Take Shelter

[3.0 stars] Take Shelter (2011) on IMDb

[Amazon Link] A while back, I wondered about the appropriateness of sticking an exclamation point on movie titles. (E.g., Moulin Rouge!; Oklahoma!; Hatari!) Here's a candidate for you: Take Shelter! Aiee! But probably would have been a different movie if they'd gone that way.

Curtis, played by Michael Shannon, is a decent guy in small-town Ohio. He has a loving wife and a cute daughter (unfortunately deaf). A decent job doing some sort of drilling. A dog. A truck.

But he's haunted by dreams, visions, and hallucinations, all of impending doom (illustrated with some minor special effects): a killer storm that will devastate his home and family. Also, his dog turns mean. Curtis becomes obsessed with constructing an expanded storm shelter in his yard, stocking it for long-term survival. This strains everything: his finances, his job, his relationship with his wife and friends.

Worse, Curtis is the same age as his mom was when she came down with paranoid schizophrenia. Could his premonitions simply be a genetic echo kicking his brain around?

The acting is good, and the overall plot is gripping. However, it's way too long, with too many scenes drawn out intolerably. Building up suspense is one thing. But I kept wishing they'd fast-forward in some spots. This is something that could have comfortably fit in a one-hour TV drama anthology series that (drat!) they don't do any more.

My mind also kept going to practical considerations: There's no way Curtis's shelter is watertight, so he's in for real trouble if the Armageddon storm involves flooding. Also, a periscope would have been nice, so he could see when it's safe to emerge.

Last Modified 2012-09-24 4:38 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2012-03-04 Update

[phony baloney]

Rick Santorum remains alive in the phony standings this week, but just barely. As I type, the Intraders put him with a 4.1% shot at winning the GOP nomination, just slightly above our arbitrary 4% threshold.

Mitt Romney is our only candidate with an increased phony hit count this week, but he's still underperforming. President Obama maintains his crushing lead over all comers:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 180,000,000 -4,000,000
"Rick Santorum" phony 21,700,000 -40,700,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 7,690,000 +6,180,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 1,110,000 -20,000

  • Not directly relevant to the campaign, but anyway: Andrew Breitbart, perhaps the least phony man in America, passed away this week. As George Orwell probably didn't say: "In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Breitbart was a revolutionary; it's unsurprising that he was unusually reviled.

  • A little more relevant to the campaign: A Ms. Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown U. law student/activist (but apparently mostly an activist) appeared before Congress to demand that they mandate that her (Jesuit) college provide her with "free" contraceptive services. She was widely derided by many on the libertarian/conservative side, but only one criticism managed to be reported by (for example) NPR: Rush Limbaugh's. Because Rush used the words "prostitute" and "slut". Outrage! President Obama calle Fluke to commiserate. ("He's mean to me too!") Rush apologized.

    How much of that is phony? 100%? Or only 99%? Close call.

  • President Obama visited the Granite State this week and used the p-word:
    With his re-election fate increasingly tied to the price Americans are paying at the gas pump, President Obama asked Congress on Thursday to end $4 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies and vowed to tackle the country's long-term energy issues while shunning "phony election-year promises about lower gas prices."
    Obama, of course, isn't against subsidies; he's all for them if they're going to his chosen companies. And ending subsidies, however meritorious that might be, won't lower gas prices.

    Writing at CEI's "Global Warming" blog, Myron Ebell noted that the Nashua speech demonstrated that Obama's "frantic efforts to deflect blame for rising gasoline prices" were becoming "even more incoherent and contradictory."

    But, Ebell notes, at least he didn't mention algae as a possible savior, as he did a few days back in Miami.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:58 PM EDT