‘Get Out’ And See A Movie This Week

by Chris Narloch

Disney’s big budget, live-action movie version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ recently opened, and I urge you to see the film, if only to support that beloved, family-friendly company’s decision to hire an openly gay director and allow him to turn one of the movie’s minor characters gay.

That decision led a drive-in theater in Alabama to refuse to show the film, and the Russian and Malaysian governments have also reportedly considered boycotting the movie.

Read on for my thoughts on the new ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as well as other movies currently in theaters, including a much more shocking film, ‘Get Out,’ that mixes horror with racial themes.

Beauty and the Beast
Director Bill Condon may wish now that he had not been so vocal in interviews regarding the little gay twist in his version of this classic love story, and I am sure that Disney would rather he had let moviegoers discover it on their own.

LeFou’s apparent crush on Gaston, and his subsequent same-sex dance with a different male character at the end of the film – because Gaston is straight and unattainable -- are blink-and-you miss-them-moments that probably wouldn’t have caused consternation even in Alabama.

Except that Mr. Condon decided to make a big deal out of his movie’s groundbreaking gay angle -- and it is groundbreaking given that Disney has been the principal purveyor of (heterosexual) ‘happily ever afters’ in popular entertainment for decades.

The bottom line is that although the controversy has been blown way out of proportion, I still applaud Disney and their director for leaving the gay-friendly scenes in the new movie. Because any queer content in a family film this high profile is a step forward for the LGBTQ community.

(It also rankles homophobes such as the supposed “Christians” who run that Alabama drive-in, and, as a permanent, full-time gay man, I am all for rankling the right wing.)

But how is the movie, you say? Isn’t this supposed to be a review? Well, to be honest, I thought Disney’s animated version was pretty perfect and didn’t really need to be remade, and I am partial to Jean Cocteau’s black-and-white French film of the story anyway.

Still, every generation needs their own version of a classic story, I suppose, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching ‘little’ Hermione from ‘Harry Potter’ (Emma Watson) and Matthew Crawley from ‘Downton Abbey’ (Dan Stevens) play beauty and the beast.

On the down side, there is a bit too much CGI in the new film for my taste, but that is the reality of blockbuster moviemaking today, and the images do look rich and romantic.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is “a tale as old as time,” and Disney’s new big-screen version serves up the enchantment that fans of its classic love story were hoping for.

Kong: Skull Island
Another classic story, of the great ape King Kong, has received a Hollywood reboot, and I enjoyed every delicious minute of ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ which features more crazy creatures than you can shake a stick at.

The Vietnam-era time period of this version allows for some jokes at the expense of Richard Nixon and even, oddly enough, Donald Trump, and the cast is pretty impressive for what is essentially a big-budget “B” movie: Oscar winner Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, and sexy Tom Hiddleston, looking fit and fetching.

The story? Who cares? All you really need to know is that the special effects are truly special, the movie actually has a sense of humor, and the cool digital critters on the island include an enormous water buffalo, a giant squid, a spectacular spider, and huge flying monsters that look like a cross between a bat and a vulture.

This movie has been getting largely favorable reviews so I guess I’m in the minority saying that I didn’t care for it. Granted, I was sick of the endless spate of superhero sequels walking in to ‘Logan,’ but the movie was way too violent for my taste.

After the umpteenth time somebody got a claw through the skull (or heart or stomach), I mentally checked out on this (reportedly) final installment in Hugh Jackman’s run as Wolverine.

On the plus side, Jackman is, as always, hunky and effective here, and the reliable Patrick Stewart also gives a fine performance as an elderly Professor X.

The surprise in the cast is Dafne Keen, the young actress who plays a female clone of Wolverine. (Both the actress and her character are as ferocious and compelling as Jackman’s badass hero.)

Let’s face it: popcorn movies like this are generally critic-proof. ‘Logan’ has already made a ton of money, and nothing I write is going to make any difference.

All I can say is that even with three terrific performances, the film’s mixture of gory, graphic violence and tear-jerking sentiment turned me off.

Get Out
This horror movie is also somewhat gory, but it’s not sentimental, and there is a point to the violence, which puts a twenty-something black man smack dab in the middle of the ultimate racist nightmare.

The good news is the movie never preaches about race but instead makes you feel the discomfort of, say, being the only black guest at a garden party full of strange, rich white folks.

That’s only the beginning of the horrors in store for our hero Chris (a superb Daniel Kaluuya), who gradually realizes that he is the next ‘experiment’ on deck for a family of white supremacists.

Quite a shock, considering the poor guy thought he was going for a weekend in the country to meet his white girlfriend’s liberal, Obama-loving parents, played by the priceless team of Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford.

‘Get Out’ is frightening, funny, and very, very thought provoking.

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