KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson, 2019)

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A very modern and clever murder-mystery that went beyond the whodunnit tropes and skewered topics such as social inequity, immigration policies, and… Hallmark movies starring The Wonder Years’ Danica McKellar?! (That last bit made my laugh echo in all four corners of the theater.)

Sure, any amateur Hercule Poirot could have guessed the ending pretty quick (plus I would have preferred less telling and more showing), but it was still a pretty enjoyable ride.

And what a wonderful ensemble!! (If I had to choose my faves though, I’d go for Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, and the hysterical Toni Collette.)

That entire donut speech alone probably deserved an Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (Kenneth Branagh, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

It just wasn’t as fun as guessing if Professor Plum killed Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with a candlestick. Even with a cast of game Academy Award winners and nominees (plus some popular ingenues), this murder-mystery was a drag to watch. The clunky big reveal with the killers taking turns at stabbing the victim while dramatic music played in the background was so ridiculous that it made me laugh out loud in my seat.

Kenneth Branagh spent too much time mugging at the camera as the famously moustached Hercule Poirot. He obviously directed himself to showcase himself in a role that was probably better suited for Johnny Depp. Speaking of, I liked how they pulled off another Scream with the biggest name (and probably most annoying one) in the cast getting killed first (and disappointingly, last).

Why did the movie waste a good fifteen minutes off the train, just to establish the investigative skills of Poirot? (For more mugging, natch.) I also couldn’t understand the choice of overhead shots with the audience looking at several characters’ puyos while they discussed a bloody murder. The twists themselves? Lame and predictable. Forget Sherlock Holmes, even Nancy Drew would have done a much better job in solving this crime.

In one scene, Poirot accidentally stepped on a pile of shit and since he wanted everything to be in order, he stepped on it again with his other foot. Perfectly summed up this entire viewing experience (besides, trainwreck was just too easy).

Rating: ★★☆☆☆