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Jeff Nichols on TAKE SHELTER

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

I have not seen Boardwalk Empire. The premise didn’t grab me. You recommend?

Matt Parks

about 2 years ago

I haven’t seen any of the recent eps., but Shannon was pretty interesting in the early ones that I saw.

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

Is he basically playing a guy who is a bit psychotic and ready to explode, though? I’m sort of tired of seeing him in that role.

Matt Parks

about 2 years ago

Yeah, that’s sorta his niche now, isn’t it?

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

Yeah. I hope he doesn’t get typecast, although he is quite effective—but so was De Niro and Walken but I tired of them playing those parts, too. He sort of the new Chris Walken—they’ve got the same bug-eyes.

Ari

about 2 years ago

^ Just wait until he plays General Zod in Man of Steel….. Next stop: comic book movie villain.

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

Or action/thriller villain. I’m surprised he hasn’t done this already. (Bond? an MI film?)

Prewitt

about 2 years ago

Shannon is in The Broken Tower with James Franco. I don’t think he plays a psychotic in that one. I don’t know if it’s available on DVD yet or not.

tomas.roges

about 2 years ago

I know it’s on OnDemand through many carriers

Santino

almost 2 years ago

Jim Emerson wrote a tidbit about the Q&A with Nichols and Shannon at Ebertfest this year.

“Nichols said he thought of ending the movie after the scene in the storm shelter but that it might have been too much of a “happy ending” if Curtis (Shannon’s character) faced his fears and found out everything was OK. Nichols said he wanted nature itself to be the villain, which is why the film ends with more (real) storms on the horizon.

Finally, though, as Shannon pointed out, Curtis is reunited with his family and whatever troubles lay ahead they will face them together — and that’s what means the most to him. “Exactly. That’s it exactly,” Nichols said, bowing his head as if the truth had finally been wrung out of him. “That’s it. Let’s not talk about it any more.”"

This sort of confirms my interpretation of the film – that it doesn’t matter if the ending is real or a dream or a hallucination and that all that matters is that whatever storms lay ahead, the family will be there with him to support him.

Here’s the full article

groogan

over 1 year ago

Ok, coming to this one quite late, but I had to join as i just saw the film.

I was really, really pleased to see some people offering thoughtful criticism and analysis of this film. NOT because it deserves it more than other films, but rather because it deserves it AS MUCH as other films, and somehow it seems to me that our ‘critical establishment’ gave it a WHOPPING free pass.

This film stuck me as an idea, not a film. And the two are not the same. In fact, the representation of the former as the latter is a trademark of novice, not master, filmmaking. The argument is framed by the film’s form, as an open question: is Curtis MAD, or is there in fact some kind of PENDING DOOM. As with Manny Farber’s ‘Gimp’, this becomes the ‘question’ that comprises the film, rather than the basis of a story, a catharsis, or anything else that a motion picture.

But wait, i often read. It’s a “portrait” of our times, of a man. In ither case it fails miserably… as a portrayal of mental illness it is uninformed, at best, pedantic at worst. As a portrayal of some kind of crisis, or of a reaction to said crisis, it also fails, on the invidividual basis – cf. the device of ‘bad dreams’, which one commentator excellently pointed out, and on the group basis – the aspect of ‘community’ here – a one dimensional wife, ineffectual and chasing up her husbands problems, also pointed out earlier, and the most cardboard, one-dimensional walk-ons as friends and family.

What we have here is a precocious young filmmaker with a sense of film form, who likes to make films about working class Americans and has a penchant for metaphor. OF COURSE the critics are attracted to all these things. You’d just think they have the acumen to know that none of these makes a good film.

I find perpetual use of ZEITGIST in reviews – that a film’s nominal subject matter qualifies it for accolades because the film-critic demographic self identifies – far more offensive than the reviews. It reminds me of Tarantino’s assertion that ‘Somewhere’ was a perfect ’portrait of contemporary Los Angeles. Ask my mexican truckdriver friend about that one.

Hello and sorry to post on a topic that is almost a year old!

