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Knives Out (2019)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Jake Lipson, Dec 13, 2018.

  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I think satirizing people who present themselves as self-made successes while being financed heavily by their wealthy parents is an evergreen source of humor, regardless of what parallels there may or may not be to the current occupant of the White House.

    The lambasting of the "alt-right" white nationalist grandson was contrasted with the liberal hypocrisy of many other members of the family, particularly with the gag of Marta's country of origin being different every time one of them mentioned it. Regardless of where each member of the Thrombey family fell on the political spectrum, the movie had scorn for all of them.
     
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  2. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    In a matter of a few days, we're going to be in an election year. I don't want to make this thread into a political statement, but I bring this up because Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig have both expressed an interest in making more movies with the Benoit Blanc character. It is possible that by the time the sequel is ready, the White House will have a new occupant. If so, I would expect Johnson to make the second film reflect the issues going on when it is made, because time moves forward both in the real world and on screen. In a few years we could be sitting here having a discussion about a very different political thread in the sequel, but Benoit Blanc will still be an interesting character, and Johnson will still know how to write characters around him with differing points of view. Just because Johnson has made this movie timely doesn't mean it won't be good whenever there is a regime change in the White House.
     
  3. WillG

    WillG Lead Actor

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    All valid points. Though between this and TLJ I do feel that Johnson is into “trendy” politics right, wrong or indifferent. I felt some of those themes were superfluous in TLJ, but went down a little easier here despite being pretty “on the nose”.

    admittedly I didn’t catch the mention of Marta’s country of origin being different each time it was mentioned though.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Please stop with the political talk and take it offline is you want to discuss it further. Thank you.
     
  5. Message #65 of 119 Dec 28, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
    Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Obviously, the point is that the family members are too self-absorbed to concern themselves with the hired help, and they all think they're right but don't care enough to know that they're all wrong. Although they use it as a way into discussing politics, their not knowing where she is from isn't an inherently political issue; it's their demonstrating a lack of concern about anyone other than themselves, even someone who is working closely with the patriarch in their home.
     
  6. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    I missed that part where they keep getting her country wrong. Either way, it showed just how facile they were in not knowing where she cam from when all of them kept talking

    about how much a part of the family she was and then viciously turned on her when the old man leaves everything to her.

    For quite awhile, during the film, I couldn't help but think how unhelpful his "good deed" was to her in complicating her life.
     
  7. Message #67 of 119 Dec 28, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
    Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    He obviously thought the positive result from leaving everything to her would outweigh any short-term complications. Given the way the film ends, I think Marta would agree. Plus, he didn't foresee anyone in his family attempting to murder him.

    Also, of course they wanted to tell her she was part of the family when they had the upper hand. It would make them feel good to take care of her and give her a handout, like she was their charity case. But when they realize that she doesn't need them -- and in fact, they need her -- then the claws come out. That felt like a very natural progression to me for these characters.
     
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  8. WillG

    WillG Lead Actor

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    I’m happy to respect the rules the mods set, and not to challenge either but for my own knowledge doesn’t the forum allow for some latitude of these discussions as long as it directly ties contextually to the film being discussed? Because I wouldn’t have mentioned some of those things otherwise.
     
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  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's the reason I haven't deleted those posts. In my 20 years of moderating this forum, such discussion is a slippery slope and this type of discussion usually expands beyond what was intended to be a discussion about the movie.
     
  10. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Rian Johnson has made an audio commentary available on the Knives Out website:
    https://knivesout.movie/#commentary

    The suggestion is to bring headphones and listen to it during a second showtime for the movie. I'm not going to do that, but I've downloaded a copy just in case it's not included on the eventual UHD and/or Blu-Ray release.
     
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  11. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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  12. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    I suspect he may record a separate commentary for the Blu-ray.
     
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    An interesting quote from Johnson in that conversation about that speaks directly to Will's question of whether Knives Out will feel dated someday:
    "It's not a subtle film, to spell out what the political stuff in it is, but that was a very important thing for me is not so much to make some sort of political statement or something but really -- I mean, one of the things I think this genre ... is very often thought of as kind of, as kind of timeless and as a little kind of jewel box, like, apart from reality, the worlds of the whodunit. And I think that is largely because most of the time when we see them, they're period pieces and they're Agatha Christie adaptations, which are set in the past; they're disconnected from our world. And it's easy to forget that, if you're an Agatha Christie fan, it's not like she was a political writer but she was always engaging with her time. She was engaging with contemporary British society through this spectrum of characters that she created, from the high to the low of whatever microcosm she was creating and the kind of powers of society with her little, kind of, mansion or whatever she was setting the novel in. So you can pick up any Agatha Christie book and read it and instantly know what decade it was written in, or what period of time 'cause she wasn't writing timeless books. She was always engaging with the culture. So the notion of recapturing that, and really plugging this into the America in 2019; that, again, seemed exciting."

