Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story Deserves Your Attention

Picture this: you’re halfway through a theatrical showing of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and the screen begins to flicker with a green overlay on the borders of characters and other moving objects. An easily identifiable digital projection error. Obviously, parts of people shouldn’t be flickering in green. The projectionist even pauses the film for a moment to fix the problem. But then, something strange happens: an older man sitting two rows from the screen in a relatively empty theater—an utterly chaotic spot to prefer—starts shouting “It’s a flashback effect.” You laugh, not because it was funny but out of situational awkwardness. So do the people behind you. But he keeps repeating what you assume to be a bad joke, as if he’s frustrated. The projectionist resumes the movie for a few seconds, and after realizing the problem persists, pauses again. Then the man repeats, “It’s a flashback effect.” As he shakes his head in disappointment, you realize he’s not joking. And then he walks up to the projectionist and tries telling them they need to resume the film—presumably, because the director intended it to be watched with a green flickering “flashback effect” that only occurs on the borders of moving objects. 

Now imagine this: it was a press screening, and that man was a critic. 

I don’t know whether or not he liked the film or not. But regardless of his opinion, I believe director Rian Johnson (Knives OutStar Wars: The Last Jedi) deserves better viewers than he received at my screening. Critic or not, if someone is unable to identify an error as easily noticeable as a widescreen film being cropped to fullscreen, they just aren’t thinking enough about the moving images presented before them.

I’ve always told myself I’d never mention a niche characteristic of my particular screening or viewing of the movie I’m reviewing, let alone start with it—but this episode of poor movie watching seemed emblematic of a more significant trend toward careless moviegoing. Despite my reservations, I mention this episode for a single reason: Rian Johnson’s movie deserves more than the passive zombified moviegoing experience carefully cultivated by the studio filmmaking influenced by the Marvel Cinematic Universe; and Glass Onion rewards the careful eye with more than instant gratification to be left in the car after the ride home (or more likely, as soon as you log off Netflix). 

Continue reading at the Boston Hassle.

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