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Jordan Peele's NOPE (Read 477 times)
Aug 23rd, 2022 at 3:53pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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Marathon worthy? Yeah or Nay?

My review:

NOPE (2022) - Jordan Peele's NOPE like it predecessors GET OUT and US, takes a basic premise that has been done before, and adds Peele's unique take on the material (Peele, to his credit, always acknowledges his influences). Here, Peele jumps off from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, SIGNS and other alien dramas.
OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Hayward (Keke Palmer) are siblings who have taken over the family business of training horses used in TV and movies. Their ranch is in a secluded area just north of Los Angeles. When strange phenomena begin to appear, they seek to document whatever they may discover and, with the aid of an eager Fry's Electronics Store tech geek, Angel (Brandon Perea), they set up an array of cameras. Also in the mix, is a former child actor turned Western theme park showman Ricky Park (Steven Yeun) and a crusty cinematographer out to get the ultimate shot, Antlers Horst (Michael Wincott - doing his best Sam Elliot).
Once the encounters begin, Peele's debt to the Spielberg film become even more apparent. The beings have the ability to disrupt the electromagnetic field knocking out power and electricity. And, they use clouds to camouflage themselves. Peele throws in a number of ideas which try to tie it all together including a tragic backstory about Yeun's acting career and the fact that the Haywards trace their lineage to the very earliest days of cinema. Unfortunately, as with US, the story-telling gets a bit jumbled even while one can see where the film is going and what Peele's intentions are.
Certainly, there are some interesting themes at play including Hollywood's 'hidden history' of how minorities haven't been part of the process; The treatment of animals and how they have been exploited for show is also at play. Kaluuya's performance is fine, but, his laconic style doesn't make for a very exciting hero. Palmer adds a lot of spark, but, the film needed a stronger central character, especially when the villains are so amorphous. The SFX are good, but, hardly ground-breaking or very complex. Shooting on 65mm, Hoyte Van Hoytema cinematography is decent, but a bit disappointing. Michael Abels score is effective here and there, but, like the screenplay, a little all over the place at times.
Jordan Peele continues to make films which challenge the status quo in genre films, but, as with US he bites off more than he can quite pull off. NOPE is a classic example of the “it works on paper” film. The various strands do join together (if uneasily), but it doesn't work on the screen. The mysteries should work to draw the viewer in to wondering what is GOING to happen, rather than constantly looking back at what happened in the PAST. Ideas and themes go only so far when the overall story lacks a sustaining drive and momentum. In US, Lupita Nyong'o's vivacious performance carried the way. GET OUT had a strong driving narrative force and structure. More of that next time would only be an improvement.
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