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Us (2019) Post-Release Discussion (not by overlord)
(03-30-2019, 02:17 AM)freeman Wrote: I'm starting to think that the exposition dump Red hits us with isn't actually literally the facts, but more the theory Red came up with based on the media she consumed before she was swapped. We see CHUD on the VHS shelf, which involves a government conspiracy, underground monsters, a coverup, etc. I can't remember but I think she says that's how she believed it began? The tethered can't communicate. So how would she know what tetheredville actually is without oral history of any kind? Some papers she found?

She also references the Goonies, the home invasion is sort of like the end of Thriller, and aspects of the villains are like Nightmare on Elm Street and Thriller. Also the lab only has an escalator going down, but not one going up. Clear symbolism. Maybe the lab IS supposed to be considered a magical realism otherworld, and she only explains it as she does because it's the only way she can understand this weird shadowy hell dimension.

The problem (for me) is actually less the spoken exposition by Red, and much more the flashback depictions of what was happening down there. If all we had to rely on were visual clues from the deserted facility plus what Red was saying (and maybe a few strategic shots to show how the switch took place), I think I'd have been more willing to brush aside all the practical questions that are raised.
If we can dream it, then we can do it.
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A couple of friends sat me down and had me watch 2014's THE ONE I LOVE tonight, which proved to be extremely appropriate in a post-US context. I think the way that film handles its exposition and suggestion of backstory really works in a way the exposition in US doesn't. Both conceits are totally insane when looked at logically, but I buy THE ONE I LOVE's more because it doesn't explicitly spell out much at all.

Really good movie, by the way.
If we can dream it, then we can do it.
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Nah it was trash I hated it.
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Shocking!
If we can dream it, then we can do it.
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I'm like Rian Johnson! I subvert your expectations!!!
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oooh I remember really enjoying THE ONE I LOVE

ELIZABETH MOSS double doppelgänger feature!!

I assume Peele is a fan!
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It would make for an interesting double feature. Radically different in tone, yet both feature a similar central hook.

And Moss is great in both! Though, admittedly, one asks more of her than the other.
If we can dream it, then we can do it.
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THE ONE I LOVE is good.

So was this! I pretty much loved it until the final "twist" which made zero sense to me in the moment. The Hands Across America stuff also did nothing for me.

Rewatching GET OUT only improves the film, as you see how much of it so well thought out and planned . . . I have a feeling I'll like this less.

I was also distracted by Duke's Jordan Peele impression.
I was in a horror-comedy called BLACK HOLLER. It's now on Prime Video. Check it out!
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The less I think about this movie, the more I like it.

If I can avoid a rewatch it will probably end up in my final Top 10 of the year!
the empire never ended
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I really enjoyed the way the film worked. Peele has a real confidence in letting his story unwind, along with great casting and dialogue. But I feel like the film is built on a premise that doesn't make enough sense, which for me intruded into the experience of watching the film. How could these tethered underground people continue to survive down there for all that time, where did the rabbit food come from, and even how does the mirroring actually work? The hands across America bit is cute, but also makes absolutely no sense, nor does the absence of guns in the film. I liked the twist, and Lupita was terrific in both roles.

"Ophelia, call the police." was absolutely brilliant.
There are weapons in my hands, my hands are weapons.
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This would definitely be a whole lot better if it wasn't constantly trying to explain things and asking you to think about it. I do wish it'd just been this weird mood thing that didn't really explain anything. I want to like it more than I did, because there's some good stuff here, but as a whole it's just this giant mess that isn't all at good.

It also got me interested in seeing the new Twilight Zone, and after watching the first episode that's definitely something to hold against it.
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For home viewing they should build a feature into Blu-Ray players or TVs where you can turn on "exposition muting."

This movie and Interstellar would benefit immensely!
the empire never ended
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This film was fun, and I liked it, but the internal logic of the horror elements don't support their own weight.

Quote:"She's not speaking anymore!"

"But she was only gone for 15 minutes, what could've happened?"

"What's wrong with her teeth? It's like she's never brushed them before in her life! And why can't she tie her shoes anymore, or eat with utensils? Why does her skin look so bad???"

