Like Get Out, Us is the type of movie that you can peel layers away from for a long time. Unlike Get Out, you can also peel as many layers away from the theme itself without quite figuring it out. Either way, as long as Peele keeps including the most esoteric easter eggs possible, he'll have full command of the internet's article writers.
All that meta-textual love makes the film a good fit for my newsletter. With the Blu-ray out this week, here's a roundup of the best stuff to read after you watch Us. Spoilers ahead.
This twitter thread from Eve Ewing covers a bunch of interesting connections.
A Guide to the References and Easter Eggs in Jordan Peele’s Us
Jason Bailey, Vulture
“They’re filming something by the carousel,” Adelaide’s mother tells her father, as they stroll the boardwalk. “You should see if they’re looking for extras.” Joel Schumacher’s teen vampire hit The Lost Boys shot on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in 1986; Peele confirmed the connection to Uproxx.
Here's a good interpretation of the overall themes:
The Great Below: Us (dir. Jordan Peele, 2019)
Sady Doyle, Dangerous Characters
But you have an underground sister, too. You have someone awful you could have been, or may still be, without realizing it. Name five people you hate, and five things you hate about them, and you will have drawn a picture of her face.
"I enjoyed how Tim Heidecker’s shadow acted like a drunk asshole all the time, not because he actually was one, but because he spent decades mirroring an alcoholic."
"The real victim of this film is the Tethered of the 'get off my car' guy. Imagine getting to your top-world doppelganger and finding out someone else already killed him! What a disappointment."
"I just need someone to tell me where they got a shit ton of red jumpsuits and vintage gold scissors because I know etsy isn't delivering to the santa cruz sewers"
Us’s big plot twist, explained
Aja Romano, Vox
But while Red tells Adelaide that the two of them are special, Us takes care to undermine our expectations in order to make a cold point that none of this is special at all — that what’s important is how ordinary the underground slaves are. In fact, they’re just like us, because they are us.
7 questions about Us that we can’t stop thinking about
Alex Abad-Santos, Vox
Jordan Peele dislikes rabbits. In an interview, he says their eyes are unnerving, and if they were humans, they would be sociopaths
Here's a fun theory that ultimately doesn't hold up:
Unpacking Reddit’s Wildest Theory About Us
Rebecca Alter, Vulture
On Friday, Reddit user hoopsterben posted in /r/FanTheories: “I believe the summer before the movie takes place, the boy and his ‘tethered’ also switched places … At the end, he has realized that his mother, at one point, has also switched bodies. She gives him a look almost like ‘I also know what you know’ and then he puts on his mask, as a symbol of the masks they will now wear for the rest of their lives.”
Moving on the rest of the newsletter. I have a lot more ground to cover, since I keep collecting links and then forgetting to send this letter out on time.
First, is America's Common Core curriculum determining which middle-grade kid's books become successes and which ones fail? It sure might be, according to this one anecdote.
Here's a better Joker movie idea than that new one that we're getting.
I Tweeted About The Joker Being a Woman Who Was Tired of This Shit and It Now Feels Auto-Biographical
Geraldine DeRuiter, Everywhereist
The original origin story for the Joker usually involves him having one bad day. A whole lifetime of systemic misogyny is a much better reason for snapping. And just like that, my throwaway joke had shifted in my mind. I was now super invested in the idea of a woman so fed up with bullshit that she becomes the Joker.
Here's a follow up to the Perfection talk from last issue. It's one of those great arguments that I hadn't considered before reading the article, but now I'm all in.
Netflix’s The Perfection learned all the wrong lessons from #MeToo
Aja Romano, Vox
I think it’s important to take a closer look at why critics have such divergent reads on the film, because The Perfection tells us a lot about what Hollywood is taking away from the #MeToo era — and not all of it is good. In essence, the movie looks like it should be a slick, thrilling emotional arc that speaks to women. But beneath the surface, it’s something more regressive.
This week on Grady Hendrix watch:
Overlook Film Festival Review: Satanic Panic
Robert Saucedo, Birth Movies Death
You don’t have to be indulging in a sleepover to enjoy Satanic Panic but the movie was positively made for the occasion. Bridging the gap between gross-out horror and young adult fiction, Satanic Panic plays out like the lost book in The Babysitters Club series, ghostwritten by Sam Raimi. The inherent sweetness of Sam, even as she’s covered in gore and attacked by tree monsters, provides the film with a zip and energy that’s lacking in so many modern horror films.
As the above two articles imply, I've been getting into B-movie-level films and genre TV a lot lately. (I recommend 1972's Horror Express, which you can watch free with ads here. It's Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as rival anthropologists in 1906 trapped on a train with the alien-possessed body of a caveman. It's messy fun with more uneven plotting than you'd think possible and includes a seemingly unrelated B-plot about a spy trying to steal an inventor's patent for a new type of steel).
Anyway, I'll always check out the types of shows that have carried on the potboiler legacy, so I was interested in this review, which mentions Cinemax's lineup of extended B-movie-style TV (Quarry, Banshee, Warrior). Whether I'd finish any of them is another matter.
'Jett': TV Review
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
Written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez (Elektra Luxx), Jett feels like an adaptation of a long-running franchise of crime novels that doesn't actually exist, filled (sometimes to excess) with suave crime lords, verbose henchmen, ambitious heists, steamy sex and unexpected double-crosses, and anchored by an enigmatic and intriguing lead character. Jett is probably a little too derivative for its own good, but through five of its first nine episodes, it marks another fun-but-not-too-deep entry in Cinemax's stable of expanded B-movie genre pieces. And it's a great showcase for [Carla] Gugino.
Here's an interesting dive into where the Sherlock Holmes stories sit on the sliding scale of “English” detective fiction and more grounded crime fiction. (The author of this article is just coming out with a new Holmes pastiche book this week. My reading list is too long as it is, so I don't want to read it, but I might need to, now that I made the mistake of reading the summary blurb for it.)
Sherlock Holmes, Hardboiled Detective
Alexis Hall, Crime Reads
When you realise that the story, shorn of all the mystery, is just the tale of a brutally violent man trying to murder his stepdaughter in a needlessly cruel fashion, and probably getting away with it because they live miles from anywhere and it’s 1891 so she really has very few rights and very little power of her own, the whole story goes from being a piece of campy fluff about a poisonous snake to a hard-hitting drama about domestic abuse in the Victorian countryside.
Cool oral-history-style look at the future of movies:
How Will the Movies (As We Know Them) Survive the Next 10 Years?
Kyle Buchanan, New York Times
"What happens when you have a generation with the sort of education that we had long deified people like Quentin Tarantino for having because they worked in a video store, or lived close to a movie theater where indie films were playing? For a very long time, Hollywood functioned as a choke point. Now that people have access to that education, paired with the shifts in the industry that are opening up more opportunities, I think we are on the brink of a remarkable period in film and television that’s going to be unlike anything we’ve seen before."
Next Time on Maddd Science: Nuclear Apocalypses
Header image: “Codependent? Call Mr. Scissors,” by Daniel Williams. The most literally relevant header image yet? Maybe!
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