Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)
November 24, 2022 10:39 PM - Subscribe

Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc is put on the case. Release date: November 23, 2022 (USA). This is in limited time theatrical release in the US.

Some reviews:
The Ringer
AV Club

Rotten Tomatoes 95% Fresh.
posted by fiercekitten (238 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Saw this yesterday in the theater and it was a great post-Thanksgiving watch. Craig is truly the modern interpretation of a Poirot-type in all his glory, settling in to the character's voice, mannerisms and style in a way that just makes me want more. Give me Benoit Blanc doing ANYTHING, please. I WILL WATCH.

Our party was divided; some liked it better than KO, some less. I liked it just as much (which was a lot)! It's a different type of mystery so did not think it was valid to compare them, anyway.

Janelle Monae was so good! I started out underwhelmed but as the story evolved, that cleared up quick.

Also - the Hugh Grant cameo made me gasp for joy; because I love seeing him in anything, and also, the added layer that gives Blanc's character. Oh and the faces on the bathtub Zoom call (2 of them, anyway) made me very sentimental. What a great touch.

The Serena Williams moment was another jolt of laughter. So many great, small touches that went by so fast-- hilarious skewers to the lifestyles of the super-rich. Definitely want to watch again (WITH SUBTITLES) so I catch all of it.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:29 AM on November 25, 2022 [14 favorites]


Seeing this tonight, and I am so excited about it!

Note that this is the only weekend this will be in theaters during its one week theatrical release. Last theatrical showings in US and UK are Tuesday, November 29th. The Netflix premiere will be Friday December 23rd.

In addition to the stacked main cast, there are a lot of cameos. Notably, this marks the final film appearance for both Angela Lansbury and Stephen Sondheim.
posted by the primroses were over at 11:33 AM on November 25, 2022 [5 favorites]


My favorite thing was
[Click for spoiler]After Duke "threatens" Miles, Miles makes a drink and go over to Duke.
I noticed that he handed Duke the glass, and I thought "Well that's odd". Then everything unfolds, and as Miles retells things, Duke picks the glass up from the table. That "retold" scene is shown twice and I started thinking "Maybe I am remembering it incorrectly". Then of course everything comes out, and we're shown that Miles did hand Duke the glass. That felt like really fabulous filmmaking to me. Like showing your audience something, and then making them doubt they ever saw it to begin with.
So great.

posted by Gorgik at 7:30 PM on November 25, 2022 [32 favorites]


Knives Out was a lightning-in-a-bottle movie. Everything worked, fun from beginning to end. Plot made sense. One of the best thing I've seen in the theaters in the last decade.

This movie had some fun moments, and the ensemble cast was also great. But, as a whole: What a hot mess that was.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:31 PM on November 25, 2022 [13 favorites]


Well, I enjoyed it. Especially the can’t-possibly-have-been-predicted timeliness of it all. Yes, the super rich are super terrible and often kind of dumb.
posted by nat at 9:18 PM on November 25, 2022 [28 favorites]


IMO, the heavy-handedness is a feature, not a bug.

I wanted this to be potboiler junky detective fiction with clunky themes, A-lister gloss, and a lot of really snappy acting, cinematography, and editing, and that's exactly what this was! I'm curious whether its structure will hold together on rewatch, now that I know the shape of the whole, but I more-or-less trust Johnson on that front.

Edward Norton is my new favorite Elon Musk.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:56 AM on November 26, 2022 [28 favorites]


It's been interesting watching the somewhat more divided reaction to this one, I guess because now there's an obvious movie to compare it to when there wasn't for Knives Out. I think it's definitely more satirical and more blunt with its themes; I'd say it probably suffers as much as it gains from its insane topicality, because now it just looks blunt in a way it wouldn't have six months ago.

(I also think, boy, I wonder when the manosphere started attacking Johnson if they realised he'd be making hay from mocking them for years to come)

As for the movie itself: I really liked it! I think its structural twist was a lot of fun, I liked how thoroughly it reversed some characters (Whiskey in particular), and I like how the multiple redirects of what was really going on obscured what was, at heart, a pretty solvable mystery. The characters were pretty broad, but that's basically the case in the first one, and this one is more out-and-out a comedy rather than the sly humour of the first Knives Out. It has gags, even.
posted by Merus at 5:19 AM on November 26, 2022 [11 favorites]


Can someone tell me why Edward Norton's character tried to kill Janelle Monae's twin's character even after he knew (via Oddly Shaped Man) that he indeed had succeeded in murdering Janelle Monae in her home?
posted by praemunire at 7:56 PM on November 26, 2022


Also: I had the same experience, Gorgik! I was particularly puzzled as to how he could've gotten Edward Norton's drink when I remembered Norton handing him one. (I was kind of keeping an eye on the drinks since the establishing shot in the conversation pit with the glass in the foreground.) Then I started doubting myself.
posted by praemunire at 7:58 PM on November 26, 2022 [3 favorites]


A since-removed Reddit post has me 100% convinced that the actual twist is that Andi was never a twin; she was herself all along, and Blanc knew it, and we were all played - and the final shot of her giving such a Mona Lisa smile to camera was the clue. I can't wait to watch it again.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:17 AM on November 27, 2022 [11 favorites]


I was waiting for that reveal I_Love_Bananas, but I don't think that we got it. I'll keep an eye out for more evidence for it on rewatch when this hits Netflix, but it's a needlessly convoluted plan (without some textual reason for going through with it) and Andi was not presented as the needlessly convoluted type. Seems more like something Miles would get up to, thinking it was clever. Would love to be wrong and get a scene in the next installment with Blanc hanging out with both Andi and Harlan Thrombey.

I didn't like this quite as much as the original Knives Out, but it was a great time at the movies. If you have a chance to catch it by Tuesday, I think it's worth seeing in theaters with a crowd. Here's hoping the theatrical release brings in enough cash that Netflix decides to give the third one some more time in theaters.

My hands down favorite part was at the beginning when the distruptors were solving the puzzle box together over the phone, and Duke's mom kept casually tossing out solutions. Jackie Hoffman was great in the small part, and I could totally see her and Benoit Blanc rolling their eyes at having to play Clue. (I also think the puzzle box is a point against the "Helen is really Andi" theory - I think Andi would still want to outsmart the damn box even after everything, but Helen does not care about these shitheads and their games.)

It was just eerie how timely this was - not going to look for the inevitable complaints about the "woke" ending from internet randos - I already read all the handwringing about the immorality of damaging art last month.

Costumes and production design on point again. The soundtrack and score both worked beautifully (that link for the score takes you to a list of options for streaming it, btw). The obligatory Noah Segan part might have been the only let down for me; the Kato Kaelin style stoner hanger on was just so much less entertaining than Trooper Wagner in the original.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:39 AM on November 27, 2022 [4 favorites]


Oh, also, I think there are more nonsensical bits in this plot than the first one, but those can mostly be handwaved away as "Miles is an idiot." I did love how offended Blanc was by the stupidity of Miles' scheme.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:52 AM on November 27, 2022 [24 favorites]


the actual twist is that Andi was never a twin

I think a lot of people wondered about that, but (a) Blanc said he could pull some strings to keep Andi's death quiet for a while, which presumably would've prompted some damn puzzled responses from the string-pulled if there was no death and (b) the twin (for some reason the names in this one refuse to stick in my head!) used the Alabama accent when speaking aloud when alone searching one of the rooms. (Andi presumably grew up with the same accent, but also shed it.)

The twin certainly existed, because they remembered hearing about her from Andi, and she was mentioned in one of the news accounts.
posted by praemunire at 11:07 AM on November 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


Oh, yes, and +1 to seeing it in the theater. I didn't enjoy it as much as the original, which delighted me well beyond my expectations, but I think audience reaction bolstered the pleasure here.

Ultimately, this one slid closer to "hypertwee murder mystery comedy, with, like, people from Broadway I'm vaguely aware of," which is what I assumed the original was based on the trailer and was pleasantly surprised to discover it wasn't. It's not my favorite microgenre, but I still had a good time.
posted by praemunire at 11:12 AM on November 27, 2022


On Tumblr, A Particular Bandit has posted some interesting meta about the group dynamics in the film (further expanded in some of their tagged posts)
posted by cheshyre at 12:24 PM on November 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


Overall, I liked it, except that Edward Norton is in my mind typecast as "that guy who is not who/what he pretends to be." Ever since Primal Fear, he has repeatedly filled that character type, so as soon as I saw him onscreen, I expected he would deliver more of the same, and he did. It was still fun seeing how the plot would unravel, though changing this one detail would have helped me get the most out of Glass Onion.
posted by abraxasaxarba at 12:51 PM on November 27, 2022


Also, and the movie tries to obscure this by calling the character 'Andi', I enjoyed how very on the nose it was about the twins in the movie set in the Greek Isles being called 'Helen' and 'Cassandra' - Cassandra being the one who saw the problems with Klear and was ostracised for it, and Helen being the one that avenges her sister by ripping the friend group apart.
posted by Merus at 3:19 PM on November 27, 2022 [47 favorites]


I liked the bit when the knives were out
posted by lokta at 4:02 AM on November 28, 2022 [19 favorites]


Yo-Yo Ma tells us at the beginning: it’s a fugue, that reveals a new structure when repeated on top of itself.

Also, where can I buy Jeremy Renner’s hot sauce?
posted by Ishbadiddle at 3:01 AM on November 29, 2022 [24 favorites]


It's a fun rewatch, seeing what I picked up on the first time as vaguely anomalous and what I didn't.
posted by praemunire at 8:18 AM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]


Best use of a “Take Me Home, Country Roads”cover or what?
posted by Hypatia at 7:29 PM on November 29, 2022 [2 favorites]


Oh man! I watched it a second time. Some thoughts:

— That "Andi's playing Blanc" theory doesn't hold up. Sad!

— It's not just a fugue, it's a fugue that plays the same Bach piece just as the movie restarts. (Yo-Yo Ma's cameo was my favorite cameo, which I know is unfair to Serena.)

— Not only does the movie "play fair" with what Ed Nortmusk is up to, but it's kind of amazing just how much you see him do the second time around. It really does show everything in plain sight.

— I'm not sure whether or not it's intentional that this is the second movie in a row where "whodunit" is insanely lampshaded. I didn't entirely mind, but it's an interesting (and slightly deflationary) choice.

In general, I've always been really mixed on Rian Johnson—he's extremely smart, but his movies all have a kind of overwrought quality to them, which makes them feel like exercises in a textbook rather than full-fledged experiences. But that kind of quality is perfect in somebody who's making the exact films that he's now making. I want a hundred of these, thank you and goodnight.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2022 [10 favorites]


Loved Edward Norton in the Tom Cruise Magnolia outfit!
posted by mirthe at 12:44 PM on December 23, 2022 [12 favorites]


Like the constant interweaving of genuine art with knock-offs and imposters, there were so many wonderful cameos of real celebrities and fantastic allusions to fake ones. I particularly loved the Rachel Hollis / Harriet Tubman comparison reference, the Elizabeth Holmes magazine cover, and of course ELONS BRIM.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:51 PM on December 23, 2022 [5 favorites]


I really wish I had a need for a new sock puppet, because I'm just itching to use "Jared Leto's Hard Kombucha".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:56 PM on December 23, 2022 [18 favorites]


I absolutely loved the guy who's just hanging around but not actually involved. (Was his name Darryl?) I had some fear that we'd find out he was actually intricately involved in all of the murder, which would've been so cliche and uninspired. But no! He's just this guy, this dude, who is down to hang out but will just stay out of the way.

I want to read a dissertation about his role in the movie.
posted by meese at 6:18 PM on December 23, 2022 [10 favorites]


An important question!

Was that really the real Mona Lisa?

There's a lot of textual evidence meant to convince us that it is. But thematically it makes sense that it would be just one more stupid knock off that he was too stupid to see through. And there's that very close shot of the canvas burning, while the real Mona Lisa is on a wood panel. So what are we supposed to believe???
posted by meese at 6:45 PM on December 23, 2022 [6 favorites]


Not quite as good as the first one by dint of being a bit too showy, but still a hell of a lot of fun. The costumes were a visual feast. Was I the only one who saw the ridiculously complicated invitations as a sly dig at JJ Abrams's "puzzle boxes?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:05 PM on December 23, 2022 [6 favorites]


And someone else on Tumblr pointed out: Carrie Fisher, Christopher Plummer, Angela Lansbury, and Stephen Sondheim all died shortly after making a Rian Johnson movie.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:10 PM on December 23, 2022 [7 favorites]


This was a ton of fun! A great way to wind down a tiring and frigid week.
posted by obfuscation at 5:14 AM on December 24, 2022


Man, i applaud EVERYONE for having the strength of character to not make refs to this movie before the Netflix release to Musk in public. watching it on this weekend, it's even more timely than just a month ago.
posted by cendawanita at 7:20 AM on December 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


As I recall, in the first Knives Out, (spoilers for both films)
the culprit could be identified because he was the only person not using an iPhone (according to a supposed rule from Apple that villains can't use iPhones). I'm sure that Miles not having *any* cell phone was a deliberate reference to that.
.
posted by esker at 8:25 AM on December 24, 2022 [5 favorites]


It's probably just as well that I didn't remember what song Glass Onion was before the movie, because once I heard it over the credits I immediately recognized it as the "stop assuming everything has a deep meaning, sometimes it's just stupid" song.

I had been worried about how well this movie would work without having Marta in it, who was so central to Knives Out. I think it ended up pretty well, but by centering Benoit it does make it more of a conventional murder mystery than the more Columbo-like structure of the first film. And in many ways this does feel like an inversion of Knives Out. I assume that going forward the mid-movie flashback that recontextualizes everything you've seen so far will be a signature of the series, along with Blanc and his accent.

