TAKE SHELTER features Curtis (Michael Shannon), a man haunted by apocalyptic images, some real, others only in his troubled mind. A loving husband to Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and doting father to Hannah (Tova Stewart), their deaf daughter, Curtis fears that, sooner or later, he will have the same mental breakdown suffered by his schizophrenic mother (Kathy Baker).
Convinced he and his nearest and dearest are about to be consumed by a disaster whose nature is as yet unknown, Curtis prepares for the worst by digging an underground shelter that will protect them from the impending cataclysmic event, even as his actions imperil their finances. Arguably pursuing a metaphor for the uncertainty and insecurity that have affected the US national psyche, Jeff Nichols, the writer-director, stresses foreboding with scenes of violent storms and other vivid nightmarish visions being made truly ominous by Adam Stone's evocative photography.
Shannon conveys Curtis's deep-seated paranoia without histrionics, his obsessive behaviour emerging as an instinctive protective reaction to danger, and Chastain, the most impressive leading lady (Tree of Life, The Help) of recent times, gives another moving performance in a film that offers no easy answers but asks provocative questions.
ANGUS Buchan, a lay preacher, is seen early in ORDINARY PEOPLE preaching to one of his wheat fields; unfortunately, this is not the only corn-filled sequence in an irreproachably well-intentioned film about finding salvation. Claimed to be based on real events, FC Hamman's faith-based movie is not entirely reassuring because some of those led back into the Christian fold hardly benefit from being born again. Even the evangelist himself had a heart attack but, thanks to divine intervention, he survived, his recovery later serving as an example of religion's healing powers.
Buchan's annual conferences attracted hundreds of thousands of discontented, unfulfilled and disillusioned men searching for meaning and purpose in their lives; the film concentrates on a few of them and the events leading up to their attendance at the yearly gathering. One is Lucky (Lucky Koza), a petty criminal whose hijacking attempt results in his own abduction by two attendees and, eventually, his seeing the light after hearing Buchan's inspirational yet down-to-earth sermons.
The young, dissolute Andre (Jaco Muller) is also a recent convert, as is Anton (John Peters), whose financial worries are seen to be ended although it is difficult to say that he is rewarded for his rededication.
Ordinary People is filled with motor accidents and Hamman's overuse of this device - literally, a deus ex machine - detracts from the intended message which, to his credit, is otherwise treated discreetly if not completely convincingly despite having its heart in the right place.
AMERICAN PIE: REUNION has the same adolescents who made their debut in the 1999 original but they are not necessarily any wiser or more mature than they were in high school. The humour is as crude as ever and is true to the unbecoming tone that has become the hallmark of the series as the sex-preoccupied quintet adjust to their changed circumstances and, in one instance, new responsibilities.
Jim (Jason Biggs) is married to Michelle (Alyson Hanniga n) and is even more frustrated than he was as a randy teenager; Stifler (Seann William Scott) is as obnoxious as he has always been; Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) passes himself off as a man of the world, while Oz (Chris Klein) is a minor celebrity anxious to remain one of the lads, and the steady Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is settled, more or less. Women are merely objects of desire and the only grown-up is Jim's father (Eugene Levy), now a widower who can still embarrass his son in his own well-meaning way.
Two of the actors are co-producers and they have ensured the ethos, unappealing as it might be, is maintained as offensively as it ever was in this raunchy comedy.
ADMIRERS of James Cameron's technically proficient TITANIC will probably be disappointed by the 3D version currently available. The process adds very little worthwhile to the impact of a film that relied as much on its emotional appeal as it did on realistic effects.