I arrived here a few days ago and have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion. Want to post my take on this movie. Let me apologize in advance if I’m breaching etiquette.

I posted this on IMDB earlier today but wanted to post it here because this discussion was the primary inspiration for me working this out. Thanks again. :)

I believe the ending can be looked at as a microcosm of the entire movie. Is it a dream or a completely symbolic summation of the journey we just experienced? I don’t think it matters, but at this point I tend to lean towards the latter.

The storm is representative of his illness and has been all along. His family knows the truth, i.e., that he is not well, before he does. This is represented by his daughter being first to notice the storm in the final sequence. Unsure, he picks her up and looks to his wife, questioning. He does see the storm but needs to know what Samantha’s reaction will be. The little nod she gives him first says everything. “Yes, I see it. Yes I’m going to be right here with you and we’re going to deal with it together.” Only after her nod does he nod back in affirmation. “Yep, I see it too. I want to get better and lead a normal life. I want to try to escape the storm with you and our daughter. Let’s go.”

Beautiful ending, both visually and symbolically, to a great movie.

Other thoughts. The final scene switches for just a second to his wife in the kitchen preparing food. I don’t think this is an accident. Are these few seconds symbolic of her at first being too busy with her duties as a wife to see her husband’s illness?

Many other things in this final scene might be relevant. The birds. The turtles on the sand castles Curtis and his daughter are building, etc.

Jazzalo​ha

10 months ago

@Checker

Let me apologize in advance if I’m breaching etiquette.

No, I don’t think you’re breaching etiquette.

You can actually take the final scene as a microcosm of the entire movie. The storm is representative of his illness and has been all along.

Do you mean, you think the storm is a symbol/metaphor for his mental illness and not something real? If so, I’m not sure I buy this. The film seems to set up two opposing options—1) Curtis is mentally ill or 2) The premonitions he’s having are real—that is, some cataclysmic event is about to take place. Curtis’ family don’t have problems believing he’s mentally ill—they have more difficulty believing he’s not.

On another note, Ari said, ^ Just wait until he plays General Zod in Man of Steel…..

Shoot, I didn’t realize this was actually going to happen—and I’m only realizing that now, with MoS set to open soon. I guess, I’m OK with this, but I’m already burnt out with Shannon in this role. (He’s also in this other movie screening here, where he seems to be playing a psychotic killer who happens to be a father.)

House 0f Leaves

-moderator-
10 months ago

Welcome, Checker, and everyone should revive more old threads!

Love this film, and your take on it.

“Do you mean, you think the storm is a symbol/metaphor for his mental illness and not something real?”

Absolutely. It’s been pointed out earlier that Curtis and his wife would be very unlikely to spend money on a vacation instead of their daughter’s operation. I agree with this. I don’t believe they ever actually went to the beach.

Also, you don’t see too much of the beach in either direction from where Curtis and his daughter are playing in the sand, but I believe you see enough to get the idea that there’s no one else around. And this is Myrtle Beach. I believe Nichols may have chosen that particularly as a hint to letting us know the final scene is not to be taken literally. Myrtle Beach is not really one you’d pick to get some rest and begin recovering from a mental illness. It’s a pretty active place with many many people. To my knowledge there’s no coastline anywhere on this particular beach that would not be bustling with tons of people on a day like that. Of course in a symbolic piece, there is no need for anyone else to be around.

Further, as has been noted, one of the movie’s main themes is the fear/anxiety of the main character. It just would not click, in my mind at least, for this persistently building stress on Curtis (which I think was very well done, btw) to end up on the note of “Oh, by the way, there really was an apocalypse coming.” I believe the main theme of the movie is the fear/anxiety Curtis suffers and how he diffuses it by accepting he is not well and letting his family “in” and proceeding to get better after his wife makes the decision not to leave him (the second of the movie’s two turning points imo). I don’t particularly believe this is a film about mental illness though. That was just the vehicle chosen to get us to the final destination. Could also apply to substance abuse and any number of other serious life’s problems, but the mental illness line provides a nice way to keep a running bit of symbolism going.

