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Michael Shannon Shines in 'Take Shelter'

Michael Shannon Shines in 'Take Shelter'
Remember when September was a dumping ground for mediocre movies that studios needed to clean out before rolling out the Oscar contenders? Well, it's the last week of the month and several terrific films are opening today. Not only that, but we still have some great movies like "Moneyball" and "Warrior" in theaters. Really, "Warrior" deserves to be doing better--if you haven't seen it yet, get out there and check out one of the best films of the year. Then hop on over to one of the other great films opening this weekend--"50/50" would be at the top of my list, but if you want some gory fun, you can't go wrong with "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil." Both films are Back Stage Critic's Picks.

Also opening this weekend, and one I truly hope doesn't get lost in the Oscar shuffle, is "Take Shelter," a beautiful and terrifying parable from writer-director Jeff Nichols featuring a ferocious performance from Michael Shannon. I've been a fan of Shannon's ever since his riveting turn in the play "Bug" as a paranoid Gulf War veteran, a role he reprised for the 2006 film version. He then wowed audiences as a mentally unstable man in "Revolutionary Road," which earned him an Oscar nod. Well, nobody does paranoia and mental instability better than Shannon, who is utterly amazing in "Take Shelter" as Curtis, a husband and father who begins to experience visions and dreams of an oncoming apocalyptic event. He then sets out to build a bomb shelter in his year, much to the confusion of his loving wife, portrayed by the always wonderful Jessica Chastain.

Shannon is one of my favorite actors to talk to; there's something about his appearance (he looks about 7 feet tall and has wide, expressive eyes) mixed with that unique vocal cadence (a little Christopher Walken-ish) that, for some reason, endlessly amuses me. He's also exceptionally intelligent and knows more about the craft of acting than most people could hope to forget. I had the pleasure of moderating a Q&A with Shannon and Shea Whigham, who plays Curtis' best friend, last Saturday night, where a sold-out crowd could not stop praising the actor.


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