Us – DeaconsDen Reaction

“Us” is the second film from director Jordan Peele. After a very successful career in comedy, Peele dropped the mic on his debut film, “Get Out.” That film won Peele his first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was also nominated for Best Picture. Now will he continue his fantastic directorial start with “Us,” or does he hit a sophomore slump?

“Us” is the story of the Wilson family who is terrorized throughout one night by what appears to be their doppelgängers. The family is led by matriarch Adelaide, portrayed by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. Her husband Gabe is played by Winston Duke, giving us a reunion of two actors from 2018’s “Black Panther.” Their two children, daughter Zora and son Jason are played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex respectively. All four actors give great performances, with Nyong’o in particular showing all emotional ranges with some of the best work of her career.

Peele’s direction continues to amaze with some great shots and keeping things very well paced. I was asked, “will it scare me?” I don’t think it’s a jump scare sort of movie, but with a movie like this it’s all about the atmosphere for me. It’s the situation that’s terrifying. To help highlight the horror is the score by Michael Abels, returning from scoring “Get Out.” Abels operatic orchestral sounds permeate the film with a haunted vibe that really underscores the beauty and horror of the people and their twins.

One question you will ask about “Us” is if Jordan Peele creates another “Get Out?” This film is different animal from its predecessor. With “Get Out,” Peele was making a specific point within the bounds of the horror genre. “Us” can be interpreted multiple ways. I will not speculate so as not to spoil anything, but the end of the film really brings home (at least for me) what sets in motion the events of the film. I’m not one for calling an up and coming filmmaker “the next” anyone because I find it unfair. However, as a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, “Us” really reminds me of his film “The Birds.” In that film birds attack the people with no explanation at all and it’s a masterclass in suspense while offering the viewer to make their own choice on what the events represent. “Us” works in that same regard.

Jordan Peele definitely continues this hot streak with the mind bending “Us.” It’s just as layered as his prior film while allowing us (pun not intended) the opportunity to see how we view it and view ourselves as well. I look forward to getting this on blu-ray for back to back views with “Get Out” and breakdown more of Peele’s commentary on society.

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DeaconsDen 2017 Film Recap

2017 has drawn to a close and so has another year of DeaconsDen. I’ve had the opportunity to see many films. Some great, some not so great. This was a great year for film and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see quite a few of them. So here is a rundown of some of the films I’ve seen and reviewed this year.

First I’ll start with my biggest disappointments of the year:

Atomic BlondeBrutal and brilliant performance by Charlize Theron. However, when she wasn’t mopping the floor the people, I was quite bored with the film’s story which interested me being an 80s era Cold War thriller, but never became interesting.

DunkirkI was greatly disappointed with Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking prowess. The technical nature of the film is fantastic and proves Nolan is a master of his craft. Yet the film’s decision to weave multiple stories left me cold, without an easily identifiable main character and story to follow. I respect Nolan’s decision, it just never vibes with me.

Favorite Surprises of the Year:

Happy Death DayA horror thriller with a sci-fi twist that’s funny and entertaining. Also a nice introduction to actress Jessica Rothe

Power Rangers

Didn’t get to see Power Rangers in theaters, but I wished I had. I had no major interest in seeing this, but the really surprised me. I really liked this movie’s cast and story. I liked the way it played with the Power Ranger mythos. It was just a really fun superhero action film that I hope gets a sequel one day.

And now, my ten favorite films of 2017!

10) John Wick Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves is back for more super stylized action that expands the mythology of the John Wick universe.

9) Kong: Skull Island

Probably the best pure blockbuster this year, Kong: Skull Island boasts impressive visuals and some great, pulpy monster action.

8) Split

James McAvoy gives one of the year’s best performances in this great thriller that also marks a return to form for M. Night Shayamalan. I can’t wait for what comes next.

7) Spider-Man Homecoming

Spidey now has his own film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it’s a great almost slice of life picture that’s as much a Peter Parker story as it is about Spider-Man.

6) Get Out

Missed this in theaters, but Get Out is one of the most creative thrillers I’ve seen. One that uses the genre to tell a very real and socially conscious story.

5) Baby Driver

I did not review Baby Driver, but this was certainly one stylish action flick with the best soundtrack of 2017.

4) Your Name

A gem of a film. A story of love that uses one of my favorite ways to tell a story. Yet to say anything else would spoil it.

3) Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A New Hope? No a new beginning. Star Wars takes a huge leap forward in an amazing way that will have tremendous impact on the franchise in the future.

2) Logan

High Jackman ends his tenure as Wolverine with a visceral, brutal and emotional grinder of a film. It’s the examination of a man and his legacy.

1) Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman explodes onto our screens with some dynamic action by director Patty Jenkins and a star making turn by Gal Gadot.

So there you have it folks! The DeaconsDen 2017 film recap. I hope you all had great cinema experiences this year and I hope that continues into 2018!