Welcome back to my Home Movies! This week, we have Jordan Peele‘s latest Nope, as well as the underrated gem Breaking, competing for top honors. Which film emerged victorious today? And what of the latest Criterion Collection release? Read on for more…
Breaking was one of the best movies I saw at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. A compelling, tight, and even enraging flick, it was a massive surprise, in all of the right ways. Here is some of what I said back at Sundance, when it was still called 892, as opposed to Breaking:
Brian Brown-Easley served his country. His country, in turn, did not serve him. That simple fact led a troubled but decent man to put himself in an impossible situation. This is the premise for the biographical drama/thriller 892, one of the saddest movies playing at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. If his story doesn’t make you angry, you’re not paying attention. Of course, hitting on emotions and making a satisfying film are two different things, but this manages to definitely get the job done. Even if the genre elements are a bit run of the mill, the central performance, as well as the devastation of the situation, more than make up the difference. This is one of the most surprising flicks of the fest for me, without question.
892 mixes elements of a bank heist film with a character study, making sure we identify with Brian’s plight. It also has a ton to say about the state of America, even if it perhaps doesn’t always fully know what to do with its emotions. However, those missteps are small, and whenever the movie feels like it’s getting off track, a line or a moment brings you right back. It all builds to a final moment that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Jordan Peele’s movies are an event, that’s for sure. Nope is no exception, even if there wasn’t quite the same rapturous response this time. Still, it’s the kind of film that generates an infinite amount of conversation. This here is some of what I had to say in my review:
Three films in, Jordan Peele has established himself as an event storyteller. Get Out shocked the cinematic world, winning him the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in the process (not to mention Oscar nominations in Best Director and Best Picture, to boot). Us didn’t have the same awards cache, but cemented him as a “social horror” master and a filmmaker you pay close attention to. Now with Nope, Peele has managed to up the ante. The movie is bigger and in some ways bolder than anything he’s done before, even if there are missteps along the way. The film has an element of Steven Spielberg-esque spectacle to it, which is a new playground Peele’s chosen to frolic in. Regardless of if you like, love, or even find Nope to be a misfire, it’s impossible not to consider this director at the forefront of Hollywood storytelling. No one does metaphors like him.
Nope has a lot of the hallmarks you expect from Peele, with added ambition and spectacle this time around. Not all of it works, but when it does, it has moments that mesmerize. He knows how to craft cinema with a capital C, and it shows. The fact that this mix of science fiction and horror, with ample laughs thrown in, even has room for an element of filmmaking to be a part of the narrative shows that he doesn’t lack for drive. Even when parts of the flick don’t stand tall, others are right there to shoulder the load.
Also Available This Week
Evil: Season One (TV)
Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series (TV)
Ray Donovan: The Complete Series (TV)
Titans: The Complete Third Season (TV)
From The Criterion Collection: ““The summer I killed my father, I was ten years old . . .” So begins Kasi Lemmons’s spellbinding feature debut, an evocative journey into the maze of memory, steeped in fragrant southern-gothic atmosphere. In 1960s Louisiana, a young girl (Jurnee Smollett) sees her well-to-do family unravel in the wake of the infidelities of her charming father (Samuel L. Jackson)—setting in motion a series of deceptions and betrayals that will upend her world and challenge her understanding of reality. Rooted in Creole history, folklore, and mysticism, Eve’s Bayou is a scintillating showcase for a powerhouse ensemble of Black actresses—including Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, and the legendary Diahann Carroll as a voodoo priestess—as well as a profoundly cathartic exploration of trauma, forgiveness, and the elusive nature of truth.”