Nope further demonstrates that Jordan Peele is a fantastic director, a less fantastic screenwriter and a pretty poor organizer; the scenes are charged and hold great momentum, and Nope has dug up a well worn narrative that obviously holds up effortlessly - I doubled this with It Came From Outer Space which turned out to be curiously similar; even as it was playing, Nope also made me think of everything from Twister to The Square to Paranormal Activity to Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, the list goes on... but perhaps it is as an answer to Tarantino's film that Nope feels the most conspicuous; beyond the surface signifiers (both have desert tracking shots, rural ranches and even a post-credit postcard) both films depict a backwatery side of Hollywood and deal with struggling artists who need to find a bridge between their career-turned-heritage and some kind of rebirth; the difference is that while Tarantino escaped into revisionist history (faux-reality) to save his characters, Peele wants to take his characters from a compromised heritage (we understand that Keith David's wrangler patriarch "built something" with his business, but also that this grandeur is relative and a truth with modification - his schtick about Muybridge is, as anyone will tell you by now, not true; Peele obviously knows this and suggests that the father needed to spin the story to his advantage - much like the guy who capitalizes on his childhood trauma to run a hokey cowboy amusement park, a subplot that muddles the film, as Peele's subplots tend to do; finally, Wincott's antithesis to these survivors - the idealistic, mage-like hero who is ready to face the abyss - makes it even more blobby) to actual greatness, something that carries symbolical truth (from working as cogs in the fakery machine of Hollywood to discovering actual aliens)... but despite these story suggestions, Peele seems to operate in a zoned-out bubble where no real strife or grit is allowed to be shown - these characters are supposed to struggle to survive, yet act as if they can't be bothered; there is a giant "so what?" hanging over every line - the subsequent alien chase becomes equally deadpan and all of the allusions to other movies make little difference (I was mostly reminded how all movies resemble each other to some degree anyway, so references and allusions are rather stating the obvious), almost as if the title is trying to tell us something (like, there is nothing to overanalyze here and movies do not matter as much as you think); there is an underlying cynicism to this that I find hard to swallow; it goes hand in hand with the lackluster nature of the characters - it's a movie about an alien invasion where nobody gives a shit, because they are blinded by and fixated to their labour, while at the same time ultimately only wanting money and fame to get away from it; yet there is no satire to it and the politics are only in the margins; the film opens with a Bible quote (and apparently the film was inspired by the pandemic) but the movie seems entirely uninterested in speculating on higher beings; in fact, for Peele it seems like it's "survival of the fittest" all the way; a Nietzsche aphorism would be more appropriate (but probably a little too earnest for a hyped filmmaker who still wants to please people) like say:

"Freedom means that the manly instincts which delight in war and victory dominate over other instincts, for example, over those of 'pleasure.'"

Or simply:

"He who humbleth himself wants to be exalted"

Or even more simply:

"The free man is a warrior"

All of these sayings run through the movie quite clearly; Peele seems rather infatuated with this kind of macho existentialism and admires the emotionally zoned-out übermensch ready to rise from the ashes of his redundant past; emotional people are weaklings, they need to be manipulated with sentiment so that you get what you want (see Keke Palmer's plays throughout the movie), unlike Real Men Who Suck It Up they don't have traumas (because if you suffer from trauma you are weak and you will die) and if they do survive it is only through dumb luck; also, if you live long and prosper (as the true warrior does!) you become old and grey and bitter and wise - remember that the next generation is ready to take over, so it is your duty to sacrifice yourself and die... no, I don't know if the film heralds these ideals consciously or not, but let's just say it has absolutely nothing to do with Spielberg.

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