Is this a simplistic theme? Perhaps, but look at one of Nichols’ other movies, Mud (spoiler incoming). The theme there was basically “sometimes, even though you love someone, you have to let them go”. That’s a pretty simple one too. :)

Jazzalo​ha

10 months ago

@Checker

Absolutely. It’s been pointed out earlier that Curtis and his wife would be very unlikely to spend money on a vacation instead of their daughter’s operation. I agree with this. I don’t believe they ever actually went to the beach.

So the scene where the psychiatrist(?) tells Curtis and his wife that he really needs to take a break also didn’t occur? I feel like something is out of place if your reading is correct. Doesn’t Curtis go to the doctor after the incident at the shelter—in other words, he starts conceding that he might be mentally ill? (I can no longer remember the details). If that’s so—then the doctor’s recommendation would see to be what Curtis actually needs—if he is indeed mentally ill. Therefore, if he’s really taking his illness seriously, then they would go on this vacation.

Additionally, I thought the feeling of impending doom was the part of the film that was most timely and what made the film so resonant. If the truth is that this premonition was entirely false—and a way to avoid his mental illness—wouldn’t this undermine the film’s resonance? (And maybe that’s not a bad thing, but it’s the part that I thought made the film notable.)

Further, as has been noted, one of the movie’s main themes is the fear/anxiety of the main character. It just would not click, in my mind at least, for this persistently building stress on Curtis (which I think was very well done, btw) to end up on the note of “Oh, by the way, there really was an apocalypse coming.”

But don’t you think that reading would fit the type of anxiety many people feel now—particularly towards things like the financial crisis and climate change? These problems and potential consequences are so massive that I think people do have some level of anxiety about them. At the same time, these types of problems are so complex and nebulous, that thinking about these problems and reacting to them in a meaningful way is extremely difficult, and only adds to ones anxiety and stress. This also results in a situation where a few Jeremiahs are pronouncing doom-and-gloom while others seem oblivious or maybe too overwhelmed to have much of a reaction. I just read an article about billionaires taking their investment out of stocks now, as they anticipate another huge stock market crash. And with climate change, I feel like every couple of weeks I’ll read articles that say “now, this is something truly scary” or something to that effect. But most people I know just go on, and don’t seem to care much about these problems (although, again, maybe there’s so little one can do).

I can understand your reading the film, though, and I wouldn’t rule it out.

Yeah they go to the therapist after leaving the bomb shelter, and he tells them to take a vacation. It would be great advice except for the fact that not only can they not afford it, but the money would need to go to their daughter’s medical bills. I think any responsible parents in that situation would just rest at home, maybe finding some relaxing place nearby at which to spend time and get away (a cheap motel even if he absolutely needed to be away from his house), and save the money for their child’s medical bills.

“If the truth is that this premonition was entirely false—and a way to avoid his mental illness—wouldn’t this undermine the film’s resonance?”

The impending doom is certainly still there despite the storm being symbolic rather than literal, as Curtis is in very real danger of losing his wife and daughter. The storm itself being in the final scene represents that his illness is still there; obviously he doesn’t just suddenly get better, but since he took that huge step forward by opening the bomb shelter door, the overall tone of the final scene is not nearly as horrifying. He accepted his illness and knows his family is now with him, so things are a little more serene. (That serenity can be read as another subtle clue as well. If that was a real scene with a real storm coming, they wouldn’t have stood there calmly and had a nice little moment. They would have grabbed their kid, ran to the car, and sped the hell away :) ) . To me this is a more complete and sublime interpretation than anything involving a literal storm at the end.

“But don’t you think that reading would fit the type of anxiety many people feel now—particularly towards things like the financial crisis and climate change?”

Sure, there could absolutely be other levels of meaning there. I see this as a very character driven tale about Curtis’ interpersonal relationships though. Speaking just for my eyes, I don’t see the need for any type of narrative on global issues to be present, although that’s certainly not to say they aren’t there.

