Us. [Film Review + Analysis]

I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of horror films, but Us is so different to your usual jump-scare-and-predictable-plot horror films. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, who is known initially for his comedy sketches, I knew it was a film I had to see – especially since I watched his first film Get Out last year and absolutely loved it.

Jordan Peele’s film writing is clever, intricate and draws upon the mundane aspects of life to produce something of psychological horror. Us was no exception. It follows the journey of a family who are on holiday, suddenly finding four figures in red standing outside their house late at night. It is only when they get closer, they realise they are exact replicas of themselves.

Peele explains in various interviews that the film was inspired by his own anxieties surrounding doppelgangers. He chooses striking colours and objects to take this everyday phenomenon into an unsettling piece of horrific action. Red outfits. Scissors as weapons. White rabbits. There are always symbolic objects and phrases in Peele’s films which he places intricately and intentionally throughout, only to reveal the greater meaning later on. For that reason, his films are brilliant for analysis. With so many interpretations up for grabs, I always love to sit back and have a think about what I got out of it. And I thought I’d share a little of that with all of you here!

*Spoilers ahead*

The main question many of us have at the end of a film as complex as Us is: What does the ending mean? I had no idea where the film would end up, despite my many guesses, but I certainly didn’t expect it to end up where it did. And that was definitely a good thing!

The overall concept of the film reveals the dichotomy between the living world and the Tethered, who live in underground corridors – two sides of a world that act in accordance with one another, yet only one half are aware of its strength. It is only by the end that we see the underground Tethered as puppets of the people above, falling into step behind them and copying what they do but with no understanding of why they’re doing it and therefore no meaning. An experiment gone wrong, still malfunctioning as time moves on.

One of my favourite scenes was near the end – the attack between Adelaide and her doppelganger “puppet”. It cleverly flicks between the past and the present – the influential dance routine and the present rage. It is like ballet reimagined. Whilst the weapon of the scissors throughout the film clearly represents a sense of duality (two parts making a whole, but that can’t be separated), I also noticed that the ballet move, as the legs snap together, also aligns with the motion of scissors in this scene. It is as if the characters themselves have inhabited the brutality of the scissors. The dance is no longer a dance but an unsettling attack waiting to happen.

Us wasn’t made just to scare, and I think that’s what makes a good horror film. Its interesting interactions between the living and the Tethered aren’t far off many societal differences in our current world; the notion of “them” and “us” can easily be read as subtle commentary on societal inequalities and “The Other” – the idea that we “fight” those we don’t understand.

I read an interesting article online that made a very good point: if “them” and “us” can do the same (since Adelaide and her underground shadow puppet make the same moves), what makes them any different? The only difference is that one has the autonomy to live it out. But why shouldn’t they both?

Us is an unsettling, thought-provoking, original creation and I think it deserves a lot more praise than it’s received. I can’t end this without making a small comment on the plot twist at the end: I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out sooner! Very cleverly executed, and I can’t wait to go back and watch it again, with added hindsight ready to pick up on even finer details.

Have you seen the film Us?

Or Jordan Peele’s former film Get Out?

Let me know in the comments below – always up for a film discussion!


Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 11

The challenge for this week was… Quality Time Together!

Here is a small overview of how I got on with the challenge.

[and don’t forget, it’s not too late to sign up if you haven’t already!]

This week was focused on spending quality time with close friends and family, and I really enjoyed doing that this week!

My favourite activity for this week was something my Mum, my brother and I have only just started doing – Friday Film Night! We set up Netflix on the TV, get comfortable on the sofa, and enjoy a good film together. Because we can never agree on a film, we will take it in turns to decide the film each week (it’s a secret until the night of!). It was my choice first so I chose The Quiet Place – it had a lot of plot holes, but it was very well filmed and acted, and I think everyone enjoyed it so hopefully I made a good choice!

We’ve also been playing a few board games this week. My Mum and I both love scrabble and somehow, every single time we play, without fail, our scores are so close! She’s the perfect component because it’s always a fun challenge to try and win. We also had afternoon tea and cake a couple days ago too (that we put together ourselves), which was really lovely, to celebrate that I finished the first draft of my novel!

I have had a few video calls this week, to catch up with friends and family, which has also been really nice! I’m hoping to try the app Bunch again (where you can play games over video call, such as pictionary and trivia quizzes, etc.) as that’s a lot of fun!

What activities have you been doing this week, to spend quality time with people you care about?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

‘Tiger King’ [TV Review]

Hey, you cool cats and kittens! 

As many of you may know, Tiger King has been a super popular show on Netflix lately. It is a documentary set in America all about a man named Joe Exotic who is obsessed with tigers.

