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Curtis LaForche lives in a small Ohio town with his wife Samantha and six-year-old daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Curtis makes a modest living as a crew chief for a sand-mining company. Samantha is a stay-at-home mother and part-time seamstress who supplements their income by selling handmade wares at the flea market each weekend. Money is tight, and navigating Hannah's healthcare and special needs...
For more about Take Shelter and the Take Shelter Blu-ray release, see Take Shelter Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Writer: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon (V), Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker, LisaGay Hamilton
» See full cast & crew
Take Shelter Blu-ray Review
A captivating Drama earns a top-quality Blu-ray release from Sony.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 2, 2012
That guy's doing something right.
Take Shelter may strike its viewers as a rather dark take on Field of Dreams, a movie featuring a man plowing under his cornfield -- much to his wife's initial disapproval -- and constructing a baseball field in response to voices telling him to do so. In Take Shelter, voices are replaced by dreams and the baseball field is replaced by a storm shelter, the construction of which and the physical and emotional toll it takes on the character both initially rejected and misunderstood by his wife. The principle, however, remains basically the same. Both are stories about listening to oneself rather than casually going along with the rest of the world, deaf to voices and blind to visions that, known by those who truly listen and look, aren't always random coincidences, hallucinations, or otherwise intrusive negatives, but perhaps a kind of sixth sense, a perception that's truly a gift rather than a curse, in this case a possible prophesy of things to come. Take Shelter isn't so much a troubling movie as it is a cautionary tale that challenges those preconceived notions that people who stray from the norm are in some way either undesirable or unfit to lead their lives as they so choose. It's a tale of preparation and love, though both perhaps outside of accepted thinking and action, and the importance of taking a leap of faith when others would rather stand still. But it's also a story of the need for balance, understanding, and honesty on both sides, for those who blindly walk and those who heed the warnings that may very well be a blessing in disguise alike.
Curtis (Michael Shannon) seems normal enough. He works hard for a drilling outfit alongside his friend Dewart (Shea Whigham), lives in a nice home, is married, and is father to a deaf daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart). Curtis awakens one morning following a particularly disturbing dream of a destructive storm on the horizon. He soon comes to realize that such is not an isolated incident. The dreams recur and become both increasingly bizarre and increasingly real. The storms seem more intense, he wets the bed, he envisions a scenario in which he and his daughter are forcibly taken from his truck in the midst of a hail storm, and he dreams of his dog biting his arm in anger which yields no broken skin but a very real pain throughout his waking day. He largely keeps his dreams from his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain), fearful that revealing the information could lead him down a similar path taken by his committed mother, who was herself diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at about Curtis' age. Yet he believes in what he sees and experiences in his dreams; he takes out a loan his family cannot afford to solidify an old storm shelter out back, an action which could ultimately save his family's life or tear it apart from the inside.
There's a certain M. Night Shyamalan quality to Take Shelter; it captures that same sprit and cadence of his earlier movies, playing with a dire air to it but a rather simple and straightforward visual style, pacing, and score. It's a movie that continues to build, constantly evolves, but remains steady in delivery and message. The picture also remains grounded in plausibility, even as the audience grows more uneasy and unsure whether Curtis is seeing visions of the future or suffering from the same mental disorder that's left his mother in professional care for years. That uncertainty is the film's true allure. In Field of Dreams, it was clear from the beginning that magic and destiny were to play a part in the movie; Take Shelter, on the other hand, leaves its audience uncertain of where it's going or why until its Shyamalan-inspired ending that closes one door and opens another. It's a satisfying experience of the more complex sort; the movie tells a simple story but one that's layered in purpose and meaning, which may change depending on the outlook of its audience. Take Shelter's story inspires thought, whether one views the character's actions as thoughtful or thoughtless. There are plenty of avenues of discussion and contemplation, including ideas of fate, human perception, and choice, the latter in reference to man's decision to stay within accepted norms or break away in favor of some higher calling or state of awareness. In some ways, the movie reflects the Biblical story of Noah's Ark almost all the way through to the end, an end that veers rather far from whatever conclusion the audience may believe to be coming and that will certainly toy with all of the ideas the film engendered to that point.
