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Archives for : Jordan Peele

Movie Review: “Candyman” is a Terrifying Treat

Even as I write this review, I am a little nervous to type “Candyman”. After seeing the new film, that name instills the same fear I felt after watching the original 1992 movie.

In case you’re new to the franchise, the original film follows Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a grad student researching urban legends who learns of the mysterious murders that happened at the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Residents suspect the killer is the notorious Candyman (Tony Todd). He was born in the late 1800s and was the son of a slave. He grew up to be a well-known artist that wealthy white people sought out for their portraits. But when he fell in love with the daughter of one his upper-class customers, her father sent a lynch mob after him. They cut off his right hand, smeared him with honeycomb, let the bees sting him to death, and burned his body on the land that the Cabrini-Green neighborhood was eventually built. When a person says his name 5 times to a mirror, bees trickle in and a few candies drop before he appears and kills you with the hook attached to his bloody arm.

Fast forward to 2019 and we’re in the middle of a dinner party where couple, Anthony and Brianna (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris) are learning about Candyman for the first time. Brianna is an art gallery director and her partner, Anthony is an aspiring artist whose suddenly fixated with Candyman. He paints the images of the most recent Candyman symbol, a misunderstood resident named Sherman Fields (Michael Hargrove), who was mistakenly accused of putting razorblades in Halloween candy. Eventually Anthony’s disturbing artwork inspires others to start uttering the word “Candyman” into a mirror 5 times, and that’s when the bodies begin to pile.

Director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods),  Producer/Co-Writer Jordan Peele (Get Out), and Co-Writer Win Rosenfeld had a keen vision for this continuation of the legendary horror. Lots of praise goes into the storytelling. Instead of flashbacks of the original film, they use silhouettes of puppet paper cut-outs to explain the history. The images are unique and engaging. They also don’t take an extremely graphic route. Although blood is shed, there’s more reaction to the gore than action. One of my favorite scenes is the death shown through an apartment window as the camera zooms out. It’s subtle, but effective bloody art.

Abdul-Mateen II, Parris, and Coleman Domingo (plays William Burke) shine as standouts with their harrowing performances. But the movie does suffer from a few amateur, secondary characters. Luckily, they are not on screen for very long.

“Candyman” (2021) does a wonderful job connecting to the first film. There’s still the same essence of the original, with a modern and more stylistic vision complimented by a stellar score. But perhaps, the most unforgettable addition to this sequel is how DaCosta, Peele, and Rosenfeld turned Candyman into a metaphor for the trauma that has haunted the black community for years. To repeat a powerful quote from the film, “Candyman’s how we deal with the fact that these things happened. That they’re still happening!” Making Candyman a frightening but significant figure.

Audiences will be buzzing about “Candyman” (2021).  It’s a fun and refreshing spin on the iconic cult classic.

Rating: A-

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Movie Review: “The Rental” is a Chilling Weekend Getaway

In Dave Franco’s directorial debut, “The Rental”, two couples rent a vacation home for what they hoped would be a celebratory weekend getaway. Unfortunately, this relaxing trip turns into a nightmare.

After Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (Shelia Vand) close a big deal for their company, they decide to rent an Airbnb for them and their significant others. Charlie seems to be in a happy enough marriage with an aloof Michelle (Alison Brie), but at the same time he is dumbfounded by the fact that Mina is dating his ex-convict brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White). Needless to say, there is a lot of sexual tension during the weekend.

When the group arrives at the secluded waterfront home, they are impressed with the house; but not so much with the creepy and racist property manager. They don’t let that doesn’t stop their fun. They carry on with drinking, drugs, and sex.

The partying comes to a halt when Mina discovers a hidden camera in the shower, and suddenly, the couples must fight to survive the night.

“The Rental” is an easy horror to digest. The film is only 88 minutes long, and during that time you’re entertained by the complex relationships and intensity. There’s just a few moments of comic relief to ease the tension, but the thought of them being watched is constantly on your mind.

Franco and his co-writer, Joe Swanberg do a fantastic job with their character development. Right away we’re locked into engaging characters who start off with one persona and gradually reveal another. The writers manage to get through many different plot points, while still being cohesive. Less is more here. The set, the score, the character traits, and other small details enhance the story.

