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BYO Americans: US


23 Responses to “BYO Americans: US”

  1. movieman says:

    A glorious freakout of a movie!
    Jordan Peele has definitely studied the work of Michael Haneke.
    My screening companion wasn’t as impressed: he picked it apart for logic gaps/plot inconsistencies the whole drive home. (I hate when people are such literalists.)

  2. leahnz says:

    *********** MASSIVE SPOILERS ********************************************************************************************

    hands across america

    (only the olds will actually remember that whole thing as it happened; i was thinking it would have been a good alternate title for the movie but maybe having the ultimate clue in the title would be frowned upon. once you ‘see’ it re the line of doppelgangers then the clues/deductive reasoning lead to only one possibility; i suspected the switcharoo but for some reason it wasn’t until jason come out of the locker down in the subterranean world that i was convinced – and weirdly that’s not even a clue per se, just something about the way adelaide says ‘look at my face’, her behaviour… very well performed and cleverly constructed, a movie that works almost entirely in hindsight. i think the relationship between the awkward jason and his imposter mum – he’s very much his mother’s son, his ‘comfort’ mask a brilliant clue in plain sight and bit of narrative foreshadowing – is perhaps the most fascinating and satisfying aspect. thinking about it in its entirety makes the final ‘look’ between mother and son that much more profound. i need to see it again to get other bits of nuance i no doubt missed, and there’s a few things i don’t understand so i’m not sure if i missed something or perhaps some things are simply not explained.)

  3. brack says:

    Great take on the movie leahnz. There’s a lot going under the surface, obviously. I definitely need to see it again considering the twists, which believe it or not I figured out from jump but not in how it would work, so that to me was handled well.

  4. leahnz says:

    have many people not had a chance to see it yet? it’s always interesting to get different impressions and thematic interpretations here, hopefully some more will share their thoughts.

    i haven’t had time to really dive into a lot of the post-movie reaction and interpretation yet, which from what i’ve seen so far focus on a ‘reckoning’ for the garish 80’s reagan-era consumerism/materialism and economics that’s metastasized like cancer into the current culture creating a discarded underlass with the ever-widening gaps in wealth and status, which on an intellectual level seems entirely correct, but personally

    ******************** SPOILERS ************************

    adelaide’s reckoning feels more intimate, the notion of wealth and status seen as our worth and the rising up of the discarded underclass as a backdrop to a deeper exploration of identity, the concept of a ‘soul’ and ultimately what makes us human.
    adeliade’s ‘humanity’, as it turns out, is performative – she carefully watches and learns how to act like a human being and makes the ‘right’ moves, filling her stolen life with the ‘right’ mate and 2 kids for the right size family and the right nice houses/cars/material possessions and the right friends, thus achieving the right status as society dictates, but in spite of all this she’s anxious and lost, because the hole inside her can’t be filled with all this right stuff, and deep down she feels like an imposter.

  5. palmtree says:

    leah, the whole relationship between the mother and Jason is even more interesting when you realize…


    *****That the reason she’s so protective of Jason and that Jason is acting so weird throughout the entire movie is that Jason is a tether. Like his mother, at some point he was swapped out, probably because the mother didn’t want to raise a boy with burn marks on his face and wanted a perfect family image, etc. I know it’s crazy, but if you think back, it checks out. ********


  6. leahnz says:


    ***************** SPOILERS *************************

    i actually wondered about this possibility given jason clearly has his mother’s ‘gift’ re his unusual connection to his doppleganger (among other things the mask, the eventual ability to control him when he backs his dopple into the fire using the hands-across-america power stance, and the knowing look between mother and son at the end) but the gears in my head started to smoke trying to parse it out logistically and remember all the details in the movie since i’ve only seen it the one time…i’m seeing it again this weekend with a group so given the already incredibly spoiler-y nature of this thread, is there anything specific i should look out for in the way of clues/interpretations for this theory, ’cause i’m liking it

  7. palmtree says:

    leah, read on…


    There are so many clues. The way he has no idea how to snap his fingers and the mother tries to get him to do it but they are both horribly unrhythmic. Seems unimportant until you remember Pluto can snap his fingers perfectly. The fact that they say he changed when “grandma” died and that mysteriously changes mom into agreeing to go to Santa Cruz. The fact that he says weird things and everyone is shocked at his new vocabulary in the car. The fact that he trying to dig tunnels on the beach and that he hides in the closet for fun. The fact that when the tethers first enter their house, he’s the one who says immediately with recognition “it’s us.” And then there’s his kidnapping which of course because he’s actually Red’s son so she wants to bring him back. There’s a lot more, but you get the picture. There are a few details I can’t explain like why Pluto moves in such a weird way, but that’s what a second viewing will be for. And on that note, enjoy your second viewing!

  8. leahnz says:

    (i got some of that the first time but a few went right past me so now i can really focus on certain aspects)

    ************************ SOILERS *************************

    assuming jason is also a switcharoo – and it would explain some things – then that also kind of changes the complexion of the unveiled narrative re adelaide and assumptions the viewer is led to make….i guess i should put a cork in it until i can see it again instead of just spinning my wheels.

