Movie Diary 6/26/2022

And Then There Were None (Rene Clair, 1945). A sustained directorial playfulness boosts this Agatha Christie adaptation (thankfully not filmed under the novel’s original UK published title). The cast, led by Barry Fitzgerald and Walter Huston, is on point, and the whole matter skips along pleasantly. Glad I caught up with this. Which is more than I can say for….

Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh, 2022). Even hokier than Branagh’s previous Christie show, this computer-generated whodunit begins by giving Hercule Poirot a psychological backstory, which is about as welcome here as Sam Mendes’ 007 films exploring the emotional history of James Bond. The movie’s flashes of modern humor sit awkwardly next to that impulse, and the cast, despite the team of Jennifer Saunders & Dawn French showing up, is underwhelming, to put it mildly. I guess the boat looks cool – though a cartoon, like everything else here, save for occasional glimpses of what appear to be actual location shots in Egypt, which stick out for their luxury and “placeness” next to the frictionless digital fantasy-scape. Not sure an “unraveling the mystery” scene has ever been this little fun.