As much as people say, “You’re your own worst enemy!” it’s never been truer than for the protagonists of “Gemini Man” (2019), “Fight Club” (1999), and “Us” (2019). Whether through movie-science cloning, mental illness or oppressive class structures (with a healthy dose of late capitalism in all three), this week, the Be Reel guys are looking at movies that pit protagonists against literal manifestations of themselves.
In this month’s “Gemini Man,” visionary director Ang Lee attempts to unpack the question, are we just looking for a younger version of the actors we loved 25 years ago? Using CG that everyone promises isn’t the same as in “The Irishman,” Lee delivers two kinds of Will Smith: the 50-year-old we’ve loved since “Fresh Prince” and “Men in Black” as well as his doppelganger: a clone created by a money-hungry defense contractor who could simply stand in for a Hollywood obsessed with exploitation and ageism. With some of the most advanced shooting technology yet to be released (and ironically unsupported in most movie houses), we see Will v. Will, man v. machine, old v. young, conservative v. progressive, with enough motorcycle chases and dimly lit fight sequences to nudge a viewer past the obvious “huh?”-factor.
It’s also been 20 years since David Fincher introduced us to the notoriously influential Tyler Durden and the simple, repetitive rules he lives by. Rule #1 of Fight Club: Don’t talk about whether “Fight Club” is a political film. Well, we’re breaking that one, too. With the insight of Portland film critic, Brad Pitt devotee, and Letterboxd queen Mia Vicino, we unpack what’s cool, dark and still unsettling about this movie and the men who preach its false gospel.
Finally, we duck into the very recent past to discuss Jordan Peele’s sophomore horror film “Us,” about a matriarch who isn’t as she seems and a world in which for every social/financial/artistic has its equal and opposite reaction–albeit underground in a set of corridors filled with rabbits and doppelgangers. Like “Fight Club,” “Us” demands rewatch to pick at the loose threads. We chase down some theories and critiques as we position this movie within the genre and also within the year’s Best Of conversation.
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