony itself. Sure, on Sunday, like I have every year since I was eleven years old, I’ll watch the entire ceremony from beginning to end. And, like every year since I was twenty-one years old, I’ll make fun of the pompous and excessive self-congratulatory nature of the proceedings. But while in most years I have had some skin in the game, besides the two nominations afforded to the excellent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the presence of the transcendentally excellent Pina in the Best Documentary Feature category, this year I didn’t even get a sense that the Academy was awarding […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD, and happy Valentine’s Day you sexy sons of bitches! In honor of the holiday I’ve themed this week’s pitches to the idea of love. As in if you love the environment you should buy a copy of the re-issued The Lorax.  Or if you love your adopted Asian daughter you should check out Woody Allen: A Documentary. You get the picture. Speaking of love, if you happen to be currently unattached (or maybe your better half is just out of town) FSR has partnered with an intriguing new dating service. How About We matches people by the date itself instead of shared personality traits or surface-level preferences. I know, it’s a weird thing for a movie site to do, but sometimes you just want to go watch The Vow with someone who won’t judge. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Take Shelter Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) is a husband and father who fears he may be slowly falling victim to schizophrenia. The alternative is that a storm of end-times proportions is heading his family’s way, and he’s not sure which outcome is ideal. Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ film is a successful slowburn of a drama that rewards viewers who stay with Curtis throughout his troubles. The film explores the onset of possible mental illness as a parallel to the hardships of a down economy and daily stresses, and in addition to a powerhouse performance from […]

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Jeff Nichols

One of my most anticipated films of the year is Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. Nichols is behind one of, if not the, best films of 2011: Take Shelter. With only two pictures under his belt, he’s quickly established himself as a filmmaker to get excited about. Earlier today Nichols was kind enough to make the time for an interview to discuss Take Shelter, for the upcoming Blu-ray release. We discussed an array of topics, and Mud was briefly covered. Nichols was hard at work in the mood swing-sounding editing room when we spoke, and although he stated he’ll have clearer answers for the movie once it comes out, the writer-director shared enough details to give us a small sense of what to expect from Mud. After talking about the love-hate relationship with editing, the joy of shooting the Mississippi river with 35mm anamorphic cameras, the no bullshit (and awesome) attitude of Sam Shepard, Nichols touched upon the themes of the film:

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The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks

As you may have noticed, this final week of 2011 has been almost completely taken over by our third annual Year in Review. It was born in 2009 out of our love for lists and your thirst for reading, discussing and ultimately hating them. And each year the entire project gets a little bigger, a little bolder and slightly more absurd. With that in mind, I’m once again proud to present you with The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks. Each of our 14 regular staff writers, contributors and columnists, almost all of whom have been with us the entire year, were asked to present their top 5 films, in no particular order (although many of them placed their top film at the top, as logical people tend to do), each with an explanation. Some even included curse words as a bonus to you, the reader. Read: The Best Films of 2010: The Staff Picks | The Best Films of 2009: The Staff Picks Once again, the Staff Picks are a testament to the diversity we have here at Film School Rejects, with picks ranging from the likely suspects (Take Shelter, Hugo, Shame) to the slightly more nerdy (Attack the Block, Super 8, The Muppets) to several movies that may not yet be on your radar (see Landon Palmer’s list for those). And once again, it’s with a deep sense of pride that I publish such a list, the best of 2011 as seen through the eyes of the movie […]

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The Best Films of 2011

It has come time once again to move from celebrating the worst, most annoying and most discussed films of the year — something we do at the front of our Year in Review for a reason — and start celebrating those films that have earned places in our hearts, celebrating all the best of 2011, a year that, on the whole, wasn’t such a bad year at the movies. And once again I’m honored to present my top picks of the year, as the Publisher of Film School Rejects. It’s not a vanity thing, but more of a tradition. Since the site’s inception, I’ve always presented my best of the year as The Editor’s Picks. And while I’m honored by this opportunity and enjoy it immensely, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably waiting with bated breath for what will come later in the week when we release The Staff Picks. Because they are the ones who are really interesting. But until then, you get me and my odd gathering of best films from the year that was.

