Category Archives: 8.5

Movies that score 8.5/10.

Review: The Great Dictator

Director: Charlie Chaplin
Year: 1940
Score: 8.5/10

Why don't you stop reading this review, google 'great dictator speech', and strap yourself in for the speech from which this still was taken. Go on, do it!

Stop reading this review, scroll to the bottom, click ‘play’ on the embedded video, and strap yourself in for the speech from which this still was taken. Go on, do it!

Unique blend of satire, comedy and deeply felt drama, the latter of which comes mostly in the form of the beautiful speech at the very end of the film. Even in isolation, that speech – embedded at the end of this review – is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a movie.

Some of the sillier humour in other scenes, left over from Chaplin’s silent film days, detracts from the rest, but not enough to ruin it. All the Germanish gibberish spouted by Adenoid Hynkel is hilarious, largely because of Chaplin’s excellent performance aping Hitler. Beyond the dictator himself, there’s plenty of delicious irony and satire elsewhere in the film, such as the scene in which a Tomainian storm trooper protects a group of Jews from being attacked by a mob of his fellow storm troopers, not because he wants to, but because he’s ‘just following orders’.

It really is quite remarkable that this was made when it was, with filming commencing a week after Germany invaded Poland and the film being released before the US had joined the war. Chaplin apparently later said that he wouldn’t have made the film had he known the extent of the Holocaust (which was really only just getting started at that point), but I think the timing actually gives it greater power. It’s by far the best of the two Charlie Chaplin films I’ve seen.

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Guest Review: Predator

Director: John McTiernan
Year: 1987
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"No seriously guys, who’s got the keys? I've been bursting since that last village and I am not in the mood to muck around!"

“No seriously guys, who’s got the keys? I’ve been bursting since that last village and I am not in the mood to muck around!”

Before the hate, let me put this score into context. Predator is an action film. Action films are not known for intense emotional dialogue, heartfelt sentiments or character evolution. They are known for blowing stuff up and beating people up. That’s it; nothing else is particularly relevant. In this regard Predator is the best action film, as it delivers all that you could possibly need from the genre.

I could waste your time and mine by explaining the plot, but you know the score; Arnold Schwarzenegger et al. are dropped into a jungle and picked off one by one by the ominous be-dreadlocked alien Predator, until a final showdown. It’s not Tolstoy, but who cares? For its time the CGI is quite advanced, and although some of the effects are starting to look a little tired the majority is achieved through live action; something that looks as good now as it did then. What Predator does surprisingly well is generate a sense of isolation, a feeling of being stranded and preyed upon that plenty of films since have tried and failed to do.

Containing iconic pearls of wisdom such as ‘Get to da choppah!’, ‘Cause some damn fool accused you of being the best’ and ‘What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be someone I could trust’, there are enough clichés to make Shakespeare spin in his grave and almost enough testosterone to fill a swimming pool (gross), but you can’t help but enjoy what’s going on.

Many will disagree on this, but to me this should be the go-to action film as far as anyone is concerned. Compare it to later contenders for example; Transformers or Predator? Independence Day or Predator? It’s no contest really. Sometimes I want to be moved by a film, sometimes I just want to be entertained. For that, there really is only one choice.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Pompeii

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Year: 2014
Score: 6/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Rock paper scissors for the sword? Are you serious?!

Rock paper scissors for the sword? Are you serious?!

Woo historical accuracy! As a proud member of the Archaeological Pedantry Society, there are moments in this film which are absolutely laughable. I would be prepared to bet that, given enough time, I could go through the entire film and not find a single fact beyond the limerick-esque ‘there once was a town called Pompeii’.

To paraphrase Futurama’s Robot Devil, however: this movie is as lousy as it is brilliant.

