Reel-Time Review | A star-studded mystery and must-see concert movies

Welcome to real time review. This is a show tackling the latest movie releases. I’m Jesse Numan with me as always Atlanta film critic Jason Evans, uh Jason, this week, we’re talking about Kenneth Brana and um Agatha Christie and detectives with Giant Walrus mustaches. Um We’re of course talking about a Haunting in Venice which is uh third adaptation of Agatha Christie’s uh per uh detective series, uh previously adapted uh Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. I think probably two of her most famous. Yeah, they really are. I was less familiar with this

one which I believe is not even specifically called Haunting in Venice. It’s called like the something, it’s like the Halloween Party or something, right? Something like that. Where are you a big Agatha Christie fan? Because I think this is an interesting sort of prism for us to Yeah, so I I’m not, but because I grew up in the seventies, I’m familiar with the 19 seventies versions with Peter Usov and uh Albert Finney Sean Connery was the 19 seventies films of Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express. I saw those growing up. So

when Kenneth Bern did those, I already knew the story and it was just a matter of kind of waiting around to see what I expected to happen, actually

happened. They, they were, they were fine movies. I thought, I thought Death On The Nile wasn’t as I thought Murder On The Orient Express was a little better than Death on the n neither one of them were that great. But this was the first time I was able to sit in one of these mystery films and absorb it the way you would if you were reading an Agatha

Christie novel and didn’t know how it turned out. And I, I think that helped me a lot. I enjoyed this film more than the other two. I probably like this. I hear more than the other two as well, which I, I should say. I don’t know, it’s that much of a compliment because I really dislike the other two adaptations. It’s sort of, to me they were both like fine. This one rises to good. So maybe this is like, I think this one is, is fine. The other two are bad. Um You know, it’s interesting to

me that like, it makes sense a bit that Brana has sort of wrapped his arms around this in sort of our age of franchises and IP um of Brana as someone whose taste can be both um very classy. I mean, he’s obviously very known for his Shakespearean adaptations. In the nineties. But, uh, is also a real ham and loves to just sort of do big theatrical acting. And so there’s something that kind of makes sense to this if he gets to on this ridiculous mustache and do this kind of like murder parlor mystery with all

these big movie stars. Um, this one I think benefits a little bit from, it’s also kind of a ghost story so it has a little bit more atmosphere than kind of the other two films that he did, which I, I think we’ll get into some of the maybe problems with kind of like the mystery itself at the center or what I think are some of the problems. But I think adding that extra sort of paranormal, um, veil to it kind of gives it a, a little bit more energy and a little bit more style and

mystery than the other two films had. Yeah. So one of the things about this film that is interesting to me is I feel it’s, it’s such an interesting marketing exercise. They’re really marketing this, like as a horror film, uh the, the, the commercials, the trailers, you know, feel like a monster movie kind of thing. Like, like you said a ghost story, I guess it’s a ghost story. To me, it’s more of a mystery. I mean, it is certainly not anything close to a horror movie. So I was ii, I wonder a little bit about how

audiences are going to react to it because people expecting horror are not going to get what they expect from this film. People expecting a ghost story maybe, but that’s not a huge audience. On the other hand, people expecting a mystery maybe will be turned off by the trailers and not know that that’s really what this is, you know, in that, in that regard, similar to the other films. It’s an interesting choice by the marketing department. I’m not sure you can tell. I’m not sure I agree with it, but I think Kenneth Benat executes it. Well,

he does a nice job of at least for the first two thirds or so weaving this sort of ghost aspect into it. Um And, and, and it helps the pacing, I think to have that well, and it’s interesting you bring up the audience aspect to it because something that I was thinking about through throughout at least the last two of these, um because I would say death on the nail kind of fits into this point I’m about to make is this is a very, like traditional old fashioned version of a, like very familiar kind of

mystery story. I, you know, I almost feel like we don’t really to explain the plot of this movie because if you played clue with your family at any point in the last several years, like you kind of know how these murder parlor mysteries work. You know, it’s a bunch of big stars that are all in, in this case, it’s this building in Venice that’s supposedly haunted and someone’s going to die among the cast. We have recent Oscar winner Michelle. Yo, we have Jamie Dornan, we have uh Tina Fey even. And you’re just sort of kind

of like, there’s this Alfred Hitchcock quote where um Alfred Hitchcock was actually like very critical of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery novels. Um And I, I think they’re like, pretty fun. There’s pleasure to be had in him, but he, but his big critique was kind of, you’re just sort of sitting around, kind of waiting for the detective to kind of, you know, mock everyone in the house and then, you know, give this huge monologue where he basically explains everything. And that’s kind of been somewhat of my problem with the bra adaptations of these Agatha Christie novels

