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Old 11-27-2019, 05:41 PM
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Knives Out (spoilers)


I wonít spoil anything in the OP, but did anyone else see this? I thought it was excellent for the most part but was a little disappointed in the solution.

The solution to a mystery should be simple and obvious (think The Usual Suspects) but this one was so complicated that I was still putting the pieces together on the drive home.

But itís really fun with some big laughs. Daniel Craig is great.
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Old 11-27-2019, 06:40 PM
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I saw it on Saturday, during early previews, and liked it a lot.
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Old 11-27-2019, 06:50 PM
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I think Johnson really nails the landing in the construction of a whodunit in the very classical sense of the word (as well as its humor and characterizations).

Absolutely no plot spoilers, but an observation about his storytelling craft that may reveal more than some might like (in relation to Agatha Christie):

SPOILER:
One of Agatha Christie's most underrated gifts was the subversive way she deployed Voice in her stories. The reveal was rarely cheap, but firmly embedded in her skill in juggling POVs. This is what Johnson understands perfectly. Twists were rarely gratuitous with her, but an essential part of the construction. Johnson uses (at some point) a playful but extremely smart device that allows the viewer to think they're one step ahead of the story, but nothing really is as it appears, and from where I'm standing, there aren't any serious loose ends, either.


It's a lot of fun and Daniel Craig in particular really shines (though Ana de Armas and Christopher Plummer are marvelous, too), Kentucky-fried accent at all. Post-Bond, I would be very happy if his Benoit Blanc became its own franchise, and this eclipses in every sense Branagh's latest Dame Christie effort. Check it out!

Last edited by MovieMogul; 11-27-2019 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 07:21 PM
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I saw it at an advance screening last week and thought it was excellent! Very clever, and I want to watch it again to see all the little threads that seemed like throwaway lines but were actually super important.
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Old 11-27-2019, 07:36 PM
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The set design of the house reminded me of Sleuth (1972 mystery starring Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier). In particular, I saw a figure of a sailor in the house in Knives Out that reminded me of a similar one in Sleuth. And then I saw in an article about Knives Out that the set designers were also thinking of Sleuth.
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Old 11-29-2019, 10:45 AM
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I enjoyed it a lot. Really kept my interest with no boring lulls. Great to see JLC and Christopher Plummer. I even thought Don Johnsonís acting wasnít excellent, such as when his character was lying. Loved the old lady too.
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Old 11-29-2019, 05:04 PM
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I loved it.

I loved seeing the woman who plays Judy from "The Righteous Gemstones" as the house keeper. I want to see her in more things. And I loved Toni Collette's character so much. Her facial expressions always crack me up.

I thought for sure it was going to be the elderly mother who was behind everything. As soon as she was introduced as a character, I just KNEW it was her.

I liked that Harlan turned out to be a good guy in the end. The evil rich guy trope is so played out. However, it did seem pretty harsh that he didn't at least set a little money aside for his granddaughter*. Her granddaughter didn't know that Joni was milking him, and she didn't seem so bad. And while Linda was a sanctimonious bitch, she wasn't that despicable either. Even Walt's crimes didn't seem so bad to me. So it's not clear why Harlan did what he did. (But I guess their nasty behavior after the reading of his will was a window into their normal personalities, and it was those personalities that Harlan was thinking about when he wrote them out of his will. So it all makes sense now...)



*It just occurred to me that Harlan knew that Marta would take care of the granddaughter financially. So he didn't have to set anything aside for her.
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Old 11-29-2019, 10:14 PM
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I love this movie!

"Nazi child, masturbating in the bathroom." Ha!

I've seen it 3 times now. The first time was at the Chicago International Film Festival in October (with Rian Johnson and Michael Shannon there for a Q&ņ). It absolutely holds up. Even after you've seen the convoluted reveal, a 2nd time was good for catching plot things you might have missed the 1st time, and the 3rd time, for me, was just enjoying the whole damn thing, from the acting, the production design (that HOUSE!), costumes, the dogs, the music, everything.

Marta is the heart and soul of the movie and Ana de Armas did a great job. She's the relative "unknown" in the famous cast (though I knew her from Blade Runner 2049) and she steals the whole whole thing.

Two different family members say "I thought you should have been at the funeral, but I was outvoted" so I think they all just forgot to invite her, and those people (Linda and Walt, I believe) just threw the rest of the family under the bus. People kept saying Marta was "part of the family" but no one knew or cared where HER family was from. Various family members said Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay & Brazil. The movie doesn't say where Marta's family is from. Probably none of those though.