I noticed that burning the original napkin was also a smart idea that Miles stole from someone else.
posted by ckape at 3:46 PM on December 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


I know it isn’t likely, given that they’re supposed to be standalone movies (which I applaud) but I wouldn’t be too upset if Helen turned up in the third film as Blanc’s assistant.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:09 PM on December 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


Also, I thought of "The Most Toys" more than once during this film.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:32 PM on December 24, 2022 [3 favorites]


This was a good follow-up to KO, and it held my attention throughout, but I feel like it cheated as a mystery, because the viewpoint character had information that the audience was not privy to from the beginning. I don't mind if the detective doesn't point out a key clue to the audience when they notice it, but the entire premise was hidden from us for most of the movie.
posted by Etrigan at 8:31 PM on December 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


because the viewpoint character had information that the audience was not privy to from the beginning.

I figured they were in some degree of alliance from the minute they stepped ashore--because of the shoe-tying moment. Also, he called her "Helen" when she ran into him after the lights went out. These were noticeable events the first time through. In other words, you couldn't figure out the exact mystery, but they did show you enough to let you know the outline of the iceberg, so to speak.
posted by praemunire at 8:59 PM on December 24, 2022 [1 favorite]


(Oh, once you knew Andi was dead, you knew Edward Norton's character was the killer, because you knew that Dave Bautista's character had news alerts on everyone, so his phone going off carried the news of Andi's death that no one else knew, but he showed it only to EN's character, who then promised him the media spot. Then DB's character gets killed, so...you do the math. I only wondered if anyone else was involved.)
posted by praemunire at 9:03 PM on December 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


We watched it tonight. It was just okay. Seemed more like an exercise than a story. Murder mysteries have a ton of exposition, sure, but the better ones fold that exposition into action and character development. Poor Lionel the chemist, for instance, was given little to do beyond explaining the dangers of Ice 9, er, Klear.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 9:48 PM on December 24, 2022 [3 favorites]


Finally got to watch this tonight. Because Knives Out is one of my favorite movies basically ever, and the tone of this one is so different, it took me a bit to get into how this one differed from the first. I was loving all the different ways it made fun of just stupid amounts of wealth and excess, and the characters were fun (though I agree that Lionel could have had more to do) but once it hit its stride for me (probably around the time of the first murder that we learn about) it just took hold and never let up. Hot damn what a fun time this was.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:15 PM on December 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


I do not know this genius, they were simply retweeted into my timeline, but they have the best idea for the next Benoit Blanc installment, with a larger role for Hugh Grant:
If their entire origin story isn't a queer take on Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, thereby opening the door for Christie-style Blanc mysteries and Sayers-style Benoit/Phillip romcoms...
posted by the primroses were over at 7:32 AM on December 25, 2022 [12 favorites]


Very fun. I think I liked the individual moments here more than the plot, mystery, or cast as a whole, but there were so many great little ones. "Tell me you didn't think a sweatshop was where they made sweatpants?"

After Blanc dispensed with the scripted murder mystery effortlessly and before it even happened, I was wondering how they'd justify him taking the last half of the movie to solve a crime he witnesses committed by someone who was not the brightest bulb. So I loved how the actual murder he witnessed was almost beside the point--he knew that instantly.
posted by mark k at 7:50 AM on December 25, 2022 [1 favorite]


"Tell me you didn't think a sweatshop was where they made sweatpants?"

"And you wrote back 'Sounds perfect, thanks.' And followed up with an emoji of you dabbing."
posted by Navelgazer at 8:46 AM on December 25, 2022 [11 favorites]


Enjoyed this but didn't love it. I watched it split over two nights, stopping in the middle right before the flashback. And that first half was pretty confounding and dumb. The second half redeems it entirely.

But what really shines for me is Janelle Monáe. What a talent! I love her bizarre role in the movie, the complete change around the reveal halfway through the movie.

Two things took me out of my enjoyment a bit. One is the Elon Muskalike. I think it's entirely appropriate for most people but I'm too close to Twitter so it was personally unpleasant. I also thought all the nods to Covid and masks were a little weird. I think I'd prefer my entertainment from that time to just pretend Covid didn't exist. Either that or really lean into it and make a movie about the Covid lockdown experience. It seems that they felt they had to address Covid somehow and it was clumsy.

Gripes aside it was good fun. Particularly liked the explicit references to Clue, the movie (and the terrible game). All the cameos were fun too. RIP Angela Lansbury.
posted by Nelson at 10:49 AM on December 25, 2022


I'm not sure if the Mona Lisa is meant to be real or Miles got scammed there, but I am sure he got scammed by whoever sold him that anti-covid mouth spritz thing.
posted by ckape at 12:02 PM on December 25, 2022 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure if the Mona Lisa is meant to be real or Miles got scammed there, but I am sure he got scammed by whoever sold him that anti-covid mouth spritz thing.

Yeah, it bugged me that the Mona Lisa was on canvas, because while it makes sense that Milo would be scammed in such a way, it dampens the ferocity of the ending if it was a duplicate. And I wish the mouth-spritz thing had come back in some way other than "now we can show you all the actors' pretty faces."
posted by Navelgazer at 12:12 PM on December 25, 2022 [1 favorite]


Loved Edward Norton in the Tom Cruise Magnolia outfit!

Is it just me or were there numerous call outs to other films? I believe it literally starts on the first frame, where the Glass Onion logo is the Chinatown font.

Norton also had a self-portrait on the wall that was clearly a nod to Fight Club.
posted by dobbs at 5:12 PM on December 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


When Janelle Monae was shot, I thought, 'No way does Django Jane show up in a movie about and some jackass billionaire just to be a victim.' And indeed, I was vindicated.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:11 PM on December 25, 2022 [4 favorites]


One nice thing about the Helen reveal was that it explained why Blanc was kissing billionaire ass so intently in the first half. I spent the first hour thinking rather dejectedly that at least the film gave him a believable flaw (being overly impressed by extreme wealth), but it was still a relief to learn something else was happening.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:13 PM on December 25, 2022 [19 favorites]


god this movie ruled. Rian Johnson gets to make all the movies now, I've decided

a very great, well orchestrated bit during the end: the shitheads are willing to cheer helen on and even join in when she breaks stuff that miles clearly doesn't care much about, but as soon as he starts getting upset they're right back on his side
posted by Kybard at 7:14 PM on December 25, 2022 [11 favorites]


Saw it tonight. Was looking forward to watching it on Christmas with the "fam" (even if the old slept through it), the young'uns enjoyed it here.

Can someone tell me why Edward Norton's character tried to kill Janelle Monae's twin's character even after he knew (via Oddly Shaped Man) that he indeed had succeeded in murdering Janelle Monae in her home?

If the twin of someone you murdered showed up, that would be A Bad Sign For You, wouldn't it? That part makes sense. Going along with her being there is....weird though. What doesn't make sense to me is sending a puzzle box invite to someone you know is dead. I know Miles Is Dumb is the whole thing here, but sending it after presumably her body would be likely to be discovered is ...I dunno, unnecessary? Also, Miles doesn't think it out too hard when Benoit is all "I got a box" (not clarifying, "I got a smashed box, from someone else"), and just...goes along with his being there.

Again, Miles ain't real bright, but you'd think a red flag or two might hit him.

It seems that they felt they had to address Covid somehow and it was clumsy.
And I wish the mouth-spritz thing had come back in some way other than "now we can show you all the actors' pretty faces."


Agreed. I don't see much point in setting a movie in May 2020 where literally nobody seems to be concerned about getting it, most people aren't masking (though I did laugh at Birdie's mesh mask, and how the whole plot is Kim Kardashian's island birthday that year), and some rando walks up to you, shoots something in your mouth, and says, "You're good" and everyone just...goes along with it?! They might as well just not have bothered with that time period. Literally the only reason to is for the "Mona Lisa is at my house because the Louvre is closed and they need money" plot point.
Though as some have pointed out, the mouth shot probably did nothing.
I wonder how many times Birdie's had covid ...by May 2020.

Janelle Monae just knocks it out of the park. I did enjoy the stealth intelligence of Whiskey and how she and her jerk boyfriend were in cahoots on her cheating. And Kate Hudson does do obnoxious dumb (see above quote on the sweatshops) well, and that was a BEAUTIFUL dress.

We all know Edward Norton does that kind of thing...*shrug*

About the one thing that's kinda weak to me is that it's not really a "whodunit" if Miles doesn't actually die, because it seems pretty obvious as to who would murder, and literally the only reason there's suspicion is that Benoit doesn't do dumb well and he finds it hard to buy someone's that stupid. (And yet, gets away with murder. I bet if Elon tried that he'd just fumble it hard, so Miles is smarter on that score. Using someone's allergy against them, for example.) It's more of a ...howdunit, I guess? Ish?
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:30 AM on December 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


If the twin of someone you murdered showed up, that would be A Bad Sign For You, wouldn't it?

If they showed up, that would mean one of two things: (a) they were there to try to get personal vengeance and/or (b) they didn't have anything to go to the cops with and were fishing there for more. Both of those are good reasons not to let them on the island; neither is a good reason to expose yourself to the added risk of another murder, especially since that murder would inevitably cast much more suspicion on the suicide you went to the trouble of faking. (Why would anyone in that group kill Helen except to cover up something to do with Andi's death?)

What doesn't make sense to me is sending a puzzle box invite to someone you know is dead.

He was trying to establish that he didn't know she was dead. If the news had gotten out beforehand, he presumably wouldn't have sent the box.
posted by praemunire at 1:04 AM on December 26, 2022 [8 favorites]


the shitheads are willing to cheer helen on and even join in when she breaks stuff that miles clearly doesn't care much about, but as soon as he starts getting upset they're right back on his side

even better: this whole sequence is an ironic echo of Miles' speech on "disruptors" from earlier in the movie.
posted by Merus at 4:52 AM on December 26, 2022 [15 favorites]


This was delightful. Monae is wonderful, and I want to go back and watch this again to watch her early performance in light of later revelations. I did like the way the film kept teasing at theories and then pivoting away from them. (Wait, did they just remind us of this guy we’re supposed to ignore because he’s important?!” etc)
posted by rmd1023 at 5:08 AM on December 26, 2022 [3 favorites]


Loved this movie! It didn’t come out in the cinema in France, so I forgot it had a theatrical release a month earlier elsewhere, and got my links ready for a post so here they are:

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review – Daniel Craig’s drawling detective is back [Guardian]
The Knives Out Sequel Glass Onion Is Bigger and Better Than the Original [Vulture / Archive]
‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Review: Another Clue for You All [NYT / Archive]
Rian Johnson Breaks Open the Benoit Blanc Cinematic Universe [Vulture / Archive]
‘If Agatha Christie was writing now, there’d be a tech billionaire’: Daniel Craig and the stars of Knives Out on the new age of whodunnits [Guardian]
8 Sunny Murder Mysteries to Watch After Glass Onion [Vulture / Archive]
The Best Whodunnit Twist Tropes, Ranked by Audacity and Artistry [Vulture / Archive]
posted by ellieBOA at 5:09 AM on December 26, 2022 [6 favorites]


some rando walks up to you, shoots something in your mouth, and says, "You're good" and everyone just...goes along with it?!

Remember, that's Miles Bron's power: he does say any old nonsense and people to along with it. A pretty canny character clue on rewatch.
posted by cendawanita at 7:29 AM on December 26, 2022 [8 favorites]


What doesn't make sense to me is sending a puzzle box invite to someone you know is dead.

Miles had commissioned the puzzle boxes months to a year in advance, and they were likely sent directly by the puzzle builder. He probably didn't even think to cancel Andi's box.
posted by ckape at 8:03 AM on December 26, 2022 [6 favorites]


DONG
posted by Acari at 8:04 AM on December 26, 2022 [31 favorites]


Lol the Dong gimmick was hilarious. So was the snick-snack sound of the Mona Lisa protection system closing. But in addition to being a gag both of those things really contribute to a sense of menace in the movie. The loud sound, the random external nature of it. The Dong serves to mark the passing of time, but inconsistently. The Mona Lisa system highlights all the various threatening things going on: flicked lighters, shot guns.
posted by Nelson at 8:27 AM on December 26, 2022 [5 favorites]


Somebody on Twitter pointed out that the entire movie is structured like a game of Among Us, down to the imposter doing his best to pose as one of the victims, and the game ending with the rest of his crew finally deciding to jettison him.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 10:07 AM on December 26, 2022 [19 favorites]


I absolutely loved the guy who's just hanging around but not actually involved. (Was his name Darryl?) I had some fear that we'd find out he was actually intricately involved in all of the murder, which would've been so cliche and uninspired. But no! He's just this guy, this dude, who is down to hang out but will just stay out of the way.

He's played by Noah Segan, who played the Benoit Blanc fanboy detective in Knives Out! I love the thought that he'll show up as a different lovable-but-useless character in every film in this series. Like a Stan Lee cameo but even goofier, somehow.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 10:10 AM on December 26, 2022 [10 favorites]


Looks like Segan has been in every Johnson film.
posted by octothorpe at 11:14 AM on December 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


If the twin of someone you murdered showed up, that would be A Bad Sign For You, wouldn't it?

The other possibility is he thought Andi survived his murder attempt and he wanted to know what her play was going to be.

What doesn't make sense to me is sending a puzzle box invite to someone you know is dead.

Wouldn't it just be a way to cover his tracks? "I didn't kill her, i invited her to my party."

And unrelated, I just love that he had Phillip Glass compose a Dong for him.
posted by lips at 11:25 AM on December 26, 2022 [4 favorites]


Phil Gas?
posted by LooseFilter at 1:08 PM on December 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


but I feel like it cheated as a mystery, because the viewpoint character had information that the audience was not privy to from the beginning

I needed to think about this, because it's a common complaint I have in heist and con movies that didn't bother me here.

But Blanc is obviously not a viewpoint character. Golden age detectives often aren't (Whimsey typically is, but Holmes and Poirot get that role only in novelty stories.) I think we're getting things from the viewpoint of a generic guest, which seems fair enough. They all show up not knowing Andi was murdered, aware of the tensions but not of the previous crime or specific interactions. We "see" everything before the murder of Duke related to that specific crime, although Blanc would have a leg up on us on motive.

But then stop to add in the extra crime, *and* get us up to speed on everything they'd withheld. For all the narrative shenanigans, if this were a book you could pause there and re-read everything before either murder is solved, and find all the cards spread on the table.