is, is not really someone whose style is typically sort of perverse enough, I think to kind of get that kind of tension. And it’s even interesting comparing it to something. Like, I think audiences will be very familiar with the Knives Out series, which I think compared to Agatha Christie, you know, their relationship to that is sort of like scream compared to all the other slasher movies. The sort of the Knives Out movies being this kind of like very meta uh series that is aware that the audience knows the beats and sort of conventions of this

series and is like, how can we both poke fun at that and kind of flip it on its head and do something a little bit subversive. And I’m, I’m curious, do you, do you think that that series being as popular as it is? People can kind of then slide back into a more familiar version of those sort of same beats and rhythms because I, I would say that makes like a little bit of an unintentional struggle for me as, as much as I enjoyed kind of the ghostly aspects of this movie and think it is

better than the other two. It still kind of got the feeling like I’m just sort of sitting around waiting for Kenneth bra to twirl that mustache of his and then sort of like, explain to us here’s who actually did the murder this time. Yeah. So two things, first of all, comparison to Knives Out uh the, the dialogue, the, the character building, uh the world building to some extent and the Knives Out films is way better than these films. There. There, there’s a, there’s a reason that Ryan Johnson and those Knives Out films are like best

picture contenders and these are just, we’re debating whether it’s good or fine, you know. So, you know, maybe if audiences, if there are people out there who are like, I love that mystery kind of thing, this, this will satisfy their appetite a little bit, but it’s not Knives out. Uh, the other thing that strikes me is this is something that bothers me whenever I watch these films, I would prefer as an audience to be able to try and join the detective in solving the crime. I agree. I mean, that’s why you’re there. You’re like, oh,

here’s a mystery. Let’s see if I can put the pieces together. And I think for the most part in these Agatha Christie films in the last two and again, in this one, there’s not much of an opportunity for the, the clues aren’t presented to the audience in a way that allows us to piece them together. They’re not even presented in a way that allows us to go back and go. Oh, yeah. I mean, in this movie, there’s one little aspect of it that there’s one little specific, right? We won’t spoil but, but for the most

part, but for the most part we can’t go. Oh, I should have seen that coming over here. And then it would have let you know it just as you say, it’s just Kenneth suddenly goes into a dialogue and explains stuff that we never saw or had an opportunity to, to notice a footprint in a um in a fireplace that, that the camera never showed us. We didn’t have, you know, there was no way for us to, to observe that and he uses that to then turn things completely around. It’s fun to see him doing his

thing. Right. But as an audience, we’re passive observers, we’re not active. Right. Well, any last thoughts on it’s almost one of those movies where it’s sort of like, I don’t know, you can just stay home and watch. Clue. You know what I mean? I mean? Well, look clues, clues of comedy. It’s completely different in that. The one thing I would say that I did enjoy about this one that we haven’t talked about yet is I think Kenneth Benna really shows his confidence as a director. There are a lot of things he does with the camera,

with camera angles, with camera positioning. I almost took a good laugh because like sometimes he can overdo the angles a bit, his movie. If anyone has ever like gone back and watched any footage from the first Thor movie, it’s like he’s adding in Dutch angles and stuff where like, it doesn’t even make sense. Um I agree it makes a little bit of more sense here because it meant it be more kind of uneasy. But, well, right, I was gonna say it contributes to the atmosphere a lot. Uh But with, with that being said, I think

he, he, he does start to struggle with it. The middle third of this film, like the movie is a, a brisk, like 100 minutes. It’s pretty short. Yeah. Yeah. Which, which is merciful. Um But even, even with it being fairly brisk and, and there being, you know, a mystery at its core that should propel us. I found the middle third. I was a little bit like, ok, can we, can we move it? You know, it, it is that kind of problem again, that sort of mention of like that middle chunk of the movie. You are

just kind of like sitting there being like, all right. Well, now we have to like, go into this room and to this person and then I got to hear them give their spiel and there really isn’t that feeling of you kind of being caught up in the mystery and sort of discovering the clues in real time. It’s just sort of this interview process until you get the kind of climactic big monologue speech, which by the way is something that Ryan Johnson does way better in knives out. Yeah. All right, we can move on. Let’s talk

about, let’s talk about music. Uh So we get a rare opportunity here to talk about an older movie that’s actually coming back into theaters um that I would highly encourage people to check out. It’s uh Jonathan Demme’s stop making sense, which is his uh iconic concert film with talking heads. Uh I would venture to say, I think it is the greatest concert film ever made and I’ll maybe get into that here in a little bit. Um But is a 24 is putting it back into theaters and for its upcoming 40th anniversary. Yes, I think what