Trooper Wagner was delightful. "Big fan, big fan!" When Marta threw up on Ransom"s face, Trooper Wagner was just giddy with joy, "She's LYING!". He knew the implication, that Ransom had just confessed to murdering Fran and couldn't help himself from being thrilled by the twist, even though it meant Fran was dead.

I have to see this again.
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Old 11-29-2019, 10:29 PM
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It's funny that a bunch of anti-Rian Johnson manbabies are going into random Knives Out threads on Twitter and thinking they're spoiling it by saying "Chris Evans did it" and probably feeling very smug about themselves. But of course, they're wrong. Ransom wanted Harlan dead, but his plan didn't succeed because Marta was too good at her job. He did kill Fran though, but his other charges would be attempted murder x 2 (Harlan and Marta) plus arson.

Harlan Thrombey committed suicide. Nobody murdered him. Jamie Lee Curtis says in the trailer Whodunnit.

These idiots looking like dumbasses to own Rian Johnson. Ha!
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Old 11-29-2019, 11:11 PM
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Harlan Thrombey committed suicide. Nobody murdered him. Jamie Lee Curtis says in the trailer Whodunnit.

These idiots looking like dumbasses to own Rian Johnson. Ha!
I didnít quite buy that he would kill himself just because he thought he was gonna die in a few minutes. Or did I miss something? And was it just a coincidence he changed his will a week before?
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thunder? Or to hear only thunder
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Old 11-29-2019, 11:28 PM
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I didnít quite buy that he would kill himself just because he thought he was gonna die in a few minutes. Or did I miss something? And was it just a coincidence he changed his will a week before?
I think you missed the whole point. He killed himself because he thought he was going to die in a few minutes. AND, the kind nurse would be blamed and charged with murder. He did what he did in order to protect her. It was a spur of the moment decision, one that had to be carried out in 3 minutes (or so he thought). No time for reflective contemplation.
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:20 AM
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I didnít quite buy that he would kill himself just because he thought he was gonna die in a few minutes. Or did I miss something? And was it just a coincidence he changed his will a week before?
I agree with divemaster's good answer. Harlan knew that if Marta were arrested for murder or even manslaughter, her mom would be deported. He only had a few minutes to come up with a plan. It wasn't perfect because a lot of things could have gone wrong, but yeah, he really thought he was going to die, and wanted to protect Marta and her mom.

I think the will change was a coincidence. He had no way of knowing that Ransom would try to kill him that night (though I don't understand why he didn't consider the possibility, since Ransom was a scumbag).

I love that name, Ransom. As part of the background, I wonder if Harlan suggested it as a joke, based on the not-jokey Getty story. It seems like the kind of sick humor Harlan would laugh about, while Linda and Richard would be clueless. Ransom himself was probably in on the joke, since he preferred to go by Ransom, while "the help" still called him Hugh.
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Old 11-30-2019, 05:17 AM
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I think you missed the whole point. He killed himself because he thought he was going to die in a few minutes. AND, the kind nurse would be blamed and charged with murder. He did what he did in order to protect her. It was a spur of the moment decision, one that had to be carried out in 3 minutes (or so he thought). No time for reflective contemplation.
Well, I got the point since thatís exactly what I said.

But does anyone - especially a crime expert- believe that a massive dose of morphine would take 10 minutes to kill you? And after seven or eight minute of feeling absolutely no effect, would you still kill yourself?

I thought that part was kind of a reach.
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Old 11-30-2019, 12:08 PM
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I enjoyed it a lot. Really kept my interest with no boring lulls. Great to see JLC and Christopher Plummer. I even thought Don Johnsonís acting wasnít excellent, such as when his character was lying. Loved the old lady too.
Duh I meant "was excellent," not wasn't. I hate typos, especially when I make them.

I'm still not sure I got or absorbed everything. It might help (and be fun) to see it again.

How or why was Joanie (Toni Colette) getting an extra payment directly to her for her daughter's tuition? Did she somehow arrange that on purpose or it was an accident and she just didn't tell Harlan that he was paying double?

So invisible ink was the special way Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Harlan communicated?
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Old 11-30-2019, 01:17 PM
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How or why was Joanie (Toni Colette) getting an extra payment directly to her for her daughter's tuition? Did she somehow arrange that on purpose or it was an accident and she just didn't tell Harlan that he was paying double?

So invisible ink was the special way Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Harlan communicated?
Yes, Joanie was explicitly double-dipping. She was receiving a payment directly from Harlan while the same payment was also going to Meg's school. The implication was that her Goop-ish skin care company wasn't a real functioning business, and she was surviving solely by this scheme. Meg's realization that her mother didn't actually have any money, and that therefore she'd be unable to keep going to school once they were out of the will, was the nudge it took to push her over to the dark side against Marta.

