“Take Shelter,” Reviewed

“Take Shelter,” Reviewed (photo)

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Curtis (Michael Shannon), the central figure of Jeff Nichols’ powerful, enigmatic drama “Take Shelter,” is living in the grip of overpowering dread. An Ohio man with a wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), a little girl, Hannah (Tova Stewart), who’s deaf, a construction job and a house on the edge of a field, Curtis is plagued with dreams of apocalypse, of swarming black birds, giant storms rolling in from the skyline, thunder and lightning, a thick rain that brings madness to anyone caught out in it. These visions are so powerful he can’t shake them when awake — after one in which his frenzied dog bites his arm, he can’t bring himself to trust the animal anymore in the light of day, and ends up banishing him to a fenced in area in the backyard.

Curtis has a family history of schizophrenia, but “Take Shelter” leaves it ambiguous as to how much of his disintegration is due to mental illness and how much is just due to a larger unease and instability that seems symptomatic of time in which we all live. Curtis’ life is neither radically comfortable nor precarious, but it’s beset on all sides by possible threats and hazards. There’s Hannah’s condition, which appears to be a relatively recent development, and the possibility on the horizon of her getting a cochlear implant, but there’s also the mortgage, the job, their health insurance, their savings, their bank loan. The obvious fragility of the life Curtis and his family have carved out for themselves seems to be wearing away at him and manifesting in these overblown, frightening hallucinations, which aren’t distinguished in the way that they’re shot from reality except in the tension and anxiety with which they unfold.

Shannon is a maestro when it comes to playing mentally unbalanced characters, and Curtis offers him an embarrassment of riches in his psychological and physical breakdown, floundering under the weight of his growing distress, his desire to hide his troubles from his wife and his helpless fixation on the storm cellar behind their house, which he begins to build out as a kind of survivalist fallout shelter, with food, beds and ventilation. He understands that he looks unwell to everyone around him, but is also utterly convinced of the impending destruction of the world, and given that we’re partial to his visions, to the beautifully, disturbingly realized storms on the horizon, we understand his distress like no one else. “Take Shelter” builds to potent climax that suggests it’s impossible to live normally without letting go of these types of misgivings, but also acknowledges how irresistible they are. These days, who doesn’t feel, and fear, a storm building on the horizon?

“Take Shelter” will be released by Sony Classics later this year.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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