Posts tagged “Catherine Keener

Get Out (2017)


Now those who are regular readers of my reviews know I’m not big on horror, however the more I heard about Get Out (2017) I knew it was probably something I should check out. Being more than the regular run of the mill horror film, with the formulaic jumps and build-ups to the next time you jump out of your seat. Here there’s something more subversive going on which is bringing an audience who may have stayed away. There’s also the non-controversey by raised by Samuel L. Jackson who said that Daniel Kaluuya being an English actor should not have been chosen for the lead as he would not understand the struggle of other brothers in America. Forgetting that unfortunately that racism is universal. There’s also the argument that as we have seen with other Black leading actors, British actors are classically trained so maybe more qualified for the roles they are getting. Ultimately they are acting, if they convey the emotions and ideas of the character that develops the narrative then it doesn’t matter as long as they have been cast right for the role. So Mr Jackson, on this one – pipe down and look at the bigger picture, the lack of fair and more honest representation of African-Americans, whoever plays them, American or British, or even South African, as long as they can relate to the role and give at least a competent performance, then and only then are you improving the image of black life in the world.

Staying with the racism theme which underlies what the film is about, added the increased tensions in America with the Trump administration Get Out is a very pertinent film. With Obama now part of modern history we are seeing a darker side we had hoped was no longer present come to the fore. The underbelly of racism has been given a voice to speak up during last years election, Trump feeding on the hate and resentment that has been created in the last few decades due to globalisation, increasing equality (which still has a way to go) tensions are high to uneasy.

These tensions are felt by Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) whose about to meet his girlfriends parents. To be fair who wouldn’t be. Wanting to make a good impression on them, hoping they will accept you as a part of your partners life. Add to that he’s black, which will make him the elephant in the room of White family in suburbia, so what he is feeling is normal with the addition of his heritage. Here’s hoping it goes well, even with reassurances from girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), her parents loved Obama, they would have voted for him a third time, maybe  laying it on a little too thick, its enough to calm him for the ride over Rose’s home.

The ride over isn’t as straight forward as you’d think it would be, the audience is not allowed to be too relaxed when it comes to this film. A deer running out in the road invites a racist cop who asks Chris for ID even though he wasn’t driving, reflecting the black prejudice towards Black people. It’s like we’ve entered a world of heightened prejudice, oh wait this is America through a very sharp lens. Then the fun begins when the couple arrive at the family home, it all looks a little too good to be true, a Black grounds keeper who is anything but normal, you could say his personality has been sucked out of him. I was reminded early on of The Stepford Wives (1975), as wives return home, after a brief period away, the same yet so very different. We only get glimpses of the groundskeeper and house-maid (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel) who as we see show no signs of even being – human, they appear to be more white in attitude and personality.

Onto meeting the family, which goes smoothly enough, if only a little too smoothly, we can see it like a sales pitch which is being repeated and delivering the product a little to well, there must be some cracks to this family façade. It’s on the first night when Chris is restless he falls foul to hypnotherapy by the mother Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) who we already know has a great cure for quitting smoking. Leading him into a session of hypnotherapy that is only the beginning of how creep things are going to get.

It’s only with the annual family gathering do things start to get really questionable, all white guests who bend over backwards to be polite to Chris whose really uncomfortable by all the guests. Making overly nice comments about Black people, it’s either desperate or plain creepy. When his phone camera goes off when he talks to the only other black guest Andrew Logan King (Lakeith Stanfield) who snaps out of his ultra-friendly personality to reveal a more human and terrified side to him. The cracks are starting to show in this façade of a gathering. There’s something sinister involving brain-washing going on at least. Or as comic relief suggest, Rod Williams (LilRel Howery)

“…Their probably abducting black people, brain washing them and making them slaves. Or sex slaves. not just regular slaves, but sex slaves and sh_t. See? I don’t know if it’s the hypnosis that’s making em slaves or wot not, but all I know is they already got two brothas we know and there could be a whole bunch of brothas they got already…

The final act reveals what’s really going on, a white cult who lure in Black people to harvest them for superior body parts, leaving them practically lobotomized, without personality, unless your camera flash goes off the suppressions diffused to reveal the true horrors. You could say they are White supremacists who acknowledge that Black people maybe superior but will not allow this to get out, ensure social control, white at the top, blacks in their place. Is this the future for Trumps America or a prediction of what it is to come. Are we over-reacting to what is going on? Only African-Americans and the makers of the film truly know what is going on for them. I can be presented with all the racially motivated police shootings, demonstrations that the news presents me. Get Out is a suburban take on how to present this real anxiety that has not gone away. With a nice dose of humour to lighten the mood or we would come out of the film shaken by the images.  Instead I came away relieved to the resolution, justice is served yet leaves you thinking could this really be going on, can people operate like this. I know I won’t be going to the Armitage’s.


Capote (2005)


Capote (2005)With the sad passing of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman I had to find the time to watch his only Oscar-winning performance as Truman Capote in the dark Capote (2005) a film that I was previously wasn’t concerned about, thinking I would have far longer to get around to this film. Unaware of the actors battle with drugs that abruptly took him away. Leaving behind him a career of incredible performances in both Hollywood and art-house films, knowing at the time he was still very much hard at work.

Nonetheless I felt compelled to now view Capote with a renewed sense of respect for the actor who I already respected. His performance is completely transformative, going down the dramatic route of loosing weight, much like the Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (2013). Hoffman’s attention to the role goes into overdrive, taking on a high-pitched voice which at first unnerves the audience, not used to the writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood which was the focus of the film.

When a family shooting in Kansas in 1959 catches the attention of Truman Capote he is compelled to use this news story as the basis for his next book. Like most artists, starting with the inspiration, not sure of the final form until it starts to take hold and forming, as he and friend fellow author Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) go on a research trip, at first in the guise of a magazine. There is an unusual fascination with the events for Capote as he meets the investigating detective Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) who wants very much to solve the case in a town that is not used to such tragic events.

The fascination for the case becomes almost a fetish for Capote as he seeks out all the evidence, to visit the girl who discovered the bodies of the family to the men who are finally brought in. Wanting to share their story with the world. Which for most would be just another newspaper story to sell the paper. Here we have another aim entirely to show to the country what can happen when things go wrong for people, their actions and the consequences.

Forming a careful bond with the convicted men who now await their final sentence, the book that Capote aims to write will remain incomplete until he has the truth of what happened, which lies with Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.). The relationship is based on power and desires, all one way, leading to years of internal struggle and turmoil for Capote as he writes what is to become his last novel. Even with friends around him he finds it hard to really open to them.

Hoffman is mesmerizing as a man who is far smaller than him, taking on the life of a legend of modern literature, instead of the Audrey Hepburn classic for which he is more fondly remembered. We find the man, openly homosexual in a time that is still not ready to accept his lifestyle, being incredibly bald in his direction to seek out the truth, a truth that may cost him his sanity and happiness. Visually the film is very muted in tone with the dark subject matter. In a writers world, as one seeks out his newest project and another on the sidelines is being pushed into the limelight for To Kill a Mockingbird which later saw Harper Lee spending the rest of her life in seclusion. The writers life is full of struggles to get a book in the form they want, which can cost more than you first hope. The line between journalistic professionalism and distance is blurred in the endeavour for a story, from which you may never return.

Related Articles