Category: miscellaneous

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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

Index of Classic Mystery Writers (1841 – 1965) A Work-In-Progress

Arbitrarily I’ve chosen 1965 as the year to finish my series of authors that I started compiling during these last months. Meaning I won’t take into account any author who has published after that year. I’ll try to take into account authors whose books are more or less easily available and, regretfully, I won’t consider those authors whose books are not available in English. I will appreciate your comments. Just bear in mind that this is a work-in-progress that I expect to update regularly.

Abbot, Anthony (1893 – 1952)

Allingham, Margery (1904 – 1966)

Ambler, Eric (1909 – 1998)

Anderson Frederick Irving (1877 – 1947)

Ashby, R. C. (1899 – 1966)

Bailey, HC (1878 – 1961)

Beeding, Francis (1885 – 1944/1898 – 1951)

Bell, Josephine (1897 – 1987)

Benson, E. F. (1867 – 1940)

Benson, Godfrey R. (1864 – 1945)

Bentley, E.C. (1875 – 1950)

Bellairs, George (1902 – 1982)

Berkeley, Anthony (1893 – 1971)

Biggers, Earl Derr (1884 – 1933)

Blake, Nicholas (1904 – 1972)

Borges, Jorge Luis (1899  – 1986)

Bowers, Dorothy (1902 – 1948)

Boucher, Anthony (1911-1968)

Bramah, Ernest (1868 – 1942)

Brand, Christianna (1907 – 1988)

Brock, Lynn (1877- 1943)

Brown, Fredric (1906 – 1972)

Bruce, Leo (1903-1979)

Buchan, John (1875-1940)

Bude, John (1901 – 1957)

Burton, Miles see Rhode, John

Bush, Christopher (1881 – 1973)

Cain, James M. (1892-1977)

Cannan, Joanna (1898 – 1961)

Capes, Bernard (1854 – 1918)

Carr, John Dickson (1906 – 1977)

Chandler, Raymond (1888-1959)

Chesterton, GK (1874 – 1936)

Christie, Agatha (1890 – 1976)

Cobb, G Belton (1892 – 1971)

Cole, GDH and Margaret (1889-1959/1893-1980)

Coles, Manning (1891–1959) / (1899–1965)

Collins, Wilkie (1825 – 1889)

Connington, J. J. (1880 – 1947)

Crispin, Edmund (1921 – 1978)

Crofts, Freeman Wills (1879 – 1957)

Dalton, Moray (1881 – 1963)

Dane, Clemence (1888 – 1965)

De la Torre, Lilian (1902 – 1993)

Detection Club, The

Dickens, Charles (1812-1870)

Dickson, Carter see Carr, John Dickson

Doyle, Arthur Conan (1859 – 1930)

Drax, Peter (1899 – 1941)

Eberhart, Mignon G (1899 – 1996)

Eustace, Robert (1871 – 1943)

Farjeon, J Jefferson (1883 – 1955)

Faulkner, William (1867 – 1962)

Fearing, Kenneth (1902 – 1961)

Ferrars, Elizabeth (1907 – 1995)

Fielding, A. (?? – ??)

Fletcher, JS (1863 – 1935)

Flynn, Brian (1885 – 1958)

Ford. Leslie (1898 – 1983)

Forester, C. S. (1899 – 1966)

Freeman, R Austin (1862 – 1943)

Frome, David see Ford. Leslie (1898 – 1983)

Futrelle, Jacques (1875 – 1912)

Gaboriau, Emile (1832 – 1873)

Gardner, Erle Stanley (1889 – 1970)

Gayle, Newton see Lee, Muna 

Gielgud, Val (1900 – 1981)

Gilbert, Anthony (1899 – 1973)

Gilbert, Michael (1912 – 2006)

Glauser, Friedrich (1896-1938)

Gorell, Lord (1884 – 1963)

Greene, Graham (1904 – 1991)

Hammett, Dashiell (1894 – 1961)

Hare, Cyril (1900 – 1958)

Hart, Frances Noyes (1890 – 1943)

Haynes, Annie (1865 – 1929)

Heyer, Georgette (1902 – 1974)

Hilton, James (1900 – 1954)

Hughes, Dorothy B (1904 – 1993)

Hull, Richard (1896 – 1973)

Huxley, Elspeth (1907 – 1997)

Innes, Michael (1906 – 1994)

Jepson, Edgar (1863 –1938)

