Everything Everywhere All at Once
“It is a tale told by an idiot former music-video directors, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing nothing much.”
Make the edits above to Macbeth’s speech, and I think that sums up Everything Everywhere All at Once.
The Academy Award for best picture of 2022 went to this loud and flashy extravaganza last night and … I guess “diversity” was the big winner. Overlong and, dare I say it, over-directed, this science-fiction-slash-dramedy about a Chinese immigrant family is handsomely produced, well-acted, and often clever. But is it a film I’d care to watch again? Probably not. Not unless they cut 30 minutes from the run-time.
As for the plot — another reviewer said it’s basically It’s a Wonderful Life set in the “multiverse,” and I won’t argue with that. We know from the get-go that this rather bland family will live happily ever after; it’s just a question of sitting through two and half hours of multiverse-hopping, body-swapping, and special effects as family members grapple with (oh my!) the meaning of life.
There is simply too much jammed into such a simple story. It’s a film for movie geeks to endlessly rewatch and congratulate themselves on spotting allusions, symbols and metaphors. And it’s a film for Oscar voters to reward, if only to prove that they “get it.” Release: 2022 Grade: B
Dragged Across Concrete
A confession: I saw the title of this Mel Gibson movie, took note of its genre (“action”), and assumed it was late-career Gibson following the precedent of late-career Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis. In other words, I figured Concrete was bargain-basement junk produced to rake in quick bucks — thanks in large part to the lasting appeal of its star.
But what a pleasant surprise! The movie has action, to be sure, but mostly it’s a thoughtful meditation on life as a cop in the age of “defund the police.” Oh, and it’s also got a suspenseful bank heist.
My only quibble — surprise, surprise — is that this is yet another film that’s simply too damn long. But overall, the film is an absorbing drama. Release: 2018 Grade: B+
The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a classic of horror because its tone was crazed camp. You didn’t know whether to recoil or laugh at the family of manic cannibals who terrorized a group of young people. If you were like me, you just gaped at the crazies in wide-eyed disbelief.
X, writer-director Ti West’s salute to Chain Saw, gets some of this stuff right. The setting, somewhere in the rural South, is suitably eerie. The slow-burn setup isn’t bad. But this is the age of art-house horror and, if you want your movie to eventually be called “classic,” it must have Serious Themes.
And so out the farmer’s window goes crazed camp and lunatic action, and in comes soulful meditations on the sadness of aging by two actors wearing lots of makeup and trying their darndest to look and sound very old. But they aren’t particularly scary. And neither is the movie. Release: 2022 Grade: B
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