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Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #15 on: March 23, 2019, 11:45:36 AM
SPOILERS

Correction: When I said Adelaide had compassion for her very own children, they're actually Red's, really. Adelaide the tethered had real human children. Red, the real human woman, had tethered children who didn't come out quite right. So when Adelaide has compassion for the tethered children in their death scenes, she's having compassion for her own kind that she's forsaken. Which adds even more meaning to her homecoming.

All of that contributes to the theory that those who are "below" become assimilated. When Red gives birth below, she gives birth to tethered rather than her own kind. Similarly, Adelaide can give birth to real children when she's above. And why not, since she's biologically the same? That's definitely how it appears to work.

However, I'm pretty sure that Adelaide has no soul, while Red does. If you're born above, you have a soul. If you're born below, you don't. A soul can't be gained or lost in the same way their other characteristics can. Which makes sense.

We see Adelaide attempting to "pass" and seem normal in various ways, but she's OFF. One of the biggest clues was even in the trailer! [Correction: This was only edited this way in the trailer.] When Adelaide tells her son to "get in rhythm," her rhythm is way off. You can even see Lupita Nyong'o pause so she purposely gets off-rhythm. And of course that's the whole point of the scene; it's otherwise a very idiosyncratic mother/son moment that doesn't have much of a purpose.

Can we all agree that Elisabeth Moss is the greatest? THAT whole sequence is a fucking masterpiece.

God yes. One of the highest highlights for sure.
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csage97

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Reply #16 on: March 23, 2019, 07:53:59 PM
This was mostly disappointing. Jordan Peele's films have the feeling of a little bit of B-movie and daytime TV camp with knowing cinematic sensibilities, mixed in with the obvious horror and thriller suspense tropes and plot-points. Not a bad thing in my book. That mixture of tone worked so well for Get Out because of the more immediate and obvious ties to racial issues; the audience knew that there was something suspenseful happening and that it related to race. The thematic, historical, cultural, social, etc. weight in Get Out was at once tangible, and it was all presented with the aforementioned tone that felt accessible and fresh in the theater. (For the record, I thought Get Out was great, and it was one of my favorite theater experiences.)

It's not that Peele doesn't deserve credit for his apparent knowledge of comedy, culture, film, and more. I'll give him that, and, actually, I commend him for that. But here, the formula just doesn't work because Us doesn't have the thematic heft running through its plot that Get Out does. And no, I'm not totally ignorant to the ideas and concerns that this film is advancing. The issue is that through most of the film until the end, the pace is near-glacially slow, and aside from some pop culture references and character building (the movie shows us that this family is like any other successful American or "typical cinematic" family), we don't know what the point of anything story-related is aside from some group of Others is attacking the "normal" people and it's related to what happened in the opening sequence. OK. And my emphasis is that the plot and story are both incredibly slow, up until about the last 25% of the movie. The sequence before the credits ... what follows immediately after the credits ... some Scary people trying to do in the protagonists .... It's all incredibly slow, and dare I say boring.

The so-called "subtle" and "detailed" references to pop culture and the "normal-successful" world so keenly mentioned by major publications that I've read thus far (the Thriller and Jaws shirts, the soundtrack selection) aren't enough to give credit to this film as the intellectual tour-de-force that those publications are making it out to be. The links to what the story is trying to say are too taciturn, especially since their relation -- somewhat ostensible to a perhaps casual viewer -- to the all-revealing final sequence isn't really known until the end and thus doesn't add up to much in the first hour and a half. The only sequence up to that point that maybe worked cinematically was the "Fuck the Police" part.


I'm actually running out of steam now as it's late here, so maybe I'll make this a two-part review/rant. I'll end here at least by saying that I did appreciate the final chapter in the film as it basically answered the questions that more or less were along the lines of "What the fuck is going on," and it was well-done cinematographically (more on this in a sec). The drama of the dance sequence was oddly suspect of ripping off some the most-recent films such as Annihilation ... though it was visually nice. I do indeed respect the themes that the final chapter presented: The Known/Other; the normal conscientious but unwitting citizen/the forgotten and used; the -- to use a biblical reference as the film is also so readily to indulge in -- Elect/Preterite. So, the film is not ultimately a failure. It raises an age-old theme and important point of inquiry. And damn, this is one of the most important things to think about, at least philosophically, in the modern time. But still, I had to sit through nearly two-hours of seemingly aimless horror-ish film to get to the part that pieced it together and made me reflect on what I'd just seen. That is to say, the first hour-and-a-half were not engaging enough.

