The COVID-19 pandemic has caused families to retreat to their homes to socially distance. This means that TV and movies are being watched and board games are being played. And families are spending a lot of quality time together.
Well, not to boast, but my parents and I have been basically spending a lot of time together consuming pop culture since 2016 (when my accident and TBI caused me to live with my parents again). So we have been ahead of the trend. (Again, not to brag or boast.) 😉 (Humor me. That was supposed to be funny! 😄 )
So I thought I would do a theme day and have us watch “Knives Out” on Amazon Prime video and cook a murderous meal. Because I have become my parents’ pop culture concierge they are used to me taking over the entertainment portion of our lives. What follows is my review of the movie (don’t worry, no spoilers) and a glimpse at our murder mystery meal.
My parents seem happy to have me act as menu planner and pop culture concierge. So when I saw that Amazon Prime Video had the highly acclaimed murder mystery from 2019 “Knives Out, ” I decided it would be a perfect movie to enjoy with my parents. I purposely didn’t read anything about it. I just knew it had a great cast (Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, and Christopher Plummer). And it was written and directed by someone I have admired for a while (Rian Johnson). This movie was on my radar during the most recent Oscar season because Rian Johnson was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Actress Ana de Armes was nominated for a Golden Globe. Neither won their awards, but after watching the movie I can see why both were nominated.
I just told my parents the three stars I could remember (Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, and Christopher Plummer) and that it was an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. With those details, they were on board.
Before we watched the movie, my Mom and I (with Dad and Selby as Sous Chefs) cooked the meal. Here’s the menu (I gave everything murder mystery names to tie in with the movie).
It took a lot out of me to cook and bake but everything was very tasty so it was definitely worth it. I am still working on my endurance post-TBI and endurance is the final big hurdle to jump.
All these recipes were ones we planned on making while we’re here at our lake cabin. I just wedged them into my murder mystery-themed night (by giving them dopey names). The meatball recipe is a slow-cooker/crockpot recipe (you can find it here on the Betty Crocker site). Mom made a caprese salad with the leftover mozzarella balls from the meatballs (the mozzarella balls are stuffed inside the meatballs) and basil we have growing in a pot. She also quickly steamed some fresh spinach. I then baked these S’mores blossom cookies that I had wanted to make while we’re here at the lake (S’mores blossom cookie recipe). The food was a hit and we will be eating leftovers tonight (my Dad’s favorite).
Now, to talk about the movie. I highly recommend it. It appeals if you like the murder mystery genre or simply appeals because it is a very high-quality film. Daniel Craig’s detective Benoit Blanc is more than a nod to Agatha Christie’s detective protagonist, Hercule Poirot.
The writer/director of “Knives Out, ” the Oscar-nominated Rian Johnson, is very skilled at crafting interesting stories that play around with the genres they find themselves in. His first movie that came on my radar was “Brick” (2005) starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s a crime drama about high schoolers and drugs but it doesn’t look or sound like a movie about high schoolers and drugs. Johnson wrote the dialogue to be very stylized. It has been called a film noir. These high schoolers don’t talk like typical high schoolers (Johnson has said he was inspired by the books of Dashiell Hammet for the dialogue style). I enjoyed that movie and officially put Johnson on my “to watch” list (you know the running list of entertainers that we keep track of because we know we like their work). Then my Mom and I happened to literally walk on the set of one of his films that was shooting when we were vacationing in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2011. The film was “Looper” (2012) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. They hadn’t shut down the street at that time (so I imagine filming had already happened or hadn’t yet happened that day). We didn’t know a movie was shooting and we just saw lights and interesting props. To this day I swear that we walked right past Rian Johnson as he was looking at video monitors. I will never know though. Anyway, “Looper” was another ambitious movie that took the time travel genre and played with it. Before writing and directing “Knives Out” Johnson had a brief interlude of not directing his original idea. In this case, he jumped in head-first to super fandom and directed and wrote: “The Last Jedi” (2017). However, hopefully, “Knives Out” means he’s back writing and directing his original ideas (because he has great ideas).
And like “Brick” was a nod to film noir and “Looper” was a nod to time travel, “Knives Out” is a nod to the Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. The investigator in “Knives Out” is Benoit Blanc played by Daniel Craig. That character is Johnson’s version of the Hercule Poirot detective (as I mentioned). Only instead of being French- Belgian like Poirot, Blanc is American from the South. My guess would be he’s supposed to be French Creole (with his French-sounding name and Southern accent). This movie was not only critically acclaimed, but it was also financially successful. Because of its success, a sequel has been announced (read this Deadline article for the announcement). Just as Agatha Christie wrote many novels starring Hercule Poirot, I hope Johnson writes and directs many films starring Benoit Blanc as played by Daniel Craig.
#CreativityForDays Weekly Project
I am cheating a bit and counting the cooking and baking and the graphic design I did for this murder mystery meal blog as my weekly project. I think that counts!
A Selby Sweetie Conclusion
If Rian Johnson has Benoit Blanc and Agatha Christie had Hercule Poirot as their star characters… I choose Selby Sweetie for mine. She is my muse, anyway. I took this picture of Selby wearing my 👓 to show a friend’s young daughter who had just gotten 👓. Doesn’t she look smart?
Note: As always, most all images are graphic designed by me using imagery from Pixabay and/ the Over app.