Jeff Nichols’ “Mud”: One of 2013’s Finest Films

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A very quick Sunday update, as the film world awaits the announcement of this year’s Cannes awards …

I finally saw Jeff Nichols’ “Mud” last night, and was riveted. It is the finest work yet from the director of the great “Shotgun Stories” and “Take Shelter,” a superior achievement that will surely rank among the year’s best.

It’s a dense story with a novel-like feel — virtually every character could warrant his or her own lengthy subplot, especially Joe Don Baker’s craggy King — but what Nichols does most effectively is give his actors time to truly build each scene into a slow-burning marvel. It’s a long movie, over two hours, but I can’t think of a wasted scene.

I could see Matthew McConaughey enter Oscar talk, although it is more likely to occur with “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” Either way, he deserves praise. What an amazing stretch of films for him. Just as strong is young Tye Sheridan, the sweet, not-as-tough-as-he-thinks-he-is Ellis. This kid is a star in the making, anchoring every scene in which he appears.

What a wonderful film “Mud” is — one to be savored. Expect to hear much more on this from me. For those in Buffalo, hurry up, and see it while it’s still playing at the Eastern Hills Mall.

Have a lovely Sunday — enjoy “Arrested Development”! Her?

 

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Weekend Preview: “Star Trek” Sold Out? Dive Into “Mud” With McConaugheyyyyyyy

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The big new release of the week is obviously “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” but one other major story, I think, is the continued success of a movie that has been showing in Buffalo now for several weeks, and has become something of an indie hit: “Mud.”

In fact, “Mud” — which I have not had a chance to see yet — is now showing at the Dipson Amherst and the Regal Quaker Crossing (it opened there last week) after an initial run at the Dipson Eastern Hills (where it is still showing). Directed by Jeff Nichols, who blew me away at TIFF 2011 with “Take Shelter,” “Mud” has drawn raves ever since showing at Cannes last year. I was surprised the fugitive drama did not make its way to TIFF 2012, and wondered if perhaps its exclusion would lead to poor buzz. Happily, that was not the case.

The film, which stars the on-fire Matthew McConaughey (I call him McConaugheyyyyyy), and co-stars the suddenly fiery Reese Witherspoon, has made almost $10 million, and for a small release, that’s a jackpot. It demonstrates once again that there can be room for smaller films to squeak into the top 10, even during the blockbuster-crazed early summer.

Congrats to Jeff Nichols, who just sold a script to Warner Bros. Oh, my friend Michael Shannon (Zod!) is in “Mud,” and will be in the next Nichols project.

A quick box office preview: “Star Trek” will be huge, of course; if it does not hit $100 million for the weekend, it should be close. It will be interesting to see how “Gatsby” fares. I think it will hold up strong as a nice bit of counter-programming.

Poster courtesy of Roadside Attractions