Knives Out (2019)

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A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. (IMDb)
An engaging and hilarious whodunnit with one of its biggest twists being an early reveal and a shift in the point of tension that works wonderfully well and adds a good heaping of heart to the already whip-smart script (see the knife line tie-in at the end, the return of the mug in one of the best final shots I’ve ever seen). The final twist is well-drawn but a little drawn-out, but that’s the only misstep in this marvelously decorated, cleverly edited, and perfectly acted mystery/family drama.
9/10 (Amazing)

 

Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

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With their daughter away, the Kranks decide to skip Christmas altogether until she decides to come home, causing an uproar when they have to celebrate the holiday at the last minute. (IMDb)
The story-writing is beyond sloppy (why is Blair all of a sudden coming home again?), there are obvious continuity goofs (Luther’s tan and Botox-ed eyebrows disappear quite quickly), and a lot of the acting is cringe-worthy, but Allen (playing his usual sarcastic guy’s guy) and Curtis (a Christmas-vest wearing and knitting mom’s mom) are both solid amidst the “crazy Christmas” comedy plot that has enough funny moments to make up for its cheap chintz (Santa makes quite an unnecessary appearance).
6/10 (Mediocre)

Halloween (1978)

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Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again. (IMDb)
The horror here is appreciably subtle, with smart camera angles and lots of long foreboding tracking shots laid underneath a chilling piano theme, but considering the consistently bad acting, the overload of pointless teenage fluff in between the thrills (at the expense of the doctor’s more intriguing narrative), and the underwhelming payoff (the inexplicably immortal Myers is never explored in depth and suddenly can’t aim his knife in the climax), some more direct shocks would’ve been welcome.
6/10 (Mediocre)