In Michael Shannon’s latest psychotic episode, Take Shelter, he is plagued by apocalyptic bedwetting nightmares as he struggles to get a grip on his Midwest, mayonnaise salad reality. Though it doesn’t help that his Mother is plum nuts – nor does the added stress of paying for his deaf Daughter’s expensive surgery or a wife, Jessica Chastain, that sows and seams on the side (and has Kenny Power’s slutty Wife for a best friend). So as any man would do, he takes out a loan against his house to build a top notch storm shelter.
But before this exploration into Shannon’s psychosis, the Producers of the film were in attendance to provide a quick intro, and afterwards, a Q&A that made me wish I’d taken shelter myself. Like proud parents, except the fact they gushed and praised themselves – One who reminded us peons that she used go to the Angelika theater as an NYU student, trying to convey what a long journey it has been, while the other dude was busy dropping names – both ass kissing the director, Jeff Nichols and drawing comparisons to Close Encounters and The Shining. But I didn’t see no fucking aliens or ghosts, just another dysfunctional family trying not to fall from the tree of life. However, Nichols does succeed in examining Shannon’s mental breakdown. Then again after past run ins with Shannon on the streets it comes as no surprise when he loses his shit and flips the fuck out at the church dinner scene – “There’s a storm-a coming!”
(Tyler Davidson & Sophia Lin)
So when the final credits were rolling the first question raised was, “What happened at the end?” Given that it’s ending is ambiguous they gave their pat answer as its soul is about a family’s communication and the state of the gloomy world. But that doesn’t explain that insane tsunami and multiple tornadoes threatening their vacation on Myrtle Beach. Too bad Shannon’s survival kit of gas masks and canned beans didn’t include a radio for they might have been a bit more in tune with Harold Camping’s sermon. In the end, I couldn’t care less if it was a dream or reality, Myrtle Beach is a shit hole anyway…and I’d rather watch my Serious Man Blu Ray.
Martin Scorsese and Sopranos screenwriter and producer Terence Winter both return once again to their crime genre beginnings and to further bank off the New Jersey TV trend, exposing it’s Guido and Guiette roots in HBO’s highly anticipated Boardwalk Empire. Only even with an Emmy Award writer this script isn’t half as exciting or entertaining as Jersey Shores’ GTL, fist pumping, and Situation commentaries.
Cued from the start with the dullest opening theme in HBO history of lapping waves, Atlantic City looks like a sound stage, even more so then Gangs of New York and dirty Cameron. Cast with a bunch of clean, stiff suited townies following their leader/treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who’s keeping everyone’s mouth wet and taking cuts from every casino and taffy shoppe. His scrawny, corpselike appearance is hardly as intimidating as James Gandolfini despite the matching snaggle tooth, but even so, he’s got a a peanut gallery all laughing on cue and speaking in turn. It’s only his chauffeur Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), a Leo DiCaprio wannabe, who feels he’s entitled to something more leading him to team up with Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and ambush the next booze delivery. Agent Michael Shannon stalks Buscemi, playing his mumbling crazy self while struggling Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) shows Buscemi in a more humane light as she distracts him from his dead wife. Anyway, I wouldn’t trust any of these cats just as I wouldn’t trust a plank on this soot-free polished set. This spic and span cast is sleazier than Jersey Shore’s coked out Ronnie. By now we all know, no matter how close to “action” T-shirt time is there’s no way these boardwalk drunks, sequins and feathers, and sharp suits wearing shimmy shakers could look so flat and bland when it’s supposed to be the Jazz Age. The rise and fall of the gangster during prohibition has been a subject of numerous movies such as The Untouchables and the classic Once Upon A Time In America but this new HBO addition don’t seem to reveal very much besides showing that Scorsese is bone dry of ideas.