Showing posts with label Jordan Peele. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jordan Peele. Show all posts

Saturday, August 6, 2022

"Nope" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Jordan Peele movie "Nope" as well as the Nick Cage film "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" and the British drama series "The Split."]

Nope (2022)

Brother and sister horse-trainers, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer), are struggling to keep their horse ranch going after their father's death, but when they see what they think is a UFO flying above their ranch, they decide filming it is their way out of financial ruin. What they don't realize is that it's not your "typical" UFO.

First there was "Get Out," then there was "Us" and now here is feature film number three from the creative mind of writer/producer/director Jordan Peele.

The film begins back in 1998, when during the filming of the TV show "Gordy's Home," one of the chimpanzees playing Gordy goes berzerk and attacks the actors.  

Fast forward to the present day to a horse ranch - Hayward Hollywood Horses - owned by Otis Hayward Sr.  He and his two children are horse trainers who provide horses for movies and TV. They claim to be the ancestors of the black jockey riding a horse featured in the famous Eadweard Muybridge stop motion animation, "Horse in Motion," that was one of the earliest moving pictures. Sadly and mysteriously, Otis Sr. is killed from a flying object that falls from the sky.  

Six months later, Otis Jr. AKA OJ is in charge of the ranch and needing money.  He has been selling his horses to Jupe Park (Steven Yeun) who runs a western amusement park called "Jupiter's Claim."  It just so happens that Jupe was once a child actor and guess what?  He was in "Gordy's Home" and witnessed the chimp attack that took place.  He is now making money off of that tragedy along with providing another sort of spectacle at his amusement park that is revealed later in the film.

Back to OJ and his sister, Emerald, AKA Em. OJ is a quiet, withdrawn guy, unlike Em who is out there, trying to make it as an actress and hustling for whatever she can get in Hollywood.  One night while on the ranch, OJ and Em witness what they think is a UFO, and Em gets the idea that if they can film it, they can make some money. They can have their "Oprah moment." So that's the plan.  They go to Fry's to get cameras and when the Fry's salesman, Angel (Brandon Perea), comes to the ranch to install the equipment, he can't help himself. He is an extraterrestrial fanatic and, not only installs the electronic equipment, he installs himself into the plan. OJ and Em also enlist the help of the very strange cinematographer, Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott). But none of them know what they are getting themselves into.  This is not just any old UFO, it's a monster of a UFO...literally.

This is "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" meets "Ghostbusters" meets "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" or maybe "High Noon," whatever your favorite western shoot out movie might be. Peele pays homage to Hollywood and combines horror, humor and the African American experience to create this unique roller coaster of a film. Here he comments on how African Americans have been excluded from Hollywood as well as how we humans love spectacle, even when it celebrates tragedy.  We can't turn our eyes away (and here is a bit of a spoiler. Looking at the alien is not good)! This film is not quite as tight as "Get Out" or "Us," and there are some head-scratching moments.  It's also a bit slow to get started but once it does, it's tense and scary and Peele always gets points for originality. 

Daniel Kaluuya is perfectly deadpan, and Kiki Palmer is characteristically manic (but it works here) but the break-out star is Brandon Perea, who adds some fun to an often very tense film. 

A favorite may or may not know that Jordan Peele was on "Mad TV," once a comedy show competitor with Saturday Night Live.  In the film, Jupe regales OJ and Em with what a great send-up SNL did of the chimp attack on the TV set.  Dark, I know, but very funny that Peele would do an homage to SNL. 

Oh, in case you are wondering about the title.

You know how you might go into a room and see something you don't maybe your parents having a fight or like, say, oh, maybe a really scary alien? That's when you might say "Nope," turn around, and get the hell out of there! Daniel Kaluuya's utterance of the word is classic.

Rosy the Reviewer says...should you get yourself to the theatre to see "Nope?"  Yep!
(In theatres)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) 

Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage in this send-up of Nicolas Cage and his movies.

Nicolas Cage just might be one of the most polarizing actors on the planet.  I can't tell you now many times I've mentioned a Nicolas Cage movie that I liked ("Pig") only to get a wrinkled nose response followed by "Ew, I don't like Nicolas Cage."  Of course, he has his fan base.  I mean he won an Oscar, for god's sake, but somehow he has gotten a reputation as a mannered, over-acting, intense actory actor.

But here's where this movie comes in.

