Robert Longstreet

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Take Shelter Review


Excellent
Shannon reteams with Shotgun Stories writer-director Nichols for another exploration of one man's wobbling mental state. But this time the story is much more introspective, and watching it is thoroughly unnerving.

Curtis (Shannon) lives in small-town America with his wife Samantha (Chastain) and their young daughter Hannah (Stewart). He has a good job in a quarry, which provides insurance so Hannah can get an operation to restore her hearing. But Curtis begins to suspect that his mind is slipping, rather like his schizophrenic mother (Baker). As his nightmares become increasingly horrific and vivid, he starts to become paranoid about a coming storm. And no one understands why he insists on building an underground shelter next to the house.

Continue reading: Take Shelter Review

Great World of Sound Review


Good
The two twits at the center of Craig Zobel's Great World of Sound don't buy into the thievery of the music industry, but they are more than happy to be the tiny sprockets that help the machine rumble. One of them is a white weenie named Martin (Pat Healy) who has never had ambition outside of what his girlfriends do. His partner is Clarence (Kene Holliday), a big huff of a man who walks into a room and sells himself as if he were 50 bucks a pound on the open market. They report to a second-rate confidence man (John Baker) who sends them on the road to sign salt-of-the-earth musicians in the southern states.

The musicians enter a small hotel room and play for Martin and Clarence and then, after being told how they are endangering culture by keeping their talents hidden away, are asked to fork over thirty percent of the recording cost or whatever they can spare really. Clarence has a knack for selling the American dream: the idea of a huge payoff from doing very little. Martin has the sincerity of a true music fan, pouring his heart out when he actually believes in an artist. As a team, they are lethally charming and rarely lose the talent's confidence.

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Undertow Review


Weak

If I were to choose the single greatest American directorial debut of the last ten years, David Gordon Green's "George Washington" would be very near the top of the list. This extraordinarily lyrical film unfolded its odd, wonderful moments with a near complete disregard for plot mechanics. Green's second film, "All the Real Girls," included many of the same disconnected moments, but they were now spattered into a story about a womanizer who falls in love for the first time.

His third film, "Undertow," continues in the same vein as his latter effort. It still has the good stuff, but now it's steeped in a rudimentary, even ludicrous, plot. It plays like nothing more than an exceedingly well-written "Friday the 13th" sequel.

"Undertow" tells the story of a Southern family: a soft-spoken father, John (Dermot Mulroney), a troublesome older boy, Chris (Jamie Bell), and a sickly younger boy, Tim (Devon Alan); their mother has long ago passed on. When John's brother Deel (Josh Lucas) turns up on their doorstep, fresh from prison, John invites him to stay. It turns out that the menacing Deel is really after a case of gold coins that their father once collected. He stops at nothing to get them, not even killing his own brother and stalking the two boys across hill and dale.

Continue reading: Undertow Review

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