"Mud," the third feature to date from "Take Shelter" director Jeff Nichols, has been on my mind a fair bit recently -- more than I'd customarily expect for a film I only kinda-sorta liked when I saw it two months ago. But I'm wearing my pundit's hat rather than my critic's one as I write this, and as the first rumblings of the fall festival season are heard in the near distance, one question about the film seems rather pertinent: put plainly, where the hell is it?
Of the 22 films that unspooled in Competition at Cannes back in May, 16 have already secured US distribution. The exceptions are, by and large, understandable ones: Carlos Reygadas's "Post Tenebras Lux" is proudly impenetrable esoterica, with or without a Best Director award, "After the Battle" is politically remote and critically drubbed, while "Paradise: Love" is an explicit arthouse provocation that broaches touchy themes of race and female sexuality. Alain Resnais's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" may have more name appeal than any of these, but its concentric theatricality makes it a mighty hard sell to non-French audiences.