Monthly Archives: February 2017

Get Out, Get Out, Get Out

It is a daunting endeavor to speak in depth about the brilliance of Jordan Peele‘s directorial debut Get Out (2017) without major spoilers, thus, this post will focus less on plot and more on mise-en-scene and tone.  The trailer sets up the premise quite well, leaving no doubt as to the escalating tension that the audience can expect (but it also includes moments that didn’t make it to the final cut):

When I’d initially read about this film and watched a trailer, I thought it would be scary-and-funny the way the Scary Movies are scary and funny.  I also anticipated a “final girl” motif … except that it would be “final black guy.”  After watching the film today, I realized my assessment wasn’t inaccurate but needed some adjustment.  The events in Get Out take place over a weekend where Rose (Allison Williams) takes her boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) home to meet her family.  It quickly becomes apparent that something is amiss with the atmosphere around the house and Chris is uncomfortable.

The film is both humorous and horrifying but not due to crude jokes, paranormal activity or extreme body trauma.  The foreboding and psychological terror reminds me of Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968) — things appear normal on the surface but something is clearly wrong.

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Tragedy and comedy are frequently cited as two sides of the same coin, and as Get Out suggests, horror is a substantial player in that relationship.  If you’ve seen any of Key and Peele‘s skits or Keanu (Peter Atencio, 2016), you’ll be familiar with the sinister-meets-silly quality of Jordan Peele’s humor.  The laughs come because of genuine comedy as well as the dynamic between horror and comedy.  Within the story world, the actions and beliefs of certain characters is the source of terror.  If read ideologically, one can find a reflection or criticism of society.  It’s not the monsters and the ghosts that are scary — real life is scary.  Ostensibly normal situations with just the right amount of distortion or anachronism generates a sense of dread that no long-haired Asian girl or exploding light fixtures can.

As a cinematic experience, the music and sound design create a visceral reaction akin to watching a monster film or slasher film.  Audible jump scares, dissonant juxtapositions between sight and sound.

Because I don’t want to get into even minor spoilers, I’ll leave you with a list of observations and miscellany:

~ Microsoft and Bing branding.  We got lots of close-ups.
~ So, not all TSA agents are misguided?
~ Jordan Peele wrote the screenplay as well and there was only one close-up that made me think what we see would be important later on…and it wasn’t.  Deleted scene maybe.  Many other visual elements come back together for the big reveal.
~ The film shapes very specifically the viewer’s perception of the characters along the way until such time that the narrative unveils true motives.  You don’t get to “figure things out” necessarily before the characters do.

Basketball’s Artistic Merit

The Fung Bros.’ video on NBA Moves got me thinking about the artistic nature of the athletic performance of basketball moves and scoring.

Even though the ultimate goal is to win by outscoring one’s opponent, it isn’t enough that the players just get the ball into the hoop as many times as possible.  Methodology necessitates that players try to keep the other team from scoring by getting the ball back or “fouling” them.  In baseball, the pitcher strikes out the batters; in football, the defense keeps the other team from getting another set of downs, sacks the quarterback, or intercepts the ball; in hockey and futbol, and I imagine to a similar extent basketball, each team tries to get the puck/ball to score.  Hence, the back-and-forth quality of these three sports compared to baseball and football, where the former is more stationary and the latter consists of a series of stop-and-go’s.

In addition to the technique and skills required to put the ball in the hoop, though, does a player have to execute these plays with ostensibly intentional rhythmic and complex footwork?  Is the footwork a byproduct of trying to get the ball close enough to the hoop to dunk?  The more I watch a variety of basketball plays, the more I see artistry in the physics of that choreography no matter how (co)incidental.

Basketball game-play impresses me as being more unpredictable than football.  The gridiron is a much larger stage and the fluidity of certain plays contributes to the notion that every outcome is planned.  It seems that basketball invites and involves more improvisation down the court.

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Off Topic: Today’s Verse 90

I decided that I would write a poem every day for a year starting on my birthday, which was a week before the Super Bowl.  I have written a poem every day so far on my creative writing tumblr, including one that was inspired by the outcome of the game:

And if it wasn’t planned

PED #9 2017

It’s how you planned it, wasn’t it?
You gave me five miles ahead
you somehow couldn’t keep up
But then when it mattered for the both of us
You sprinted forward like a young prince
chased by vixens and stable boys.

And then you overtook me,
left me in the dust
and I wondered if my success wasn’t deliberate
or you just got very lucky when I fell.

– yiqi 6 february 2017 7:47 am

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Super Bowl LI: Patriots pinch the Falcons

The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons converged in Houston, Texas today to see who would take home NFL Championship bragging rights.  Broadcast on Fox and narrated by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, Super Bowl LI started with the Patriots on offense (the Falcons won the coin toss but they decided to save it for the third quarter).

