Tag Archives: allison williams

Spoiler Alert Sunday :: our thoughts on Get Out

2 Apr

Disclaimer: neither of us are black, though one of us is white-passing biracial (Chinese/white), so whatever we have to say about the film will be filtered through a non-black lens, and should not be taken with the same gravity as what black reviewers and audiences have said.

So, I (drift partner) am biracial, much like director/writer Jordan Peele, though since I’m extremely light-skinned and white-passing my experiences with racism and whiteness have been completely difference than Peele’s. While people frequently erase Peele’s experiences having grown up with a white mother, I have had people say to my face that I can’t be Chinese. I’ve had people express disbelief that my Chinese father is related to me, my identity has been used as an excuse to tell racist jokes, and been tasked to explain why the slur “Ch*naman” is racist. I look white, but I’m not. And I’m sure I haven’t experienced half of the racism and microaggressions that Peele has as a black man in the US.

Get Out is a horror/comedy, but most of the comedy is probably going to be lost on white audiences, because the jokes are Peele’s nods to the experiences he and other black people face when (sometimes) well-meaning white people try to engage with them. “You know, I would’ve voted for Obama for a third term.” “I know Tiger Woods. Let’s see your golf stance!” “If you worked out, you’d be a beast!” I lost count of the microaggressions in this film, the little things the white characters said or did that communicated to Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) that they definitely saw him as Other. The audience in our screening didn’t seem to be laughing that much, but I was, because I recognized most of these jokes. They’re not really for the white audience members at all – they’re for the black viewers, who have probably had similar experiences and will laugh and nod knowingly and whisper “white people.”

That being said, this movie also doesn’t pull its punches – it’s got a lot of tension that builds from the very first scene, and really knows how to use simple things like a plush lion or a spoon rubbing on the inside of a teacup to unsettle you. I was spoiled for most of the movie going in, but even I didn’t quite guess the final twist, and it’s over-the-top and horrifying in the best way. From the beginning you know something weird is going on, but you’re not sure how deep it goes, and you’ll want to keep watching to find out. I’m sort of a wuss when it comes to horror movies, but I like them like this: creepy and unsettling with lots of moments that give you chills, but not unnecessarily gory, and with explanations for why everything is happening. Every actor is giving perfect performances that are unsettling without tipping over into parody levels – Bradley Whitford has never been scarier to me, and Allison Williams finally seems to have found a job that lets her truly (unnervingly) shine. Daniel Kaluuya is also brilliant and likable and I was rooting for him every step of the way; he’s supposed to be in Black Panther, which thrills me. It’s a real pity that horror movies tend to get passed over by the major awards, because if any genre film ever had performances that merited consideration, it’s this one.

As of today, Get Out has passed The Blair Witch Project as the highest-grossing original screenplay in history. I can’t think of a film that’s more deserving, and I’m so glad it’s managed to get the audience it has. Please do yourself a favor and watch it (just be aware, if you’re white, that it’s laughing at you, not with you).

–your fangirl heroines.

wildeyed

Theatre Thursday :: my thoughts on Peter Pan (live)

11 Dec

For some reason or another, I grew up with a VHS copy of the old production, with Mary Martin as Peter, and probably just because I watched the same things over and over when I was bored as a kid, I’ve probably seen that production something like thirty times.  Of course, it’s been years and years, during which I both read the book twice (once for fun, once for school) then analyzed the hell out of it accordingly and became considerably more versed in musical theatre and media theory and the world.  But none of this is why we watched NBC’s new production of Peter Pan.

No, we tuned in because it was gonna be a damn shitshow and that is irresistible.  (Or rather we recorded it and then watched it over the weekend when we could drink our way through it.  I really should have had the foresight to save the tipsy texts I liveblogged at my drift partner, as they were apparently gold, but I remember the gist of them and this will be considerably more coherent.)  And true enough, it was a damn shitshow and it was irresistible.

As with The Sound of Music last year (and hopefully many more musicals for many more years) the casting formula here seemed to be: completely incongruous celebrity not traditionally associated with musical theatre (this time, Christopher Walken) + star of an HBO television program that the children watching this musical should not look into for many years, if ever (this time, Girls‘ Allison Williams) + actual Broadway actors for the other adults (this time, Kelli freaking O’Hara and, again, our buddy Christian Borle) + whoever the hell for the children.  (We’ve since been speculating about who might be stuntcast next.  I’m really hoping that Pedro Pascal can sing, honestly.)  This formula is not successful if your definition of success is a seamless, unquestionable performance, but it is successful if your definition of success is a production that you can giggle at while imbibing cocktails.

Allison Williams, who I keep wanting to call “Marnie” even though while I will admit to watching Girls I don’t particularly like it, is a better actress than last year’s Carrie Underwood, and that’s something.  One of my people was disappointed in her “crowing” skills during “I Gotta Crow,” and I will agree that they weren’t what I was expecting.  Overall her performance was acceptable but also uninspiring, and I was glad to learn that I wasn’t the only person confused by her costume’s inclusion of fishnet.

Taylor Louderman, who played Wendy, was similarly acceptable but uninspiring, but I mention her just to mention that my people kept remarking about her resemblance to Twin Peaks‘ Laura Palmer (played by Sheryl Lee).  I am a philistine and have not yet seen Twin Peaks, but I proceeded to Google Laura Palmer and see that that was eerily true.

Alanna Saunders, who played Tiger Lily, actually has Native American heritage, so that’s cool I guess. And while not all of the male chorus members playing her tribesmen appeared Native American, none of them appeared white, so that’s also… something…?  And one of the many changes to the musical numbers was changing the lyrics of the most racist number from the 1954 production, so that’s also something.

Kelli O’Hara as Mrs. Darling had very little to do but was brilliant.  When one of my people tried to talk during one of her songs, my other person and I shushed him loudly.  You don’t talk while Kelli O’Hara is singing.  He didn’t try to talk over Christian Borle, though, because we all love Christian Borle equally much.  In his double roles as Mr. Darling and Smee, he managed to keep the production at least doggy-paddling when otherwise it might have sunk.

And… Christopher Walken.  I didn’t remember nearly any of the songs he sang and am positive that at least a couple of them were new to this production, but Christopher Walken is always just… Christopher Walken.  The ellipsis is almost a prerequisite when discussing him.  There aren’t words for his demeanor, honestly.  His distinctive voice and somehow always just a little bit uninterested expression.  The fact that they put a footrest in his throne like it was a La-Z-Boy recliner.  The way he strutted around talking through all of his musical numbers.  More than once I laughed uproariously, though I’m sure it wasn’t because of something they intended to be funny.

Overall, it was marginally less trainwrecky than The Sound of Music but also less memorable.

–your fangirl heroine.

valid optimism