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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

Spoiler Alert Saturday :: my thoughts on The Cabin in the Woods

14 Apr

Or, the most awkwardly written review ever, because I am terrified of actually spoiling this one for anyone.

No, really.  I have never before been more terrified to ruin something for anyone.  I will openly discuss the details and plots of movies and television shows and books and things that didn’t much matter to me, so long as someone in my physical company hasn’t told me explicitly not to; I will withhold the details and plots of movies and television shows and books and things that are so absurd that you just need to experience it for yourself (things like Sleepaway Camp), even if they didn’t much matter to me in deep personal ways.  But things that matter to me, well, if they’ve been around enough that they’re generally common-ish knowledge, I feel no qualms in discussing on my blog; if somebody I know IRL is intending to watch a particular television program, for example, I’ll refrain from mentioning things like who dies; but if a thing is still fairly new in the world, I intend to shut the hell up.  I don’t want to ruin the fun.

As far as fans go, those who have seen The Cabin in the Woods seem pretty consistently good at doing this, too.  I like that we’re all partaking in this worldwide not-spoiling-for-reasons-fest.  Certain journalistic publications have not been so kind, but people on tumblr and things have been doing a good job, so far as I’ve seen.  And I don’t intend to be the one who screws that up.

Instead, this is going to be less of a movie review and more of a discussion of what I am like when viewing movies that I absolutely love right off the bat.  The experience is pretty consistently the same.  (And it will likely be peppered with exclamation-pointed declarations of my completely incoherent fangirling love of certain actors and actresses.)

I watch a lot of movies.  That is apparent by my frequent reviewing of them.  And I get pre-excited about… less of them, but a reasonable amount of them.  I was excited about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, for example, but not frantically so.  I was excited about the last Harry Potter, because it was a big-ass part of my life.  I was excited about Sucker Punch because people kept telling me it looked like a “me” movie, and I did love it, I don’t care.  I was excited about Scott Pilgrim way back in 2010 because it looked awesome even if I wasn’t initiate yet, and it wound up being probably the last movie that has made me react in the way I will detail soon.  I was excited about Inglourious Basterds way back in 2009 because of Tarantino reasons, and loved it wholly.

But honestly, the last movie I was this excited about, that I expected to give me these reactions, was Grindhouse.  In 2007.  A while back.  I was pre-excited about Grindhouse because A) Tarantino/Rodriguez, B) B-movies, C) it looked morbid and insane and ridiculous and stylized and fantastic.  All of those requirements were met and then some, because honestly?  You ask me what movies make me laugh the hardest?  That’s in the top 5.  Planet Terror especially.  I’ve seen it/them upwards of ten times now, probably, and I still just laugh my head off every time.  (This is part because I laugh at amusing dialogue/happenings and part because I laugh, like the morbid weirdo I am, at things like Planet Terror‘s particularly cartoon-bloody zombie kills or moments of exceptional badassery like Cherry Darling wielding her gun leg.)

I was spectacularly pre-excited about Cabin.  I first tumbled about it in July of last year, for example, and have been keeping tabs on it since then.  I would clearly follow Joss most anywhere, in terms of I enjoy his work and his style; I have a decided interest in Amy Acker; I would follow Fran Kranz most anywhere, decidedly, because of the part where I completely lose all capability for rational thought due to my enjoying him so.  Also, I love horror-but-not movies.  (See reason C, above.)  I love movies that are equal parts gore/death/whatever and humor.  I love movies that are sincerely mindbendy.  I love when I don’t see things coming because they’re artfully twisted and manipulated to be surprises.  I assumed that I would be enjoying this movie thoroughly.

We arrived fairly early for the movie.  (They were still cleaning the theater when we got to the door.  We were excited, all right?)  We made sure we were well-stocked with our giant sodas and our inappropriate starches.  We kicked back.  I reminded myself not to have a giant grin on my face right away, because that would be silly.

But one appeared justly pretty quickly.  I enjoy character banter even when it’s silly.  Kristen Connolly really was cute.  Chris Hemsworth was doing what he was supposed to and very well.  Jesse Williams and Anna Hutchinson did their jobs well, too.  Which sounds like an awkward not-quite-compliment, but mostly it’s me not wanting to discuss actual details.  Also: FranFrom the moment he came on, I could both hear the audience laughing and not stop grinning.  He’s one of those performers that makes me do that.  I’ve seen people online being proud of him being a “fan favorite” and whatnot, and I second that sentiment.

The setup was seriously artful.  And I just kept laughing.  Laughing because I enjoy when people genrebend (which was done), laughing because I enjoy when people do sendups of genres (which was done), laughing because I enjoy when characters (especially ones played by people I adore) say completely unexpectedly random and yet hilarious things (which was done).

By the time the movie… got going, let’s say, I was doing the thing of perpetually biting my lip/touching my face.  Because of the humor, because of the aw, because of the interest, because of everything.  When certain things became… revealed, I could not contain my laughter.  To the point where one of my people actually jokingly told me to shut up.  (We four were laughing more than anyone else in the theater, I’m fairly sure.)  It’s this point where I’ll say: yes Tom Lenk,  yes Richard Jenkins, yes Bradley Whitford, yes Brian White, yes Amy Acker.  Good job, all of you.

Then there were moments of hell yes awesomeness.  Moments where I may have audibly exclaimed things like “YES” and “MY BABY.”  And moments where I was laughing because it was funny and also because it was just so awesome.  And moments where I was laughing at myself because I was enjoying myself so enthusiastically.  And moments where I honestly felt a little guilty for laughing so loudly because it was that morbid laughter and maybe not everyone there necessarily understood that, but then that’s just too bad for them.

And then… the conclusion.  They did a good job of, how can I phrase it, not letting things unravel all at once.  And they did a good job of pulling surprises until the end.  I didn’t know how it would end, honestly, but looking back I can’t imagine another way that it could have ended, everything having gone how it did.

I haven’t enjoyed myself this much and in this way at the movies while they are in theaters in a long while.  And I fully intend on enjoying myself at this movie in theaters again.

–your fangirl heroine.