A fresh take on a twisty murder-mystery tale and an exhilarating re-telling of one of the most exciting car races in history—November's spoiling us with film choices
Film of the month: Knives Out
Daniel Craig becomes the American version of the legendary Detective Poirot in this dark yet playful whodunnit. What makes Knives Out unusual, though, is that we find out exactly who-done-it right at the beginning of the film, turning the genre on its head.
The story is as old as the hills: Harlan Thrombey, the wealthy patriarch of a big, eccentric family dies under mysterious circumstances following his 85th birthday celebrations. Craig’s Benoit Blanc steps in to investigate and sifts through a slew of red herrings to uncover the truth. This, of course, involves questioning the (sometimes insufferably) colourful members of the Thrombey clan.
And while each and every one of them is fabulously compelling in their own way, special mentions go out to Toni Collette’s kooky Instagram influencer Joni, Chris Evans’ James Dean-esque rebel Ransom and Jamie Lee Curtis’ cool and collected Linda. But the star of the show is the victim himself: though we only get to know Harlan (played with great gusto by Christopher Plummer) through flashbacks and other people’s stories, his impish charm and wit are irresistible.
While fresh and modern, Knives Out also feels timeless and nostalgic, and is bound to make you reach for the nearest Agatha Christie novel.
Sorry We Missed You
Britain’s champion of the oppressed masses, Ken Loach, returns with another downbeat musing on the struggles of the working class. This time, he follows a sweet family struggling to make ends meet: Ricky and Abbie, the parents, fight tooth and nail to keep their family afloat, working to impossible schedules, while simultaneously dealing with their unruly teenage son Seb and their increasingly anxious younger daughter Lisa.
If you’ve ever seen a Loach film before, you’ll know exactly where this is going; the punches will keep on coming until the family— and, inevitably, the audience—reaches a bitter breaking point. It’s an impactful drama, but takes too much pleasure in sermonising for its own good.
Co-written by Emma Thompson. Starring box office gold dust Emilia Clarke and the impossibly charming Henry Golding. A sweet plot about an unlucky-in-love, department store elf. Everything about this Christmas romp has you wanting to like it. But a lazy script and predictable twist make for disappointing viewing. Thompson’s role as Emilia’s Eastern European mother could have been its saviour, had it been played by a different actor. Alas, her thick accent lends some of the film’s more tender moments a sense of humour, in place of much-needed nuance.
Le Mans '66
Strap in tight and get ready for an eye-watering, heart-pumping ride at break-neck speeds with Christian Bale in the driver’s seat. This, of course, is the riveting true story of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in which Ford boldly took it upon themselves to defeat the reigning Ferrari race team. They attempt to achieve this by getting the irreverent automotive visionary Carroll Shelby (played with verve and nerve by Matt Damon) and his team to build a state of the art race car. Shelby, in turn, recruits his old pal and the best driver in the game Ken Miles (Bale) to help him put this beast together—but will the foul-mouthed renegade Brit play by the stringent Mr Ford's rules?
Sure, sexy shots of high-speed races, ceaseless cut-aways to the much-abused gear stick and lusty close-ups of the polished race car curves do most of the heavy lifting in the entertainment department here but, luckily, the director is unabashedly aware of that and takes full advantage of it—and boy, are we here for it!
Judy & Punch
If you’re a fan of morbidly hilarious, genre-bending flicks in the vein of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, you’re likely to fall for this new Aussie tale about the eponymous 16th-century couple of puppeteers navigating a rocky period in their lives. With its weird, unpredictable tone where hilarity bleeds into tragedy at the drop of a hat, superb performances and shrewd commentary on modern-day society, it’s one hell of a ride.
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