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Us: Jordan Peele and Horror, A Unique Combination

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Film Review : Us

Jeremiah 11:11
Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape;
and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.

Get out” was a big nod to the racist past (and present) of the United States. A white, prosperous community who use African Americans to replace their worn-out bodies. A cynical story in which the physique of black Americans is being worshipped to some extent. And at the same time, it’s also distasteful because these American fellow men are regarded as superfluous individuals nobody will miss. Their disappearance won’t be noticed, so to speak. And a protagonist as a future victim, who can escape at the end with a piece of cotton (yes, a subtle reference). It’s quite obvious this can be regarded as a kind of allegory with a political twist. “Us” containing a political message, however, isn’t something I could see immediately. Of course, it depends on how you interpret the whole. I myself interpreted the story as a “Twilight zone” -like event. Soul mates leading a symmetrical existence. So no genetic experiments that got out of hand. Or is it all metaphorically intended and a reflection of how we see ourselves as a society? All in all, I put “Us” on the same level as “Hereditary“. A lot of hype-creation, but in my humble opinion a bit disappointing.

 

 

An excellent beginning.

However, the film starts very strong. The most impressive moment is the opening scene with the camera zooming out, slowly revealing lots of bunnies (with a choir as background music). Simply beautiful. Then an intense moment with young Adelaide (Madison Curry) who wanders around on the beach of Santa Cruz during a family vacation and ends up in an attraction. There she stands face to face with something frightening. So frightening that she doesn’t want to speak anymore and her parents (whose loving relationship clearly disappeared) desperately seek the help of a psychologist.

 

Creepy and grim.

When Adelaide comes back into the picture as an adult (Lupita Nyong’o), it seems as if the traumatic experience has been processed. But when she returns to the same beach with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), where they meet up with friends, there are all sorts of omens pointing to the event from the past. It’s only when a group of weird people in orange overalls appear on their driveway at night that the atmosphere becomes grim and frightening. At first, I had a sort of “The Purge” deja vu moment. The moment the Wilson family comes face to face with these strangers, it becomes apparent that they are really creepy and strangely behaving individuals.

 

 

My God! That voice!??

And the first turnoff offers itself. The moment Red opens her mouth and a terribly annoying voice can be heard. When the ending draws near (and this time the ultimate revelation isn’t particularly surprising), it becomes quite clear why her voice sounds that way. Until that time you are constantly wondering what the reason is for this weird voice. But comfort yourself. You will come across even more mysterious things you won’t understand the ultimate meaning of. I do like films that are not too simplistic and do not offer a pre-canned explanation in such a way that every Joe Average understands what it’s all about. However, I’m not a big fan of films full of symbolism, so a re-watch is a must such that you can discover the deeper meaning behind it. And then you come to the conclusion that your theory isn’t at all consistent with what the director meant.

 

 

Peele and horror. A unique combination.

Jordan Peele has a unique perspective on the horror genre and tries to give it an alternative twist. Only his social-critical message about inequality and the division into classes got through. If Peele once again wants to direct an unusual horror, I hope he will incorporate a different kind of message. Leave out the symbolism and you can speak of a typical “home invasion” film of the same level as, for example, “You’re next“. In that area, it can be called successful.

 

 

Brilliant acting.

There are also a lot of positive things to say about this film. “Us” effortlessly transcends the disappointing film “Hereditary“. Not only the tension rises in crescendo and caused some terrifying moments. But also the footage is masterful. You can hardly call it the ultimate slasher, but quite a lot of blood splashes around. But foremost, the acting performance of the four main characters excels. It’s brilliant how they play themselves and their opposite characters. They underwent a frightening-looking transformation, resulting in two completely different personalities. I’m sure James McAvoy will also enjoy this “Split“-like spectacle.

 

I’m not going to watch it again to find more clues.

Unfortunately, the end was an anti-climax for me. The concept of horror faded into the background and resulted in a preachy plea about our unjust world and the existence of an oppressed population who feel displeased and misunderstood. A symbolic breaking of the chains and the formation of a human chain for a better world ruined it for me. And at the same time, there are the many unanswered questions that are open to all kinds of interpretations. What’s with all those bunnies hopping around? Food for those on the other side? Or test material for cloning experiments? Why the recurring text “11:11”? And why a pair of scissors as a weapon? But above all, where did they get it? And all those orange overalls? Nope, a rewatch to discover hidden answers and subtle hints, is not something I’m going to do. Films with an accompanying manual. It’ll never thrill me!

Ps. Some additional information about the twin sisters from the other couple. You could already admire them when they were really young as Emma Geller-Green in the sitcom “Friends”.

 

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

 

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Entertainment

NFT: The New Next-Gen

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We live in a world dominated by virtual consumption. Whether you are into gaming, movies, or knitting, it is hard to avoid contact with some form of a digital community. Planet Earth is consumed by this form of technology which has no end in sight. When it comes to gaming specifically, there are a number of factors that drive gamers: adventure, relaxation, stress-relief, and an avenue that has real estate of its own – collecting.

