Writer, and director Jordan Peele continue to be a true-deal filmmaker. Another crowd pleaser is Nope ,, his third feature.
Peele burst on the scene in 2017 with the horror film Get Out, a critical and box office smash that earned him a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
Two years later, he scored another success with Us , which is a frightening thriller about a family being hunted down by their doppelgangers.
Both Us Get out did the best horror films do: they wrapped all their chaos in social allegory. Get Out made the strongest attack on America’s last remaining racist enclave: the condescending white liberals. Us offered a more nuanced look at class structure and luck regarding social status. It also highlighted the line between anarchy and civilization.
Other than his skills as a writer, and his uncanny ability with a camera and his talent as an artist, Peele is best known for his unique skill in avoiding “woke.” He treats his audience like adults, partners, and not as children or bigots.
Nope explores 2 distinct themes. One is about the dangers associated with trying to control and civilize something that is wild. This subtler theme is more pleasing and focuses on society’s growing addiction to celebrity and the camera.
After his father, Keith David (the great Keith David), is killed by a strange metal storm OJ Haywood (Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya), is left to manage a ranch in the desert that trains and raises horses for Hollywood films and TV. OJ wants the ranch to continue. Emerald, OJ’s mouthy sister (Keke Palmer), is more concerned with fame and fortune.
OJ’s horses are in desperate need of a new home. OJ sells his horses to Jupe (Steven Yuen), an ex-child actor who set up a carnival for the Old West called Jupiter’s Claim. Jupe is famous for starring in a popular 90’s sitcom that starred a chimp named Gordy. In the middle of season 2, the show was cancelled. The show was cancelled not because of low ratings but rather due to a horrific massacre that we see in flashback. Jupe resorts to Jupiter’s Claim instead of dealing with the trauma he saw. He brags about how the incident is important in pop culture but his eyes reveal the emotional trauma he doesn’t recognize.
Emerald loves Jupe’s work, and how he makes a profit from a moment in pop culture that caught the attention of everyone, even though it was terrible. When strange and perilous things occur at Haywood Ranch she convinces OJ it is better to record them than run.
What Emerald really wants is “the Oprah Shot,” a photo or video she considers to be a TV commercial. It can also mean money at the bank and television appearances.
From there the plot centers around the search for the “Oprah Shot”, and the discovery of what it is.
While Get Out, and Us were straight-up horror, other than the stuff involving the chimp (which is pretty intense), Nope is much closer to Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Shyamalan’s Signs (2002). It’s sometimes scary and exhilarating at times, but it is also often funny and a delight for the eyes. Nope sci-fi entertainment is a delight. It’s not boring.
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