The special effects are as grand and spectacular as you would imagine a volcanic eruption to be and the gladiator battles are so glorious that you understand why the Romans loved them so much. The plot itself is quite weird; the story follows this guy who gets captured by the Romans, but who happens to be an unbelievably good gladiator who can talk to horses. That second fact is strangely incidental to the plot, but is enough to make a rather pretty girl fall in love with him. Sadly Jack Bauer is there, accompanied by the worryingly named Proculus (allegedly played by Sasha Roiz but is quite obviously Bear Grylls), and he decides that he’s going to marry her instead. Then a volcano goes off. It’s hardly Hamlet, but as an action film it’s quite entertaining. Drenched in bravado and testosterone-fuelled fight scenes it’s easy to enjoy, even if it is found wanting for things like substance, subtlety, character development, plot, historical accuracy, originality and suspense. It does however have a volcano, which makes up for a lot of those shortcomings.

Is it as good as Gladiator? No. Not even close. Does it have the epic story of Ben-Hur? No. Even so, it’s hard not to like Pompeii; it’s a good old fashioned historical action thriller that delivers on what it promises: a volcano.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Director: J. J. Abrams
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

This is where Nick Frost should be standing! It's written in my contract that Nick Frost would be here!

This is where Nick Frost should be standing! It’s written in my contract that Nick Frost would be here!

Whilst I’m not a fan of Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, this really is an excellent run out for one of television’s most revered sci-fi franchises. What this and its predecessor do so well is pure adrenalin-fuelled action, at the expense of sticking character development on the back burner; Zachary Quinto continues to do an excellent job of playing Spock; with Abrams less dependent on the character in Into Darkness than his first attempt.

Benedict Cumberbatch proves once again that he can’t be type-cast by taking up the role of Khan, a super villain with far superior strength and mental abilities who wears a long coat. This is a touch unfair as he does a very good job; both actor and role feed off each other and he provides an impassioned performance despite his character’s cold and clinical nature.

There comes a point (that I won’t spoil for you) in the plot that is so very out of touch with the rest of the film that it borders on the tedious, but the action recovers to a thrilling climax that reeks of Abrams and could be transposed into anything that’s gone before and sadly will probably remain the template when Star Wars VII: Milking The Cash Cow comes around. Don’t get me wrong – it works and it’s really good so it’s a bit churlish of me to complain, it’s more of a warm blanket of familiarity than the cold tedium of inevitability.

In summary: watch it, enjoy it.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Review: The Indian Runner

Director: Sean Penn
Year: 1991
Score: 8.5/10

Aragorn is tempted by the One Ring.

Aragorn is tempted by the One Ring.

Sean Penn’s debut as writer and director is a sensitive, meditative drama anchored by strong performances from David Morse and Viggo Mortensen as a pair of brothers. The interplay between them has such an authentic feel to it. Penn’s direction is dynamic, bringing a sense of heightened tension and drama to the somewhat depressing material. I believe this is the only film I’ve seen that’s based on a song: Bruce Springsteen’s Highway Patrolman, which I’ve now listened to and found quite beautiful and moving (particularly after watching the movie). Incidentally, the musical choices in the movie are excellent. A couple of odd aspects: Valeria Golino, who I always thought of as French (probably because of Hot Shots and Hot Shots: Part Deux) but who is actually Italian (and part Greek), plays a Mexican for some reason; and the kid who plays Morse and Golino’s little son is super cute but doesn’t seem to age despite the movie taking place over at least nine months. Look for a young Benicio Del Toro in a very minor role. Overall, I highly recommend this movie. It raises some interesting questions about goodness, commitment, obligation and the bonds of brotherhood, and leaves you pondering whether you’re a hero or an outlaw; strong or weak; and most importantly, a bear or a message.

Guest Review: V/H/S/2

Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans & Jason Eisener
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

The child version of Doom did not prove a huge success.

The child version of Doom did not prove a huge success.

A couple of things – I love found footage horror films, and I haven’t seen the original V/H/S. All good? Right. This film is unbelievable, and is by a clear margin the best horror film I’ve seen in a long time. For those unfamiliar with the premise, V/H/S/2 follows the found footage of two reporters who get into the house of a missing teenager, and then sit and watch a collection of found footage videos.

