Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Finishing Shotgun Stories

Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter ended up being my third favorite movie of 2011, and I saw it just a couple days before my ranking deadline in late January of 2012.

About two weeks later, I was watching his debut feature, Shotgun Stories.

A couple days after that, I returned the disc to Netflix having watched only 15 minutes.

This happens sometimes. Not often. In fact, extremely rarely. But sometimes.

The quality of Shotgun Stories had nothing to do with my decision not to finish watching it. In fact, up until a few minutes ago, I couldn't remember why I made the extremely unusual decision to return it unwatched.

Then I checked my handy dandy Netflix shipping history and discovered that the movie whose shipping was enabled by the return of Nichols' film was Bright Star, the first movie in the Lady's Choice Movie Night series my wife and I tried to make happen starting in February of '12. Not only was it her first selection, and I wanted to do everything possible to encourage her interest in this new movie series (which involved us alternating picks of movies to watch every second Tuesday), but her first selection was going to coincide with Valentine's Day.

So Shotgun Stories lost out to the other film I had at home on disc, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai, and a movie night was born. A movie night that lived a healthy life of about three months.

Given how much I loved Take Shelter, it felt like an especially gaping hole in my filmography. Yesterday, I finally filled that hole.

Apparently, having returned the disc already, I didn't feel like I could rent another disc, possibly out of some superstitious fear of the same thing happening again, a superstitious fear I'm only just acknowledging now. More likely, I just didn't get around to it.

But a few weeks ago I noticed that Shotgun Stories was available for streaming from Netflix, and yesterday I took it down at a coffee shop, after an early release from work but before I needed to pick up my son from daycare. Ninety minute movies are good like that.

I don't hand out 4.5-star ratings lightly, but Shotgun Stories makes my second Nichols film to earn that rating. The story of a blood feud between sets of half brothers who have the same no-good (recently deceased) father but different mothers, it's a damn fine redneck drama of mounting vengeance and mounting consequences. It also reminds me of the Michael Shannon I wish I'd seen in Man of Steel

Now, I can't wait to see Nichols' latest film, this year's Mud. It's got an August 6th release date on BluRay/DVD, and I'll make sure I've cleared out my schedule to be able to watch it in full.


Don Handsome said...

me too, me too.
Nichols' films ALL have 4.5 star ratings from me.

He's amazing.

Can't wait for you to see Mud.

Vancetastic said...

Glad to hear that you've come around on your original lukewarmth about Taking Shelter. Ouch, did I just call you out for being lukewarm about Take Shelter?

Looking forward to Mud.

Nick Prigge said...

I just rewatched Shotgun Stories this weekend. I'd been meaning to ever since I saw Mud in April (which I think is my favorite film of the year so far, not to add to your expectations).

I really like it but it still feels a little to me like he's smoothing out his voice, if that makes sense. Like if I'd seen it BEFORE Take Shelter I would have thought, Now here's a guy that could make something like Take Shelter. And Mud.