OK, I'm done for now, except a side-mention to Mike Gioulakis. I'm extremely glad he got on this project ... and despite what I think, this movie is mostly turning out to be a success, so I'm glad he's a part of it. He's an amazing cinematographer, and I was really excited to see his name on the big screen of my small-ish town cinema, given that he's worked mostly on medium-sized-ish productions in the past (It Follows, Under the Silver Lake, various car commercials). I've been an advocate of his work since I saw It Follows and then some of his short trailers and things of that nature, and I truly think he could expand to work with even more Large names out there in the movie-making business. Go Mike.


Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #17 on: March 23, 2019, 08:33:31 PM
But still, I had to sit through nearly two-hours of seemingly aimless horror-ish film to get to the part that pieced it together and made me reflect on what I'd just seen. That is to say, the first hour-and-a-half were not engaging enough.

That's a fair reaction. It's not going to work for everyone. I enjoyed all of those scenes, though. It did feel aimless for a while, but I don't mind that and I guess I just trusted that it was going to have a payoff. You can spend that time enjoying the performances (Lupita Nyong'o, seriously!) or the clashing tones (which I loved) or all the little things that are fun setups for future payoffs (like the tossed-off plastic surgery bit).
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csage97

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Reply #18 on: March 23, 2019, 09:27:26 PM
But still, I had to sit through nearly two-hours of seemingly aimless horror-ish film to get to the part that pieced it together and made me reflect on what I'd just seen. That is to say, the first hour-and-a-half were not engaging enough.

That's a fair reaction. It's not going to work for everyone. I enjoyed all of those scenes, though. It did feel aimless for a while, but I don't mind that and I guess I just trusted that it was going to have a payoff. You can spend that time enjoying the performances (Lupita Nyong'o, seriously!) or the clashing tones (which I loved) or all the little things that are fun setups for future payoffs (like the tossed-off plastic surgery bit).

I'm probably being too harsh in my general delivery of my criticism too. The fact that a movie has gotten me to write so much is ultimately a good thing in my view, anyway. Movies can feel aimless and still be good, or even amazing, too. My subjective viewing of Pulp Fiction when I was 13 years old was that it seemed mostly aimless and "hangout-ish," but boy, was it revelatory. That movie contributed to opening up a whole new worldview .... The scenes when Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace are sitting in a booth and Vince rolls a couple joints while they're just shooting the shit ....

Anyway, I digress. Let me be clear: This movie is far better than a lot of other movies out there, for the simple reason alone that it gets me to think about stuff, or even if it just gets the average viewer to think, "Hmm, I wonder what it was trying to say about those less fortunate and those who unwittingly live "normal" lives." I mean, I really have to congratulate that. The pompous-ass reviewer in me has to really settle the F down and acknowledge that Jordan Peele is at the very least trying to make something that inspects the world as we know it, especially in pop culture and "normie" culture. So really, kudos to him for keeping that alive.

It's just that on the story and plot level and how it integrates mixed tones with those things, I thought it could've been better. Actually, I think there's just better art out there, while the measuring stick in American mainstream cinema these days is fucking Avengers, the preview for Ma, some other piece of crap superhero movie .... Relative to those, Us was amazing, but relative to the history of art cinema and art in general, Us could be better.

You know, I loved the clashing tones in Get Out and felt it worked in an unexpected way (as I previously stated). I still enjoyed the performances in Us. The actors all did great jobs. Mike G serviced the photography really well. Some of the cheeky stuff did land well too, like the plastic surgery bit. It's a good movie for all those reasons, and I can't deny giving credit to what its more-or-less message is, at least as I understand it.

Maybe I'm overreacting. I did like the ending ... and I do think its ultimate message/line of inquiry is very important, and I'm glad that sort of thing still makes it into the theater.