Invisible ink was the special means of communication between Linda and her father. She'd mentioned earlier that each kid had a sort of secret game with their dad; nice foreshadowing for this reveal. Of all of the kids, I found her the most sympathetic.

My comments:
- Did Ransom somehow sabotage Marta's car, so that he could provide the convenient escape from the mob of his relatives? We hadn't seen any car trouble on her part before, and it never came up again. (Although the low-speed chase scene was hilarious.)

- In a movie that's explicitly set in modern times, with cell phones and such, it was a bit odd that the toxicology report wasn't typed into a computer and stored in the cloud somewhere. Resorting to arson to tie up that loose end felt kind of old school. But worth it, I think.

- In the final interrogation scene with Ransom, Le Blanc went through a lot of business of removing his jacket, rolling up his sleeves and tucking in his tie. I felt for sure this was going to lead up to a demonstration where he would inject himself with the "wrong" drug to prove a point, though I hadn't quite pieced together how that would work. But then he reversed the process without an apparent point. Did I miss something here?

- Maybe Ransom weakened the trellis just enough that Marta could end up breaking it even though she's considerably lighter, but it's a little bit of a stretch. Again, though, it was completely worth it for the best bit of physical comedy in the movie, when the dog runs by with the piece in its mouth.

- I hope Marta hires Frank Oz to help look after her affairs. He seems like a good egg.

-
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Old 11-30-2019, 01:47 PM
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nm--misunderstood the scenario posited.

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Old 11-30-2019, 07:23 PM
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I think the movie should have ended with Marta going back into the house, closing the doors behind her, and pulling off a latex mask to reveal...
SPOILER:
...Christopher Plummer.
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Old 11-30-2019, 09:01 PM
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I just saw it and thought it was excellent. The theater was packed and I missed a bit of the dialog because people were laughing. I'll have to find Craig's donut-hole-with-a-hole-in-it speech somewhere.

I figured out the crime pretty early, but I had the wrong suspect in mind.

SPOILER:
I figured out that the vials of medicine had been switched, and that Marta had accidentally given Harlan the correct dose all along. I thought it was going to be Jamie Lee Curtis who did it. She was the only one who didn't seem to have a motive. In the flashback to Harlan and Marta in his study, he says that he put all four of them in their place, but we'd only seen the details of three (Walt, Richard, and Joni) who had had confrontations with Harlan at the party. And JLC was the light sleeper who heard everyone going up and down the stairs, so she could have gone upstairs without anyone else making note of it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
The set design of the house reminded me of Sleuth (1972 mystery starring Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier). In particular, I saw a figure of a sailor in the house in Knives Out that reminded me of a similar one in Sleuth. And then I saw in an article about Knives Out that the set designers were also thinking of Sleuth.
I spotted that as well.

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- I hope Marta hires Frank Oz to help look after her affairs. He seems like a good egg.-
I knew I recognized the lawyer from somewhere, but I didn't realize it was Frank Oz until the closing credits. I haven't seen K Callan or M. Emmet Walsh in ages. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt was apparently in it, but I didn't spot him at all.

And I want that house.
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Old 11-30-2019, 09:18 PM
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I knew I recognized the lawyer from somewhere, but I didn't realize it was Frank Oz until the closing credits. I haven't seen K Callan or M. Emmet Walsh in ages. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt was apparently in it, but I didn't spot him at all.
Gordon-Levitt provided the voice of the detective on the over the top murder show that Marta's sister was watching on her laptop. So more like an Easter Egg than a cameo.
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:01 PM
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Very good movie. I was wondering where it was all going, after Marta told CSI KFC the whole story. I thought it bogged a bit during that point, but it all came together again. The ending was LOL funny. Especially the coffee cup.

And Chekhov's Knife.
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:17 PM
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What a delightful movie.

My wife smuggled in candy, and we forgot to eat it. The movie was just that engrossing.
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:40 AM
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I agree with divemaster's good answer. Harlan knew that if Marta were arrested for murder or even manslaughter, her mom would be deported. He only had a few minutes to come up with a plan. It wasn't perfect because a lot of things could have gone wrong, but yeah, he really thought he was going to die, and wanted to protect Marta and her mom.

