Author Topic: Midnight Special  (Read 6748 times)

Jeff Schroeck

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2016, 10:40:17 AM »
I need, and very much want, to see this again.

alexanderthegreat

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #31 on: April 17, 2016, 06:16:56 PM »
You're right Verbals, ultimately I just couldn't get past some stuff that others could. That's cool. I'm glad people like the movie. And I still look forward to Nichols' next movie. I just had to comment because I can't seem to find anyone else that's had the same problems with the movie as I did.

I stand by the Star Wars comparison. Again, plenty of differences can be pointed out, but in terms of broad plotting and characterization the comparison illustrates weaknesses in Midnight Special. It's just a good example of a narrative that successfully builds the stakes throughout the movie and has characters that constantly facilitate conflict while trying to achieve the same goal. Two things, it seemed to me at least, that Nichols was interested in doing with Midnight Special, but did very poorly. It didn't seem like he was trying to subvert those conventions. I started listening to Filmspotting almost ten years ago now and back in the Matty Ballgame days the importance of stakes was hammered home just about every week. It really made an impression on me, because it's something I come back to again and again when I'm looking at a movie.

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ststevens

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2016, 09:00:24 PM »
I feel Bill Camp deserves a special shout-out for his work here. He has maybe 5 or 6 lines in the whole movie, but he does a fantastic job instilling his character with a sense of menace despite his rather schlubby appearance. I know he's going to be in Loving as well, I'm glad he seems to be joining Nichols' increasingly impressive repertory group.

Junior

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2016, 01:37:36 AM »
Here's the thing about Midnight Special: it's so damn close. Like, it's right there. It just needs to go over the edge and it never really does. I'll explain.

To be clear at the outset, none of my problems come from a lack of information about the mysteries that are present in the film such as they are. I don't really care about mysteries not being solved (I'm a fan of The Leftovers) SO LONG AS there is some solid character stuff to hang my hat on (or something else, I guess, but usually character stuff). The Leftovers will never explain why 1 percent of the population disappears and that's ok because we see the aftermath and the complete shift in the way the world works and the ways that people deal with the happening. But, because Midnight Special is an action movie at heart, Jeff Nichols seems to have just kind of forgotten to have interesting characters at the core of his movie. I think everybody goes above and beyond what they're given as actors here because they're all really great actors and Nichols is an amazing director. But outside of a few grace notes, everybody is also just kinda there. They don't mean anything, they don't even seem human much of the time.

The scene where Michael Shannon says "I like worrying about you" is a perfect example of what I wanted more of. That comes at the end of the film, basically, and finally has a character express something, anything, that isn't "I need to get this kid over here and I'm confident we're gonna do it." Where's the meaningful character interactions? And the worst part is that it all could have come together so well. The other beings at the end are a perfect symbol for parents. Always there, watching over our world and knowing more about it than we do, obviously. So give us more about Shannon and Dunst as parents! The movie is pretty clearly about this and I don't know anything about their relationship with their kid, or with each other, or with the cult, or anything, really. They want to get him to a place at a time. Why? How did they come up with this plan, were there arguments that could be readdressed during the course of the movie which could provide some inner tension to make the chase stuff even more interesting?

I'm only asking about all of this because I know Nichols can do better. Take Shelter is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Mud is right up there, too. I know he can weave dramatic plots with really spectacular and nuanced character stuff, but he seems to sacrifice all of the characters on the altar of the chase, and that's really really unfortunate. Just think about how quickly and interstingly he makes the father and mother in Take Shelter into fully rounded characters. It doesn't take much for him. And yet, it doesn't happen here. Which is a damn shame because I love basically everything else about this movie, including the end. Oh, and I wasn't sure that Shannon was being taken to be executed, though I guess that would also work. He's got things attached to his head, so I thought he was being tested by the government or something, which would line up with his eyes glowing (as the certainly do) in the last shot.
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Sandy

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2016, 08:59:18 AM »
Is that a gleam in his eye? :) Yes, most certainly, but I don't think it has anything to do with man's technology, or experimentations.

I haven't read in this thread yet, and want to do so, as well as delve better into what you just wrote Junior, but just a few thoughts for now...

They haven't been able to parent/interact with their son for two years, so there is a cautiousness about them as they navigate their way back in, as well as try to keep him safe from himself and others. It's tense! Two years is a long time to ponder and to plan. We only get to see the implementation. There are a lot of gaps to fill in, but they're fillable and I don't mind the sparseness of it all. I haven't seen any other Nichols film to compare, though.

Here's a little side note. There was a train "Midnight Special" (not the one referenced in the song) that rode on the Afton (the boys name) railroad. I wonder if there are other "Easter eggs" scattered in the movie. Is this something Nichols would enjoy doing?

verbALs

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2016, 11:06:57 AM »
I think of the McCounauhey character Mud in the film of the same name as Hud, Paul Newman's character in that eponymous movie so maybe Nichols likes some wordplay. Calling the guy Roy like Dreyfuss in Close Encounters is similar word jiggery pokery.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 11:08:32 AM by verbALs »
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Junior

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2016, 11:48:09 AM »
I just watched it again. Most of my complaints were soothed. I'll report later. Still could have used some more tension that came from the characters and not the situation.
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karlwinslow

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #37 on: May 02, 2016, 11:43:03 AM »
Oh, and I wasn't sure that Shannon was being taken to be executed, though I guess that would also work. He's got things attached to his head, so I thought he was being tested by the government or something, which would line up with his eyes glowing (as the certainly do) in the last shot.

I think the execution reading of the film is the more interesting one-- it aligns closer with the Alton as Jesus metaphor. Then Roy is the first disciple who is martyred for the cause.

Bondo

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Re: Midnight Special
« Reply #38 on: May 14, 2016, 04:39:50 PM »
Midnight Special (2015)

Quote
A lot of whoa, not enough ooh.

Seven words is all I really needed to review this film. It is impeccably made: tightly edited, well acted, and looks fantastic. But it all feels like a bit of a hollow exercise. Science fiction has always been a land of metaphor (usually horror is as well, genre is great at metaphor). These fantastic worlds are created with intention to target something about our own world that demands comment. I couldn't even begin to comment about what comment Midnight Special is making about modern society.

B-

ETA: This was basically another Tomorrowland adaptation, right?
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 06:36:23 PM by Bondo »