Miles had commissioned the puzzle boxes months to a year in advance, and they were likely sent directly by the puzzle builder. He probably didn't even think to cancel Andi's box.

This, obviously. The e-mail about the napkin came well after the boxes would have been set in motion, and while I don't think he sent it as a cover, but it would have been bonkers to try and cancel it right after the murder just to save a few bucks on delivery fees.
posted by mark k at 2:09 PM on December 26, 2022


if this were a book you could pause there and re-read everything before either murder is solved, and find all the cards spread on the table.

Exactly.

it would have been bonkers to try and cancel it right after the murder just to save a few bucks on delivery fees.

If he'd cancelled it after the actual murder but before the news of the death got out, that would have looked...strange, to say the least.
posted by praemunire at 2:32 PM on December 26, 2022 [3 favorites]


But Blanc is obviously not a viewpoint character. Golden age detectives often aren't (Whimsey typically is, but Holmes and Poirot get that role only in novelty stories.)

Holmes wasn't a viewpoint character, but Watson was, and Watson had access to all of the information that the reader did. There's a reason that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd still raises hackles nearly a hundred years later -- the viewpoint character, the narrator, was lying to the reader. I believe that an unreliable narrator in the murder mystery genre is cheating, just like the romance genre demands a happily-ever-after. Blanc was as close as we got to a narrator; if not him, then just "the camera" is the narrator, and while it isn't actively telling us lies (except as part of other people's narrations), it's definitely trying really hard to deceive us. I go into a mystery hoping to be deceived by the killer, not the writer.

if this were a book you could pause there and re-read everything before either murder is solved, and find all the cards spread on the table.

I'm not saying that all of the clues have to be given in the first scene, but recasting the entire premise an hour into the movie just doesn't quite sit right with me.

And again, this is all just how I feel about it. Feel free to feel differently.
posted by Etrigan at 3:18 PM on December 26, 2022


I think the question of narrative reliability is a little more complex than that, judging on the two entries we've had in this series so far.

Both Glass Onion and Knives Out have structures that invert "murder mystery" as a form. They've also both been instances where the killer was more-or-less in plain sight, except for misdirections in our perception of the case. In Knives Out, you're led to believe (for the bulk of the movie's runtime) that Marta herself killed Harlan, and that this is a whodunnit where you're rooting against the detective to catch her; the most obvious suspect flies under the radar because, even though everything about him screams SUSPICIOUS!, you don't think there is a killer up until the second body is discovered.

In this one, the most obvious inversion is that "who killed Miles?" is presented as a for-fun mystery at first; the question of who would want to kill Miles for real is what gives the first half of the film its tension, and that's the half where we get narrative unreliability. Of course, Benoit is secretly trying to solve a second mystery—who killed Andi Brand?—but he's still flying as blind as the audience in looking for an answer to that: he and Helen are as in-the-dark about these people as we are. We're not even misled about the fact that Miles is a shitty guy who fucked Andi over, since "Andi"'s entire presence is a reminder of that fact.

When the first murder happens, Benoit's similarly as misdirected as we are. He and Helen are here to prove Miles guilty of ripping Andi off, and to find which person killed her, but Duke's death is presented as a murder, and possibly a failed assassination attempt on Miles. It's only with Helen's attempted assassination that Benoit's perspective on the shootings differs from ours—because Benoit knows that Andi's dead, and that it's likely Helen's would-be killer also killed Andi. Which is when the fugue begins, and we're immediately told everything that Benoit knows.

And the point of the movie's title is that this extra layer doesn't actually matter, because Miles is the most conspicuous culprit, Miles is obviously the most likely person to try and kill Andi or Helen, and we see Miles give Duke his glass. Just like Knives Out all but gave us the killer storming away from Harlan yelling I'M DEFINITELY GONNA KILL YOU AND FRAME YOUR NURSE, Glass Onion is a very fun romp through multiple layers of interpreting a story, all of which just misdirect from the fact that, the moment we learn that Miles is throwing a murder mystery party and isn't, in fact, already dead, we should assume that he's behind everything.

For me, the most obvious precedent to "murder mystery abruptly revealing the detective knows more than the audience" is, of all things, A Study in Scarlet—the first-ever Sherlock Holmes mystery. Scarlet is divided into two halves, the first of which ends with Holmes fingering the culprit, telling us he knows the culprit's name, and it's a name we literally have never heard before, and we're given absolutely no explanation as to how Holmes fingered him. The second half isn't quite a fugue, but it provides a narrative connecting the killer's victims together, as well as explaining who the killer is, that changes the meaning of the killings to begin with (and leaves us rooting for the killer to have killed). Only then does Holmes explain how he solved the killings, and figured all of this out before we had a chance to.

It's weird that this has been a whodunnit series whose two installments both picked the single most obvious do-er to have dun, but it worked for me both times, because Johnson's scripts are doing such fun things to mess with narratives that, once you have all the pieces, feel incredibly straightforward.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:01 PM on December 26, 2022 [18 favorites]


Whimsey typically is

Although the first potential model for this story structure that sprang to mind was Murder Must Advertise, which is why I set aside part of my brain ready to accept the possible non-existence of Helen.

I'm curious to find out where they go for the next one: Having done the country house and the exotic location, perhaps it will be a Marplesque Cotswold village.
posted by Grangousier at 4:48 PM on December 26, 2022


the moment we learn that Miles is throwing a murder mystery party and isn't, in fact, already dead, we should assume that he's behind everything.

Hah, yeah, when he ISN'T the murder victim, that makes him lead suspect. If he'd actually died, then it would have been a whodunit. This is not exactly a whodunit, but I'm not sure what we'd call this either?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:14 PM on December 26, 2022


I go into a mystery hoping to be deceived by the killer, not the writer.

The camera here did not explicitly deceive. It omitted information--but it also drew attention to the gaps in a way that would prepare the attentive viewer to fill them in when the fugue looped. If this whole thing wasn't fun for you, it may not be worth it to you to go back over the film so closely, but I believe almost everywhere a scene began or ended early, there was an odd nature to the cut (e.g., "Andi" telling Blanc about his shoelace, "Andi" stumbling off down the hill). The camera told us to pay attention to Miles's glass at the very start of the scene. The camera didn't cut to Duke's phone to show us those "amazing engagement numbers" he was supposedly getting the way that modern cinematography would have it do. The camera did not give us a proof-of-death shot of Andi. Miles had to abruptly cut off Duke talking about getting pancaked "just outside And--"[i's house]. Etc. There's a lot to cue the observant viewer that things are off. And Duke's death was suspicious with info you got right up front, if you could hold onto it in the face of Miles's retelling-on-camera (I and others have admitted that our faith in what we had seen was shaken--heck, I even knew it had to be pineapple poisoning), and, once you get the key piece of information about Andi's death, the rest can begin slotting into place.

I think that's a legitimate approach to a mystery.
posted by praemunire at 5:18 PM on December 26, 2022 [7 favorites]


If I am willing to go a party on a private island to eat and drink back in May 2020, I probably also will remove my mask once I am on the boat, or perhaps on the island when I realize nobody else is present.

(Of course, I'll probably not go to the party... unless the person inviting me has a lot to do with my fame and fortune, or potential lack-thereof if I don't go.)
posted by applesurf at 8:35 PM on December 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


I still haven't puzzled out why the seat cushions on the boat had an Omega on them when the company was named Alpha.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:47 PM on December 26, 2022 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed so much about this movie but what I keep thinking about and chuckling at is Dave Bautista saying "BOOCH ME" to ask for a hard kombucha. How is this so fucking funny
posted by potrzebie at 12:37 AM on December 27, 2022 [17 favorites]


the movie has many infraction points, if your comparison is traditional whodunits. I knew it was going to be a great ride when Benoit solved Miles' mystery theatre setup like the Poirot-alike he is at the first dinner. Air quotes on blood diamonds, chef's kiss.
posted by chavenet at 12:55 AM on December 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


I'm not saying that all of the clues have to be given in the first scene, but recasting the entire premise an hour into the movie just doesn't quite sit right with me.

Rewatched last night, and all information to determine what’s actually happening is shown before the mid-film narrative reveal—Blanc even calls Monae’s character Helen instead of Andi right before she is shot, before we know there’s a twin at all.

I still haven't puzzled out why the seat cushions on the boat had an Omega on them when the company was named Alpha.

You’re making the same mistake Blanc did and missing the likely, obvious explanation: it’s because Miles is stupid.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:05 AM on December 27, 2022 [24 favorites]


Rewatched last night, and all information to determine what’s actually happening is shown before the mid-film narrative reveal

The one that cracks me up is with Duke's mum solving those puzzles at first glance - at first viewing, sure it's a character beat and joke about how he's emasculated. On rewatch, it's the first big clue on how simple and transparent Miles is.
posted by cendawanita at 7:32 AM on December 27, 2022 [17 favorites]


There were things I liked about it (the acting was great throughout and Janelle Monae is a star) but overall it just made me confused and angry


Spoilers

- Explain to me the timeline???? how one character was already rich off pandemic sweatpants in March of 2020????
- The friend group never made sense to me, how they had all met, why they were together, why they remained friends through the years - 'hung out at the same bar' is too weak for me. None of the 'friends' seemed to have any real relationship with each other. Knives Out worked better because they were a family - forced to remain together through familial bonds no matter how their paths diverged. A group of friends can be a family but in this case I didn't buy it
- There is no real misdirection about who the killer is after we find out what the real mystery is, from the beginning of that part of the movie there is only one person who would have had motive and opportunity and we never get any sense that he couldn't have/wouldn't have done it.
- The Mona Lisa's superadvanced security didn't have a camera?? that would have shown the napkin being burned?
- I feel if the building was really going to go up like the hindenburg, everyone escaping with minor cuts and scrapes is kind of a cheap way out - if you're going to blow up a building be prepared to live with the consequences ( and I think the character was - so why does the director/writer chicken out?)
- Miles's comeuppance at the end seemed to be in there basically to appease the audience, so we can all be happy about a billionaire getting taken down, without actually doing the hard work of taking down a billionaire
- In general I feel like a lot of stuff in there was just in there to make the audience happy that the type of person we hate is getting taken down (the manosphere guy, the clueless model-turned-exploiter) but ugh I'm just not on board even though I hate those types of people too. It's just not what I want from a movie. It felt like going to a dunk tank to laugh and cheer at watching someone be dunked in the water rather than any real genuine emotional experience that's what I want in a movie.
- I don't think Rian Johnson is as smart as he thinks he is (see above timeline errors) and it wouldn't surprise me that putting the Mona Lisa on canvas and not on a wood panel is a simple mistake and that there isn't anything to read into it.

Anyway I had to get that out and can't really complain on twitter or on my social media without being lumped in with the likes of Ben Shapiro. I just think most things aren't very good and this wasn't really an exception ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by matcha action at 9:22 AM on December 27, 2022 [6 favorites]


The camera here did not explicitly deceive. It omitted information--but it also drew attention to the gaps in a way that would prepare the attentive viewer to fill them in when the fugue looped.

I watched the movie with my dad, who has a truly infuriating habit of stopping and rewinding shows/movies/sporting events in search of supporting evidence to whatever he's championing. He was smug that he had lunged for the remote and rewinded it to the part where Miles handed his glass over after the death. At the time, we were arguing over what happened -- I said that Miles made such a point of handing out everyone's favorite drinks that there was no way Duke would've been confused about which drink was his. But by the end, we learn that Duke just realized that a) their gathering had been infiltrated by Andi's twin b) his old friend Andi was dead c) his patron-friend Miles killed her d) he could blackmail Miles into elevating Duke's career to a new level and never be truly under Miles' thumb again and e) he did it in full view of his fellow hangers-on. In that scenario, I probably wouldn't notice drinking pine sol, much less a splash of pineapple juice.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:35 AM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: most things aren't very good and this wasn't really an exception
posted by chavenet at 9:47 AM on December 27, 2022 [4 favorites]




matcha action, IIRC, the party is in May 2020. I don't know if those two extra months would be enough to address your point.
posted by amarynth at 10:10 AM on December 27, 2022


Netflix Sent a Glass Onion Mystery Box...

Ohhhh I love watching that, now I feel like browsing the play store for a new escape room puzzle game to play
posted by cendawanita at 10:13 AM on December 27, 2022


amarynth no, I don't think that someone could start a company and get rich from it (making a conventional product, like sweatpants) within 2 months and I can't figure out why the movie was set in May 2020 instead of say May 2021 if that was an important plot point.
posted by matcha action at 10:40 AM on December 27, 2022


But she wasn’t rich in any liquid way - her wealth was in the value of the stocks in her company, which is a measure of future value. Hence the payout for taking the blame for the sweatshop: the value of her stock.

Also, Andi/Helen literally tells the shitheads, “you took my life”.
posted by boogieboy at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


matcha action, spoilers are ok in fanfare!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


I understand that her wealth was in the value of her company stock. I'm not arguing that it wasn't. It's not believable to me that a person who was wealthy from modeling already would in 2 months be made significantly wealthier by starting a sweatpant company. It just doesn't make sense. In May 2020 most people still thought that by September 2020 the kids would be back in school again, we would all be back to working in person again. There were stocks (like Amazon, Peloton, Zoom) that did incredibly well but they were already established companies and most people were not trying to expand their wardrobes by buying sweatpants, they were just wearing the PJs and athleisure that they already had. It just took me out of the movie- not as badly as some of the other problems I had with it, if that had been the only thing I would have been able to write it off- but combined with everything else I just felt like it was a bad filmmaking decision and one more thing I was trying to make sense of the entire movie rather than trying to figure out the mystery.
posted by matcha action at 12:05 PM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


miles and birdie jay explain the pants:
Miles: You're sitting next to Birdie Jay. She was a fashion icon. And then the youngest editor ever of She She Magainze. Right? Establishment BS, on top of the world. But then...

Birdie Jay: Well... [sighs] then there was the whole thing with the Halloween costume. It was a tribute to Beyonce but people did not take it that way. Anyway, I had a lot of time at home. I just spent all my time in my--

Benoit: --oh, in sweatpants.

