Nope (Jordan Peele, USA/Japan 2022) is a film attempting to serve many masters at once. It simultaneously seeks to be a summer blockbuster film and an artistic statement. It simultaneously attempts to re-take a mythology out of one genre into its older genre home while also moving that mythology away from its pre-Christian origins into modern Christianity. It simultaneously attempts to revive the ‘90s-style explosions-and-humor “sci-fi” blockbuster while telling a fundamentally Black story. It even tries to do a Robert Altman trick of telling you it’s about movies and then hiding that ever-after.
It’s biting off an unbelievable amount—most films don’t even have a mouth this big, let alone the audacity to attempt to use it all—and while it’s able to get its teeth on everything, it isn’t really able to chew them completely.
Steven Spielberg is the most overrated film director in history. In the public imagination, he is the greatest filmmaker of all time. Only Alfred Hitchcock even approaches his level of fame, and Hitchcock also got there by appearing on-screen far more often than most film directors, not only with his famed cameos but with his popular series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Purely as a filmmaker, Spielberg’s reputation with the public is clearly unmatched.
However, there is a reason for that reputation. His early career was a laundry list of fantastic commercial successes, and some of them were artistic triumphs as well. It included such successes as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (USA 1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (USA 1981), and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (USA 1982). And of course, it began with Jaws. Continue reading →