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December 13, 2011 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-12-13

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4

6 - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

v- -- ..U ..._ .. . ...

NEW YEAR'S EVE
From Page 5

No 'Shelter' in atmospheric film

4

Jeff Nichols sets
doomsday tone in
surreal thriller
By ADITI MISHRA
DailyArts Writer
A storm is coming that will
wipe out mankind, so take shel-
ter. That's what Roland Emm-
erich would tell
us. In "Take
Shelter," direc-
tor Jeff Nichols Take Shelter
("Shotgun Sto-
ries") has other At the
plans. With Michigan
painful grace Sony Pictures
and execution' Classics
Nichols tells the
story of fam-
ily-man Curtis (Michael Shan-
non, "The Runaways"). There's a
storm brewing in Curtis's head,
and its black, oily thunderous
rain could decide either his fate
or ours. In a whirlwind of hal-
lucinations that obscure the
line between reality and delu-
sion, Nichols treats his audience
to what could just as easily be a
disaster movie as an agonizing
glimpse into the disintegrating
mind of a schizophrenic.

Curtis isn't an extraordinary
man. He's not rich, he's not good-
looking and he operates drills for
a living. But he's got one thing
going for him - he's normal. In
comparison to his drunk, wasted
friends, he's got his life sorted
out. Within the first few min-
utes of the film, one is moved by
his support and compassion for
his deaf daughter Hannah (new-
comer Tova Stewart) and wife
Samantha (Jessica Chastain,
"The Tree of Life").
Nichols uses the connection
between Curtis and the audience
to his advantage when the night-
mares start. With every passing
dream, Curtis encounters a storm
that sends him into a raging panic
in the middle of the night. And it
doesn't end when he wakes up.
Every night brings some new hor-
rors and every day Curtis breaks
just a little bit more. The man we
loved from the start fractures
before our eyes. All the while, the
audience doesn't know whether to
believe his premonitions or sym-
pathize with his mental condition.
Nichols's agenda is ambigu-
ous - "Take Shelter" shuffles
between apocalyptic forebod-
ing and the precarious state of
the human mind. Until the last
minute, it seems to be about the

the New Year's ball drop, and
DeNiro portrays a bedridden old
man whose final wish is to catch
a glimpse of Times Square at
those final magical moments of
the year.
Sometimes this vignette-
based narrative structure can
work. But in order for that to
happen, each little story must
be able to stand on its own and
bring something unique to the
table, so that the final product
appears as multi-player as what
we expect when we walk into
the theater. The idea is alot eas-
ier to imagine than to execute,
and this film proves why.
It doesn't help that every
character showcases the inno-
cence and naivet4 of a five-year-
old. The effect is touching when
it becomes the hallmark of a
single personality, but seeing it
on every other character makes
it seem overdone and foolish.
Seeing as this film was - in
heart and mind - a follow-up
to "Valentine's Day," there's
no reason to expect anything
other than a bunch of recog-
nizable movie stars paid to lure
in weary holiday shoppers. So
keep those $10 for a little bit of
extra Christmas shopping and
save yourself the heartache of
experiencing, firsthand, how
commercialism can warp our
film industry.

SONY PICTURESCLASSICS

Remember to secure your own mask before helping your child.

latter. Knowing Curtis's mother
was a paranoid schizophrenic,
it appears natural that Curtis is
headed in the same direction: But
this movie's abstruse end beats
"Inception" at its own game and
the ever-nagging guessing game
of whether Curtis was right
returns to square one.
If there's one storm that's sure-
ly coming, it's Michael Shannon.
Every flinch of his hand betrays
his solitary distress. As Cur-
tis, Shannon dances around the
emotions that overtake his bet-

ter judgment, knowing they're
delusions. It's excruciating to
watch him build the storm shel-
ter - the ever-persistent battle
between reality and his mind is
pitiful and solemn. And though
it would seem far-fetched to
expect another to match his per-
formance, Chastain does. As the
exasperated yet supportive wife,
she's a dream to watch.
Perhaps that's what makes
this film so extraordinary at
times. There are moments when
it slows to a disappointing degree

and Nichols uses some masterful
cinematography and wide scenes
of the storm to counter the pace.
But while all else is inconsistent,
the performances keep the film
flowing. Disaster movie or not,
Shannon's evident conflict and
internal storm are the driving
forces of "Take Shelter."
Disregarding the underlying
hints of imminent catastrophe,
"Take Shelter" is a phenomenal
ode to the fickle nature of the
human mind and how, like it or
not, all are at its disposal.

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RELEASE DATE- Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis

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