Saturday, December 15, 2012

Top 100 #55: Take Shelter

As I look back on last year's films, I can't help but re arrange my top 10. The best film of last year and one of the best of the decade did not cloak itself in a stunt drivers mask while Riz Ortolani's Oh My Love played in the background. Nor did it arrive on a motorcycle with a mohawk. It crept up in a subtle way that went unnoticed. Revealing more and more upon each subsequent viewing. That film is Take Shelter.

Jeff Nichols blasted his way into the independent scene in 2007 with Shotgun Stories and we've been digging out the bullet shrapnel ever since. In it, we were treated to a carefully controlled performance by Michael Shannon. The "Bug" man the William Friedkin help bring into light. Since, Shannon has, . 2011 saw Shannon team up with Nichols' second picture, Take Shelter, a horror film in which the monster is a gentle, caring father and husband. The only villian being his psyche and paranoia.

Shannon has climbed to the ranks of actors and just may be the most gifted actor working today. We clearly see the sickness progressively getting worse as it takes over him. But his argument and performance are so convincing, maybe we are all wrong. His performance comes to a crescendo in a key scene where he announces his suspicions of the storm to the entire town. In this scene, he gets into a physical fight with his friend in construction and makes a spectacle of himself in front of the whole town. However, his wife is not embarrassed. She instead comforts him, their daughter, and they quietly exit. It is this scene that puts this movie on a whole other playing field. In the wrong movie, he would become a threat to his family. Maybe even hurt them, like Jack Torrence would. Curtis doesn't at all. He deems his purpose as a provided and supporter of his family. No sickness or paranoia will drive him away from that.

Nichols advised us to Take Shelter in 2011. Next year he promises to kick our collective faces in the Mud.

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