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Monday, 25 July 2022 14:14

Say yes to ‘Nope’

Genre movies have long been used as delivery mechanisms for larger, deeper ideas. Sure, there are plenty that are essentially entertainment for the sake of entertainment, but for many filmmakers, the trappings of genre – sci-fi, horror, noir, Western, you name it – have provided an outlet to express insights regarding the world in which we live.

One could argue that no contemporary filmmaker has embraced that ethos as fully as Jordan Peele. His latest film is “Nope,” a sci-fi/horror/comedy mashup that has a lot to say about the evolution of our relationship to the entertainment we consume (and that, one could argue, consumes us in return). It’s a clever and weird throwback of a film, one clearly enamored with the sci-fi and monster movies of the mid-20th century even as it offers thoughts on entertainment writ large, both in the present day and in its embryonic beginnings.

Of course, while big themes and big ideas are great and all, they don’t really matter if the delivery system isn’t up to par. What Peele has done with “Nope,” just as he did with his previous two efforts “Get Out” and “Us,” is package his insights in a well-made and entertaining movie. And while this newest film is perhaps a bit shaggier and more challenging to parse, there’s no denying that he is an exceptional craftsman as both a writer and a director. That craft is on full display here.

(Note: This is a difficult film to synopsize without spoilers. I will do my best, but apologies in advance if I misstep.)

Published in Movies

There are a lot of challenges that come with making a movie inspired by a true story. One of the biggest is dealing with the simple fact that many of those who are watching already know how the story ends. Finding ways to build dramatic tension into a narrative whose conclusion by definition isn’t a surprise demands a lot of a filmmaker.

So it is with “Judas and the Black Messiah,” the new film directed by Shaka King from a screenplay he co-wrote with Will Berson. It’s the story of the rapid rise and tragic, too-soon death of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party and one of the iconic Black cultural figures of the 1960s. Feared by the authorities and celebrated by the people, Hampton was a polarizing figure, hated by the establishment and beloved by the counterculture … and the powers that be wanted him out of the picture.

This is a story about anger, both the righteous kind and the fearful kind. It’s a look at the revolutionary attitudes of the era, writ large thanks to the oratorical and rhetorical gifts of the young Hampton, and the willingness of law enforcement to bend and even break the laws they purported to serve to get rid of him. And it’s the story of the man who sold Fred Hampton out. It is a challenging and provocative movie – one that deserves every bit of attention it is almost certainly going to receive throughout the upcoming awards season.

Published in Movies
Saturday, 25 February 2017 14:54

‘Get Out’ outstanding

Scary, smart horror film an instant classic

Published in Movies

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