All four stars do a fantastic job, but it’s the women that steal the show. It’s impossible not to sympathize with Brie’s character, Michelle. She plays the happy and naïve wife so well. Unaware of the fact that her husband isn’t as great as he’d like everyone to believe. And we can only hope to see more of Vand after an incredibly strong performance as Mina. She’s the whole package– smart, beautiful, and not afraid to stand up for herself against a racist.

Now “The Rental” isn’t as inventive as Jordan Peele’s feature film debut, “Get Out”. There are some holes in the movie. And not everyone will be satisfied with the ending, but it’s a solid thriller that subtly goes from nerve-racking drama to shocking slasher. It’s a lot of fun, and is a promising start for Dave Franco’s filmmaking career.

Rating: 3.75/5

“The Rental” is available On Demand July 24.

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Movie Review: “Pet Sematary”

 

The horrors keep on coming! The past two months we’ve been treated to two highly anticipated “scary movies”. Pet Sematary that might have been better left dead, but there are still a few scares. Check out my ICTN review of the film, along with Jordan Peele’s box office smash, “Us”.

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Movie Review: “Us” Cuts Deep and Beyond the Superficial Scares

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Coming off of a critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated directorial debut (Get Out), Jordan Peele had a lot riding on his sophomore feature, Us. But let’s just get the question that’s on your mind out of the way now. Us is not better than Get Out, and don’t go into the movie expecting it will be. If you enter the theater with that mindset from the start, you’re more likely to enjoy this all new twisted, weekend getaway.

Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have taken their two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) to their family beach house expecting to unplug and unwind. Still scared from events that happened at the Santa Cruz boardwalk when she was a child, Adelaide is on edge from every strange or coincidental occurrence. And as the day turns to night, Adelaide’s suspicions turn into reality when eerie, uninvited guests show up in their driveway. Here’s the kicker; they look exactly like Adelaide and her family. From then on, these doppelgangers have turned what was supposed to be a relaxing trip into a horrifying nightmare.

It comes as no surprise that the cast does an incredible job. Nyong’o impresses with versatility and standout performance. Duke shows off his comedic chops; and newcomers, Joseph and Alex, give breakout performances that will likely have them, once again, on our movie screens.

Us takes you on an intense, chaotic thrill ride that will keep you physically and emotionally on the edge of your seat till the very end. Compared to his previous movie, Peele cranks up the scares, the gore, and the humor. It’s a combination that absolutely delivers. His visual techniques and writing have the essence of a modern day Hitchcock, but Peele still stays true to his own unique style of film-making. However, after seeing Us, I think we might be looking at the new master of horror.

Just like one of the many themes in Us, with the good comes the bad. Unlike Get OutUs is not a “perfect” movie.  Besides the fact that it may run a tad longer than it should (this is forgivable), there is A LOT to take in at first viewing. Get Out was straightforward and easy to understand, even though it had a complex narrative. To call Us “complex” would be an understatement. I’m still trying to figure out all the hidden meanings behind this one.  There are many layers you will only be able to peel back through multiple viewings. I already plan to watch the movie again this weekend. That being said, there are elements you’ll probably be able to figure out after first watch. One very obvious one is in the title. There’s a reason why Us has the same initials as the United States. Peele might be trying to tell us how he feels about the current status of our country and the way society treats outsiders.

Us cuts deep and leads you down a rabbit hole of theories. What has the world come to?  Do we need a fresh start? Do I have an evil, dark side? Though the questions you might have could be overwhelming, there’s no denying that Us is a witty and wickedly, entertaining horror flick.

I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele has in store for us next!

Rating: 4.5/5

Us hits theaters March 22!

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“Get Out” One Year Later – Free Screenings on President Day!

First-Come, First-Served Offer Valid at 55 AMC Theatres Nationwide to Guests of the 7:00 P.M. Screenings on Monday, February 19

Universal City, CA, February 13, 2018—Filmmaker Jordan Peele, in conjunction with Universal Pictures, today announced free screenings of Universal’s Get Out on Presidents’ Day, February 19, at 55 AMC locations nationwide.  Each guest who requests a ticket the day of the screening—at a participating location—will be given one free admission to the 7:00 p.m. showing, up to theatre capacity.

