The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Nope | Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Keith David, Brandon Perea, Steven Yuen | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the Clark County School District.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Nope | Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Keith David, Brandon Perea, Steven Yuen | Review

Why are inanimate objects falling from the sky? Why is a cloud filled with human screams? And why does a murderous monkey from a once popular children’s show pop into flashbacks at random intervals?

You will have two of these questions answered by the end credits of the movie Nope, the latest film written, produced, and directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us).

OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) is a horse trainer/wrangler for Hollywood film productions. His sister Em (Keke Palmer) works the horses with him when she’s not acting, singing, producing her own material (she says). OJ witnesses their father Otis (Keith David) become a sudden fatality in the first instance of falling objects/cloud screams that occur on the Haywood family ranch in Agua Dulce, California.

The sky is hiding something sinister, and OJ and Em, with the aid of Fry’s clerk Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) are out to capture photographic evidence of a suspected UFO. This “Oprah shot” as they call it, will hopefully net them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Neighboring theme park, Jupiter’s Claim, is run by Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yuen) a former child star who had once-upon-a-time witnessed a beloved chimpanzee turn murderous on his tv show, Gordy’s Home! Jupe runs “The Starlight Lasso Experience” using horses that he buys from OJ, but they keep disappearing. Is Jupe hiding something? A strange, unsettling encounter with odd beings in OJ’s barn links back to Jupe while providing some creepy chills before dissipating into an anticlimax.

As is the case with many cinematic enigmas, there’s an old man, cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) who may hold the key to the mystery with cryptic messages and the analog means to possibly capture photographic evidence of the UFO (or whatever it is). When it’s around, all electronics malfunction, a nice set-up for suspense.

Peele keeps you guessing with some sweeping visuals and startling reveals (this was the first horror film to be shot with IMAX cameras). Cinematography and special effects could be Oscar contenders.

It’s an ambitious film, not quite linear in its presentation, that features chapters by horse name: Lucky, Ghost, and Jean Jacket, although the latter becomes the name of the thing in the sky that’s causing all of the havoc. Sound wild? Exciting? Confusing? It can be all of these and more. And that’s without mentioning the tube figures (they fill up with wind and dance, usually in front of car dealerships) the Scorpion King hoodie, and the housekey embedded in a horse’s flank.

Daniel Kaluuya’s OJ spends a good portion of the film’s first half hour glaring and irritable, but does accentuate the eerie overall atmosphere of the film with his somber mood. Keke Palmer’s Em is wildly exuberant to the point of being obnoxious at times, but provides a 180 contrast to her brother’s increasing gravitas. Brandon Perea’s Angel is a welcome middle ground tech nerd, and Steven Yuen’s Jupe is secretive and smug, his character underdeveloped to the point of being a plot device and little else. Michael Wincott’s Antlers provides a nice red herring, which is a Peele calling card: things aren’t going to go the way you think they will, over and over again.

Peele is an original storyteller, unafraid to forge new narratives, and NOT bound by Hollywood mandates (i.e., there MUST be a romance, damsel in distress, an old guy that unlocks the mystery, etc.) Peele may approach these tropes, but does not develop them into predictable outcomes; that is, if he includes them at all.

It’s a film to be appreciated more than liked. Despite the masterful direction and sweeping cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar, Ad Astra) the translation from idea to screenplay to film requires more clarity and sequential refinement than is summoned here.

Still, it’s worthy of eyes. Are there still reasons to anticipate a Jordan Peele film? Yep.


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