Take Shelter's technical merits may also take much credit for the film's gripping success. The photography beautifully captures the constantly-evolving landscape both as it is and as it is seen through Curtis' eyes. The Midwestern locale proves both gorgeously serene and ominously dark, and not just as a result of whether storm clouds hang over it or not. The movie's emotional current and steadily-evolving story shape the landscape beyond mere visuals, creating something of an uncertain world where anyone may see anything they so choose, feel anything that they may choose to feel. Michael Shannon's performance as the lead character -- who may be troubled, who may be dead-set certain of what he's doing and why -- is brilliant. He captures the difficult dichotomy of an external pain and an internal conflict with ease, not something easy to do when tasked with playing a man whose emotional world is crumbling around him as he fights to prevent a similar collapse in the physical. He never quite seems certain whether he's sheltering his family or his ideas, building for purpose or for proof of his sanity or insanity, choosing to go ahead with the project out of desperation for an answer -- any answer -- rather than simply give in to what others would call a hereditary downward spiral into the fringes of humanity. Ultimately, Curtis must decide if the storm will destroy him, or his belief in the storm will destroy him. He's a character in a terrible lose-lose situation, one which Michael Shannon captures with an inward determination and outward devastation with remarkable clarity and ease.
Take Shelter Blu-ray, Video Quality
Take Shelter's 1080p transfer is everything one would expect of a Sony new release Blu-ray. The image is stunning from beginning to end, yielding remarkable clarity, exceptionally sharp details, and strong colors. Facial and clothing textures are wonderfully crisp in every scene. Definition is first-rate, and the image captures the finest textures on grasses, leaves, wood, the slightly battered metal of the shelter door and cargo container, and even the pebbles and dirt at Curtis' worksite. Colors are dazzling and perfectly balanced. Whether blue denim jeans, bright green grasses, or general odds and ends around the house or in the yard, the transfer handles everything form the most brilliant shades to the dreariest earth tones with equal precision. Skin tone are perfectly balanced, and black levels are deep and true. Grain retention solidifies a natural film-like appearance. The image is, typical of a Sony release, free of any obvious digital tinkering. Only a handful of white pops, most notably evident during a scene where Curtis visits his mother, keeps this transfer from absolute perfection.
Take Shelter Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Take Shelter storms onto Blu-ray with a powerful and reference-grade DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Audiences will listen in awe as the Blu-ray practically creates a storm in the listening area in the movie's opening moments. Deep, booming, lingering thunder powerfully envelops the soundstage. It's the kind of true-to-life bass that gets under the skin and rattles one to his or her very core, exactly the sort this movie demands to solidify its thematic and visual elements. Similar heavy sensations may be heard at the drilling worksite or via the rumbling machinery Curtis uses to dig up a hole for the new addition to the storm shelter. Moving away from the bass, rain drenches the soundstage at several points, falling with a natural flair through every speaker for a fantastic experience that all but soaks the listening area, whether falling onto the ground or pounding onto a car windshield. Additional ambience is generally subtle but effective; everything from natural atmospherics to a panting dog and a background television at breakfast create believable environments. Music is delivered with great precision and spacing. Dialogue is smooth, playing evenly from the center channel and never lost to surrounding elements. The track is absolutely defined by that thunder and rain, though; it's believably recreated and simulates real life with uncanny precision. This is a truly marvelous soundtrack that's not to be missed.
Take Shelter Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Take Shelter contains a fair array of extras, headlined by an audio commentary track.
Take Shelter Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Take Shelter is a challenging film on several levels. It asks its audience to engage in the story rather than sit idly and watch it pass on by like a storm in the night. It places every viewer in the shoes of its lead character, a man who must battle the outward pressures of conformity and the inward pressures to do what he feels is right, no matter the cost, both monetary and otherwise. The film is wonderfully paced and steadily mysterious; it's never clear where it's going or even why until a gripping final act that will leave audiences on the edges of their seats and a final scene that will challenge all previous perceptions built in the preceding two hours. The movie is solidified by wonderful photography, a great lead performance, and a novelty that's rare in today's cinema that all shape Take Shelter into one of the must-see movies of 2011. Sony's Blu-ray release of Take Shelter features nearly perfect video and audio along with a good assortment of extras. Very highly recommended.
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• Take Shelter Blu-ray (Updated) - December 23, 2011
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has revealed plans to bring Take Shelter to Blu-ray. The sophomore feature from director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories), this psychological drama focuses on a loving husband and father (Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road) unsure ...
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