Chastain Day: Take Shelter & Interstellar

By chance circumstance pulled a Jessica Chastain Double Feature, so let’s do two in one!

Take Shelter

What a beautiful movie. Do you know what movies can be really wonderful at, and this one is? Sensitively drawn character/relationship studies, and storms.

I like the way open space is used here. The camera gently tumbles you out into surprisingly vast stretches under clear or troubled skies — almost equally overwhelming, each. It’s astonishing that things can still come up on you so suddenly in a landscape that open, but that’s kinda the trick of those places. There is something uncanny about storms, the roll of them, the rain sweeping like sheets across the sky, mythic in scale.

Take Shelter deals in lightning and so it needed to be grounded, and it is. It’s one of the most well-realized portrayals of mental health struggles I’ve ever seen. This movie cares deeply about its characters, and allows them space (there’s that space again!) to breathe and try and live.

I found Take Shelter in the Suspense section of my local video rental store, and yes I did watch most of one scene through my fingers because I was very nervous. But this isn’t a thriller, with the eager thriller pace. It’s a meditation about anxieties, and true to the “meditation” part, no one’s trying to build up your own anxiety with staccato violins or anything like that. It’s about trying to manage brewing fear, and how, and where, we can find shelter.

And the ending lifted goosebumps all up and down my arms like I was facing a coming wind, the first raindrops hitting my skin.


And then a much less good movie, which I also deeply enjoyed in a very different way!

After this one came out a few years ago, what I remember taking up the bulk of the chatter was people arguing about whether or not the science was sound. What I do not remember is people arguing about what they should have been arguing about, which is how our most self-serious blockbuster filmmaker managed to turn out another truly spectacular comedy. The most mind-bending thing about Interstellar has nothing to do with relativity or worm holes, but that it was apparently not intended to be hilarious, and is in fact: VERY HILARIOUS.

Listen there’s not enough time to go over all the details in this that made me break into peals of happy laughter, because this movie tells a story about time and used up almost all of it in the process (it is so long!! eventually I was laughing simply at how long it is!!), but just know that if you also find Inception to be a true hoot, this too is more exposition than action and peopled entirely with caricatures of human beings running around being heroic and crying amazingly.

Oh Chris Nolan, no one makes ridiculous, dumb cerebral shit half as entertaining to me as yours.

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