Award season has recently begun, and online links to the studios' Oscar hopefuls, along with special screenings, are flooding film critics nationwide.
So with positive expectations, I opened an email and sat down in front of my 27-inch computer screen to view Jordan Peele's Nope. (Sadly, the link nixed hooking up with my Samsung.)
The experience was not exactly one of unbridled enjoyment. I should have been forewarned. When one of America's more annoying reviewers, the New Yorker's Richard Brody, titles his assessment: "Nope Is One of the Great Films About Filmmaking," you know you're in trouble.
There isn't a piece of crap Brody hasn't stuck a rose in, and not a rose he hasn't crapped on.
Flowers aside, the first hour of Nope is pretty negligible fare with the exception of a flashback to a killer chimpanzee and the wonderful-to-see-again Donna Mills almost getting kicked in the kisser by an upset steed. Mostly we have Daniel Kaluuya walking about as horse trainer OJ Haywood. Picture John Wayne overdosing on Valium and you have his performance. Not since my turtle Willie pondered my presence when I was in the sixth grade have I confronted such inexpression.
OJ ("not that OJ") is a bit upset because his dad just got killed by an object that's fallen from above. Worse, though, is that OJ's broke and he's stuck with a nonstop-yammering sister, Emerald (Keke Palmer), who wants to be on the Oprah show. Her route to success is getting a snapshot of an alien living in a cloud.
Since Nope opened in July, I feel I can be a bit more revealing with the plot now as opposed to let's say the much-awaited Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, about which I've been forewarned to be very tightlipped about, especially the action scenes, the cameos, and so forth.
Well, I won't reveal much more than that Nope's long awaited monster, when it takes its bow, looks very much like a foiled decoration that had fallen on the floor and was then treaded over by a brigade of kindergartners at your local Party City. (Possibly a paean to 1950's films such The Blob.)
To be fair, critics have unanimously applauded the visuals by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who bowled us over with Dunkirk (2017). As for his work on Tenet (2020), well, some projects go haywire, not his fault, and the film did have a "look."
Additionally, one of my students, Tony, on a day when his hair was blue, insisted that the crowded theater in which he saw Nope just went wild during its second half. So maybe if you haven't seen this thriller, screen it right after your Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family gathered about you as opposed to viewing Nope alone on 27-inch computer screen or on your cell phone.
(Please note if you want to know more about the rediscovered Black historical figure, billed in Nope as the "star of the first motion picture ever created," catch Samuel Spencer's superb bit of research in Newsweek.)