Get Out Review

Get Out Review - photo property of Blumhouse Productions & QC Entertainment

Get Out Review – photo property of Blumhouse Productions & QC Entertainment

At one point in Get Out, the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, one half of the sketch comedy duo Key and Peele, the main character proclaims, “it’s not what they said, it’s how they say it”. In a world where racism has been pushed to the surface and groups like Black Lives Matter are making headlines, it’s one of the film’s strongest statements. This is my review of Get Out, one of the best films of 2017, and one of the most socially relevant horror films to be released in a long time.

Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario) plays Chris, an African American photographer who is heading out of the city for a weekend with his white girlfriend, Rose played by Girls Allison Williams. Chris is meeting Rose’s parents for the first time “Do they know I’m black?” he asks her. “Should they?” she responds, and then laughs it off, reassuring him that they are definitely, not racists. On the surface, Get Out is a well constructed horror film. Below the surface, it’s delving into the underlying race issues that we as a society believe to have overcome.

The film starts off on an uneasy note when Chris and Rose hit a deer and the police officer called to the scene asks Chris for his ID, even though Alison was driving. The typical way a scene like this would play out in a horror film would be a small town cop arriving on scene and acting creepy, a premonition of things to come. In Get Out Rose smoothly handles the situation, coming to an unspoken understanding with the cop implying that he is only asking for Chris’ ID because he is black. The couple continues on and we shrug off the cop incident as well, but this is an example of why Get Out is genius. By Ruth, the white person neutralizing the situation, it no longer feels like a threat, even though it is just as big a warning sign as the creepy red neck cop trope. By normalizing this situation, we’re ignoring the problem, and as a result Rose and Chris, and our society at large, will suffer the consequences.

Rose’s parents welcome Chris with open arms but something feels off, and the film does a good job of slowing building this sense of unease with the audience.   There is the awkward family dinner with Rose’s brother when he tries to play fight with Chris. The fact that the housekeeper and groundskeeper are black, yet treat Chris with a strange air of coldness. But the tensions really increase when Rose’s parents throw a big garden party. Chris can’t quite pinpoint his unease, and at first he is a good sport meeting all of the parent’s older white friends. He smiles politely through their well intentioned but inappropriate attempts at conversation. We get the impression that he’s used to this, and has been in this situation many times before. We sympathize with Chris and get a taste of what it feels like to be navigating through a dominant white society through the eyes of a black man.

By the time he figures out the truth, it’s too late. One could say that it’s a bit of an analogy for the last US Election. We kept patting ourselves on the back thinking that we had progressed as a society. When Donald Trump won we were shocked, and all the hate lying dormant for years was allowed back into the light. It’s the main theory behind horror films– whatever we repress as a society, comes back as the monster. The truth behind what’s really going on in Roses’ family is truly monstrous and horrific. When Chris’ friend Rod played by Lil Rel Howery, who steals every scene, goes to the police station with a theory about his missing friend, the group of ethnic cops laugh in his face. It’s a funny scene and one of the reasons why this film works so well – Peele makes us think even when we’re laughing. I’m sure we would have laughed too if someone had told us a few years ago who would be running the White House.

Get Out Review

Get Out Review – photo property of Blumhouse Productions & QC Entertainment

There are many layers to Get Out, and I look forward to watching it again. This film struck the perfect balance of pleasure and horror, executing its themes with a smart script, great pacing and just the right amount of gore and wit. All the performances were spot on, and I really enjoyed watching Catherine Keener in a role so unlike any other we’ve seen her play. Daniel Kaluuya is excellent as well, struggling to keep his cool as a good boyfriend even though he knows something is amiss, all the while working through his own inner demons. It’s also refreshing to see a male as the main victim of a horror film instead of your typical Final Girl. There’s something to be said when the outcast, virgin Final Girl is replaced with an African American man.

A suburban horror film mixed with mad scientist influences Get Out is like Stepford Wives crossed with Invasion of the Body Snatchers with some Re-Animator thrown in. The film forces us to examine the real monsters in our modern society, and the dangers of normalizing or ignoring unresolved racial tensions.

Written and directed by: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams and Catherine Keener
Released: 2017

What did you think of Get Out?  Let me know your thoughts on my review!

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Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

My love for lamb has grown steadily over the years to the point where I prefer lamb over a beef burger. Lamb meat has an earthier, more complex flavour than beef. I find that it tends to be juicier and bonus: way more health benefits. From Shepherd’s Pie to lasagna, I post a lot about this gamey protein. Surprisingly, I haven’t posted tacos, and you know how much I love Taco Tuesday! So I decided that for St. Patrick’s Day, I would make some special Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos, just for you.

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

St. Patrick’s Day is bittersweet for me. I never got into the festivities when I was at university because I didn’t live in residence and missed out campus life. It wasn’t until I met my half Irish ex-husband that I started celebrating this day. Our first date was at an Irish pub on St. Paddy’s so whenever I see drunken folk clad in green, it reminds me of him. Not in a bad way, but in a no-regrets-fond-memories kind of way.

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

This taco recipe is based on my Slow Cooked Lamb recipe that features my latest food find: lamb from Costco.

Gotta love $35 for a leg of lamb!

The only change I made to my original recipe is I swapped the wine and beef broth for, you guessed it – beer! I covered the lamb with a whole can of Guinness, because on St. Paddy’s no beer can go to waste. How I love to cook with booze! The strong Irish stout cuts through the fatty lamb and adds a whole level of richness to the meat. The result? Tender fall-apart lamb infused with hints of espresso and caramel. Oh yeah baby, tonight is your lucky taco night!