I think the will change was a coincidence. He had no way of knowing that Ransom would try to kill him that night (though I don't understand why he didn't consider the possibility, since Ransom was a scumbag).
Ransom trying to murder Harlan was sort of a coincidence, in that I don’t think it was part of Harln's plan. But it was not strictly random: it was caused by the changes made to the will. And the same motivation that led Harlan to change the will, led to him wanting to coverup for Marta, to the point of staging (scratch that, committing) a suicide. I think it was the story about the mother that was contrived, by Harlan, because he alone (between him and Marta) knew that she was due to inherit when he died, but only if she wasn’t found liable for his death. That was his real reason for the rush to suicide: he didn’t want to die of a morphine overdose, which an autopsy would show, and then have his whole plan to disinherit his family (for their own good) be thrown into disarray.

It was established in the dialogue later that even if Marta hadn’t been convicted of a crime, she would have lost the inheritance to the family if found liable in civil court. Which she almost certainly would have been, if Harlan had just been found dead the next morning with no sign of trauma. An autopsy would have (or so he feared) shown a morphine overdose, and Marta would have been blamed. Even if she beat the charges (or if there were no charges) she’d have been the most likely (and therefore apt to be found liable in civil court) source of the OD.

So, to sum it up, I wouldn’t call either Harlan’s death or his rush to suicide to be coincidental with the will, but rather part of the same causal chain, intersecting at the will. His suicide was a desperate attempt to deflect blame away from Marta, by hopefully preventing the coroner from zeroing in on the morphine overdose which he believed he was about to die from, and so ensure that his family was forced to make their own way in life, out from under the shadow of his wealth. Ransom's attempted murder of Harlan, too, was caused by the will and his sour grapes at the thought of having to make his own future, not merely coincidental with it.

ETA: Oh, and I loved the movie. I left the theater even more convinced that TLJ was a failure of production and studio influence, rather than of writing or directing on its own (that is, to the extent the screenplay was whole of holes and contrivances is, I’m fairly well satisfied it was due to a need to force in certain set pieces, rather than a single writer/director's true vision).

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 12-02-2019 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 12-02-2019, 02:26 PM
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I enjoyed it a lot too. I liked that the film reveals what has happened in the middle and naturally you wonder how much of it is true and it turns out it mostly is but there are enough twists and extra reveals that surprise you towards the end. I also like the fact that it didn't go for some massive twist like the Usual Suspects or Sixth Sense. The twist is interesting enough without blowing your mind and that is just fine.

Along the way there is of course a lot of terrific acting and writing to entertain you scene by scene.

After Looper I think this film establishes Johnson as one of the best writers-directors in Hollywood today. I was meh on Last Jedi but I think those two films are a much better reflection of Johnson's skills. Since this film has been a big boxoffice success I hope Johnson comes back to this genre but only after he has a script every bit as good.
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:56 AM
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I might have missed something early in the movie. When the police are interviewing family members the first time, Daniel Craig is in the shadows hitting a piano key after certain answers. Was there any clue in this action or was this just a mechanism to introduce the character? I don't remember what answers prompted this action, anything meaningful?
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Old 12-03-2019, 02:17 PM
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It’s interesting that this movie would be very difficult to spoil, if you think about it. It’s not like “Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze” or “Bruce Willis is dead the whole time.”

To spoil Knives Out, you’d basically have to explain the entire set-up with the swapped vials, the convoluted suicide plot, the nurse’s exit and secret reentry. And then you’d have to explain the switched labels, the arson, etc etc etc.

It would be easier to say “Just go see it.”
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Old 12-03-2019, 05:50 PM
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It’s interesting that this movie would be very difficult to spoil, if you think about it. It’s not like “Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze” or “Bruce Willis is dead the whole time.”

To spoil Knives Out, you’d basically have to explain the entire set-up with the swapped vials, the convoluted suicide plot, the nurse’s exit and secret reentry. And then you’d have to explain the switched labels, the arson, etc etc etc.

It would be easier to say “Just go see it.”
Yes. That Rian Johnson is a clever bastard, I’ll give you that. It’d be like spoiling Grave of the Fireflies by telling someone that both the kids die in the end.

Because they do.

But then you know that, because it begins with the older brother dying and his ghost joining that of his younger sister.

It’s literally the first scene in the movie. In fact, I think the first line of dialogue (apart from some background chatter at the train station) is voiceover narration, "September 27th, 1945. That was the day I died."

I might be off about the exact day, though.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 12-03-2019 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:31 AM
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People kept saying Marta was "part of the family" but no one knew or cared where HER family was from. Various family members said Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay & Brazil. The movie doesn't say where Marta's family is from. Probably none of those though.
Definitely not Brazil; they speak Spanish here and there but no Portuguese.

Just came from watching it in the theater (UK). There were several shared laughs; The Most Dangerous Old Woman In The World got one of the biggest ones.