Nick knows some of this and is not above making fun of his persona in this very self-deprecating and mostly fictionalized story of an egotistical and self-obsessed actor (Cage) who is struggling artistically and financially.  His wife (Sharon Horgan) is divorcing him and his daughter (Lily Mo Sheen) thinks he is a bit of a tool, so with nothing else going on he accepts $1,000,000 to attend the birthday party of a superfan.  It's a comedown for him, of course, but it doesn't hurt that it's in Majorca. But Nick has decided after this party, he is going to retire from acting. The superfan, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), is a charming and very rich olive exporter who has written a screenplay he wants Nick to star in.  Despite Nick's initial reluctance to do this gig, strangely, the two actually bond (Javi is a charming guy), and Nick actually is interested in Javi's screenplay and becomes hopeful about his future. What he doesn't know is that Javi is under CIA scrutiny (is he a bad guy?), and Nick will be recruited by the CIA to find a girl kidnapped by a notorious arms dealer and will have to fight off bad guys to save his own life and the lives of his wife and daughter. Whew! Who knew an invitation to a birthday party could be so stressful?  But now Nick sees a new career path!  Spy!

Of course, this story, written by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten and directed by Gormican, gives Nick Cage the opportunity to channel some of his iconic characters as well as playing Nicky, his younger self, who keeps reminding him what a big star he is. And don't think they aren't dropping the titles of Nick Cage movies right and left here. "Face/Off," "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "National Treasure," "Guarding Tess," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "The Rock," "Con Air." Gee, Nick's made a ton of movies, all different kinds of movies! Maybe he really is a good actor! Demi Moore even has a cameo as an homage to the 80's and 90's when she and Nick were at the height of their careers. 

Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz  play the CIA agents who recruit Nick to help them nail the bad guys. And speaking of Tiffany Haddish.  Just let me say that I feel about her how many people feel about Nick.  I am not a fan. She was funny in "Girl's Trip," but then she kept playing that character over and over. But it's not really her acting that I object to, it's her humor and how nutty she acts on talk shows.  Have you seen her on "Ellen?" But at least here, she is toned down.
This film is a lot of fun but the irony is that you will have had to have seen enough Nick Cage movies to get the many references to his films and if you don't like Nick Cage you probably haven't seen those films.  But here is the good part.  You don't really need to get the references to enjoy this film.  It's a fun romp through all of the thriller tropes you have come to expect from such movies and it's also very funny, especially when Nick and Javi take LSD together.

Nick is looking for the role of a lifetime and it turns out that role is playing himself!  The film is self-deprecating and self-serving all at once but always enjoyable!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I was once one of those Nick Cage critics but after seeing him in "Pig" and this one, I'm a fan.  Love him or hate him, you will enjoy this very fun film.
(Available on DVD and for rent on most streaming platforms)


The Split - Season 3 (2022)

The DeFoes, a family of female divorce lawyers, must face their own relationship issues.

Nicola Walker plays Hannah DeFoe, a divorce lawyer who is going through her own divorce from her husband, Nathan.  Hannah has cheated on Nathan (Stephen Mangan), thus the divorce, but Hannah doesn't really want a divorce.  Sadly, Nathan has moved on with Kate (Lara Pulver). 

Hannah has two sisters.  Nina (Annabel Scholey) is a lawyer and is having an affair with Tyler (Damien Molony) a co-worker who just happens to be married to the boss, Zander (Chukwudi Iwuji) - a guy!  And Rose (Fiona Button), a child minder (she somehow escaped becoming a lawyer) is married to James (Rudi Dharmalingam) and experiences a tragedy in her own marriage.  Their mother, Ruth (Deborah Findlay), is one of the senior members of the firm and also has a podcast espousing "good divorces."

As you can probably tell, it's all very much a soap opera but it's a British soap opera which makes it okay.  The Brits know how to make everything classy, and this series, created by Abi Morgan, is not only classy, it's wildly addicting.

I have to say that I am hard-pressed to name another actress whose face is as expressive as Nicola Walker's.  If you watch much British drama, you will recognize her from such shows as "Last Tango in Halifax" and "The Unforgotten" and many more.  She has had a long career and this British drama series gives her a chance to really show off her acting chops and that face.  She is about as real as an actress can get. The rest of the cast are also first-rate and it's always fun to see Anna Chancellor, a British drama staple who is in practically every British series and movie out there.  She plays Nathan's rather vicious divorce lawyer who belies the idea of a "good divorce."

I got into this series in its third and last season because I found it on BBCAmerica.  Somehow I missed the first two seasons, but despite some references to the past, I was able to enjoy it without having seen those first two seasons, but now I plan to go back and start from the beginning (All three seasons are currently streaming on Hulu).  I will pretend those first two seasons are prequels (I don't mind prequels. It's sequels I hate)!

Rosy the Reviewer engrossing family drama that will pull you in and keep you there.  My advice is to start with Season 1 - See you there! (Hulu)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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