Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★★

Contrary to the popular case brought to us by nine-hour video essays, Rian Johnson constructs scenes with comic precision. The guy loves playing to or from expectation, even if it breaks some cardinal rule that gross cynics like MauLer take as gospel without knowing much of anything outside of cinema as a paint-by-numbers, LEGO set instructions, first-year film student practice. Strangely enough, analyzing so critically the use of rule-breaking in cinema only exposes one's own disinterest in the craft, expecting films to act a certain way and getting upset when they don't. Good cinema isn't in the business of compromise.

Knives Out works so well as an eccentric, prying eye to a mystery, always jumping between its own layers with a brilliant sense of organization. An extraordinary ca(s)t of c(h)a(rac)t(er)s play off of genuine chemistry and honest-to-God variety versus the mild differences of modern day ensemble casts, of which the obvious comparison is The Avengers films (not necessarily the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe). While they base distinction on a single scale of snarkiness and self-awareness, Knives Out is a lot more nuanced and rounded in how a character might respond to something or how they act on motivation, sometimes going against their most definitive attribute, but also never feeling entirely contradictory to it. Think of it like seeing a selfish character at their most gracious, while still on the path to convince the viewer of their inherent selfishness... or vice versa. It plays more than one purpose, and the story seems to extend far beyond its initial end goal in part because of these different, equally entertaining paths. But in the grand scheme, we are still moving toward the same conclusion, pieces still falling into place.

It might be too clean-cut, too convenient to meet the obvious Alfred Hitchcock comparison, but it is similarly thrilling in its love for spiralling chaos, in sharp moral interest beyond the easy statement, with everything meeting at one central point. A culmination of information that feels clever, but is smarter than to leaves its value at just the answer to its original question. A sincerity interwoven with its sly wittiness, and a surprisingly humanist attitude beneath its scathing criticisms. That's the real wisdom of its conclusion, I think. That's the more rewarding reveal.

Ha! You fool! It was me, Heathcliff, the whole time! I made the nine-hour video essay about The Last Jedi, I directed the first Avengers film, and I am responsible for the death of Christopher Plummer. A purrfect prank, if I do say so myself.

MeowLer was right all along: art IS objective, and I am objectively the most fantastic feline!

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