Miles: She comes out with designer, high quality, comfortable sweatpants just as a pandemic hits. She disrupted her own disruption; she made a killing.
she had the "inspiration" for and started the company before the pandemic; it just so happens that the brand was ready for prime time as the pandemic kicks off, giving her prime opportunity to capitalize and sell her fancy pants the same way real-world companies sold fancy masks. the success of the product is very clearly a product of dumb luck.

anyway they've supposedly sold very well in the first couple months of the pandemic (do we ever actually get anyone saying this more concretely than in this scene? I forget), but as mentioned the real value to Birdie Jay is in her rehabilitated image and in the company's stock value, both of which are set to implode once the sweatshop news breaks. hence her willingness to at least take a parachute which secures her the latter; she's willing to go scorched-earth on her own brand in order to come out still able to sustain the lifestyle she prefers.

acknowledging also that this story is told by two idiots who could very easily be embellishing to make themselves look smarter/more successful, it does not at all read to me as unreasonable or unlikely for purposes of verisimilitude. YMMV, of course

incidentally I found the specific mise-en-scene of early COVID days to be really apt and to bring a lot to both the themes and the plot. Mona Lisa, Ethan Hawke inoculation-gun, Birdie Jay's "mask", the absurd privilege of isolation that the Glass Onion island represents, etc
posted by Kybard at 12:34 PM on December 27, 2022 [10 favorites]


Also as noted above, Dave Bautistas line reading of “booch me” was worth the price of admission.

If I was to be upset about something being unrealistic it would be the bullet hitting the journal. But it’s all fine, to me at least. I’ve overlooked worse in lesser films.
posted by boogieboy at 12:56 PM on December 27, 2022 [4 favorites]




I loved the 3-second shot we get of the weird luggage-carrying robot right after they arrive on the island. Visually it took me back to the first time I saw Beauty and the Beast and saw the creepy carriage that comes to life to take Belle's dad back to town.

I was surprised the bracelets they all wear didn't factor in more, so that was one expectation subverted.
posted by mmmbacon at 1:25 PM on December 27, 2022 [12 favorites]


How is it that Blanc got a custom slap bracelet when Miles wasn’t expecting him?
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:37 PM on December 27, 2022 [10 favorites]


Also, what type of business is Alpha?
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:40 PM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


If you freeze-frame on the napkin it's a bunch of cryptocurrency nonsense, but presumably they've diversified if rockets and Alpha News are a thing
posted by ckape at 2:33 PM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


Also, what type of business is Alpha?

It's a grift
posted by chavenet at 2:47 PM on December 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


I hear Alpha is primarily in the MacGuffin business
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 3:13 PM on December 27, 2022 [17 favorites]


So, Cassandra was a grifter too?

Also, which details are important, and which are not? A MacGuffin joke there seems like a cop-out for lazy storytelling.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 3:48 PM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


Great flick. Best movie I saw this year? Maybe! Favorite movie I saw this year? Probably!

With regards to its setting during the pandemic, I have to 100% agree with Abigail Nussbalm at LGM here:
First, I really love that Glass Onion is a pandemic story. More specifically, an early pandemic story, full of details that already seem dated like outdoor masking, homemade masks, sourdough starters, and bumping elbows instead of shaking hands. It’s a choice that feels like it’s thumbing its nose at people who would like to pretend the pandemic never happened, or that the measures we took to protect against it were merely mass hysteria. It also fits perfectly with Johnson’s Agatha Christie-derived plotting. What better excuse is there for an eccentric rich person to gather a disparate group of people for a weekend getaway on a private island than a raging pandemic? Which also means that Glass Onion dovetails Christie with “The Masque of the Red Death”, whose class themes have run through much of Johnson’s writing.

But the thing I most like about Glass Onion‘s early pandemic setting is how easily it uses the trappings of that period as a shorthand for its characters’ personalities. As we noted in the real world at the time, it’s pretty easy to tell who’s an asshole, or just full of their own self-importance, by whether or not they’re willing to wear a mask. Glass Onion gets a bit more granular with this—Bautista’s character, who makes much of his manliness and is later revealed to have sold fake nutritional supplements, doesn’t mask at all; Hudson wears a fishnet veil as a face covering, in keeping with an earlier scene in which she throws a raging house party but explains that the dozens of attendees are “in her pod”; Hahn masks, but can’t be bothered to keep her nose covered, an early hint that while she goes through the motions of responsibility and civic-mindedness, she doesn’t actually live up to those values. We get a powerful sense of each character’s foibles, and the specific type of self-deception they practice, from a simple costuming choice.
posted by General Malaise at 3:58 PM on December 27, 2022 [38 favorites]


So, Cassandra was a grifter too?

Also, which details are important, and which are not? A MacGuffin joke there seems like a cop-out for lazy storytelling.

This is why I don't think "it's a grift" works for me—it's important, for plot-coherence purposes, that Andi is a "good person in tech" actually making useful stuff, because otherwise it matters much less that Miles is a conman. That said, while we get a bunch of Alpha product names, all of them feel like spin-offs of Alpha's "real" product, which is conspicuously not mentioned. We learn that it was Andi's idea, but not what field it was an idea for: it could've been consumer-grade, it could've been some industrial product that interfaced directly with big businesses, but really what matters for the plot is that it was a good idea and it made money.

The tech nerd in me assumed that it was something hardware-based—something that explains Alpha's pivot to "being in space," but also some kind of platform that Alpha News would fit conveniently into. Maybe Alpha finally invented a smart TV that doesn't suck, or a smarthome system that actually makes people excited about smarthomes. Something like that: nothing as bullshitty as "a social network" or as mundane as "a neat app," something consumer-friendly enough that people actively pay Alpha for its products, rather than something B2B or SaaS. There's plenty of room in the world of tech for something to be popular and even beloved without being a grift, and it feels like that's the kind of thing Andi would gravitate towards.

But the fun thing about tech is, even the most "useful" products are a stone's throw away from being turned into a total bullshit hustle factory. So whatever the product was, it's something that Miles turned into a way of generating endless get-rich-quick schemes on top of, all of which ranged from harmless to toxic.

(The most direct Elon Musk parallel would be to have Alpha develop cars, but the fact that Miles's pride-and-joy vehicle isn't something Alpha made suggests that he's not in the car business. Otherwise, he'd be too vain to touch anything else.)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:08 PM on December 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


But idk if it's a cop-out for something like "what does Alpha make?" to be a MacGuffin. I mean, if you think MacGuffins are lazy storytelling, then you're basically writing off Hitchcock as a good storyteller, which is certainly a position to take, y'know? 😉

The point of a MacGuffin is that (a) it drives the plot and (b) it doesn't particularly matter what it "is." In this case, it matters that Andi founded Alpha with Miles, that Miles screwed her out of her own company, and that she found proof to win it back from him, which warranted him murdering her. Alpha could be anything, and it doesn't matter—it only exists to characterize its two central characters, and to provide the tension that gives the movie its plot.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:12 PM on December 27, 2022 [3 favorites]


"What was Alpha's initial concept" is, to me, a question along the same lines as "How does the magic work?" Unless you have a really impressive answer, or the answer is going to matter to your plot somehow, it's just better storytelling to leave it a mystery.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:16 PM on December 27, 2022 [6 favorites]


I think Miles gives a pretty good idea what Alpha was during the disruption speech - like it was something like Uber, but for ????, a thing that people liked being disrupted. I like that they didn't go into details, which can be distractingly ripped apart, rather than just moving the plot along with the picture basically being painted. Like when somebody mentions money, but the amount is blindly on some piece of paper that is passed around among the participants and all we get is facial expressions.
posted by General Malaise at 4:23 PM on December 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


- Explain to me the timeline???? how one character was already rich off pandemic sweatpants in March of 2020????

Kate Hudson is also a co-founder of Fabletics.

(soft pants forever!)
posted by armacy at 4:29 PM on December 27, 2022 [3 favorites]


General Malaise, that Nussbaum piece is great. particularly love this which dovetails well with the moment I mentioned loving earlier:
As much as Glass Onion is being praised for capturing the pathology of people like Elon Musk, I’d say its greater accomplishment is the way it castigates the hangers-on of such people, refusing to see them as heroes when they finally, once it feels safe, do the right thing.
like, it's great that when both helen and miles each call them all "shitheads," they're both correct, from any possible angle
posted by Kybard at 4:42 PM on December 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


Looks like Segan has been in every Johnson film.
The DONG clock chime was voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, continuing his cameo-in-every-Rian-Johnson-flick streak.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:01 PM on December 27, 2022 [8 favorites]


Yeah, even underlings like Peg and Whiskey are complicit. They'll never turn against the Shithead Club no matter how badly it treats them, because they want to be members of it someday. Kind of like the old cliché about how we Americans will never admit that we're poor or working-class instead of being temporarily embarrassed millionaires.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:13 PM on December 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


One thing I loved about the early-pandemic setting is that it means the movie will convey a lot less character information to people who didn't live through the early pandemic. It was this brief cultural moment when you could tell SO much about someone by what was on their face and I hope my kids will not understand any of the subtleties that were so obvious to me if they happen to watch this film in 20 years. Like I really expect future generations to find so much about this movie confusing or baffling and I love that commitment to ephemerality and specificity in my entertainment. It's a time capsule and I love that!
posted by potrzebie at 10:50 AM on December 28, 2022 [14 favorites]


I think I preferred the smaller scope and the particular reference points of the first movie a bit, but I still liked this one a lot. Everything from the cleverness of the script to the acting is so clearly a labor of people having fun that it's, with apologies to the chronological setting, infectious. The entire arc of the ruined murder mystery was particularly delightful, at no point more so than that sadly deflated little crossbow sequence.

Scattered thoughts in relation to earlier discussions:

Got distracted during the anteclimactic villain monologue scene because I kept waiting for the reveal that somebody was filming/streaming Miles as he burned evidence and admitted to all sorts of unprovable wrongdoing. I'm still a little surprised they didn't hit that beat, even to lampshade it. (I was also expecting some standard Evil Tech Company shenanigans to come out of the bracelets and mouth spray, but was perfectly happy not to go down that path.)

I'm not sure that Whiskey wouldn't have wanted to break ranks even pre-inferno. Her boyfriend was murdered, Miles doesn't have anything on her that we know of, she never liked any of the others, and if she wants a high profile political pivot, "speaking out against the dastardly billionaire" fits the bill nicely. That said, there's a limit to how far her word goes against the rest of theirs, which she undoubtedly also knows.

I'm glad the film didn't get bogged down in the finer points of Alpha's business plan, since the moments that seemed to point to real geopolitical impact off the island were the weakest for me anyway. We see Andi showing a real skill for identifying and networking the right people, but between the "for my biographers," the multiple reinventions of herself and her goodwill towards Miles's original Mona Lisa-level aspirations, I don't know that she had no tech megalomaniac tendencies. She's a way more interesting character to me if she did!
posted by eponym at 1:28 PM on December 28, 2022 [5 favorites]


Yeah it's tempting to think of Andi as the "good" one of the crew surrounding Miles, and in that she at least wouldn't go along with Klear, she probably was, but she also probably has a ton of skeletons in her own closet, and we only ever really meet Helen (the closest thing this movie has to Marta in Knives Out.)

Helen seems to be the best source of information that we have about Andi, but also it seems like they hadn't been very close as adults. The others probably knew adult-Andi "better" than Helen did, but also they're not talking, and the little they do say is filtered through protecting their own interests. This is, I think, the throughline of tension for the film. In the first half, we're curious about Andi - what's she about, why is she here, what happened between them all - and in the second half, we learn that we haven't been seeing Andi at all, but the mystery of her central character remains. What matters is that Helen is a good person, or as good as we can get here, and that she and Blanc are after the Truth.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:42 PM on December 28, 2022 [2 favorites]


if the building was really going to go up like the hindenburg, everyone escaping with minor cuts and scrapes is kind of a cheap way out

Two-thirds of the people on the Hindenburg survived the disaster.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:40 PM on December 28, 2022 [1 favorite]


"That's Jared Leto's hard Kombucha".

- The Mona Lisa's superadvanced security didn't have a camera?? that would have shown the napkin being burned?

I for one am not sad that the movie didn't introduce the CSI cliche of a camera that is like 100 feet away on the ceiling or roof but after someone says "enhance" three times and a nerd clicks a keyboard can reveal a cocktail napkin in such forensic detail as to enable reading a small faded logo and the identification of whose handwriting was on it. (Which would be required to prove it was anything other than Miles burning a random napkin.)


How is it that Blanc got a custom slap bracelet when Miles wasn’t expecting him?

He spent two hours on Miles' boat over there, after being greeted by Miles' staff, including Efficient Hawke; presumably also there's a heap of the things, given that Miles is expecting shitloads of guests within a week. (convening the world's leaders for the Klear demo) A Super 8 clerk can give me a custom magnetic room key in like 10 seconds after my credit card clears. It's also not clear that they actually do anything; Helen is clearly able to wander everywhere she wants despite it not being in Miles' interest for her to go anywhere at all.
posted by Superilla at 7:56 PM on December 28, 2022 [5 favorites]


I liked this more than KO, of which my only lasting memory of is 'meh'. I thought the mystery aspect worked well and it looked beautiful.

But, I too kept getting distracted by the early pandemic setting. It felt like the story couldn't decide if it was two months or 18 months into the pandemic.

Point taken that Birdy already had her sweatpants business, but less than two months into lockdowns seemed too quick to be coining it in. It would have made more sense (for May 2020) if she'd been making something like anti bac hand gel. That would have been pretty niche pre pandemic but production and profits went through the roof very early in 2020.

Talking of lockdowns, how did they all get to Greece? I think the invitation said something like "travel arrangements to follow" so I assumed private jet arranged by Miles. But how would Blanc get there as he wasn't on the invite list? And when Blanc and Helen are in the hotel/restaurant the night before: how is that open when everything was shut that early in the pandemic?