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Neither team gained much on offense on their first possessions.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did get sacked twice in back-to-back plays with five minutes left in the first quarter. The second quarter, however, revealed some Patriots’ offensive momentum…until the Falcons linebacker Deion Jones forced a fumble and his teammate corner back Robert Alford recovered it.  A few plays later, running back Devonta Freeman ran five yards and leaped into the end zone.  Atlanta 7 and New England 0.  By the end of the second quarter, the Falcons increased their lead by two TDs, courtesy of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan connecting with tight end Austin Hooper and Robert Alford intercepting Tom Brady’s pass.  He ran eighty-two yards into the end zone.  The Falcons defense was able to keep the Patriots from getting into the end zone, but New England did put up a field goal.  Atlanta 21 and New England 3.

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I’ve seen the Patriots come back from being outscored in the first half of a game to winning the whole thing; it’s not impossible for Tom Brady to do (as Joe Buck remarked as much before the first half ended).  Of course, I hoped it wouldn’t happen today.  About halfway into the third quarter, Matt Ryan threw a TD pass to running back Tevin Coleman.  Atlanta 28 and New England 3.  In the bottom of the quarter, the Patriots finally put up a TD via running back James White but the extra point was no good.  Atlanta 28 and New England 9.

And then came the fourth quarter and the Patriots’ offense game was shining more as they’d made it down the field even when Tom Brady was sacked twice by Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and they had to settle for a field goal instead of a TD.  Matt Ryan was sacked and the Patriots recovered the loose ball.  They got into the end zone (thanks to wide receiver Danny Amendola) and went for a two-point conversion.  Atlanta 28 and New England 20.   Would the Falcons be able to put more points on the board or keep the Patriots from scoring with less than two minutes left in the game?  The Patriots were able to tie the game with a TD (another James White) and a two-point conversion.  Atlanta 28 and New England 28.

And the first time the Super Bowl ever went into overtime would be today.  The Patriots won the OT coin toss.  And they got into the end zone (another James White).  New England 34 and Atlanta 28.  Final Score.  The Patriots have won Super Bowl LI.

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Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.

 

Observations & Other Miscellany:

~ Luke Bryan sang the National Anthem.  Tom Brady got a close-up during the few lines of the song; he was mouthing the lyrics and looking up to screen left (possibly at the jumbotron?)  Matt Ryan then got a medium close-up at the “and the home of the brave” part.  He was looking very stoic.

George Bush and Barbara Bush helped with the coin toss.  As they made their way to mid-field, the camera cut away to Mike Pence for a few seconds.

~ Three defensive holding calls on the Falcons in one drive at the bottom of the second quarter?!  Yep.

~ A tap/slap of the helmet means “good job, teammate!”  Where does at tap/slap land if one did a bad job?  Punch to the forearm?

~ Lady Gaga performed during the Half Time Show.  She started off with some patriotic tune excerpts.  HerPoker Face” may be the only one that Westerners know, but the “Poker Face” I know first will always be Ayumi Hamasaki‘s.

~ Footage of the crew taking apart Lady Gaga’s stage sped up made them look like ants disassembling an insect.

~ Is Joe Buck trying to grow a beard or was he pressed for time and thus didn’t shave?

~ Patriots defense coordinator Matt Patricia reminds me of actor Josh Radnor.

~ Favorite Superbowl Commercial: the new Evony mobile game.

~ The sounds of a football hitting the uprights makes a distinct sound.  It’s a metallic thud…with notes of “whoomp.”

~ Matt Ryan went into Super Bowl LI as the MVP of the 2016 season.

Insult Like You Mean It

A few years ago I posted about a book called Insults & Comebacks, a collection of witticisms that bite and punch.  They are hilarious and depending on one’s delivery, the lines could come off as just the right amount of dry humor:

“I’ve had a lot to drink, and you still don’t look good.”

“Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t suffering.”

“We’ve taken a vote: you’re trying too hard.”

“You still think you can be anything you want–and get paid for it.”

“Your lack of experience is matched only be your surplus of ego.”

“Ignorance can be cured. Stupid is forever.”

“It’s not the technology–it’s you.”

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Today, I came across this thread on Reddit about insults and found even more awesome ways of saying some unkind things that are funnier than they are plain mean.

Why are you playing so hard to get when you’re already hard to want?

You’re the dollar menu version of your father.

The only way for you to get laid is to crawl up a chicken’s ass and wait.

If you were any more inbred you’d be a sandwich.

You’re so ugly, your portraits hang themselves.

May you inherit a house with a thousand rooms and be found dead in every one of them.
Your teeth look like they’re throwing gang-signs.
I would ask you what your problem is, but you probably can’t pronounce it.
Does your ass get jealous of the shit that comes out of your mouth?
You’ll never be the man your mother is!
You’re as useful as a screen door on a submarine
If I wanted to kill myself, I would climb to your ego and jump down to your IQ.
I’ve had worse things said about me by better people.
I’d call you a cunt but you lack warmth and depth.