Questions and Answers for Jordan Peeles Us

first_img Watch These Movies Before ‘Don’t Let Go’‘Cannon Busters’ Is The Black Anime We’ve Been Waiting… Stay on target One of the best things a movie can do, along with just being good, is inspire rich and thoughtful conversations. That’s what you want from all art, really. So while I was somewhat disappointed with Jordan Peele’s Us, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, which is as great a gift as you can expect from a filmmaker clearly as intelligent as Peele.Ironically, many of my issues with Us, a kind of prestige schlock film I’m holding to a higher standard than regular schlock, are also the things that make it so interesting to talk about. Peele’s debut film Get Out I believe is better for multiple reasons. Its deep social politics are narrower but more coherent, it works better as a creepy thriller than somewhat weak full-blown horror movie, and its plot ultimately makes more sense with more satisfying full explanations. But the messiness of Us, its broader scope and nightmares caught in an awkward limbo between too literal and too abstract, invite you fill in more blanks yourself.So with that in mind, instead of writing a mixed review of Us that would inevitably be as weird and all over the place as the movie itself, I just wanted to list some of my thoughts and questions that hopefully spark your own conversations. And don’t worry, these aren’t pedantic and pointless plot hole questions, even if the film is totally going to cause the worst kinds of YouTube ending explanation videos. SPOILERS AHEAD!Along with the critical praise, is the secret to Peele’s commercial success combining the fun crowd-pleasing theater experience of both Black movies and horror movies? Is that why these movies ultimately aren’t that violent, to not alienate big audiences?How can Lupita Nyong’o be so terrific as Adelaide, subtle and desperate and raw and paranoid, while playing her Tethered doppelganger as a wheezing ball of silly monster affectations my audience literally laughed at until their excellent balletic final fight?How great is it that Winston Duke plays more of a Man-Ape in this movie than in Black Panther?Does Tim Heidecker’s amazing presence here (one of several fantastic and bizarre performances Peele gets from his actors) make this a crossover with the similar Twilight Zone-esque comedy-horror sketch anthology Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories? Is it weird I think that show actually has more legitimately scary cinematography than this movie?As repetitive as some of the confrontations got, wasn’t it great how little character tics returned in a more brutal context? The twins’ acrobatics, Jason locking the closet with the toy car, Gabe’s boat.Is this movie really a secret Disney remake?While some of the music is so dramatic it removed me a bit from the immediate experience, how great is the use of both the “I Got 5 On It” remix and “Fleurs” by Minnie Riperton?The Hands Across America imagery is both creepy and thematically appropriate, but does anyone fully get what’s going on with the spooky rabbit food supply? Multiplication? Why isn’t the animal analogy here as strong as in Get Out or Sorry To Bother You?But honestly the biggest question with this movie is what do the Tethered doubles actually represent and what is that supposed to say? Are they intimate, personal, self-sabotaging, psychological impostor dark sides of individual people or are they collectively a broad, oppressed, social underclass beholden to oblivious comfortable masters? Does it make any sense at all to mash up those two concepts?Here’s a quote from Peele from the film’s premiere at SXSW two weeks ago.“This movie is about this country. We’re in a time where we fear the other, whether it’s the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us and take our jobs, or the faction we don’t live near, who voted a different way than us. We’re all about pointing the finger. And I wanted to suggest that maybe the monster we really need to look at has our face. Maybe the evil, it’s us.” In a vague way, the way Us works, this makes sense. But I think this sentiment doesn’t hold up at all the minute you start applying anything specific to it. I don’t like racists because they are racists. Racists don’t like me because they are racist. I don’t fear people who voted for fascists because I’m secretly afraid of myself. I’m afraid of what fascist politics will do the country!And here is where I think Us also unfortunately fails to live up to the smart, contemporary racial and social politics of Get Out. That movie was a specific and sharp indictment of a certain kind of condescending passive-aggressive liberal racism. But Us has a more wishy-washy “we’re all complicit” sort of attitude that spreads privilege-checking blame across the board when that’s very much not the case in reality. Certain groups are far worse actors than others.So while it’s cool the family here only sort of happens to be Black instead of really focusing on that like in Get Out, if Us wants to present the Tethered’s murderous revolution as a kind of deserved reckoning for America’s violent, plundering, oppressive, and conveniently forgotten past, then the absolute last group of people who should suffer because of that are (upper middle-class at best) Black people!Tethered or not, Adelaide earned her life.I hope my words here have made you think more about the movie, but there’s so much going on in Us there’s probably someone smarter than me working on their own essays that will totally change my mind about this. And again even if I didn’t think the movie was great, it is great that a film about stabbing your red-suited reflection with big gold scissors can foster this kind of discussion. For more on Jordan Peele check out his upcoming YouTube show Weird City and get hyped for his Twilight Zone reboot just days away.last_img

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