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Posts Tagged ‘apocalypse’

Zombies and vampires and the end of time, oh my!

April 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Some movie genres don’t connect with me. Zombies, vampires and evil geniuses intent on destroying Earth have never scared me because they aren’t real. End-time and post apocalyptic movies have never done much for me either. Jaws, on the other hand, scared the hell out of me; sharks exist and have been known to munch on people.
Nowadays I’m witnessing an evil entity—an asshole, clever albeit far from genius, but definitely evil—whose unwitting purpose seems to be precisely that, a global catastrophe of war and ecological devastation.
The most stunning aspects of this evil, amoral man are two-fold: a complete lack of ideology and his unique motivation, a narcissism so dominant, so overwhelming, it requires him to succeed, no matter the cost. He will trample everything in his path because he lacks empathy, he will foresee neither danger nor downside because he lacks intellectual curiosity, and he will neither perceive nor admit defeat because he lives within his own, gilded reality.
Contemplating the looming possibility of the apocalypse gives rise to other fears; if the rise to power of such a man is possible, can zombies and vampires be far behind?

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Take Shelter. It made me think. Not a review

March 3, 2012 1 comment

“Take Shelter” is a film that, as of this writing, is rated 92% in the tomatometer—average critic rating of 8/10 based on 145 reviews—and 82% on audience response, based on 10,970 responses averaging 3.9/5 (Rotten tomatoes is a great place to find film ratings http://bit.ly/qAxy0U )

All in all pretty good.

I don’t like reviews that give away parts of the plot but this is a discussion of what the film might mean, so consider this a Spoiler Alert.

Take Shelter is the sort of film that is difficult to recommend, to know whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It keeps you involved and guessing throughout and afterwards makes you think. So I’d vote for it being good. I’d heard a lot about the superb acting, but acting is a subject for a different blog.

Take Shelter made me think, among other things, about Noah. Consider what Noah’s actions made his family, his friends, his neighbors think. Surely someone ordered by God to build an ark had to be mad, and yet, Noah ‘knew’ he had to build it. So, is this a lesson? Does the Bible tell us we should pay attention to seemingly crazy people doing crazy things?

Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) has dreams of impending disaster, all involving storms. Apocalyptic storms, including raining oil. Not a good thing in spite of the energy crisis. The name LaForche itself is peculiar enough to suggest some meaning. Unfortunately I don’t know what. (Maybe LaForche stands for ‘The Force.’ Or more likely ‘The Fork.’ If it means something in French, I didn’t figure it out.)

Curtis’ dreams are so vivid that after a nightmare where his own dog bites him, his arm hurts the rest of the day. That makes it different from a regular nightmare. And the warnings are explicit: don’t trust even those who you hold closest, your dog and your best friend. Even Curtis’ wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain, who seems to appear in every other movie) appears ready to attack him with a knife in one of his dreams. But in this dream Curtis shakes his head, maybe because he can’t believe his wife capable of such a betrayal. Or maybe because, even in his dream, without her there is no point to life. And indeed she sticks by him, in spite of his obvious descent into madness.

Not that Curtis hasn’t considered that he is indeed going mad. After all, he not only is suffering from these awful nightmares, he also experiences hallucinations, mostly involving birds. Curtis visits his mother—not a frequent occurrence—who was diagnosed a schizophrenic in her 30s; Curtis is 35.

He also secretly reads about mental diseases, takes back of the book quizzes, asks his physician for medication and goes for counseling but, at the same time, he believes the dreams. He builds his ark (or shelter) in spite of the consequences, going deep into debt, loss of his best friend, loss of job. He remains undeterred.

Why? In one of his dreams, he loses that which he loves most, his deaf daughter Hanna (Tova Stewart). He sees that as his duty, not to save mankind or the worlds fauna, but to save his family. He says as much to his wife when he can no longer avoid sharing his fears.

But when the dreaded storm finally materializes, it is only a tease, a garden variety something, maybe a tornado that passed near bye. After emerging from the shelter, we see a neighbor picking up small branches and a repairman working on a transformer. But this storm is only a test of faith.

This leads us to the only character that is rock sure absolute: the psychiatrist (Science?). The doctor is firm. He doesn’t sugar coat it. He prescribes medicine Curtis must take immediately, suggests a vacation to break away from his everyday surroundings and insists that after the vacation Curtis will have to receive intensive treatment. He will need to be committed into a facility.

What does it all mean? What is the writer/director (Jeff Nichols did both) trying to tell us?

The world’s asylums are replete with people who hear the voice of God. (Which is where I believe they belong.) A few, of course, escape that fate to become prophets or, more likely, charlatans. So is Take Shelter trying to tell us we should not dismiss people with such strong premonitions? People of such strong and unequivocal faith?

It is a relevant question. Years ago most every government or government wannabe blamed communism or imperialism or colonialism or fascism or capitalism for their troubles. Nowadays religion—lets not confuse God and religion—has retaken a more central position. The Iranian power structure—since Khomeini in the 1979—calls the US the great Satan. And the Iranian theocracy has acted accordingly, and with impunity. Others, such as former senator and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, openly state that Satan has infiltrated US society and that we need to follow God’s rules, not those of man. That is his stated plan if he is elected president

I don’t see much difference between these two views, both based on an unbending and unflinching belief in ‘sacred’ texts. That these texts espouse opposite views or that they are ascribed to the very same God doesn’t trouble either side; nor that these texts were written by men.

And so we get to the end to the film. The coming apocalypse. Did they die? Did we all die as well because we didn’t listen? Did the LaForche family succumb to the storm that had been foretold because Curtis didn’t remain adamant about his visions? Because he failed the one simple test? Curtis gave away his dog, he dismissed his best friend but he stuck to his wife. He confided in her, he trusted her and in the end, she betrayed him: she used the mild storm/test of faith to convince him he needed help, she led him to the psychiatrist, to the beach and to his failure.

How lonely, how solitary the visionaries lot.