When I first learned that Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon were set to star in a film involving the Mississippi River with some scenes filmed in the state, I tried to keep tabs on the film and its release date because I thought it might make a good feature.
I first took notice of Arkansas director Jeff Nichols’ work after watching his 2011 film “Take Shelter,” starring Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and Jessica Chastain, released the same year Chastain won an Oscar nomination for her scene-stealing role in “The Help” and blew up.
“Take Shelter” is a movie any Mississippian could probably relate to who has spent their lives terrified of destructive tornadoes, and it asks the question: What would you do if you began hearing frightening noises and dreaming of impending doom?
After a series of nightmares about a terrible storm, Shannon’s character begins to prepare for it by expanding the tornado shelter in his backyard, kind of like Richard Dreyfuss did in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” when he began sculpting images of a mysterious mountain out of mashed potatoes and from piles of dirt that he threw through his kitchen window. In both films, family members begin to suspect the lead character is going insane.
“Take Shelter” also reminded me of “Melancholia,” another 2011 release about impending doom with a lead character whose extra sensory perceptions about the world cause them to fall into a chasm of depression and anxiety. They are both beautiful, sad poems of destruction.
When I learned the director was Jeff Nichols, who had made “Take Shelter,” I was even more excited to see the film, and when I realized he was a Southern boy from Arkansas, I thought there might be a chance I could snag an interview.
That hasn’t happened yet, but I was excited to learn that “Mud” is part of the Crossroads Film Festival lineup. It will be shown Sunday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. on Screen A at the Malco Grandview theater in Madison.
According to the Crossroads Film Festival booklet, it’s about teenage boys, Ellis and Neckbone, who encounter a charismatic outlaw. They form a pact to help him evade bounty hunters and help reunite him with his true love.
Here’s an interview with Nichols in which he talks about his Southern roots and some of the films that have inspired him.
Here’s the trailer for “Mud”
Here’s the trailer for “Take Shelter”