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Wes Anderson meets Agatha Christie in ‘Knives Out’

‘Knives Out’ (Lionsgate)

If Denver film festival’s opening night movie is anything to go by, area cinephiles are in for plenty of treats during the next 10 days.

“Knives Out” is a Wes Anderson meets Agatha Christie whodunnit, with a star-studded cast that hits all the right notes. Christopher Plummer is the sage but hard-nosed patriarch. Jamie Lee Curtis the tough broad with a soft side. Toni Collette the flaky but leechy daughter-in-law. Daniel Craig, with an improbable but excellent Southern drawl, the last of the gentleman detectives. And at the center of it all, the innocent Marta, a nurse who is so un-duplicitous she literally vomits if she lies.

The script takes all the right twists and turns of a good whodunnit, including flashbacks, car chases and hapless detectives. No character, aside perhaps from Marta, is wholly likeable, and no character, including Marta, is free from suspicion.

The set is utterly magnificent, taking place primarily in a palatial home outside of Boston, designed to look, as one detective aptly observes, “a Clue board.”

The director, Rian Johnson, is originally from Denver and was received at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House to rapt applause and cheers by family, friends and fans. Johnson is well known to movie buffs, having been behind arthouse films like “Brick” as well as blockbusters like “The Last Jedi.”

Perhaps with “Knives Out” he brings those two ends of the spectrum closer. With its eccentric characters and highly stylized design, “Knives Out” has the feel of an arthouse movie but its broadly comic plot also appeals to a wide audience.

The film opens nationwide on Nov. 27.

It’s incredible how many films Denver Film Festival manages to screen in the period of 10 days. From big-budget box-office hit type films to more obscure foreign films to documentaries and shorts, there’s no shortage of choice.

Here are some films that may interest IJN readers:

  • “The Human Factor,” a documentary about the peace Bill Clinton tried to negotiate with Ehud Barak and Yasir Arafat
  • “A Hidden Life,” a Terrence Malick directed feature film about an Austrian man facing a mortal moral dilemma during WW II
  • “Synonyms,” a French/German/Israeli film that won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale is about an Israeli soldier trying to eradicate his identity and reinvent himself
  • “M,” a French/Israeli film about sexual abuse in the haredi community
  • It Must Be Heaven,” a black comedy about a Palestinian who has emigrated, but can’t seem to leave his homeland behind

The full program is available on the Denver Film Festival website.

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