Review: Jordan Peele's 'Nope' Gets a Hell Yes

The trailers for Jordan Peele’s “Nope,” one of the summer’s most anticipated movies, have raised some intriguing questions. Is it a wes...

The trailers for Jordan Peele’s “Nope,” one of the summer’s most anticipated movies, have raised some intriguing questions. Is it a western? Horror movie? science fiction? Satire? Will it live up to the expectations raised by Peele’s first two jaw-dropping surf features, “Get Out” and “We,” or confuse them?

I can now report that the answer to all of these questions is: Yeah. That is to say, there are fascinating internal tensions in the film, as well as impeccably managed suspense, sharp jokes, and a seductively unnerving atmosphere of general weirdness.

“Nope” seems less polemical than “Us” or “Get Out”, more at ease in its idiosyncrasies and flights of imagination even if it follows, in the end, a more conventional narrative path. This might be cause for some disappointment, since Peele’s acute dialectical perspective on our American collective pathologies was a silver lining in an era of wish-fulfilling franchise businesses. At the same time, he is an artist who has the freedom and the confidence to do what he wants, and who knows how to challenge the public without alienating it.

In any case, it would be inaccurate to claim that social allegory has been erased: every genre invoked by Peele is a flytrap for social meanings, and you can’t watch this freak movie of cowboys and cowboys. aliens without deep reflections on race, ecology, labor, and the toxic, enchanting power of modern popular culture.

“No” tackles such questions in an atmosphere that seems more brooding than argumentative. The main target of his criticism is also the main object of his affection, which one might call – using a name that has become a bit of a fighting word lately – cinema.

Peele’s love of cinema is wide and deep. There are sequences here that nod to masters of the past, from Hitchcock to Spielberg to Shyamalan, and shots that revel in pure cinematic ecstasy. A genius in sketch comedy before turning to directing, Peele never takes his performers for granted, giving everyone the space to explore character quirks and nuances. He also shows an appetite, and an impressive talent, for big effects. The climactic scenes aim for — and almost achieve — the kind of old-school sublimity that packs wonder, dread, and jaw-dropping awe into a single sensation.

Movies can be scary, enchanting, funny and weird. Sometimes they can be all of these things at once. What they are never is innocent. Although this film could be described as Spielbergian, it is an emphatic and explicit debunking of Spielberg’s most characteristic visual trope: looking up in wonder.

“No” begins with a cautionary text, taken from the Old Testament Book of Nahum, which describes God’s threat of punishment on the wicked city of Nineveh: “I will put on a show for you.” Our beloved shows – like most other artifacts of our fallen world – are built on cruelty, exploitation and erasure, and “No” is in part about how we integrate the knowledge of this fact into our pleasure. In the first scene, a chimpanzee goes insane on the set of a sitcom, a moment of absurd and gory terror that becomes a motif and a thematic key. The monkey is a wild animal that behaves according to its nature even if it has been tamed and trained for human use.

The same can be said for the horses that serve as Peele’s totems in film lore. It invokes what is believed to be the very first moving image, captured by 19th century inventor and adventurer Eadweard Muybridge, of a man on horseback. Emerald (Keke Palmer) and OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) claim the horseman as their ancestor. They honor his legacy by keeping the business started by their father, Otis Haywood (Keith David), a ranch that supplies horses for TV and movies.

OJ — short for Otis Jr. — is the main wrestler, a terse, sad-eyed cowboy more comfortable with horses than people. His sister is more outgoing, and one of the flippant delights of “No” is the believability with which Kaluuya and Palmer convey the prickly understanding that keeps siblings together and sometimes threatens to tear them apart.

Strange things are happening at the ranch. The electricity goes out, a mysterious cloud lurks on the horizon, and spooky storms drop trash from the sky. A horse’s side is pierced by a falling house key, and Otis Sr. takes an unlikely projectile in the eye. Is there a flying saucer haunting the valley? Emerald and OJ suspect so, as does their neighbor, an entrepreneur known as Jupe (Steven Yeun) who has turned his corner of the Valley into a Wild West-themed tourist trap.

The potential UFO hovers around the edges of the action for quite a while, much like the shark in “Jaws” – or the spaceship in “Encounters of the Third Kind” – adding an element of danger that puts human interactions in comic and dramatic relief. As in “Jaws,” a restless group forms to deal with the threat, including Angel (Brandon Perea), an anxious technician, and Antlers (Michael Wincott), a visionary cinematographer who shows up at the ranch with a camera. Crank IMAX. . Jupe, whose history as a child actor connects him to this wayward chimp, is a lot like the mayor of Amity — less of a villain and more of a representative of a clueless, selfish status quo.

He is also a showman, and as such an avatar of the ambivalence of film on the entertainment business. Emerald, OJ, Antlers and Angel, on the other hand, are craftsmen, absorbed in questions of technique and concerned with the day-to-day ethics of image-making. It’s the perfect place to note Guillaume Rocheron’s haunting and breathtaking special effects, Hoyte van Hoytema’s lucid dreaming cinematography and Nicholas Monsour’s sharp editing, and to encourage you to reflect on the hard work and deep skills represented. by all the names in the final. credits.

Peele, of course, is both craftsman and showman. He is too rigorous a thinker to fall back on facile antagonisms between art and commerce, and too generous an entertainer to weave a shaggy zigzag dog story didactically. Instead, he delights in paradoxes. The moral of “No” is “look away”, but you can’t take your eyes off it. The title accentuates the negative, but how to refuse?

Rated R. Scares and swears. Duration: 2h15. In theaters.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Review: Jordan Peele's 'Nope' Gets a Hell Yes
Review: Jordan Peele's 'Nope' Gets a Hell Yes
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