Stars of Netflix’s ‘Knives Out’ Sequel Appear in Bay Area


It’s easy for Bay Area residents to become desensitized to film festivals given that there are so many. The San Francisco International Film Festival, DocFest, Silent Film Fest – there’s even a Drunken Film Fest. Yet, oddly enough, the biggest of them all isn’t happening in San Francisco or even Oakland, but rather Mill Valley.

In 2021, the Mill Valley Film Festival headliners were “Dune” and “The French Dispatch.” The big movies this year are Brendan Fraser’s comeback film “The Whale,” the adaptation of Don DeLillo’s “White Noise” starring Adam Driver, “The Good Nurse” starring Jessica Chastain, and the evening blockbuster. opening, “Glass Onion: A Knives Beyond Mystery.

The festivities kicked off at the Smith Rafael Film Center, with a line snaking outside the three-screen art deco cinema. Given the location, the festival has a reputation for seeing older crowds, and indeed there was more gray hair than I’ve ever seen in a theater, mixed in with a few younger moviegoers hoping to get a emergency ticket. Good news for fans without a badge who want to see future screenings: everyone online is in.

The cast of ‘Glass Onion: A Mystery at Daggers Drawn’.

John Wilson/Netflix

“Knives Out” returns

The original “Knives Out” was a surprise hit, grossing over $300 million worldwide on a modest budget of $40 million. Netflix pounced on the franchise, picking up the rights to two sequels for an astonishing $469 million, director Rian Johnson, producer Ram Bergman and star Daniel Craig each reportedly earning over $100 million from the agreement.

Rather than revisiting characters from the original, “Glass Onion” sends superstar detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) on ​​a new mission. It’s set during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and may well be the first blockbuster to acknowledge the change in American life. Blanc is bored, literally lying in his bathtub waiting for a new mission when a mysterious puzzle box arrives at his doorstep. It contains an invitation to the private island of billionaire tech tycoon Miles Bron (Edward Norton), an Elon Musk guy who’s invited a bunch of his sycophant pals for a murder mystery weekend that goes understandably wrong.

Like the original, the cast is packed with stars, and they’re all indebted to Bron. somehow. Janelle Monae steals the show as Bron’s despised ex-partner. Kathryn Hahn is a governor whose campaign is funded by Bron. Leslie Odom Jr. plays Bron’s company’s chief scientist. Kate Hudson is a former model whose pandemic-born sweatpants fashion line is funded by Bron. And Dave Bautista delivers a surprisingly charming performance as Joe Rogan-style YouTube personality Duke Cody.

Behind the scenes with director Rian Johnson and star Janelle Monae in "Glass onion: a mystery at loggerheads."

Behind the scenes with director Rian Johnson and star Janelle Monae in ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’.

John Wilson/Netflix

No spoilers, but…

While the original “Knives Out” sounded like a vintage Agatha Christie mystery, “Glass Onion” is as 2022 as it gets. Before arriving on the private island, each character lives a stereotypical pandemic life; for example, the Hollywood party girl from Hudson gets lambasted on Twitter for hosting a raging superspreader event. There are a lot of mask jokes, and they actually hit, but the COVID punchlines fade into the background once the characters arrive on Bron Island and receive a secret vaccine reserved for the wealthy. It’s a wise storytelling decision that other filmmakers should take note of – acknowledge the pandemic, but don’t dwell on it.

Norton is a perfect example of tech mogul excess, a Musk-esque “visionary” more obsessed with the use of the word disruption than the consequences of his empire. His private Greek island would make a great hideout for a Bond villain (or as a vacation home for Jeff Bezos). The island hideout is almost a character in itself, with massive sets that couldn’t have been shot anywhere else. Daniel Craig is a joy to watch, as is Janelle Monae, whose performance could put her music career in jeopardy as she will be in high demand in Hollywood.

Because the joy of “Glass Onion” is the mystery, I won’t drop any spoilers (except to say Johnson serves another “Gravity’s Rainbow” reference). But let’s just say it has the same sparks of magic as the original, except it’s all bigger and brighter, amplified by Netflix’s pre-launching war chest.

The cast of "Glass onion: a mystery at loggerheads."

The cast of ‘Glass Onion: A Mystery at Daggers Drawn’.

John Wilson/Netflix

Very vague questions and answers

In a Q&A hosted by Pixar Creative Director Pete Docter after the screening, Johnson, Bergman, Hudson, Odom, and Hahn appeared on stage to share some thoughts on the production. As with most Q&As, it was mostly about gushing about the fun everyone was having on set, along with a few nuggets of production secrets. Johnson dropped references to a few of his favorite mystery movies (“The Last of Sheila,” “Evil Under the Sun”) and explained the “Glass Onion” concept of stripping back layers of the plot mid -path to slowly let the viewer into the mystery.

“The big structural conceit was the notion of, can you tell a story, and then do this thing halfway through where you revisit it and get a fresh perspective,” said Johnson, who also slipped in several Beatles references as a nod to the title.

Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Rian Johnson, Kathryn Hahn and Ram Bergman arrive at the Mill Valley Film Festival screening of "Glass onion: a mystery at loggerheads."

Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Rian Johnson, Kathryn Hahn and Ram Bergman arrive at the screening of ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

Johnson confirmed that careful attention to continuity will reward viewers with plenty of Easter eggs on their second viewing.

“We played very, very fair with it… I’m so paranoid that I’m going to talk about it. When a certain weapon is stolen from a certain person, if you look at it a second time, you can see the weapon and where they are hiding it,” Johnson said, noting that the weapon in question is not at the screen only for about five frames.

The Q&A ended with Docter saying how excited he was to see the film again, and the sentiment seemed palpable among the crowd. Like the original “Knives Out,” “Glass Onion” will be an even more fun ride the second time around, but lucky fans who saw the preview screening will have to wait a few months for a new watch. Although Netflix owns the rights to the film, “Glass Onion” will have a fairly unique release, with a week-long “preview” in 600 US theaters from November 23-29 before it hits Netflix one day. months later, on December 23. 23.

The Mill Valley Film Festival continues until October 16.


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