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Shotgun Stories

A feud between brothers turns deadly in this indie drama.

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Jeff Nichols' drama is reminiscent of those defining "indie" films of the late '80s and early '90s, when such a designation often meant a low-key but powerful family-dysfunction saga set in some backwater Southern town and starring nobody you ever heard of. This tale of feuding half-brothers in Arkansas has the requisite trappings of neo-Dixie gothic -- shabby homes, crappy cars, desultory shots over the fish farm, even a snake -- while the heart of the drama is ageless: Ancient wounds and casual slights boil over into an accelerating spiral of violence that all are powerless to halt. Like its players in the hazy heat, Stories moves a little slow. Also, the stunted manliness of its characters finds more emotions swallowed than shared, making this outing more contemplative than action-packed. Nonetheless, this is an assured debut from writer-director Nichols, who only occasionally lays on the Southern gothic too thick. Starts Mon., June 23, through Thu., June 26. (AH)

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