In Take Shelter, Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a man who is having constant apocalyptic visions, and can you blame him? With the world going through one of its most severe cases of economic, cultural and sociological
crises, he would need to be heavily sedated to be optimistic. This is the film's magic, how writer/director Jeff Nichols transports all these feelings of impending doom and crafts with them, not a preposterous ode to negativity but an intelligent psychological portrait about the way in which our subconscious manifests its fears.
The film isn't clever because we wonder whether Curtis' visions are signs of insanity or actual premonitions, but because of the way in which Shannon taps onto the fear of losing one's mind when trying to remain a responsible member of society. The film is almost socialist in the way it so fixates itself on work, as Curtis builds a shelter to protect his family (the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain plays his wife and is nothing short of perfect). Nichols crafts a workman symbolism as we see, construction worker, Curtis dig deep down into the ground to escape from a sky that for the first time seems to be noticing him. He's trying to escape doom by working harder. Now how's that for a pitch perfect snapshot of our times?
Take Shelter ***
Margin Call **
Texas Killing Fields *