REVIEW: Take Shelter

Take Shelter
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Written by: Jeff Nichols (screenplay)
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart and Shea Whigham

Madness and the movies have an unprecedented history in front of and behind the camera, from the institutional insanity of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to Francis Ford Coppola’s infamous filming nightmare during Apocalypse Now.  Madness inhabited the whole of both of those productions, but the writer/director Jeff Nichols takes an individual approach with his new film Take Shelter.

Take Shelter has much more in common with Melancholia (another apocalyptic vision from 2011) than it does with either of those 70s hysteria classics, though.  Its focus is individual madness by way of the apocalypse.  Pairing the two together, however, makes the madness justified.  Curtis (Michael Shannon) is plagued with frightening nightmares in his sleep and in reality; his dog attacks him, zombie-like strangers abduct his deaf daughter and a menacing swarm of birds zip around the cloudy sky.

Nichols restrains those visions though, holding back on gore in favor of mood and tension. Take Shelter is a fairly basic “Why doesn’t anybody believe me?!” story on the surface, but Nichols throws a wrench in those proceedings by alienating the audience from Curtis as well.  Not only do his wife (Jessica Chastain) and co-workers slowly drift away from him, but the audience privy to his disturbing hallucinations do as well.  Depending on how you read the ending, though, Curtis may have the last wicked laugh.

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REVIEW: I Am Love

I Am Love
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Written by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parente, Edoardo Gabbriellini, and Alba Rohrwacher

Amid the beautiful interiors, finely prepared meals, and meticulously planned out wardrobes, a human element emerges.  I Am Love, the beautifully written, filmed, and acted drama from Luca Guadagnino, is obsessed not only with its elegant, finely tuned surface, but the emotions that boil just beneath it as well.

The age of the horrific Katherine Heigl rom-com doesn’t exist yet in this film, which chronicles the Recchis,  a wealthy Italian family, and the Russian black sheep who married into it at the turn of the millennium.  Every day, Emma (Tilda Swinton) must suit up in a differently colored, yet similar-looking dress and perform the functions of an everyday aristocrat.

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SPOTLIGHT: Adrien Brody

Nobody would’ve believed someone who said Adrien Brody would be the science fiction star of 2010.  But here we are, with Brody offering up two performances in Splice and Predators that, along with his work in movies like King Kong, The Village, and The Jacket earn him a place among the most unconventional science fiction/fantasy stars working today.  However, Brody does much more than sci-fi.  He has triumphed the Oscars (The Pianist), solved murder mysteries (Hollywoodland), and searched for himself alongside his brothers (The Darjeeling Limited); whether or not the movie is that great, you can rely on Mr. Brody to create a character that you’ll want to watch and learn more about.  Here are his five most interesting to date.

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