Nope — a great night out

BEN O'GORMAN

Jordan Peele has a new film out. 'Nope' is Peele's third movie after two very successful films ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’. It's pretty remarkable that a sketch comedian (Peele was one half of comedy duo ‘Key and Peele’ ) has not only made the transition to film maker so smoothly, but in such a short time. There is such excitement around him his films are already anticipated like a Christopher Nolan or Tarantino movie.

‘Nope’ is about two siblings who work as animal handlers just outside of Hollywood. After their father dies, they inherit a ranch where they train horses to be in movies, TV shows and ads. Financially things aren’t going well but one night the older of the two, OJ, notices something in the sky over the ranch.

After convincing his sister, Emerald there is something there she thinks if they manage to get, whatever it is, on film they will be able to sell it, make millions, and save their ranch. Nope has been out for a few weeks in America and I was disappointed to see it receive mediocre reviews.

My expectations were set to mild when I went to see this but I was pleasantly surprised, as I absolutely loved this film. I can see where the criticism comes home, it’s a hodge podge of concepts, references and tropes but this olio of ideas all worked extremely for me.

The film is barely two hours but manages to gets in, Hollywood History, UFO conspiracies, some extremely on the nose homages to famous Japanese cartoons and a reference to Travis the chimp like attack (Google it ).

All things I am worryingly very interested in. Along with his usual themes of minority representation in Hollywood, race and class. I will concede that the film's reach occasionally does exceed its grasp but I forgave it a lot due its remarkably unique imagery and concepts.

That, and the lead actors who manage to have incredible fun with a tricky script. Keke Palmer who plays Emerald absolutely steals the show here, she has a sing song voice and melodic way of speaking that makes her so watchable and she is so charismatic, she pops off the screen.

I knew virtually nothing about her before this film after looking up her IMDB there is nothing I would have seen her in but she was a child star (very relevant to this movie ) and I’m very excited to see what she does next.

The other lead Daniel Kaluuya is, as always, great to watch, watch how he does not make eye contact with any characters in the film and see how it pays off in the end. The things I like about the movie will be some of the things that really turn off some people.

Peele has very little interest in holding your hand and giving you answers to practical questions. This movie is about mood, and as the kids say, vibes. I read a quote from David Fincher recently that said art has no responsibility to give you answers, its only responsibility is to ask questions. Well Peele has taken that idea and ran with it.

I don't mind at all, I came out of the movie knowing less about the film than I did going in after just watching a few trailers but that is not something that bothers me. I think some people (maybe most people ) will not feel that way.

While I do think it's a movie that really suits being on the big screen, as Peele is a fantastic visual director, I wonder would the concept of Nope work better as an episode in an anthology series like Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone.

Not that I want more creativity to go Television over the cinema, we are crying out for original films in cinemas, the endless stream of franchises and comic book movies is a little disheartening. I will say some of the film did not work for me, like his two previous films I felt ‘Nope' had a some third act problems.

Lots of the shots were beautifully composed but I did think the CGI only looked ok. There is so much going in its short run time and while it won’t work for everyone, but it gave me what I wanted in an original summer blockbuster: interesting concepts, lovable characters and some commentary on modern media and Hollywood history.

In some ways its almost Speilbergian but not in that Stranger Things way more like the feel of the film, I feel like that is helped by its release date. Spielberg did invent the summer blockbuster. This is a smart funny and great looking film which won’t suit everyone but if it gets its claws into you like it did to me, it's a great night out.

 

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