Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Quick synopsis: When an interdimensional rupture unravels reality, an unlikely hero must channel her newfound powers to fight bizarre and bewildering dangers from the multiverse as the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

This is a really hard review to write. It’s difficult to put into words exactly how I feel about this film, and what it means to me. I’ll try:

It’s a cunting masterpiece.

Crude, yes. But “masterpiece” does not do justice. “motherfucking masterpiece” also doesn’t seem strong enough to demonstrate my feelings for this. It’s astounding, a work of art. This is one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. Sometimes my end of year awards are difficult. Last year, for example, it was genuinely difficult to decide between Mouthpiece and Come True for best film. Quite a few were similarly difficult. I’m saying this now, this will be nominated for A LOT in the end of year reviews, and will win a lot of them. It’s already pretty much a dead cert for best film. It’s over two and a half hours long, and my first thought when I left the cinema was “I can’t wait to see this again”.

Directed by duo called Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), who have a big history in music videos. You can tell this with how they direct some of the action sequences, there’s a flow to them which works perfectly. It’s not just “sound playing alongside music”, it’s part of the film. It works alongside the images to create a collective whole vision (apart from the scenes with the bagel, then it’s a hole vision. You know, because a bagel has a hole in it). The only feature film they’ve created before this was Swiss Army Man, which I’m yet to see but I’ve heard it’s very strange.

Now I’ve seen this, I can believe it. The story is weird, and there’s a strong sense of “look, just go with it” throughout the whole thing. But it actually makes sense, in a weird way. It’s written and directed in a way that even when it does go completely off the rails, you are able to follow it. Don’t know if you saw Mad Max: Fury Road, but that managed to do something great in that it was full of action, but because the action was nearly always in the centre of the frame, no matter how chaotic it got, you were able to follow it. This does the narrative equivalent of that and I love it so much.

All the performances are on point. Michelle Yeoh continues to be one of the greatest physical performers in the world today, she must be a dream for choreographers to work with as they don’t need to set up cameras so they can film each bit individually and edit them together. They can just set a camera up and let her do her thing. Her role was originally supposed to go to Jackie Chan, and that would have worked, but it would have been different. I’m not sure it would have been quite as good. The mother/daughter relationship is key to this film working, and I’m not sure it would have worked quite as well with a father/daughter one.

Speaking of the daughter, Stephanie Hsu absolutely nails the performance. Giving her the right amount of rebellion and need for acceptance. Certain plot points could you make you dislike her, but she’s played with enough vulnerability that you want what’s best for, while also recognising when she does awful things. Originally it was going to be Awkwafina. Now, I LOVE Awkwafina, she’s often the best part about most things she stars in. But again, I think it’s best it wasn’t her. I don’t think she would have been as effective as Hsu is.

It’s also good to see Ke Huy Quan back, best known for his role as Short Round in the Indiana Jones movies. Hopefully, this leads to a career resurgence for him as he has a really difficult role in this, it’s both physical and emotional. He has to make you believe he can beat the crap out of you, but also make you believe he’s the kindest, meekest person on the planet. He manages this, he’s talented enough that you can tell which universes version of him he’s currently playing, just by his body language. In a lesser film it would be the best performance, in this, he’s just a VERY VERY good part of an excellent ensemble.

As you can guess. I loved this. It had everything I want. It had laughs, it had heart (I heard genuine tears from fellow audience members many times), it had character, it had meta references, it had action, it had fingers made of hot dogs, it had a dildo being used as a weapon, it had glitter, it had bondage, it had pizza, it had Jenny Slate, it had Jamie Lee Curtis, it had a racoon controlling someone, it has despair, it has hope, it has everything.

Everywhere

All at once.

