“It’s a dangerous thing to mistake speaking without thought for speaking the truth.”
Knives Out was a delightful surprise that absolutely did not require a sequel, so I approached Netflix’s acquistion of the rights to multiple further movies with some trepidation. The prepostrously accented detective Benoit Blanc is the only returning character, Daniel Craig clearly continuing to enjoy himself in a less physically demanding role. No time is wasted in establishing the conceit, a group of influencers and disruptors receiving elaborate invitations from a tech billionaire to an island party, providing ample fodder for further satire of the wealthy and feckless. If Knives Out was Rian Johnson remixing the traditional elements of a whodunit, with Glass Onion he instead subverts the structure entirely, resolving one mystery midway through the proceedings and then rewinding so that we see events unfold with more information and an entirely new perspective. Johnson once again assembles an excellent ensemble cast, though Janelle Monáe is the standout. Events may unfold on a sun-drenched island rather than in an ominous mansion, but returning cinematographer Steve Yedlin provides visual continuity along with the similarly meticulous mise-en-scène, some of which is sadly lost on the small screen (Glass Onion recieved only a one week limited theatrical release in order to qualify for awards). Establishing the form’s return, this is the third high profile whodunit of 2022, following Death on the Nile and See How They Run — of the three Glass Onion is by far the most ambitious and the most successful.
“You know what? Don’t knock denial. It comes in very handy. You should try it sometime.”
The problem with the Netflix distribution model is that its limited promotion meant I could very easily have missed one of the best films of 2018. Private Life sheds light on a couple engaging in fertility treatment — a subject that remains needlessly taboo, meaning that many couples have to battle it in near isolation. I am lucky that several friends have felt able to confide in me, but that has served to highlight the clear lack of support for the inevitable disappointments along the way. Private Life approaches this openly but with a wry sense of humour. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn are both excellent, with a witty and honest portrayal of the frustration and emotional toil. Even when addressing wider familial implications, there is no melodramatic artifice — just an engaging and endearing view of difficult personal experiences.
“I had my first kid when I was twenty years-old, and I’ve been running late ever since.”
I had expected Bad Moms to follow the Bridesmaids blueprint of a female-fronted movie setting out to prove the women can be as gross as the men. In fact, it is an escapist romp with more in common with This is 40. A stressed, underappreciated working mother ditches her conventional responsibilities and discovers a more relaxed approach, whilst set for a collision with the controlling president of the PTA. The comedy is fine; the drama is underwhelming. Surprisingly, however, hidden within are some genuine messages about parenting. It does not aid the storytelling that fathers barely feature at all and the PTA meetings are a sea of female faces. Although it is a shame not to see that particular trend bucked, it would be disingenuous to complain when this was only ever intended to be a rarer film about motherhood.