Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★★★

2020 movie viewings, #104. I recently rewatched this as part of my new duties as artistic director for Utopia Repertory Theatre, my third viewing since it was released in theatres last November. This time, as part of a double-feature we did with the 1985 Clue (my review), I watched it with someone who had never seen it before, who in fact didn't know anything about it other than that it's a murder-mystery; and while I'll let the actual story beats remain a surprise as to not reveal any spoilers, I found it hilarious to watch this woman chat in real time and express the exact same set and order of emotions that writer-director Rian Johnson clearly means for audience members to have, a sort of perfect focus-group result that proves him to be an absolute master at emotional manipulation, which all the greatest filmmakers in history are. I've talked at length in a previous write-up about why this movie is so great, so I'll just refer you to that if you want my more analytical thoughts on the movie; but it says a lot that this was my third viewing and it still remained the joyous thrill ride it was the first two times, especially interesting now that I've listened to Johnson's podcast-distributed director's commentary and knew a lot more about why and how all the various details came about. (Especially interesting, Johnson's admission of just how accidentally lucky they got with their location shooting for this production, and how many of the scenes you see in this movie just happened by good luck to already look exactly like how you're seeing them in the film.) It goes without saying that I recommend it, not only to the usual genre fans but also to those who usually only watch exclusively social-realist dramas that concentrate on race and #MeToo issues. That's perhaps the most brilliant aspect of all, that it has as much to say about our modern times as a character-study proletarian drama like American Honey (screening at Utopia Rep this October!), and it comes warmly recommended in this double spirit.

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