The movie definitely reminded me of Agatha Christie's mysteries in the amount of twists and turns but, unlike some if not all of Ms. Christie's work, this one actually gives you every bit and piece. There's some of the biggest twists I'd figured much earlier: if the general acting had been clumsier, Harland being fine after getting a megadose of morphine would have been believable but with the general level of acting and having seen people on morphine... nope. That wasn't someone having any kind of high levels of it in their system.

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I might have missed something early in the movie. When the police are interviewing family members the first time, Daniel Craig is in the shadows hitting a piano key after certain answers. Was there any clue in this action or was this just a mechanism to introduce the character? I don't remember what answers prompted this action, anything meaningful?
Every time he does that is right after they've told a doozie. "We all arrived about 8" (but that person had actually been there a bit earlier) doesn't get a note, because depending on how you interpret "about" it's true; "Harlan wanted to talk about his geraniums" (not an actual line, I just took it from my left elbow) would have gotten a note.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:43 PM
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Fantastic movie! Very well crafted, and terrific performances to boot. Rian Johnson should be very proud -- this is one of the all-time great film murder mysteries, IMO.
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Old 12-04-2019, 01:24 PM
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People kept saying Marta was "part of the family" but no one knew or cared where HER family was from. Various family members said Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay & Brazil. The movie doesn't say where Marta's family is from. Probably none of those though.
I saw an article that talked about that. Both of the actresses who portrayed Marta and her mother were Cuban, so the director thought about making the character Cuban as well, but that wouldn't have worked because a Cuban in the US wouldn't fear deportation.

But yes, the point of the confusion over Marta's country of origin was to make clear that none of the Thrombeys cared enough to find out. (Although I'll bet that Harlan Thrombey knew, because he would actually have talked to her.)
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:58 PM
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Does anybody remember the medication that Marta "mixed up" with the morphine, and does anyone know what it is used for? Harlan is clearly quite ill, possibly nearing death - people don't have in-home nursing care just for kicks (he already had a housekeeper), and certainly don't have saline locks in their hand because they like the way they look. I'm thinking that Harlan had already planned to kill himself when he felt that the time had come, and that the opportunity to cover up Marta's "mistake" just caused him to move the schedule up a bit. Who knows, maybe he was going to do it that night anyway when all of his asshole family was in the house...
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:52 PM
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Does anybody remember the medication that Marta "mixed up" with the morphine, and does anyone know what it is used for? Harlan is clearly quite ill, possibly nearing death - people don't have in-home nursing care just for kicks (he already had a housekeeper), and certainly don't have saline locks in their hand because they like the way they look. I'm thinking that Harlan had already planned to kill himself when he felt that the time had come, and that the opportunity to cover up Marta's "mistake" just caused him to move the schedule up a bit. Who knows, maybe he was going to do it that night anyway when all of his asshole family was in the house...
I believe the label was Ketorolac (Toradol). It's a NSAID pain-killer. He really shouldn't have been on it long-term, but wasn't there some dialog about him being post-surgery. That could also explain why he had a IV lock. Of course the 3mg dosage is wrong too, unless he's on some sort of micro-dose. 30mg would have been right (or did I hear the dialog wrong?).

The actual drug doesn't really matter, of course, but the fact that he probably would have had some pretty strong immediate symptoms if he were really hit with 100mg of Morphine should have tipped him (and Marta) off to the fact that something wasn't right with the bottles.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Jas09 View Post
The actual drug doesn't really matter, of course, but the fact that he probably would have had some pretty strong immediate symptoms if he were really hit with 100mg of Morphine should have tipped him (and Marta) off to the fact that something wasn't right with the bottles.
Marta was specifically giving him small doses of "the good stuff".

I wish we could get a doctor to weigh in on this. I thought the effects of morphine OD were rapid.

The movie presents it like he had ten minutes to live, but at 9 minutes 50 seconds you couldn't tell, but ten seconds later you keel over dead. I think he should have been feeling the effects before he got around to slitting his throat.
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:10 AM
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Of course, it would have been a lot simpler to set things up so it looks like Harlan committed suicide... by taking a morphine overdose. Have Marta say she stepped out of the room for a moment and Harlan filled the syringe and shot himself up. Then have her "panic", run downstairs and wake the household to get family members to call 911 and at least one family member to come upstairs, have Harlan talk to them briefly and describe how he OD'ed on purpose.... of course, things get a bit awkward when he doesn't die, but it seemed more plausible than the version he came up with.
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:50 AM
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Of course, it would have been a lot simpler to set things up so it looks like Harlan committed suicide... by taking a morphine overdose. Have Marta say she stepped out of the room for a moment and Harlan filled the syringe and shot himself up. Then have her "panic", run downstairs and wake the household to get family members to call 911 and at least one family member to come upstairs, have Harlan talk to them briefly and describe how he OD'ed on purpose.... of course, things get a bit awkward when he doesn't die, but it seemed more plausible than the version he came up with.
Marta might have been found negligent (and therefore be unable to inherit) by (1) leaving the morphine where Harlan could access it and (2) "losing" her Narcan.

