Midnight Special (2016) Directed by Jeff Nichols
Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi story impresses Astrid Swan and Nick Triani in different ways. Midnight Special may seem familiar, but actually offers new ideas to a well worn genre.
ILLUSTRATION Karstein Volle
"Watching Midnight Special was a rare treat: both Nick and I on the couch watching the same film and a good old-fashioned cinema narrative at that. The movie was both magical, gritty, heavy and airy. It felt current and had some potent ideas that transcended the 1,5h duration, yet it leaned on a tradition of movie-making that felt familiar, stylish in a 1970s or early 80s way. Also the cast of actors was dependable: Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver delivered in familiarity while Joel Edgerton and Jaeden Lieberher convinced me anew. Of course, the movie is astoundingly white with zero POC characters, which to me is unjustified in this kind of storytelling in 2017. My message to casting in Hollywood is: wake up!"
"What a wonderful face Michael Shannon has. It breaks a lot of the default expectations for a ‘leading man’ type of face. Shannon has rugged looks, a chiseled-in-stone kind of face. Statuesque you could say, not rubbery or loose, but at its harshest, granite. Yet on film it’s so expressive. The eyes intense, the jawline stoic. It’s an honest face, which endears itself and adds much to the characters Shannon plays. I like Shannon a lot. The work has always been solid (and at times exceptional). He’s been around the block too, establishing himself in bit-part roles before being entrusted with meatier parts. Many probably noticed him from his work on Boardwalk Empire, his rather sadistic prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden tore up the screen with a quiet intensity. Intense is rather apt when referring to Shannon, it defines his screen presence. He outshone an impressive cast with his cameo in Revolutionary Road (2008) and added vulnerability to his bow in Take Shelter ( 2011). Midnight Special is the third movie Shannon has made with director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter the second), and again a sense of ambiguity is what he brings to Nichols’ subtle sci-fi."