Venom (2018)

This film has polarised opinion. Critics seem to hate it, audiences seem to like it. I’m awkward so I’m split between the two. It wasn’t the worst film ever, but it was nowhere near as good as it should have been. It’s a venom movie with Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed in it, this should be one of the best films of the year. It should be a game-changer for comic book movies; one that shows the darkness that comic books have in them sometimes. It should be like Logan mixed with a David Cronenberg movie. It should fuck you up as an audience member. It should kick-start a new wave of horror comic book movies (Spawn etc). But nope, it’s incredibly formulaic. Everything in it has been done before, it brings nothing to the table. To be honest it feels like a film that was killed in post-production; dodgy effects, weird pacing, great performances feeling wasted on characters who aren’t in it enough etc. Two performances, in particular, felt wasted: Jenny Slate, and Melora Walters. Jenny Slate gets more material but still feels vastly underused as a performer and a character. That goes triple for Melora Walters, who gives a great performance in a character who you could do SO much with, but the film only gives her about two scenes. Tom Hardy is great in it though, as is Riz Ahmed. I mean, Tom Hardy is always great, even if he was in an awful film, he’d make it worth watching. Sadly the CGI isn’t as good as his performance. A lot of it is kind of ropey, the MRI scene stands out as something that really needed a lot more work. As did the script.

When a trailer for this launched earlier on in the year it received a lot of laughter for the line “your body will roll down the street like a turd in the wind”. Defenders of the film pointed out that that it was a trailer, so that didn’t necessarily mean it was going to be in the final film, and when the studio see the reception that line gets, it will be deleted. Nope, it’s in the film. In the closing scene, so that’s how this film leaves you; with one of the most laughable lines of the year. Thing is, it is alongside a scene of him biting someone’s head off, so tonally that scene alone is a complete mess. Actually, that’s the case with the whole film; it has no idea what film it wants to be. Whether it wants to be a lighthearted comedy, or a serious and dark film. To be honest, a lot of it feels like it’s from the early 2000’s or late 90’s. The weird tone, the goofy nature of it, the fact they made a “sexy venom” scene, the CGI-laden final fight where you can’t really tell what’s going on.

It does do some things that should be applauded though. When it’s funny, it’s very funny. And the relationship between Brock and Venom is fun. Actually, the whole film is a fun watch. It will find a new life on netflix or something like that. But I can’t imagine many people going out and buying it on release day. I did enjoy it, but I didn’t pay to get in, if I only saw a few movies a year, and paid to see this one, I’d be mad and consider it a waste of money. As it is, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

How We Get Through: June 2017

Films

Submarine Kid

A few months ago I made a slight adjustment to my “to do” list. I started adding names next to them so I would remember who to thank for suggesting them. I really wish I started that sooner, I want to find whoever suggested this film to me, and slap them very very hard round the face. Why? Why would you put me through this? Very Channel 5. Extremely bad dialogue. Can’t tell if it’s too American for me or whether it just doesn’t work as a film.

Under The Shadow

under_the_shadow

I liked it but can understand why some wouldn’t. It doesn’t become a traditional horror film until the closing section. Until then it’s horror on a more personal level. Wonderful blending of a war-time drama and horror that doesn’t depend too highly on the usual tropes of one or both genres. Never seen anything like this before in my life, but I really wish I had. Side note, I’ve now seen two Iranian films, both of which have strong female leads, is Iranian cinema better at female representation than Western cinema? Or is it because women are treated as second class citizens there it makes them better characters so the quality of films are likely to be higher, which increases my chances of seeing them?

The Final Girls

finalgirls7

Genuinely emotional, a lot more than it should be. It’s basically a horror film about a group of people who get sucked into a horror film. It’s done by a team who obviously really love the genre, and love film-making in general. Lots of fun little moments in it, from the closing credits appearing in the sky above them, everything changing colour when they appear in flashbacks etc. It’s really good and I wish I made it first.

The Skeleton Twins

Turns “two characters lipsynching” into one of the most emotional, character developing scenes you’re likely to see. Funny, but very very dark.

Let’s Pollute

Bit preachy, very one note and simplistic. Talks about how people are selfish because they work somewhere different from where they live, as if getting a job in a Tesco the town over means you should move house.