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    Had the worst theater experience of my life last night. Chain here does $5 Tuesdays so every Us screening was sold-out. Most of crowd was large groups of young people. Half walked in late and made no effort to be quiet. Phones rang from start to finish. People texted from start to finish. They shouted and swore at the screen from start to finish (“drive the car bitch!”). People laughed uproariously from start to finish including during scenes that aren’t supposed to be funny. It was absolutely miserable. I don’t think I could possibly assess how I feel about the movie and definitely need to see it again. Preferably at home or in an empty theater. I love the theatrical experience but wow that sucked.

  10. palmtree says:

    Yikes! Also, it’s impossible now to see a movie without someone taking out a smartphone just to text or look at something. It’s as if they think it’s okay because it’s quiet even though a movie works by directing your eyes to the light and if there’s a competing light source, then why did I pay so much friggin money for a darkened room in the first place????? Seriously, the only place phones don’t regularly interrupt is at industry screenings, but those aren’t really practical until awards season (and only if you know some people in the industry).

  11. Bulldog68 says:

    Jordan Peele “”The way I look at it, I get to cast black people in my movies. I feel fortunate to be in this position where I can say to Universal, ‘I want to make a $20 million horror movie with a black family.’ And they say yes.”

    “I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don’t like white dudes. But I’ve seen that movie,” says Peele.”

    The level of racist comments to what he said is striking and yet unsurprising.

  12. movieman says:

    Agree w/ everything you said, Palm.
    It’s been a HUGE problem ever since the introduction of smart phones.

    Happens in the classroom, too.
    Nothing pisses me off more than students who use “Movie Time” (i.e., when the lights are turned down for our weekly film) to text, check their email and/or Facebook page, etc.

  13. leahnz says:

    stella’s boy your cinema experience sounds positively dystopian (marty failed to get the almanac back this one time and the alternate timeline is the paradox we’re stuck in, i’m convinced of it)

    “The level of racist comments to what he said is striking and yet unsurprising”

    crikey note to self: never read the comments section if you want to maintain even the barest faith in human sanity. (i’m totally digging peele’s aesthetic; there’s an article on the design/choreography of the doppelganger’s
    – or tether’s as would appear to be the popular nomenclature – movements that’s really instructive; such creative film-making)

    the sane world watches in baited-breath horror this brazen cover-up in the return of the iran-contra fixer with his executive version of the idiotic devin nunes memo abetted and protected by the mad syphilitic king and banana republicans while the dems persist in bringing Q-tips for a polite powder-puff joist to a psychotic rendition of ‘the running man’ murderball by a criminal kleptocracy as US corporate & murdoch cable ‘news’ infotainment media continues their capitulation as useful manipulated idiots and lickspittle propagandists to an administration of proven pathological liars while still in the recent long and dark shadow of their own catastrophic failure reporting on the GWB iraq WMD fiasco, as the minutes tick down for our species’ survival on our planet due to hubris and greed.
    wash rinse repeat
    (but maybe not, not this time)
    at least you can go down with a fight for what’s right

  14. Stella's Boy says:

    It definitely felt that way leah.

    I’d be perfectly fine with Peele’s comments if white actors could find other ways to get leading roles in Hollywood. Living through peak white victimhood.

  15. palmtree says:

    White people need to examine why they’re offended by a black director hiring exclusively black leads when white directors do it all the time and even whitewash POC roles in the process. It’s probably ok because they’ve never said they would only hire whites, but that’s what ends up happening overwhelmingly. They need to realize the correction to the problem isn’t the problem.

    leah, the current state of affairs, as bad as it’s been, is now unbearable for me. The report is right there, and one side is deciding to hide the report to obstruct justice to protect a crime family. House of Cards seems quaint.

  16. movieman says:

    I’m beginning to think the Mueller Report will become the new “Trump’s taxes” and/or “Warren Report.”
    We had to wait–what, 50 years?–for the latter.
    The former will never, ever be made public.

    Wouldn’t it be fan-f***ing-tastic for Bob Mueller to pull a Daniel Ellsberg right about now?
    But why dream the impossible dream? That’s why so many hearts (including mine) were broken on Sunday afternoon.

    I’d be wiling to forfeit my health insurance–which I have Obama to thank for–if it meant defeating that orangutan bastard in 2020.
    But could anything REALLY wake up his (very) base base of FOX News-imbibing deplorable lunatics?

  17. leahnz says:

    ugh i feel for you guys

    (ftr re above: “the dems persist in bringing Q-tips for a polite powder-puff jOUST”, not joist, clearly typing fast i didn’t proofread very well and the spellcheck overruled me)

    talking to my uncle in texas yesterday – a lovely guy and quite a character, not exactly a shrinking violet, been through hell and back as a 2tour vietnam vet and still feisty as heck – and he told me he’s never felt so helpless and despairing and angry at what’s happening to america. retired now so he’s headed to el paso in his RV to see if he can help out, apparently there’s a concentration camp (his words) there under a freeway overpass packed with migrants – including children – and he’s mad as hell, so he’s turned to activism at the local level as his way of fighting for his country, go uncle. i guess the moral of the story is, do anything you can for as long as you can to fight consolidation of autocracy because as multiple experts have told, once an autocrat takes power and is normalised, they’re extremely difficult to remove. democracies end; so to those who think it can’t happen there still clinging to norms to save you, too late — the brazen stick in the eye to democratic rules and the embrace of cruelty against the marginalised and vulnerable is the entire point, a feature not a bug. fight against it as long as you can, every little act helps and you are strong in numbers.

