Midweek Multi-Movie Reviews

Here’s a quick look at 3 films I’ve been meaning to get the reviews published for: Take Shelter, The Secret World of Arrietty, and Project X. Enjoy.

Take Shelter

Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and Jessica Chastain (The Help) star in this fascinating drama that was grossly overlooked by this past award season. Directed by Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter tells the story of Curtis, a Ohio man with wife and deaf daughter who makes a humble living as a crew chief for a sand-mining company. All seems “normal” until he begins to see visions of violent and apocalyptic events that cause him to prepare for the “upcoming” destruction that he proclaims will ensue. Much like Noah in the Bible, friends, family, and coworkers begin to speculate and scoff as his actions cause further ostracization and strain on his relationships.

What M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening should have been, Take Shelter keeps the audience wondering if the visions are true foretellings or if Curtis truly is crazy. It also tells the story of what lengths a man would go to in order to protect and keep his family safe. Though slow at times, the tempo helps to appropriately spread the feel of uncertainty that is shared by Curtis, his wife, and all others around them as Curtis and his family battle with the question of if the impending disaster is real. Great acting by all involved, Take Shelter (available on Blu-ray now) is worth a view.

Score: 4 out of 5 stars for Take Shelter

The Secret World of Arrietty

From the drawing board of the masterful Studio Ghibli (Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away) the famous tale of the “Borrowers” (a.k.a. the little people in the walls) comes to the big screen with the same magic, beauty, and wonder as the previous animated offerings of the studio. With vocal talents of Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Will Arnett, and others, The Secret World of Arrietty dives deep into the amazing drawn world of the adventurous heroine of the tale.

Though slow at moments, and not as “magical” as writer Hayao Miyazaki’s previous works (possibly due to his other works being a lot more original than this tale), The Secret World of Arrietty is still a delight to watch. Through fighting off “lifesize” crickets with a needle, or rappelling down a dresser, or needing two hands to carry a cube of sugar, Arrietty invites us to join her as she showcases her self-reliance and resourcefulness when her mother is discovered by a human “bean” (being) and needs to be rescued. With the help of the young “bean” in the home she embarks to do so.

Those unfamiliar with the pace and presentation of Miyazaki’s prior works will be disappointed expecting a film like Toy Story or Stuart Little. Fans of Miyazaki will appreciate the efforts put forth in this film, yet will still find it lacking when compared to the mastery of Spirited Away (which is often referred to as the best animated film of all time). Check it out and enjoy.

Score: 3 out of 5 stars for The Secret World of Arrietty

Project X

Superbad on steroids! This review is almost completely summed up with just those three words. You know what to expect from this just from watching the trailer. Alcohol, drugs, sex, debauchery, rioting, flamethrowers, loud music, lack of adult supervision, profuse profanity…and all involving teens. Yep, just about sums up so many people’s entire highschool experience.

For a R-rated walk down memory lane, or a documentarized look at what you may have missed out on, be sure to check out Project X for one of the craziest party-experience films of the century. A “must-see” for some. A “must-avoid” for others. One problem with Project X is the fact that so many of these films show off so much in the promo material in hopes of luring in ticket sales. Effective marketing, but leaves very little to surprise. Each big event shown in the trailers and commercials serve as nothing more than reference points waiting for the next one to transpire before the end.

By far, not the film of the year. Just a ton of fun to watch. Once the party gets going, it’s a bunch of the same stuff…only escalated. But, boy, what an escalation of events! If party films is your thing then Project X must not be missed. (A sequel is already in the works.)

Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars for Project X 

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer


  1. I agree with you on Take Shelter and The Secret World of Arrietty. The former is very thought-provoking, one of my favorites from 2011, whereas the latter is a decent enough movie but not quite up to par with Studio Ghibli’s other films. I haven’t seen Project X.


  2. I watched all three of these movies, and I have to say I enjoyed Project X the most. Take Shelter and The Secret World of Arrietty were very slow, often leaving me feeling bored. The stories were both interesting, and the scenery/artistry were gorgeous, but it was not enough to keep me entertained. Moving on. While I do think that Project X can simply described as an out of control high school party, it blows past many party movies of the past, including The Hangover and Superbad. Movie of the year? Never, because it’s not meant to be. Fun, insane, and intense? Yes, just as it should be.


  3. I watched Take Shelter last weekend myself! I enjoyed the movie as well as Michael Shannon’s performance but I did feel it wasn’t very efficiently edited. It could probably have been cut down by 20 minutes without any loss. I loved that it was totally unpredictable until the end and Jessica Chastain is very quickly becoming one of my favorite actress right now.


  4. I’ve been meaning to check out Take Shelter but my hubby is reluctant to see it. I might have to rent it one day by myself as I’m curious to see Shannon’s performance. Plus Chastain’s in it too, I like her very much.

    Great reviews, T. Btw, have you got a chance to read my pitch yet?


  5. Haven’t watch Take Shelter, but going to. I enjoyed Arrietty, probably because in my younger years I love reading and seeing Japanese animation and comics. I found it refreshing, after Toy Story and other 3D animated movie. I don’t think I’ll be checking Project X, I don’t know.


  6. Seems you enjoyed Project X a lot more than Teri did in her review over on FRC… I haven’t seen it yet, but I will deffo wait.

    I think you also liked Take Shelter more than I did. It was good, but not great in my eyes!!

    Happy Thursday!


  7. Really looking forward to watching Take Shelter when it shows up over here on the TV. I’ve heard nothing but GREAT things.

    Think I’m going to wait for Project X to be a rental. I do like the look of it. Teens out of control on epic levels! But … I’ve heard nothing but mediocre to bad things about it.


  8. I read one review about Take Shelter that was really negative about the ending. He said it was out of sync with the rest of the movie which he raved about. What do you think?

    Cheers 🙂


    • Ya know, it was the ending that really made me like it the most actually. It was kind of like the dessert at the end of a good meal. Just and deserved. I’d love to read that review if you have the link, to see what they said, because it was the end that really made the rest of the film tie together and have some sort of additional meaning. IMO.


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