- Viewing 1.0 March 2019 A film that’s ambitious in ideas and script, but not overly ambitious in film as art or filmmaking if you will
- There are a couple of really nice shots—one of them is late with Lupita walking into the funhouse, the other is of the young Adelaide character at night walking on the beach with the lit up roller coaster surrounding her in the deep background
- A strong musical score—uses and rifts on “I Got 5 on it” by the Luniz
- I see the Lynch comparisons because of the doppelgänger (which is used throughout to strong effect). The Hitchcock comparisons or Carpenter comparisons just have to be because Peele is trying to “elevate” the thriller or horror genre to high art (not that it needs to be elevated). Villeneuve actually accomplished a bit more than Peele here in Enemy in 2013 (if we’re talking doppelgängers) which is no insult- that film is very good
- Nice use of red in a few spots, the body suit of course, the red apple young Adelaide is carrying
- Winston Duke is the comic relief here operating in an entirely different movie than the rest of the characters like Lil Rel Howery was in Get Out. Peele is dedicated to this approach. I have mixed feelings on it—it acts as comedy as I said and Peele is a talented comedian—a bit of an audience surrogate saying, often, and hilariously, “this is absurd”. But it also is by its nature bad form and can take you out of it at key moments of terror (like the aftermath of the climax in Get Out with the flawed one-liner from Howery). Duke’s nuclear family dad is like Chevy Chase in the vacation films
- I see some Aronofsky but I think it’s more Mother (ambitious in ideas/allegory)than Black Swan (ambitious in style) even if it’s Swan with the doppelgänger
- I don’t love Peele saying his “We’re Americans” metaphor out lout and underlining it. I didn’t love von Trier doing it in Dogville but at least von Trier did it with a David Bowie song and it was during the closing credits.
- The auteur I see the most when comparing Peele is M. Night Shyamalan—Peele is making social statements with his films (there’s a sociopolitical reading here of course and a more internal philosophical one—both work) unlike Shyamalan but the rest is pretty close. The reveal here and the spoiler nature of it, the genre he’s working in, and the level of artistic achievement feels on par here
Viewing 2.0 – November 2019
- A couple of very nice slow tracking shots in from Peele to start the film—one introduces the hands across America motif with the commercial from the 1980’s along with some of Peele’s nods (to films like CHUD and Goonies). The next slow tracking shot is the reverse direction here coming away from one lone white rabbit to reveal a wall of them over the opening credits – very nicely set frames
- Jeremiah 11:11 and 11/11 all over the place. Inescapable disaster is the meaning essentially. Lots of Easter eggs and iconography with the red jump suits, tether, mirrors, scissors, doubles, rabbits
- The music is inspired throughout with the horrific choice vocalizing (much like say The Omen, Janelle Monáe, Luniz, The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations”, NWA
- Peele successfully sets up an atmosphere of dread with the creepy opening and then the atmosphere of dread (carried largely by a very strong Lupita Nyong’o)- it’s 37 minutes before the doppelgänger family shows up
- Lupita does a great job overall but I can’t get behind that voice. It’s a big choice, and it’s a miss.
- Elizabeth Moss – such a talent- a great quick scene with her in the mirror
- The frame I mention above—Lupita walking into the haunted house—is a stunner- 90 minutes in and a very well set frame by Peele
- 96 minutes in we get a great split diopter shot of dueling Lupita’s
- Recommend- not in the top 10 of 2019
I have to say you made me see the film in a whole new light. I’ve seen it twice, and after both viewings I thought the film was brilliant, the premise, the disturbing underlying sociopolitical insinuations, the horror of it all and the way Lupita carries the film. But reading into the details you have mentioned above, it becomes clearer that even though a well established film, worthy of one’s time, US is not artistically transcendent, as it could potentially be, considering the subject matter. Your points that resonated with me are particularly the ones concerning the unnecessary and uncalled for persistence on the idea of comic relief and its artistic shortcomings. However I do think I somehow liked it more than Get Out (2017) and I would have it at a Highly recommended status.
@Georg– happy to hear it. Did you try listing a top 10 of 2019? Was Us on it? I was impressed with Us– and I look forward to what Peele tackles next. There were just so many great films in 2019 this one sort of faded and didn’t quite stand up in comparison with some of the others.
@Drake- well, to be honest I haven’t made a list so my thoughts on most 2019 films are not very organised. I think that US could be in it (not sure) but either way it is true that it was largely overshadowed by other movies this year – I think that when I first watched it at the cinema I thought it was great, but I was more impressed with Parasite or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for instance, so I completely get where you’re coming from.
[…] Us – Peele […]
“A film that’s ambitious in ideas and script, but not overly ambitious in film as art or filmmaking if you will”
Well put, I really enjoyed “Get Out” and am excited for “Nope” but had trouble with this one.
I loved the opening scene with the funhouse and certainly enjoyed individual scenes but I think it’s usually a mistake when there is too much focus on a twist ending for the sake of a twist ending. I also agree that voice is tough to deal with. I did like the musical choices.
