Why the Smithsonian Chose to Enshrine ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Servant Costume

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Headed Toward an Even Bigger Opening Than ‘Get Out’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Two years ago, Jordan Peele became the box office’s biggest surprise as “Get Out” became one of the year’s biggest cultural and financial hits. Now, with an Oscar and multiple producer attachments to his name, Peele is ready to make a big splash at the box office again as Universal releases his second film, “Us,” nationwide this weekend.

While there were 14 other films that had a higher domestic gross than in 2017, “Get Out” had by far the biggest return on investment. Produced by Blumhouse with its usual thrifty approach, the film grossed $176 million domestic and $255 million worldwide against a mere $4.5 million production budget. The film also legged out far better than most horror or R-rated movies, as it opened to $33.3 million in February 2017 and more than quintupled that amount by the end of its domestic theatrical run.

Also Read: ‘Us’ Film Review: Jordan Peele Terrifies Again With a Chilling Examination of Duality

Universal says that any opening higher than what “Get Out” made would be considered a success, but trackers are very optimistic as they project a $45-50 million opening. An opening on the higher end of that range would match the $50.2 million opening of last year’s horror hit “A Quiet Place,” which “Us” is currently outperforming in advance ticket sales on Fandango. The film is also expected to leg out as well as “Get Out,” which could mean a domestic run of more than $200 million against a $20 million production budget.

Even compared to other upcoming horror films like “Pet Sematary,” “Us” is a fiercely unique film that is enjoying immense social buzz and critical acclaim. Since its premiere on the opening night of SXSW, “Us” has earned a 98 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, with 68 reviews logged. And along with lead stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, both of whom are still riding high off of their “Black Panther” fame, “Us” also has something that was once common decades ago but which is now rare: a director with box office draw.

Also Read: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Wins Over Critics: ‘A Masterpiece’ Despite Some ‘Messiness’

“In horror, there is a brand recognition with Blumhouse, but there isn’t a single director that has become so popular with audiences as Jordan Peele has,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “The closest person I can think of is Eli Roth, but even he didn’t get nearly as big off of just one film the way Peele has with ‘Get Out.’”

Written, directed, and co-produced by Peele, “Us” stars Nyong’o and Duke as an upper-middle class African-American couple on vacation with their two kids. But their vacation is interrupted when they are attacked by clones of themselves known as The Tethered, who have come to claim the family’s lives for themselves. Tim Heidecker and Elisabeth Moss also star in the film, which was produced by Blumhouse’s Jason Blum, QC Productions’ Sean McKittrick and Ian Cooper, who is producing alongside Peele through Monkeypaw Productions

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Wins Over Critics: ‘A Masterpiece’ Despite Some ‘Messiness’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Two weeks before “Us” hits theaters, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to “Get Out” screened for the first time Friday night at SXSW in Austin, Texas. And judging by the early reactions from critics, it appears Peele isn’t suffering from any sophomore slump.

In her review for TheWrap, Yolanda Machado praised the performances of Lupita Nyong’o and Shahadi Wright Joseph, saying each brought something completely different to their dual roles the mother Adelaide Wilson and her daughter Zora, and then as their creepy doppelgänger personas. Machado also said that Peele — who wrote, directed and produced the film — cemented himself as the best horror filmmaker in the business.

“Nyong’o gives a master class in acting in dual roles and is almost unrecognizable as her doppelgänger persona. (Which is as much plot as will be revealed here.) Not only does she take on an entirely different voice, but her posture, movements and facial expressions suggest a different individual entirely. At times, I had to remind myself that this was the same woman; that’s just how good she is,” Machado writes.

Also Read: ‘Us’ Film Review: Jordan Peele Terrifies Again With a Chilling Examination of Duality

“Wright Joseph, meanwhile, plays two extremes of a teenager: one slightly removed, angsty but loving, while the other is just downright creepy. Her strengths are on full display in some of the more climactic scenes, but that evil-twin smile will haunt me in my sleep.”

