October 18, 2011

Take Shelter- Angelika

Mike: On Columbus Day we made our way to the Angelika Film Center on West Houston to catch Take Shelter, starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, who has been in every film that has come out this year. We don't go to this theater very often, even though I used to live on the other end of Houston and could conveniently walk over to catch a flick. Plenty of reasons why: There's no discount, so you pay the full $13 price for a film. You don't know what screen it will be on, and you might be stuck watching your film in a tiny room with a grinding defective sound system. Not a lot of legroom. No stadium seating, so your view might be partially obscured by other people's heads. And of course, you can hear and feel the subway running below you. But other than that, the Angelika is a nice place and crowds tend to be better behaved. And they show films that don't always make it to the multiplexes.
I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about Take Shelter, and I wasn't disappointed. It's really a showcase for Michael Shannon, playing a husband and father who starts noticing symptoms of hereditary schizophrenia in his mid-thirties - the same age his mother was when she was institutionalized. He has harrowing nightmares and visions of a destructive storm of biblical proportions coming to town, but his self-awareness doesn't stop him from putting all his free time and financial resources into a building an underground shelter. People start to notice something off about him and his obsession with the shelter causes things to fall apart around him, Jobe-style, as he seems to get more and more paranoid and crazy. All the while though, he knows that he's going bananas and is totally aware of his illness, which makes it a fascinating character study. He wants to be normal and healthy and even takes steps to fix it - counseling and medication - but at the same time, he's unable to deny his visions of the storm and continues work on the shelter.
Shannon's denouement is so heartbreaking that you actually want the storm to come and show everybody that he was right. Shannon delivers one of his strongest performances yet, fully utilizing his creepy look.

Erica: I wasn't as enthusiastic about the movie but it was good. I had no idea what I was walking into. I think Shannon did a great job playing the schizophrenic who pours all his time, energy, and money into a bomb shelter because he had a vision.I agree with Mike in that I felt sorry for his character and I found myself rooting for a storm so he can be viewed as a little less crazy then he is. Plus, he bought all those cans of soup and I wanted him to be able to use them. I think this movie is one of those movies that is much better than it sounds and if you have an opportunity to see it, we both recommend it.

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