Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of July 25, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 25, 2022

Rated R for some violence, bloody images, and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
In Theaters

With his films Get Out and Us, writer/director Jordan Peele has proven himself to be a modern day Hitchcock, providing creepy films with multiple meanings and metaphors. With his new film NOPE we are definitely getting much of the same, but this time with an alien adventure. For many the title NOPE is simply something that is comically repeated throughout the film as the characters face their fears. But on a deeper level, it is possibly an acronym for Not Of Planet Earth, which leads to the story. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer are siblings who work on their family’s historical Hollywood horse ranch when a strange alien presence shows up to haunt and hunt in the remote area. Rather than leave or call in the authorities, they decide that they need to be able to show proof and possibly get rich off it. Just as in his previous outings, including the recent Candyman which he produced, the film hits creepy but never gets to scary. I firmly believe this is by design. Much of the audience will spend so much time trying to figure out what the film is actually about that they don’t have time to get frightened. That being said, there were some clever jumps before the film turned from potentially terrifying to just really interesting. In his various interviews, Peele has admitted that the film is about our reaction to spectacle. Some get caught up in it to their own demise (like the Trump cult) and some just want to sit back and watch in shock or disbelief. Personally, I think the film could have been better if it had less hidden meaning and just went all out for the scare-fest, but regardless, I couldn’t take my eyes or my mind off of it, and it is still sticking with me as I attempt to process what I just watched. B

Drive My Car: The Criterion Collection
Unrated but would be an R if rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

On Criterion Disc and streaming on HBO Max
Last year’s shocking Oscar surprise came when this 3 hour long Japanese drama popped nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, while winning Best International Feature and countless other critics groups awards. While it is currently streaming on HBO Max, if your curiosity makes you want to explore this quiet phenomenon even further, this Criterion Collection version provides tons of supplemental material including new interviews, a making-of doc and more. The story follows a theater director who suffers from a tragedy and then shortly after moves on to begin working on a new play. While he prefers to drive his own car, the theater company requires him to use the young female driver they have hired, forcing him to see his world from a different vantage point, deeply affecting his life and his art. If you have the time to invest, this is a really lovely and meaningful film with a rich storyline and an unconventional flow. It might be a bit on the artsy side for some audiences, but many will find it magical and perhaps cathartic. A

The Gray Man
Rated PG-13 for strong language and strong violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
Streaming on Netflix

Billed as Netflix’s most expensive original film to date, The Gray Man, directed by the Russo Brothers (Avengers films) casts Ryan Gosling as a hitman working for Billy Bob Thornton and Rege-Jean Page who is pitted against another hitman played by Chris Evans when he comes across a flash drive full of stuff he shouldn’t have. If you like a massive amount of violence and action with just enough blood to not get an R rating, complete with loads of mindless action with characters you really don’t care about – then this one is for your. They try to make you feel slightly empathetic to Gosling as he is trying to protect Thornton’s teenage niece, but basically all the characters are bad guys that you wouldn’t mind seeing get a good death. The most interesting feature is Evans as the most villainous villain. His goofiness and sense of humor, along with his lack of a conscience and maybe even a soul, makes him the most memorable character in this largely unnecessary movie. C+