Jeff Nichols Movies

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Jeff Nichols movies are almost synonymous with the American South, and while they’re few in number, Jeff Nichols movies have made an indelible mark on the independent film world over the past half-decade or so.

At just 34 years of age, Jeff Nichols has accomplished a ton. He’s opened films at Sundance, Viennale, and Cannes (twice). He’s been nominated for Indie Spirits and Gotham Awards. He’s made a star out of Michael Shannon and coaxed a career-best performance out of Matthew McConaughey.

Jeff Nichols movies are male-centric. He also deals with violence, but not in the same, over-the-top way Nicholas Winding Refn movies do. Violence for Nichols is more of a reluctant consequence than the driving force of the action in his films. Instead, Jeff Nichols movies are driven by fear or curiosity or some other emotion that can lead men down a dark path. His next film, however, will be science-fiction, which could lead him to some heretofore uncharted waters. Very little is known about the project, but it’s a Jeff Nichols movie, which means it’ll feature great performances, premiere at a big and important film festival, and win the hearts of cinephiles everywhere before a single frame is even seen.

Jeff Nichols Movies

Shotgun Stories

Following the death of their father, two sets of half-brothers war with each other in rural Arkansas.

RATING:
(1 viewing)

Both Jeff Nichols’ first movie and Michael Shannon’s performance are things of quiet beauty. They’re both also quite powerful. Watching a clearly damaged Shannon speak hostilely at his father’s funeral is ugly. Watching him and his family cycle downward into violence is even tougher.

Take Shelter

An ordinary man begins having apocalyptic visions that threaten his and his family’s livelihoods. (Click here for my full Take Shelter review.)

RATING:
(2 viewings)

Michael Shannon gave the best male performance of 2011 in this spectacular drama. No one does “man on the brink of insanity” better than him. Nichols’ direction, it must be noted, is tremendous. The film moves slowly, but it’s punctuated by bursts of effects-driven insanity. And the ending!!!!

Mud

Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive (the title character) in the woods and attempt to help him elude bounty hunters and the authorities.

RATING:
(1 viewing)

I don’t want to tip my hand too much (my Mud review is coming very soon), but a quick look at the star rating above should tell you everything you need to know about my feelings for Mud. A rich, incredibly satisfying film, it’s Jeff Nichols’ masterpiece.

 

More Director Spotlight posts:
Sofia Coppola Movies
Noah Baumbach Movies
Guillermo del Toro Movies
Nicolas Winding Refn Movies
Woody Allen Movies
Christopher Nolan Movies
Jeff Nichols Movies
Lee Daniels Movies

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2 Responses to Jeff Nichols Movies

  1. Brittani August 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I’m glad you wrote about Jeff Nichols! I’ve really come to enjoy his movies. I loved Take Shelter and I saw Mud and Shotgun Stories both for the first time this year. I can’t wait to see what he does next. I liked how you said violence is like a reluctant consequence in his film. That perfectly sums it up.

    Reply
    • John Gilpatrick August 5, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      There’s a feeling in Nichols’ films that you don’t get from a lot of other working directors. As violent or frightening as they become, he never loses sight of his characters and their usually fragile emotional states.

      Reply

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