I loaded this taco with a wallop of fresh guacamole, arugula, caramelized onions and banana peppers and topped the lamb with organic salsa, feta cheese and my favourite hot sauce.

Half a lamb leg still makes a ton of meat. We had enough taco meat for four people, and I turned the remaining lamb and root vegetables into a ragu.  An endless supply of lamb is always a good thing!

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos
Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos
Print Recipe
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with these Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos! Fresh corn tortillas are packed with tender lamb, fresh guacamole and arugula, grilled banana peppers, caramelized onions and topped with feta cheese and organic salsa. May the spirit of the Irish live on through these deliciously rich tacos!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
5 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
5 hours
Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos
Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos
Print Recipe
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with these Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos! Fresh corn tortillas are packed with tender lamb, fresh guacamole and arugula, grilled banana peppers, caramelized onions and topped with feta cheese and organic salsa. May the spirit of the Irish live on through these deliciously rich tacos!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
5 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
5 hours
Ingredients
For the lamb
For the tacos
Servings: people
Instructions
For the lamb
  1. Heat a large cast iron pan on medium high heat.
  2. Rub lamb with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkling of salt & pepper. Using tongs, sear each side for 30 seconds. Remove lamb and place on plastic cutting board.
  3. In a food processor, combine garlic, lemon zest, remaining tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, mint and rosemary. Process and spread paste over lamb, making sure to get into all the little crevices.
  4. Place lamb over top of root vegetables in slow cooker and pour beer over top.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours, then for 1 hour on low.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, lamb from slow cooker and pull large chunks apart using a carving fork. reserve root vegetables for later use.
For the tacos
  1. Combine avocados, garlic, olive oil and juice from two lemon wedges. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grease cast iron pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Saute banana peppers and onions until lightly browned, approx 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, place tortillas on a plate and wrap in syran wrap. Heat in microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Top corn tortilla with guacamole, arugula, lamb, peppers and onions. Sprinkle feta cheese, lemon and a tablespoon of salsa over top. Add hot sauce to taste.
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Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos

So if you’re feeling the spirit of the Irish, throw some beer in your slow cooker and honour St. Patrick with these awesome tacos!

What food do you make to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?  Did you like the addition of beer to these Guinness Braised Lamb Tacos?

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Split (2016) Movie Review

Split (2016) Movie Review

Split (2016) Movie Review. Photo courtesy of Blinding Edge Pictures, Blumhouse Productions

Mr. Shyamalan, I beg you, please stop writing your own movies.

I lost faith with M. Night Shyamalan films after the incredibly disappointing “twist” at the end of The Village.   I loved The Sixth Sense and Signs and appreciated Unbreakable but after The Village we had to take a break. It was a shame to end our blossoming filmmaker/film fan relationship because I do think he is a good director. His films are visually interesting with immersive, moody atmospheres. His stories are the seeds of great ideas that could be better developed in the hands of a real screenwriter.

But Split looked interesting, and I love James McAvoy. However I was nervous going into an M. Night Shyamalan movie.   Was he going to take me along for a ride and then leave me hanging once again?

I got into the movie for the most part, despite cringing at some lame dialogue in the beginning. James McAvoy plays Kevin, a man who suffers from dissociative-identity disorder and kidnaps three teenage girls in a parking lot. Each of his 23 personalities teases to a more sinister motive that the final 24th personality has planned for the three victims. As the girls meet various James McAvoys, we explore the hierarchy of the personalities in his therapy sessions, conducted by a compassionate therapist played by Betty Buckley (Pretty Little Liars).

McAvoy plays each of his characters with ease (thankfully we don’t see all 23), admirably withstanding the pressure of holding up the whole movie. At times the film borders on too much character over content and risks being a one-man James McAvoy-show. The distinctive personalities are humorous at times, breaking the tension and leaving the audience feeling a bit awkward, unsure of the intention. The tone of this thriller continues to be uneven throughout as we cut back and forth between the imprisoned girls and Kevin’s therapy sessions. The film would have been more terrifying if we were imprisoned with the girls and his personalities the whole time, instead of letting the audience breathe. The purpose that the sessions serve is so minute and ultimately pointless that we’re left feeling cheated for the time we’ve invested in the character.

Unlike the strong female lead in 10 Cloverfield Lane, that had a similar survivalist premise, these three female victims fall flat in comparison. Instead of developing the relationship between the characters organically, he cuts back and forth to a distracting backstory behind the outsider girl, Casey who is played with a bit of depth by Anya Taylor-Joy (who was also excellent in last year’s The Witch). Her exposition feels so contrived to support the big “twist” at the end that it takes away from any growth her character has shown. The other two girls are forgettable and one feels frustrated wondering why three girls couldn’t take down one man. Shyamalan tries to cover his bases here by having one girl exclaim how they “need to stop acting like victims!” But one line does not make a character and soon enough the character development takes a backseat as the personalities roll in. It’s a shame how Shyamalan has lost faith in his audience and seems convinced that explaining every detail makes for an interesting story.

By the time the end reared its sweaty, vein-pulsing head, I was holding my own head in my hands. That old Shyamalan-feeling was washing over me A word of warning: leave immediately when the film ends.   Escape the ridiculous Marvel-like teaser – a painfully forced scene with a character from one of his older films. A throw back to one of your better films, does not improve the current movie. Stop trying to twist M., just stop!

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardsono, Jessica Sula
Released: 2017

Are you an M. Night Shyamalan fan?  What did you think of my Split movie review?

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