Drenk

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Reply #19 on: March 24, 2019, 09:00:53 AM
SPOILERS


A little sidenote since I mentioned conspiracy theories in the Shoutbox: I'm not a fan of Us giving credit, in some way, to the daughter reading conspiracy theories on her phone. The US government created the Tethered to control the minds of citizens? Since Peele doesn't seem to care about that, showing the Tethered as if they were growing like seeds, naturally, I don't think we needed that "explanation", especially when it encourages our youth to worry about the secrets of the Deep State—or whatever...

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WorldForgot

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Reply #20 on: March 24, 2019, 10:15:59 AM
I read the flouride joke as a reminder that, even as children, urban myths (conspiracy outta coincidence?) are part of the convo.


eward

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Reply #21 on: March 24, 2019, 01:49:57 PM
Seeing this again in a few hours. Since screening #1 on Friday, I’ve listened to

Spoiler: ShowHide
Fuck Tha Police


an obscene number of times.
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Reelist

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Reply #22 on: March 24, 2019, 02:09:24 PM
I for one have had the chorus to ‘I got 5 on it’ stuck ALL the way in my head
Ever have a feeling and you don’t know why?


pete

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Reply #23 on: March 25, 2019, 01:50:06 AM
It's good. but it mostly makes me miss Get Out, which worked as a crowd pleaser and showed off Peele's skill in playing his audience - he seemed to have reached this strata in delivering a movie height that maybe two or three other films have done this decade. In Us he seems to want to explore his own personal interests a little more, which just isn't that interesting, as it turns out.

There is actually a good side by side comparison. Spoilers:

Spoiler: ShowHide
In both films, there is a scene in which the car runs over somebody and the character makes a horror movie choice to get out of the car to check on the dead body instead of driving. In Get Out, the story very clearly gives Chris a reason to behave so antithetical to his character's goal, which is to get the fuck out of the place. That one action also leads to a chain of reactions, all the way to the finale. In Us, when Adelaide gets out of the car to check on the girl, we are not sure why she does it (even with the hindsight of the twist ending it's still ambiguous as best), and there is no consequence to Adelaide, Umbry, the family, or the plot in having Adelaide pause to do something like this, it also ultimately doesn't carry much purpose aside from giving us another a medium shot of somebody's death. In fact, the family doesn't seem all that impacted by anything. The film goes through all these lengths to set up the characters, but once they accept the premise of the horror, anything interesting about them more or less ends within the first 15 minutes of the home invasion, the rest is carried out by easter eggs and a series of way too easy victories.


one more thought -  I always have this half-baked theory that a great director, like a great athlete, is known for their one trademark but really secretly has this other game that isn’t getting as much attention, that they use to carry the load. For example, Steph Curry is known for his insane three pointers, but is low key amazing at attacking the rim. Tarantino is known for all his trademarks that bros keep stealing from, but is low key really good at structuring his scripts like stage plays. Etc etc. M Night is known/trashed for his plot reveals but he’s amazing at doing Asian-style family dramas (when he wants to). Jordan Peele is known for his deftness at switching from horror to comedy and back, but I suspect low key he’s been scaring us just through his characters emoting (as opposed to jump scares or gore). Most famous example being that “nonononononono” scene from Get Out. It's cool that he's found fright and has managed to create fright via these very muscular facial expressions. Wonder how far he can go with it. Stephen Chow has done a comedy version of that and it's served him quite well.

“Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”
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csage97

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Reply #24 on: March 25, 2019, 08:58:16 PM
one more thought -  I always have this half-baked theory that a great director, like a great athlete, is known for their one trademark but really secretly has this other game that isn’t getting as much attention, that they use to carry the load. For example, Steph Curry is known for his insane three pointers, but is low key amazing at attacking the rim. Tarantino is known for all his trademarks that bros keep stealing from, but is low key really good at structuring his scripts like stage plays. Etc etc.

Say something about PTA here, please!  :yabbse-shocked:


Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #25 on: March 28, 2019, 12:13:15 AM
Rewatched this while I still had a chance to see it in an IMAX auditorium. Which kind of backfired, because it was one of the worst digital projections I've ever seen. Could even see interlaced edges! What the heck, AMC! The sound was exquisite, though.

SPOILERS ABOUND

Quick correction: Adelaide is out of rhythm in the trailer, but she is definitely IN rhythm in the movie.

