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



An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


Arrival. What could be less likely than a cerebral thriller about space aliens? Is there such a thing? Ted Chiang wrote a story; Eric Heisserer did the screenplay, and Denis Villeneuve directed. Yes, it features space aliens but instead of the expected battles in the sky against monstrous beings, the story focuses on Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), an accomplished, respected linguist in the academic world.

Twelve space pods have landed in various parts of our world, and the world is scared. Ignoring the temptation to become a blockbuster cliché, Amy Adams plays Dr. Banks as the serious professor determined to approach the aliens peacefully. She and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are summoned by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to use her language skills to discover whether the spacemen have come for peace or war.

As the movie cuts frequently to newsreels of a country hunkering down in fear and preparing for battle, Banks is determined to discover motivation before the politicians assume deadly intentions. When she succeeds in coaxing the aliens to come closer and they respond, we’re hooked. Credit the filmmakers with extraordinary inventiveness in creating the aliens and their language as art forms instead of monstrous images. This is something different, and it is good.

Although most space movies unfold in the world of the impossible, this one hits different chords because recent scientific advances are already planted in our heads. A recent PBS documentary about the possibility of visitors from other planets said the probability is high for visits within five years. That surreal possibility injects a morsel of reality that makes the arrival a symbol for global interaction and quiet negotiating rather than military strength and tests of will.

In the early scenes, Director Villeneuve made sure we knew the degree of Dr. Banks’ experience with languages and Amy Adams never undercuts the image of the serious linguist in any way. She creates a grand study of an expert challenged beyond her field with nothing less than the safety of the world at stake. For probably the first time, an audience is actually at the shoulder of a subtle, intelligent actor as she explores contact with an alien culture. Nothing happens on screen to undercut the feeling that we will one day be edging up to this situation in real life. This is a space fantasy with one root planted deeply in the ground.

This movie is a grand combination of fun, curiosity, and adventure that plants a whole new attitude about space stories. Some very inventive minds put it together and it would be a shame to skip it as I almost did when I thought it would be another monster bashing explosion in the sky.

The creators of this film have made a plea for understanding that global communication, not global war, will one day be our essential tool. Let’s hope an Amy Adams is on hand to help us.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Arrival
Word count : 492
Running time : 1:56
Rating : PG-13
Date : December 11, 2016