Knives Out: The Value Of Information

mr. Blanc I know who you are I read your
profile in The New Yorker I found it delightful I just buried my 85 year old
father who committed suicide why are you here I think that Jamie Lee Curtis is
Linda Drysdale asks a very apt question in this scene from knives out Ryan
Johnson’s omage to the Agatha Christie murder mysteries of old and I don’t mean
an apt question for Daniel Craig private detective Benoit Blanc but
rather for Johnson himself what are you doing here here in a genre with such
scant cinematic pedigree as onra that was essentially killed off decades ago
by weekly doses of smart short form television if Alfred Hitchcock were
alive today looking over the current state of the whodunit in Hollywood he
would probably be making this face Hitchcock famously hated the mystery
genre and specifically their whodunit he believed that drama constructed entirely
around a surprise around a twist can never be good drama see to Hitchcock
there’s a fundamental flaw in the whodunits design there is no emotional
element inherent within its structure to keep you engaged rather it’s an
intellectual process of Clue gathering followed by an eventual shocking reveal
and that reveal when at long last it does come like candy is sweet and
satisfying but for no more than a few fleeting seconds now enter Rian Johnson
whose fifth feature film knives out follows detective Blanc in his
investigation into the murder of a wealthy patriarch and a rogue’s gallery
of haughty suspects on the heels of his fortune a classic fireside Agatha
Christie inspired whodunit set up to be sure but then why does it work well in a
word information all people was sitting around with pay
talking about baseball whatever you like five minutes of it very down suddenly a
bomb goes up blows the people to smithereens what are the audience have ten seconds
of shopping now take the same scene and tell the audience there is a bomb under
that table and will blow up in five minutes the whole emotion that infamy
if putting his audience in suspense was Hitchcock’s motive than information was
his means what makes knives out stand out from
other whodunit films is the sheer and unconventional amount of information
that the audience is given throughout the movie information on characters on
motivations on relationships information that leads to emotional investment with
a lack of information we would attempt to guess an answer but with so much of
it we second-guess our answers constantly
in Johnson’s own words by taking a whodunit and putting the engine of a
Hitchcock thriller in the middle of it and almost using that thriller as
misdirection we tell the audience very early don’t worry about whodunit
don’t worry about solving this puzzle Rian Johnson is no stranger to taking
staple genres of classic Hollywood the noir of the caper and infusing new life
into them but the beauty of Johnson’s approach to knives out is that it isn’t
actually a novel one what makes the film novel is its contemporary setting and
it’s relevant socio-political dialogue stuffed into an unlikely genre but the
real objective in creating this movie was to remind audiences of something
that’s possible within this setting Johnson has on numerous occasions
referenced as inspiration the famous Peter Ustinov Agatha Christie
films from the 1970s and 80s because of his admiration for their character based
storytelling their humor that didn’t tip to the side as parody and their all-star
casts three perfect ingredients for any modern blockbuster Johnson still
fundamentally believes in the power of the whodunit and all its classic tropes
by adopting the mo of Hitchcock of the very man who long shot down the mystery
genre Johnson has shown that the divide between mystery and suspense is not so
great that the two can in fact be reconciled to help push the mystery
genre forward that perhaps the joys of the whodunit on the silver screen are
not dead after all hi everyone I’m Danny for more video
essays about movies feel free to drop by the channel and to support CinemaStix
you can like share and subscribe or find me at slash CinemaStix
until next time

Leave a Reply