Also, do the tethers have autonomy or not? Sometimes they seem like they're locked into a 1-1 reflection of their topside counterparts, other times they can just do whatever they want.
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The whole thing feels a little undercooked.
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"You can't pay too much attention to the horror stuff" does not a good horror movie make.
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Reading this thread made me feel awfully alone, because I didn't think too much of this.  It felt like Peele had a half hour TWILIGHT ZONE episode on his hands that he padded out to feature length with a bunch of silly genre cliches - raspy voices, nursery rhyme whistling, sinister masks, spider-walking children - that condemned it to feel corny rather than creepy.

I was disappointed by how much is taken for granted as far as world-building.  The lore of the doppelgangers that constitutes the entire premise is such skin-deep, internally inconsistent hand waving that I was never really on board, and so didn't find any of the payoffs in the last stretch involving whatsoever.  And while I liked the cast, they are asked to behave in really alienating ways, the chief example being that initial, interminable encounter with the doppelgangers in the living room.  Then the neighbors' doppelgangers get their murdering done lickety-split because...?

I guess what it comes down to is this did not work for me as a story.  It feels like the movie makes its thematic concerns the horse rather than the cart in a way that is difficult to sustain in long form.  I didn't think it was trash or anything, but the resonate acclaim for this (Does The New Yorker really hand out phrases like "Colossal Cinematic Achievement" now?) mystifies me.  Either this loses a hell of a lot on the small screen, or I have turned another corner in my horror movie jadedness.
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This has fallen in my estimation with each passing day. I think it's superbly made, but it ultimately makes ZERO sense. Peele is focused on the allegory more than the story, but ultimately the allegory doesn't make a whole lot of sense either!

When Red says "we're Americans," I feel like that's supposed to have some import and gravitas but it mainly made me say "wut?"

Above, wasp says "the less I think of it, the more I like it," which would be helpful if Peele clearly didn't want us to think about all of this.
I was in a horror-comedy called BLACK HOLLER. It's now on Prime Video. Check it out!
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The movie that comes to mind, weirdly, is Nic Cage's MOM AND DAD.  That too had a high concept that there was zero interest in selling the audience on; it was just an excuse to deliver certain images and give Cage a sandbox to cut loose in.  I think I called it a feature length second act at the time, so I wasn't particularly impressed.  But despite sharing a lot of the flaws of US, it does its routine inside of 90 minutes and with a fraction of the pretense. US has much better craft and production values, but that only makes me more impatient with it.
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The other doppels are more efficient at their murdering because it was Red's plan she'd been hatching for 20 years, and she wanted to play with her food.

But generally yes, the movie is hurt by how the central mechanics require a lot of explanation but don't really hold together under scrutiny. It works on two levels, of allegory and pure nightmare, but there is (if you'll excuse the wording) no tether between those levels.
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I absolutely REFUSE to excuse your wording!

that was completely intentional on your part!!!
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A tightly-constructed allegory, I really dug about the first half of the movie. Nyong'o and Duke do great work here, even if the former isn't given a lot on the page to work with. I found both of the kids to be essentially non-entities; each had barely one or two identifiable traits, but neither really felt like an actual character or person.

As with Get Out, Peele does a fantastic job with visual and thematic motifs, setups, and payoffs. Us is also shot very well - there are a good many just gorgeous shots in this one.

And the initial home invasion is suitably scary. But it kinda goes downhill from there as a horror movie. For me, the "real" family never really gelled as four distinct, fleshed out people. Duke as the dad was the most fully realized; even Nyong'o, doing terrific work here, doesn't give us much to latch onto as a character.

I didn't care about the logistical problems, as it became clear the further the film goes that we're watching full blown allegory, rather than a grounded, realistic story. I accepted Red's explanation as-is, simply because I knew it was meant to be taken as metaphor/allegory rather than a detailed, working alternate world. I also liked that the film went large scale, when the trailers seemed to indicate we were in for a more intimate story.

But the lack of meaningful character development for all four family members robs the film, IMNSHO, of the impact it was aiming at. The film becomes more an exercise or example of solid allegorical storytelling than a multilayered movie with immediate and underlying meanings.