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that Harlan was planning suicide anyway. He told Ransom about the change to the will, probably in an attempt to goad Ransom to try something stupid that would get him locked up. But there is no way that would remain secret if Harlan survived the night and his loving children would have ample opportunity to move legally (possibly by having him declared incompetent) against the will change. He could leave them no time to act.

There is the scene where he pulls the knife partway out of its sheath while saying his kids couldn't tell a real knife from a stage prop. During that scene I remember him staring at the knife far longer than just to make a point about how stupid his children are.

I also think Harlan was well aware that he didn't receive a fatal morphine overdose and figured that Ransom had switched the drugs. But Marta was in a panic and didn't notice, so Harlan had to concoct the plan to push the time of death to past when Marta left.

Need to watch again.

Last edited by Marvin the Martian; 12-05-2019 at 10:51 AM.
  #35  
Old 12-05-2019, 01:07 PM
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I also think Harlan was well aware that he didn't receive a fatal morphine overdose and figured that Ransom had switched the drugs.
That'd be quite a leap on his part. Marta's freaking because she's just given him a large injection of the drug labeled "Morphine". He has no reason to doubt that she has indeed done this, and if he thought the drug was mislabeled in some way, he'd know that her prediction of his imminent demise was possibly in error.

Plus if he thought Ransom had indeed killed him, he should have warned her about Ransom since it's just as likely he'd kill her too. Actually, if Ransom though the tox report would implicate Marta, why doesn't he kill her, make it look like another suicide or accident? If he hadn't been arrested, would he have gone with her to the 10 a.m. meeting with the housekeeper, and why was the housekeeper still alive two hours after her earlier meeting with Ransom if an overdose of Morphine is such a speedy path to death?

I like this movie and I'm sure I'll watch it again myself at some point, but the main mystery is a tad too convoluted and contrived. It might have been better as full black-comedy farce where there were multiple family members trying independently to kill Harlan and only Marta, purely by accident, succeeds.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Jas09 View Post
I believe the label was Ketorolac (Toradol). It's a NSAID pain-killer. He really shouldn't have been on it long-term, but wasn't there some dialog about him being post-surgery. That could also explain why he had a IV lock. Of course the 3mg dosage is wrong too, unless he's on some sort of micro-dose. 30mg would have been right (or did I hear the dialog wrong?).

The actual drug doesn't really matter, of course, but the fact that he probably would have had some pretty strong immediate symptoms if he were really hit with 100mg of Morphine should have tipped him (and Marta) off to the fact that something wasn't right with the bottles.
The intended dosages were 100mg of the "normal" med and 3mg of morphine.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:05 PM
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That'd be quite a leap on his part. Marta's freaking because she's just given him a large injection of the drug labeled "Morphine". He has no reason to doubt that she has indeed done this, and if he thought the drug was mislabeled in some way, he'd know that her prediction of his imminent demise was possibly in error.
With my theory he was expecting Ransom to do something after he told Ransom about the will leaving everything to Marta.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:30 PM
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With my theory he was expecting Ransom to do something after he told Ransom about the will leaving everything to Marta.
Okay.... though I suggest this tends to shift the movie from the genre of murder mystery to Ocean's 11-style heist flick, where characters have near-psychic ability to predict what other characters will do and when they will do it down to the millisecond and there are plans within plans within plans within plans. One quickly reaches a point where Harlan knew that Ransom would switch the bottles and Ransom knew that Marta wouldn't read the labels anyway (because she can tell the drugs apart by touch), and Harlan knew that Ransom knew this, and Ransom knew that Harlan knew that Ransom knew and Marta didn't know that Ransom knew Harlan knew what Ransom knew what Marta didn't know....
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:39 PM
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I thought Craig was hitting the piano key every time the discussion wandered off from the actual murder and into side issues.
I would like to know in the first place, how Marta was denied the right to attend the funeral. Couldn't she have just shown up? And who was it in the family who told her not to come? Everybody kept telling her they were outvoted.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:27 PM
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I thought Craig was hitting the piano key every time the discussion wandered off from the actual murder and into side issues.
I would like to know in the first place, how Marta was denied the right to attend the funeral. Couldn't she have just shown up? And who was it in the family who told her not to come? Everybody kept telling her they were outvoted.
They were all lying.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:31 PM
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They were all lying.
I know, but somebody had to tell her that she wasn't welcome.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:34 PM
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I think they just forgot to invite Marta to the funeral, and Linda and Walt threw the rest of the family under the bus, saying they were outvoted, when no vote had been taken. They remembered Marta after the fact, and came up with an excuse ("outvoted") to cover their asses. Walt and Linda are the ones who would have had the say so about Marta being there. It's very likely they just forgot. They probably didn't think to invite the long-time housekeeper either.