Most of the other critics largely agreed with Machado’s take, even if some thought “Us” may have been a little too ambitious for its own good. But the early word is that Nyong’o is the clear star of the film. Check out some more reviews below.

Dan Caffrey, Consequence of Sound

“There’s no denying the craftsmanship or the singular voice that’s on display in ‘Us.’ And yet there’s also no denying its messiness, which expands outward as the film moves farther and farther from its claustrophobic locale. Exciting? Sure. Unique? Without a doubt. But it’s hard to not feel frustrated by a script that never seems to figure out what it’s trying to say.”

Matt Patches, Polygon

“Peele constructed ‘Us’ to spark conversation without sacrificing his instinct to be wildly entertaining. There are hilarious kills and barbarous acts of violence. There are deep societal reads on 21st-century life in the U.S. (wink) and also jokes about explaining the drug references in rap lyrics to kids. There are sequences in film that recall the most artful horror films of the 1970s — and there are sequences that directly shout out to ‘C.H.U.D.’.”

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Angie Han, Mashable

“Moment to moment, ‘Us’ is a film designed to make you react – to get you to giggle at Winston Duke’s extreme dad-ness (“You don’t need the internet. You have the outernet!” he tells his exasperated teenage daughter), or scream at a villain silently materializing in the corner of a frame. And it shapeshifts so frequently, and so deftly, that it’s a fool’s errand to guess at any moment what might happen next.  But it quickly becomes obvious that ‘Us’ has a lot more on its mind than making you jump. Every detail here seems carefully considered, down to the amount of dust gathered on a coffee table in a rarely used living room. In the hands of a filmmaker this precise, much of the fun is in waiting to see just how his intricate puzzle will come together.”

Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair

“Peele’s overarching social commentary is clear, but he also said that he wants every individual to tailor their interpretation to their own experience. As with ‘Get Out,’ this film certainly has plenty to do with the black experience in this country. One of the biggest, most uneasy laughs of the night went to Nyong’o when, in full monster mode, she responded to the question “who are you?” by croaking, defiantly, “we’re Americans.” But ‘Us’ is never just one thing. It’s a masterpiece of doubling, layering, and tethering. It’s also a movie packed to the brim with horrifying iconography–the red jumpsuits, vacant-eyed bunnies, and always those slicing shears–some of which has obvious meaning, while Peele is disinclined to break down the rest the way he did with Get Out.

Randall Colburn, AV Club

“After a soupy first act, the film roars like a rocket, with quick shots of burgeoning chaos–Peele remains so, so good at finding the uncanny in public behaviors–serving to disorient in ways that nullify the need for gore. It helps that his cast is so game. Nyong’o is incredible, as effective in battle as she is in moments of drama. Joseph and Alex are also compelling, each giving their doppelgängers a fierce edge that never veers into the “creepy kid” template pervading modern studio horror. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker, meanwhile, each get to flex heretofore untapped muscles as the family’s sousy, self-loathing pals. It’s unfortunate, then, that ‘Us’ splinters as it exhales. Its third act collapses during a fit of exposition that raises more questions than it answers, and its lingering twist lands with a palpable thud, failing to resonate due to a central metaphor that’s a touch too translucent.”

Also Read: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Trailer Shows a Terrifying New Nightmare (Video)

Evan Narcisse, io9

“All of the main cast pull double duty in impressive fashion playing the two sets of characters but Nyong’o shines brightest. She gives ferocious energy as a mother giving her all to fight against darkness and an opposite number seething with implacable covetousness.”

“Us” stars Nyong’o and fellow “Black Panther” star Winston Duke as a married couple who take a trip to a Northern California summer beach home along with their children, and meet another couple portrayed by Elisabeth Moss and comedian Tim Heidecker. Nyong’o’s character slowly becomes paranoid about her children’s safety, and as she becomes more concerned, they witness four figures in red suits holding hands at the end of their driveway. Those figures aren’t just anyone, but exact replicas of themselves.