Jerrold, Ianthe (1898 – 1977)

Kennedy, Milward (1894 – 1968)

King, C. Daly (1895 – 1963)

King, Rufus (1893 – 1966)

Kitchin, C. H. B. (1895 – 1967)

Knox, Ronald A. (1888 – 1957)

Lee, Muna (1895 – 1965)

Leroux, Gaston (1868 – 1927)

Limnelius, George (1886 – 1950)

Lockridge, Frances and Richard (1896-1963/1898-1982)

Lorac, ECR (1894 – 1958)

Lowndes, Marie Belloc (1868 – 1947)

MacDonald, Philip (1899 – 1980)

Macdonald, Ross (1915 – 1983)

Macdonell, A. G. (1895-1941)

Marsh, Ngaio (1899 – 1982)

Mason, A E W (1865 – 1948)

Masterman, J.C. (1891 – 1977)

McCloy, Helen (1904 – 1993)

Melville, Alan (1910 – 1983)

Millar, Margaret (1915 – 1994)

Milne, A. A. (1882 – 1956)

Mitchell, Gladys (1901 – 1983)

Morrison, Arthur (1863-1945)

Oppenheim, E Phillips (1866 – 1946)

Orczy, Baroness Emmuska (1865 –1947)

Palmer, Stuart (1905-1968)

Peck, Winifred (1882 – 1962)

Penny, Rupert (1909 – 1970)

Perry, Tyline (1897-1978)

Phillpotts, Eden (1862 – 1960)

Poe, Edgar Allan (1809 – 1849)

Porlock, Martin see MacDonald, Philip (1899 – 1980)

Post, Melville Davisson (1869 – 1930)

Postgate, Raymond (1896 – 1971)

Punshon, E.R. (1872 – 1956)

Queen, Ellery (Dannay 1905 – 1982/Lee 1905 – 1971)

Quentin, Patrick (see entry for dates)

Radford, E. & M.A. (1891-1973/1894-1990)

Rawson, Clayton (1906 – 1971)

Rhode, John (1884 – 1964)

Rice, Craig (1908 – 1957)

Rickard, Jessie Louisa (1876 – 1963)

Rinehart, Mary Roberts (1876 – 1958)

Rolls, Anthony (1886 – 1971)

Roscoe, Theodore (1906–1992)

Rutland, Harriet (1901 – 1962)

Sayers, Dorothy L (1893 – 1957)

Simenon, Georges (1903 – 1989)

Simpson, Helen (1897 – 1940)

Snow, C. P. (1905 – 1980)

Söjwall, Maj and Wahlöö, Per (1935 – 2020/1926 – 1975)

Sprigg, C St John (1907 – 1937)

Stout, Rex (1886 – 1975)

Symons, Julian (1912 – 1994)

Talbot, Hake (1900 – 1986)

Tey, Josephine (1896 – 1952)

Thynne, Molly (1881 – 1950)

Trevor Glen see Hilton, James

Upfield, Arthur (1890 – 1964)

Van Dine, S. S. (1888 – 1939)

Van Gulik, Robert (1910 – 1967)

Vickers, Roy (1889 – 1965)

Vindry, Noël (1896 – 1954)

Vivian, Francis (1906 – 1979)

Wade, Henry (1887 – 1969)

Wallace, Edgar (1875 – 1932)

Walling, R. A. J. (1869 – 1949)

Wells, Carolyn (1870 – 1942)

Wentworth, Patricia (1878 – 1961)

White, Ethel Lina (1876 – 1944)

White, T. H. (1906 – 1964)

Whitechurch, Victor L. (1868 – 1933)

Witting, Clifford (1907 – 1968)

Wilkinson, Ellen (1891 – 1947)

Wodehouse, P. G. (1881 – 1975)

Woodthorpe, R. C. (1886 – 1971)

Wynne, Anthony (1882 – 1963)

Zangwill, Israel (1864 – 1926)

A. G. Macdonell (1895 – 1941)

OIP (3)Archibald Gordon Macdonell (3 November 1895 – 16 January 1941) was a Scottish writer, journalist and broadcaster, whose most famous work is the gently satirical novel England, Their England (1933). Born in Poona, India, A. G. Macdonell’s family were Scottish. His father was a physician, and he was educated at Winchester where he excelled academically and at sports, representing the school at association football and golf. During World War I, he served for two years as a lieutenant of the Royal Field Artillery before being invalided out of the army, possibly because of shell shock. (Lieutenant Cameron, the protagonist of England, Their England is sent home for that reason.) The war had a profound effect on him, as it did with so many of his generation. Afterwards he spent two years in eastern Europe, firstly on the reconstruction of Poland, and then on famine relief in Russia. In 1922 he joined the League of Nations where he spent five years. Politically, he was a supporter of the Liberal Party. During 1923 and 1924 he unsuccessfully contested Lincoln as the Liberal candidate.