The standard “gamer” actually does not exist – shooters, role players, platformers, nostalgia seekers, or Fortnite celebrities – gamers often transcend the boundaries of genres. We see undying allegiances to gaming companies such as Nintendo or Sony and inexplicable emotional ties to games from decades past. Whatever the case, there lies an audience of consumers who may not even fit the true bill of what a “gamer” is.

Collectors are seen in the world over in every light and hobby known to man – and video games are no exception to this rule. We’ve seen entire YouTube channels dedicated to nostalgia, where a well-known “gamer” shows off not only a Dragon’s Quest 11 gameplay on the PS4 but his collection of Dragon’s Quest 1-10 and replicas of the Hero Sword to millions of viewers. Sometimes, collecting can even turn into its own form of gaming – and this is where the market for coveted gems gets driven up even more.

So, without further ado, welcome to the world of NFTs, or non-fungible-tokens. NFTs are digital goods that exist on a digital ledger called blockchain. Each NFT represents a distinctive digital item, deeming it non-interchangeable. NFTs can represent a wide array of materials such as art, video, audio, and video game items. Each NFT is unique and its ownership can be precisely tracked.

For years people have had such an emotional attachment to physical entities, be it a Mickey Mantle baseball card or a one-of-a-kind piece of art. The market for rare items has survived in a world of physical seclusion, and this is now being turned upside down as the world faces a conversion to virtual materiality. Physical isolation in the age of COVID has only accelerated the transition to virtual existence. Digital media has never had much assignable value because it was always so easily duplicated. In allowing people to enumerate an official copy of a piece of art, NFTs finally give value to digital goods that used to have none.

Digital technology has had its fair share of criticism over the years, and NFTs have been closely associated with Bitcoin, the system used for cryptocurrency. But the $1.5 billion NFT transaction volume in the first quarter of 2021 alone speaks volumes about its transition to the mainstream.

Games that are using NFTs are not very large in abundance currently, but with the craze ascending on a near-daily basis, it seems unlikely that the market will stay small for long. The video game industry in the US alone accounted for over $60 billion USD in 2020. This signifies that not only is it beyond profitable but also that it begets growth beyond the norms of major consoles.

It’s not hard to conceptualize the full potential for a gaming-NFT intersection. One such instance of this is an NFT-based game, titled The Sandbox. Gamers can purchase plots of a virtual sandbox as an NFT in the game, allowing everyone to be the landowners they never were. The game sold $2.8 million worth of product just in the month of February alone and is said to be worth over $35 million by its creators. The growth of this market is rapidly expanding.

Collectors are driven by the rarity of an item and this is what truly gives such value to NFT items. Imagine having one-of-a-kind Legend of Zelda images or the original sketch of a video game character such as Cloud Strife. These things would hold immense value, and with a world that is diving headfirst into digital reality, it seems the reality is NFTs are the new way to level up.

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2020 Year in Review

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2020 has certainly been an interesting year and whilst there were a lot of exciting new movies that we were all looking forward to seeing in 2020, that we’re going to have to wait a bit longer to see, there have still been plenty of really good films that we were able to watch in 2020 and I’m going to take a look at some of the best films of the year below.

I’ve done my best to try and watch as many films from 2020 but obviously I haven’t been able to watch every single film that was released this year so there will inevitably be some films that I’ll have missed off this list so I apologise if some of your favourite films of the year don’t make it.

Top 5 Action films of 2020

5. Extraction

The action-thriller film starring Chris Hemsworth that was released back in April was an exciting action-packed film that included a 12 minute long action scene that was done to look like one long shot that was truly spectacular which is why Extraction makes my top 5 action films of the year.

4. Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula

Peninsula is the sequel to 2016’s smash hit Korean zombie film Train to Busan and whilst the sequel was much more of an action film than a horror like the first, it had plenty of engaging and different action scenes. I had so much fun watching Peninsula although I do prefer Train to Busan. Full review here.

3. Wonder Woman 1984

After being delayed a few times, we’ve finally been able to watch the latest Wonder Woman film and it doesn’t disappoint. WW84 is full of vibrant, colourful action scenes that manages to top the first film and clocking in at 2 and a half hours, there’s plenty of time for action in Wonder Woman 1984. Full review here.

2. The Gentlemen

It feels like so long ago that Guy Ritchie’s gangster action-comedy film The Gentlemen came out but it was indeed 2020, albeit back in January. Whilst it feels like decades ago that we saw the film it was so much fun. It was full of laughs, swearing, action and it had a great cast too including Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant. Guy Ritchie’s best film to date.

1. Tenet

Tenet was the first big blockbuster back in cinemas after they re-opened this summer and whilst many have complained calling it a bit confusing and quite difficult to hear what the characters were saying a lot of the time, I thought Tenet was phenomenal with some amazing action sequences. Whether it be the booming opening opera house siege, the plane crashing into the building or the grand finale with people going backwards and forwards through time, Tenet was absolutely incredible to see on a big IMAX screen.

Top 5 Comedy films of 2020

5. Happiest Season

Happiest Season came as a really pleasant surprise to me. I didn’t expect to like it that much as I’m not a big fan of Christmas movies or rom-coms but this film was just so funny and full of so much heart that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Full review here.

