I saw Knives Out last weekend and was wary. As a big Agatha Christie fan I'd been looking forward to it, but a friend who's an even bigger mystery buff was deeply disappointed. But I enjoyed it much more than he did. I’m sure that some is because he’d tempered my expectation. Also, the Guild theater was packed, and people were laughing all the way through, which affects one's reaction. (In fairness I wasn’t laughing more, though I did a few times.To me, it was more fun than funny) It was clunky in parts, though some of the things that bothered my friend as a mystery aficionado I thought were intentional, very-exaggerated twists of mystery standards and much of the tongue-in-cheek homage fun. And Daniel Craig seemed to have the time of his life chewing the scenery with a dripping accent as one of the world's greatest detectives from N'Orleans.
They did a Q&A after with about half a dozen people, including the writer-director Rian Johnson (Star Wars VIII -- The Last Jedi and Looper). I stayed for about five minutes, but honestly I didn’t care what the editor or DP or composer and such had to say about making it. But he talked about his great love of mysteries and how he'd always wanted to make this for 10 years, but other films got in the way. He mention many films that were inspirations, but two singled out were Murder on the Orient Express and Sleuth,
Here's the trailer. It does a respectable job showing both the light-heartedness and tense mystery, though the movie is much breezier than the intensity this seems to build to and suggest.
A couple days ago I saw The Aeronauts. I've really wanted to see this, but since it's an Amazon Prime movie, I figured I'd wait to see it at home. But my same friend above said that seeing it in a theater on a huge screen is far-away the way to go, since it has such great scope. And he's right. It's very good, quite enjoyable. And beautifully made. The story is based on several true events that concern gas ballooning and scientific research on meteorology in Victorian England. It starts a bit slow, not knowing where the film is going with all this, but then they start filling things in with the flashbacks and are able to come up with some wonderful action sequences. A rainstorm sequence is absolutely terrific, and a part of the story where -- well, let's just say it deals with fixing an issue for the descent that is enthralling. (The trailer gives a hint of both of these.) The movie re-teams Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne (who won the Best Actor Oscar) from The Theory of Everything. And they're not only excellent, but they may be perhaps the most English-looking actors ever, and when they’re on screen together, you almost want to stand and sing “Rule, Britannia…”
By the way, the last two days I recorded talks shows to watch Jones and Redmayne talk about the movie. And I’m boggled that in neither case did they give them clips in the balloon to promote it. Redmayne at least had the presence of mind to say that the clip makes the movie look like a Victorian drawing room costume drama, and “It’s not that, it’s very adventurous.” So, if you've seen those appearance, don't be put off by the clips, which have little to do with the movie. And though you can see it on Amazon Prime, it's definitely recommended to see it in the theater. (Side note: when the film's producers signed their deal with Amazon Prime, it was not only set to get a theatrical run...but be shown on IMAX!! That's how important scope is to the film. But after signing the deal, Amazon pulled out of the theatrical business, and it will only be seen briefly in regular theaters. I'm sure the producers are crushed livid. As my friend wrote,"If crimes against art were prosecuted, they'd be on death row."
Here's the trailer. It's good and shows the film's craft wonderfully. Just know most of the movie is in the balloon, and this gives a sense that the bulk is earthbound.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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