Daily Film Thoughts (5/14/17): ‘Get Out’ laughs at liberals; we all laugh at Guy Ritchie.

A new daily unfiltered and unedited journal of random film thoughts going through my head. No proofreading or serious analysis allowed.

May 14th, 2017

So I watched ‘Get Out’ again…

…and it’s exceptional. Jordan Peele’s undefinable (at least in terms of genre) smash hit seems even more carefully constructed on second viewing. Get Out could’ve been a less ballsy film and still made a boatload of money. Peele could have had his protaganist Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) get kidnapped by a bunch of confederate flag-waving, tobacco spitting, toothless racists. Structurally, that would’ve worked all the same. But the genius behind Peele’s thoughts on race in America stem from the fact that the white folks here aren’t your typical movie-screen racists. These are affluent lake-house liberals; people so afraid of offending anyone of color that their careful wording actually backfires. These are the people who employ hashtags on twitter and hang medical degrees on their walls. These are people, as the film shows, who remind every black person they see that they would’ve voted for Obama again if they could have. This film suggests, at least for its white audiences, that the annoyance caused by the unnatural effort not to offend is just as much part of the black experience as actual, intentional offensiveness.

Initially, Peele finds humor through this dynamic. Yet there’s always a sense of dread that surrounds Chris. Brilliant pacing and the use of sound to mine tension out of something as simple as a spoon tapping a glass show off Peele’s directorial chops. By the time the film shows its hand and ventures into the ridiculous, you’re so invested that its relatively lackluster ending doesn’t hinder its overall impact.

There’s also some clear slavery imagery that Peele makes use of. The Armitage families lakefront property is made to look like a plantation, or at least how plantations have looked in Hollywood productions, with its large open spaces and apparent isolation from the rest of the world. Even more overt is the use of cotton. When Chris is strapped to a chair and undergoing the final hypnosis, he saves himself by plugging his ears with cotton he ripped from the chair. That little white fluff, so long a symbol of America’s gross racial history, is what ultimately costs the whites here. It’d be hilarious if it didn’t happen amidst such disturbing circumstances. But that’s Get Out in a nutshell, right?

Stop giving Guy Ritchie money.

Greg Silverman, the Warner Bros exec who greenlit King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, was given the axe six months ago. It was a long time coming. He oversaw other box office bombs such as Jupiter Ascending and In the Heart of the Sea. It’s safe to assume Warners was prepared for King Arthur to flop, but still, to flop like this? Yeesh.

The critically-panned film reportedly cost over $175M in total, and it won’t open at even $15M domestically. The international numbers aren’t any better. There’s no way this film creeps into the black. This could be a potentially nine-figure loss for WB.

As for the films apparent ineptitude, I’m not exactly surprised. Guy Ritchie has shown absolutely nothing since making the transition from crime caper auteur to studio puppet. His Sherlock Holmes films are messy, only saved by the prescence of Robert Downey Jr. 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was lifeless despite its sexy cast and thrilling basis. Ritchie, when given a large budget, has left a lot to be desired. He’s a capable filmmaker. Fun films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch don’t happen by accident. But he needs a career intervention, because if he helms another big budget disaster, he won’t get the chance again.

Unfortunately, Ritchie is currently in pre-production on Disney’s live-action Aladdin. The film is still in the scripting phase so maybe Disney will make a change, but I doubt it. They were surely way aware that King Arthur was unlikely to be successful when they hired Ritchie. We’ll see.

Quick notes:

  • Cannes starts this week, so we’ll get first reactions to some of the year’s most-anticipated films. Cannes films I’m keeping the closest eye on? Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
  • On the TV front, it’s an awesome time. The Leftovers, American Gods, Silicon Valley, and Better Call Saul are entertaining the hell out of me so far this season. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing about Fargo.
  • The second season of the Aziz Ansanri’s critically-acclaimed Master of None came on Netflix this weekend. It’s good, though not as poignant as the first, a little caught up in its own privleged world. The first five episodes are great though.


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