It felt like the whole thing could have been set a year later and made more sense in the pandemic setting.

Or maybe I've just been watching too many things over the Christmas period with a pair of older relatives who Statler & Waldorf through anything they watch.
posted by welsh robot at 1:38 AM on December 29, 2022 [3 favorites]


Europe was famously uneven in terms of lockdown, and North America too. I think Greece only went into partial lockdown in late 2020. It's East Asia that went full-on by March IIRC. I had a quick news search and I saw Nov 2020 for Greece. That's my No-Prize contribution.
posted by cendawanita at 1:52 AM on December 29, 2022 [3 favorites]


FWIW it looks like Nov 2020 was their second lockdown. Greece had a nationwide lockdown from March 2020, though restrictions started to be lifted in early May so that fits with the film's timeline.
posted by welsh robot at 2:06 AM on December 29, 2022 [1 favorite]


"Reasons why the Benoit Blanc movies work so well": "He is barely a character, he is a plot device.... It is not Benoit Blanc’s movie. It is a movie with Benoit Blanc in." Which makes me think of Mad Max: Fury Road and the actual driver of the plot -- Furiosa, not Max -- much as Helen here drives the plot much more than Blanc does.
posted by brainwane at 3:32 AM on December 29, 2022 [4 favorites]


brainwane that link is amazing thank you!
posted by ellieBOA at 4:32 AM on December 29, 2022 [1 favorite]


The level of self-shame I have at forgetting the Kate Hudson/Fabletics connection this late in the game cannot be measured. Oof.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:00 AM on December 29, 2022 [2 favorites]


The DONG clock chime was voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

My favorite part of this was probably lost on a lot of the audience: the surface-level joke is that Miles is such an asshole that he hired one of the most famous living composers, a founder of American minimalist composition, to compose his fucking clock chime. But the real clincher, and bit of character reveal, is that Miles tells his friends that he "got Phil Glass to compose it," obviously feigning some kind of friendship because no one calls Philip Glass by the nickname 'Phil,' literally not even his friends.

It would be like saying "yeah, I got Johnny Brahms to write it" or "Pete Tchaikovsky made that for me." Just a great, subtle joke-on-top-of-a-joke (and then of course, his friends miss Miles' brag, because none of that shallow crew know who Philip Glass is anyway: 'who's Phil Gas?').
posted by LooseFilter at 7:38 AM on December 29, 2022 [11 favorites]


(Knowing that Rian Johnson is friends with music critic/writer Alex Ross [blog highly recommended], I do wonder if this is a joke he wrote mostly for his friend.)
posted by LooseFilter at 7:56 AM on December 29, 2022 [2 favorites]


Vanity Fair: Rian Johnson Breaks Down the "Arrival" Scene. 20 minutes of Johnson explaining how he directs. There's a whole lot of detail about the blocking of each shot, how important and tricky it was getting so many characters on a narrow pier. He also talks explicitly about the point made above how the way the various characters wore their masks was helpful in sketching out every character.
posted by Nelson at 7:58 AM on December 29, 2022 [4 favorites]


People on Tumblr and AO3 are envisioning Philip and Blanc's backstory as one of Hugh Grant's rom-coms, and I am 100% here for that.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:52 AM on December 29, 2022 [7 favorites]


I’d forgotten about Blanc calling out to Philip, and given all the celebs on the zoom game, and the Serena cameo, I first thought it was Hugh Grant playing himself.
posted by boogieboy at 9:13 AM on December 29, 2022 [3 favorites]


But the real clincher, and bit of character reveal, is that Miles tells his friends that he "got Phil Glass to compose it," obviously feigning some kind of friendship because no one calls Philip Glass by the nickname 'Phil,' literally not even his friends.

It also shows how desperate Miles is for the validation of celebrity. Not only is his place full of famous works of art (or IIRC glass versions of same), every single reference he makes is tied into celebrity. He hires Gillian Flynn to do the murder mystery, his puzzle box guy apprenticed with Ricky Jay, even the delightful Serena Williams cameo - the only thing that could be good is if someone is famous for it.

Which is bullshit - Serena Williams is an elite athlete, she's unlikely to be a good general purpose fitness coach; even whatever trainers who have worked with her are probably much better suited to helping elite tennis players improve aspects of their game than providing general purpose fitness training for a rando billionaire. But a good fitness trainer isn't famous like Serena Williams.
posted by Superilla at 10:06 AM on December 29, 2022 [13 favorites]


He hires Gillian Flynn to do the murder mystery,

And mispronounces her name (it's gill as in fish).
posted by Etrigan at 10:33 AM on December 29, 2022 [4 favorites]


With so many tells, the fact that it took Blanc as long as it did to figure out that the obvious explanation is the explanation (that Miles is, in fact, that dumb) strikes me as a central comment of the movie: we are all to some degree blind to this obvious answer that explains a lot of the behavior of powerful people, they're actually not that smart or thoughtful. It's really hard to see through the constant, pervasive cultural propaganda that says successful = smart, hopefully this movie helps knock some scales from eyes in that regard.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:17 AM on December 29, 2022 [10 favorites]


With so many tells, the fact that it took Blanc as long as it did to figure out that the obvious explanation is the explanation (that Miles is, in fact, that dumb) strikes me as a central comment of the movie: we are all to some degree blind to this obvious answer that explains a lot of the behavior of powerful people, they're actually not that smart or thoughtful. It's really hard to see through the constant, pervasive cultural propaganda that says successful = smart, hopefully this movie helps knock some scales from eyes in that regard.

I also love that the movie ably sets this up right at Blanc's introduction, losing at "Among Us" because he's "bad at dumb things." But then I also love how much he's affably insulting Miles even when pretending to pander to his ego, talking about the "children's puzzles" in the invite-box or how satisfying the "simple mystery" that Gillian Flynn set up for him was.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:28 AM on December 29, 2022 [13 favorites]


I kinda suspect that Blanc would've done about as well at that puzzle box as he does at Clue and Among Us, though.
posted by ckape at 3:00 PM on December 29, 2022


I just finished watching this and one of the highest compliments I can give it is this: I didn't once pick up my phone to fidget or look up stuff. I can't remember the last time a film engaged me so much. I loved this. I liked it better than Knives Out, I think.

Oh, and the masking at the dock! Spot on. Especially Kathryn Hahn's character. I know a lot of folks who do this in lefty circles; nose over mask until someone they might know sees them and they do not want to be seen as part of the problem so boop! then over the nose it goes. (Don't even get me started about Kate Hudson's fashion "mask", saw those all over social media in 2020 too!)
posted by Kitteh at 5:45 PM on December 29, 2022 [5 favorites]


Trying to think of all the Classical references in the movie, but most of my knowledge of the Classics comes from Grade 6 Social Studies, pleasure reading, and secondhand through things like Baroque opera.
  • The Cassandra/Helen thing
  • Blanc mentioning his Achilles heel
  • Blanc doing his thinking in the bathtub like Archimedes
  • Duke wears a leopard print sarong that suggests Hercules and the Nemean lion's skin
  • Miles is like King Minos, hiring others to create his puzzles
  • The use of Klear without further testing is compared to the Hindenburg, which has itself often been compared to the flight of Icarus
  • Whiskey's Taurus necklace makes me think of the Minotaur, which is related to Minos but I just can't seem to make the connection in the story
  • I mean, you can't make a mystery movie without using the word "clue," but the word does come from the clew of thread that Ariadne gave to Theseus to get out of the Labyrinth

posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:31 PM on December 29, 2022 [9 favorites]


^Matisse's Icarus hangs on the bathroom wall, as Benoit and Andi confer & he's warning her to be careful.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:05 PM on December 29, 2022 [9 favorites]


The Rothko in the Hall of Denouement, which is upside down apparently 😂
posted by cendawanita at 7:47 PM on December 29, 2022 [9 favorites]


- Whiskey's Taurus necklace makes me think of the Minotaur, which is related to Minos but I just can't seem to make the connection in the story

- I mean, you can't make a mystery movie without using the word "clue," but the word does come from the clew of thread that Ariadne gave to Theseus to get out of the Labyrinth


Hmm, does the fact a speargun usually comes with its line a good enough stretch?
posted by cendawanita at 7:49 PM on December 29, 2022 [2 favorites]


Apparently Johnson was really unsatisfied about the mid-act reveal and was nervous audiences would feel betrayed by it, so for those who found it distasteful, you're not alone.

My favourite name drop was the Banksy dock and the fact that it's a piece of shit, which is a very sly dig at Banksy, or at least the Banksy in this universe who made this ridiculous glass dock for Miles Bron.

My hope is that Knives Out 3 takes advantage of establishing Hugh Grant's character as Benoit Blanc's partner, and borrows from The Thin Man series: Daniel Craig and Hugh Grant as a couple, bantering back and forth as they solve a mystery together.
posted by Merus at 9:44 PM on December 29, 2022 [4 favorites]


My favourite name drop was the Banksy dock and the fact that it's a piece of shit, which is a very sly dig at Banksy, or at least the Banksy in this universe who made this ridiculous glass dock for Miles Bron.

I read that — and the similarly not-great results of the work he hired Flynn and Jay(‘s apprentice) and Williams and Glass to do — as Bron foolishly asking people to do things that a fool would think they must be good at, and then throwing so much money at them that they just shrug and do it anyway, knowing full well that they wouldn’t do it well, but who turns down that much money.
posted by Etrigan at 9:52 PM on December 29, 2022 [11 favorites]


If you loved this -- as I did -- be sure to watch The Last of Sheila, which is referenced more times than I could keep track of.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:42 AM on December 30, 2022 [2 favorites]


If you loved this -- as I did -- be sure to watch The Last of Sheila, which is referenced more times than I could keep track of.

YESSSSSS!!!!! I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it definitely scratches some of the same itches.

Also, in addition to the boat seat covers with the Omega symbol, Blanc is wearing an Omega brand watch.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:19 AM on December 30, 2022 [3 favorites]


Omega is of course the watch brand of James Bond.
posted by boogieboy at 3:33 AM on December 30, 2022 [4 favorites]


And, as taught to me when I was a child by Frank Langella as Skeletor, the final Greek alphabet, sooo... Blanc came to end him? That the yacht has those pillows, as it carries him and Helen makes this a fun meta.
posted by cendawanita at 4:27 AM on December 30, 2022 [2 favorites]


Daniel Craig and Hugh Grant as a couple, bantering back and forth as they solve a mystery together

Shut up and take ALL my money
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:55 AM on December 30, 2022 [9 favorites]


Another classical reference: I just saw someone on youtube point out that Andi drinks the drugged coffee from a mug with the double face of Janus on it. (Highlighting both Miles's deception and Andi's twin status.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:36 AM on December 30, 2022 [5 favorites]


YouTube kept recommending tie-in videos and I gave in and watched old, and it told me that Andi parts her hair on one side, Helen on the other. If you noticed that (or once you know) it's actually impossible to confuse the two.
posted by Grangousier at 12:32 PM on December 30, 2022 [4 favorites]


For days I've been scratching my head about what Lionel's wishbone brooch signified, but it's not a wishbone. It's another omega.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:06 PM on December 30, 2022 [3 favorites]


Duke wears a leopard print sarong that suggests Hercules and the Nemean lion's skin

OK, Duke also wears several items with a lion's head logo.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:16 PM on December 30, 2022 [3 favorites]


If you loved this -- as I did -- be sure to watch The Last of Sheila
Screenplay by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim; Sondheim is one of the celebrities playing Among Us online in the Blanc bathtub scene.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:26 PM on December 30, 2022 [3 favorites]


It's metal that Helen smashes open the puzzle box in the garage where Andi was found.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:27 PM on December 30, 2022 [3 favorites]


Rewatched this last night to see how much stuff just happens right out in the open, and u guy’s, it’s a LOT. You do actually see Miles hand the glass to Duke, for instance, but before that you also see him put the gun down in the bar area. After Duke’s death, you can see his phone disappear from the table between two shots of Miles, after which point his phone is clearly visible in Miles’s back pocket.

Probably my favorite “oh wait did they…?” moment though was the voice recorder being thrown into Birdie’s bag — if you watch closely, you can actually see it fall into her bag, barely visible behind her hat brim, as she talks by the pool before “Andy” shows up.

This movie is pretty great???
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:06 PM on December 30, 2022 [14 favorites]


One of the Vulture articles posted above by ellieBOA ('Bigger and Better') is based on an interview with Johnson that was released in this podcast. It's honestly not amazing; it's pre-release so the details aren't covered, and the article is close to a transcript. But anyways, two things sparked by that interview I thought worth mentioning:

Kate Hudson apparently told Rian Johnson that she was playing Birdy like she understood every third word that was said, which is great.

Agatha Christie was not necessarily a political writer per se, but she interacted with contemporary society -- her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, has Poirot as a Belgian refugee and Hastings recovering at his country house from injuries sustained fighting in the Western Front; it was written in 1916. When she wrote about it, the Orient Express was one of the most fashionable, luxurious and important transportation services in the world. For decades, Agatha Christie style murder mysteries on screen have had that fusty, old-fashioned nostalgic feeling. If she was writing today, she wouldn't set a murder on the Orient Express, she'd set it in the first class cabin of an Emirates A380 flight to Auckland. And that's the spirit the movie is in.
posted by Superilla at 1:54 AM on December 31, 2022 [18 favorites]


While watching this great scene breakdown with Rian Johnson, I spotted what has been my favorite Easter egg thus far.

When Kate Hudson rides up on the luggage cart from the Greek hotel, the logo is seen on the front of the cart- at a glance it said "Poseidon Grand Hotel."

But no- it said "Poseidonion"! You can see it/read it in this photo. I zoomed in here.

And it's apparently real! The Poseidonion Grand Hotel
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:41 AM on December 31, 2022 [7 favorites]


I don't know about modern Greek, but in ancient (Attic) Greek, -ion is an adjectival suffix (so, "Poseidon-y Hotel", rather than something openly silly). Still a good catch!
posted by praemunire at 9:38 AM on December 31, 2022




This came across my Tumblr dash this morning: "I know people have lots of Opinions about The Last Jedi, but whatever you think about it, you should accept that it’s an important part of Rian Johnson’s Rich-People-Are-Terrible Universe."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:44 AM on January 1 [11 favorites]


I absolutely fucking hated this. It's the worst movie I saw last year, and I watched Black Adam. I say this as someone who generally enjoys Johnson's film.

