Take Shelter: The Storm is Threatening

by Ethan Alter September 30, 2011 4:23 pm
<i>Take Shelter</i>: The Storm is Threatening

Writer/director Jeff Nichols' first feature, Shotgun Stories, ranks as one of the finest filmmaking debuts of the past decade. Now, following an acclaimed run on the festival circuit, his second effort Take Shelter blows into theaters and instantly jumps to the top of the list of 2011's very best films. A family drama, a psychological horror story and a rich character study all rolled into one, Take Shelter is a beautifully assured work of art that doubles as an up-to-the-minute portrait of the country's mood. When future generations study this specific period in American history, this film will function as an evocative look at the Way We Lived Then.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 14, 2012

by Ethan Alter February 14, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Come in, we said, we'll give you shelter from the storm.

The Top Ten Movies of 2011

by Ethan Alter December 28, 2011 5:50 pm
The Top Ten Movies of 2011

For me at least, the year in film started with a bang in the form of Gregg Araki's crazysexycool apocalyptic collegiate comedy Kaboom and ended with the whimper that was Stephen Daldry's flat, feeble 9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. In between those two bookends, 2011 proved a pretty great year for movies, particularly if you thought outside the Hollywood box. After lumbering through a mostly fallow winter, spring and summer, the big movie studios rebounded with a strong fall slate of releases that included the bold new works from veteran filmmakers (Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh among them), star vehicles that actually emphasized brains over brawn (Moneyball, The Descendants) and even a few above-average franchise entries (Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, Paranormal Activity 3). And when Hollywood faltered, the independent and international film industries picked up the slack. If you lived nearby an art house or had access to a video-on-demand service, every month brought a steady stream of terrific titles that ran the gamut of genres, from ultraviolent samurai tales (Takeshi Miike's 13 Assassins) to moody Westerns (Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff) to stories of young love in bloom (Andrew Haigh's Weekend). Some years, I struggle to decide which films absolutely deserve a place on my Top Ten list. This year, I struggled to decide which ones I could leave off without too much regret. (That explains, by the way, why my list of Honorable Mentions includes another twenty-odd movies I couldn't bear not to single out.) So without further ado, in one of the best years for movies in some time, here are the best of the best.

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