Mar. 13th, 2017

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Final forecast: 24 inches. Weather advisories are in place from tonight to Wednesday morning.

I organized a house meeting last night to set up a logistical plan for snow removal. You gotta get out there to remove it from the paths every time it hits the four-inch mark. Otherwise the snow gets too heavy to blow or shovel.

If the forecasts are correct, Benito and I may be out there at 5am tomorrow, shoveling and blowing.

L’s house has the most ridiculous driveway, circular and long. It’s like Tara or something. Why any house in the blizzard-prone northeast would have a circular driveway is beyond me. It’s not like we have to cool down the horses.

It’s beautiful out now, sunny and bright, so it’s hard to relate to the apocalyptic weather warnings. But Anticipate and Prepare! Always good advice.

###

The best entertainments function as a species of Trojan Horse: They smuggle the consideration of deeper issues into the minds of their fun-loving, popcorn-gobbling, oblivion-seeking audiences.

So it is with Get Out, a truly original take on what it means to be black in 21st century America, a scathing indictment of white liberals. This movie is a Triple Crown winner since it works convincingly as social commentary, as a comedy, and as a horror movie. Jordan Peele, its director is my New Boyfriend.

SPOILER ALERTS:

In the tradition of the very best whodunits, Get Out opens with a scene that explains every mystery in the subsequent action – except the audience isn't going to pay the slightest bit of attention to it.

A young black man is wandering, lost, through a white suburb. Very Trayvon Martin. It’s night. All the houses look alike. The streets have bucolic names that have no relation whatsoever to the landscape or to each other. A bizarrely accoutrement-ized car pulls slowly up beside him, the very strange song Run, Rabbit, Run blasting from its souped up woofers.

“Not today,” says the young man.

But it’s already Too Late.

Of course, slasher movie fans have seen this scene a thousand times before. But the difference is that then the young person wandering down the street was an attractive female in a pushup bra.

###

Then the action shifts abruptly to the apartment of Chris Washington, a handsome young man who’s an up-and-coming photographer.

He’s about to visit his (white) girlfriend’s parents for the very first time, and he’s nervous. “Do they know I’m black?” he asks.

The girlfriend is played by Allison Williams. It’s an interesting casting choice, obviously intended to leverage the cachet of Marnie, the character Williams plays on Girls. (Similarly, the role of the girlfriend’s father is played by Bradley Whitford who essayed the role of President Bartlett’s trusted advisor on every white liberal’s favorite science fiction show, The West Wing.)

Thing is without the (white) Marnie cachet, the girlfriend would not be all that attractive. She’s scrawny. Her nose is pointy. Her skin is blotchy. Her hair is a rat’s nest of split ends.

On the drive from the city to bucolic upstate (my turf!), the girlfriend hits a deer. There is a scene with a highway patrol guy, staged so the audience can get terribly indignant when the officer asks Chris for his ID even though he wasn’t driving the car.

Chris meets the parents: a neurosurgeon and his psychiatrist wife who are perfect caricatures of white liberality. “If I could have voted for Obama a third time, I would have!” the father tells Chris.

There’s also a pair of black servants who beam constantly but never shuffle. Not even once.

Things may be off-kilter but they don’t start tilting seriously until dinnertime when the girlfriend’s brother turns up. The brother is a character straight out of some bizarre post-racial Tennessee Williams play with just a touch of Deep South twang and a demented twinkle in his eye. Dinner conversation flirts with Chris’s many “genetic” advantages.

###

Alas! I see I don’t really have time to continue with a blow-by-blow description of this exceedingly brilliant – and funny as hell! – movie. But I must describe the one scene that seemed to me to be the very heart of the movie, that’s so visually striking, it felt like the image must have come to Peele in a genius flash, alone, unaccompanied, so that he felt compelled to develop a plot around it:

The black servants are exceedingly strange. They look black, but nothing else about them is “black” – not their voices, not the ways they move.

Chris confronts the maid, Georgina. Tries to reassure her that whatever’s going on here, if she confides in him, he won’t give her away. “I get it, you don’t want to be a snitch –“ (I’m misremembering the exact dialogue –)

“Snitch?” she asks, uncomprehending.

Chris tries a couple of other synonyms, ending up with the very WASPy and infantile word “tattletale” before Georgina has the slightest understanding of what he’s talking about.

Then something very strange happens: Chris confides that he always gets very nervous when he’s around a bunch of white people and asks Georgina if she feels that way too.

“No, no, no, no, no,” says Georgina, But at the same time as a smile of unearthly cherubic beatitude is ripping her face in two, tears are welling up from her eyes, and you’re caught thinking, What has gotten into her? without realizing that this is indeed the main plot point.

Anyway, totally terrific movie.

I’m going to see it again. It was so totally engrossing -- and scary -- as a horror movie that I know I missed a lot of the subtextual subtlties.

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