Understandably, I mostly had my eye on the twist and how that changes the experience. All in all, as these things go, it's surprisingly air-tight. (Except for a couple arguable lines, which I don't mind.) It plays fair with the twist.

When Adelaide finds out they're going to the beach, then freaks out post-beach, it does indeed seem unrelated to PTSD. Rather, it's the panic of getting caught, being found out, discovered. But it's also, as she honestly and candidly tells her husband, the fear of her double. Fear that her double is going to catch up with her — which she essentially spells out. In other words, it's not a fear of past trauma, it's a current fear of the double literally being still out there and being after her as we speak. She's afraid of the reckoning. This fear turns out to be correct, of course; her double appears just minutes later.

Rewinding to the beach... As they approach in their vehicle, Adelaide has a little flashback, and she gets a mischievous smile recalling what she got away with! There is a closeup on her grinning face, and it's unmistakably that. I can't believe I didn't get suspicious the first time; I guess it sort of looks like she just zoned out and her face got weird. But these grins, which happen a couple more times during her recollections, are clearly echoed by the final one, which being as ominous as it is, casts a different light on the previous episodes.

So it turns out the twist is organically seeded in the beginning and foreshadowed throughout.

My favorite foreshadowing moment is this. When Kitty asks Adelaide why she's not interested in conversation (or if she's okay), Adelaide apologizes and says she has trouble talking.

When I called this "fairy tale storytelling," I might have been recalling a particular scene. As Red first gathers the family to start terrorizing them, and she begins her lecture, she starts with: "Once upon a time, there was a girl..."

New observation about the exposition dump. Red opens it by saying "I believe." And she talks a lot about her faith. So Red is very much an unreliable narrator in that respect. She implicitly acknowledges her own uncertainty about the truth. All she's been able to do is draw conclusions from her own observations and experiences (which have not included interacting with the government).

Adelaide's son (Jason) first notices his mother's feral nature when he quietly re-enters the lake house to see her kill the second twin with a special kind of bloodthirst. When she notices him, she panics for a second, like she's been caught. She tries to brush it off, but this  visibly gives Jason pause, and a concern that lingers. So when he notices her feral behavior again underground, not only has she gotten worse, but it's now a pattern.

The final scene with the family, as they drive off, has been misinterpreted by some. It's even clearer to me on rewatch that Adelaide is going into recollection mode once again, with a similar daydream expression as before. We see her memories (not realizations—memories). At the same time, her son watches her recalling. The emotion with which she does that just seems very off. This is the third time she's seemed truly off to him (that we know of). His expression tells us that he's currently becoming more certain of the horrible truth.
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polkablues

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Reply #26 on: March 28, 2019, 12:41:23 AM
New observation about the exposition dump. Red opens it by saying "I believe." And she talks a lot about her faith. So Red is very much an unreliable narrator in that respect. She implicitly acknowledges her own uncertainty about the truth. All she's been able to do is draw conclusions from her own observations and experiences (which have not included interacting with the government).

Now that you mention it, this makes me think that the daughter talking about flouride conspiracy theories earlier in the movie is meant to signal that we shouldn't take Red's explanation at face value, that it's at least as much paranoid hypothesizing as it is based on any kind of verifiable fact. I suspect if there ever is any kind of sequel (which Peele has expressed interest in doing), we'll find out that the explanation she provides in the first movie was actually way off the mark.

I still intend to rewatch this, but in the meantime going down the rabbit hole of Youtube analysis has helped me wrap my head around the actual depth that's there in the story and themes. Once I got a stronger handle on what it's really talking about (things like class warfare, the birth lottery, impostor syndrome, etc.), it really coalesced for me in a way that makes me think the second viewing will really hit it off for me.

There are some super out-there theories, too. I can't quite get on board with the idea that Jason and Pluto had been switched with each other during a previous vacation (I also don't think it really matters to the story one way or the other), but there's some fun evidence to toss around.
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eward

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Reply #27 on: March 28, 2019, 08:49:42 AM
SPOILERS

One major hole in all of this relating particularly to the exposition-dumpy moments: if Adelaide indeed remembers from the very beginning that she comes from the shadow world and that she stole Red's life, and now lives in agonizing fear of having to face requital for it, then why is anything explained to her at all? She would already know. Unless her memory is super-selective purely for the convenience of the plot....

