Critics Consensus

Knives Out Is Certified Fresh

Plus, Queen & Slim is powerful and timely, and Netflix's The Two Popes benefits from a pair of outstanding performances.

by | November 27, 2019 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a murder mystery (Knives Out, starring Daniel Craig and Jamie Lee Curtis, and a ton of other stars) and a couple on the run (Queen & Slim, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith). What are the critics saying?

Knives Out (2019) 97%

Before writer-director Rian Johnson was handed the reins to Star Wars: Episode VIII (and a potential new trilogy of his own), he cut his teeth on low- to mid-budget capers and thrillers like BrickThe Brothers Bloom, and Looper. With this week’s Knives Out, Johnson returns to his roots with an old-fashioned murder mystery, and critics say it’s a blast. The story revolves around the murder of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who invited his large family to celebrate his 85th birthday at his sprawling estate, only to end up dead the next morning. Enter detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who quickly sets about sussing out which of the family members may or may not have been involved with the crime, and why. Critics say Johnson, working squarely within his wheelhouse here, expertly teases out the tension and utilizes familiar genre tropes in clever ways, and he’s aided by a stellar cast who clearly enjoy each other’s company. That cast, by the way? It includes Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, and LaKeith Stanfield, just to name a few. It’s a classic whodunit with a modern twist, a dark sense of humor, and some fantastic performances, and what better way is there to spend Thanksgiving weekend than to watch a movie about a family at each other’s throats?

Queen & Slim (2019) 82%

Like many who have come before her, director Melina Matsoukas began her career behind the camera in the music world, crafting award-winning videos for the likes of Beyoncé, Ne-Yo, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, before she went on to helm episodes of critically acclaimed TV series Insecure and Master of None. It was on the latter that she first worked alongside Lena Waithe, most notably on a pivotal Thanksgiving episode centered on Waithe’s character, Denise. The two of them reunite for this week’s Queen & Slim, Matsoukas’ feature directorial debut and Waithe’s feature writing debut, and critics are calling their new collaboration a success. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith star as the titular duo, a young Black couple on a first date who are pulled over by a cop presumably for a routine traffic stop. The situation escalates quickly and erupts into violence, and when the cop ends up dead, Queen and Slim flee the scene and become heralded as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde when video of the incident goes viral. Critics say Queen & Slim is a provocative examination of timely issues that tackles its potentially thorny themes thoughtfully, but also roots them in a gripping drama bolstered by powerful performances from its two leads. It may not necessarily be an ideal post-turkey pick-me-up, but it should be rewarding to viewers willing to engage with it.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • 63 Up (2019) , the latest chapter in Michael Apted‘s decades-long documentary series that has followed up with the same group of people every seven years since 1964, is at 100%.
  • After Parkland (2019) , a documentary chronicling the lives of families affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, is at 100%.
  • Away (2019) , a dialogue-free animated film about a young man fleeing a mysterious monster across a mystical island on a motorcycle, is at 100%.
  • Tremors (Temblores) (2019) , a drama about a devout Christian married man who undergoes “conversion therapy” when he begins to experience attraction to another man, is at 94%.
  • The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (2019) , a drama about two indigenous women in Vancouver who meet in a chance encounter and together confront the issues of class that separate them, is at 93%.
  • The Two Popes (2019) , starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in Fernando Meirelles‘ drama about the transition of power from Pope Benedict to Pope Francis, is at 91%.
  • My Friend the Polish Girl (2019) , a drama about an American girl documenting the life of a Polish actress, is at 63%.
  • Locusts (2019) , a thriller about a man who returns to his hometown and becomes entangled in an extortion plot, is at 40%.

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