Posts Tagged ‘Sam Shepard’


Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 2.19.18 PMRichard and CP24 anchor host Nneka Elliot have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the 1980s throwback “Everybody Wants Some!!” and the Michael Shannon sci fi thriller “Midnight Special.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.38.40 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the 1980s throwback “Everybody Wants Some!!” and the Michael Shannon sci fi thriller “Midnight Special.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!





Metro: Jeff Nichols on The Faith and Fear of Being a Parent

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 1.03.12 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

In the films Take Shelter and Mud director Jeff Nichols explored themes of social anxiety caused by fear of the unknown. When I suggest that his new movie, Midnight Special, a sci fi road film about a father and a son with special powers, continues that examination he agrees, but only to a point.

“I certainly think you could make that statement and it would be fair,” he says, “but it doesn’t exactly line up with what I was thinking.

“I was thinking about what it is to be a parent. I think being a parent is to have faith in the unknown. You don’t know what your children are going to grow up to be. You don’t know what’s going to happen to them. You don’t know if they are going to make it all the way. You have to have faith in who they can be, who they are developing into. Who they are currently. I think that is what parenthood is and I think that is why there is so much fear and anxiety that comes from being a parent.”

Nichols says he originally came up with the idea for a “sci fi government chase film,” but adds, “That could be really silly so I think it is up to me as a filmmaker to apply these kind of personal feelings I have and my relationships to the locations and to the world at large to try and ground this film and give it some kind of actual purpose.”

To complete the picture Nichols cast Michael Shannon as the father. A frequent collaborator, Shannon has starred in all Nichols’s films, including the upcoming Loving.

“I think he makes me a better writer, especially in a film like Midnight Special where I’m trying to reduce the need for backstory to be delivered through monologues. When you have a person like Mike he fills all the spaces between the lines with all that subtext. He carries it on his face, in his continence. He is the complete story and he doesn’t even have to say a word.”

Midnight Special is the extraordinary kind of sci fi movie that teases out the information bit by bit. We learn enough to stay involved and are treated to several spectacular and exciting scenes along the way, but when it comes time to put a period on the story, Nichols instead uses an ellipsis in a metaphysical ending that will mean different things to different people. It owes a nod to his old hero Stephen Spielberg but feels distinctly like a Jeff Nichols film.

“If you look at ET and the bicycle flying and all these other moments that are classic moments in Spielberg films, they are wonderful. I don’t do that. For better and for worse I don’t do that. Maybe it’s because I live in the modern age and am a bit more of a pessimist. I don’t consider myself a cynic. I like films that ultimately are hopeful but there is a different kind of conclusions in my films than his films. I think my films point toward hope but don’t fully embrace it. I think that is the difference. It could also be the difference between a blockbuster and whatever this is going to be, but that is who I am as a person.”

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL: 4 STARS. “’Buy the ticket, take the ride’ kind of movie.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 1.06.18 PM“Y’all have no idea what you’re dealing with, do you?” asks cult leader Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepard) of his FBI interrogators in “Midnight Special.” They don’t, and for much of the running time of the film, you won’t either. Director Jeff Nichols has made a wilfully obtuse, but fascinating, sci fi drama that will keep you guessing, even after the credits have rolled.

The movie begins as an apparent missing child story. We’ve seen the scene before. A dowdy motel room, armed kidnappers, a child hidden under a sheet. What’s unexpected is how agreeable the eight-year-old Alton Meyers (Jaeden Lieberher) is. He hugs Roy (Michael Shannon) and sits quietly in the backseat as Lucas (Joel Edgerton) drives.

Seems Roy is the boy’s biological father and the men have kidnapped the boy from The Ranch, a cult compound run by Brother Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepard). The goal is to allow the boy to fulfill his destiny, but what exactly is that?

Is he a prophet? A saviour? Or a weapon, as the FBI and NSA officer Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) believe?

