Pretty Perfect: Take Shelter (2011) (No Spoils)

Instead of blogging about some of the other impressive films I’ve seen recently like 50/50, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Warrior, Real Steel and A Separation – I am going to wax lyrical about this indie masterpiece which stars an almost always impeccable Michael Shannon and the gorgeous Jessica Chastain.

Despite the drama making an impact at the Cannes Film Festival last year, the 2011 Jeff Nichols-directed movie has been pretty much ignored by the wider public so I’m gonna write about it.

The flick centers on blue-collar man Curtis (Shannon) his wife Samantha (Chastain) and their kid. Coming from a background of mental illness Curtis fears the worst as he is assailed by visions and dreams foretelling the end of the world. As a result of these violent premonitions, the man’s world begins to crumble around him with his helpless family having to stand by and watch.

There is a particular scene in which Curtis breaks down in front his family and friends in a canteen. Michael Shannon shines here…strange how the film got completely overlooked at the Academy Awards.

Some have said the film unravels quite slowly, and some have expressed disappointment at the ending. But I have to say that I was insanely impressed by the psychological maze the film creates; having a viewer believe the movie about one thing when it’s not. I also thought the ending was not as ambiguous as some have made it out to be despite what director Nichols says:

“It’s specifically designed to be ambiguous. That really riles some people and some people really love it. What’s funny and interesting to me — and not to sound too cocky about it, but I really do think it worked — is everybody talks about the specifics of what’s happening in that scene. And to me, the specifics don’t matter that much. And I’ll explain. 

What is happening, what is going to happen, all that is just fun to talk about. But what’s important to me is that these two people are on the same page and are seeing the same thing. There’s several interpretations of where they’re at. And that’s great. But as long as they’re seeing the same thing I think there is a resolution and the possibility of hope in the film.”

Go see!


Purfeckt: ‘Caps Lock’ – M.I.A + ‘Ricky’ – Uffie

There are two ‘alternative’ Hip Hop/Electro/Downbeat tracks that I’ve been listening to a lot lately, ‘Caps Lock’ from M.I.A and ‘Ricky’ from Uffie. For some reason they are both the last tracks on the albums they come from despite being the best cuts IMO.

Above you will find the British born visual artist/photographer/record producer/rapper/vocalist ‘Paper Planes’ star 36-year old Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam aka M.I A and below you will peep American but now Paris based singer/songwriter/rapper 24-year old Uffie.

These tracks aren’t new in any way I just think that they were sadly, largely ignored by the record company and artists themselves and wanted to share em. Produced by Blaqstarr ‘Caps Lock’ which is featured on M.I.A’s somewhat unfocused 2010 third album ‘MAYA’ as a bonus track is said to be about her struggles as a trailblazer and going against the norms whilst in the US.

I have no idea what ‘Ricky’ is about – still – but the quirky electro princess is clearly heard boasting about her skills as a rapper, letting her peers know that she is that bitch, “Fuck what you bitches saying, I got dope in my brain.” The track is taken from her 2010 effort ‘Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans’ and is produced by Feadz and J-Mat.

Lovin it. So Big.

Nicely Done: A Prophet (2009) (No Spoilers)

Directed by Jacques Audiard and starring French Algerian actor Tahar Rahim as young muslim Malik El Djebena, 2009 film “A Prophet” follows the rise to power of a nineteen year old minor criminal who lands himself a six year sentence in a French prison. Soon after he arrives he becomes involved with powerful Corsican crime boss Cesar Luciani (played passionately by veteran French actor Niels Arestrup.)

After successfully completing a hit on a fellow Muslim for the Corsicans and subsequently getting a taste of what real protection in the lockup feels like, our introverted protagonist is dragged into the daily affairs of Luciani – immediately crossing the prison’s Muslim/Corsican divide.

I would have to agree with what others have said about “A Prophet” so far in that what gives this movie it’s punch is the effective transition of Malik from a blank slate to a prison figurehead. 30 year old Rahim is insanely likeable in his unassuming outsider role and plays it flawlessly – you feel sorry for him and root for him even though we watch this guy murder someone etc.

This was another film in which again – I didn’t realise how strong it was until I finished it. Like the best prison films it takes you away from the free world and into theirs, I guess I didn’t realise how captivating the film was until I was released…I will definitely be watching this one again.

I enjoyed the scenes between Malik and Luciani alone particularly towards the end as Malik becomes more powerful, mainly because one can sense the undercurrents of emotions and unspoken dialogue between the two, and most of that depth and layered quality performance is down to plain old good acting all round.