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.
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
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