...am I off the mark here? Maybe I'm missing something obvious.
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Drenk

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Reply #28 on: March 28, 2019, 09:04:06 AM
SPOILERS

It's easy to adapt the movie to the twist, but I don't see Adelaide being scared to be caught during the beach scene. But you can also say that she is. That's why I don't think it's a great twist; you can extrapolate a lot in order for it to make more sense than it appears. The movie does let you wonder what happened in the Funhouse after the two girls met each other—so you know something sketchy happened. That they "reversed" their lives seem to me to be the classic, regular, twist. That's why it disappoints me.

Even Adelaide's son having son: well, he saw his sister destroying the skull of a teenager a few hours ago. What's so strange about her mother being ultra-violent? Ultraviolence is available to everybody with Peele: in Get Out, when the stoic hero has to save his life, he goes for it with extra cathartic hits.

I wish the twist happened halfway through the movie, that it had real consequences: what's the deal with Adelaide living her "fake" existence? What's the deal with Red having her ordinary life stolen?

To re-read the movie in the way that fits the twist—a movie that could easily not be read that way without it—isn't interesting to me. But even if I forget what I think about it, I'm not even sure Peele gave his movie enough material for the revisitation to be enlightening. I'll see if I change my mind, I'll watch it again in a few months.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #29 on: March 28, 2019, 12:10:20 PM
SPOILERS

[snark warning] Twist skeptics imagine a world where Jordan Peele, creator of Get Out, forgot to include logically consistent foreshadowing and clues.

I assure you, he did not forget. There's so much.

It's easy to adapt the movie to the twist, but I don't see Adelaide being scared to be caught during the beach scene. But you can also say that she is. That's why I don't think it's a great twist; you can extrapolate a lot in order for it to make more sense than it appears.

She's mostly fine on the beach, it's true. Her panic comes out at 4 specific times:

(1) When Gabe announces they're going to the beach, she freaks out a bit. The compromise is that they'll leave before it gets dark. That gives her some comfort once they arrive.

(2) When Jason disappears on the beach, Adelaide truly panics, because she fears he's been taken and might be swapped. Later she even specifically tells him she was afraid of him being taken.

(3) When night falls and the 11/11 "coincidences" have been piling up, Adelaide goes into full panic mode, talking to Gabe. She says she senses her double is coming for her.

(4) When the doubles arrive, Adelaide's panic peaks. She knows the reckoning has come. During Red's lecture, Adelaide is probably terrified that she'll be exposed. That's certainly mixed with other emotions, but I think it's clearly there.

These incidents make more sense when you know the twist. No mental gymnastics required.

Another fun bit of foreshadowing: when the doubles arrive, notice how quickly Adelaide tells her daughter to get her shoes on. She pretty much knows what's about to go down.

One major hole in all of this relating particularly to the exposition-dumpy moments: if Adelaide indeed remembers from the very beginning that she comes from the shadow world and that she stole Red's life, and now lives in agonizing fear of having to face requital for it, then why is anything explained to her at all? She would already know. Unless her memory is super-selective purely for the convenience of the plot....

...am I off the mark here? Maybe I'm missing something obvious.

Remember what's actually explained to Adelaide, though:

– Red explains everything she's been through. All of her suffering. The specific ways their lives have been mirrored/tethered. This is new information to Adelaide.

–  Red explains what she "believes" the experiment was all about. This again is new information. Adelaide was never "conscious" below ground, probably never saw any government people, and never had a chance to figure things out. Red, however, went below fully conscious and had all the time in the world to attempt to make sense of that whole thing.

I did find one moment that I thought violated the consistency of the twist. In kinda does and kinda doesn't:

Red tells Adelaide "you could have taken me with you." But isn't it Red that should have done the rescuing? So, semantically, it seems to make no sense, and in spirit it is a cheat in service of the twist. However, recall how it actually played out. Adelaide knocked Red out and started dragging her across the floor. At this point, it is quite literally Adelaide's decision to make. She could have changed her mind and taken Red with her, so to speak. Conceptually, Red would have been rescuing Adelaide, but in literal terms it's the opposite—once she has the upper hand, Adelaide can choose to "take" Red back to Red's family. So yes, it's absolutely a cheat, but in a sly way it's technically true.
"Hunger is the purest sin"