Macdonell made his living as a journalist in London, principally writing stage reviews for the London Mercury. In 1933, he became famous with the publication of England, Their England. The book gained considerable critical and popular acclaim, and won the James Tait Black Award that year. Today, Macdonell is remembered mostly for this one book. It is regarded as one of the classics of English humour and is much loved by readers for its evocation of England between the wars. It is particularly cherished by devotees of cricket for its famous description of the village cricket match. Although the rest of his books have been largely forgotten, several of them earned accolades during his lifetime. Macdonell was also a connoisseur of military history, and wrote a historical study called Napoleon and his Marshals (1934).

Archibald Gordon Macdonell (1895-1941), known popularly as A. G. Macdonell, wrote detective, adventure and military fiction under his own name and two pseudonyms. Macdonell began his writing career as a journalist, writing mostly theater reviews for London Mercury. In 1933 his novel England, Their England received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and it is this book for which he is most likely best remembered. Another satirical novel The Autobiography of a Cad (1938) has garnered something of a cult reputation lately. In addition to novels and a handful of plays he wrote at least one book on military history.

Macdonell also wrote six mystery novels under the name ‘Neil Gordon’, one of them,The Bleston Mystery (1928), in collaboration with Milward Kennedy. He also wrote under the pseudonym ‘John Cameron’.

Macdonell was a regular contributor to The Observer, and also a well-known broadcaster for the BBC Empire Service. He was a keen sportsman and a first-rate golfer, representing the Old Wykehamists on a number of occasions. He died suddenly in Oxford in 1941 at the age of 45. In his obituary, The Times called him “one of the leaders of the younger school of satirical novelists”. (Excerpts from Wikipedia)

As Neil Gordon he wrote: The Bleston Mystery (1928) in collaboration with Milward Kennedy, one of the founders of the Detection Club, The Factory on the Cliff aka The New Gun Runners (1928), Professor’s Poison (1928), Silent Murders (1929), The Big Ben Alibi (1930), Body Found Stabbed (1932), and The Shakespeare Murders (1933). Under the pen name “John Cameron” he wrote two other detective novels with similar sounding titles: Seven Stabs (1929) and Body Found Stabbed (1932).

Read more about A. G. Macdonell here.

The Factory on the Cliff has been reviewed at Cross-Examining Crime.

The Silent Murders has been reviewed, among others at Pretty Sinister Books, The Invisible Event, and The Grandest Game in the World


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Arthur Barker (UK), 1933)

Writing under the pseudonym Neil Gordon, A. G. Macdonell wrote several crime and thriller novels. In the classic genre of ’20s and ’30s crime fiction, Macdonell managed to introduce a different element, unusual twists that keep the reader captivated and anxious to discover what came next. The Shakespeare Murders is another example of Macdonell’s carefully thought-through detective stories, where the detective is aided by the star of the cast. Peter Kerrigan saw a pickpocket take the wallet of a shabby little man, and with speed and precision he stole from the thief. Peter was a handsome gentleman-adventurer – not too scrupulous – and before he returned the pocketbook he read the letter which it contained. It was so that he heard of the million pound treasure, and began the search which was to lead him through so many horrors. At Marsh Manor he found the police trying to solve a murder, and lent somewhat grudging assistance; three more violent deaths followed rapidly. The working out of the solution to the mystery, and the final disposition of the treasure are brilliantly satisfying. The strictly logical framework of the book is filled in witty and entertaining fashion with strange and amusing characters. Macdonell uses his usual skill, well-dosed with ingenious twists, and a fast moving story-line, to keep the reader riveted to the book. Chase, conspiracy, and American gangsters add to the excitement of solving the Shakespeare riddle.(Source: Fantastic Fiction)

The Shakespeare Murders has been reviewed, among others, at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Bedford Bookshelf, Happiness is a Warm Book, and Clothes in Books.