A year has passed since Jordan Peele first let the world know the disturbing title of his next film; Since then we all wonder what the heck Nope was going to be around. Each trailer pulled raise the curtain a little, but when the film finally opened last weekend, all was revealed. And that was a lot.
Written and directed by Peele, Nope is about a brother and sister (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) whose family owns a legendary horse ranch. When something mysterious begins to appear in the skies above the ranch, the siblings decide to document it, hoping to gain fortune and fame. What they find is more than they bargained forbut also something they are perfectly suited to tangle with.
Below, io9 writers Germain Lussier and Sabina Graves dive into Nopespoilers, theories, themes, and more. Did we mention spoilers? Here is one:
Germain Lussier: So we were both in San Diego for Comic-Con last weekend that’s why this discussion about Jordan Peele’s latest movie, Nope, is a little late. Our apologies to our readers.
And yet, while covering the con, I kept thinking about it. I found Nope very entertaining and infinitely thought-provoking. To me, it’s a movie you can enjoy as a simple-at the top summer blockbuster, or you can peel it off layer by layer and uncover treasures down to its core. I do not have any’I don’t think it’s Peele’s best movie, but never mind if it’s not great. What did you think of it?
Sabina Graves:Peel off the backing layer by layer. yes I I agree-I couldn’t stop thinking about it during SDCC either. Namely because a few people were saying you catch more on a rewatch, so I’m really hoping to catch it on IMAX, and I’m looking forward to this full experience again.
German: Damn it. “Peel”. It’s a good one. So, what exactly have you been thinking since you saw it?
Sabina: Its themes and lots of visuals. On the way to San Diego there was a super low cloud or fog tucked between some of the hills we drove through that looked weird and I was like “NOPE!” Seriously, I was really moved by what he was trying to say about entertainment the industry and how it was embodied by this alien monster. I’m also very scared of aliens so this was totally effective for me. “Space Jaws.”
German: Yeah, that third act was very Jaws meets Close Encounters conceptually. And thematically I agree. The Haywoods feel like a family that has already been sucked in and spat out by Hollywood. They struggle to find work, are always pushed around and it’s as if they never get any favors. Even the way Em (Palmer) gets into another job shows it. The same goes for Jupe (Yeun), this child actor who always wants fame and success, and all see this alien ship/being as their exit door.
I will say however, while it doesn’t quite fit the theme of the issues and struggles of the film industry, I really, really, really wanted to see Em and OJ (Kaluuya) get that “Oprah” shot. I mean, I guess they did with this photo. But my thought is, in the next scene that we never see, no one would believe them. Which is basically perfectly in line with these themes.
Sabina: I thought it was smart to get the shot out of the well that it was a “O” shape. I think that last moment really showed how lucky it really is and to have a eye even with the most rudimentary tools that can define you, or in this case give Em this victory against the aprivilege. Beakbecause we see him tearing down old school cinema, modern cinema, the Somnambulist energy influencer on the bike, etc.
German: Right. Like it has power over electricity and therefore over technology, but simple things, like a crank on a camera, it’s not ready for. More to think about there too.
Speaking of “mmore thinking,“It seems like last week the thing most people have been talking about, and rightly so, is ‘Gordy’s Home.’ The movie starts there, goes back there, and not only helps fill in a backstory, but establishes very interesting parallels. A week, and several theories later, I’m still thinking about Peele’s intentions here. What’s your view?
Sabina: It’s so disturbing! I think it was a way of showing that Jupe thought he could fight off a predator at the time, and that he could do it now in the case of the alien craft. At least at the plot level. Thematically, I think it speaks to our obsession with the dark side of fame that kind of lives in infamy with big tragedies in entertainment.
German: A) I would like to see the spin-off of the couple who spent the night there. B) Skirt naming Chris Kattan as an almost god-level comedic genius (which I’m not mad at) was arguably my favorite moment of the movie. That and the Scorpio King sweatshirt.
But seriously, I agree. It’s Peele’s delight, screwed up to show how nature doesn’t always bend to man’s will. Often, we are indebted to it. And that, even subconscious knowledge, helps us buy more of not just Jupe’s picks, but OJ’s and Em’s as well.
Do you have any ideas about the shoe? I read a great article in the LA Times That said, the fact that the shoe was standing may have been Peele’s clue that Jupe’s memory of this event was unreliable. I don’t know if I believe this theory or what it adds, but it was very clever and interesting.
Sabina: The shoe evokes a lot how this idea of remembering or visiting the place where it happened, like the Manson murders, really intrigue and draw people. To me, this speaks to Jupe as an unreliable narrator promoting this shoe, but also serves as the seed of his idea of bringing an audience to his show, of being the place where it happens –see an alien eat a horse but the tragedy is that he eats everyone—which bothered me HIGHLY with the sounds and visuals in the creature’s esophagus. But ultimately he unwittingly sacrificed himself and his crowd to become yet another site of tragedy. If that makes sense. Jupiter’s Claim became the shoe.
German: Oh 100% agree on the esophagus scene. I was not expecting it at all. I think, if anything, we needed more of that after. I would have liked to see a little more inside the creature. But I see what you mean. Jupiter’s Claim is the new myth. It’s already started with the TMZ reporter and the reporters we see at the end. This is the new symbol that will carry the evil of this tragedy.
Sabina: Can I also say that Steven Yuen was so great at it and the set really brought it—even when the middle seemed a bit curvy. I was in because I cared so much about Em and OJ. Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya were totally in sync as siblings. And Michael Wincott’s spoken word “Purple People Eater” was perfectly chilling. Also we got that scary pop song for alink poltergeist moment.
German: I feel like it’s not that fun to read because we keep agreeing, but yeah. The cast is great and I think one of the things that holds the movie back a bit is what you say. This second act, while interesting and entertaining, just doesn’t match the rest of the film. I think it’s just because Peele is so ambitious and tries to do so much that that holds him back a bit.
For me, I think that’s why, while I really like all three, I’m putting this below get outbut above Weamong Features of Peele so far. get out is a tightly built masterpiece and We is beyond fascinating and innovative, but its concept is so vast and strange that it left me with too many questions. I love them all, but I put Nope between. What do you think?
Sabine: get out is such a stellar debut and one of the greatest movies of our time. It set the bar for Peele’s horror in a way that I think hasn’t quite met that expectation since. I mean We was very full of fears and uneasiness too. We see it with Nope in that its opening and the middle of the film sequence where the aprivilege eats Skirt people climaxing with the bloody Fighting spirit moment on the house are the only two big scares. (Not to mention the children in alien costumes who pretend. They got me anyway.) But then the whole last act abandons that? It goes for more ethereal and Arrival-esque rather abstract that like Jaws eat Quint.
German: The kids got me too. But I did agree that the film was less “horror” and more “thriller”. Like I said up top, for me, this was Peele’s big-budget summer blockbuster. An alien descends from the sky to terrorize a city. So the fact that it mixes genres and gives us a lot of peak moments, as well as those moments of introspective reflection, worked for me. If you don’t always expect horror, horror may be more effective.
Sabina: And I think that’that’s why I still think about it. Sure, I was hoping for this Peele tone but the different vision of the horror he had really marked me, and I can’t wait to see it again.
Nope is now in theaters.
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