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Knives Out 

Oh, yeah, let’s go there. Saw this last night with a group of friends from my church and we laughed and laughed. It’s the most fun mystery ever! I was too busy enjoying the people on screen to get invested in figuring out the mystery, which becomes clear about three-quarters through. I’m sure my friend and critique partner, Judy (aka Judi Lynn), who writes mysteries, will figure it out much earlier from some obvious clues.

As usual, I’m fascinated with the subtleties. If you look at any of the promo stills, you’ll notice the makeup, obvious shadows and blush under the cheekbones, to give the Thrombey family the look of thinness, a gaunt desperation. This is in contrast to the plump sweetness of the nurse/companion, Marta, in comparison to the Thrombey family of sharks. Everyone in this movies is having so much fun with their delicious characters—so meaty they could be easily be blown over the top—but all are skillfully contained. Or executed. (Couldn’t resist that.)

The house itself is a character. I can’t wait to slap the CD into the player so it can be paused to savor the gorgeousness of the interiors. (Who has a cannon in their drawing room?)

There are so many delightful twists and turns coming constantly and out of nowhere and yet slotted perfectly into the puzzle. Many tongue-in-cheek remarks and inferences are said so quickly they’re easy to miss. Love the detective’s name, Benoit Blanc, who surprisingly plugs in earbuds and sings a Sondheim show tune.

There is so much going on in this movie on so many levels that it’s a viewing that can be enjoyed over and over and will probably become a cult classic. Keep an eye out for Frank Oz and K Callan; as Stanislavski said, “There are no small roles, only small actors.”

Everybody in this is juicy, and I want to grow up to be Jamie Lee Curtis.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This is nothing like what I expected. The only way I can think to describe this movie is intimate—almost, but not quite, too intimate. I have yet to read the Esquire article on which this film is based but imagine it will be as unique and unexpected as this work is. I was equal parts impressed, moved, humbled, informed, and encouraged.

Special camera work was used to capture what the original TV program looked like. The “Neighborhood” set and formatting was used throughout the filming as a tool to suck the viewer/audience into the world of Fred Rogers and the bitter, emotionally wretched internal life of a journalist (Vogel), who copes with, but has never resolved childhood traumas. When Vogel is assigned the job of writing about a beloved national icon, his wife begs him not to ruin her childhood with one of his typical exposé pieces.

As Tom Hanks said—explaining his POV in an interview—people thought of Rogers as either a saint or a fraud. Vogel leaned more toward the fraud, and after meeting Rogers, ended up bewildered, confused, then disbelieving to the point where he becomes almost obsessed with the need to understand someone who only sees the good in others and him. And the hurt.

What I liked most about this movie is how respectfully Rogers is depicted, not as a saint, but as a person with flaws and problems, while imbued with substantial grace and so much compassion he could cherish everyone as a unique being. On his TV program Rogers never talked about God, and yet he exemplified all that is good about religious belief. He personified true evangelism by extending compassion and kindness. He brought more goodness and light into the world as no present day evangelism or obnoxious evangelists do.  Reverend Fred Rogers saved souls without self-righteous demands to repent or pointing out what is lacking or needs changing.  He lived his beliefs, celebrated differences, and accomplished it while battling his own failings and disappointments.

We can’t all be a Fred Rogers, but we can see this movie and get an idea of where and how to start.


M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com