I couldn't help but compare it to a Columbo episode. However, unlike a Columbo episode it fails as a mystery, a puzzle, a morality play, and a human story (not even getting into film-making, editing, and pacing). Columbo's format works really well because we not only don't have to play the guessing game alongside Columbo (instead we can focus on how he cracks the case), but also because we get into the mind of the culprit. Generally Columbo busts rich, arrogant assholes. But they also kill for a compelling and understandable reason. I know why someone would be jealous of another person, I know why someone would be desperate to keep their job, I know why someone might be enraged at a betrayal that cannot be made whole through normal channels. I don’t know what Elon Musk thinks, and despite his best insistence that I should, I do not want to.

Watching a Columbo episode is also a little tense for the viewer, because they have a certain sense of empathy with the culprit as Columbo closes in on them. It's good storytelling (generally), because the whole world and circumstances that led to an action as final as a murder are also unraveled to us, and through Columbo's investigation we actually get a fuller picture of the incident, and also a better idea of the tragedy. A talented artist's life is cut short in the prime of their career, a brilliant mind is snuffed out, some amazing technology is in fact pure bunk.

Elon Musk is bad. You heard about this guy? Rich people suck, huh? You seen the way they spend their money? Crazy! That's it. A handful of paper thin, loathsome "types" float through a heavily CGI-ed landscape doing grotesque and stupid things. In the end a lot of clever tricks disguise the fact that there's nothing here. The plot rests on so many techy contrivances that it's nearly science fiction. There are tablets, and phones, and smart alarms, and mirrors that provide a brief cameo of a famous athlete that you know (this provides the characterization that rich people know celebrities, I suppose). There’s even a fraudulent superfuel.

Every other word in the script seems like it should be preceded by a hashtag, as we get a boring, already dated romp through the brain of someone who very clearly loves Twitter. I thought back to other Johnson movies I've seen, and while they're all very 'of the time', they also have some clever jokes. Perhaps it's because the main cast is mostly barely there caricatures, but there was nothing clever or enjoyable to be found. Rogan-Tate-Peterson fires a gun to celebrate things. The influencer model is racist constantly. There's another character (maybe two), who I can't remember, but they never do anything particularly interesting. In the center of it is Ed Norton's performance as himself, being dumb (like Elon Musk is dumb, get it?), and traipsing around his tacky house.

At the end of a torturous 2 hours we finally get a climax. Everything you guessed happens. A little speech convinces a bunch of people we've been shown to be irredeemable assholes (or at least who we've never been given a reason to suspect otherwise of through the script) to turn on their meal ticket. That is perhaps the biggest surprise in this overstuffed turd of a movie. And then explosions happen. A lot of them, endlessly, sometimes in slow motion. Columbo walks away from a scene, upset by the loss of life and the paucity of the justice he's been able to deliver. Benoit Blanc flies towards the camera with fire blooming behind him.

Fuck this movie. Negative stars.
posted by codacorolla at 4:58 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Just saw it. I’m a lover of the same golden age mysteries Johnson is, so I suspected that at the very least, I’d have a fun time with the movie. And I did! I loved its candy-bright colors, laughed at some stuff that was subtle and other stuff that was blatant, and enjoyed it when the story twisted back over itself and replayed. I don’t think it tops Knives Out for me but I think it was a worthy next film.
Amusingly, when we first see Blanc I winced a bit and thought “was he quite this big a caricature in the first movie? Did they dial him up?” But no! It was all part of the plan!
posted by PussKillian at 9:13 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


ETA: re: the Columbo comparisons

Ok, but how would you reckon it plays against the tropes of an Agatha Christie outing, which is the reference point Johnson actually makes? Or even specifically The Last of Sheila? Fair assessment though, if Columbo is the archetype the movie is modelled after.
posted by cendawanita at 9:15 PM on January 1


Blanc lives in a quite respectably nice apartment on what looks like the UES, so I don't think he can be Columbo.
posted by praemunire at 10:42 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]




At five and a half minutes that Collider video is seven times longer than Hugh Grant's actual scene in the movie. Which is another gripe of mine; a lot of folks I've seen commenting are very excited that Benoit Blanc has a husband. Sure, it's cool, but it's literally a cameo that has absolutely no impact on the rest of the movie. A nice thing but it's not exactly a major strike for gay rights. At best a minor normalization of gay representation. As I type this out I realize my grouchiness is a little silly but the excitement about this little detail seems far out of proportion for its meaning. Janelle Monae brings 100x more queer realness to the movie IMHO, although not in any explicit way.

Still posting because I wanted to note one other detail from the scene; before Hugh Grant opens the door we hear some music, some baroque keyboard. It's more than a little Deathtrap-esque. (Highly recommended film if you've liked these Knives Out movies and haven't seen it. Avoid spoilers.)
posted by Nelson at 10:14 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Hugh Grant's '90s-'00s reign as the rom-com king probably props up some of that excitement.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:26 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Yeah, he didn't just marry some dude, he bagged heterosexual Mt. Everest.
posted by praemunire at 11:42 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]


I haven't listened to it yet, but Good One: A Podcast About Jokes has published an interview with Johnson about Glass Onion as its December 29th, 2022 episode:
Vulture podcast critic Nick Quah sits down with film director Rian Johnson, live from Vulture Fest '22, to discuss his new film
posted by brainwane at 11:58 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Hugh Grant's '90s-'00s reign as the rom-com king probably props up some of that excitement.

Yeah, plus it's rom-com king Hugh Grant and James Bond, which is gonna build some excitement, plus the fact that it's such a non-event reveal in the movie is nice (the sourdough jar in Philip's hand is the real comedic detail there, for my money.) Plus, we know there are going to be more of these movies, and if the MCU has taught us anything, it's the value of tiny teases into what future installments might contain, so yeah, that tiny little glimpse of Philip added up to a lot more than what we actually got on screen.

I absolutely fucking hated this. It's the worst movie I saw last year, and I watched Black Adam. I say this as someone who generally enjoys Johnson's film.

Sorry you hated it. I love Rian Johnson's movies but am like the lone person who hated Brick, so I have some sympathy. For myself, Knives Out taught me that these movies aren't going to play like standard mysteries that I know, so I went into it looking less for Columbo and more for snaky, twisty cinematic storytelling, which is what it was.

To take Knives Out as a comparison, we meet the family first (well, technically, we meet Fran, the housekeeper, first) and Marta, Harlan's nurse, and immediately we like Marta more than the rest of them, but then Blanc, our presumed protagonist, arrives on scene hitting the piano key, and we feel like we've arrived at last. We know there's been a murder, there are at least a half-dozen suspects all of whom are fun to dislike, and here's the inspector. But then, as the POV flashbacks come to a close, we get the first real rug being pulled out from under us - Marta's flashback shows us what actually happened.

This isn't just a wild thing for a mystery to do (Columbo typically starts with showing us the crime, but structually, I can't think of any other mystery that sets up a mystery and then shows us what happened at the first act-break, as Knives Out does) but it shifts us fully into a place where Marta is our clear protagonist, and Blanc is, at least for a while, seemingly the antagonist (in that he's deputizing her while investigating a murder that she accidentally committed.) We've thus switched from mystery to suspense, (i.e. an audience-inferior position relative to the protagonist to one where we know roughly what the protagonist does) but a new mystery has taken precendence for us the audience: who hired Blanc? And then the two mysteries converge after a thrilling second act where Marta receiving Harlan's inheritance means that she's in deeper shit than she already was and the scrambling Thrombeys attempt different tacks to ally with her or move against her.

I don't know that Glass Onion works quite as well as Knives Out does, but it very much uses similar tricks. It introduces all the players before getting to Blanc, hiding the ball on the "real" protagonist (this time until just about exactly the mid-point, one hour into the movie) and providing another "why is Blanc here?" mystery to fill the time when there's no murder yet. Once again, when the "real" protagonist becomes clear (Helen, in this case) the perspective shifts dramatically, not just from Blanc to Helen, but in terms of the mystery itself (we know why Blanc is there, now we want to know who killed Andi, and Duke, and shot Helen), in terms of the actual story (as we literally then see all the key earlier scenes from a different perspective) and the audience's place in it, knowledge-wise.

And, bonus, after Duke gets poisoned and "Andi" gets shot, there's a moment where it seems like this is going to be a true "And then there were none..." type of story, but nope!

I think a lot of the folks who didn't get on board with Glass Onion (and no shade if you didn't!) feel frustrated with how it doesn't "play fair" in terms of mystery storytelling. I'd argue that it plays completely fair - we watch the first murder that we're aware of play out on-screen and we have all the information right in front of us to solve it - but that structurally it doesn't play how we're used to, in a way which can, indeed, be frustrating. Basically, a knowing mystery audience wants to be grabbing onto threads from frame one, and we don't know what we're supposed to be figuring out until over halfway through the film. "Who sent Blanc the box" is, as I've said, the closest thing to a mystery that we have in the first hour, and once we learn the answer, it's not very satisfying in itself because Blanc knew the whole time and was playing coy. Then "who killed Andi?" is self-consciously obvious, so not particularly satisfying as a mystery either. So if you came into this for the mystery and left unhappy, I get it.

But I think Johnson is playing on the level of having fun with the filmmaking, of changing the question from "who did it" to "what does it take to make that matter?" which is a deeper question in my mind, and just experimenting with what new can be done with a done-to-death format. I loved it. But I get it if you didn't.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:14 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


I actually kind of hope we never see Philip onscreen again in the third movie (or more, if they happen). Or, if we do, that it's no more than what we saw in Glass Onion. I may be in the minority, but I love those little details that raise more questions about a person than they answer, because they provide a hole for me to fill in with my imagination, which makes me a more engaged viewer. I know it's become a trend in modern film and TV series to spoon-feed the audience a canon backstory for every little thing, whether it needs it or not, and I'm probably having more fun speculating about these characters' day-to-day home life than I'd have watching it unfold onscreen.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:44 PM on January 2 [8 favorites]


I admit I expected it to be "And Then There Were None" too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:44 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Comparing it to other movie genres, one thing I realized (in part thanks to the POV discussion way upthread) is that although the plot is classic golden age mystery, a lot of the cinematic language it uses come from the con/heist flicks. That long flashback revealing what was behind some of the scenes, and how our protagonists got one over on their marks, is a staple of the con genre. And for me at least, I was left assuming that Andi/Helen was probably not really dead, the same way I have doubts about what I'm seeing in the middle of The Sting.

I was talking about this with a friend whose a big mystery fan over the holidays about this and think that contributed to some of her distaste with the structure. I still don't think the structure is that alien to mystery literature--misdirects go back to at least Holmes' cheesy disguises, and one reason writers used the slightly plodding sidekick as a narrator so often. But in movies I think it's pretty rare.
posted by mark k at 3:07 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Re: cons and heists. I don't remember if this came up in the Knives Out Fanfare discussion, but there was a fan theory that Marta's not actually a sympathetic protagonist, but a con artist. The theory hinged on Harlan/Marta dialogue and interactions in the flashbacks. He tells her she was right a couple of times (Walt needing to build something of his own, for example); she was present when Joni's double-dipping came to light; Harlan turned the laptop to show Marta the footage proving Richard's adultery. It's clear they've been discussing his concerns about his kids for some time, and this reading has Marta subtly manipulating him toward disinheriting the Thrombeys for their own good long before the birthday party.

When Ransom throws a spanner in the works, Marta outwits him, too -- because he's so much like his grandfather.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:43 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


if anyone here is into DVD extra-type things, Netflix is really pushing out material under their current promo for this movie: the YT playlist - personal highlights for me would be the editing behind-the-scenes, the costuming video, and the one where the others tried to do the Benoit Blanc accent.
posted by cendawanita at 12:32 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


“Marta's not actually a sympathetic protagonist, but a con artist.”

Impressive if true! Reminds me of the paradox of imposter syndrome — you're either so clever that you legitimately earned the thing OR you're so clever that you tricked everyone into believing you legitimately earned the thing. Kinda doesn't matter which it is, really. But which do you want to believe?

I love the version where Marta is genuinely kind (but dang does this film overhammer that nail), but I love the version where she's a more-benevolent-than-the-rest trickster even more.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:44 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I would be surprised if Jenny Eagan didn't get an Oscar nomination for the costumes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:42 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Just watched the costume video iamkimiam posted above, and I gasped when Eagan said that everything of Birdy's was custom-made except the bikini. Where on Earth do you find something like that off the rack? With those pleated straps?!?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:03 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]




I didn't post it! But that video was amazing. i could watch so many of these.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:41 AM on January 3


Sorry! It was cendawanita! I need to learn how to read paragraph breaks.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:44 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]




there was a fan theory that Marta's not actually a sympathetic protagonist, but a con artist.

TBH, this thought flitted across my mind at one point early on watching the film. I guess I'm too cynical to trust niceness.
posted by praemunire at 1:17 PM on January 3


> Can someone tell me why Edward Norton's character tried to kill Janelle Monae's twin's character even after he knew (via Oddly Shaped Man) that he indeed had succeeded in murdering Janelle Monae in her home?

If the twin of someone you murdered showed up, that would be A Bad Sign For You, wouldn't it? That part makes sense.


I actually got the sense that he thought it was really Andi - he'd just poisoned her coffee and put her in the car.....and seeing her walk in made him think that "oh, shit, maybe she wasn't dead after all and woke up."

What doesn't make sense to me is sending a puzzle box invite to someone you know is dead. I know Miles Is Dumb is the whole thing here, but sending it after presumably her body would be likely to be discovered is ...I dunno, unnecessary? Also, Miles doesn't think it out too hard when Benoit is all "I got a box" (not clarifying, "I got a smashed box, from someone else"), and just...goes along with his being there.