is so unique about this movie is most concert films. You, you’re just sort of satisfied with sort of like the camera kind of holding back and you just sort of watching a performance play out. I think what is really interesting about this is Jonathan Demme, who most people probably know from like Philadelphia and Silence of The Lambs. Something wild, I think really works with David Byrne and the rest of the talking heads into how can we make this cinematic, how can we play with lighting and camera angles and the sort of theatricality of the performance

you’re watching and give you something that is not just like I’m watching, I’m seeing a film version of like a show I missed. Um you’re seeing a cinematic experience in a way and as a movie that sort of slowly builds from kind of this sort of like small collection of musicians, kind of having fun and playing around on stage and messing with lamps and stuff like that. And then sort of gradually grows and gets larger and larger and more kind of operatic as it goes on. II, I just think it is, it is a real

testament to I think like, what all you can do with a concert movie that is very different from what we typically see. And there’s really even kind of like a blueprint to I think like a lot of music video work that you see come along later. In the eighties and into the nineties. Um, I, I know you’re not a huge Talking Heads fan and I’m gonna admit II, I haven’t seen the remastered new version. I didn’t see the original 40 years ago, so I’m not the person really to talk about that one that much. Uh,

you know, it’s just III, I feel like a, a challenge that you have with any concert movie is if you’re not into the music, you’re probably, you’re probably stuck. I would at least tell people like it is, it is worth sort of checking out, at least, you know, for an exposure to the talking heads or, and at the very least, I think you can kind of like admire sort of the craftsmanship on display and sort of the, the showmanship for lack of a better word and, and kind of all of these sort of fun, inventive

things. Demy and David Byrne and everyone else on stage is sort of doing to kind of take this from the next to the next level apart from just sort of like they’re going to get up there on the, their instruments and kind of mess around on stage as it really does become this kind of giant pop art extravaganza in a way. All right. So I have a concert movie that I saw the other day that is newly out. Uh, again, it’s a classic, it is, uh, the Bruce Springsteen’s 1979. No nukes. Concert. These were three

concerts that he put on in Madison Square Garden in 1979. And I’m, I am, I’m a bigger fan of Springsteen than I am of the talking heads. But I’m, I’m not like someone who has gone and seen Bruce perform live multiple times. And, you know, I’ve, I’ve listened to his music, his music is part of the soundtrack of, of me growing up. But it’s, it’s not, you know, I’m not like the world’s biggest Springsteen fan. I’m gonna tell you something crazy. So the way I watched this movie, I was on a Delta plane, I was

flying to Europe just isn’t all unintended. Exactly. Right. I was flying to Europe and I was looking through all the movies that they had because I was sitting here and, and board, you know, on my Delta flight and I came across this concert film Bruce Springsteen Nonu concert. And I, and I was like, how can you even begin to watch a, a film that’s gonna really be about an audio experience on an airplane? But I started watching anyway. And I was, I soon found I was completely captivated by it. It does such an incredible job

of capturing Bruce Springsteen’s energy. And I think, you know, we forget the, the eighties gave us, you know, um, born in the USA and dancing in the dark and these other songs that made him a huge pop star. But the way Bruce Springsteen burst onto the scene was as a concert performer that he, he was, you know, he was the one concert everyone had to see because there was so much energy and I was stunned by the way, the filmmakers back then in 1979 captured that energy on stage and brought it out in this movie.

Like I said, I’m sitting here watching it on a Delta flight and I felt like I was in Madison Square Garden in 1979. It is. First of all, it’s exhilarating to see Bruce Springsteen who is now probably in his seventies. I haven’t checked. Yeah, something like that. Yeah, late sixties, early seventies at, at the, at the most probably. Yeah, certainly. He’s in his seventies to see him that young is, is exciting and fun and, and again, just so much of the energy and enthusiasm jumps off the stage. It, it’s, I, I thought it’s one of

the better concert films experiences that I’ve ever had. And again I was sitting on a, on an airplane while watching and I can’t imagine how good it would be in a, you know, you won’t see it in theaters. It, it’s, it’s streaming on a number of different platforms. But if you have a good home theater set up, man, check this one out because it is, it’s absolutely worth it. We’ll have to check that out. I’m sure most of our, uh, audience will probably think we’re just uh, have washed up music tastes that are probably just

going to go see the Taylor Swift concert. But Jason as always, thanks for stopping by and, uh, we’ll talk to you next time about the latest new releases. Sounds good.

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