Has anyone seen the new Jordan Peele film titled “Nope”? And if so what did you think?
I caught it Thursday and really enjoyed it. Definitely his best for me.
“A film that’s ambitious in ideas and script, but not overly ambitious in film as art or filmmaking if you will”
Speaking of this quote: I don’t think this is the case in nope. The filmmaking ambition is up to par (and probably superior) with the (expected) script/conceptual ambition this time around. Great form and the level of detail of color in the production design is pretty remarkable. If you have seen the trailers you might know it’s the solid-multi-colored motif. The level of commitment and detail is so insane that at one point when there is a bug blocking the camera and Keke Palmer’s character is trying to get it off, she throws (of any candy ever) Sour Patch Kids (obviously a choice and an obsessive one at that) at it haha.
Also a lot of recurring eye imagery (both with literal eyes of humans and animals, but inanimate objects like the UFO, a well that plays an important role, etc) that you will see how all that plays into the theme when you watch it. There are formal chapter breaks and a lot of recurring shots of close ups of people’s faces looking up.
I’m curious to see what Drake thinks of it. Seems like something made for him as he (rightfully) puts a heavier emphasis on film form and the level of detail and consistency in the production design/mis-en-scene than most critics I come across.
Oh, and the best image from the film is an homage to The Searchers. Its the scene where the camera starts inside in the dark with Keke Palmer and moves through the window frame as the multi-colored car wash inflatables blow up over the ranch. You should know it when you see it.
@Matthew – sounds great, I am going to see it tomorrow night, I rewatched Get Out (2017) twice in the last week, it keeps getting better for me, probably HR/MS
@James Trapp- I am going this week in Imax. Excited for this one
Finally caught “Nope” last week and still absorbing it all, I will definitely need another viewing before offering any type of in depth analysis. However, I can say that this is easily Peele’s most ambitious film yet from a visual standpoint; the use of color and set designs are both phenomenal.
While I don’t think he’s on the same level, Peele is perhaps taking the the torch from Tarantino as the leading “cinephile as auteur”. I could not help but think of many of Speilberg’s films from Jaws to ET while watching this. This is a movie that reminds you that you’re watching a movie a la Godard, it has a very meta.
The performances are solid all the way around but it is Keke Palmer who gives the standout in my opinion. She plays a character that is difficult to describe to someone who has not seen it given that she does not really fit into any of the established movie archetypes. I am excited for another viewing.
I’m with you on all these points
Thoughts on Nope now that it’s had time to digest, Drake?
I plan on giving it a second viewing before the end of the year so I can be a little more confident in my end of the year list. I loved it though
@Matthew- I’m anxious to see it again- which I’ll do before my year end list as well. For now, I would have it as Peele’s third best- which is no great insult. There is certainly a chance I missed some things during the first viewing.
Ahh man- that’s disappointing. Nope being below Get Out for most is certainly expected-and could definitely be right (Get out is truly great), but below Us? I’m a little surprised by that. I’m a better evaluator now than I was 2 years ago but I remember being very underwhelmed by Us. Sure it’s a big/creative idea/message, but even that fails as it’s riddled with inconsistencies and flaws. And I don’t recall there being much cinematic (stylistic) ambition there either. I don’t think Us works that well on either level, really.
I wrote a review on Nope (one of the ones I’m most proud of), I won’t post it all here as it’s really long and some of it might be reaches (haha) but I did share a little above. I was particularly impressed by the usage of color in the mis en scene, I ended up expanding on this quite a bit and this is what I got:
“The level of detail of color in Nope is remarkable. The devotion to the solid multi-colored aesthetic is a big accomplishment and it’s showing a level of detail in the mis-en-scene that Peele has never shown (atleast as far as I can tell). My only complaint is that these visual motifs were more present in the first half of the film. The clothes, Sour Patch Kids (absolutely a choice-and an obsessive choice), the string of multi-colored flags coming out of the UFO, Monopoly money, multi-colored ballpoint pins on the map, the entire set in the Monkey-massacre flashbacks (birthday hats, balloons, etc), the chairs at Jupiter’s Claim, and the red, blue, and green ICEE machines. It’s all incredibly precise, consistent, and just great to look at.”
There are some other observations I made that I might share later, but I would like to flesh it out more with another viewing. I feel comfortable that I caught most of the multi-colored motifs above however, even after only 1 viewing.
That’s my mini-pitch (and for the record, I think there is a lot more to admire as well) for why I think you might be underrating it a bit. I’m sure you picked up on this yourself, but oh well. 🤷♂️(I’m open to acknowledging that I might be overrating it too, for the record)
Another thing I’d like to share that I thought was rather cool was this: https://www.facebook.com/FarOutCinema/photos/a.114279106956148/633587708358616/?type=3 I was wondering why the night scenes looked so authentic. Im not sharing this as an argument for Nope per se (even though I think it’s pretty awesome and a testament to the ambition from Peele here), just thought it would be interesting to you and the readers of the blog to see
@Matthew – Thank you for sharing this- lots to look for and keep in mind for my second viewing.