I started watching this series a week or so ago with my brother. Honestly I don’t know how to describe it other than that it’s completely insane. It hops between multiple people, particularly Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, who are in a lifelong “war” between each other, trying to shut each other’s zoos down for being cruel to animals (in reality, they are both cruel).

It’s one of those shows where you think: wow, only in America. It gets crazier the more episodes you watch – think disappearing husbands, too many husbands, and murder plots. But, funnily enough, once you know that the documentary will be filled with anything but sanity, you find yourself shrugging with “fair enough” by the end of it, because of course so and so did this and of course this guy ended up in jail.

It’s safe to say this show is not about the tigers themselves – despite everyone in the documentary claiming that it is. But it’s oddly entertaining watching the crazy disputes and deciding what you think is the truth.

*spoiler*: yep, Carole definitely killed her husband.

 

This is my favourite image from the internet that sums up this show better than I ever could:

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Have you seen Tiger King?

Let me know what you thought in the comments!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

‘I Lost My Body’ [Film Review]

This animated film about a hand, detached from its body, wandering the streets of Paris, is absolutely mesmerising. It has such a seemingly weird and questionable concept – why is a hand the main character? how would that be an interesting story to follow? – but it is filled with intriguing symbolism. I found myself bizarrely attached to the story of this hand, as it did it’s very best to survive, whilst the flashbacks of the past revealed the life of the boy who once held that hand as his own.

There was just something so deep, calm and thoughtful about this film, whilst also plucking at the nervousness and grief and struggles of life simultaneously. The music was beautiful and the animation was simple yet touching. It seemed to express the world from all sorts of angles – birds eye, through mirrors, beneath the ground. It was one of those films you feel completely immersed in, and when you come out the other side you don’t really know how to live in the world anymore.

There was a particularly interesting use of symbolism in the role of a fly, who the boy as a child tried and attempted to catch on multiple occasions. But he never could get a grasp on it. He realised it was “impossible” – this far fetched ideal that couldn’t be obtained, and so he started to live his life passive to whatever life threw at him. He let the fly pass him with not so much as a flicker.

[spoilers ahead]

It isn’t until the end that we see that it isn’t impossible. The hand does it’s best to survive because it believes it’s owner needs it back, but he doesn’t. He does not need what he once had, what the past once gave him, to be complete. And jumping off that ledge, laughing into the night sky, he realises that anything is possible. We define our own fate. 

Have you watched a film recently that affected you deeply?

Let me know in the comments below!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Bojack Horseman [TV Show Review]

Bojack Horseman is honestly unlike any TV show I’ve ever seen before. I was slightly hesitant to begin it, as I had so many TV shows already on my list, but as soon as I started it, everything else was pushed to the side because I loved it so much that I just couldn’t stop watching!

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For those of you who don’t already know, Bojack Horseman is an animated show aimed at adults. It follows multiple characters (horses, dogs, cats, humans, etc.) whose stories all connect and intertwine. When I first started it, I thought it was so funny. There are a lot of comedies out there but this one really did make me laugh out loud multiple times. The writing is clever and witty and I love how there’s small details in the background and in the dialogue that hint at larger meanings. There are also a lot of references to other TV shows and movies that are quite fun to watch out for!

As I continued to binge-watch Bojack Horseman, I realised that there is a very sincere dark undertone to the show. It does a brilliant job of portraying the harsher aspects of life and the ways in which we, as humans, use comedy and eccentric actions to distract, avoid, and hide from what is really hurting us. How can an animated show with no real people in it portray the reality of people so well? I don’t know, but it’s amazing.

There is something about the writing of this show and the distinct personalities of the characters that means there is something we can all relate to on a certain level. Whilst we may not act or behave in the same way, there are thoughts and experiences we can identify with and I feel like everyone can find a part of themselves in one or more of the characters, which is what makes it so great! I love how this show reveals suffering in an open yet real way. It encourages viewers to think about their own life, and it does a brilliant job of portraying mental health in a way that doesn’t seem forced, glamorised or easy to overcome.

There are certain episodes that are known amongst viewers as particularly powerful (‘Fish out of Water’, ‘Times Arrow’, ‘The Showstopper’), but my favourite was ‘Free Churro’, which consisted of a long funeral eulogy. There are not many TV characters that you could watch for 25 minutes straight and not be entertained, but Bojack really is one of them.

Bojack Horseman is full of so many sad but wonderful characters and the dialogue makes me want to just scoop up all the quotes and create a little book out of them. Here are some of my favourites:

“The universe is a wild beast. You can’t tame it. All you can do is try to live inside it.”

“When you look at someone through rose-coloured glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.”

“I want to feel good about myself. The way you do. And I don’t know how. I don’t know if I can.”

