Nope Movie Review: Jordan Peele’s Third Movie Is Funny, Weird As Hell, And Thrillingly Original

Dir: Jordan Peele. With: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott, Brandon Perea, Wrenn Schmidt, Barbie Ferreira, Keith David. 15, 130 minutes.

When evidence of extraterrestrial life creeps into the life of Nopeunderdog heroes, their first instinct is to find a way to monetize it. It’s the most honest reaction I’ve ever seen in a horror movie. It’s also exactly what I’d expect from Jordan Peele, a filmmaker who sees social condition with such simple clarity that his films always feel like a series of mic drops. Nope is funny. It’s weird as hell. It’s full-scale popcorn sci-fi with a sharp intellect. Otis Jr “OJ” Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer) recently lost their father in a freak accident. They faced off by running in opposite directions. OJ comes to a complete stop; Em lives his days as one exciting performance opportunity after another. But it’s easy to unite them under a single front, namely when an opportunity arises to catch “Oprah’s shot,” or concrete, undebunkable UFO footage for which TV hosts would pay thousands of dollars. euros.

The possibility of aliens, as Brandon Perea’s tech junkie Angel explains, seems today less tied to philosophical questions about our existence, and more to pop culture fluffs like the History Channel. ancient aliens series. Peele’s underlying message with Nope is clear: there is no part of the galaxy left that cannot be exploited for entertainment. TikTok, YouTube and the local news cycle dangle the promise of overnight stardom before people’s eyes, subliminally training us all to view every experience – no matter how traumatic – as potential content.

And Peele, with that same exquisite imagination that he brought to get out (2017) and We (2019), always finds the most unexpected ways to prove his point. Take Ricky “Skirt” Park (Steven Yeun, who can hide decades of sadness in a smile), the owner of a former Western attraction known as Jupiter’s Claim. It’s been fully Disneyified into a macabre parody of American myth, much like the Hall of Mirrors by the pier in We. Skirt, as a child, starred in a 90s sitcom titled Gordy’s house, which was quickly canceled after a horrific tragedy. He now relives those “six minutes and 13 seconds” of dread for a steady stream of curious visitors to his home museum, enthusiastically describing what happened next. Saturday Night Live sketch ridiculing the incident. What an honor to have the worst day of your life turned into a punchline, isn’t it?

The Haywoods, meanwhile, took over the stunt horse business from their late father. Em starts every film shoot remembering that they are actually direct descendants of the unnamed and forgotten black jockey in Eadweard Muybridge. The horse in motion – the first series of photographic cards chained together to create a moving image. The precursor of all cinema. “From the time the pictures could move, we’ve had skin in the game,” Em says. And yet, the Haywoods are never relieved of the burden of having to prove themselves. As with Skirt. As for people of color all over the world who are just trying to make their way in life. They have no choice but to constantly commodify themselves. These frustrations drive Kaluuya and Palmer’s work here. Kaluuya is a true one-of-a-kind talent, always producing an intensely magnetic performance with a character explicitly written to be brooding and uncharismatic. Palmer gives us the kind of capable horror heroine that’s impossible not to cheer for.

It does not seem entirely correct to say that NopeThe sci-fi premise is indebted to Spielberg’s Dating of the Third Kind Where Jaws. Or the chills of Hitchcock. Or to classic B-movie mayhem. On the contrary, Peele’s innate understanding of cinematic history, which may come from his years of ridiculing movie tropes on the sketch show Key and Peeleonly provides the foundations. Nope is his own creation. His own universe. Even a direct reference to AkiraThe famous bike-slide cliche can’t shatter the illusion that what we’re watching is entirely and thrillingly original. There has always been an understated confidence in the way Peele’s films move, from the bourbon smoothness of his camera work to the symbolic power of ordinary objects. get out has his porcelain teacup. We has scissors. Nope has an inexplicably balanced tennis shoe on its heel, and wacky bouncy men with smirks plastered on their faces.

There are also other images that I dare not spoil, but are so elegantly composed that my mind, no doubt, quietly added them to the grand cinematic canon of horror imagery. Nope is a film that, on top of everything, celebrates the talent of great craftsmen – not only on screen, with the Haywoods, but with the breathtaking beauty of the work of cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (the film has was shot for IMAX), and a soundscape, overseen by Johnnie Burn, that draws as much power from silence as from chaos. You could certainly argue that Nope is the simplest of Peele’s films to date. He traded the claustrophobic, labyrinthine quality of get out and We open air and pure spectacle. But the genius of his work is that in the end, none of it really makes a difference. He always gets the same results. Peele, in reality, is the magician disguised as a filmmaker. Nope is the sleight of hand so clever you’ll never wonder how the trick was pulled off.

“No” is in theaters from August 12

About Debra D. Johnson

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