Day 31: Get Out and City Lights
Because Thursday’s movie didn’t happen, today is a double feature.
Jordan Peele won best original screenplay for Get Out. I’ve also read at least one reviewer say the film’s premise would have been better suited for a simple comedy sketch. It did feel at times like the plot was being stretched. Not like butter scraped over too much bread but, drawn out, like taffy. For a purpose. It’s called tension. Suspense. And Get Out has it in spades. The audience usually learns things the same time as the protagonist. We’re in his shoes (those of us with empathy) and we’re just as paranoid. Sometimes the movie clues us in early and the dramatic irony made me fidget in my seat. I like how Kaluuya plays his role. He’s used to the racist BS. It doesn’t rattle him. It’s the weirdness that gets to him, and to us watching. The ending is explosive and fun. The twists are heartbreaking but perfect. The best friend is funny and smart. The bit at the end with the police lights had me fearing the worst. Well played, Mr. Peele. Aside from a few score jump scares, the fear in the movie is real, existential, personal… A true horror film. Hollywood needs more of these. Hollywood needs more filmmakers like Jordan Peele.
I haven’t seen many silent films. The ones I have seen, like Intolerance, Birth of a Nation, Metropolis, and Dr. Caligari, were good but mostly I remember being bored. That is to say, I recognized why they were landmark films and worthy of study but I wasn’t entertained. So I didn’t go out of my way to watch any silent films for enjoyment. Having finally seen my first Chaplin film, I realize what a mistake I’ve made putting it off for so long. This movie is wholly charming and entertaining. Granted, it falls within my 90-minute theory, which helps. Still, not once was I bored or eager for it to end. Chaplin’s Tramp is lovable and a joy to watch. The very instant he first appeared on screen I laughed out loud. Virginia Cherrill as the blind girl gave a wonderful performance. The ending was so adorable and touching I could squeal. Just look at that face he’s making! But I’m also confused. This film is guilty of the same sin I chastized Downsizing for yesterday, yet here I have no complaints. Chaplin’s character has no discernable motivation for the first half of the film. He likes the blind girl and tries to woo her but it’s not constructed in a classic Hero’s Journey sort of way. Not until he tries to get her the rent money is he actually working towards a goal. Why am I entertained here while bored by Downsizing? Character. Damon was bland, khaki, milquetoast. I didn’t care about him. Maybe that’s the fault of the filmmakers, maybe it’s a performance issue. What I do know is I CARED about the Tramp. I wanted him to succeed. I wanted him to find his happy ending. It’s been said that Chaplin’s Tramp was at one time the most recognized image in the world. That’s a testimony to the power and endurance of character.