“Bojack, when you get sad, you run straight ahead and keep running forward, no matter what. There are people in your life that are gonna try to hold you back, slow you down, but you don’t let them. Don’t you stop running and don’t you ever look behind you.”

“We understood each other in a way, me and my mom and my dad. As screwed up as we all were, we did understand each other. My mother, she knew what it’s like to feel your entire life drowning with the exception of these moments, these very rare, brief instances, in which you suddenly remember… you can swim.”

“It’s not about being happy, that is the thing. I’m just trying to get through each day. I can’t keep asking myself ‘Am I happy?’ It just makes me more miserable. I don’t know if I believe in it, real lasting happiness. All those perky, well-adjusted people you see in movies and TV shows? I don’t think they exist.”

 

Have you seen Bojack Horseman? What did you think?

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Stranger Things Season 3 [TV Review]

Yesterday, I finished watching Stranger Things Season 3 and the ending did not fail to obliterate all my emotions. With so much hype towards the new season, after it being a year and a half since the previous one, I had high expectations. Somehow, after watching season 3, I love it more than I ever did before.

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After seeing quite a few reviews on IMDb claiming that season 3 is the worst one yet, I was left very confused. For me, season 3 took everything to a much higher level. Whilst for some, adding some comedy seemed out of place, I thought that it lightened the mood between scenes and it also was more realistic to the teenage characters.  I found myself laughing out loud at a lot of scenes and I loved this element of laughing amidst the terror and darkness.

I thought the character development was also cleverly done and simply necessary. The actors/actresses have grown older, alongside the characters themselves, so of course there had to be some adaptations with this in mind. I think the scenario with Will’s friends moving on quicker than him was a nice touch – and realistic to a lot of friendship groups. The new character of Suzie brought a lot of comedy but also another side to Dustin’s character. I also loved the sassy edition of Erica to the group.

Without giving away too much of the ending (although I’m sure majority of you have seen it all already), I loved the voice over of Hopper’s letter. I really did think it was what Joyce had written out for him, but then he changed it and added more and it was such a beautifully sad moment. A lot happened in the final episode, but what I love about Stranger Things is that it doesn’t make things happen for the sake of it. All the decisions and situations fell into place in a natural way and honestly I just want to re-watch the ending over and over because it was executed so well and the acting is phenomenal.

Have you seen Stranger Things Season 3 yet? What were your thoughts?

What Have I Watched on Netflix Lately?

Recently, due to being ill, I’ve had a chance to get through more TV than normal, which is always a great thing! Here are 3 TV Shows/Movies I’ve seen that I recommend watching!

After Life

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Written, produced and directed by Ricky Gervais, After Life follows a man who has fallen into depression after his wife has died from cancer. And Ricky stars in it himself too. I read a couple of reviews about how this is a difficult series to get into at first, and I understand this viewpoint due to its heavy subject matter; however, I instantly loved it. I admire the way it tackles mental health in such a real and stripped back way that doesn’t feel forced or faked into being something it’s not, and the dark comedy etching its way through the dialogue is nothing short of hilarious. There is such an important message that you can take away from After Life and that is that happiness isn’t always about ourselves; it is about making others happy and feeling worth it simply because we have made life better for someone else. And I will forever come back to this series to remind myself of this.

“Happiness is amazing…it’s so amazing that it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not.”

 

Love, Death & Robots

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Honestly, I didn’t think this series would be my kind of thing. I would have easily dismissed it if I hadn’t heard that it was ‘like an animated Black Mirror’.  So as a huge Black Mirror fan, I had to give it a chance. I can’t really explain what this series was like because it’s so unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. To start, the animation was insane. There were different plots and different animated styles per episode but a couple of them could have easily passed as real life acting – I really couldn’t tell! Whilst some episodes weren’t all that great, they were all so unique and well-written and the visuals were really beautiful. My favourite was probably Zima Blue, with Three Robots falling close behind.

 

I’m Not an Easy Man

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This is a French film that A New Chapter recommended to me a while ago, and now I’m finally here to leave a short review on it! This honestly has one of the most interesting movie plots I’ve come across. It’s about a man who believes he’s the best guy around and exists to have control over women. And then one day he walks into a lamppost and is thrown into an alternate universe where, instead of the patriarchy, women are in charge. This was such a thought-provoking film and I wish I could throw this upon every single guy out there so they could understand a women’s perspective.