And yeah, I'm sure Harlan knew where Marta's family came from. He was a good man.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:37 PM
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Okay.... though I suggest this tends to shift the movie from the genre of murder mystery to Ocean's 11-style heist flick, where characters have near-psychic ability to predict what other characters will do and when they will do it down to the millisecond and there are plans within plans within plans within plans. One quickly reaches a point where Harlan knew that Ransom would switch the bottles and Ransom knew that Marta wouldn't read the labels anyway (because she can tell the drugs apart by touch), and Harlan knew that Ransom knew this, and Ransom knew that Harlan knew that Ransom knew and Marta didn't know that Ransom knew Harlan knew what Ransom knew what Marta didn't know....
My point wasn't that Harlan knew specifically what Ransom was going to do, but he deliberately antagonized Ransom with the news that Marta would inherit everything in the hope that Ransom would do something incriminating. It would be crazy to reveal such a change in his will while leaving his ex-heirs time to concoct a plan to interfere - therefore he was planning on killing himself anyway. The apparent mixup just complicated things a bit so he had to improvise the plan with Marta. Harlan may or may not have realized that he did not get the fatal dose of morphine, but that knowledge wasn't going to change his suicide.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:46 PM
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I thought Craig was hitting the piano key every time the discussion wandered off from the actual murder and into side issues.
IMDB says he hit the piano key when he wanted the police to ask what time the interviewee arrived at the party. I don't remember well enough to confirm...
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:45 PM
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Actually, if Ransom though the tox report would implicate Marta, why doesn't he kill her, make it look like another suicide or accident? If he hadn't been arrested, would he have gone with her to the 10 a.m. meeting with the housekeeper, and why was the housekeeper still alive two hours after her earlier meeting with Ransom if an overdose of Morphine is such a speedy path to death?
Ransom knew the tox report didn’t implicate Marta because of the story she told him. Prior to that, it's possible he was prepared to have Marta killed off in an apparent suicide if need be, but as he knew the details of the story (that Marta had switched the switch and so Harlan did not OD), he instead arranged a plan by which, no matter what (assuming he wasn’t found out as the real architect of the incident, that is), he would inherit. Either Marta would hide the evidence of her involvement in the events leading to Harlan's death and inherit, in which case she would give Ransom his share, or she would be "found out" (she, but not Ransom) and would lose everything, in which case Ransom would get his share under the previous will.

If on the other hand, as you ponder, Ransom had murdered Marta straight away, with or without the tox report pointing to her guilt and with or without clear evidence of Harlan OD'ing, he’d have lost a valuable witness that would have pointed more than anyone to her guilt and/or civil liability: Marta herself. Because she couldn’t lie (at least not effectively, and not in the long term). As an absolute last ditch, he could have just asked her directly, ostensibly out of concern for her and her well-being, if she was holding back anything. He could have even insisted that she would be "taken care of" no matter what, as many of the other family members did, even if she’d made an "honest mistake" and "Oh, Marta, I can see this is torturing you. Please, I promise I can forgive you, won’t you tell me if you’re holding something back? Just let us put our beloved father/grandfather at rest. We know you’d never have done anything intentionally to harm him." *water works*

Anyways, we were clearly meant to suspect Ransom from the beginning just based on his early departure from the party and his late arrival in the narrative. I maintained my suspicion throughout as I realized that he had "white knighted" himself into a scenario by which, no matter what happened to Marta and his own family, he would get his inheritance. Which is awfully suspicious, don’t you think? The one guy guaranteed to benefit by the binary scenario he's laid out for Marta, under (very gentle) threat of torture (the whole bowl full of chili followed by an interrogation thing).

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 12-05-2019 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:56 PM
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Of course, it would have been a lot simpler to set things up so it looks like Harlan committed suicide... by taking a morphine overdose. Have Marta say she stepped out of the room for a moment and Harlan filled the syringe and shot himself up. Then have her "panic", run downstairs and wake the household to get family members to call 911 and at least one family member to come upstairs, have Harlan talk to them briefly and describe how he OD'ed on purpose.... of course, things get a bit awkward when he doesn't die, but it seemed more plausible than the version he came up with.
Wouldn't work. As soon as she said she stepped out of the room she'd throw up.