Jazzalo​ha

10 months ago

The impending doom is certainly still there despite the storm being symbolic rather than literal, as Curtis is in very real danger of losing his wife and daughter.

But the doom is strictly centered on Curtis—not the entire “world.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I think there is some validity to your argument, but that reading makes for a less interesting and less compelling film for me.

(That serenity can be read as another subtle clue as well. If that was a real scene with a real storm coming, they wouldn’t have stood there calmly and had a nice little moment. They would have grabbed their kid, ran to the car, and sped the hell away :) )

For me, I read this as a moment of truth and almost reconciliation. There was so much uncertainty and anxiety about Curtis’ premonitions that having some confirmation that they were real would provide a peace, as strange as that may seem given the nature of the confirmation.

Ya’ know, if Nichols intentionally left it open so as to be easily interpretable on multiple levels, I’d be okay with that. Yes in a way it’s a bit vacuous, but at the end of the day you’ve made a lot more people happy, entertained, and fulfilled because they’ve just watched and interpreted something meaningful to them.

Jazzalo​ha

10 months ago

Yes in a way it’s a bit vacuous,…

You mean the fact that the film can be interpreted in many ways? No, I don’t think that’s vacuous at all. That can often be a sign that the film is rich and interesting.

Just a couple final thoughts I wanted to add after watching the movie again.

One of Curtis’ last really creepy dreams entails him seeing his wife in the kitchen, near a sharp knife, and it’s clear he is afraid she’s going to harm him. I’m not sure how this would be interpreted in a “he’s a prophet of the apocalypse” scenario, but for my read on the film, it signifies his illness is getting worse and as a result , if things keep progressing, he could possibly harm her, thinking she is out to get him (a strong clue that he is headed down the path to paranoid schizophrenia, like his mother).

Also, if he is a prophet of a coming storm, God (or whoever is giving him the prophecies) sure does have a wicked sense of humor, sending him that decoy storm first to see if it affects his resolve. :p

This take on the final scene from Xumuon at IMDB is similar to mine but much more eloquent and detailed. Enough so that I wanted to share it here with any who may be interested.

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I interpret the ending to be his loving wife’s acceptance that she must enter his fantasy world to an extent in order to maintain the relationship… That spouses of schizophrenics cannot expect to live completely separate from their partners delusions, to continue with the man in a familly you have to make peace and accept (maybe even adopt) his visions.

When they are leaving the shelter and she insists that HE open the door this is HIS compromise, that to continue with the familly he must face reality to an extent – it must be him opening the door, were she to do so it would be her aggressively and uncompromisingly opposing his delusional existence, isolating him… ultimately rejecting him. By getting him to do it they remain united and unity is the key to this film. He must move towards her (sanity) and she acknowledges his world also (the insanity symbolised by her ‘seeing’ the storm and ‘feeling’ the oil rain). The bunker with the storm outside was his inner world and she goes willingly into his bunker (does not make a hard-rejection of his fantasy) and gently encourages HIM to open the door for them (the director refuses to dismiss his ‘delusions’ completely also by including some storm damage scenes when they emerge), he goes willingly to her reality (the people eating in the hall) because she ‘needs it’ and suffers the humiliation and public abuse (mentally ill people often suffer it from the public) and at that moment i thought she was going to dump him but she embraced him instead after his public humiliation. Unity is key, in the end the door to his bunker remains open and they both explore the outside ‘real’ world and his inner world affected by schizophrenia together.

The film is about a familly trying to survive mental illness together, the storm, the dreams, the weird man outside etc are just symptoms of his madness and metaphors. In the end their fate was kind of triumphant – they survived as a familly – their unity intact while schizophrenia normally blows through your life like one of those whirlwinds he was seeing tearing everything apart… This triumph was good because it was quite depressing and we viewers were becoming increasingly saddened by the disintegration of his life.

For many single people not as lucky as the man in this film when schizophrenia or other serious mental illness strikes they go into the bunker and remain there forever hiding from the storm, they do indeed lose friends, their jobs, their homes…