For this I got the sense that the sending-of-the-boxes came before the meeting with Andi - like, maybe they went FedEx Ground or something, so he sent them out on Monday, Andi sent her email on Tuesday, Miles went to her place on Wednesday, Helen found out about her on Thursday, and FedEx delivered the boxes on Friday. Or whatever.

So my whole assumption was: Miles was thrown when he saw Helen because he thought "oh shit, Andi actually survived", and he was too preoccupied about that to be too fussy about Benoit saying he got a box - and then realized that "well, wait, shit, I can work this into my mystery party, it's not a bug it's a feature, woo".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:35 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


In her cameo, Serena Williams is on the clock, reading a book. The book? Gravity's Rainbow. *chef's kiss*
posted by nushustu at 3:45 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


I actually got the sense that he thought it was really Andi - he'd just poisoned her coffee and put her in the car.....and seeing her walk in made him think that "oh, shit, maybe she wasn't dead after all and woke up."

But he didn't actually try to kill her until after the news of Andi's death became public (and he was informed by Dave Bautista).
posted by praemunire at 4:34 PM on January 3


Nelson, the baroque keyboard you refer to is the same Bach "Little" Fugue in G Minor that's been playing throughout the movie (and that Yo-Yo Ma comments on):

Example

Compare to the scene

I wonder about the door-knocking being itself an example of something fugue-like, entering over and over as each Disruptor gets a box ("Bach"?) Do all the door-knockings have 3 knocks, to parallel the Bach theme being centered on 3 notes?
posted by Schmucko at 8:04 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


We sang a vocal arrangement of that Bach fugue in my university choir, and I've had the alto part stuck in my head ever since seeing the movie.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:44 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


> I actually got the sense that he thought it was really Andi - he'd just poisoned her coffee and put her in the car.....and seeing her walk in made him think that "oh, shit, maybe she wasn't dead after all and woke up."

But he didn't actually try to kill her until after the news of Andi's death became public (and he was informed by Dave Bautista).


Right.

Here's the timeline I came away with:

* Day 1 - Miles sends out the boxes via UPS or whatever.
* Day 2 - Andi sends around the email.
* Day 3 - Miles visits Andi, spikes her coffee, sets it up to look like a suicide.
* Day 4 - Helen discovers Andi's death.
* Day 5 - Miles' box is delivered, Helen gets it, and hires Benoit.

* They arrive at the island - Miles sees Helen posing as Andi and thinks "oh shit, Andi didn't die."
* That night Duke discovers the news of Andi's death and shares it with Miles. Miles realizes "oh hang on, Andi DID die - so then that means that's not Andi, that's HELEN. Fuck, she needs to die too now."
* He kills Duke, steals his gun and attempts to kill Helen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


That sounds about right, but the murder of Helen is for me the one point I'm unsatisfied with plot-wise or aesthetically.

Plot wise a murder-by-gunfire is going to attract a lot more attention than death by anaphylactic shock. Who does he expect to get blamed? And then 20 minutes later Helen's not worth killing, he's just bluffing his way through it all. Maybe he panicked? But they should have at least explained his motivation.

Aesthetically the book-stops-the-bullet thing is so hoary, and wasn't subverted or lampshaded or even presented in an entertaining way. Maybe to Johnson it was just another "homage" in a movie full of them but it was too plot consequential IMHO for that to work.

Still one of my favorite bits of entertainment for 2022.
posted by mark k at 9:20 PM on January 3


In the scene where Helen and Benoit are on the patio did Helen's voice seem weird? Not in a "That's called an accent, you idiot" way, but in a bad ADR way?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:49 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Miles realizes "oh hang on, Andi DID die - so then that means that's not Andi, that's HELEN. Fuck, she needs to die too now."

...but...why? Not to be repetitive, but her murder would absolutely bring attention to Andi's death, up to that point successfully passed off as suicide. And her being there (and not approaching him to blackmail him or anything) is a pretty good sign she doesn't have anything and is just fishing around--if she had anything to give the police, she already would have and she wouldn't need to be there. As long as he was afraid she might be Andi, I could see it. Afterwards, not really.
posted by praemunire at 11:22 PM on January 3


He's panicking?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:37 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Helen came to his party pretending to be Andi. That's pretty good reason for him to believe she knows he did it. He attempts to kill her, because he doesn't want anyone linking him to Andi's death.
posted by meese at 5:26 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


And don't forget: Miles is dumb.
posted by Grangousier at 7:25 AM on January 4 [6 favorites]


Can't lose a pub argument with a villain this thick.
posted by cendawanita at 7:39 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]




The problem is that Benoit Blanc is both a Chaos Muppet masquerading as an Order Muppet and an Order Muppet masquerading as a Chaos Muppet.
posted by Etrigan at 7:49 AM on January 4 [9 favorites]


“I’ve noticed you two gentlemen seem to disapprove of the proceedin’s on stage, and yet you attend every performance given in this here theater. I find that fascinatin’.”

“I apologize if I’m bein’ too personal, Mr. The Frog, but your charmin’ porcine companion has given me a completely different account of the events of the evenin’ in question. Am I to understand that there was no ‘kissy kissy’ involved?”

“I’m afraid I studied Swedish in Uppsala, and I’m havin’ a bit of difficulty with your chef’s Stockholm accent. It’s all very embarrassin’.”

Kermit: I’d like to introduce you all to Mr. Benoit Blanc...
All: (unison) BENOIT BLANC?
Gonzo: Wasn’t he the voice of Bugs Bunny?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:28 AM on January 4 [32 favorites]


I like the idea that Miles was just running on panic-mode, trying to eliminate the threat before it was fully formed. After all, everything that required actual planning (the murder mystery, the puzzle box, the company plans??) had been outsourced to everyone else. When it all came out, Miles was able to project confidence, remind everyone of the hierarchy, and insist that they all keep his secret. But why take the risk, if you think you can kill a couple of folks to obscure the issue and keep your friends sucking up to you? The interaction with Duke when he realized Miles killed Andi was telling; in seconds, Duke realized he had power over Miles and immediately started leveraging it to his advantage. Not only is Miles not a genius, he's also not unfeeling: being surrounded by his oldest friends (who are now dependent on his largesse) gives him a high he can't find anywhere else. How infuriating it would be to have to spend the rest of his life with them being able to threaten him. With them being able to demand what they want, instead of patiently courting him for favor! You'd want to nip that in the bud, right?

(I think Glass Onion is actually a bit nicer to its characters than Knives Out, because it ultimately provides them an out. You've been doing the bidding of a rich egomaniac? You can just....stop. Stop doing that. Say no. Redeem yourself. They're still venal and self-serving, but Miles is so clearly the bad guy that it kind of lets the billionaire servant class off the hook a lot. The film doesn't even really blame Birdie Jay for running a sweatshop!)
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:45 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


The film doesn't even really blame Birdie Jay for running a sweatshop!

I think that saying she was too thick to know what a sweatshop is qualifies as blame.
posted by Etrigan at 8:48 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


As a devoted lover of both Benoit Blanc and The Muppets, this is tragic news, but (while I acknowledge that two points don't necessarily make a line) a uniting theme of Knives Out and Glass Onion has been a biting satire of the ensemble characters, minus the one stealth protagonist with whom Blanc ends up collaborating. The Muppets don't work with that flavor of satire directed at themselves.

Like, the Muppets TV show ten years ago or whatever was more adult and biting than the franchise had been previously, but it still liked its characters. Blanc mysteries seem to need for the ensemble to be fun to watch and fun to hate. If you're hating on the Muppets - if they're being portrayed as "shitheads," in other words - you're doing the Muppets wrong.

Going off of the con/heist movie concept that mark k mentioned above, there's probably a way to make things work if the twist is that all (or almost all) of the Muppets are actually collaborating with Blanc in order to get an admission of guilt out of one character (as seen recently in the climax of one tv show that I won't name for fear of spoilers) but it's a tough needle to thread.

Christmas Benoit/Philip Rom-Com Mystery could be outstanding, however. All hail the return of Cockblocktopus!
posted by Navelgazer at 9:13 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


(I think Glass Onion is actually a bit nicer to its characters than Knives Out, because it ultimately provides them an out. You've been doing the bidding of a rich egomaniac? You can just....stop. Stop doing that. Say no. Redeem yourself. They're still venal and self-serving, but Miles is so clearly the bad guy that it kind of lets the billionaire servant class off the hook a lot. The film doesn't even really blame Birdie Jay for running a sweatshop!)

Yeah, all of the characters in Knives Out (aside from Marta and Blanc, obviously) definitely end up on a moral downturn. I need to watch it again, because I can't recall what Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) did exactly, and she gets a bit of triumph over Don Johnson at the end for herself, but even Meg (Katherine Langford), who is the most sympathetic of the Thrombeys throughout most of it, sells out Marta when her tuition is threatened (though they at least give her some nuance there where she looks guilty as hell during the phone call and you can see all the others looming over her like vultures.)

Birdie is, of course, ultimately at fault for not even being curious about what a sweatshop is while running a clothing line, after being an editor of a fashion magazine, and is pretty awful in her casual racism as well, though most instances of her horridness are played off as comedic super-cluelessness (e.g. not knowing that "jewy" was anti-semitic, insisting her costume was a "tribute to Beyoncé", etc.)

Lionel is utterly ethically compromised as a scientist, and Claire almost as much so as a policy-maker (Claire slightly less so if only because she had the slight benefit of the doubt that Klear might actually be safe and viable. Lionel signed off on a manned space flight with it knowing that it wasn't.) And Duke's first instinct upon learning that Miles had killed Andi was to try to leverage that knowledge into a career in legitimate journalism.

Whiskey and Peg, I think, are both arguably ok. Whiskey will obviously do whatever to push her career, but the movie doesn't hate her for that. And Peg, as a publicist with little to no sway over her own client, still tries to stand up to one of the richest and most powerful men in the world on Birdie's behalf. But, having seen it twice now, I don't remember them doing much of anything at the end (aside from Peg's "wait what?" when she arrives while Blanc is saying "consensual cuckoldry.") Peg, I'd think, would see the value in going along with Helen while keeping Birdie's mouth shut, since it could save Birdie from having to take the fall for the sweatshop, and Whiskey, learning the truth about how Duke died, would presumably have no allegiance left to any of them.

One thing I still don't get: when Duke tries to leverage Miles, he says something about "look at these numbers," which on first pass is supposed to sound like he's talking about his stream's hits/views or his mentions or something like that. What is that supposed to refer to in reality, though?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:37 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


What is that supposed to refer to in reality, though?

It’s just cover so no one else knows what he’s really showing Bron.
posted by Etrigan at 9:44 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Listen, given that it was Miles, it's almost unreal that he a) put on gloves before taking the potshot at Helen (there wasn't enough time to outsource it to Derol) and b) hit his target.

Etrigan commented above "... Bron foolishly asking people to do things that a fool would think they must be good at, and then throwing so much money at them that they just shrug and do it anyway, knowing full well that they wouldn’t do it well, but who turns down that much money."

Is Lionel is a good scientist? Recounting the group's origin story to Benoit, Helen describes Lionel as a substitute teacher (not adjunct/untenured/whatever; might've even been as "a failed substitute teacher"?), as part of the people-stalled-in-their-30s framing. But Helen's a teacher -- maybe she's more critical of Lionel and his particular career arc?
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:09 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


That's pretty good reason for him to believe she knows he did it.

I'm sure he thinks she believes that, but there's a big gap between "embittered poor nobody of a relative blames fantabulously successful business rival" and, well, anything. Helen knew that; that's why she went to enlist Blanc's help in the first place.

He attempts to kill her, because he doesn't want anyone linking him to Andi's death.

Let me spell it out a little more. Helen goes to an island. The handful of people staying there barely even know she exists, but have been involved with Andi for most of their adult lives. She's murdered, and in a way that requires some elaborate premeditation by someone on that island (not something that could look like an accident or another suicide--trying to fake either of those might have made more sense). That's a big flashing red arrow saying SOMETHING IS UP WITH ANDI'S PURPORTED SUICIDE, because what other motive could any of those people possibly have? I really can't think of anything Miles could have done more to undermine his own narrative. It doesn't necessarily point the finger directly at Miles as against anyone else in the group, but why turn your nice fake suicide into a murder for which you're one of like five suspects?

In the end, we kind of have to go with, as others have said, "Miles is just that dumb," but then it's unsatisfying that such an incredibly important action isn't included in Blanc's roll-call of Miles's stupidities. It should be near the top of the list.
posted by praemunire at 10:12 AM on January 4


I do agree that the movie is on the whole seems kinder to the rest of the shitheads, because unlike Harlan Thrombey, Miles Bron is alive and his gravity well is fully operational. Harlan's death (actual) obscures the audience view perhaps because it's backstory, but he also was a man who eventually cultivated a network of hangers-on that he himself is repulsed by (even as it's mixed with genuine sentiment like love). So the GO gang is provided this lucky break to escape, whereas the KA family never truly did.

Whiskey and Peg, I think, are both arguably ok

Because of my argument above, I'd say even in my first viewing they were also as culpable, but in the way the dead housekeeper in KA was, only even more so, because they are themselves trapped in a multi-millionaire gravity well. I mean Peggy begged Miles not simply because of Birdie, but because she doesn't have much of a career or professional experience other than Birdie. The movie doesn't judge Whiskey's choice of using her body as leverage, but she's still judged morally lacking - I thought it was clear Whiskey's underselling her intellect (Cline even changed her vocal register somewhat, not just her vocab, in the convo with Helen, imo) because Duke was her ticket but it's not like she's destitute the way the working class characters are in these BB movies (arguably; scant evidence but I'm using her moment with Helen to gather clues she's also fairly middle-class and very educated).
posted by cendawanita at 10:21 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


In the end, we kind of have to go with, as others have said, "Miles is just that dumb," but then it's unsatisfying that such an incredibly important action isn't included in Blanc's roll-call of Miles's stupidities. It should be near the top of the list.