It just has everything. Ghosts, crazy cults, monsters, zombies… it just goes on and on. There’s several different short films, and although each is only about fifteen minutes long I found myself completely absorbed and at points genuinely frightened by what was going on. Particularly the cult one. Part of me would like to meet the people who dreamt this up, but the other part of me thinks that if I did it would be my civic duty to beat them to death and prevent them inflicting any more of their unfettered madness upon the world.

I know there’s divided opinion on found footage films. Many don’t like them, arguing that they’re lazy, unrealistic and difficult to lose yourself in. There are instances where this is true, and there is some absolute dross out there. You do, however, get some real gems. The Last Exorcism is fantastic, Paranormal Activity created a whole new genre and The Blair Witch Project (deal with it), whether you like it or not, will go down as a film that truly changed the horror landscape. As unusual as it is to say this about a sequel, V/H/S/2 deserves to sit alongside if not above all of them. Genuinely frightening, cleverly tied together footage wrapped around the most important quality a film of this nature needs: a reason for the protagonists to be holding a camera the whole damn time.

If you like horror films, you HAVE to see this one.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Review: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Director: Declan Lowney
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10

There's something so compelling and yet so disturbing about this image. Inevitably it brings to mind Buffalo "It puts the lotion in the basket" Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.

There’s something so compelling and yet so disturbing about this image. Inevitably it brings to mind Buffalo “It puts the lotion in the basket” Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing this as someone with no prior exposure to Alan Partridge; I’m guessing I would have enjoyed it even more if I was already a fan, though it’s possible fans could be disappointed by it if the TV and radio shows that preceded it were better. I found this utterly hilarious. I would say it made me laugh as much as or more than any other single movie I watched in 2013 (and bear in mind that I watched 364 others). The script is incredibly witty, and Steve Coogan – clearly a master at portraying this buffoon, having done so many times in the past – adds much to that wit with his delivery and performance. Somehow even just the scenes of Partridge singing along to songs on the radio are comedy gold. Regional commercial radio is a pretty easy target for ridicule and the satire on show here is merciless and spot-on. Sometimes film adaptations of TV shows feel pointless (e.g. Get Smart), drawn out (e.g. The Inbetweeners Movie) or just like a longer episode of the TV show (e.g. The Simpsons Movie); in this case, while I may not be the best judge as I haven’t actually seen any of the series, it feels just right. Parts of the last third do drag just a little, and I could have done with more humour from some of the supporting characters, but those are really my only complaints.

Review: The Lego Movie

Directors: Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Year: 2014
Score: 8.5/10

Lego Movies and Lego Bacon!

Lego Movies and Lego Bacon!

With this hilarious, thoroughly likeable film, writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller prove that their success with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (which I gave 9/10) was no fluke. Remarkably, they’ve now twice managed what the creatives behind most modern animated films strive for but rarely achieve: a film that works just as well for adults as it does for kids.

There are so many cultural references and gags that no child could possibly understand, but they’re interwoven with plenty of jokes for all ages (including constant physical comedy that probably only seems fresh because it’s all done with animated pieces of Lego), so it never feels overindulgent or likely to bore younger viewers. I watched it in a crowded cinema, accompanied by a 6 year old and a 7 year old, and it was great to hear the different reactions around me to the different styles of comedy. I’m not ashamed to admit there were several moments when my young charges turned to look at me, puzzled at what could be making me laugh so hard at a beat that went straight over their heads, but each time they quickly forgot my strangeness when they were themselves bowled over by the next gag.

