Get Out

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

T2 Get Out

Get Out was made by writer/director Jordan Poole, a black man who slashes at the shallow understanding white people have of black culture. His movie is his command that white liberals face up to the truth that their level of acceptance is shallow, phony, and late.

The movie will be received by viewers according to the complex inner settings each of us has about race. The easiest way to react to Get Out is to surrender to pure anger at its violence but we can’t get away with the easy way in this case.

Why couldn’t Poole have made his points about white liberals in a way that might make us think, that might encourage us to work together? Because we wouldn’t have heard what he is saying. He suggests that we know nothing about black people being scrutinized by police and passersby whenever they are in public, that the culture of their neighborhoods is unknown to whites.

Look what he has done to wake us up. Rose (Allison Williams) is taking her black boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) home to meet her family on their plush estate tended by housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and handyman Walter (Marcus Henderson) – both black and odd. Dad (Bradley Whitford), a too affable neurosurgeon, and mom (Catherine Keener), a nutcase hypnotist, greet the lovers with a creepy kind of acceptance.

A gathering of friends and relatives arrives. On meeting Chris, the guests respond: Chris must be a good golfer because Tiger Woods is black and whites envy black bodies. Poole uses his perceived white jealousy of black minds and bodies to soak his movie in blood. The attitudes of the white guests are simplistic and crude and Poole
makes sure we understand those white simpletons are no more shallow than those of us who think we understand the problem even as we live in segregated cultures.

Do we have much to atone for? The British stole the continent from the Indians. Then they destroyed the Indians and brought black men to America locked in chains and sold them as slaves. The Civil War freed the slaves and left them in poverty. Two world wars distracted us until the ‘60s when desegregation was brought front and center in education and sports. And then progress slowed again. Fifty years later, we still live in segregated neighborhoods and cultures.

A horror/comedy is a popular movie format these days but when the subject is part of an uncorrected historical disgrace, it’s a shame that only a violent movie like this could make us look inward. Now that we’ve been kicked on this score, perhaps that format can be used to attack alcohol excess or how fraternities have weakened education, or the horror of wars wrought by men? Or how about the comedic horror of the president of the United States bestowing public approval and encouragement on sexual bullying of women? You’re a talented guy, Jordan Poole. You could do a great job on that one.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title Get Out
Word Count: 499
Running time: 1:44
Rating : R
Date : April 9, 2017


The Shallows

Perfect Summer Fear

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

The Shallows

It’s summer. It’s hot. The movie menu is lean. Go see The Shallows. The only people who won’t be scared are the accomplished surfers who are sure to keep insisting that none of it could ever happen. They’re right, but the point of a good summer thriller is not that it be possible but that it be terrifying. This one is terrifying because it is crafted with skill. There’s a reason that Jaws became a summer classic. Now and again people love to be scared, especially in the safety of a movie theater.

An early plus: the whole thing is filmed just 200 yards off shore in a beautiful Australian cove. Nancy (Blake Lively) is being driven to a remote beach by Carlos (Oscar Jaenada) who drives through sand, woods, and trails to the nearly always deserted beach. The remoteness is point one on the suspense scale. Nancy, a medical student, has been determined to surf this particular beach because of her mother’s description of surfing there years before she died. Surfer mother raised a surfer daughter who is determined to carry out Mom’s wish that she experience the magic of this place.

In the first ominous note, the friend who was to be her surfing buddy drops out. Nancy will be alone in this remote beauty. For a long satisfying spell we are treated to an accomplished surfer enjoying the mountainous waves. She is comfortable with the challenge because she’s good at what she does. We are enjoying her spirit and her skill.

I’ll go no farther with the plot than to say that by the time the Great White Shark appears, the music has told us to get ready, this is going to be tough. It is indeed. The whole thing is a storyteller’s holiday. Scenery, music, acting, and camera work combine to make sure you are frozen in anticipation of the next horrific twist. You can promise yourself you won’t close your eyes in fear, but you’ll lose that bet. Even worse – or better, depending on your outlook – it’s all so well done that you will begin to think this is all too professional for a happy ending. Will she or won’t she? That’s when your eyes will close involuntarily.

That brings us to Blake Lively. She is thoroughly credible as the young medical student determined to experience her mother’s dream. Whether she’s dealing with the thrill and beauty of surfing those waves or dealing with the physical and emotional shock of the shark, she doesn’t overact.

Lively is supported all the way by technicians who know how to make real blood, cuts, scars, and vomit for further credibility. You could tell me the whole thing was filmed in an Australian bathtub and I wouldn’t care. That’s how good the special effects are. So good that I can’t even mention the shark or the whale. I was quite surprised, and grateful, that I hadn’t had a heart attack.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : The Shallows
Word count : 497
Running time : 1:27
Rating : PG-13
Date : July 17, 2016


This review was posted on July 16, 2016, in Horror.