Complete Unknown. It seems so unfair that a perfectly-fine-but-not-great movie like this gets saddled with a terrible name. Weisz and Shannon are top-notch.
99 Homes. A tale of greed and selfishness. I think the lead’s motivation is borderline too irrational to hold up, but you never know. Wasn’t expecting so much from Andrew Garfield, but he’s legit. Shannon is the king.
Mud. Best summarized in this review I stumbled upon where I lifted the still above: “Mud reminds us that the most special effect is compelling characters caught in a vexing situation.” Check and check. I loved this movie. Jeff Nichols is on a roll right now, after directing Shotgun Stories, and then Take Shelter, and then this. I’m excited for whatever is next.
Man of Steel. The best part of this movie was seeing Michael Shannon in Kansas, which reminded me I need to watch Take Shelter again. Otherwise, very disappointing and a waste of a good cast. Snyder bit off more themes than he could chew, even with 2.5 hours to work with. All dull rush and no impact. Then it devolves into heartless, comprehensive destruction. This is not a Superman that speaks to me. Oh, well. I’ll always have the teaser.
Take Shelter. This one isn’t great as a thriller, because you go in thinking the guy’s gonna be a lunatic and you don’t buy for a second that it’s not just all in his head. BUT, and this is huge, it’s really, really good just as a movie about mental illness. I don’t think I’ve seen many movies this convincingly sympathetic. Often when I see extreme psychological issues on screen (recently: Antichrist, Repulsion, Black Swan) it feels like an excuse for spectacle, it’s motive, it’s entertainment. Michael Shannon’s paranoia just breaks him, and you see the overwhelming shame and terror he feels about his own condition and how it threatens his family. In that, this is very successful. It’s like Martha Marcy May Marlene in that way. Jessica Chastain is my favorite actress that I didn’t know existed until last month. I also liked director Jeff Nichols’ movie Shotgun Stories.
Shotgun Stories. Two sets of half-brothers feud after their father dies. Similar themes of family, justice, resentment, forgiveness, etc. that you see in the v. good Winter’s Bone, which is also set in the same region. None of what happens will surprise you that much, but the way it’s handled is excellent. Great movie. Ebert agrees.