Since its release in theatres in February 2017, Get Out has been nominated for four Academy Awards®, while inspiring audiences and artists worldwide.  A compilation video was also released that showcases the artwork inspired by Get Out—featuring the hashtag #GetOutOneYearLater—to encourage audiences to share more of their artwork, experiences and discussions that were influenced by the movie.

The promotion will be available at each of the 55 AMC Theatres playing the special screening of Get Out at 7:00 p.m. on February 19.  Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and may only be picked up at the AMC box office that day.  Each guest must present a valid ID to receive their ticket, with a limit of one free ticket for each ID presented, while supplies last.  This offer is valid for the 7:00 p.m. showing of the film on February 19, only.

Markets that will playing Get Out on Presidents’ Day include ones in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; Oklahoma City, OK; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Raleigh/Durham, NC; San Diego, CA; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA; Seattle/Tacoma, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tallahassee, FL; Tampa, FL; and Washington, D.C.  To find out more information, visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.

“When Jordan approached us about a way to thank fans one year after the release of Get Out, we thought a Presidents’ Day screening during Black History Month would be a wonderful way to commemorate the film’s impact,” said Jim Orr, President, Distribution, Universal Pictures.  “The success of his stunning vision would not have been possible without the audience’s passion for both Get Out’s groundbreaking storytelling and its deft use of art as society’s mirror.”

For more information and a list of theatres offering the special screenings, please visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.  Broadcast-quality clips from Get Out are available at www.epk.tv, and stills are available at www.image.net.

 

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com).  Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal.  NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.  NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks.  NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

Movie Review: “Get Out” is an Excellent Mix of Horror and Comedy

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Every once in a while a horror flick comes along that not only scares, but also includes plenty of laughs along the way. In the past few years, films like “The Visit” and “The Guest” have provided this full package. And now at the start of 2017, comedian Jordan Peele (“Key and Peele”) has captured this rarity again, and presented us with the gift of his directorial debut, “Get Out”.

Based on the film’s trailer alone, audiences knew we were in for some race-savvy satire that would lead to a number of awkward scenes. But, these moments of comic relief are so subtle and well executed that they blend perfectly with the eerie tension, while still keeping you engrossed in the suspense of the movie.

“Get Out” follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African American photographer who’s planning to meet his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents for the first time. They are set to head upstate to her family’s secluded home, and of course, Chris expresses his concern by asking if they know he is black? Rose (Allison Williams) laughs it off and assures Chris that her parents are totally cool. To give him comfort, she lets him know that her dad would have voted for Obama a third term. Oh good, now we all feel so much better… Chris’ best friend (Lil Rel Howery) even warns him not go, but he does not listen.

On the drive to her parents’ house they hit a deer, foreshadowing an unpleasant visit ahead of them. And it’s here that we get our first act of racism with a cop who insists on seeing Chris’ ID after the accident, even though Rose was driving. Luckily, Rose diffuses the situation in a pretty knight in shining armor way.

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Finally, they arrive to her parents’ home, and both are welcomed with open arms. Rose’s mom Missy (Catherine Keener) and her dad Dean (Bradley Whitford) appear to be nice. Dean comes across a bit foolish at times with a few ignorant remarks when trying to “bond” with Chris, but other than that the parents seem harmless. However, their two African American servants, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson) behave in a very odd manner with forced smiles and unusual emotional breakouts.

Things just continue to get stranger. Missy offers to hypnotize Chris so that he can quit smoking. Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) makes it blatantly clear that he does not care for his sister’s new boyfriend. Then there’s a disturbing party in which Chris is hounded by the many white people in attendance. Soon enough, everything begins to unwind.

Jordan Peele’s script is sharp, witty, and an effective horror. There are subtle Hitchcock-like notes in his story telling. Peele’s cast only furthers his film with their well-rounded performances. Keener and Whitford do an incredible job maintaining their creepy, Stepford Wives composure. Major kudos to Lil Rel Howery for being the character that hilariously speaks on behalf of everyone in the audience.

“Get Out” is a refreshing horror-comedy that will keep you on edge till the very end!

Rating: 4/5

“Get Out” opens in theaters February 24th.

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Interview: Key and Peele Talk and Sing “Keanu”

I sat down with Keeagan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele to discuss their new film, “Keanu”. We talked about loss and recovery, pets, break-ups, funk, and an improvised Keanu song! Bonus tip: watch for my un-credited special guest.

“Keanu” opens in theaters April 29.

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