Jordan Peele’s song “No” gets a “yes” vote.


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(3.5 stars)

There’s a reason there’s little to nothing in theaters this week—little but No, the new sci-fi epic from writer/director/producer Jordan Peele. Building on the success of Saw’s Oscar-winning debut horror film Get Out and its sequel Us, the director’s name alone has the power to strike fear into the hearts of studio executives and film distributors with a competing product to sell. And so Peel’s latest film, a stylishly creepy alien invasion tale starring Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, has been overlooked.

As befits a movie so big it scared off almost everyone, you’ll want to see No on the biggest possible screen with the best, most powerful sound system. The film is set on a remote ranch in the picturesque Californian desert town of Agua Dulce. The film centers on siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood (Kaluuya and Palmer), Hollywood horse trainers who experience an unearthly visitation. “No” was hand-crafted for the kind of presentation you can only get in a real theater – preferably Imax, to take full advantage of the film’s striking design and eerie sound mix that ranges from a thunderous, cinder-block-shaking roar to a silence that is not as much silence as sonic vacuum: silence in which you hear nothing but the beating of your own heart. Kudos to sound engineer Johnny Byrne (BAFTA nominee for The Favourite), who deserves to be first in line for next year’s Oscars.

Before diving into an unsettling rhythm, “No” must do without some casual backstory related to the failure of the Haywood horse business – who makes westerns now? — and the mysterious death of their father (Keith David) six months before the main action. We learn that OJ is a laconic cowboy; Emerald is a talker, and often quite funny. There’s also a subplot involving a former child actor (Stephen Yeun) from a 1990s sitcom in which a chimpanzee goes on a rampage (in a rather horrific, bloody fashion), but that narrative pretty much leads nowhere. . Now, as the owner of a Wild West-style desert tourist attraction, Yoon’s character feels embroiled in a twisted story that’s likely to be better off without him. (Or, conversely, it deserves its own movie.)

Things turn around when OJ and Emerald decide they need to document some of the Unexplained Air Phenomena (UAPs) they’ve recently begun to encounter at their ranch: a cloud that never moves and a dark, saucer-like object that can be seen cutting through it directly behind. photogenic hills. Not only document, but potentially monetize by capturing what they called the “Oprah shot”: a flawless, high-quality image that someone will pay for. When it becomes clear that they are dealing with something much stranger and deadlier than they originally thought, their plan changes from making a quick buck to saving the Earth.

At least in that sense, “No” seems like a throwback, and in a good way. It’s an old-school creature rife with a creature that causes blackouts but defies the little green man stereotype. And it gets a big modern juice shake due to the fact that it’s set in a filmmaking country. When OJ and Emerald realize they can’t solve the mystery on their own, they team up with a 20-year-old surveillance systems specialist from a chain electronics store (Brandon Perea) and a white-haired guerrilla cameraman with a hand-cranked film camera (Michael Wincott). .

This is a tribute to the past, present and future of filmmaking at the same time.

The acting here is pretty good, especially Kaluuya, who exudes a strong, silent modern-day Gary Cooper vibe, all shrugs and monosyllables, and Palmer, who is his much more expressive foil. But “No” ultimately belongs to the director, not the actors. Whether we’re watching some heavy CGI in the sky, or flashback scenes involving a rampaging primate (played by Terry Notari in an impressive motion-capture performance) or just Kaluuya on horseback, a new type of western hero in an orange hoodie, Peel says. your story visually, not verbally. In one particularly idiosyncratic episode, OJ and Emerald set up a warning system of colorful inflatable dancing men—the kind you sometimes see near car dealerships—around the perimeter of their property. It’s typical Peel: memorably surreal, creepy and a little goofy.

The dialogue isn’t that important, but it does show the headline spoken by OJ and Emerald in response to what they’re seeing. You may find yourself saying “no” once or twice too, which is really the equivalent of saying “yes” to the quivering “No” pleasures that seem both old-fashioned and new.

R. in regional theaters. Rough language is everywhere, some violence and bloody images. 131 minutes.

#Jordan #Peeles #song #vote



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