Written & Directed by Jordan Peele
It’s rare to have these moments, but this is the most excited I have been to write about a new release film for a long time. Especially a summer blockbuster movie, which has become one of my least favorite kinds of films in recent years. Before we get into the meat of the interview, I will also say that this is my favorite Jordan Peele movie, and I would argue it is the picture that will take him to the next level of his career. Get Out & Us are great movies, but I think Nope has that extra bit that was always missing for me. This is a movie that people should discuss in how they talk about Jaws or The Exorcist or any other “phenomenon” movie. If Nope had come out in the 1980s, it would have been a massive hit on the level of those movies. Unfortunately, I think it won’t have that level of buzz because we live in such a media-saturated world.
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Written by Ilja Rautsi
Directed by Hanna Bergholm
In American culture, a fraction of the populace has been lost & enamored in the concept of internet celebrity. This often manifests as a desire to be an “influencer,” typically a poster on Instagram promoting products to their followers. For people who can’t ascertain a particular talent or passion due to living in a society that leaves its people exhausted from extracting their labor, being an influencer feels like a “get rich quick” scheme. People hope to escape the drudgery of everyday life by cultivating a fanbase around their internet persona. It’s understandable, but that doesn’t make it any less depressing. That’s the thing with capitalism; it rarely offers the idea of introspection or knowing one’s self; instead, it encourages us to perform so that we can be accepted into an artificial norm majority. Well, it seems it’s not just the United States experiencing this, as this horror picture from Finland is interested in examining the phenomenon.
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Written by Walon Green
Directed by William Friedkin
Fate or free will? It’s a question that will likely be debated until the sun’s heat stops shining on this planet. Do we choose our path in life, or do we follow a series of steps before us? What about people who meet early, gruesome ends? If Fate is actual, then what was the point of their lives? To die, to be a supporting player in someone else’s story? We’re born into a world where many institutions and systems are already in place. We have no say in their operation save for being allowed to vote for a few representatives every few years that are funded chiefly by those same institutions. The only power we seem to have is the ability to make people in the same economic class miserable through our actions, letting our personal grievances dictate our global philosophy. It’s bleak as hell, the powerlessness of existence.
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The Last Movie (1971)
Written by Dennis Hopper and Stewart Stern
Directed by Dennis Hopper
When I was growing up, Dennis Hopper was King Koopa from Super Mario Bros or the eyepatch-wearing villain from Waterworld. I knew about his role in the 1970s American film scene extremely tangentially and without really realizing it. I think of Eek the Cat’s Apocalypse Now parody (Eekpocalypse Now), where Mittens recreated Hopper’s manic photog. It can’t be glossed over that Dennis Hopper was a Republican at his death, a political view that seemed to clash with the persona audiences came to know. At the time of Easy Rider’s release in 1969, in Hopper’s own words, he was “probably as Left as you could get without being a Communist.” However, by the 1980s, the actor became a Republican and claimed to have strong support for Ronald Reagan and the ensuing Bush regime. In 2008, Hopper openly endorsed Barack Obama’s run for president on the Democratic ticket in yet another seemingly contradictory moment. He would cite the inclusion of Sarah Palin as VP for John McCain as his chief reason for switching. In 2010, Hopper passed away, leaving his body of film work and a lot of confusion over who this man really was.
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Boo 2: A Madea Halloween (2017)
Written & Directed by Tyler Perry
Boo 2 was released the very next Halloween after the previous entry. It makes sense from a money perspective; the first film made $54.8 million. Boo 2 would not be as financially successful, making around $20 million when it finally left theaters. There’s very little to be found about the production of these movies because they are basically glorified sitcoms or YouTuber movies. That’s one element I didn’t discuss in my previous review, but for the Boo films, Perry has chosen to employ several YouTube celebrities. I guess these people are not members of SAG-AFTRA, and thus he can violate labor laws for actors by having them in prominent roles in his movies. Perry is on record for firing four writers who attempted to unionize in the late 2000s, and there was controversy around his decision to hire five non-union actors for his most recent production.
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Tyler Perry’s Boo: A Madea Halloween (2016)
Written & Directed by Tyler Perry
In January 2020, while Tyler Perry was on his Madea Farewell Tour stage play performances, he talked very openly about his relationship with the character. When asked if he would miss playing Madea, Perry responded flatly, “Nope.” He went on to explain he never enjoyed playing Madea and that the costume & wig were uncomfortable. Perry would connect the success he saw Eddie Murphy having by assuming the roles of multiple characters and decided to lean into that too. Perry would admit that playing Madea created a $2 billion media empire but still hated the character. In June 2021, Perry & Netflix announced Madea would be returning to a film on their streaming platform.
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Daniel Isn’t Real (2019)
Written by Adam Egypt Mortimer and Brian DeLeeuw
Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer
Acts of brutal mass violence can have a powerful effect on people, especially children. Last week, over a dozen children and two teachers were brutally murdered in their school. This revived the seemingly never solved debates about gun control, health care, school safety, etc. The polling organization Gallup has found that most Americans stop engaging in online conversations about mass shootings approximately four days after they occur. Clearly, the problem will never be solved if we move into these same discourse cycles, so we must keep finding ways to incorporate awareness and potential solutions in everything we do. Though I viewed this picture weeks ago, I can’t help but find that it is relevant to what is happening now.
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Written and Directed by Chino Moya
Western society is in its twilight. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not; it is. All it takes is stepping back a bit, viewing this particular political hegemony from an intellectual distance, and seeing the decline in real time. I am 40. When I am 50, society will be worse than it is now. And so on and so on until I die. There is potential goodness in people, but there are also potent, influential institutions devoted to sowing division, agitation, and distraction. So what will that future world, that sprawling landscape of inhuman Hell, possibly look like? Filmmaker Chino Moya posits this blasted wasteland, populated with brutalist architecture. The irony here is that, like all good science fiction, Moya isn’t talking about the potential future but reflecting on what he sees in our present through a lens of fantasy.
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The Scary of Sixty-First (2021)
Written by Dasha Nekrasova and Madeline Quinn
Directed by Dasha Nekrasova
One of the pieces of cultural lore that has rippled through people’s minds has been the revelations surrounding Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was a native Brooklynite whose first professional job was teaching at the Dalton School while lacking a college degree. Odd, right? Eventually, he was dismissed from the school and entered finance, working at Bear Stearns. As Epstein rose in wealth and prominence, he began cultivating some extremely prominent acquaintances. There are some unknowns about what he did with this wealth & power. However, there are also some things we know for sure. It is an absolute fact that he engaged in the human trafficking of women and children and that they were used for his and his friends’ sexual gratification. Epstein’s life ended when he allegedly “committed suicide” while in prison, a situation whose details are deeply incredulous.
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Black Christmas (1974)
Written by A.Roy Moore
Directed by Bob Clark
If you asked me whether or not I’d enjoy a slasher film made by the director of Porky’s and A Christmas Story before watching Black Christmas, I would probably have said I wouldn’t. However, much to my delight, this proved to be one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen. Black Christmas is not what you probably expected it would be. It was one of the earliest modern slashers, and therefore it’s not bogged down by the tropes and cliches its modern counterparts carry as baggage with them. Everything about this movie feels like it has what those pictures are missing. The humor is balanced with the horror, and the characters are strongly performed, making each person stand out and not get lost in the shuffle.
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