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Nope (2022) Review

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Nope

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Kaluuya as Otis Jr. “OJ” Haywood
Keke Palmer as Emerald “Em” Haywood
Steven Yeun as Ricky “Jupe” Park
Brandon Perea as Angel Torres
Michael Wincott as Antlers Holst
Wrenn Schmidt as Amber Park
Keith David as Otis Haywood Sr.
Director: Jordan Peele

Residents in a lonely gulch of inland California bear witness to an uncanny, chilling discovery.

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Nope was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022, simply because it’s the newest film from Jordan Peele. I loved his past work with Get Out and Us, and while I didn’t know much about Nope except the cast and theories about what it might be about, I was very interested in it. I had to wait about an extra month before I could watch the movie, but I finally got the chance to watch Nope, and it did not disappoint.

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Much like Jordan Peele’s other movies, Nope is really worth going into blind, so I’ll try to keep details regarding the plot to a minimum. Nope has a considerably larger scale compared to his past movies, and I think the ambition paid off. This is definitely a genre picture and a love letter to sci-fi, there are even whimsical moments that are reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s movies. At the same time, it is thematically dense and layered with biting social commentary. I won’t go into too much depth with what the movie is about, but I can some of the prominent themes include, exploitation (particularly of animals), and how people can turn trauma, violence and tragedy into spectacle for the masses and profit; ironically, Nope is a spectacle about a spectacle. It explores the dark truth of what it means to create or capture an extravaganza, and asks whether it is worth it at all. There’s a lot here that can be unpacked and analysed, and it had me reflecting on some moments and choices hours after watching the film. As expected with it being a Jordan Peele movie, Nope has some comedy which fits surprisingly well and is entertaining. At the same time, it equally handle the horror well too. Between the three Peele movies, this is probably his least scary film thus far. Still, there is this a looming sense of dread throughout, with eerie tension and a terrifying atmosphere. It also has probably the scariest scene I’ve seen from his movies; its halfway through the movie and lasts for probably less than a minute, but it was one of the most unnerving scenes I’ve seen from a recent horror film. Nope is a long movie at 130 minutes and the slow pacing might turn some people off, especially early on when it’s setting up the story. However, it worked for me, and it culminated in a highly satisfying third act.

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The small but intimate cast give great, subtle and layered performances here. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer play the protagonists, and they are fantastic here. They are very believable and share a convincing on-screen sibling bond together. The rest of the cast including Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Keith David and more are really good too, each of them adding something to the movie.

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Jordan Peele once again delivers on his direction, this time helming his biggest movie yet. The cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema is absolutely stunning. It excellently captures the sky at different times of the day, and particularly shines with the scenes taking place at night. The scenes of tension are also very effective, even simple shots of clouds manage to feel unnerving. It’s perfectly edited, and the production and set designs are great. The sound design was also a highlight, amazing and immersive, it was really something to experience the film in the cinema. On that note, the music from Michael Abels is dynamic and fantastic.

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Nope was fantastic, it is already one of my favourite movies of the year: a tense, thematically dense and spectacular sci-fi horror movie. Jordan Peele’s writing and direction are incredible as usual, and the cast deliver excellent performances, especially Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. There’s a lot to unpack with this movie with its themes and what its saying; there’s a lot there and it is definitely one I need to rewatch. But for now, I can say that it is another great movie from Peele, and possibly his best yet.

Knight of Cups (2015) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & nudity.
Cast:
Christian Bale as Rick
Cate Blanchett as Nancy
Natalie Portman as Elizabeth
Brian Dennehy as Joseph
Antonio Banderas as Tonio
Wes Bentley as Barry
Isabel Lucas as Isabel
Teresa Palmer as Karen
Imogen Poots as Della
Armin Mueller-Stahl as Fr. Zeitlinger
Freida Pinto as Helen
Cherry Jones as Ruth
Nick Offerman as Scott
Dane DeHaan as Paul
Thomas Lennon as Tom
Joel Kinnaman as Errol
Jason Clarke as Johnny
Katia Winter as Katia
Nicky Whelan as Nicky
Shea Whigham as Jim
Ryan O’Neal as Ryan
Joe Manganiello as Joe
Michael Wincott as Herb
Kevin Corrigan as Gus
Director: Terrence Malick

A writer (Christian Bale) indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

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I remember waiting for this movie for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it as Terrence Malick is a very polarising filmmaker but after watching and liking Tree of Life (which was quite unconventional as a film), I thought that I had a good chance of enjoying it. I recently watched Knight of Cups and… I really don’t know what to think of it. It is beautiful looking and it has a lot of great actors in it but otherwise it really didn’t do anything for me.

Describing the movie is hard. The basic structure of Knight of Cups is split into segments where Bale interacts with particular people. I’ve only seen 3 of Malick’s movies, Tree of Life, Badlands and now Knight of Cups and I liked the last 2. Even Tree of Life, for how unconventional it was I liked it but most of all, I could actually somewhat understand parts of it. I’m not even sure what Knight of Cups is supposed to be about, I couldn’t connect to it. So with that connection to whatever Malick is going for being gone, it takes away so much from the movie. When I’m just watching all these talented actors just internally monologing some deep poetic speech while the camera just follows them and I don’t understand what its supposed to mean, you can see how I would find it frustrating and pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, Terrence Malick no doubt had some idea of what he was filming, he wasn’t just filming nice looking stuff and calling it art. But whatever he was going for, I didn’t get it at all. The film drags consistently and constantly, at times its borderline a parody of a Terrence Malick movie with how self indulgent it is. I find it very difficult to recommend Knight of Cups to anyone, unless you are a die hard Terrence Malick fan.

There’s not really much to say in terms of acting, whereas most of the characters in a film like Tree of Life had some sort of character, from what I can tell all the characters in Knight of Cups represent ideas or something. Christian Bale here is pretty much like Sean Penn in Tree of Life, except he’s the main ‘character’ and appears from start to finish. He doesn’t really at any point become a character and just feels flat, Bale barely gets to do anything to leave an impression. Supporting actors include Cate Blanchett, Wes Bentley, Antonio Banderas, Natalie Portman and Imogen Poots and while they are good in their ‘roles’, they don’t leave too much of an impression either. Some actors involved were straight up cameos with Jason Clarke and Joe Manganiello, and supposedly Dane DeHaan and Joel Kinnamon was in it as well (I have no idea where they were though). The only performance that really stood out to a degree was Cate Blanchett but even then she’s not in the movie that long.

This movie is shot beautifully like all of Terrence Malick’s films. The locations, lighting, colouring, all of that was great and was probably one of the only things I liked in the whole film. That’s honestly is the only thing that I can guarantee you’ll think with Knight of Cups, that it looks great. The film also seemed to have a dream-like feeling to it, and the score by Hanan Townshend also played a part in that.

Having finally seen it, I can see why Knight of Cups was so divisive. I’m not entirely sure I actually like it myself. And it’s not that I don’t like Terrance Malick as a director, I liked Badlands and Tree of Life, and the latter was very unconventional. I guess I just connected a lot more with Tree of Life than Knight of Cups, which is why with KOC, it really didn’t work for me. I guess the movie is beautiful looking and that’s somewhat enough for me to call it somewhat above average but only just. If you flat out don’t like Terrance Malick’s other films, you’d probably hate Knight of Cups. I’m going to try watching Song to Song sometime soon, and I’m just hoping that Knight of Cups was the most Malick film he ever made.