Have you watched any of these TV Shows/movies? If you have, let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Get Out [Film Review]

After spending most of this weekend binge-watching Friends (which is never a bad thing), I decided to take a break to watch a film. Get Out has been on my watchlist for a while now. With 7.7/10 on IMDb, I can’t not watch it.Image result for get out

For starters, the main character Chris in Get Out is played by Daniel Kaluuya – the guy who delivers that amazing speech in the black mirror episode Fifteen Million Merits – which is enough of a reason to watch the film in itself. His acting is just as good in Get Out; he delivers a character who goes to his girlfriend’s home to meet her parents and is unexpectedly trapped in a place where people initially seem to treat him differently because of his race, but actually entrap him in a hidden, more disturbing reality.

Image result for get outAll I can say is that this film was insane. The characters were creepy. You never really knew what was going on. There was this dark and compelling vibe throughout that had me completely hooked. It was one of those films where it doesn’t make complete sense until the final moment, and then it hits you all at once.

Often, psychological thrillers can fall short of being great if the conclusion doesn’t play up to the rest of the film. I’m always wary not to get my hopes up too much in case there isn’t multiple twists and a dramatic finish – in fact, there are very few films which have this. Get out, however, managed to shock me in a kind of weird/disturbed way where I just sat staring at the screen at the end overthinking everything that happened. There were so many moments that foreshadowed the ending and yet I had so easily overlooked them. It’s crazy how the director managed to pull this off so effortlessly.

It would be an understatement to say that Get Out will play on my mind for some time. It’s one of those films that gets you thinking about a lot of societal issues, on top of psychological trauma and the way the mind can be manipulated. It definitely takes its place as one of the best films I’ve seen.

Gattaca [Film Review]

Gattaca is one of those films that is just beyond any explanation or trailer of it. Honestly, I have no idea where to start when writing a review on it because it completely blew me away. But let’s start with the premise.Image result for gattaca

Gattaca is based around the concept of genetics and how these affect us as people. Set in the future, it follows a time where science determines your future. Everything about you can be found out through testing, from what diseases you might get, to when you will get them. Job interviews don’t matter because science knows what matters. It knows who you are, what your future is like, and thus determines whether you are suited for that particular career. Of course, this causes many problems, particularly for those who are seen as inferior.

Vincent, played by Ethan Hawke, has always wanted to travel into outer space; however, he is one of the inferior “in valids”. His genes do not work in his favour and so he can’t follow his dream – as simple as that. But accepting this as fate, of course, wouldn’t make for a good movie. The film follows the journey of Vincent fighting against this by using the genes of Jerome (Jude Law) who is “valid” and can’t work due to injury. He fakes the identity in order to pursue his dream.

Dystopian books and films have always been something I’ve found intriguing; the idea that there are unlimited possibilities out there for the future and we have no way of telling what could be real. It was, therefore, inevitable that I would love Gattaca. However, the plot simply kept surprising me. The acting was brilliant; the writing was incredible (so much so that at one point I thought it was originally a book) and yes, there were plot twists, and yes, they were amazing. Apparently, there was even an alternate ending which was originally used for a tester audience before it was released. However, many thought it was too intense/emotional or just reiterated meaning that the film had already presented. Personally, I agree with the latter.

I would recommend anyone and everyone to watch this film because honestly, it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It creates a futuristic world that is so different to reality and yet is completely possible; it manages to hit you with enough force to feel connected to the characters and their motivations. For this reason, it is huge success.

True Story [Film Review]

I can’t believe how underrated this film is. It hasn’t even reached 7 on IMDb and yet I couldn’t take my attention off of it. The story, the acting, the cinematography – it was unbelievable.

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The plot follows a journalist who has his identity stolen by someone who then lands up in prison. He visits him regularly in an attempt to understand why he chose him and to, eventually, reveal the truth.

What was so interesting about this film is that you spend the whole time in suspense, waiting for the truth, when we know that the full truth is never possible – especially in such complicated situations as murder, but also in everyday life. We can’t climb into someone else’s mind and so we spend all this time, as an audience, trying to get inside the mind of the prisoner, when we can’t even get close.

What made this film different to the typical crime movie was that I couldn’t make my mind up about the prisoner. The journalist put faith in him that no one else had and it made me want to have faith too. A lot of the time we class murderers as Others that are so far away from us that we could never understand. But they’re not. We’re all people. This film showed that, yes he may have been a murderer, but there are so many different sides to a person and that, despite these actions, he still had similarities to the journalist. They still had similar ways of thinking and seeing the world. And sometimes that is much more important than focusing on punishment. For once, this film focuses on the strength of human connection, regardless of the actions of those people. Sometimes that is all someone needs to be able to think straight and live again.

I’d recommend this film to anyone because it gives a unique take on a crime movie and represents empathy on screen in a way I’ve never really seen before. Jonah Hill and James Franco surprisingly suit the more serious roles and did a fantastic job. Visually, the film is incredible.

Have you seen this film too? What are your thoughts?