(L-R) Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, and Jeff Nichols.

(L-R) Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, and Jeff Nichols.

It is not surprising that Jeff Nichols struck a chord with theatergoers March 18, when “Midnight Special” opened in limited release. The Film Strip received a lot of responses from readers upset that they could not find the film.

Following impressive critical and audience response, the sci-fi thriller will launch the second wave of its North American release on Friday, April 1st. It will continue its theatrical roll out with additional screens and markets on April 8th, April 15th and April 22nd.

Nichols is fast becoming one of the most talked about and revered directors of our times. His fourth movie, “Midnight Special,” raises some of the same concerns his film “Take Shelter” does. Discussing “Take Shelter” at the Regency Hotel in New York City back in 2011, Nichols revealed then how much easier it is for people to mislabel things they don’t understand.

Because of Michael Shannon’s premonitions in “Take Shelter,” he was labeled crazy. In “Midnight Special,” Shannon goes on the lam because a religious sect thinks his son might be the Messiah. To make matters worse, the Federal Government has other ideas about the boy’s special powers.

(L-R) Adam Driver and Jaeden Lieberher.

(L-R) Adam Driver and Jaeden Lieberher.

There are memorable car chases and special effects in “Midnight Special,” so The Film Strip asked Nichols if he just wanted audiences to go and have a great time or if he also wanted them to walk away with a message. “I want them to go home and hug their kid,” he enthused.

“Ever since Sandy Hook, I don’t think as a nation we’ve really addressed that feeling. I was floored by that feeling. I was terrified by that feeling. And I think as a nation, we did a fair job of processing all of our grief after 9/11.

“I was paralyzed by it [Sandy Hook] and I want people to think about that. I want people to think about how precious their children are and go home and talk to them. And I want people to go home and figure out what their kids need in life, not what they need for them. That’s what I want.”

midnight special

Nichols revealed another element he implements in his filmmaking process. “A lot of the films I’ve made come from a place of dealing with fear,” he revealed. “Take Shelter” was all about the anxiety of becoming a parent, being married, the economy collapsing, and the environment collapsing. What do you do with all that fear? How do you process all that fear?

“As I was developing this film, I started to think about what it meant to be a parent. I think when you’re afraid of something you try to control it. We try to control our children’s lives. We try and control the environment that they’re in, we try to control the people that they’re going to become and that’s a negative reaction. That’s not going to end well.

Besides having a knack for successfully combining the surreal and real for captivating entertainment, Nichols has an eye for extraordinary talent, whether it be Michael Shannon or Jessica Chastain. They appeared in Nichols’ films long before they were nominated for Academy Awards. Adam Driver starred in “Midnight Special” before he became the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” infamous villain, Kylo Ren.

For interviews with Michael Shannon and Kirsten Dunst, go to: http://www.eurweb.com/2016/03/midnight-special-cast-talk-belief-and-the-unknown/

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]

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