37 year-old director Jeff Nichols has a new film out – no points for guessing Michael Shannon is in it. It’s called Midnight Special (presumably named for the Credence Clearwater Revival song… we presume), and it looks to be his biggest, most genre-inflected work yet. ]
With only four movies under his belt Nichols has a hit-to-hit ratio that rivals Terrence Malick or Stanley Kubrick but on a much smaller scale. In honor of his remarkable batting average, we look at those films and wait with baited breath for Midnight Special.
Shotgun Stories (2007)
A near perfect examination of the almost Biblical bond between father and son and the anger left behind when one absents themselves.
It’s an assured debut from Nichols that also nicely shows that his ambition lies in story that are about human beings even if they go off into incredible directions or places that people might not entirely believe.
Take Shelter (2011)
Plagued by dark visions of an impending catastrophe, the terrified Michael Shannon insists on his family, including Jessica Chastain, becoming prepared for it.
They think he’s nuts – he might be – but Nichols isn’t content with this build up of is he/isn’t he, instead Nichols crafting a story taut as guitar wire and ratcheting up the tension till breaking point; only then does he pluck that string for the perfect denouement.
Another entry into the so called McConaissance sees the former romcom leaner with a Southern Drawl play a feral man waiting for a lost love – only to be discovered by a young boy.
This mythical coming-of-age drama comes across as an overly worthy awards film, but in reality is a wonderfully pitched Southern Gothic with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shephard, Michael Shannon, and Sarah Paulson. While it wasn’t the runaway hit that it could have been, this is definitely a fine feather in the cap of Mr. McConaughey and for that it deserves to be seen time and time again.
Midnight Special (2016)
The latest film from Mr Nichols is this ode to Steven Spielberg and other ’80s science -iction films, this one has the likes of Shannon (see the pattern?), Joel Edgerton, Sam Shephard, Kirsten Dunst, and Kylo Ren himself, Adam Driver in a tale of a young boy who might just be a visitor from another world.
Midnight Special looks to be playing right the way down – and rightly so from a man who made a Roland Emerich film but on a tiny scale and made Shannon, Hollywood’s strangest leading man.