Monday, May 16, 2011

Director Jeff Nichols talks 'Take Shelter'

I posted a clip earlier and noted that it was oddly edited. For instance, at 21 seconds the guy, Michael Shannon, is just left of center. There is a cutaway (about 3 seconds) then at :26 we cut back to the same POV and he's just right of center. Also, the cart behind him keeps changing -- sometimes it's perpendicular, sometimes not. The pile of wood scraps changes, too.

Well, that's plain ole wrong -- film school bad continuity -- and that's what I responded to in my comment.

After watching a couple times and thinking about it I thought it was a little too dumb to be an accident. I realized the editing/set details may have been done that way on purpose (especially considering how the clip ends) to create a subtle disorienting quality. Put us in the character's head space without being obvious about it. It works. The viewer is off balance even if he/she isn't aware what's going on with the cuts. Nice.

Here's a video introduction by Nichols. Done for Sundance, it offers insight into the process and keeping the movie true to his vision.

Confirms what I suspected about the character's state of mind.

Here's a review by Mali Elfman of

...which sounds exactly like what I expected to hear about this flick. A twisty psych yarn with a solid indie style that will appeal to people looking for a thinking person's thriller. Something film buffs can talk about, argue about, have fun analyzing. People who are looking for a cheesy snack should avoid.

Mali is right about Shannon. The guy was intense in 'Bug'. You never knew precisely where he was coming from. Was he crazy, obsessive, or the only guy who in the room who really knew what was going on? He always looks like he's either a kook who's wallowing in mental illness or a regular joe desperate to come to terms with weird goings on. Exactly what's called for in 'Take Shelter'.

Seems like Nichols has his game together and got a bit lucky with the level of VFX he was able to utilize without having to tailor the script to the general public. Rare thing. I think he can be trusted. Looking forward to his movie.

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