My Film Notes: Knives Out (2019) written and directed by Rian Johnson

US / 130 min / Color / Lionsgate, Media Rights Capital (MRC), T-Street. Dir: Rian Johnson Pro: Ram Bergman and Rian Johnson Scr: Rian Johnson Cin: Steve Yedlin Mus: Nathan 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, Frank Oz, Riki Lindhome, Edi Patterson, K. Callan, Noah Segan, M. Emmet Walsh, Marlene Forte. Synopsis: The circumstances surrounding the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey are mysterious, but there’s one thing that renowned Detective Benoit Blanc knows for sure—everyone in the wildly dysfunctional Thrombey family is a suspect. Now, Blanc must sift through a web of lies and red herrings to uncover the truth. (Source: Official Movie Site). Release dates: Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2019, it was theatrically released on 27 November 2019 (Canada, France, UK, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Philippines, Singapore and USA), in Spain it was released on  29 November 2019. Spanish titles: Puñales por la espalda (España) Entre navajas y secretos  (Hispanoamérica) IMDb Rating: 7.9.

MV5BMGUwZjliMTAtNzAxZi00MWNiLWE2NzgtZGUxMGQxZjhhNDRiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1NzU3MzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper) assembles an all-star cast — Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, and LaKeith Stanfield — in this intelligent whodunit about a famed southern detective (Craig) who joins forces with local police to investigate a group of eccentric suspects following the murder of a wealthy crime novelist (Christopher Plummer). On the morning after his 85th birthday party, wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombrey is found dead on his estate. Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is enlisted on the case and suspects foul play. Everyone is a suspect and, as the reading of the will draws closer and the investigation heats up, Harlan’s money-grubbing family begins to be revealed as far more conniving and competitive than they first appear. When Marta (Ana de Armas), Thrombrey’s South American caregiver, finds herself entangled in the mystery, it becomes clear that no secrets are safe within the household — not even her own. (Source: TIFF)

A two-time TIFF alum, director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, Looper) returns with a propulsive mystery, mixing elements of Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. Exercising his sharp-witted ear for dialogue, Johnson is in top form as a writer here, serving up hilarious and eloquent material for an impeccable cast that includes Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield (also at the Festival in Uncut Gems), and Christopher Plummer — just to name a few. A master in blending genres, and with a keen eye for detail, Johnson employs unexpected cinematic tropes to keep the audience on their toes as the story weasels its way through twists and turns to a shocking conclusion. Irreverent, intelligent, and, most importantly, pure fun from beginning to end, Knives Out is a modern popcorn whodunit of the highest order. (Source: TIFF)

My take: Begoña and I took the opportunity last night to watch ‘Knives Out’ directed by Rian Johnson. I had a great time and fully enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

Critical response: David Rooney, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, described the film as an “ingeniously plotted, tremendously entertaining and deviously irreverent crowd-pleaser” and “a treat from start to finish,” praising the film’s script, the throwbacks to the murder mysteries of the 1970s, and the actors’ performances. Dana Stevens of Slate wrote “Knives Out knows exactly what kind of movie it is: a sendup of twisty murder mysteries with all-star ensemble casts that also loves and respects that silly tradition.” For The A.V. Club, A. A. Dowd called the film “madly entertaining” and “an ingenious sleight-of-hand crowdpleaser”. David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film an A−, writing “Johnson has devised a murder-mystery that’s eager to defy your expectations, but unwilling to betray your trust. The film may be more smart than stylish, and it may opt for a reasonable outcome over an overwhelmingly shocking one, but Knives Out doesn’t let the element of surprise ruin a good story.” David Sims of The Atlantic wrote that Johnson “turned the whodunit on its head”. Dani di Placido of Forbes wrote that Johnson “finds a way to revitalise the concept” and “makes murder mystery great again”.  (Source: Wikipedia)

About the Filmmaker: Rian Johnson was born in Maryland and raised in San Clemente, California. He attended the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. His feature films include Brick (05), the Festival selections The Brothers Bloom (08) and Looper (12), and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (17). Knives Out (19) is his latest work.

Official Movie Site

Interview with Rian Johnson