The boy has powers. Visible spectrums of light come from his eyes. In other words, the kid has gifts and rays shoot from his eyeballs. While on The Ranch would also speak in tongues. To the cult his is ravings have become scripture, to the FBI they appear to contain highly guarded secrets of national security. The date Friday March 6 looms heavy in the text, and with the date fast approaching the FBI want to know what might happen on the day.

“What do you think will happen on March 6?” they ask one cult member.

“If Alton is with us we will be saved,” she replies.

As the FBI amp up their chase for the boy, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst), Roy’s ex and Alton’s mother, joins in to help her son complete his journey. “The date and place is everything,” says Roy. “It’s all we have.”

“Midnight Special” is a special kind of sci fi film. The story is more about fear of the unknown and belief than flying saucers or little green men. Mulder and Scully would love it. Director Nichols has belief, belief that his audience will stay with a movie that doesn’t make it easy for them, that doesn’t stick to Robert McKee’s golden rules of script writing. Instead it teases out the information but only to a point. We learn enough to stay involved and are treated to several spectacular and exciting scenes along the way, but when it comes time to put a period on the story, Nichols instead uses a an ellipsis in a metaphysical ending that will mean different things to different people.

This is a, “Buy the ticket, take the ride,” movie. Is it satisfying? Yes, if you don’t expect answers to all the questions the film raises. It’s more “2001: A Space Odyssey” than “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” although this movie does share Klaatu’s cool eye lasers. Both are good, interesting pictures, but one is unconventional and brave enough to ask more than it answers.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY: 3 ½ STARS. “powerhouse work from Streep and Roberts.”

osage-resize_wide-bd382d7396888cc783451ac4a395ac5f758afff4-s6-c30And you thought your family get-togethers were weird.

Take the worst family dinner party ever, times it by infinity and you can begin to imagine the discomfort and distress at the Weston clan table. “August: Osage County,” the all star remounting of Tracey Letts’s hit Broadway play never met a disparaging remark it couldn’t place in the mouth of one of its mean-spirited diners.

The film reunites the Weston sisters, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Karen (Juliette Lewis) and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) along with soon-to-be ex-husbands, grumpy granddaughters and secret lovers, with their pill-popping mommy dearest Violet (Meryl Streep). They come together when Dad (Sam Shepard) goes missing, but his disappearance is simply a backdrop to bring this desperate group of people together and allow them to wallow in their dysfunction.

“August: Osage County” is ram-packed with unlikeable characters played by likeable actors. There’s more baggage on display here than at any airport carousel and while it is occasionally difficult to buy in to the level of petty behavior displayed by Violet and her prey, the vindictive dialogue often does sound delicious rolling off the tongues of these actors.

A case in point is the dinner scene. It features the best example of ensemble acting on screen this year, giving everyone around the crowded table a chance to show what they can do. Chris Cooper’s rambling, extended saying-of-grace is worth the price of admission, but the powerhouse back-and-forth between Streep and Roberts is the main attraction.

Roberts hasn’t had a juicy role like this in years. Her Barbara is a bit of an enigma. She’s a jumble of mixed, complicated emotions, capable of both great kindness and compassion but seems only to express herself through tough love. When she explodes she’s letting loose a lifetime of rage stemming from her mother’s mistreatment.

When they go head-to-head it is the clash of the titans and an unforgettable scene.

Streep is shrill, and purposefully so, but it is far from a one note performances. For instance a porch swing monologue shows her mastery of the form. What could have been an interminable acting class monologue is transformed into an epic bit of storytelling with more range and character development in the five minutes it takes to play out than most movies contain in their entire running time.

“August: Osage County” sometimes feels like you’re watching “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” with all the tender parts removed. Unhappy people abound and so do inappropriate situations to the point where it becomes hard to imagine that this much dysfunction could be squeezed into one story, but director John Wells holds steady, creating a setting where this kind of behavior can thrive.

Only a misplaced smile in the film’s closing minute feels out of place. It’s an attempt at a Tinsel Town feel good moment in a film that has been uncompromising it its world view up until a final, unnecessary Hollywood touch.