(FWIW, I don't know Peele's mannerisms well enough to have spotted Duke's character as a stand-in for the director.)
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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Finally checked this out, and I think it suffers from largely the same issues with Get Out: Fantastic buildup only to shoot it self in the foot by having to explain itself. And considering that Us turns into a high-concept thriller by the end, it invites a level of questioning that kills the tension and horror. I'm too busy thinking about how all this shadow people stuff works to even be scared, and by the end of it US becomes pretty goofy.

It's still good, and US at least proves that Peele is the real deal. I think he just needs to trust his audience. And yeah, holy crap is Lupita Nuyong. That laugh when she finally kills her "doppleganger" ooooh boy.
"Why did she do it?"
"Why are you the fucking Police?"

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(01-14-2020, 11:08 PM)ska oreo Wrote: Finally checked this out, and I think it suffers from largely the same issues with Get Out: Fantastic buildup only to shoot it self in the foot by having to explain itself. And considering that Us turns into a high-concept thriller by the end, it invites a level of questioning that kills the tension and horror. I'm too busy thinking about how all this shadow people stuff works to even be scared, and by the end of it US becomes pretty goofy.

It's still good, and US at least proves that Peele is the real deal. I think he just needs to trust his audience. And yeah, holy crap is Lupita Nuyong. That laugh when she finally kills her "doppleganger" ooooh boy.

Yeah, the way I felt too. I was way too involved with trying to figure out how the whole tethering thing worked.
“I call upon you to stop this musical now,” she said to the board. “You tear a community apart if you don’t.” -Prachi Ruina                                                            
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Oh, now I remember why I bailed on this post-release months ago. You guys can't suspend disbelief.
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yeah, I had no problem just rolling with this one

the cryptic opening text starts the movie off on a tone of dream logic for me

now, this isn't always the case for me. because I run into cases of not being able to buy in with a horror premise that plays out like IT FOLLOWS for some reason
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There are duplicates of all of us that live underground and mirror our lives in a woefully inadequate manner. It ain't a documentary or based on a true story. And that's okay.
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(01-15-2020, 01:51 AM)bradito Wrote: There are duplicates of all of us that live underground and mirror our lives in a woefully inadequate manner. It ain't a documentary or based on a true story. And that's okay.

Oh fucking stop Bradito. I know you know that's bullshit.

(01-15-2020, 01:41 AM)Nooj Wrote: yeah, I had no problem just rolling with this one

the cryptic opening text starts the movie off on a tone of dream logic for me

now, this isn't always the case for me.  because I run into cases of not being able to buy in with a horror premise that plays out like IT FOLLOWS for some reason

Us doesnt work for the same reason It Follows doesn't really stick the landing--it cheats.  The twist doesn't feel organic to the overall story and while it's cool in the moment, once you think about it, Us kind of falls apart. 

Because I don't think it matters at all that Lupita's character is a clone at all. Outside of being unable to speak for a limited time as a child, it doesn't really seem to effect her character.  And I probably would have been able to role with the government conspiracy if it was hand-waived, or stumbled upon. Instead we get a full on exposition dump about it, which gives people way too much time to think about how absurd that is, rather than the creepy dopplegangers stabbing people.
"Why did she do it?"
"Why are you the fucking Police?"

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Affect, not effect
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Yeah, it's the exposition dump that hurts it. I have no problem with allegory, but that speech at the end basically begs you to think about the logic of it all.
I might have been born yesterday sir, but I stayed up all night!
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I didn’t think about it much at all!
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(01-15-2020, 03:59 AM)Nooj Wrote: I didn’t think about it much at all!

Doesn't the movie sort of invite you to consider it with such divergence into explanation?
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Sure

But as I said... from the beginning, it felt like a movie where the lack of logic made me not think too hard about how the details of the exposition worked
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You and your counter logic!
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So is no one going to explain to me how tethering works?
“I call upon you to stop this musical now,” she said to the board. “You tear a community apart if you don’t.” -Prachi Ruina                                                            
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It's like tetherball.
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