Wednesday, October 09, 2019

KNIVES OUT - BFI London Film Festival 2019 - Day Eight

KNIVES OUT isn't a bad movie. The luscious production design, the all-star cast, the three, count 'em, three laugh-out-loud moments are truly funny.  But I had expected so much more from writer-director Rian Johnson than just a straightforward old-fashioned slow-paced closed-house murder-mystery. I had expected some of the subversion of his debut modern high-school noir BRICK. I had expected at least some of the piquancy of a Wes Anderson movie, whose production design (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS anyone?!) he so clearly apes.  But no. Oh no. What I got was a murder mystery along the lines of Agatha Christie but less well penned.  I guessed the first hour twist in the first five minutes, and the second hour twist in the first ten minutes of that hour. At least the second hour was more pacy. The first hour was so slow and dull that if I hadn't been trapped in the middle of the row I might've left.  I didn't understand the resounding laughter of the audience who were clearly having a good time. Maybe they just read less murder mysteries than I do and so were genuinely surprised at the ending?  I also really didn't like the heavy-handed political point that the film was trying to make. Ooooh look at all those exploitative rich white dick-heads bested by a warm-hearted immigrant.   What a waste of Christopher Plummer, of Michael Shannon, of so many others.  What a pain to sit through Daniel Craig's piss-poor Poirot pastiche and his Southern drawl.  The only real interest was seeing relative newcomer Ana de Armas do a great job as the "help" and protagonist of the film.  As a closing comment, it's interesting that I love detective fiction and thought Rian Johnson did a mediocre job with this. And I really liked LOOPER, but my husband who actually does life sci-fi, thought THAT was mediocre.  Maybe Rian Johnson just makes mediocre sci-fi movies that anyone who really loves the genre sees right through?

KNIVES OUT has a running time of 130 minutes. It played Toronto and London 2019. It is released in the USA on November 27th and in the UK on November 29th.

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