Today, the realm of sports predominantly controls my media consumption. Every morning begins with Sportscenter on ESPN while I eat my breakfast and my dogs lay on my lap. As the day continues, my phone lights up hundreds of times a day with twitter notifications ranging from Mets and Jets beat writers, breaking NFL news from Adam Schefter, and the bombshell free agent signings as reported by the great Adrian Wojnarowski. Once I'm home from work, I ready my dinner and finish the day with the soothing voices of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling as I watch the Mets battle towards a division title.
As a get older, however, a new genre of media consumption has entered my life, and I find myself enamored by the art, the storytelling, and the craftsmanship that coincides with it. This media is what we all know as "cinema". The purpose of this new weekly column, dubbed "Wednesday's Weekly Watch", is to provide readers with comprehensive reviews of films to hopefully introduce them to new cinema and directors that they will come to enjoy.
The Review: 'Nope' (2022) directed by Jordan Peele
It's safe to say that my expectations heading into this film were through the roof. 'Get Out' and 'Us' were about as perfect as you could get for your first two movies. With his first two films, Jordan Peele dared to take on the challenge of hiding social and political metaphors under the guise of horror. In what most forms of media attempt to make obvious, Peele delivers his social commentary in subtle hints left up for the audience to pick up on. As Peele's third feature film, 'Nope' picks up the torch in his collection of political and social horrors.
'Nope' challenges the typical Western genre norms, namely with its diverse cast. OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) headline as two Black protagonists not typically seen in Western's (the best portrayal of this I can think of in recent memory was Jamie Foxx in 2012 in 'Django Unchained'). As descendants of Alistair E. Haywood, the black jockey in the first ever film 'The Horse in Motion', OJ and (somewhat) Emerald continue the family business after the untimely death of their father during the first scene of the film. The Haywood's dating back to the days of Alistair himself, have been in the business of leasing horses as actors to be used in movies. The initial storyline of the Haywood's struggling business, however, quickly transitions to more of a twisted sci-fi horror.
If you've ever seen 'Cowboys & Aliens' (2011) starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, then you've seen that this type of crossover has been attempted in the past, and to a somewhat successful degree. 'Nope', however, takes the genre down a more ominous path. The big bad antagonist, later known as "Jean Jacket", is shrouded in mystery for the first half of the film. Typical to a Jordan Peele movie, he allowed the anticipation of the villain to build up a heavy amount before revealing the the film's main adversary. The suspense creates an ever present sense of danger for the audience, which eventually culminates into a satisfying reveal.
'Nope' uses themes of encountering the unknown, the burden of responsibility, and the obsession with spectacle to create a modern, science fiction twist to the classic Western trope. Jordan Peele continues his mastery of the horror genre, and each time with an unexpected thematic twist. If I had it my way, Peele would come out with a new film every 6 months and have a television with a similar budget to 'the Rings of Power'. But for now, we'll have to wait until the announcement of his next project.
Over the last 5 years, Jordan Peele has emerged as one of my favorite film makers. It's rare for a director to release three consecutive smash hit films, but Peele has managed to accomplish that. 'Nope' lands at a solid 8.2/10 on my rating scale.