I saw director Rian Johnson’s 2019 parlor room whodunit “Knives Out” in theaters in its original run and liked it so much that I watched it four subsequent times (it’s lost none of its luster). Netflix noticed its popularity; last year the service landed an enormous deal with Johnson for at least two sequels. And in November, it allowed the first of them, the awkwardly named “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” to play for just one short week in a limited theatrical release. I bought tickets for the whole family and went to see it just two days after Thanksgiving.
This movie is not perfect—it’s a bit less elegant than its predecessor, it bears some hints of falling into a formula, and it leans a bit too heavily into celebrity cameos, which I personally find abhorrent—but it’s a winner all the same. In terms of film franchises, you could do a lot worse than this hilarious, suspenseful, thoughtful, crowd-pleaser. My whole family gave it a thumbs up—kids, parents, and grandmother too. If you haven’t already streamed it at home on Netflix, where it launched “for real” on 23 December, I heartily recommend it.
But at the risk of cliché, watching it at home is not going to be nearly as fun as seeing it in theaters, where the crowd at my screening all laughed, gasped and clapped in unison. This is a four-quadrant movie, as they say; a film that’s fun for everyone. At a time when movie theaters are still struggling to get back on their feet, when we’re at greater risk than ever of losing these communal spaces where we can all go to experience one of our great art forms together, it’s a terrible shame that Netflix’s pocketbook kept “Glass Onion” from fulfilling its promise as a truly great theatrical experience.
I can only imagine that this could have been one of the brightest box office successes of the year; in its single week run, it pulled in an impressive US$15 million from just 600 theaters. For a franchise that was built on surprising people at the cineplex—it’s hard to argue that the original “Knives Out” would have been as popular as it was if it had debuted on any streaming service in 2019—it feels like a betrayal, or at least a disappointment, that its much better funded sequel now lives on Netflix, buried amongst the rest of that service’s highly uneven back catalog.
Here are all eighteen movies I saw in November.
“Brief Encounter” (1945) ★★★★ Rewatched. A wonderful marvel of muted passions in post-War Britain.
“Bottle Rocket” (1996) ★★½ Rewatched. With the benefit of hindsight we can now see that from the beginning Wes Anderson skirted the line between charming and cutesy.
“Decision to Leave” (2022) ★★★½ Rewatched. An intricate, densely layered construction. Invites repeated viewings.
“…And God Created Woman” (1956) ★★★★ Brigitte Bardot in the role that made her immortal. A kind of lightning strike of all the things in the post-War zeitgeist.
“DC League of Super-Pets” (2022) ½ Another argument that despite his putative charms, Duane “The Rock” Johnson has outrageously poor taste in projects.
“See How They Run” (2022) ★★★½ This spry corker of a comedy-mystery doesn’t pretend for a moment it can really deliver on its promise of a truly elevated whodunnit—and in the end it does not. But it has a blast along the way.