4. The Half of It

The Half of It is a really charming coming of age comedy-drama film that was released on Netflix in May about a teenage girl writing a love letter for a jock who starts to fall in love with his crush. It probably leans a bit more to drama than it does comedy, I just had to include it in my list because it was a really good film.

3. Palm Springs

Palm Springs revolves around an infinite time-loop situation a bit like Groundhog Day or Edge of Tomorrow or Happy Death Day or so many other films but Palm Springs feels so original and fresh and funny. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are both great as the two leads giving the film so much heart.

2. Borat Subsequent Moveifilm

It was only in September that we first started hearing rumours that a second Borat film had already been shot and then when the film was released on Amazon Prime in October it brought so many great laughs. The first film came out in 2006 and even though it’s been a while since we last saw him, Borat worked so well in 2020 and brought some much needed humour in the run up to the US presidential election.

1. The King of Staten Island

The King of Staten Island is the semi-autobiographical comedy-drama starring Pete Davidson and directed by Judd Apatow about a Davidson’s Scott Carlin who has to get his life together after his mother starts dating someone who, like his late father, is also a fireman. The King of Staten Island is a really touching and emotional drama film but it also has a lot of funny moments which is why it’s my number 1 comedy of the year and one of the best films of 2020.

Top 5 films you might not have seen

5. She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow was a really interesting film released in the summer by Neon and it followed Amy who thinks she’s going to die tomorrow and this thought becomes contagious and more and more people start thinking that they’re going to die the next day. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I thought it was really good

4. Wolfwalkers

Wolfwalkers was only released this December on Apple TV+ but it’s a really great film with some really incredible animation. It’s about a young girl who finds a mysterious tribe that turn into wolves each night. It’s a really entertaining, adventure film that’s just absolutely gorgeous to look at.

3. The Platform

The Platform/ El Hoyo is a Spanish sci-fi horror that was released on Netflix towards the start of the year. It’s entirely set in a vertical prison with many floors, each containing two people with one platform that moves down to each floor. The platform is initially filled with food at the top but as it moves down there’s less and less food on it for the people trapped below.

2. Another Round

Another Round/ Druk is a Danish film starring Mads Mikkelson (Casino Royale, Doctor Strange) and it’s about a group of school teachers that decide to test a hypothesis that human beings function better when they maintain a constant level of alcohol in their blood. Full review here.

1. Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman is one of those rare films that comes along and completely blows you away by how good it is. It’s also one of those films that it’s better to know as little as you can before you see it so I don’t want to say too much about it but if you do want to know more, you can find my full review here.

Top 5 films of 2020

Here are my top 5 films that were released in 2020:

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7

4. The King of Staten Island

3. Promising Young Woman

2. The Gentlemen

1. Tenet

Hopefully some of your favourites made my lists but if not, drop a comment below to let us know what some of your favourite films of 2020 were.

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Disney + | Every Upcoming Star Wars Project Announced

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Rogue Squadron

This will be the next Star Wars film to be released and will focus on the fighter pilots made famous in the Star Wars films. It will mark the first feature film in the franchise to be directed by a woman.

Ahsoka

Series centers on the adventures of Ahsoka Tano. A spin-off from ‘The Mandalorian’.

Rangers Of The New Republic

Star Wars: Rangers of the New Republic is a forthcoming live-action television series. It was announced on December 10, 2020 and it will be executive produced by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau. The series will culminate in a crossover event with The Mandalorian and Star Wars: Ahsoka

The Acolyte

Star Wars: The Acolyte is a Star Wars television series currently being developed by Leslye Headland for Disney+. Headland will write, executive produce, and serve as the series’ showrunner. The show will focus on the emergence of dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic Era.

Lando

Star Wars: Lando is an upcoming event series. The story will be developed by Justin Simien. It was announced on December 10, 2020and will air on Disney+

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Plot undisclosed. Stand-alone spinoff feature from the Star Wars franchise centering on Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Andor

Prequel series to Star Wars’ ‘Rogue One’, following the adventures of Cassian Andor during the formative years of the Rebellion.

The Bad Batch

Rex, Cody, and Clone Force 99 (an unorthodox, elite squad also known as the Bad Batch), look to recover the Republic’s strategy algorithm from Admiral Trench, but a haunting truth awaits.

The Mandalorian Season 3

A lone gunfighter makes his way through the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.

Taika Waititi’s Star Wars Movie

A brand-new Star Wars feature with acclaimed filmmaker is in development. Get ready for an unforgettable ride!

A Droid Story

A Droid Story is an animated adventure series featuring R2D2 and C3PO set to be produced by Lucasfilm Animation and ILM. “As we continue to develop new stories, the intersection of animation of visual effects, offers new opportunities for us to explore,” Kennedy said (via Deadline). “This epic journey will introduce is to new hero guided by our most iconic duo… on a secret mission known only to them. What could possibly go wrong?”

Visions

Star Wars: Visions, an Original Series of animated short films, celebrates the galaxy through the lens of the world’s best Japanese anime creators. Coming in 2021 to

 

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