121: Knives Out

Garrett and Carson piece together clues to solve the mystery of Rian Johnson’s Knives Out.

Review: Cube (Garrett’s View)

Sometimes the central plot of a film is strong enough that it can overcome a low budget and sub-par acting. Cube is an excellent example of this. Filmed in what feels like — at most — 2 rooms and with a cast of unknowns, Cube literally drops the characters and audience directly into the mystery. The film takes clear inspiration from The Twilight Zone and specifically the episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit.” Unlike most Twilight Zone rip-offs or homages though, Cube manages to take the core idea from the original and expand upon it in different and unique ways.

Cube is a small, tense thriller that slowly unravels in twists and turns with every new room the characters explore inside the enormous, come-to-life J.J. Abrams Mystery Box ™. At its heart, it is a brain teaser. It’s smartly executed in a manner that keeps the audience guessing along with the characters. As it progresses, it manages to develop tension alongside its mystery and keeps the audience engaged until the very last frame.

Anyone familiar with Twilight Zone episodes will understand that the endings can be hit and miss. With Cube taking so much inspiration from the show, it’s understandable that it would have the same divisive ending. Regardless of the film’s resolution, it is a testament to the idea that great storytelling can overcome everything — from bad acting to a small budget.

But whoever had the idea that the characters should talk with buttons in their mouths for half of the movie should have been blacklisted.

Review: Searching (Garrett’s View)

Even after good reviews started to trickle in for Searching, I had my doubts. It felt like I was going to be in store for another movie that sells me on a gimmick only to give me that gimmick and nothing else. Thankfully, Searching far exceeded my expectations. I can’t speak highly enough about how well crafted this movie is. To tell virtually an entire movie through screens and devices is one thing. To use them in such a way that perfectly captures the very essence of day-to-day life in 2018 is something else entirely. It goes beyond a framing device and into what it truly feels like to live in this day and age. It’s something that we take for granted every day, but seeing it on the screen makes you realize that your entire life can be constructed by the fragments spread across thousands of servers.

Aside from the storytelling device, John Cho really carries the film. Everything is told through his eyes in a solely first-person driven narrative and he delivers. You can feel every emotion as his world starts to slowly unravel. It’s one thing to see someone in a normal movie be frantic. It’s another to see someone go through the EXACT steps you would probably take if you could not find a loved one and in the EXACT manner.

The story is thrilling and never lets the audience get too comfortable with any single direction it is going. Since we are seeing everything through Cho’s eyes, it doesn’t tug on too many threads simultaneously. Instead, the audience has to wait for Cho to see the new thread and then everyone in the theater pulls on that thread as hard as they possibly can. Sometimes this results in just another loose end and despair for Cho and audience alike. Other times, there is a true sense of dread and terror that was palpable in the theater.

All is not perfect for Searching though. Because of the way the story is told, sacrifices needed to be made with the story. Some will find these a bit too convenient or explanatory and they wouldn’t be wrong. But, for me, the journey was thrilling enough that I am ok with the sacrifices made.

Searching is an exhilarating movie with great storytelling and solid acting. Much like Gravity from years ago, I don’t know that the rewatchability factor is high on this. But on the first experience, it’s one of the better films of 2018.

Review: Searching (Carson’s View)

Searching took a page from the 2014 horror movie Unfriended. The perspective throughout the entire movie is from a computer screen. The gimmick is done much better in Searching, but let’s all hope it dies with this one.

Searching is about a father looking for his missing daughter. He combs the internet and his daughter’s computer hunting for clues about her disappearance. This detective drama takes many twists and turns until its final conclusion. It leaves you wondering how much of your life is out there on the web for people to find, and whether that is a good thing or not!