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...and Ransom knew that Marta wouldn't read the labels anyway (because she can tell the drugs apart by touch),...
Blanc says that, but they could have gone with a simpler explanation. The drugs are in Marta's bag; she's the only one who handles them. Since she gives him morphine very rarely, and only a small dose, that vial would be nearly full. The Ketorolac is more likely to be empty, or nearly so.

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They were all lying.
All the family members were scheming, lying jerks, except Jamie Lee Curtis. She started her business with a loan* from Harlan.. I don't remember her claiming to have been a self-made woman, or of telling any other big lies during the movie. I'm not entirely clear on why Harlan would cut her out of his will along with all the rest; she seems to have taken the start that he gave her and done okay with it.

There's one other thing that nags at me a bit. When Marta is about to confess to the family what happened, Blanc is behind her and looks at the toxicology report. That's when he pieces the whole thing together and stops her. But later, when he's explaining everything Ransom did and why, doesn't he say that none of them know how to read a toxicology report? Everyone (at various times) expects the report to say one thing or another, but none of them know what the numbers in it really mean. So why did looking at the report give Blanc the donut hole inside the donut-hole hole?


* I don't recall if it was a loan or a gift to get her started. I suppose it's implied that she didn't pay him back.
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:37 PM
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So why did looking at the report give Blanc the donut hole inside the donut-hole hole?
I believe because it was the first time that anyone noticed that Harlan did not have any morphine in him. Everyone assumed Marta's story was true - that she accidentally overdosed Harlan, and everything came from that. But that didn't explain who hired Blanc, or why, and so there was still a mystery. All the facts were up in gravity's rainbow, but it wasn't until Blanc learned that Harlan did NOT have an overdose that he knew where to stand to catch the truth, as it were.

Knowing that Harlan was not overdosed, and if you believe Marta was telling the truth, then there was only one explanation that fit all the facts, and that was that Ransom switched the vials to kill Harlan and frame Marta. That one fact spun every piece of the puzzle into their proper place all at once.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 12-05-2019 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:55 PM
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I believe because it was the first time that anyone noticed that Harlan did not have any morphine in him. Everyone assumed Marta's story was true - that she accidentally overdosed Harlan, and everything came from that. But that didn't explain who hired Blanc, or why, and so there was still a mystery. All the facts were up in gravity's rainbow, but it wasn't until Blanc learned that Harlan did NOT have an overdose that he knew where to stand to catch the truth, as it were.
But Blanc says later that none of them knew how to read a toxicology report.
  #49  
Old 12-05-2019, 09:00 PM
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Ransom knew the tox report didnít implicate Marta because of the story she told him.
Good point, I'd forgotten that. Of course, around this point, a really smart person would back away, contact their lawyer and not talk to anyone (especially the police) about it. Torching the lab was a heck of a risk, but at that stage Marta genuinely believed she had killed Harlan (or at least crated the situation that drove him to suicide), so destroying exculpatory evidence might be worth taking the chance, but after that, just settle in for a long court battle. Certainly don't blurt out that you tried to kill the housekeeper or try to stab the nurse in front of witnesses. Jeez....

Actually, I can see one of the family members approaching Marta after the will-reading and saying "Look, by cutting us out entirely, Harlan's left us with nothing to lose, so we could drag this out for years through the court system. I suggest you take half of the cash and the home and a significant minority position in the publishing house, which Walt can continue to run. Divide up the rest among us and we'll sign whatever documents we need to give up any future claims. If Walt's right about movie and TV adaptations of Harlan's work being worth a lot of money down the road, the publishing house will be worth a lot more and perhaps we can negotiate to buy out your share in the future. Meantime, you'll have this house and about $30 million and you won't have to deal with us for several years at least. Or take the home and the cash and give us the publishing house, and we can go our separate ways right now."
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  #50  
Old 12-05-2019, 09:17 PM
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The intended dosages were 100mg of the "normal" med and 3mg of morphine.
Yeah, I got that dosage info mixed up in my head. So the dose for the Toradol was actually wrong in the opposite direction - 100mg is too large of a dose. The maximum recommended dose is like 30 mg for IV: https://reference.medscape.com/drug/ketorolac-343292

According to the doctor I saw the movie with Harlan would be basically incapacitated withing a minute of taking that large a morphine dose IV. Think of all of the heroin shooting scenes in other movies - it would be like that. So Marta probably should have noticed that it probably wasn't morphine if he was able to spin complicated plans. I suppose we just have to chalk that up to her being frantic.
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