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This started out as a list of overrated movies, but we (“we” being Rob Hunter and Kevin Carr, rabblerousers) decided fairly quickly that “overrated” is an overused and abused term. Who are we, or anyone, to tell you that you like a movie too much? It’s a rude thing to say regardless of whether or not we’re right. But thanks to the internet sometimes one person’s exuberance can find a virtual megaphone in all the tubes and anonymous users online, and that misguided praise can become deafening. And yes, we’re just as guilty as the rest of you…especially in regard to our first pick below. To be clear, most of these are not bad movies. The majority of them are actually good. But none of them deserved the near-constant accolades that seemed to echo from one corner of the web to another ad nauseum. So without further ado, pomp, or circumstance, here are 11 12 movies (in alphabetical order) you people wouldn’t shut up about in 2011. (**Note, there may be a few minor spoilers below.**)

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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There were some supposed protagonists I loathed this year — everyone in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, that asshole narcissist Hal Jordan, the annoying Jack Sparrow — but there were plenty who showed honorable and, yes, badass traits. 2011 brought a few real American heroes (and from parts elsewhere), both in personality and actions. One doesn’t need superpowers or a gun to be a hero, but, as shown by a few choices I made, those simple good traits. And, even if one’s not the greatest of people, you can still be a great hero, as shown by the a*hole category that kicks off the list…

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Michael Shannon in Take Shelter

You’ve seen Michael Shannon before. Many times before. Similar to screen veterans Chris Cooper or Dylan Baker, Shannon is one of those actors who has had an extended career in front of the camera long before anyone really took notice of him. Even though he has been in films since the early 90s, he gained a strong national presence in 2009 with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Revolutionary Road. Shannon is getting more attention now with the independent hit Take Shelter, playing a man named Curtis who starts having apocalyptic visions, leading him to build an underground shelter to protect his family. With Take Shelter in limited release and acting award buzz building, Shannon took part of his lunch break from his “super” schedule to chat with Film School Rejects about his career and what he hopes will happen with this stand-out independent film.

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Remember all the way back to last night when the Gothams announced their annual awards and thus declared that awards season was like, so totally on? No? Really? It was just last night, come on. In that vein, the Film Independent Spirit Awards have just announced their nominations for their annual awards (held in February, on the beach, as ya do in Los Angeles), and their picks come with their own surprises. Remember (no, seriously, I need you to remember back less than twenty-four hours) how the Gothams didn’t give squat to Take Shelter or 50/50 or Martha Marcy May Marlene? Or Drive? Or The Descendants? Well, the Independent Spirit nominations are here to ease that pain. Leading the nominations pack are just those very films, along with Gotham darling Beginners and black and white sensation The Artist, with Take Shelter and The Artist tied for the most nominations, with five each. Following the lead, with four nominations each are Beginners, Drive, The Descendants, and Martha Marcy May Marlene, with 50/50 logging three noms. And, coincidentally, it’s those top nomination-getters (save MMMM) that are all nominated for Best Feature. Funny how that works out, right? Other nominations of note include Best First Feature (Another Earth, In the Family, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Natural Selection ), Best First Screenplay (Another Earth, Margin Call, Terri, Cedar Rapids, 50/50), and the John Cassavetes Award, which is given to the best feature made for under $500,000 (Bellflower, Circumstance, Hello Lonesome, Pariah, The […]

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The main deception of Jeff Nichols’ apocalyptic drama Take Shelter is that its plotline can be summed up so quickly and cleanly, though the film itself neither passes quickly nor lets anyone get away cleanly. And that’s meant as a compliment to the film (and Nichols and his entire cast and crew), one that mines a simple idea to its most fulfilling (and often unsettling) ends. The film stars Michael Shannon as Curtis, a family man who starts having disconcerting visions of nature gone mad (black rain falling from the sky, clouds that roll and swirl too swiftly, birds dropping dead at his feet), and responds in the only way that seems wise – he builds a souped-up fall-out shelter for his wife and daughter. As the layers of Curtis steadily get peeled back, it becomes obvious that it’s not just this singular (and relatively new) fixation on the end of the world as we know it that’s driving the man, as Curtis’ creeping concerns that he’s actually going insane have a real world root. His mother is crazy, and in a basic, hard-and-fast way. And she has been since, well, since approximately the same age Curtis is now. The delusions and nightmares and visions and creeping paranoia would be enough to make anyone worry, but with a possible genetic predisposition to psychosis, it’s a wonder that Curtis hasn’t broken down sooner.

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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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