Knives Out – A Movie Review

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I saw this quite a while ago but never got around to reviewing it. However, now that I see it is available on demand, and because quite a few of us have a lot of extra time on our hands, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

First of all, if you’re looking for a compelling grown-ups movie, a movie that a couple might enjoy for a “date night,” this is the one for you.

It is funny, mysterious, thrilling, and–best of all–endlessly entertaining.

The general plot revolves around a famous author dying unexpectedly at home while his entire family happens to be visiting. Each member of the family stands to benefit from his death, and each is a suspect. They, consequently, believe that his home health care assistant–Marta Cabrera–could be at fault. Daniel Craig enters the movie as Detective Benoit Blanc, a seemingly inept investigator. He doesn’t even know who hired him, but he means to get to the bottom of this mystifying case.

The acting in this film is a hoot. Daniel Craig utilizes a ridiculous southern drawl that doesn’t take long to become charming. Chris Evans is at his absolute best when he’s playing a cocky jerk. Ana de Armas loses every ounce of glamour as Marta which makes her all the more sympathetic. And those are just the main players! The film also has excellent performances from Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, and Christopher Plummer.

The writer and director, Rian Johnson, reminds us that movies don’t have to have huge special effects, CGI, or muscular people in tights to be great. This movie thrives on an irresistible mystery, quirky details, and superb acting.

Like I said, if you need a movie that will appeal to a variety of grown-ups, you can’t go wrong with Knives Out.

Casino Royale – A Movie Review

Okay, so as much as I enjoyed the previous James Bond movies, at no point did I actually think any of them (yes, ANY of them) had the sort of hand-to-hand combat abilities the characterization would lead you to believe.  James Bond was supposedly a human weapon along with being a lady charmer, and while most of the actors pulled off the latter quite well, the former always left me a little … unsatisfied.

But hey, who cared, right?  I mean, we had all those crazy gadgets!  Sure, Roger Moore couldn’t throw a decent looking kick to save his life, but he had one tricked-out car!  But I’m afraid even that got old.  As our technology advanced in the real world, Bond’s gizmos didn’t seem so incredible anymore, and when they tried to up the ante on them, they just came out looking ridiculous (invisible car, anyone?).

As I saw it, they only had once choice.  Get rid of the ludicrous weaponry and focus on the man.  And in order to do that, they had to get a man.  Not just a man who looked good in a tux, but a man who could actually make you believe he could kick your tail with virtually no effort at all.

Enter Daniel Craig.

I always liked this guy (see Layer Cake), and I knew they’d found the right Bond the moment they picked him.  Bond was originally intended to be a bit of thug.  Sure, the ladies loved him, but his attitude toward them was rather one-and-done.  He was cold, calculating, and he didn’t mind spilling blood to get what he wanted.  He had a license to kill, and he wasn’t afraid to use it.  He’d been in some scraps, and his face showed the history of those fights.

With Casino Royale, that’s the Bond we get through Craig.  The action is amazing, absolutely amazing, and it’s so amazing because it is mostly physical action.  The near-opening scene will have your eyes bulging, and it’s mostly just a foot chase!  Craig is truly an athlete with a physically superior body, just the sort of thing you would expect from a secret agent of Bond’s caliber. 

Thankfully, the technological aspect to Bond was kept to a minimum and none of it seemed unrealistic or over-the-top.  It still played a role, mind you, but nothing that makes you slap your forehead and yell, “You’ve got to be kidding!” 

Yes, the story runs a little long, and yes, it gets more than a tad confusing at times, but who cares!  I was mesmerized with Craig the entire time and the story, while certainly not mind-blowing, was more than entertaining.  I actually found it surprising they took some time to lay some character groundwork for Craig to work with.

I realize I border upon hyperbole, but Casino Royale may just be my favorite Bond movie ever-EVER.