[#2020oscardeathrace] Knives Out (2019)

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer

Screenplay: Rian Johnson

131 mins. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Original Screenplay [PENDING]

 

When it was announced that writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) would be making a murder mystery before returning to helm a trilogy of Star Wars films (I’m still convinced this will happen, but maybe it’s just my wanting), I was shocked but rather interested. After all, the subgenre of Agatha Christie-inspired murder mysteries had kind of dried in recent years outside of adaptations of her work like Murder on the Orient Express. Rian Johnson, who had dealt in the mystery genre several years earlier with Brick, seemed like the perfect choice to restart this once beloved subgenre, and I was all for it.

Famous crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer, Beginners, The Last Full Measure) is dead. The death has been ruled a suicide, but someone unknown has hired the last great sleuth, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, Logan Lucky) to investigate. It would seem that Harlan had no true friends within his family, and each of them has a motive strong enough to be a suspect, but just who did it? As lies are created and truths are uncovered, the family is turns on one another, and it’s up to Blanc to find the donut hole, the missing piece of the story.

Where to begin with this film? First off, we have to address Johnson’s tone for the film. It’s fun, sarcastic, stylish, and engaging. He sets most of the action in one location, Harlan’s mansion, a gorgeously-designed set that I just wanted to spend more time in. There are homages all throughout the mansion designed to invoke that classic mystery theme. Plus, it’s just a damn creepy house. Beyond that, the house and the characters residing in it feel real within the universe Johnson has constructed. The house feels lived-in. The characters feel like they have long lists of experiences to pull from. Everything fits, like puzzle pieces expertly placed to give a  clearer image and a staggering conclusion.

Daniel Craig leads the cast as Blanc with a truly molasses-mouth scene-chewing take on his character that is set to become iconic in years to come. His mannerisms, speech patterns, and physicality make Benoit Blanc a treat to be with, and that’s much like the mansion. I wanted to spend time with these characters. Not in the way that they are friendly, but in the way that they are fun to watch.

Each of the members of Thrombey’s extended family is like a slightly-damaged, partially-fractured chess piece arranged on a board, and Johnson is playing against himself. I was primarily taken with Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, The Informer) as Marta, Harlan’s nurse, who feels alienated within the family even though they all claim that she’s a part of it. Then there is Harlan’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis, True Lies, Halloween) and her husband Richard (Vault, TV’s Miami Vice), who play very well on their own but have a dynamite chemistry when put together.

In fact, the cast is pitch-perfect, and there’s no real time to talk about all of them, but I have to give a shout to Chris Evans (The Avengers, The Read Sea Diving Resort) as Ransom, Harlan’s grandson, the loud-mouthed privileged youth who obviously has no friends within the family. Evans plays against-type when compared to his decade as Captain America with Ransom, and it’s a welcome return to the smarmy roles he was once more well-known for.

If there’s a flaw in the film, and I do believe there is one for me, it’s that certain reveals in the film happen far earlier than I would have liked, and I think the mystery would have been stronger if we were kept wondering for longer. That, and I personally was able to see where it was going a little earlier than I would’ve liked. Perhaps I was just good at guessing, as I’ve spoken to others who did not see the end coming. My suggestion would be not to try and unravel the mystery, but instead, enjoy the journey, because it’s a damn good one.

Knives Out is an elegantly-constructed Whodunnit with incredible performances, great production design, and a director at the helm who really understands story and tone. This was enjoyable as hell and I cannot wait to see it again. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out comes highly recommended.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, click here.

Knives Out Slices Into Theaters November 2019

Deadline is reporting that Knives Out, the new original film from director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi), is slated for release on November 27, 2019. Lionsgate has popped the film right into Thanksgiving season in a nice, awards-friendly place.

The film was also written by Johnson and the cast is incredible, featuring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Don Johnson among others.

Craig’s joining the principal cast was made possible by the Bond 25 switcheroo when Danny Boyle left the project and Cary Fukunaga stepped in.

For me, this news is incredible. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of Johnson’s Looper, I admire the original story and the captivating structure. I also love The Last Jedi, and you can hate on it all you want, but he made a damn good Star Wars film. That’s what excites me here. Johnson gets to play in the sandbox with some very talented performers. I know very little about Knives Out but I really don’t feel like I need to.

So what do you think? Are you interested in a new mystery movie from Rian Johnson? What’s your favorite Rian Johnson film? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

The Other Woman (2014)

MV5BMTc0ODE4ODY1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA5NjkzMTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Kinney, Don Johnson

Screenplay: Melissa Stack

109 mins.  Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual references and language.

 

The Other Woman is the story of Carly (Cameron Diaz, There’s Something About Mary, Annie), an underdeveloped character who has just scored the man of her dreams in Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, TV’s Game of Thrones, Oblivion), until she discovers that she is being played when she meets Mark’s wife Kate (Leslie Mann, Knocked Up, Rio 2). The two create an unlikely (try impossible) bond over the fact that they are both still digging Mark even though they should hate him, which they also kind of do. The plot (if you can call it that) thickens when they discover another mistress (Kate Upton, The Three Stooges, Tower Heist) and the three of them join up to take vengeance in a strange mixture of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Saw. Pretty much, yeah.

I recall seeing the trailer for The Other Woman some time ago, and thinking about how much this movie was going to disappoint, particularly because I used to think Cameron Diaz was funny and I still usually find Leslie Mann to be a real treat. I think Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has some major chops from his performance in HBO’s Game of Thrones and films like Mama. This film is nothing like these previous works in that I liked the previously mentioned works.

THE OTHER WOMAN

Cameron Diaz plays her way through this movie as one of the most unlikable characters in her kind of situation, and Leslie Mann acts as though she is trying to act in a musical from the 1950s. Everything is overdone. Boobs McGee, or (you may recognize her stage name more, Kate Upton) has a body and a voice for silent pictures, and she has the acting skills of a mop handle. Her function in this film is to convince husbands to see it. Don’t be fooled by the breasts behind the curtain, moviegoers, it just isn’t worth it.

Nicki Minaj (Ice Age: Continental Drift) is in this piece of horseshit as well. She had trouble acting her way through a Lonely Island music video. Everything she says falls flat and without resonance. Someone throw a tomato at this clown and get her off the stage.

Even Don Johnson (TV’s Miami Vice, Django Unchained) isn’t spared from the terrible acting virus, though it is hard to blame him. I imagine the conversation with his agent went something like this: “Wait! You’re telling me I can bone Kate Upton in this picture? I’ll take it!” This coming from a major fan of Miami Vice, too.

The music sounds like someone grabbed Now 51 off the shelf and put it into iMovie.

Such a skilled director as Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, My Sister’s Keeper) behind the camera, you’d think something better could be said here, but unfortunately, he just doesn’t have a handle on the bogus screenplay. Go home, Nick, you’re drunk.

And on the subject of screenplays, this one is a doozy. It is almost as if they finished a rough draft and forgot to do the rewrite where they actually add in the humor. The entire film finally shreds to nothing by the finale, a bloated, overly out there ending that involves not one, but two breakaway gas gags and the biggest nosebleed I have ever witnessed on camera. It was a dumb idea that got turned into a dumb screenplay that got turned into a dumb movie.

the-other-woman-df-06793r_rgb

The Other Woman is hands down one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and it is a big contender for worst film of 2014, folks, please stay away from this one. In fact, burn all copies you may come across.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So what did you think of The Other Woman? Was it an affair to remember or did you feel cheated? Let me know!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