Osita Nwanevu is a contributing editor at The New Republic.
Don’t forget to select your favorite films!
An egomaniac ventures abroad convinced that he can remake the world and that he wants to do so for noble reasons. He accomplishes nothing, gets scores of those who trusted him killed, commits some war crimes, and returns home consumed with self-loathing and the very same longing for purpose and meaning that pulled him away in the first place. Dated and irrelevant, obviously.
Credit where credit is due: Knives Out is, as advertised, a real puzzle. This is the La La Land of whodunits - a film that's earned a lot of credit for being a homage to a dusty, underappreciated genre even though it mishandles certain fundamentals of the form. Possibility is the heart of any good detective story, but after a decent start, this one radically constrains the range of potential resolutions very early on. The narrative doesn't give very many…
This is a film whose reputation has very obviously been built on its premise. Consider: Whenever someone talks about Groundhog Day, what parts of the film do they actually reference? Is there a particular scene or moment people find particularly memorable? A great line somewhere? The praise is vague because there's not much there there, which is a shame given the potential of the central idea. There are existential bits here and there, but by the end of the film…