Monday With Mildred: “Nope”

Nope movie poster


I’m not sure how any year can top 2022 for movies. This should have gone down as the strangest film of the year, but that prize is obviously taken by Everything Everywhere All At Once, and it should have been one of the strongest films for a woman character but then came Women Talking. It’s great to have too much good stuff. I’ve never not liked a Jordan Peele movie, this one being no exception.

After the great Monkeypaw Productions opening logo there is a super important title card that is key to understanding the rest of the movie. Nahum 3:6 says And I will cast abomination upon thee, and make you vile… Or words to that effect, depending on which bible you’re reading. Peele changes them up a bit to make them more modern English-y and to better fit the theme of the movie as a whole. Then cut to a large monkey on a sound stage that has been ripped to pieces and covered in blood, presumably from the dead person on the floor. The monkey pokes a dead foot a couple of times and then throws off his party hat in disgust. I’ve rarely wanted to read a film’s screenplay more than at this moment.

After that we’re introduced to the main characters of the movie, the Haywood family, owner proprietors of the oldest Hollywood horse trainers in the business. Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Widows) is OJ, whose image is in the dictionary definition of “taciturn”. Super introverted to the point of not being good at working The Biz, he loves his little sister Em despite her flighty ways. Keke Palmer (Lightyear, Alice) shows up late to their commercial shoot, having tried her woefully inadequate flirting skills on yet another unsuspecting woman. She steals the show and makes things good, but Lucky the horse wrecks the job anyway. The movie takes its time after that getting weirder and weirder and weirder. Stephen Yeun (The Walking Dead, Minari) is owner proprietor of the cliché fest western theme park next door. Brandon Perea (The OA) is a geek squad worker drawn into the action, and Michael Wincott (Westworld, Alien: Resurrection) is a super creepy film maker.

The plot takes a while to meander into something coherent, with actions and flashbacks that seem completely unrelated and totally unexplainable. Because it’s a Jordan Peele film, you do end up being let in on what’s going on, but with themes that take some effort to untangle. That’s one of the things I love about his movies. He doesn’t treat the audience like idiots who must have everything explained in the course of the film. It’s all there, but you have to pay attention, and to think.

Sound is also an important feature, not just the music, which is suitably creepy in itself. There are recurring sounds that by the end of the film will have you flinching as you hear them, and music that really gets under your skin. And I’m not talking about one of the songs, which you will notice if you read all the credits is performed by Jodie Foster. And if you’re really patient and wait for an after credits scene what you end up with is an advertising card for the Universal Studios tour of Jupiter’s Claim “as seen in ‘Nope’”. If you have the gag reel you can also watch a take ruined by Lucky the horse anointing Kaluuya with gallons of piss.

Not everything works perfectly, of course. I was a little underwhelmed by the performance of Gordy the ape, because the human actor portraying him was a little too sentient in his actions. It confused me a bit and led me down the wrong road a bit. I thought it meant something, but it was just the actor getting it just a touch not right.

As with all Peele movies, bear in mind that you will see violence and you will be creeped out by some scary stuff. But they’re always really good, and I highly recommend seeing this one, as I do any of his movies.


CFR: In Addition:

Oh Mildred, you awesome person you, thank you for reviewing Nope. I. Loved. It.

As COVID was raging and movie going was happening in the home, I rented Nope on Prime. I then turned around and bought it because OMG and watched it two more times. It is goooood.

One of the things I have heard black comedians say is that black people would never do the silly things in horror movies that white people do. So I was really looking forward to this movie as I figured this would be examined in the movie. It did come up a few times and I really loved it.

One of my favorite things in the movie was when characters would say “Nope.” Oh my. Watch the movie twice: First time to enjoy, and second time to really catch the “Nopes.”

Now for the SPOILERS stuff

River Song says "Spoilers."

Now for me, Jordan Peele movies have many, many layers. I admit to not understanding most of them in Us and I’m sure I missed many in Get Out. After watching the preview Nope, I felt well goodness this is Peele’s take on the spotting UFO phenomenon. I wasn’t sure how the horse farm fit into it other than yep, it would be easier to get an exclusive shot of the UFO when living on a ranch.

Oh yeah, there’s a UFO. Big one.

Several articles about this movie can be found under LINKS above. One of them mentions that for Peele this was a movie about spectacle and the human need to chase spectacle. The other talks about the chimpanzee in the movie and that it references animal cruelty.

Now I am extremely sensitive to animal cruelty and it bothers me more than I can write. When watching the movie I felt so sorry for the chimpanzee from the beginning. I kept thinking that the UFO/alien saw the humans as less than, as food, as things to be used. Just like we humans saw the chimp. I also kept thinking that no one understood that chimp and I felt sorry for him.

The character that loved and took care of animals, the main male lead OJ, loved his horses and was loyal to them. Perhaps this one of the reasons he got to get the last shot and hero shot of the movie. On his horse, victorious, alive and well. Now that’s an animal loving ending I can so love and applaud.

Looking forward to your next movie, Mr. Peele.


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