Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★★½

Rian Johnson is a director who's surprisingly unprolific for how reknown his works are. I actually enjoyed The Last Jedi even though I'm not really a big Star Wars fan (perhaps that's why I liked it), but more importantly I really liked Brick and Looper.

Both movies have big flaws undoubtedly, yet I can't help but revel in their unbridled energy; it's clear that Johnson loves these stories and always centers them back towards "being fun" without being easily-consumed. He does expect a bit of effort from the audience especially in the multi-layered storylines, but what's most impressive is in how his films juggles these layers without feeling bogged down.

"I suspect foul play... I have eliminated no suspects."

And so it's kind of perfect he's back at it again, and what better setting to do that in than an Agatha Christie-esque spin on her own genre. Murder mysteries are hard to do because by now we've come to (un)consciously expect their conventions. A straightforward story just won't do, but because of that we anticipate a twist somewhere down the line. But when we get this twist we were expecting, we're rarely ever that wow'ed by the end.

Writer-director Rian Johnson knows this. He knows that we know, and he probably knows that we know that he knows. And so he does small things, small subversions that make us constantly re-evaluate what it is we think we know: both the intra-film narrative and our extra-film expectations. And so it's hard to feel like we've got this movie pinned down, as it constantly undermines (and innovates) through its smart developments and great sense of humor.

Possibly the best whodunit I've ever seen – take that as you will.

[Spoiler discussion with Hannah, Hay, and Margot on All That Film here]

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