Author Topic: Knives Out  (Read 189 times)

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2019, 05:04:17 AM »
@Will: I am pleased Marta and Harlan were not having an affair, the old rich guy and a younger woman trope is waaaaaaaaaaaay over done. People can have platonic relationships, so for me that was a plus. The vomit was an easy way for Blanc to solve the case and get the confession, but it was still a nice little one. However Rian is no Agatha when it comes to the plot.

I found it surprising that we mostly found out what happened so early in the film, it had me wondering what else was going to happen. This makes it a step away from the Agatha Christie/Ngaio Marsh mystery style.

Will

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2019, 05:43:27 PM »
That presupposes that persuasion is the only valid approach to political themes.


Depends on the intention. But you are the one who claims that we live in a time more alarmist than other times so, in that context, we should place the movie under the lens that the movie was made to influence.


As to your review, I'd note that a romantic relationship between a nurse and her patient would be unethical. It doesn't make her a saint that there is no romance, it makes her have the basic level of professional morality.

What is unsaintly about her character in the movie? I can't think of one real character flaw that she exhibits. Her vomit-tell superpower allows her to even be more saintly.

Will

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2019, 05:59:05 PM »
Marta's vomit-tell lends the film a fun visual gag but it also gives the detective a leg-up in solving the mystery when it would be far more interesting if Johnson found a way to write himself out of the "every character lies" corner.
I was initially suspicious of this. When she first did it, it was to a question where it would've been easier just to tell the truth and she vomited into something where they wouldn't likely look to verify it. If she was known to do this, but over time trained herself not to then she would gain Blanc's trust with an initial display and be free to lie about things for the rest of the film.

That would be a great twist on top of a twist.

And how many people know about her vomit-tell? Apparently Ransom does - he references a game he and the family played in the past. How come others do not know about her vomit-tell?

I agree with the commentary that Rian gives on contemporary politics regarding the white-haves and the immigrant people-of-color-have-nots,
This also set up the possibility of Marta and Richard (Don Johnson) working together. He quotes the line from Hamilton at the beginning and later on we see his MAGA attitude on full display. So just like him not fully embracing the immigrant line, he could've been an immigrant lover disguised as a MAGA. This is supported by his affair with a non-white woman, who doesn't look too different from Marta. Of course the truth is much closer to Thomas Jefferson.

Another interesting point that could have been something. Why not set up an affair between her and Richard? Or something of the like?

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Look - I don't think that the film has to have an affair, I just think it needs to complicate Marta more than it does. To do so would mean having to complicate Harlan as well. Without it, the commentary feels rather toothless. Harlan is just a good-natured millionaire old man. Marta is just a maid with a heart of gold. Without intending to do so, Rian seems to be "both sides"-ing the issue of the intersection between race and class. The prejudice by the entitled family members appears to be inherited by no one and influenced by nothing since Harlan is not racist, not a "bad one". A white audience that hates immigrants or say that they don't but do are left off the hook. The ones onscreen are the "bad ones". As much as this is the right message, the film ultimately doesn't do all that much to challenge the status quo.

Teproc

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2019, 06:02:50 PM »
Is your argument that in order for a film to comment on class, all rich people need to be bad... but also poor people need to be bad too ?

What ?

I find both of these argument baffling, though I'm not sure you're actually making them. I guess there is something about Marta being a saint, but she's not entirely - her running away from the cops is certailny understandable but not great for example. She's obviously a good person, and when push comes to shove she shows it by saving Fran (well, attempting to), and that is what makes a difference, but I felt she was more human than saint because of some of those decisions prior.

I was convinced the whole thing was a setup by the deceased the whole time. Pleasantly surprised by the actual resolution.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 06:06:03 PM by Teproc »
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Will

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2019, 06:11:42 PM »

I find both of these argument baffling, though I'm not sure you're actually making them. I guess there is something about Marta being a saint, but she's not entirely - her running away from the cops is certailny understandable but not great for example. She's obviously a good person, and when push comes to shove she shows it by saving Fran (well, attempting to), and that is what makes a difference, but I felt she was more human than saint because of some of those decisions prior.

I was convinced the whole thing was a setup by the deceased the whole time. Pleasantly surprised by the actual resolution.

By the end, the movie goes out of its way to show that everything she did was justifiable or that she was under undue influence. Break it down. She is literally a saint in the movie. Not a single real character flaw. Same with Harlan.

I don't see why you see the argument as baffling, to be honest.

Will

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2019, 06:17:11 PM »
Why would Marta be "bad" if she had one major character flaw? I don't understand that at all. If she had an affair with Harlan, she wouldn't be "bad". The affair could be genuine. They could be real lovers. I don't think that would make her "bad". Just complicated.

Why is the entire family racist but Harlan is not? I think that's an interesting question that Rian doesn't go deep enough in addressing. Do you?

Bondo

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2019, 06:51:37 PM »
Though certainly ideology has a strong family learning component, I don't find it that hard to believe that Harlan could be more accepting than his children. He actually earned what he has so he has no reason to be self-concious about his status. His children and grandchildren on the other hand are more susceptible to assertions of unworth, so they are that much more protective of the value of their identity as superior people...based on class and based on race in varying respects.

The critique of Marta seems to be the "Mary Sue" critique...she is too perfect. But aside from the embellishment with the vomiting, she seems entirely human to me. Smart enough to keep up at the games, but certainly naive at times regarding the intentions of those around her. Naturally modest about her own merit to the money and tempted, until they are revealed for the rot they are, to be generous. I'd like to think that most of those things are what you'd find in an average person put in that situation.

Will

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2019, 07:11:22 PM »
Re: "Mary Sue"... I don't like words being put in my mouth. Besides, the "Mary Sue" trope is far different of a classification (for one, it has more to do with the ease of overcoming obstacles rather than moral alignment) and has exposed to be entirely sexist in wider modern discourse. Let's not go there, please, especially in the broader context of Rian Johnson's association with the Star Wars films. It more or less destroys the conversation.

Beyond that - perhaps a broader contrast would be appreciated. If not complicating Marta, complicate Harlan. As is, he feels like a plot device, an all-knowing victim in the middle of it all. I don't know why he gives everything to Marta other than to serve the theme of the film. We can't have two characters that are do-gooders with hearts-of-gold.

But even further, ehhhh, I totally reject the New Money argument - there's plenty of self-made millionaires that entrench their identity into their success. Honestly, Harlan feels like a major exception. Why? No reason given.

Teproc

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2019, 06:12:12 AM »
Marta being a saint is something I can see as a flaw of the film. I think the film stops just short of that, but I can see it.

What baffles me is the idea that Harland should be racist... the film is about entitlement and most of all about privilege, and he's not privileged. He may or may not be racist, but obviously he's not going to mistake Marta's country of origin since she is his friend... and actually, I don't know that confusing Ecuador for Uruguay makes you racist, it just makes you ignorant.

But really, the issue to me is that you seem to be asking for another film entirely. This is not a subtle psychological drama, it's a morality tale wrapped in a whodunnit structure. It has a simple point to make about privilege, and it does it in as entertaining a manner as it can.
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Will

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Re: Knives Out
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2019, 03:48:30 PM »
Harlan can be anything other than a saint. My suggestion of him being racist is just an example.

I still like the movie. I give it a 7 or 8. The heart-of-gold cliche just annoys me. It stops me from a 9 or 10. I donít think it has to sacrifice much or even change as drastically as you think it does to complicate the characters more. Other films have done it. I think this movie is just far less effective in its messaging by relying on that cliche at the center of it.