“Us” opens in theaters on March 22.

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‘Us’ Film Review: Jordan Peele Terrifies Again With a Chilling Examination of Duality

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Examining the nature of humanity can be a dark and depressing venture, now more than ever. A world that feels divided, one which you fear, becomes your greatest enemy. These are the building blocks for “Us,” writer-director-producer Jordan Peele’s highly anticipated, thrilling and satisfactory follow up to his Oscar-winning 2017 debut “Get Out.” It’s also where he cements his place as one of the best horror creators of our time, knowing that life’s true horror stems from what humans are capable of doing to each other.

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband, Gabe (Winston Duke), and their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph, “Hairspray Live!”) and Jason (Evan Alex) head to the beach town of Santa Cruz for their summer vacation. They’re an all-American family, with a father who has a degree in dad jokes, a mom who tends to the needs of all her family, a monosyllabic teenager who never looks away from her phone and a spritely, rambunctious young boy content to run around in a Chewbacca mask all day long.

But then a pattern of coincidences appear — the number 11:11 popping up several times, circles landing within a circle, words being spoken in the same moment — that shake Adelaide to her core. She’s been through this before, as a young girl, in that exact same beach town. And what she once ran from has now come to make her remember what she left behind.

The performances are uniformly fantastic, but I was most impressed by Wright Joseph and Nyong’o, both delivering distinct and completely unique work. Nyong’o gives a master class in acting in dual roles and is almost unrecognizable as her doppelgänger persona. (Which is as much plot as will be revealed here.) Not only does she take on an entirely different voice, but her posture, movements and facial expressions suggest a different individual entirely. At times, I had to remind myself that this was the same woman; that’s just how good she is.

Watch Video: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Trailer Shows a Terrifying New Nightmare

Wright Joseph, meanwhile, plays two extremes of a teenager: one slightly removed, angsty but loving, while the other is just downright creepy. Her strengths are on full display in some of the more climactic scenes, but that evil-twin smile will haunt me in my sleep. Duke and Alex are great pairings against Nyong’o and Joseph, with Duke — the imposing M’baku of “Black Panther” — transforming himself into a full-on suburban dad. Co-stars Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker, who play the Wilsons’ friends and neighbors, add a touch of humor with their own dark twist.

Duality is a big theme throughout the theme of the film, an examining of things that are so very similar in appearance but vastly different too. The film even incorporates the theme within its own structure. “Us” plays as two contrasting movies: one is very much a jump-scare-filled, thrilling horror flick that many of us grew up watching, while the other is a much deeper and complicated drama with a sometimes muddled message about society. It’s a smart strategy but also a bit disorienting.

Also Read: Lupita Nyong’o Zombie Comedy ‘Little Monsters’ Acquired by Neon, Hulu

There’s a plot hole that evolves from this very contradiction of themes, but it’s not a deal breaker, mainly because Peele envelops you in the film’s dichotomy. Ultimately, this yin and yang deepens the film, because it allows it to evolve and change in each subsequent viewing, even if it might disengage viewers at certain points.

That duality surfaces in the soundtrack created by Michael Abels (“Get Out”) that features both Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It” and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” in scenes which would not usually come to mind for either song. The unique takes on both heighten the sense of the world Peele has created. Production designer Ruth De Jong (“Manchester by the Sea”) has crafted disparate yet parallel sets, which are highlighted along the way as the story reveals itself.

See Photos: ‘Black Panther’ Star Winston Duke Exclusive StudioWrap Portraits

You don’t have to guess at what films may have been some of the inspiration for “Us.” Peele, taking a cue from M. Night Shyamalan, leaves the breadcrumbs right on the table for you to see. The opening sequence of the film is a wide shot of a few VHS tapes surrounding the television set where a young Adelaide (Madison Curry) is watching a news segment about 1986’s “Hands Across America” charity event. The VHS spines read: “C.H.U.D.”, a handwritten sticker of what might be a home movie, “The Goonies” and “The Right Stuff.” It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of moment, one that is otherwise insignificant, but strains of those four films all influence “Us.”

