In the ‘60s, the author Kurt Vonnegut spoke about what he called the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts. In a speech to American Physical Society, he said, “This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.”
It’s a useful prism to think about art that tries to tell us something and something I thought of often as I watched Jordan Peele’s Us. Us is a movie with a lot to say. I wouldn’t dare to presume that I knew what it was trying to say, or what underlying lesson Peele wanted me to learn for certain, but I can tell you what it told me. If you’re reading this, I can presume you’ve seen Us. You know that it’s about a world of shadowy “tethers” who are linked to us down below. You know that these reflections of us have nothing and are down below for reasons we can’t begin to fathom. You know that the only thing these reflections want, at least one of them in particular, is a better life for themselves. When you throw in a healthy dose of horror and film’s final twist, you have something that’s equal parts Twilight Zone and Mark Twain.
Spoilers for Us lie ahead.
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“The past is past,” a severely stressed-out man says to himself, staring in a cramped bathroom mirror. “The past….is past.” In spite of being encouraged to say this mantra by his therapist as a way to calm himself, it doesn’t work. That’s in part because the past is what you carry through to your present whether you like it or not. The notion of the past hovering over you as an inescapable force is a theme that runs rampant in a new film and a new TV show, both of which share the same creative mind: Jordan Peele.
First, there’s his gripping new horror film Us, and then there’s the revival of The Twilight Zone, on which he serves as host and executive producer. Though the opening mantra, “The past is past”, comes from one of the new Twilight Zone episodes, it’s just as applicable to what happens in Us.
This post contains major spoilers for Us and minor spoilers for the first several episodes of The Twilight Zone.
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You’ve seen Us by now, right? It’s been out for a couple of weeks, and people can’t stop talking about all its twists and turns. Still, if you’ve yet to see Jordan Peele‘s mind-bending horror film, and have also managed to avoid spoilers up until now, you might want to turn back this instance. For everyone else, continue on to hear Peele’s own thoughts on why the Us ending had to happen the way it did.
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When Disney brings a new movie based on one of their classics to theaters, you can bet they’re going to take the top spot at the box office. That’s especially true when the only real competition is holdovers from the previous weeks. But in this case, even though Disney’s live-action remake of Dumbo soared to the top spot with $45 million, it didn’t quite match the expectations put forth by the studio and analysts.
Meanwhile, Jordan Peele’s Us and the Avengers: Endgame predecessor Captain Marvel are still riding their own waves of box office success. Read More »
Jordan Peele‘s latest film Us has been talked about endlessly since hitting theaters over a week ago. The film is a layered, terrifying allegory for, well, a lot of different issues facing our society today. And what’s great is that there are so many interpretations of the movie out there which make perfect sense. It’s the kind of movie we’ll be dissecting for years.
Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live did what they do best by taking the popular movie and putting a comedic spin on it. In what is probably the best sketch we could have gotten based on Us, the movie is turned into one of those Discover credit card commercials where a customer talks to themselves as a customer service representative. There’s even an explanation for one of the most incessantly asked mysteries in the movie. Watch the Saturday Night Live Us sketch below. Read More »
David and Jeff investigate HBO’s documentary Inventors: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. For their feature review, the cast discuss the highly-anticipated film Us, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out. In the After Dark, Peter Sciretta joins to ask the super important question: when should this year’s Summer Movie Wager begin? Cast your vote on Twitter here.
Read about Us’s themes, twists, and ending on slashfilm.com.
Listen to David’s other podcast Write Along with writer C. Robert Cargill and Devindra’s new podcast Know More Tech, answering your question on the latest gadgets. Subscribe to David’s Youtube channel at Davechensky.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Also, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
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Writer/director Jordan Peele has proven without a doubt that he’s no fluke. After winning an Oscar for writing Get Out, his latest film, Us, is a scary, no-holds-barred plunge into deep thematic waters, the type of film that demands interpretation and discussion.
But while star Lupita Nyong’o doesn’t seem particularly interested in returning to this movie’s universe, Peele himself is keeping the door open for a possible prequel or sequel. Read his comments about that and the movie’s detailed mythology below. Spoilers ahead.
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(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)
Jordan Peele’s Get Out reinvigorated a horror landscape rife with jump scares and standard monsters. Horror features with political overtones have existed since the genre was created, but in the Blumhouse era, they were sometimes harder and subtler to find. Peele’s second feature, Us, similarly infuses the filmic and the societal in a way that’s just as fresh and unique as Get Out, while being even more cerebral. Where some movies easily lend themselves to classic film comparisons, Us uses them more as influences. Several times, I saw wisps of a classic film though the name escaped me. I’m eager to see what other references people catch while watching Us.
Us follows the Wilsons, a family spending a quiet vacation at their summer house in Santa Cruz. When a family arrives at the end of their driveway the Wilsons must confront their greatest fear: themselves.
This article contains major spoilers for Us.
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It’s official: audiences love Us. Jordan Peele‘s strange, terrifying and hilarious horror movie is a smash-hit, resulting in the best opening weekend for a live-action original film since James Cameron’s Avatar. While box office is never an indication of a film’s quality, this is great news for Peele, for the horror genre, and for original movies as a whole. When original films break records like this, it occasionally sends a message to producers that audiences are interested in fresh stories – not just adaptations or remakes of established IP. In the end, the strong Us box office ultimately resulted in a $70.2 million opening weekend.
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The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, Us director, writer and producer Jordan Peele breaks down a key scene from his latest movie. Plus, the cast of Clueless reunited for an hour-long panel at Chicago’s C2E2 convention, and Saturday Night Live takes us behind the scenes of in the impressive and efficient make-up department. Read More »