Get Out; Post-Oscar Reflections
Get Out is a tremendously entertaining, smart, funny, incisive, and scary comic horror film that works in every way.
This is not to say it’s a horror spoof, though it was written and directed by Jordan Peele (of television’s Key and Peele). Rather it is a beautifully structured, observant, and mordant take on how the racial divide hasn’t quite been bridged yet, as Allison Williams (she of Girls and Peter Pan fame) brings her black boyfriend Daniel Kaluuya home to meet her liberal parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) at their sprawling estate. While Kaluuya is assured by Williams that everything will be fine, it gradually becomes clear that the weekend won’t be the cakewalk that Williams has envisioned. I don’t want to reveal too much since I enjoyed Get Out only knowing the bare bones of the premise. However, the film succeeds in keeping you (like its protagonist) a little off-balance. There are scenes and characters throughout that keep the viewer on edge, and some moments that make you jump (almost literally). We become invested in Kaluuya’s plight (he gives an excellent performance), as well as the efforts of his TSA agent best friend (the hilarious Lil Rel Howery) to assist him out of what becomes a deep hole. And there are so many moments: the sprinting handyman; a bowl of cereal, eaten in a very creepy manner; an extreme close-up of an outwardly smiling face…that provide more than their fair share of chills while leading to a bloody, but satisfying resolution. I think you’ll enjoy Get Out—it’s the most fun I’ve had in a theatre in a while.
And some post-Oscar reflections…
Sometimes I wish the Oscars would go back to the old system of five nominated movies, instead of the current system of increasing the number to a maximum of ten. Yes it was a good year for films, but there were a few nominated for Best Picture that one can take issue with (my choices are Arrival, Lion, Fences, and La La Land) and then ask, if these films are up for the Award, why not add one of these (and here my choices would be Indignation and Sully) to make it an even ten?
Yes, the show dragged, but it was also entertaining, thanks to a good job by host Jimmy Kimmel, who managed to be both irreverent and respectful depending on the circumstances; he also was more visible than recent Oscar hosts, and his bits generally worked (although the “tourists’ visit” did go on a little too long). One of Kimmel’s best lines came when he quipped that Viola Davis’ acceptance speech would be nominated for an Emmy. (People may disagree but I found her acceptance speech a little too calculated and overtly theatrical.)
Finally caught up with Lion and Fences. Both are good films, but they have their flaws. With Fences, one might have hoped that actor/director Denzel Washington would have done some editing, particularly on some of the long monologues that could easily have been trimmed—and perhaps incorporate more reaction shots. Actor Denzel does a decent job, but he is much too alert and vigorous a presence be a completely convincing Troy, especially in the latter sections; the standouts are really August Wilson perennial Stephen Henderson as Troy’s patient, wise best friend Bono, and Jovan Adepo and Russell Hornsby as Troy’s two sons (albeit from different mothers). As for Lion, the first half is superb, set in an underdeveloped small town in India and depicting the young Saroo’s (Sunny Puwar—where’s his nomination?) relationship with his mother and brother, his terror at being separated from his family, his struggles to remain alive in an unforgiving and perhaps predatory landscape—and finally the hope of happiness after his adoption by a loving Tasmanian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). The second half is a bit of a letdown, depicting the older Saroo’s (Dev Patel) internal conflict between fidelity to his new family and seeking out his birth family. Even after he becomes acquainted with “Google Earth,” the proceedings turn into a slog. Yet there is no denying the emotional force of the last section (believe me, I tried, but it’s as effective the second time you see it).
And the Best Picture goes to…by now most of the world has heard about the events and has either found someone to blame or has not particularly cared. My theory as to why Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway went ahead and read the wrong winner (La La Land) is pretty simple. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway came out in their Sunday best, sans any kind of eyewear, so when the wrong envelope was opened (Come on, Price-Waterhouse!), Beatty looked at it, sensed there was something awry and showed it to Dunaway (who was by now “busting his chops”), who proceeded to read the part she was able to see. Of course, could Beatty have done something else? Definitely, but it all certainly made for a memorable and quite unexpected ending.