A HAUNTING IN VENICE – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Famous detective Hercule Poirot is a haunted man, even when not in a haunted house. A Haunting in Venice, director and star Kenneth Branagh’s third outing as Agatha Christie’s brilliant and persnickety detective, is his most satisfying turn yet. Full of Gothic touches that enhance the mysterious mood, the film also is rich in theme: that we all live with ghosts, to paraphrase one character, whether real or not. A Haunting in Venice is briskly entertaining Agatha Christie comfort food with a larger theme about the secrets we carry. Should Branagh and company continue putting Poirot on the case, here’s hoping they also dip into Christie’s more obscure catalogue to offer audiences more surprises.

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A HAUNTING IN VENICE – Review by Susan Granger

Released on September 15, Dame Agatha Christie’s 133rd birthday, Kenneth Branagh’s A Haunting in Venice is adapted from her novel Halloween Party. In post-World War II Venice, ostensibly retired Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is urged to attend a séance by mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), who has used him as a character in her crime-riddled novels. Taking considerable liberties with Agatha Christie’s original 1969 whodunit, screenwriter Michael Green and actor/director Branagh have transplanted the murder mystery to picturesque Venice, where gothic ghosts seemingly waft among the rain-shrouded canals.

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A HAUNTING IN VENICE – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Hercule Poirot is attuned to the finer points of human psychology, allowing Agatha Christie room to explore emotions alongside clues and Kenneth Branagh’s A Haunting in Venice is just as invested in the way its characters feel as in what they do. Branagh never lets Poirot’s quirks take precedence over the fact that he’s a character with real depth, a man whose dedication to uncovering the truth is rooted in a past darkened by tragedy and dislocation. For all his mannered affect, injustice and cruelty offend Poirot’s sense of the way things ought to be but all-too often aren’t, and that any victory over life’s fundamental unfairness is worth the fight. When everything has been unraveled and explained, that’s a solid and satisfying takeaway.

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OPPENHEIMER – Review by Rachel West

Nolan pieces the film together out of chronological order, sometimes whipping between pre- and post-bomb at a clip, switching from colour to black-and-white. It doesn’t make the narrative hard to follow, but the frequent cutting doesn’t give scenes enough time to breathe, lessening their impact on the audience. The climax of the film is undoubtedly the desert Trinity test of the bomb capabilities. Arriving at around the two-hour mark, what makes this whole sequence of events stand out is that Nolan gives it time to build tension and unfold in front of the audience instead of time-hopping to the next scene.

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DEATH ON THE NILE – Review by Susan Granger

Working with screenwriter Michael Green, actor/director Branagh condenses so much that he never fully explores the subtle nuances of his rich cast of characters in what seems like a foregone conclusion to the whodunit, particularly when compared with screenwriter Anthony Shaffer’s 1978 version in which Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis and Maggie Smith exchanged barbs.

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DEATH ON THE NILE – Review by Martha K Baker

Kenneth Branagh does Agatha Christie. Again. After a Pandemic Pause, Death on the Nile returns, a follow-up to Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. Again, Branagh is behind the camera, directing. When he’s in front of the camera, he’s behind a mustache that looks like a pergola covered in wisteria. Death on the Nile is good for a little nap midway before everyone gathers for Poirot’s little grey cells to expose the murderer. Maybe it’s time for another story — say, a continuation of the World War chapter, or more about the singer, or with Russell Brand as the ex-fiancé. There’s no mystery left in Death on the Nile, and that affects the film.

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DEATH ON THE NILE – Review by Sarah Knight Adamson

If you viewed Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 film, Murder on the Orient Express, you’ll have a good idea of the premise of Death on the Nile. The mystery thriller is based on the 1937 Agatha Christie novel, with Branagh returning as director and star. Branagh is on a roll with his ever-popular film Belfast and his follow-up film Death on the Nile, does not disappoint.

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BELFAST – Review by Susan Granger

Filmmaker Kenneth Branagh’s poignant cinematic memoir of his childhood in Northern Ireland in 1969 recalls a turbulent period when Catholics and Protestants were at war with one another. His semi-autobiographical story revolves around nine year-old Buddy, who lives with his older brother, parents and grandparents. They’re Protestants in a working-class neighborhood that’s also filled with Catholic families. Then the sectarian riots begin, the barricades go up and British soldiers arrive. Chaos reigns as bewildered Buddy watches his idyllic street become an unruly battleground. During one skirmish, Buddy’s Ma rescues him using a trash can lid as a shield.

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BELFAST – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Kenneth Branagh’s film Belfast is based on his first nine years growing up there as the Irish Troubles erupted in 1969. It unfolds in gorgeous black-and-white that evokes the time period, yielding to color only when the family at the center of the political conflict escapes to the cinema in this autobiographical story of politics, religion, and country.

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TENET – Review by Susan Granger

Even the best filmmakers make colossal blunders, and this comes from Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento, The Dark Knight trilogy). A $200+ million mistake on top of a miscalculation. In the midst of the pandemic, Nolan insisted that his sprawling, unfathomable sci-fi action-adventure be released in multiplexes despite the fact that people are more susceptible to the coronavirus when congregating indoors.

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