The End Of The Tour

jason-segel-the-end-of-the-tour-trailer

I think part of the reason I like this is because of how great the dialogue is. It flows beautifully, as was described here;

“a funny and heartfelt road movie that meditates on fame, creativity, and loneliness, through the indepth and witty conversations of its protagonists. Whether you know David Foster Wallace’s work or not, this is an accessible and great film”

7:35 In The Morning

This was on my watch list as the writer/director also made Colossal, which I loved. You can kind of tell it’s the same guy by the story, the visuals are pretty bland though. Much like Colossal, I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s a short film about a guy who holds an entire restaurant hostage so he can sing to a woman about how much he likes her. Keeps on the line between silly and frightning in a way that’s very hard to do.

We Need To Talk Kevin

VERY film student-ey. Spends so long laying on symbolism that it forgets other things.

Spy

Jason Statham is amazing in this. Plays his role to perfection. Everyone else is still good, but not as good as him. I’d love to see more of him in a sequel. When I first saw it I expected this to be a one joke film “haha, a fat woman as a spy”, but was actually really really funny.

Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Has some continuity issues but still very good. Kind of sad to think both leads have sadly passed on. They had amazing chemistry here, you don’t really tend to get acting double acts anymore. You have “groups” that work together, but that’s normally in a certain directors films as opposed to just always together. It’s a shame as that kind of thing can really help sell a film “oh, I loved the last film I saw those two in”. It also means unscrupulous marketers can change the title of the film in foreign markets so it looks like a sequel. Which is always hilarious. “yes, the first film ended with them both being shot to death, but here’s a sequel, where they have different names and characters, but they look the same. Now give money.”

Wonder Woman

I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a water colour painting. Haven’t seen any this good since A Monster Calls. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing.

X+Y

The moment where where he tries to do the monty python reference is really awkward and cringey, if anything it’s worse when you know it’s coming. Only just realised how heartbreaking some of the performances were, Sally Hawkins in particular.

Books

The Stars Tennis Balls

Always takes me forever to get through the opening chapter of this for some reason. Shame as the final third is absolutely superb, it just takes a while to get there (about two thirds of the book I’d guess).

Books Of Blood

The biggest issue this book has is that it starts with Fear, which is one of the best horror short stories ever written. Anything after that would just be disappointing.

Albums

Maps

Can’t remember how I heard this band (probably the Figure 4 Leg Rock podcast), great EP, available for free, which is my second favourite price to pay for things. Trigger Happy in particular is one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year.

Panic Prevention

The moments in songs are usually better than the songs themselves. Although “Sheila” is pretty damn fine. Listed on my itunes as “Chavvy Acoustic Punk”, because I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.

Look For The Woman

B-sides are remixes, which is always okay. But the song itself is amazing.

Punk Rock Is Your Friend Volume 6 (Hardcore Is Your Friend Too)

I miss samplers like this. Epitaph, Burning Heart, Kung-Fu records etc all used to do really cheap albums showcasing their bands. Doesn’t really happen anymore, probably due to the rise of streaming etc. Is a shame as these were great ways to get into bands. You pick them up barely knowing any of the bands and before you know it you’ve found your new favourite band. I got this for one reason and one reason only; new Tsunami Bomb song. They were one of my favourite bands at the time and I was obsessed with them (how I felt when they split is how the rest of the world feels when celebrities die) so the chance to hear something new excited me, made me look forward to a new album by them. Sadly they split soon after, but I’ll always have that song, and no more new ones, ever *cries*.

Just The Way I’m Feeling

Relatively pedestrian, listened to it today and I still can’t remember the b-sides.

Goodbye Blue And White

It’s a Less Than Jake album with at least two Slayer covers. Weird.

Stopgap EP

Probably the most American pop-punk band that’s ever come from England. Just an EP meant to tide people over until their new album came out a few years ago. Has some good stuff on it but the best song by a mile is the cover of “Everytime You Go Away”. I do loves me some covers.