Movie Review: Enola Holmes 2 (2022)

Title: Enola Holmes 2
Release Date: November 4, 2022
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Production Company:Legendary Pictures | PCMA Productions

I enjoyed Enola Holmes when I watched it two years ago, although I probably overrated it in my enthusiasm.  The sequel improves upon the original, partly with the benefit of the origin story being taken care of so that it can jump right into the action, adventure, mystery, and romance. And humor.  This movie is a romp and it will always revert to fun.

Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown), younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, has opened a detective agency in London.  Potential clients turn her down because of her age and gender, but Enola finally gets a case when a factory girl Bessie (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) asks for help finding her sister Sarah. Enola’s investigation exposes the cruel conditions that girls and women of the match factory labor under as well as the mystery of why so many of them are getting sick and dying.  Naturally, this mystery ties in with Sherlock’s (Henry Cavill) investigation into blackmailing and money laundering.

A big theme of this film is that Enola’s desire to be independent does not mean that she has to be alone.  Thus she gets an assist from a team involving Sherlock, their mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), and Enola’s love interest Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge).  It’s a good ensemble cast and they have a lot of good chemistry working together.  The film also incorporates a real historical event, The Matchgirls Strike of 1888 which lead to the Union of Women Match Makers, the first women-lead labor movement in Britain.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Nope (2022)

Title: Nope
Release Date: July 18, 2022
Director: Jordan Peele
Production Company: Monkeypaw Productions

A brother and sister struggle to manage the family business of wrangling horses for Hollywood movies and commercials after the sudden death of their father (a small role for Keith David of The Thing and They Live). The laconic Otis “OJ” Haywood, Jr. (Daniel Kaluuya) is determined to carry on the family business, but the more free-spirited Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer) is ready to move on to other interests.  They have an offer to buy the ranch from  Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun) a former child actor who runs a Western theme park on an adjacent ranch.

When they discover something mysterious hovering in the clouds above their ranch and taking their horses, OJ an Em determine that capturing a high-quality film of the UFO is their key to fame and fortune.  They are soon joined by Angel (Brandon Perea), the technician from an electronics store who installs surveillance cameras on their party.  Later, Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott), an auteur filmmaker, joins the team.  As you can imagine from a horror movie, things don’t go to plan. In fact they go horrifyingly wrong.

I’ve seen a lot of commentary that this movies is Jordan Peele’s homage to early Steven Spielberg movies like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  While they’re not wrong, the movie comparison that comes to my mind is Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole.  Both films have a carnival in the desert setting while thematically dealing with the idea of spectacle and the willingness of people to exploit human suffering.  Black Americans especially are dehumanized for the entertainment of others, a point the movie makes with the Haywood’s claim that their ancestor was the jockey in Eadweard Muybridge’s first motion picture but is invisible to history.  Of course, OJ’s name brings to mind the spectacle of the O.J. Simpson trial, although Peele refrains from the obvious callback of having OJ ride a white bronco.

The movie is very good at building tension especially early on by not showing much about the mystery in the sky.  Later in the film when we see more of what it is, the movie takes on a more surreal feel.  I’m particularly impressed by the editing and the sound design of the movie.  All the acting is great but Keke Palmer is the standout performer for me.  While not quite as good as Get Out or Us, I think Peele has added another great horror flick that makes you think to his oeuvre.

Rating: ****