Jeff Nichols’ “Midnight Special” film

 Are you excited for this film???

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The filmmaker Jeff Nichols is becoming one of the more popular names in independent cinema slowly but surely. Some pundits already claim that he’s one of the new masters of the medium as a matter of fact. Nichols takes his first step towards the mainstream with the science fiction film Midnight Special this week. The Midnight Special is a unique movie that could introduce him to a wider audience. Nichols makes hard to define cinema and this is certainly the case as well.

There are genre trappings but this is as much about the nature of faith and fatherhood as it is a sci-fi tale. Midnight Special is one of the more interesting releases of 2016 so far but it is not perfect. The film is a strange animal but certainly doesn’t lack for ambition. We are we’re introduced to Roy who is in a hotel room with Lucas and young Alton as it begins. Alton is under the covers reading a comic and the other two are watching the television and looking outside, looking out for something or someone.

The TV informs the viewers that Alton has been abducted and a manhunt is on. We learn that Roy is Alton’s father and that Roy took him from a religious cult that had legally adopted him as the three hit the road and look for safe harbor. We also learned that that Alton has a special power that makes him extraordinarily valuable to both the cult as well as the government. One thinks he is a savior and the other thinks he’s a weapon, but none actually understand him fully.

They are pursued by members of the cult led by Calvin Meyer as well as an NSA agent named Paul Sevier as they travel from Texas to Florida aided by Alton’s mother Sarah.

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It all builds towards a conclusion you definitely won’t see coming though prepare to potentially leave with more questions than answers. Nichols writes and directs with the supporting cast including Bill Camp, Scott Haze, David Jensen, Paul Sparks, and more. The Cinematography is by longtime Nichols collaborator Adam Stone while the top notch score is from David Wingo.

The movie isn’t quite on par with Nichols’ last flick Mud, but it is better than the highly regarded Take Shelter though. It also does include nods towards mainstream entertainment especially when the trio and then quartet are on the run.

This is very much a Nichols project though and the acting/directing is what makes it work. The writing is slightly generic at times but the performances and visuals along with the sound design are really on point. Shannon is especially great portraying a dedicated father who doesn’t understand why his son is the way he is but will protect him at all costs.

Midnight Special probably has an uphill battle wards wise since its trappings are basically that of an old fashioned genre flick. The Warner Brothers probably will launch a campaign if it winds up making a few bucks and can get the critics on its side.