The things to keep in mind here, I think, are one, that Miles at this point believes that he has cleared his own name by having Duke drink out of his glass, and two, that he was working off of Blanc's script for that "kill," which involves everybody around having motive to kill Andi (which they did.)

So basically, Miles' narrative that he's trying to piece together on the fly is "there's a murderer on this island, it could be anyone, but we know it wasn't me because the poison Duke drank was meant for me." And since Andi/Helen is an unpredictable element that he can't control, and he thinks that he's cleared his own name, killing her seems like nothing but upside to him.

I'd argue that - contrary to Blanc's amazing "No, it's just dumb!" line - Duke's murder was actually pretty deftly handled, especially considering how calmly and quickly Miles had to put it together. Pineapple juice is a good weapon there - not saying that Miles thought this through all the way but if a toxicology report came back showing no poison, then hey, it's just that Miles thinks "Whiskey + Pineapple juice = Flavor" and there was no murder at all, since Duke drinking from the glass was supposed to be accidental anyway, and his manipulation of the people in the room (Duke, of course, but keeping everyone's eyes on Birdie as well) was pretty sly. It, at least, had far more "panache" than shooting somebody through a mirror when the lights are off.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:25 AM on January 4 [6 favorites]


Birdie's hosting a super-crowded "pod" party in the intro; Peg is possibly the only masked person present, and hard at work putting out literal fires. Peg's meant to be a sympathetic character.

I also have some sympathy for for Claire's husband, who got his hand slapped away during the box unboxing. Hubs was not a +1 on the island -- presumably he wasn't fucking Miles.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:26 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


I assumed the husband was on child care duty and thus not invited.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:21 PM on January 4


Blanc: I suspect - if you'll pardon the expression, ma'am - foul play.
Camilla: Bok bok bok!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:42 PM on January 4 [5 favorites]




Camilla flutters her eyelashes, Gonzo seethes, KFC allusions abound. Scooter dispenses the magical mouth spritz, and Floyd's the wanderer just trying to work some things out, man.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:58 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


My assumption was that Miles was going to make Helen's body disappear. Presumably she used the flight arrangements designated for Andi, there was no record of her coming to the island. He would rightly assume he could get his whole posse to agree she was never there. Blanc's a problem but Miles thinks he's invincible and that he can say whatever he wants and people will believe it; from his perspective it's the word of him and his powerful friends against some doddy old Southern guy, no contest.

Anyway, I loved it. Delightfully camp. Were there unrealistic moments? Absolutely. Were they any worse than anything that happened in Murder on the Orient Express? Nope. There was actually more room for absurdism than we got, I think; the previous movie established just-this-side-of-fantastical elements as part of the world. To rise to the level of Marta's, um, quirk, Helen would have had to be allergic to bullshit and trying to hide her sneezing throughout the film, or something. Things like the journal stopping a bullet, no one getting hurt from Hindenberging the glass onion, etc. I noted as slightly fantastical and accepted it as part of the romp with the point being the beats rather than the literal logical sense (which is not what I expect from this series, it ain't Columbo).
posted by brook horse at 4:16 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think the overconfidence that comes with Miles's kind of money and social position explains as many of his missteps as actual stupidity does. If you've never had to face any consequences in your life, sometimes it's just not on your radar.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:49 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Yep. Miles, surprised by "Andi" arriving on the island: Would you believe me if I said I was sorry?
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:26 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Birdie's hosting a super-crowded "pod" party in the intro; Peg is possibly the only masked person present, and hard at work putting out literal fires. Peg's meant to be a sympathetic character.

Remember the liberal feminist collegiate Thrombey who was originally introduced as Marta's friend?
posted by cendawanita at 10:07 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Yes, Meg. Did I miss a Peg heel turn?
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:19 PM on January 4


I won't call it a heel turn, just an underlining that she's as invested and corrupted into the arrangement as her boss - that conversation with Miles. She wasn't pleading on behalf of Birdie as much as she's also frantic at the consequences if Birdie can't afford to employ her anymore. It's just a few levels down. She's a hanger-on too, just actually capable.
posted by cendawanita at 12:17 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


Thanks -- I now see what you mean. I'd read that scene as establishing Peg's precarity as a motive for murder.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:55 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


All the students in my college had to study that Bach fugue in our freshman year humanities class, and when we walked across the stage for graduation the music professor played it as an in-joke. The motif has stayed with me twenty five years later, although I had forgotten the title, and I'm tickled to know the name of it again! Thanks, Yo-Yo Ma!
posted by Liesl at 9:37 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


> even Meg (Katherine Langford), who is the most sympathetic of the Thrombeys throughout most of it, sells out Marta when her tuition is threatened (though they at least give her some nuance there where she looks guilty as hell during the phone call and you can see all the others looming over her like vultures.)

Meg is my favorite subtle asshole in KO. Yes, they're all looming over her when she makes her sellout phone call to Marta. And then, later, Meg is so overcome with guilt that she weeps and begs for Marta's forgiveness. Marta in that scene is trying to kindly, gently extricate herself (because Marta has more pressing concerns at that moment) but it's painfully clear that Meg simply feels entitled to her personal emotional catharsis and doesn't even notice Marta as a human being with things to do other than comfort Meg.

And so Meg clings to Marta, hugging her, crying into Marta's neck and her hair, well past the threshold of appropriate imposition. "White women's tears" is the only way I can describe that little scene. It was so subtle and so perfect as a way to undercut the notion that Meg was an innocent who was merely bullied into selling out by family pressures. NOPE. Meg is just as culpable as the rest of them, because she too acts out her sense of entitlement to Marta's time, Marta's attention, Marta's emotional labor, and even Marta's body.
posted by MiraK at 12:09 PM on January 5 [9 favorites]


When Birdie said to Blanc something like "What is this material? I love it." and he kind of shrugged like "cotton, I think..."

Was he being clever here? Seems to me a guy with his attention to detail and fashion sense would be able to say "Oh, thank you - it's Sea Island Cotton - gossypium barbadense from Barbados harvested in 2002." or whatever.

In a film with this much focus on wardrobe, this interaction stuck with me. It can't be unimportant, but what does it mean?
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:15 PM on January 5


Wasn't he focusing on something else when Birdie asked him about his clothes? He maybe just said "cotton, I think" because she was distracting him and he didn't want to engage.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:38 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I'd have to go back and rewatch, but I think she had also just charged into his personal space like a bull in a china shop, which was even more of a big deal at that moment in the pandemic than it is now.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:31 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Among all the showier costumes, I just want to show some love for Lionel’s denim lab coat.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:45 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


At that point in the movie I thought the “cotton, I think” was meant to indicate that he didn’t really know or care that much, but in retrospect there is no conceivable way that a man who packs multiple ascots for a weekend trip and who owns a bathing fez would not know what material his shirt was made from
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:53 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


"Clothing designer" Birdie can't recognize a simple cotton fabric.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:55 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


"Clothing designer" Birdie can't recognize a simple cotton fabric.

Well, that was completely believable.
posted by praemunire at 3:30 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I read that as Birdie trying to flirt with Blanc, coming on very strong with one of her go-to lines. Blanc is not interested for several reasons, could probably tell her the exact material if he were at all interested in this conversation, and Birdie, for all of her "understanding ever third word" idiocy, probably knows what material it is, so the "cotton, I think" is just funny.

It reminded me of the exchange in The West Wing when Josh and Toby are riding in the back of Amy Adams' pickup truck through Indiana and just awkwardly realized that the dude sharing the truckbed with them is her boyfriend:

JOSH: Hey, is that corn out there?
BF: Nope.
JOSH: What is it?
BF: Trees.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:38 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


He was also trying to come across as a starstruck Southern guy at the time, so that may have been part of the “hokum.”
posted by brook horse at 9:22 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Don't take my word for it, but in the language of people who flirt gender normatively, that's a pretty well-understood and clear flirting sign. I mean, we know they know (due to respective domain knowledge) what Benoit's material was. The point is that it's an opening for the flirter to touch the flirtee in some manner. It's also very forward. You can see Benoit clocking it as soon as Birdie had him in her sights just before she approached him physically. Pretty much Birdie's entire body language to Benoit is active flirtation (partly intentional because Benoit is attractive; but mainly reflexive because That's Who She Is). I don't think she ever noticed really till the end that he was uninterested and/or gay.

His hokum stuff otoh is him playing extremely starstruck and a little foolish imo. The flirting exchanges he never said no outrightly (for a couple of obvious reasons) it's not really part of that act though he obviously won't want to upset her as it'll only close off his investigating.
posted by cendawanita at 2:22 AM on January 6 [11 favorites]


ANYWAY, if you want to see examples of a female-coded* "not interested but I'm not gonna chew you out for reasons usually out of politeness or power differential" in the middle of a chatting up attempt, you can't to wrong rewatching the Birdie/Benoit moments. The one at the cabana with the magazine I hope is fairly clear too.

*I feel older western shows have more guys displaying the soft no too, but norms sure have changed a lot for american stuff unless the character isn't a Yankee/northerner of certain generation and location, in my observation
posted by cendawanita at 2:30 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Cameo-related, the trailer for Poker Face is out. Someone in the comments said this is like making Natasha Lyonne the Rian Johnson Miss Marple to Blanc's Poirot.
posted by cendawanita at 4:49 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


in the language of people who flirt gender normatively, that's a pretty well-understood and clear flirting sign

There was a whole Seinfeld episode about it!
posted by praemunire at 7:27 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


(Cline even changed her vocal register somewhat, not just her vocab, in the convo with Helen, imo)
She totally does, and it's so well-handled. Both her persona and her "real" self feel like dead-on depictions of a wannabe influencer running this kind of hustle, in ways I could probably go on about but just-as-probably shouldn't.
I'd argue that - contrary to Blanc's amazing "No, it's just dumb!" line - Duke's murder was actually pretty deftly handled, especially considering how calmly and quickly Miles had to put it together.
I think it goes hand-in-hand with one of the classic Columbo themes: the idiocy of the rich is their belief that the rules don't apply to them, not only because they don't deserve to have to follow rules, but because anybody poorer than them is stupid and barely worth reckoning with. Ransom absolutely operated this way, presuming that Blanc and Marta would have absolutely no way of unspooling his plot, and Miles works similarly. Only a part of the joke, I feel, is that only his rich asshole friends are fooled by him.

The downside of hanging around suck-ups and sycophants is that you forget that people smarter than your suck-ups exist. As Elon Musk himself is finding out in a major way right now.
Meg is my favorite subtle asshole in KO. Yes, they're all looming over her when she makes her sellout phone call to Marta. And then, later, Meg is so overcome with guilt that she weeps and begs for Marta's forgiveness.
Oh man, it's so much worse even than that. Because on some level, it's conspicuously played as performative guilt meant to get her back on Marta's good side. She's not just looking for forgiveness—she's playing the part of the Friend Who Learned Her Lesson. And Marta sees through it instantly.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 11:35 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


I rewatched the movie last night to refresh my memory on the whole Birdie/Blanc fabric conversation, and a few more things for my list of classical/mythology references came to me.

The shirt that Duke was wearing when he died was made of a print fabric that had chains as part of the design. Several stories about Hercules involve him breaking chains, such as the ones that bound Prometheus and tethered the Mates of Diomedes. And Whiskey’s Taurus necklace, like the Minotaur, was a tangible reminder of an adulterous-type encounter.

The comments about Miles’s “golden titties” could could be a reference to Romulus and Remus, with the founding of Alpha compared to the founding of Rome.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:07 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Right, the necklace was a birthday gift from Miles!
Miles probably didn't hold his puzzle-box guy's kid hostage, in favor of other extortion levers.
Mistaking Madelyne Cline for Florence Pugh in this made me understand I must wear my new glasses while watching movies.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:56 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Wow. Today I learned not to look at Metafilter's take on any movie I see more than a week after it comes out.
posted by tzikeh at 3:34 PM on January 8


To rise to the level of Marta's, um, quirk, Helen would have had to be allergic to bullshit and trying to hide her sneezing throughout the film,

Sorry, just saw this, nearly died laughing.
posted by praemunire at 5:01 PM on January 8


Was speculating with some folks about how we don't actually want to know anything about Blanc's background, but if they were going to make a movie about him, what would it be like and who would be in it. I remembered that Timothy Dalton played Rhett Butler in the Gone with the Wind sequel, so my pitch was that Pierce Brosnan would play Benoit's big brother Baptiste, George Lazenby would be their Daddy, and Dalton would be their cool uncle. Oil portraits of Connery and Moore would hang prominently in their crumbling Southern Gothic mansion.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:29 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Finally went back and rewatched this.

First off, sorting out the timeline as best I can figure:
May 9: Whiskey's birthday
May 11: Andi sends the e-mail
May 13: The boxes are delivered (except I think Andi's is delivered the next day, presumably because nobody was home to accept it)
May 15: Benoit plays Among Us
May 22: The rest of the movie

The timeline of Andi's split from Alpha is less clear, though. Miles finding out about Klear was given as two years ago, and the trial wrapped up a few months ago. The big fight about Klear was presumably more than a year ago, since Andi wasn't on last year's trip.

I also screenshotted the napkins and while they're both nonsense, Miles's is slightly more nonsense.
posted by ckape at 5:11 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


“I’ve noticed you two gentlemen seem to disapprove of the proceedin’s on stage, and yet you attend every performance given in this here theater. I find that fascinatin’.”

This may be all-time favourite comment posted on Metafilter ever.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:02 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Andi's role in founding Alpha reminded me of Monae's role at Wondaland (except with more shitheads).
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 9:21 AM on January 15


Finally located a copy of The Last of Sheila, which I hadn't seen in decades. And again, trying to avoid spoilers, but OMG the casting of James Mason was brilliant, given another famous film of his that I didn't see until years after the last time I saw TLOS. And the Dyan Cannon character in the older movie is SO much like the Kate Hudson character in Glass Onion.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:31 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


> Today I learned not to look at Metafilter's take on any movie I see more than a week after it comes out.

Why?
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:56 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Rainbow Connection - A Benoit Blanc Mystery. A Muppet themed mashup by the Nerdist.
posted by Nelson at 5:50 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


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