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The Screen Scene: Knives Out

The Screen Scene with Scott Phillips

Nothing slices through holiday boredom like a good murder mystery

November and December are the heart of awards season. It’s the time of year when Oscar contenders are hitting the big screen every week. I love serious cinema as much as the next film fan, but this time of year can get a little heavy.

So, if you’d like to take a break from dramas about aging gangsters, immigration, racism, sexual harassment, and corporate greed, I have the perfect movie for your Thanksgiving holiday.

Knives Out is an old-fashioned whodunit starring Daniel Craig, Lakeith Stanfield, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer and other well-known performers. It’s a thrill ride of a film that is as hilarious as it is clever.

Harlan Thrombey is a world famous mystery author. After his 85th birthday bash with his entire extended family, Harlan is found dead in his study. Was it suicide? Or was it murder? Harlan’s family, his nurse and his housekeeper are all suspects. Enter Benoit Blanc, a world-famous private detective who has been hired by an anonymous employer to look into Harlan’s mysterious death.

In Knives Out, writer-director Rian Johnson pays tribute to the parlor room murder mysteries of Agatha Christie while giving that subject matter his own unique twist. Along with its carefully constructed mystery, Knives Out is a sharp satire about class warfare.

The film’s blend of comedy and crime strikes the perfect tone. At face value, the film seems like it shouldn’t work. But, it does. It works really, really well.

The all-star cast takes turns chewing the scenery. Daniel Craig nearly steals the film as Benoit Blanc. If film fans are wondering if there is life after James Bond for Daniel Craig, the answer is a resounding YES.

But, the true breakout performance belongs to Ana de Armas, the 31-year-old actress who plays Marta Cabrera, the nurse to Harlan Thrombey. Her tendency to get sick when she tells a lie provides some clues and some great laughs along the way.

Rian Johnson is no stranger to crime films. His 2005 feature film debut, Brick, is a private eye crime noir set in a high school. If you want to see raw filmmaking talent in action, Brick is currently streaming on Netflix.

Knives Out hits theaters over the Thanksgiving holidays. Eat some turkey and dressing and then go support this smart film with your box office dollars. It gets 4 out of 5 popcorn buckets from me.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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