Given the current recommendation to stay home and practice social distancing, we at the Chicago International Film Festival are looking at past selections from each year of the Festival that you can stream now from home. Stream our past selections as we look forward to the 56th Chicago International Film Festival this October 14-25, 2020. Find the full 56 Films for 56 Years selections here.
In today’s #56Films entry, Michael Shannon shines in Jeff Nichols’ debut feature Shotgun Stories which screened at the 47th Chicago International Film Festival in 2007.
Director: Jeff Nichols
47th Chicago International Film Festival
I overlooked Jeff Nichols’ debut when it was released in 2007 but caught up with it after seeing his follow-up Take Shelter – one of my favorite films of the past decade – in 2011. Starring Michael Shannon, as all of Nichols’ films have, Shotgun Stories is another tale of a man determined to protect his family no matter the consequences, only the threats are real, not imagined. When Shannon’s Son Hayes, along with brothers Boy and Kid, crashes his father’s funeral to offer a brief but brutally honest eulogy excoriating the man for abandoning them and starting another family with a second (preferred) set of sons, he sparks a cycle of revenge that is equal parts Southern gothic and Greek tragedy. “He made like we were never born,” Son says straightforwardly and provocatively, just like Nichols’ filmmaking. – Adam Kempenaar, Filmspotting
That is the Nichols touch: storytelling that’s matter-of-fact and momentous at the same time. Shotgun Stories deals in sins of fathers, feuds of brothers, and all sorts of biblically infused, familial drama—weighty stuff—yet the tale is told with a relaxed air that makes you feel as if you could be hearing it as gossip while sitting on a neighbor’s front porch. Nichols has a sharp eye for framing and an unhurried style that only heightens the sense of dread, while Shannon lends his distinct, mumbled gravitas. The result is a small, regional tale that’s also mythic. – Josh Larsen, Filmspotting