The North Door
"...There's a critic bitchslap going on in the blogosphere, and Austinite Jeff Nichols is caught in the crossfire. It kicked off when NY Press film critic Armond White – who's (in)famous for strong opinions, fighting words, and the occasional certifiableness – umbrella'ed Nichols' widely praised but mostly unseen film Shotgun Stories into a larger screed about the state of film criticism today...."
"...Cast: Borys Szyc, Maria Peszek, Maciej Maleńczuk, Sokół, Michał Koterski (International Premiere) KILL LIST (UK) Director: Ben Wheatley, Writers: Ben Wheatley & Amy Jump A dark and twisted horror from the mind of director Ben Wheatley. Cast: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring (World Premiere) Little Deaths (UK) Directors & Writers: Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkinson & Simon Rumley A psychosexual horror anthology comprised of three separate stories dealing with the twin themes of sex and death..."
"...Hayes in Austin-based writer-director Jeff Nichols' acclaimed debut feature, a lean, angular tale of revenge served hot as the summer in Arkansas. Shot in anamorphic 35mm and starring veteran stage actor Michael Shannon (Bug, 8 Mile) in one of his biggest and best film performances to date as the complexly wounded Son Hayes, Shotgun Stories plays out an intimate feud against a broad canvas of lonely back roads and disused cotton fields as two sets of half-brothers – poor and abandoned vs..."
"...Shotgun Stories' is a familiar one: revenge gone awry, Greek tragedy by way of Southern gothic. It opens with buckshot-scarred Son Hayes (Michael Shannon in a depth-defying performance) waking up to find his wife and child have left him – like his literary influence Larry Brown, the subject of a documentary he worked on with college friend David Gordon Green, Nichols the screenwriter "likes trouble on page one" – and soon after receiving word from his estranged mother that his estranged father is dead...."
"...Writer/director Jeff Nichols launches onto the national stage with Midnight Special, his fourth film, which is a studio production. Although it shares much in common with Nichols’ previous three independently made films (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud), Midnight Special finds the Austin-based filmmaker working here in the familiar American genres of chase films and thrillers, and maybe even science fiction..."
"...Mud, from the Austin-based writer/director Jeff Nichols, is many things at once, and all enriched by David Wingo’s double-stop, aching, stringed score: an evocative pictorial of working-class fishermen along the rivers’ banks, their livelihood under siege; a study in the dichotomy of river folk versus townies; a manhunt thriller colored by a tribalist vendetta that calls back to Nichols’ first feature, Shotgun Stories; and a coming-of-age story of a boy in earnest search of his polestar. Running through every iteration of the film’s byways is the idea of what it means to be a man, especially from the perspective of its central would-be man, the young and acutely sensitive Ellis..."
"...Rooted in distinctly American soil, his first indie feature, Shotgun Stories (2007) – which, for many of us, provided our first sustained exposure to the actor Michael Shannon – is by Nichols' own admission aesthetically defined by its vast, open fields. In 2011, apocalyptic thriller Take Shelter glued us to our seats with its images of muck pouring down from the sky and the riveting performances of Shannon and a then-largely-unknown actor named Jessica Chastain that emphasize a deep-seated anxiety about loss..."
"...Take Shelter is a deeply unsettling movie. Writer/director Jeff Nichols (an Austin resident and director of the award-winning 2007 feature Shotgun Stories) doles out information as strategically as a government official..."
"...That could be the mission statement for the new series, which is co-curated by the Blanton's Kurt Heinzelman. Only two of the films showcased have ever played Austin before, and that has everything to do with their local ties: Gretchen, a darkly funny portrait of adolescent angst from former Austinite Steve Collins, premiered at South by Southwest 06, and current Austinite Jeff Nichols' minimalist heartbreaker Shotgun Stories won the Narrative Feature Jury Prize at the 2007 Austin Film Festival and eventually earned rapturous reviews from major papers all over the country ....."
"...The discovery of the lost temple of Pan – yes, it is rather labyrinthian – leads to the construction of a supernaturally infused board game, which, in turn, results in horrible deaths for all involved, which then brings us up to the present and a grizzled, shotgun-toting Pete (Patrick), the caretaker of the large Victorian manse situated on a tiny island off the coast of Maine. The house was previously owned by one of the doomed archaeologists, and when the teens (among them Grindhouse's crazy Babysitter Twins, Electra and Elise Avellán, nieces of Austin producer Elizabeth Avellán) arrive, it's only a matter of time before the power goes out, cell phones are useless, and a vodka-swilling Pete is regaling them and us with candlelit spook stories, something like John Houseman in the prologue to John Carpenter's The Fog and something more like Robert Shaw's boozy recounting of the fate of the U.S.S..."
"...There’s a very specific point where Moll begins to doubt his innocence (more apparent on second viewing), and Buckley conveys this notion wordlessly. Strong performances push the story along; it’s not so much about solving a mystery as it is about inner turmoil and the stories we tell ourselves, be they fairy tales or not...."
"...Shotgun Stories, The Class, In Bruges, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, Reprise MOST OVERRATED..."
"...It's been picked up for theatrical release by Maya Entertainment. Also making waves are Laura Dunn, whose Austin environmental epic, The Unforeseen, is up for the Spirit Awards' Truer Than Fiction Award, and Jeff Nichols, whose Shotgun Stories, the tale of a feud between two sets of half-brothers after the death of their father, received the Narrative Feature Jury Award at the Austin Film Festival...."
"...Sony Pictures Classics announced today that it's purchased the rights to Take Shelter, Nichols' followup to his 2007 debut film Shotgun Stories. Nichols stars his Shotgun lead Michael Shannon (currently appearing in Boardwalk Empire), Jessica Chastain (who costars in Terrence Malick's Tree of Life), Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, and Kathy Baker...."
"...Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols – whose debut feature Shotgun Stories was just terrific stuff – reteams with Michael Shannon for followup feature Take Shelter, which Sundance describes thusly: "A working-class husband and father questions whether his terrifying dreams of an apocalyptic storm signal something real to come or the onset of an inherited mental illness he’s feared his whole life." Another narrative feature has a Texas angle: Amy Wendel's Benavides Born is about "A high school senior in a forgotten town has earned admission to the University of Texas at Austin but can’t afford to go. Her one shot is a scholarship for winning the State Powerlifting Championship." The 2011 Sundance Film Festival runs Jan..."
"...Not coincidentally, Loretta is next in line on Scholastic Press' publication schedule. They're Graves' second publisher, by the way; both Frank and Petboy belong to Chronicle Books, while this fall's forthcoming Uncle Blubbafink's Seriously Ridiculous Stories and 2002's 3 Nasty Gnarlies round out the Scholastic trio..."
"...Arkansas-to-Austin transplant Nichols has become one of the leading lights of Texas film, from his Independent Spirit-winning debut Shotgun Stories to his most recent, historical drama Loving (read our review here and interview with Nichols here). AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell said, “Jeff Nichols has become a globally renowned auteur, making some of the most celebrated new American narrative films, while making Austin his home."..."
"...The festival, in its ninth year, is offering a special focus on Austin film. The retrospective includes a number of films by directors not in attendance: Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Bernie, and Boyhood by Richard Linklater; Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse, Mike Judge's Office Space; Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud by Jeff Nichols; and Andrew Bujalski's Results..."
"...The charismatic Nichols also delved into the nitty gritty of his filmography: Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud, the latter a contender for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival...."