Where is Anne Frank (PG)****
Nope, Jordan Peele’s latest film, begins with a scene that might have come out of a particularly brutal Planet of the Apes prequel. It’s the late 1990s and a sitcom about a family with a chimpanzee gets bloody on set when its primate star attacks the cast. We see next to nothing, but the implied revolt of an exploited animal offers a clue to the larger themes that Peele conjures up as he blends multiple genres into a Twilight Zone-esque premise set on the fringes of the film industry.
This parameter is also not random. After we’ve seen Peele struggle to weave a bevy of provocative ideas into a halfway cohesive story, Nope seems determined to take us on a fully-fledged cinematic ride, with an intriguing meta quality that pulls back the curtain on the cost. these rides sometimes involve.
Reuniting with Peele for the first time since Get Out, Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya stars as OJ Haywood, the owner of a ranch and horse business he recently inherited from his father (Keith David). Along with his sister, Emerald (Keke Palmer), they supply horses for movies, TV shows, and commercials, but when the movie opens, the business is in trouble and there have been some strange happenings at the ranch. , starting with the mysterious death of their father. six months earlier and continuing with power cuts and the disappearance of livestock. Then there’s the eerie light show from the nearby ranch, a Wild West theme park run by Steven Yeun’s Ricky “Jupe” Parks, a former child star with a twisted story of his own.
If that sounds puzzling, that’s partly the design of the film, though the trailer unravels part of the puzzle by revealing the specific subgenre Nope operates in. No spoilers here, but it’s also a bit of a trick since Nope’s success doesn’t depend on keeping his first big reveal a secret. Indeed, the goofy jumps and prankish dialogue that initially seem to let the air out of the film after the wonderfully spooky opening act begin to look more like a way for Peele to acknowledge the more worn aspects of his concept so that he can ignore all that is obvious. comparisons to Spielberg and M Night Shyamalan and continue to tell the story he wants to tell.
What this story is is a little harder to pin down. It creates an impressive head of steam as an increasingly tense sci-fi horror spectacle, but it also feels like a film about the power of looking and, most importantly, the power of one camera at a time of capture reality and erase it. Again and again, Peele draws attention to the cameras – surveillance cameras, phone cameras, movie cameras – and the second half of Nope revolves around the characters’ own attempts to document the mystery at its heart on film, a company full of violence and danger and involving the arrival of a maverick cinematographer who has echoes of Werner Herzog at his most obsessive (he’s played by Michael Wincott).
What they’re chasing also has a camera aspect to it’s design (all credit goes to Peele and his team for really flipping genre conventions here) and we soon learn that looks can literally kill in this world. But as you’d expect from the director of Get Out, Peele also expands this into a meditation on race in America, and specifically Hollywood’s treatment of race in movies. Early on, Emerald tells the disinterested crew of a commercial that she and the OJ family business were inspired by an ancestor who she says was the black jockey in what is believed to be the first example of an animated image ever created. It’s a claim that’s hard to dispute because in reality said jockey’s name was never recorded, thus erasing it from its rightful place in the history books and setting a precedent for how black stories, faces blacks and black culture would be eradicated or distorted. in the industry moving forward.
What follows, however, is not a film with a didactic message, but a sly revolt against the oppression of this story. Peele has brilliantly repurposed iconography from some of Hollywood’s most beloved genres to create a wide-ranging blockbuster with a different point of view. Movies can look like this too, seems to say Nope. Get used to it.
As you would expect from a movie called Where is Anne Frank, oppression is also one of the big themes running through this intriguing animated retelling of the story of Anne Frank. Directed by Waltz starring Bashir’s Ari Folman and presented to YA audiences, it is built around a vanity fantasy in which Kitty – the imaginary friend to whom Anne addressed her diary – comes to life, steals the diary and ends up wandering into modern Amsterdam oblivious to Anne’s fate. What she finds instead is a town where refugees are denied sanctuary but Anne is deified, something Folman uses to make blunt but effective remarks about the lessons of her young life forgotten by a world adult too preoccupied with its value as a tourist attraction.
Both films are on general release from August 12.