Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Jordan Peele (Ongoing Filmmaker Archive)

Palis, Elena M. "The Brand of Peele."  Film Quarterly (December 12, 2023) ["Jordan Peele’s third feature film, Nope (2022), reenergized the already substantive circulation of “Peele” as auteur-star signifier. In their generic, political, and aesthetic coherence, Peele’s directorial features satisfy the classical auteur theorization of a knowable author and “authority.” Yet central to Peele’s signature films are resolute unpredictability, character shape-shifting, and narrative misdirection, epitomized by body snatchers in Get Out (2017), tethered doppelgängers in Us (2019), and aliens camouflaged by clouds in Nope. As an ironic manipulation of auteur knowability, Peele’s motif of deceptive, equivocal ontology requires a more complex understanding of Peele’s authorship, one that also takes into account Peele’s extrafilmic roles as producer, showrunner, and star persona."]

Get Out (USA: Jordan Peele, 2017)

MB - This is the debut film from Jordan Peele who was primarily known for his hilarious comedy series with Keegan-Michael Key: Key and Peele (seriously - check it out if you haven't seen it. It could be a palette cleanser in between your films or will get a chuckle out of you in those moments when you need one). Who knew that this talented comedian had such a strong interest and talent in making horror films. Get out combines the social/political thriller, horror, and comedy to make a film that literally revolutionized contemporary horror. The film is also a commentary/critique of an earlier Oscar winning prestige drama Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) and a homage to the horror classic Stepford Wives (1975). For me this is one of the most important contemporary films and I can't wait to see what Peele will do next.
"Writer-director Jordan Peele announced himself as a gifted horror filmmaker straight out of the gate with his first feature, a hilarious satire of white liberalism in contemporary America that sits comfortably as a modern genre classic. The simple set up of young Black man Chris Washington (played memorably by Daniel Kaluuya) visiting his white girlfriend’s family is exquisitely handled to reveal deep-rooted racism. With Twilight Zone vibes, Peele crafts an ambience of paranoia and discomfort as Chris sinks deeper into a place where he feels like he is losing his mind, when in fact it is everyone around him who wants to steal it. A cutting social commentary on appropriation and ownership." – Katherine McLaughlin
Resources for after you watch the film: Archive of resources for Get Out
I have a chapter from the book Post-Horror on The Invitation, Get Out, and Midsommar - if you would like a copy of the chapter sent to you, let me know.

Us (USA: Jordan Peele, 2019)
MB: Peele's sophomore effort was greeted with great anticipation and he did not disappoint. Aided by a great cast, especially Lupita Nyong’o, this film is a brilliant addition to Peele's growing oeuvre.  On my second re-watch I was reminded that this film is incredibly complex and I had missed so much on the first watch. Visually intense, laced with humor, and another film that reflects our socio-political situation in America.
"Films often ask performers to play multiple roles as something of a gimmick. It’s been done for comedic effect in something like “The Nutty Professor” or for philosophical examination in something like “The Double” or “Enemy.” No one has ever asked as much of a double performer as Jordan Peele asked of Lupita Nyong’o in “Us,” and the Oscar winner delivered one of the best performances of 2019 in return. As Adelaide’s worst fear comes to life and she witnesses the shadow version of her family sitting across the living room from her, the actress doesn’t just play good and evil – she goes much deeper than that. She sells both the depth behind the fear of who we presume is the “normal” Adelaide and the wounded monster who has been tied to her. For some reason, great acting has often become synonymous with either a great impersonation or a great couple of scenes. What’s most often ignored when we discuss acting is physicality. Watch what Nyong’o does with her body to both distinguish and tie the two versions of herself in “Us.” They are distinct and yet also mirrors of each other in so many ways. It’s the kind of performance one can break down scene by scene and appreciate with greater depth and nuance with each viewing. It’s not just a great 2019 performance, it’s an all-timer." - (Brian Tallerico: December 23, 2019)
Resources for after you watch the film: Archive of resources for US

Nope (US: Jordan Peele, 2022)
MB: Peele's 3rd film carries on working in the social thriller genre that he originally carved out as his own with Get Out, but we move into a more science fictional world. Once again it has much to say about our current socio-political scene, with incisive looks at our media/entertainment environment, the effects of generational trauma, and the human obsessional need to know what is out there or right here where we are.
"A man and his sister discover something sinister in the skies above their California horse ranch, while the owner of a nearby theme park tries to profit from the mysterious, otherworldly phenomenon." - Rotten Tomatoes
Resources for after you watch the film: Archive of Resources for Nope

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