Author: Benjamin Sunday

January 5, 2018 / / Main Slate

By Benjamin Sunday

For a film that features kidnapping, impalement, and nonconsensual brain surgery, it’s striking that the most uncomfortable scene in Jordan Peele’s Get Out is that of a racially awkward garden party. As a special guest of the white host Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), black photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is singled out and forced to tolerate Armitage’s peers while they openly fetishize his race. The one exception to this behavior is Jim Hudson (Stephen Root), a blind art dealer who ignores Washington’s ethnicity while praising the younger man’s pictures of urban life. Hudson’s compliments identify him as an ally who recognizes Washington for his creativity instead of his color, making it that much more surprising when Hudson pays Armitage to transplant his brain into Washington’s body and steal the artist’s “eye.” Instead of elevating him out of the second class, Washington’s gift only invites his victimization by a man who sees the black artist as a talent, but not as an equal.

October 23, 2017 / / Main Slate

By Benjamin Sunday

A corporate computer named Mother, operated from a control room that suggests a mechanical womb; an android from the same company named Ash, whose sweat resembles something between milk and semen; a wage slave astronaut named Gilbert Kane writhing in agony as a phallic head bursts from his chest, like a horrific pregnancy coming to term…throughout Alien (1979), Ridley Scott imposes human reproductive imagery upon the vessels of an amoral corporation as well as a series of space monsters, neither of which possess any humanity of their own. The result is a Freudian nightmare wherein a business’s greed is equated to an alien’s desire to procreate, culminating in either case with the consumption of human life. Whether it’s a company abusing its employees for profit or a cosmic beast using their bodies as a breeding ground, the inhumane imperative that drives both antagonists is one and the same.

February 5, 2016 / / Main Slate

By Ben Sunday

Michael Haneke’s CACHÉ opens on a Parisian side street in daylight, captured in a prolonged wide shot that’s notable solely for its banality. It’s not until the voices of a man and woman emerge over the ambient noise that we realize what we’re seeing, surveillance of a family’s house recorded to video and then left at their door. As the couple fast-forwards through the remaining footage, lines of distortion fall across the hastening frames like the bars of a cage. Finally, the video pauses as the man is shown crossing the road, freezing him in place. Along with the serene setting, the camera has captured the man as well, locking him within a moment of time. In CACHÉ, video transcends mere reproduction to become a living image of the past, like memories that refuse to be forgotten, and for one man such memories soon become his prison.