Peele’s sophomore effort is the type of genre film that will merit re-examination every few years, and it has the potential to stand among his greatest contributions to genre filmmaking.



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17 Buzziest Movies Heading to SXSW This Year, From ‘Us’ to ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ (Photos)

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SXSW Film Festival is known for its horror film debuts, and this year, Austin, Texas, will attract big talent and famed filmmakers. Click through the gallery to see TheWrap’s buzziest titles.
“Us”
It was announced in January that Jord…

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Elisabeth Moss Plays a Former ’90s Punk Rock Star in ‘Her Smell’ Trailer (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Elisabeth Moss’s latest role has her flirting with death…or at least singing about it.

In “Her Smell,” Moss plays a former ’90s punk rock star named Becky Something. The singer and her band, Something She, once filled arenas but now she struggles with addiction, motherhood, getting older and fading fame.

“I always flirt with death, I look ill, but I don’t care about it,” Moss sings in this first trailer for the film. “I think I’m on another world with you.”

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Alex Ross Perry directed the film, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and will next play at SXSW. The movie features an original score and songs by Keegan DeWitt, who wrote the indie-pop jams for last year’s Sundance darling “Hearts Beat Loud.”

But in addition to Moss, the cast includes Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Agyness Deyn, Amber Heard, Gayle Rankin, Ashley Benson, Dylan Gelula, Virginia Madsen and Eric Stoltz.

“I tried and I tried and I tried, and you all stuck with me, to the very end,” Moss says through tears to her bandmates.

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“Her Smell” opens on April 12 in New York, then April 19 in Los Angeles, and finally a nationwide expansion to follow from Gunpowder & Sky.

Watch the first trailer above.

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3 Gets Premiere Date From Hulu

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Blessed be the fruit, ’cause Hulu has set the premiere date for Season 3 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The Elisabeth Moss-led drama will return with three new episodes at once on Wednesday, June 5, the streamer announced during the Television Critics Association press tour Monday. Subsequent episodes will be released every Wednesday.

Per Hulu, the 13-episode third season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is driven by June’s (Moss) resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead and her struggle to strike back against overwhelming odds. Startling reunions, betrayals, and a journey to the terrifying heart of Gilead force all characters to take a stand, guided by one defiant prayer: “Blessed be the fight.”

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The Season 2 finale of the Bruce Miller-created drama, titled “The Word,” ended with Offred/June making a giant sacrifice, by giving her baby girl Holly/Nicole to Emily (Alexis Bledel) to look after, rather than joining the two on their free ride out of the dystopian society. Instead, the mother of two decides to go against the plan carried out with help from a ton of Marthas on Wednesday’s episode and stay behind.

Along with Moss and Bledel, the series stars Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella, Samira Wiley and Bradley Whitford.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is created, executive produced and written by Bruce Miller. Moss, Warren Littlefield, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Ilene Chaiken, Eric Tuchman and Mike Barker also executive produce the MGM Television series.

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Watch the trailer for Season 3 here.

Here are the 2019 premiere dates Hulu unveiled Monday at TCA:
“Shrill” – Wednesday, March 15
“The Act” – Wednesday, March 20
“Into the Dark: I’m Just F—ing With You” – Friday, April 5
“Ramy” – Friday, April 19
“Into the Dark: All That We Destroy” – Friday, May 3
“Ask Dr. Ruth” – Friday, May 10 (20+ market theatrical release on Friday, May 3)
“Catch-22” – Friday, May 17
“The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 3 – Wednesday, June 5

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Cornerstone Films Boards Elisabeth Moss Psychological Drama ‘Shirley’

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