By Ian Omar Smart | Guest columnist
Now playing at the B&B Theater at the Vicksburg Mall, Jordan Peele returns to the big screen with his largest, most thematically dense film yet – and he absolutely rules.
Peele pushes the big, old-school blockbuster cinema that would be right at home in the best blockbusters of the 1980s. If “Get Out” was a modernization of the paranoid exploitation horror films of the 70s, and was an amalgamation of the best schlock and cosmic horror from 80s video stores, so “NOPE” feels like it draws inspiration from the scope, scale and scares of the 80s Amblin era.
“NOPE” begins with an abnormal event where OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) watches his father die in front of him. This leads to OJ and his sister Emerald (played wonderfully by Keke Palmer) trying to keep their shooting horse wrestling business afloat.
One night after a failed shoot, OJ notices something in the sky: “Too fast. Too quiet to be an airplane.
This leads to a series of misadventures where OJ and Emerald (with the help of colorful characters) attempt to capture footage of this UFO and sell it before word gets out.
Like his previous work, Peele brings together his influences in this large tableau that is equal parts nightmarish visuals and swordplay. It removes the direct political message and focuses on the relationships between the characters and the story.
The thematic resonance of this film emerges through its use of images; showcasing black cowboys in shots we associate with classic Westerns or showcasing the empty lives of child stars floundering years past their cinematic heyday.
Peele even weaves several disparate story threads, all different but under one umbrella, into this rich tapestry that celebrates the efforts of cinema while shaming the nature of how the company exploits some of them and forgets them in the film. ‘story.
An unspoken theme that has clicked with me is how people are the result of prior individuals and choices. OJ and Emerald are therefore obviously their father’s children; OJ with his intuitive knowledge of animals and Emerald with his showmanship. Beyond its lineage, the film does so much to communicate how all the characters are the result of their perspectives, biases, and upbringing.
The very first film was that of a black man on a horse. OJ and Emerald feel a kinship with that and ownership of that legacy when it comes to their place in the movies. This story matters, and it’s what drives them and everyone else in this movie, even the UFO.
It is a magnificent film that deserves to be reviewed and dissected as thoroughly as possible. Watch it on the biggest screen possible to fully enjoy its thrills and chills. “NOPE” is easily one of the best films of this year.
Ian Omar Smart graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University with a degree in architecture. When he’s not drawing buildings, he’s probably at the movies. Smart can be contacted at [email protected]