  18. brack says:

    Calling Jordan Peele racist hilarious. He’s far from it. He’s in a place of power and influence, and despite the increase in non-white filmmaking lately, it’s still very lacking. Who cares if he won’t cast a white guy lead anytime soon? Like there’s not a role for them in every other movie.

  19. Hcat says:

    Right? Like Mark Harmon has ever wanted for work. Any number of bland middle of the road white guys get to carve out long term and well paid careers but the minute somebody speaks for any type of diversity it is reverse racism.

    And would like point out Peele made US for 20 million after his previous film grossed 180 domestic. In a time where guys get their indie to 12 million and are tapped on the shoulder for a 100 million franchise film it is remarkably refreshing to see Peele continue to work small to maintain creative control.

  20. Hcat says:

    Leah, between Mueller and Brexit this has been like waiting for Christmas and just getting coal. I have needed some cathardic Schadenfreude where people get their just deserts for following these slimy xenophobic con men, and both have been punted down the line.

  21. palmtree says:

    Punting down the line…that’s literally the latest justification for destroying the environment. Apparently we have a good 50-75 years of planetary destruction before we have to clean it up…ugh. That’s the idiotic head of the EPA saying this. The Republican motto is now “let’s make America great again…75 years from now.”

  22. leahnz says:

    so depressing. (ETA meant to say why americans just stand by and continue to allow a mega-rich australian dickhead’s propaganda outlet help destroy your country is inexplicable)
    and it’s really hard to talk about with your offspring because as a parent you want to shield them from the bad out there in the world and tell them the future is bright and what they make it and they can make a real difference in this world and there’s wonderful adventures just waiting to be had with unicorns and rainbows with pots of gold and dragons (not wyverns, what’s with the wyverns now, fuck that, proper dragons) and then they’re like, “aw fuck it mum we’re awake in the matrix now, in the sunken place and everything’s dying and fucked up and we’re all gonna kark it horribly so who cares?” and you’re like, “oh”

    ********************** SPOILERS ***********************

    palmtree if you see this re: Us and jason ‘is he or isn’t he one of the tethered’ (or a tether, whatever):
    after a second viewing (i liked it even more the second time), adding to all the stuff you’d mentioned previously in favour of this scenario is when adelaide gets out of the car to supposedly kill apollo toward the end her reaction to him is disarmingly sympathetic as she reaches out to him and does not move to harm him even as he intends to blow them up in the car, and she appears genuinely distressed, repeating ‘no’ as jason backs him into the fire to his death (because she knows on some level he’s her real son?). also that jason can physically control his supposed-tether apollo, this would mirror fake-adelaide’s ability to control the real adelaide/red down in the subterranean world through dance, which ironically is what leads to her being seen as ‘special’ and their subsequent great escape.
    on the ‘nay’ side, it seems that logically if jason/apollo were switched at some point because of his ‘flaws’ (facial scars) when he was already a child, wouldn’t the scars being gone then be obvious to everyone else in the family and of some note in the narrative? that it’s goes completely without remark of any sort seems weird – so is it possible jason and apollo were switched at birth instead after what ‘red’ notes is a difficult cesarean birth?
    that jason simply takes very much after his doppelganger/imposter mum genetically and is thus ultra connected to his ‘tethered’ also works i think, such as his ability to physically control apollo like his mum did red in making her dance, it could be an inherited trait. jason’s identity certainly seems ambiguous, though. (also, adelaide comforts zora’s doppelganger as she’s dying in the tree so that makes her reaching out to apollo seem somewhat less incongruous – she’s trying to comfort her own at the moment of their deaths)
    i don’t know, but it’s a cool flick — more of a really clever, intellectual, thematically complex zombie-apocalypse feeling the second time

  23. Glamourboy says:

    Finally saw it…loved it. Love all the layers of it…and I’ve enjoyed reading lots of articles with all of the theories…..but I do feel like a film must work on a basic logic level as well. Here are my questions (after just one viewing)….


    So the government started an experiment and just left millions of tethers in the passageways across the country? If the travel to the Santa Cruz underworld is less of a trek than the parking structure at the Grove….why don’t the tethered come up more often? Rob people and buy some real food to take down below? So Red started a movement across the country with all of the tethered? Did she walk the length of the country underground and communicate her plan with everyone? Do they keep calendars down there–how did they all keep track of the specific day? Where did all the red suits come from and who paid for them? So the tethered are forced to mirror the images of what their doubles are doing above the ground (the forced ballet sequences, for example)…how did they break free and gain their own free will?

    Did anyone else notice that P.T. Anderson was thanked in the end credits? I imagine it is for borrowing the concept of plastering the movie with a Bible verse from Magnolia and using 11:11 (or just 11) throughout US.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin