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Movie Review: Take Shelter

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Mike Finkelstein is having some really horrible dreams.  Some have to do with death, some have to do with kidnapping and stabbings.  Mostly, they just have to do with Barney the Dinosaur.  (See why I’m scared?)  Here is his review for “Take Shelter.”

PLOT: A young father (Michael Shannon) starts to have nightmares about an impending apocalyptic storm that will cause everyone around him to turn violent.  But when he starts to take measures to protect himself and his family, he has to figure out if he really is protecting them against an outside evil, or just himself.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  I was so looking forward to seeing TAKING SHELTER.  It won the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes and the trailer made it look like a psychological sci-fi thriller on the level of DONNIE DARKO.  So when I stepped into that theater, my expectations were high.

What the hell happened?

TAKING SHELTER had to be hands down the biggest disappointment in film for me this year.  Don’t get me wrong…it isn’t anywhere near the worst movie in theaters.  It’s just that it should have been so much better than what it was: a slow moving, comatose character study that couldn’t find its identity.

Michael Shannon stars as Curtis LaForche, a well respected construction worker and family man.  Everything is going right in his life, until he starts having vivid nightmares about an apocalyptic storm that causes everyone close to him (including his dog, best friend, and wife) to turn violent.  The visions and pain of the dream are so real, it ends up dramatically affecting his relationships while awake, and even has him questioning his own sanity.

I told you it sounds intriguing.  And granted, there are some wonderful details on that screen for us.  The visuals and cinematography are stunning, and for what had to have been a small budget, the special effects on the storms and dreams are excellent.  The score is haunting, and the dreams are exhilarating and foreboding.  Every time we’re in one, we get a shock of adrenaline to our system because we, too, can feel the pain.

But wait, there’s more!  As for the acting, the performances are beautiful to watch.  Michael Shannon is an actor’s actor, and as we’ve seen many times before, he plays crazy perfectly.  Curtis is quiet, but you could see him hurting, trying to figure out what is wrong with himself without letting anybody else worry.  When all of that culminates, it turns into a beautifully emotional scene of frustration.  Forgetting the rest of the movie for a second, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shannon is nominated for some awards for that scene alone.

But sadly, that probably won’t happen.  You see, the movie fails on two main levels that overshadow everything else: timing and resolution.  The pacing is painstakingly slow.  Yes, the dreams give you a jolt, but that jolt comes only every twenty minutes or so, and it’s usually jolting us awake.  When you’re in a theater and the person next to you is commenting out loud that only 45 minutes has past, you know something is wrong.  A good half hour of ‘coverage’ could have been cut to make a much tighter film, but no…we saw every single minute of what this man is doing.  It reminded me of THE AMERICAN, another film that was advertised as a thriller, but gave absolutely nothing to the audience besides a lot of watching and waiting.

Secondly, the movie can’t seem to figure out what it wants to be.  At first, we’re on the track of a psychological thriller about a man with premonitions.  Then, suddenly, he’s going crazy, and we get a drama about a mentally sick man who is about to lose everything dear to him.  And all of that is capped off by a Hollywood ending that may have been inserted to make the audience think, but ends up completely reversing any stable ideas we had about where the plot was going or what the director was trying to say.

Jeff Nichols wrote that he was inspired to write TAKING SHELTER after his daughter was born, because he finally understood the fear of losing everything important to you.  If you watch the film with that idea in mind, you’ll take it one way.  If you watch it as a DONNIE DARKO-type thriller, you’ll take it another.  The only issue is that those lines cross so much, you can’t really take it as either without contradicting yourself.  TAKING SHELTER had potential to be a great movie, and for that attempt (and the story behind it), I will add some points.  But in the end, I think Nicholas was trying so hard to be everything at once, that he couldn’t find that sweet spot to make the film find itself first.

Oh, and did I mention it’s really, really slow?

GRADE: B-

Mike’s LIKES:

1) MICHAEL SHANNON: Shannon is turning into one of my favorite independent film actors.  The man is a character actor through and through, and can play crazy like no one else.  His breakdown is by far the best moment in the film, and I don’t think another actor could have done it justice.

2) NIGHTMARES: With their foreboding and haunting nature, the nightmare scenes are the best moments in the film.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat for those few minutes, terrified of what is about to happen.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) RIDICULOUSLY SLOW PACE: Wow…besides the nightmare sequences, everything just dragged.  At least a half hour could have been cut out no problem for a quicker pace and tighter story.

2) BACK AND FORTH: What was the film trying to say?  Was it a sci-fi psychological thriller?  Was it a drama about a man trying to stay sane?  Nichols kept switching between the two, and a lack of an identity is the result.

3) SELF SERVING: I’m sorry to say it, but between numbers one and two, TAKING SHELTER came across as almost self serving for Jeff Nichols, like a man who likes to hear his own voice.  Again, I have no doubt the intentions were good, and he had something with great potential in there, but it was definitely buried.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) Michael Shannon also starred in Jeff Nichol’s directorial debut, SHOTGUN STORIES.

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst

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Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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Priest Accidentally Forgets To Turn Off Filters Before Live Streaming Mass

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The internet is having a field day with the innocent mistake of biblical proportions.

With new social distancing guidelines, many churches have closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And while that doesn’t justify all the wine you’ve been chugging during your self quarantine, it does have many people practicing their faith from their homes. One Italian priest was just trying to recite a little prayer for his followers when he accidentally left a filter feature on during the broadcast! In the clip the priest is digitally adorned with a space helmet, workout gear, a fedora and sunglasses and more.

Social media went nuts for the video, which has now gone viral. One comment reads “He just doubled his holy power.” Another reads “Father, Son and Holy Influencer.” One commenter couldn’t resist a good pun and said the video is having a “Mass effect.”

Enjoy your daily blessing and take a look at the funny video below!

 

Priest in Italy live streams mass, activates filters by mistake from r/funny

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Danny DeVito Passionately Urges New Yorkers To Stay Home…And Twitter Agrees!

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For the love of Danny DeVito, stay home!

The world is in a dark place right now and I am not sure how much more bad news we can handle. That’s why when I saw Danny DeVito’s name trending on Twitter I froze. Our great nation could very well crumble if anything bad was to happen to such an icon right now. With extreme trepidation I clicked on the social media link and was relieved to see that good ol’ Danny boy is just strumming up hype because he is passionately urging New Yorkers to stay home.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been driving New Yorkers to stay home and has taken every precaution short of shutting the state down completely to help prevent the virus from spreading. Because New Yorkers can be hard headed, it doesn’t hurt to have some famous friends reiterate your message. Big names like Lala Anthony, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller have all made appearances on Cuomo’s social media pleading with New Yorker’s to heed the governors warning. Only one celebrity was able to make it to Twitter’s trending page however and that was none other than Danny DeVito. DeVito’s message is simple…stay home! In the two minute video, DeVito reminds fans that it’s not just up to the elderly to isolate themselves. “Young people can get it and they can transmit it to old people and the next thing you know – I’m out of there” says the actor. We must save him!

Twitter went into a frenzy with many users agreeing that we need to stay home for Danny. One user wrote “When Danny speaks, I listen.” Another passionately wrote “If you idiots kill Danny DeVito I SWEAR TO GOD.” One promoted DeVito from the icon status I previously awarded him and said “WE GOTTA PROTECT WORLD TREASURE DANNY DeVITO.” 

Take a look at the video below and for the love of the newly minted national treasure, stay home!

 

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