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Jordan Peele's five reveals about his sci-fi thriller "Nope"

Peter Howell

Movie Critic

One of the highlights of the 2022 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival was a Cinesphere screening at Ontario Place of writer/director Jordan Peele's sci-fi thriller "Nope," in the presence of Peele and Hoyte van Hoytema, the film's cinematographer.

They were interviewed prior to the screening by TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey, who persuaded them to reveal a few things about the movie, one that continues to prompt speculation about its meaning months after its July release. Debate about "Nope" hovers over the cultural conversation like that hat-shaped UFO in the clouds above the horse ranch of Daniel Kaluuya's and Keke Palmer's characters.

Here are five reveals teased out of the TIFF discussion:

1. Peele assumes you've seen his previous films "Get Out" and "Us" and now want something different:

"I think of a film as what my audience expects is coming and then giving them something that manifests differently from that. But I also think about leaving them wanting a completely new story and a new take from me in the future, as well. So I've been following that model a bit."

2. "Nope" explores the human fascination with spectacle but also the exploitation of it:

"With this one, the jumping off point was okay, they don't know that I can bring a spectacle. And that's going to be my goal. So that was the word that was sort of the guiding principle in crafting this film, crafting the story. And following the path of spectacle led me to ask questions about why humanity needs spectacle, why we're addicted to spectacle, which led me right to this theme of exploitation, which runs central in the DNA of the movie."

3. Peele feels he has a responsibility to reflect a "central sin" back to viewers:

"I think my responsibility as a storyteller is to be a bit of a mirror. I think I've got an interpretation on things that people want to see. My responsibility is to try and tell the best story I can and give the audience the best case of immersion — but also to not let myself off the hook as a human being who is guilty of all the sins I'm trying to point out with all my films and trying to come to a central sin."

4. He wanted to feel the way Steven Spielberg felt when he made "Jaws":

"I want to have a movie-making adventure (where) I want to feel like when Steven Spielberg made 'Jaws': It just felt like he's holding on."

5. Peele got Hoyte van Hoytema to create a different kind of night scene to make the sky look scarier:

"There's something that nobody really knows. On one hand, the clouds are CG, right? The clouds we had to kind of create, One of the elements about the sky that I think is particularly fascinating that people don't know, because I haven't wanted to ruin the illusion — but I'll ruin it for you today! — is the night shots for the most part were shot at day. Which is due to a technological and strategic thing that (van Hoytema) brought to the table. (To van Hoytema): I have no clue how you did that!" 🌓

(This conversation has been edited and condensed).

(L-R) Hoyte van Hoytema, Jordan Peele and Cameron Bailey at Ontario Place Cinesphere, Sept. 12, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of TIFF)

Twitter: @peterhowellfilm


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