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Non-Review Review: Knives Out

Knives Out is a sharp and point “whodunnit” for the post-truth era.

The most obvious point of reference for Knives Out is the work of Agatha Christie, although the film itself includes allusions to CSI, Murder, She Wrote and other generic procedural television show. There is a mysterious death inside a luxurious mansion, with a wealthy family who seemed ready to tear themselves apart even before the loss of their patriarch. An outside investigator finds himself drawn to the case, which begins to unravel as he follows each of threads back towards something resembling the truth.

Drawing a Blanc.

The beauty of Knives Out lies in the way in which writer and director Rian Johnson takes the familiar framework of a mystery story and allows it to descend into anarchy. Knives Out is constantly twisting and turning, zigging and zagging. Nothing is ever what it appears to be, and as more evidence comes to light it seems like nobody has any real idea of where the truth actual lies – including both the dogged private investigator trying to fashion order from chaos and even the killer themselves. Knives Out often feels like a wry, clever thriller about how nobody knows nothing.

In other words, Knives Out is the perfect murder mystery for this particular moment, in every possible way. This extends beyond the films obvious topical allusions and central themes, and is even woven into the manner in which the story unfolds.

To coin a phrase…

Note: This review will contain (or even allude to) very basic spoilers for Knives Out. Nothing too big or too specific. However, if you don’t want to be spoiled and are just here for the headline: Go see it. Then come back and read the review, if you want. Continue reading

About Time: Time Travel Logic, Paradoxes and Looper…

I watched Looper again at the weekend. It’s still a pretty great movie, well-constructed and thoughtful. Of course, it still doesn’t feel like a proper “time travel” movie, because the time travel element doesn’t logically gel as easily as it otherwise would. After all, the original time line sees young!Joe kill old!Joe as soon as he appears. Therefore, old!Joe can’t logically kill Sara. If old!Joe doesn’t kill Sara, then why does Cyd become the Rainmaker? After all, we’re told (or it’s heavily implied) that young!Joe killing himself (and old!Joe) prevented Cyd from becoming the Rainmaker. So if this never happened in the time line where young!Joe grows into old!Joe, how did the Rainmaker come to be?

Oh no, I’ve gone cross-eyed.

This is the thing with time travel movies, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about. How important is internal consistency to a time travel movie? How necessary is it for a time travel movie to flow relatively logically from its own premise? At what point do we just stop trying to apply rules of logic and just enjoy the movie for what it is?

looper4

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12 Movie Moments of 2012: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Makes It Big (The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #10

I know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been around a while. I was fond of the actor back when he was appearing on Third Rock From the Sun, which already seems like a lifetime ago. More recently, he appeared in perhaps the best romantic comedy of the last decade, (500) Days of Summer. He has been running his own production company, hitRECordjoe since 2009. Even last year the actor was headlining movies like 50/50. As such, it feels a bit disingenuous to suggest that he really burst on to the scene this year, but 2012 has been a great year for the actor, and it’s always great to see a deserving young talent emerge.

premiumrush2

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Non-Review Review: Looper

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, which was as much of a joy this year as it was last year. If not moreso.

Looper is a wonderful high-concept science-fiction film that makes a shrewd decision to avoid dwelling on temporal mechanics. A “time travel” movie, Looper is far more preoccupied with fascinating metaphysical questions about cycles of violence and cause-and-effect than it is with temporal paradoxes or the butterfly effect. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that it’s actually a lot easier to follow than director Rian Johnson’s earlier collaboration with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brick. It’s fast, it’s smart, and it’s very well put together. It’s a meticulously constructed and breathlessly engaging thriller, and one that never under-estimates its audience.

Little room for Levitt-y…

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Do We See Too Much of Film Before It’s Released These Days?

It’s a week before The Dark Knight Rises is released, but I haven’t watched any new footage since the last time I posted a trailer for the film. And boy, has that been more difficult than I make it sound. It seems like every other day there’s a new TV spot or a clip being released. Last December, like The Dark Knight before it, the prologue to the film aired in certain Imax cinemas. Warner Brothers even taking the somewhat unexpected step of releasing the production notes to the public. While Warners and Nolan have actually managed to do a great job keeping the movie under wraps, this level of awareness is hardly uncommon these days. Do we get to see too much of a movie before it’s released these days?

Is too much information the Bane of modern movie-goers?

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Non-Review Review: Brick

We’re currently blogging as part of the “For the Love of Film Noir” blogathon (hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) to raise money to help restore the 1950’s film noir The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). It’s a good cause which’ll help preserve our rich cinematic heritage for the ages, and you can donate by clicking here. Over the course of the event, running from 14th through 21st February, I’m taking a look at the more modern films that have been inspired or shaped by noir. Today’s theme is “alterna-noir” – just looking at slightly unusual choices.

You’ve helped this office out before.

No, I gave you Jerr to see him eaten, not to see you fed.

Fine. And very well put.

Accelerated English, Mrs. Kasprzyk.

Tough teacher?

Tough but fair.

– Brendan and Assistant Vice-Principal Trueman

Brick works by taking all the facets of the film noir we love, and transposing it against a high school background. Like cheese and onion, it’s a combination that really shouldn’t work so well, but makes for one tasty snack.

Phone a friend?

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