Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Memo from Midnight — July 16th, 1994

SOMEONE'S KILLING PEOPLE. After much investigation, I note similarities between these recent murders and a spate of murders that took place long ago in colonial America. In that batch of murders, a spiritual entity possessed the living so that it could engage in its killcrazy rampages, but it couldn't actually possess humans for long... just long enough to commit the murders. Between killings, the spiritual entity "rested" itself in a cat.

As it turns out... the primary suspect of the modern killings, a teen-aged girl, just happens to have a cat as well...

That's it. Sometimes, dreams turn themselves off, I guess, before they actually get to the story. Weird.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review—Take Shelter

It's frustrating when a movie that looks really interesting and/or gets great reviews never really shows up in a convenient local theater. The Seattle area's no New York or Hollywood, but it DOES get a relatively robust selection of independant films, and that just makes things more frustrating.

I'd been intrigued by the trailer for "Take Shelter" for some time; here's a movie that could be about the end of the world, or that could be about a man slowly going mad. Either plot would be enough to intrigue me... and when the main character's being played by Michael Shannon, a veteran of Herzog and Scorsese films, I only get more intrigued.

"Take Shelter" has some haunting visuals, and an ending I'll never forget, but it's Michael Shannon, who's pretty much in every scene in the movie, who has to sell the movie. It succeeds or fails based on his ability to pull off a happy loving father and husband AND a man descending into madness. He does an incredible job. Everyone else's performance improves for being in proximity to him.

The movie begins with the first of several haunting, brooding visions of an impending apocalypse, and that sets the tone for the whole film. More visions and dreams come now and then as the movie progresses, but it's the slow build of Shannon's reaction and growing obsession with what these visions could mean that really sells the slowly building tension in the movie. When it all finally comes to a head at the movie's climax... it was more harrowing than most big budget disaster movies without ANY of the big budget destruction scenes. "Take Shelter" is a pretty low-budget movie; there ARE special effects in the movie, but they're pretty subtle and few and far between. And done quite well. But it's Michael Shannon who really makes you nervous.

...Yeah, I'm fine.
And... damn. The last minute... the last 10 seconds... wow.

Take Shelter is...
  • ... one of the most realistic movies about either a) the end of the world or b) a descent into madness I've seen.
  • ... that rarest and most delightful of movies: a movie with vaguely religious undertones that doesn't have a religious agenda at all.
  • ... a movie with an ending shot that will haunt me for a long, long time. And not just because it evokes one of my own personal greatest fears, but because it's so beautifully shot! I wish I could share it without spoiling the movie!
Grade: A