So many of the voice actors seem to have been selected with me in mind: Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Will Arnett, stars of three of my favourite TV comedies (Parks & Recreation, Community and Arrested Development); Will Ferrell and Elizabeth Banks, both of whom I tend to enjoy; plus small roles for people like Will Forte (as Abraham Lincoln, of course) and Keegan-Michael Key (as Pratt’s boss), who I can’t get enough of. Pratt, it must be said, effectively plays a less cartoonishly stupid version of Andy Dwyer, his Parks & Rec character, but he’s so endearing that I can live with that. He’s certainly not as one-note as other TV comedy stars who have transitioned to movies (I’m looking at you, Michael Cera and Aubrey Plaza).

Some other elements worthy of praise: the animation is lovely and quite ingenious, especially the way water and laser weaponry are handled; the numerous homages to The Matrix, one of my favourite films, are nicely done without being overbearing; the song ‘Everything Is AWESOME!!!’ is pretty damned catchy; and the inclusion of live-action characters in the final stretch is a ballsy move that I think pays off.

I don’t have many criticisms. The biggest is the heavy-handedness of the obligatory ‘message’ section at the end; I could have done with more subtlety on that front, especially as it wasn’t as emotionally impactful as the equivalent section of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (though I suspect that’s an entirely subjective reaction). Another is my slight discomfort with the inescapable fact that this is a 100-minute ad for a brand of children’s toys. Lastly, I got the sense that some of the action sequences were a little lengthy in comparison to their entertainment value, so they may become tedious if the movie ends up on repeat rotation in my household.

These minor quibbles aside, it’s an extremely clever film that I wholeheartedly recommend. Lord and Miller’s style of humour is right up my alley, and based on its level of critical acclaim and commercial success, I’m not the only one. Chances are it will work for you too, dear reader, though it may also leave you with a mysterious and unshakable urge to purchase some generic non-branded interlocking brick toys.

Review: Dallas Buyers Club

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10

Matthew McConaughey in... The Butterfly Effect II: They Can Give You AIDS.

Matthew McConaughey in… The Butterfly Effect II: They Can Give You AIDS.

Remarkable and moving true story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic electrician-cum-cowboy diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 who not only survives past the 30 days his doctors predict he has left, but goes on to start the titular club, supplying non-FDA-approved medication to other AIDS patients in the area. He quickly becomes our unlikely hero as we follow him through his own AIDS journey and into uncharted territory, and in doing so, discover what the AIDS epidemic was like at its peak.

The acting from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto is truly sublime: both physically transform themselves for the movie, and both completely inhabit their respective characters, bringing them to life in wholly believable, sensitive, nuanced ways. It’s wonderful to see the brilliant actor McConaughey has shown himself to be in his last few roles; who would have predicted this 5 or 10 years ago? Lots of other recognisable faces round out a strong cast; the only exception is Jennifer Garner, who seems slightly miscast.

The direction is stark but precise, giving the actors room to conjure up their characters and giving the story due dignity and respect. It’s very serious subject matter, and there are moments of great sadness, but our central character is also so charismatic and appealing (in his own way) that there are doses of levity – at times almost fun – too.

Impressively, despite the inevitable conclusion to some of these characters’ stories (they do have AIDS, after all), and the emotional toll it takes on the audience, the movie manages to be life-affirming and even optimistic. Indeed, at one point Woodroof says, “You enjoy your life, little lady. You only got one”; few movies have conveyed this message more powerfully.

Review: The Way Way Back

Directors: Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10

Toni Collette perpetuates the myth that Candy Land is a valid board gaming option. Get thee to BoardGameGeek, people!

Toni Collette perpetuates the myth that Candy Land is a valid board gaming option. Get thee to BoardGameGeek, people!

Touching coming-of-age comedy-drama with real warmth, great humour, characters that ring true, and top-notch acting all round. In particular, the film’s young star Liam James gives a credible performance that holds the rest together nicely. Steve Carell does well in a considerably less sympathetic role than those he usually plays. It’s always fun to see Alison Janney and Rob Corddry; I could have done with more of each. Great effort from writers/directors Nat Faxon and the great Jim Rash (Dean Pelton from Community), Oscar-winning co-screenwriters of The Descendants, both of whom also appear in the film in hilarious minor roles. The teenage romance subplot is perhaps the only significant misfire.