    A good interview with the production designer David Crank:
    How ‘Knives Out’ Turned Three Locations Into a Single Mansion of Murder
     
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  14. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    I was a little surprised that Villeneuve and Johnson didn't talk about their mutual experiences directing Ana de Armas, who of course did a great job in Blade Runner 2049 for Villeneuve a while back.
     
  15. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Producer

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    I just got back from my 2nd viewing, each member of her family keeps having her come from a different country.
     
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  16. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    Saw it again today for the second time and boy does it hold up.

    Actually even better.

    Terrific

    Now tied for #1 with 1917 as my favorite film of the year.

    I will reevaluate after I see 1917 again in IMAX when it goes wide Jan 10.
     
  17. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    I counted 4 from different members of the family

    Ecuador
    Paraguay
    Uruguay
    Brazil

    Hilarious. ;)
     
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  18. WillG

    WillG Lead Actor

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    anyone who enjoyed “Arrested Development” should enjoy Knives and vice versa.
     
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  19. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    I saw Knives Out many weeks ago (better late than never, eh?). I've taken some time to collect my thoughts, and overall I was entertained by disappointed by the movie.

    Perhaps my disappointment is a by-product of the (over?) hype the movie has received here and across many review pieces. I went in thinking that it was going to be amongst the best movies of the year; unfortunately, for me, it landed somewhere in the middle.

    I think my biggest problem is with Rian Johnson's writing and directing.

    First, the writing. I've only seen three of Johnson's five movies (Looper, The Last Jedi, and Knives Out), but across all three--and especially The Last Jedi and Knives Out--Johnson very much insists on telling and not showing. We are told character traits/personalities for each family member, but with a few notable exceptions--Joni (Toni Collette), Richard (Don Johnson), and Walt (Michael Shannon)--we just have to take those characterizations as they live in the dialogue. Indeed, most characters are reduced to literally one line descriptions (Jaeden, for example). In Walt's case, most of the work is really being done by Michael Shannon.

    I can see what Johnson is trying to do. In Agatha Christie-like mysteries, most (all?) of the characters fall into now-classic archetypes. Dare I say tropes? There's the wealthy businessman (American? Texan?), the widower, the divorcee, the gambler, the socialite, the hothead, the gangster, the military man. In Knives Out, Johnson tries to update those to 2019. Conceptually he nails it. But the writing does not support the concept. We're told Jacob is some alt-right troll, but we never hear him say anything controversial or really do much of anything. Similarly we're told Meg is some sort of liberal arts left-wing feminist stereotype. But we get almost nothing to support it. Linda is a real estate mogul who doesn't act like one (really, she doesn't act like anything...). At least we get to hear Johnson's Richard say some objectionable/racist lines to support his characterization. Even Hugh--whom were told is a spoiled playboy--has almost no dialogue supporting that archetype (the car and clothes do all the work). Again, all of the work there is being done by Chris Evans.

    On the directing side of things, I went into the movie expecting to be wowed. Johnson's turn in Star Wars delivered two of the most beautiful moments in the entire franchise (the lightspeed attack and the throne room duel). I thought I would see great shot after great shot. Instead, I counted exactly one: Blanc on the porch sitting in darkness, wreathed by cigarette smoke. Also, like Johnson's directing on The Last Jedi, he has a very deep (broad) depth of field that I simply don't like. When he does opt for a narrow field, his near constant rack focusing is distracting and rather ugly (this is even worse in The Last Jedi). If Johnson really wanted to stick with this look, then I think many scenes would have greatly benefited from a split diopter.

    I really wanted to like Knives Out more. I was entertained--it's a good way to spend a few hours--but I left the theatre thinking the movie lacked both style and substance.
     
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  20. WillG

    WillG Lead Actor

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    I’m not sure that was too important. It seems to me, it was meant to establish a politically divided family. As for Linda, I alluded to this early and have to be careful on how to say it, but seems to reference a certain someone (as there was a pretty on the nose reference to a business affair)
     

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