Blu-ray: Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’

The Stepford Wives meets Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in Get Out (2017), the directorial debut of writer / comedian Jordan Peele, a tricky and successful mix of social satire, modern horror, and savvy commentary on race as experienced by a person of color in a largely white society.

Universal Home Video

Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris Washington, a photographer with a promising career and a gorgeous, supportive girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), and after months of dating, he’s finally meeting the parents for a weekend stay. Her parents are white, liberal, and affluent, and on the drive over he finds out that she hasn’t told them that he’s black, which makes him a little uneasy. No worries, they are warm and welcoming, perhaps a little too overeager to make him welcome. Dad (Bradley Whitford) is a chatty hugger who launches into his spiel of how he would have eagerly voted Obama in for a third term. Mom (Catherine Keener) is a therapist who seems to be sizing up all those suppressed feelings, a suburban Earth Mother who seems just a little too eager to hypnotize him. They make a point of just how much they don’t see color, which of course only accentuates how much he stands out in this upstate social pocket where the only other black faces are groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel). They have been with the family so long they have become part of the family, explains Mom. Just maybe not quite in the way you assume.

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Modern Classic: ‘Being John Malkovich’

Being John Malkovich (Criterion), a devastatingly funny portrait of unhappiness, desperation, desire, and the vicious things we do for love, catapulted Spike Jonze from music video wunderkind to visionary director and Charlie Kaufman from sitcom scribe to brilliant screenwriter. In 1999 it was fresh and daring and inventive, and more than ten years later, in the age of reality TV and celebrity obsession gone viral, it is as timely and topical as ever, and just as inventive, surprising, devastating, and compassionate.

John Cusack stars as a shaggy, self-important only marionette artist who takes a  break from the angst-ridden wish fulfillment fantasies of his puppet theater to get a paying job and becomes obsessed with an acerbic woman (Catherine Keener) in the office next door. The fact that he’s married (to an improbably dowdy Cameron Diaz in a dowdy frizz) doesn’t phase his flailing attempts at seduction.

The mundane and the miraculous exist side by side in “Being John Malkovich.” The half-scale size of the 7 ½ floor is groaner of a pun (“low overhead,” get it?) turned deadpan surreal sight gag, and when Cusack stumbles into the weirdly organic portal that sends him into the mind of John Malkovich (played with exceedingly good humor by John Malkovich), the metaphysical implication pale beside the business opportunities.

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