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Posts Tagged ‘Jessica Chastain’

Michael Shannon...madness in the Midwest

“TAKE SHELTER”  My rating: B+  (Opening Nov. 4 at the Glenwood at Red Bridge)

120 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There’s a certain kind of movie that almost drives you nuts but which, if you stay with it, leaves you transformed through a process you really can’t quite figure out.

The great Australian director Peter Weir had two such idiosyncratic masterpieces early in his career: “The Last Wave” and “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” films that defy rational analysis but have haunted me for more than 30 years.

Writer/director Jeff Nichols (the underrated “Shotgun Stories”) may have created a similar effort in “Take Shelter,” a big winner at this year’s Cannes and Sundance film festivals.

This might be a movie about a man going mad…or perhaps it’s about a man who simply senses things — bad things — that the rest of us cannot.

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Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in "The Help"

“THE HELP”  My rating: B+  (Now playing wide)

137 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

You can’t throw a rock at “The Help” without hitting an Oscar-worthy performance, making this adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-seller one of the best-acted films since, well, “The King’s Speech.”

All that thespian power comes in handy in diverting our attention from some of the story’s more Hollywood-ish plotting and an unimaginative visual style.

OK, maybe I’m being too much of a critic here. There may be a few pedestrian elements in this sure-fire box office smash, but there’s no ignoring the pure emotional power of this story set in the Jim Crow South.

This is a movie that will set audiences to laughing, then bawling, then laughing and bawling all over again.

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“THE TREE OF LIFE”  My rating: A-

138 minutes | MPAA rating:  PG-134

“The Tree of Life” is a sublime, transcendent movie experience.

“The Tree of Life” is like watching your car rust.

That both of the above statements are true only goes to show the uniqueness of the latest effort from the reclusive Terrence Malick.

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