Get Out: Movie Man Jackson

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Tell em, Jojo.  Meeting the parents is always a nerve-racking moment for any couple. That time has come for Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). Chris is Black, Allison, White. Not a big deal, but Chris, nonetheless, is nervous about what her parents may think.

Immediately upon setting foot on their estate, something doesn’t seem right. Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy Armitage (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener), are overly accommodating to Chris to prove they are fine with their daughter dating him. And then there are the “keepers” of the land, each African-American, which looks a little suspect despite Dean giving reason why they are there. Could it all be in Chris’ head? Or is there legitimate reason for him to Get Out of this place immediately?

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No matter what color a person is, race and effects of it exist on a daily level, especially for minorities. Occasionally it is overt, but it often isn’t. The comedy sketch show Key and Peele did a lot of interesting and hilarious things, one of them being race relations and the minuteness of matters, especially from the perspective of black men. Now, first time director Jordan Peele takes a prolonged aim at black/white race relations in Get Out, using the horror/thriller genre as a lens for satire. It’s very well done as a whole, even if it falls short of top-notch greatness horror genre greatness.

In Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, it’s evident from the first shot that he knows what he is doing. Key and Peele consistently featured a high level of camera work and cinematography not often befitting of a sketch comedy show, and though Peele himself never officially directed, what he was exposed to technically carries over here. He builds a bevvy of memorable scenes with minimal cuts, a harp-heavy score (fitting, actually), appropriate camera angles, and good lighting. Get Out couldn’t be called a pure horror, but for two-thirds of it, there is a real notable atmosphere and mystery (and the requisite jump scare here and there) that compels the viewer to keep watching and feel uneasy.

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From a true horror movie sense, the scares that will keep someone up at night don’t really exist in Get Out. From that sense, it is a little of a disappointment. But, it is frightening in a sense because the scenario Peele exhibits is rather spot on. It’s a fear aspect. Relating just a bit to the main character, the small things, like being the only minority in a room, representing an entire group, or people saying how much they like something to appeal to one’s emotion registers the most—well—emotionally. Serious look, but also a legitimately humorous one that utilizes a good mix of humor and thrills for much of the runtime.

But, then there’s the last act. While still very entertaining, it comes off as feeling pretty Key and Peele-ish. Less like a feature film in this part, and more of a sketch. Again, this does not take away from the film’s enjoyment—especially in a packed house—it just prevents it from being truly classic in my opinion.

There are a couple of star-making performances in Get Out. Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris Washington is a great protagonist, written with a nice backstory. He’s asked to do a lot more than trailers and TV spots would indicate, selling the psychological toll that this place may or may not be having on him. There are some really difficult moments that Kaluuya pulls off easily. His chemistry with Allison Williams doesn’t feel cheap or forced, either. Williams, especially, does a job that may go unappreciated until after multiple watches. Tons of analysis can and will be written with regards to her.

Everyone contributes to the humor, written of course by Jordan, but don’t underestimate the delivery and timing aspects that can mar good humorous dialogue if executed poorly. Wouldn’t be surprising if Lil Rel Howery went on a Kevin Hart-esque run after this, he steals scenes whenever he’s in front of the camera. Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Keith Stanfield, and Milton Waddams himself (okay, Stephen Root) may not have big time roles, but they do not take away from the movie. They keep the focus on Kaluuya but always maintaining presence.

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A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Thankfully, Get Out doesn’t waste the viewer’s. Impeccable horror it’s not, but biting social commentary (with some horror thrills mixed in), it is.

B+

Photo credits go to BET.com, blumhouse.com, and bollywoodreads.com

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

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Sicario: Movie Man Jackson

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“You’re not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves, now.”

For the 1,387,466th time…in Mexico, Sicario means hitman. In what looks like a routine day on the job (or as routine as a day can be for an FBI agent), kidnapping response specialist Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) stumbles into a situation she cannot be prepared for in Chandler, Arizona. The aftermath of the situation isn’t one she can clean herself of, and as a result, she desperately wants to help. Picking up on this, a specialized task force leader named Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), asks her to be a part of the mission.

What is the mission? To take down one of the biggest cartels smack dab in the middle of the United States and Mexico, or in Graver’s words, “The real men responsible” for the carnage seen in Chandler. Giving help to the mission is Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro), an enigmatic figure whom little is known about, except that he’s capable to handle this hell. As time goes on in this mission, the idealistic Kate begins to find that right and wrong aren’t all that far away from each other. Welcome to Juarez.

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Two films come to mind after seeing Sicario. One obviously being Trafficwith both focusing on the war on drugs, and the other actually being No Country for Old Menwhich yours truly will come back to. All three of these films are great in their own right for many reasons, but Sicario firmly establishes itself as the best of that group, and taken outside of that group it is an awesome view, regardless.

The first reason? Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) and cinematographer Roger Deakins are the early 2000’s reincarnation of the Shaq and Kobe duo in cinema production form. Every shot is meticulous, meaningful, and worthy of the viewer’s attention, even the most quiet of moments. Like Shaq and Kobe in their tandem heyday, these guys bring the tension, but they know how to make it ebb and flow. It truly is unnerving at times, the feeling even more driven home by the rumbling and unsettling score composed by one of the best today in Johann Johannsson.

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Written by Taylor Sheridan (Sons of Anarchy), Sicario focuses on whether the war on drugs is worth the fight at all, by focusing on the age-old theme of order v.s. chaos. Should chaos be fought with chaos? Is there order to be found in a scenario that seemingly has none? There are a few questions left unanswered in the plot, which is a bit frustrating. But, to yours truly at least, that is part of the statement that Villeneuve is making. Not everything can be answered, and maybe nor should it, and perhaps the sooner one comes to that realization, the better off they’ll be.

As Kate, Emily Blunt is essentially the audience’s eyes to the horrors witnessed. She puts on a brave face in the face of danger, but she is honest to herself and knows this isn’t where she belongs. And it gets to her, and Blunt conveys the uncertainty and bewilderment that Kate has with every step in the mission. She’s all about order and doing things the right way, though she does come off at a little too wide-eyed here and there. Nonetheless, great work by Blunt, whose character is kind of reminiscent from an alignment standpoint of Tommy Lee Jones’ character in NCFOM. Her partner that appears throughout is Reggie Wayne, played by Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya is fine, but his role adds little, if anything, to the story. If removed, nothing is missed.

Josh Brolin provides some brief lightness to an otherwise bleak tale. That doesn’t mean his character is a joke, but Graver is unconventional; lighthearted and serious at the same time, with an agenda that few know about. Brolin and Blunt are very strong, but like 2000’s Traffic, there is one man that seizes the attention from his other talented co-stars: Benicio Del Toro. From the second he comes off of a plane, Alejandro is a mesmerizing character. There’s something that screams mystery in the way he carries himself, how he speaks in the occasional riddle, etc. He’s very Anton Chigurh-ish in that sense, but with way more layers. One of the better characters of the year, easily.

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Tense, realistic (at least it feels like it), wonderfully well-acted, and above all technically proficient, Sicario is smaller-scoped look at the war on drugs, but one that never wanes in intensity whatsoever. In Mexico, Sicario means hitman.  To me, Sicario means a very, very superb film.

Grade: A-

Photo credits go to screenrant.com, moviepilot.com, and fubiz.net.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson