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Matthew Belinkie joins Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather to overthink Glass Onion (a Knives Out Mystery), enjoying the stylishness of the storytelling and filmmaking, but having a little trouble peeling back the layers to understand the social commentary that everyone seems so sure is there.
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Here’s something that has always bumped me a little bit but I’ve never been able to articulate.
I grew up sorta in the hood, then lower middle class, then by the end solidly middle class, then I got married and started the cycle all over again. I didn’t go to college. Generally fiction dealing with class issues reflects the upper middle-class sensibility of the writers. Think The Social Network, but also all the 80’s High School movies: Films depicting not being good enough for the Country Club or certain social circles, microaggressions before we called them that, etc.
In my experience though, when privileged elite writers try and write for those on a lower social strata, they have a hard time capturing the on the ground essence of paycheck to paycheck life: You don’t hate the rich. Nobody has time to hate the rich. You might hate your boss, but he’s not rich either. You have to be taught to hate the rich.
Clearly, Rian Johnson really really wants me to hate the rich, from Canto Bight to the Trumpy family in Knives Out (how delicious! the Latina nurse gets the mansion at the end!) to Elon Musk and Joe Rogan. But he lacks the ability to write real characters that we believe and I wonder if this is part of what Fenzel was getting at.
I don’t have a dog in the Elon fight, but if you want to propagandize me against him you need to make the case that he is DANGEROUS, or at least wantonly sloppy or…something. He doesn’t need to be Daniel Plainview, but Ed Norton’s character can’t be this dumb and unsubstantial.
The movie seems to critique him more for having tacky stylistic choices than stealing his company from Janelle Monae or threatening presumably thousands with his energy project. It just rings false. And the final message is the same as the Last Jedi: Destroy the past…even if we’re talking about the Mona Lisa.
Does the average moviegoer think it’s funny to have the Mona Lisa destroyed to ruin some rich guy? I honestly don’t know, but clearly Rian Johnson thinks it’s hilarious and I don’t get it.