Monday, April 1, 2019


Dostoevsky wrote a novella about a doppelganger called The Double: A Petersberg Poem which inspired Jorge Luis Borges to write his own version, The Other. Us is a doppelganger fiesta, though the director Jordan Peele’s form of doppelganger has a homicidal edge. "Tethering" is term the film coins for what's going on, but the double the central character Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) meets in a "find yourself" fun house mirror lacks one important element. She lacks a soul and that constitutes the chrysalis of the horror. What's brilliant is the imagery. The movie takes place in l986 and a Michael Jackson Thriller tee-shirt is a treasured artifact of the years leading up to that era in this “thriller" (Jackson, of course, was not the love child he seemed to be). But an even more important piece of imagery is the graphic of the “Hands Across America” movement which took place in May of that year. The wonderful twist is, of course, that something high-minded becomes a cross between The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Night of the Living Dead (1968)Home Alone (1990) also is a garish cameo in Us. Gabe is the father of this particular domestic drama. The performance  by Nyong’o has received rave notices. Yet it's Winston Duke in his Howard University sweatshirt, playing the tell-it-like-it-is, social-rising plain dealer Dad who makes comments like “what is this some kind of fucked up performance art” on seeing the red suited ghouls forming a human chain, who continually steals the show. Gabe is also interesting precisely because he's a black man who has made it and the film is about a kind of revenge of the have-nots who haven't  been so lucky.The title of the film of course says it all. Who are they, but us? Forget Jeremiah ll:11 ("I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape") which appears throughout the film and bespeaks the obvious.  Remember the Mount Rushmore scene in North By Northwest? Us is a reminder in an era, where commerce and complexity, often don’t go hand in hand, that mass appeal art can produce unforgetable imagery that possesses real and lasting genius.

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