knives out (again)

I just watched this movie again, and it’s still pretty terrific. It sags somewhat in the middle, partly because of how excellent the beginning and the end are, and partly because of how quickly it becomes clear who the guilty party is (long before you can be exactly sure of “what” or “how,” “who” becomes way too obvious). But the movie still has many, many virtues, including that all of the detective’s “processes,” and his blatherings about his processes, are complete hooey. Which includes this wonderful exchange:

Benoit Blanc: Harlan’s detectives, they dig, they rifle and root. Truffle pigs. I anticipate the terminus of Gravity’s Rainbow.

Marta Cabrera: Gravity’s Rainbow.

Benoit Blanc: It’s a novel.

Marta Cabrera: Yeah, I know. I haven’t read it though.

Benoit Blanc: Neither have I. Nobody has. But I like the title. It describes the path of a projectile determined by natural law. Et voila, my method. I observe the facts without biases of the head or heart. I determine the arc’s path, stroll leisurely to its terminus and the truth falls at my feet.

And that’s positively profound compared to his repeated nonsense about doughnuts and doughnut holes. But that’s the point — he’s playing the part of an eccentric gentleman detective, and mostly the other characters accept this, even if they don’t like his conclusions, because this is what movies and television have taught them to expect from detectives.

In fact, at one point someone wonders why he was even intrigued enough to show up to investigate this (possible) crime in the first place, and he has to remind them that he received a stack of cash in the mail (he holds his fingers apart to illustrate how big a stack of cash). Because of how he’s been performing for them, they’d lost track of the fact that this is how he earns his living.

The best thing, though, is that any weaknesses in the mystery itself (and even I know that some of the legal points are wrong) are more than compensated for by how funny the movie is. And the ending, completely plausible or not, is magnificent.

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