Review: In My Father’s Den

Director: Brad McGann
Year: 2004
Score: 8.5/10

A sobering message to furniture: when you die, Matthew McFadyen decides whether you end up in heaven or hell.

A sobering message to furniture: when you die, Matthew McFadyen decides whether you end up in heaven or hell.

Thoughtful, sad, moving New Zealand drama starring Matthew McFadyen (who I’ll always love for the first two seasons of Spooks, i.e. the good seasons) and impressive newcomer Emily Barclay. It reminded me a little of Jeff Nichols’ excellent Mud. The story unfolds slowly, allowing us to gradually come to know more and more about these characters and the dark events decades beforehand that led them to this point. The sense of place – of this insular rural town surrounded by natural beauty but harbouring secrets and unwilling to extend trust to the returning prodigal son – is palpable. My only criticism is that toward the end it exhibited some of the traits I so dislike about formulaic television crime procedurals; thankfully, most of the way through it managed to elevate itself beyond that genre. After watching this, I immediately wanted to know what writer/director Brad McGann had gone on to make, but was saddened to learn that he died of bowel cancer in 2007; this was his only feature film.

Review: A Separation

Director: Asghar Farhadi
Year: 2011
Score: 8.5/10

Fascinating story that gives insights into the Iranian bureaucracy/legal system, and into universal experiences of family/relationship/domestic strife, in equal measure. At first it doesn’t seem that engaging, but once you’re about 20 minutes in, it grabs you and doesn’t let go until the very end of the credits.

Review: Apollo 13

Director: Ron Howard
Year: 1995
Score: 8.5/10

Apollo 13

As with all good space movies, there’s a piss joke: we get to see it being sprayed all over space. Notice the words ‘UNITED STATES’, and the US flag, shown prominently on the left; is the subtext something about the US treating the space race as a pissing contest..?

I don’t really know why it took me so long to watch this – it feels like I’ve been deliberately putting it off for years. Now I’ve finally seen it – and wow, it’s great! Solid performances from an excellent cast, taut drama throughout, an incredible story, and a real thrill ride despite knowing in the back of my mind that they’d manage to make it back to Earth in one piece. Considering this was made almost twenty years ago, the special effects are quite amazing – but notably, they don’t dominate, they simply assist in the telling of the story. Miko Hughes, the little kid who plays Tom Hanks’ son, distracted me because in my mind he can only ever be Simon, the autistic kid Bruce Willis protects in Mercury Rising (“Mummy, Simon is home! It’s hot, sip it slowly!”). If anyone else has been avoiding this as I had, please stop! Along with Gravity and Alien, it’s one of my three top space movies of all time.

Review: Sophie’s Choice

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Year: 1982
Score: 8.5/10

Sophie's choice: stretchy guy on the left or stretchy guy on the right?

Sophie’s choice: stretchy guy on the left or stretchy guy on the right?

For some unexplained reason, Don Draper shows up in the middle of this scene.

For some unexplained reason, Don Draper shows up in the middle of this scene.

Long but engrossing drama gives us three meaty characters wonderfully played by Meryl Streep, Peter MacNicol and Kevin Kline. Streep in particular is a powerhouse: she puts on a thick Polish accent through most scenes, and speaks German through others, but remains entirely convincing and impressive throughout, deservedly winning an Oscar for her efforts. In 2013 I saw her in this, Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa and The Iron Lady, and it’s now pretty difficult to think of any better actress. The story is told well, using flashbacks effectively and doling out key information about the characters only when it suits the narrative. The titular choice comes late in the film and – though I knew in advance what it would be – made me feel ill, partly due to its inherently horrific nature, and partly due to Streep’s work in the scene. But what kind of a name is Stingo??

Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Director: Julian Schnabel
Year: 2007
Score: 8.5/10

Deeply moving true story of a man trapped in his own body. Julian Schnabel’s direction and Mathieu Amalric’s performance are superb. The immersive nature of the film (particularly the first 40 minutes or so, during which everything is seen through the protagonist’s eye) is one of its greatest strengths. A wonderful testament to the power of the human mind and imagination, and our potential for resilience and determination, it’s uplifting even as it tears you apart with grief. Some sections are less engaging than others, but overall it’s really a great movie. Highly recommended.

Review: The Master

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Year: 2012
Score: 8.5/10

Very compelling movie about a charismatic leader and the misfit who becomes his protégé (sort of). Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams are all excellent. Like all P.T. Anderson films, there’s a certain confidence to it that grips you throughout. The ending is odd and perhaps not as strong as what came before it, but there’s nothing wrong with leaving the audience with something (or several things) to ponder.

Review: Before Sunrise

Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 1995
Score: 8.5/10

I had seen this before but it had been a long while. It’s a lovely movie, wringing every possible delight from its very simple premise: two strangers meet on a train, make a connection, get off together in Vienna, and spend a whole night walking around the city getting to know one another. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are perfect and their chemistry is the glue that holds it all together. The twists and turns of their conversation are as riveting as any thriller. The scene in which they role-play phone calls with each other’s friends is a highlight. Having now seen the full trilogy, I regard the first as the best of the three (though only by a very small margin; they’re all worth watching); perhaps that’s my inner romantic speaking, since this is the one that feels the most joyously lovey-dovey as Jesse and Celine experience the thrill of budding romance.

Review: The Help

Director: Tate Taylor
Year: 2011
Score: 8.5/10

Seriously, this movie is totally racist. It constantly perpetuates stereotypes about black people and fried chicken.

Seriously, this movie is totally racist. It constantly perpetuates stereotypes about black people and fried chicken.

An undeniably powerful story told in quite a straightforward, almost old-fashioned way. It’s the uniformly excellent performances from the large cast, mostly women, that truly elevate this; in particular, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain (all of whom were nominated for Oscars, with Spencer winning) are outstanding, with Emma Stone, Alison Janney and Bryce Dallas Howard close behind. The young twins who played Mae Mobley also do well, providing – together with Davis – some of the movie’s most moving moments (e.g. the lovely, and ultimately heartbreaking, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” refrain). Period music is used well, though there’s also one new song (by Mary J. Blige) that’s quite jarring and thankfully only appears right at the end. Final thought: given the movie’s subject matter, is it at all ironic or worrying that its protagonist, its writer/director, and the author of the novel upon which it was based, are all white?

Review: Mud

Director: Jeff Nichols
Year: 2012
Score: 8.5/10

Mud

Neckbone’s gloriously casual wave.

Extremely effective drama from Jeff Nichols, gripping, moving and painful all at once. He has total command over this and brings a careful subtlety to every aspect. I saw it as an exploration of the impressionable and trusting nature of a child, and a child’s-eye view of romance – or perhaps the naivety of youth? There’s such a palpable sense of place, crucial to bringing us into the world these characters inhabit. One solid action sequence does precisely what it needs to. The performances of the two young boys at the centre of the film are both excellent; Tye Sheridan, who previously impressed me as the youngest of the three brothers in The Tree of Life, is especially good and will be one to watch in the coming years. Matthew McConaughy gives a surprisingly thoughtful performance as well. I enjoyed the fact that his shirtlessness – a recurring feature of his previous performances which has rightly drawn scorn – is a genuine plot point in this case. Also good to see Deadwood alums Ray McKinnon (who I love) and Sarah Paulson as Sheridan’s parents.

Review: Take Shelter

Director: Jeff Nichols
Year: 2011
Score: 8.5/10

Excellent exploration of mental illness draws much of its power from the performances: Michael Shannon is rivetting and Jessica Chastain strong in support. The scene at the community gathering/dinner was particularly memorable (I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe once throughout the scene), as was the ending of course.