Everything Everywhere All at Once – Film Review

Director: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Writers: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr, James Hone, Jamie Lee Curtis

Rating: ★★★★★

It seems like multiverses are definitely in right now, and Everything Everywhere All at Once may be the best version of it yet. Co-directors/writers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (also known together as ‘Daniels’) have thrown absolutely everything at their latest film. It’s completely absurd in the best way possible, filled with pure imagination with a scattering of dark themes.

Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) own a laundromat and are currently being audited by the IRS. When they are at a meeting with Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), the agent dealing with their audit, Evelyn discovers that there are multiple universes and there’s a way to access the consciousness of herself from another universe and tap into their strengths. It’s up to her to save the multiverse from certain doom.

That pretty much sums up the first twenty or so minutes of the film, and you don’t need to know anything more than that. It’s best to go into to this knowing as little as possible because you really don’t want anything spoiling. It’s a bizarre and mad film and it’s best for the stranger things to be left as a surprise. It’s heartfelt and surprisingly personal for a film about the multiverse. The script is eccentric and filled with hilarious moments you can’t quite believe are actually happening (there was someone who shouted, ‘this is disgusting’ and left about halfway through, and they’re lucky they didn’t wait a few more scenes if that was their limit).

Everyone is perfectly cast and does a great job. Michelle Yeoh is absolutely fantastic, as always, and gives a memorable performance as the many different Evelyns. Ke Huy Quan, who’s recently stepped back into acting after almost twenty years away, is completely charming as Waymond, a very optimistic and wacky character. Throughout the film you see many different versions of them both, and they work so well together all the way through with great chemistry showing with every version. Their daughter, Joy, is played by Stephanie Hsu and is also exceptional in the role.  

This film is very funny, definitely the funniest film of the year so far, with so many quirky and offbeat jokes that just hit the mark every time. Likewise, the action and choreography are stunning. Every scene is exciting and entertaining and there’s not a slow moment in it’s over two hour run time. Even at the beginning when Evelyn is trying to keep on top of a hectic schedule the film is well shot, it makes you feel the same pressures that she’s feeling and it’s overwhelming. Then when the action starts it’s constantly stylish and feels completely different to anything that’s come before.  

Coming out so close to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (at least in the UK), it really shows you how tame the MCU was with the multiverse. Here it is presented as an endless number of bizarre alternatives from sausage fingers to chefs controlled by racoons, and then the way to access the other paths on the multiverse is even stranger. Eating lip balm or used gum being just two of the ways that the characters tap into the powers of other versions of themselves. It’s completely out there but everything is as brilliant as it is silly. Even when the film starts to deal with some heavy themes like existentialism and depression it does it with a smile, or more accurately with googly eyes on a sentient rock.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a magical film that blends great action, comedy, and a meaningful message together to create something truly special. There is nothing else quite like it and it’s not a stretch to say that this will be long regarded one of the best films of 2022. If you get the chance, go see it, you won’t regret it.  

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Goodbye, Eri – Manga Review

Tatsuki Fujimoto, the creator of Chainsaw Man, is back with a 200 page one-shot called Goodbye, Eri. The story follows Yuta Ito who is given a smartphone for his twelfth birthday with the request that he films his mother as much as possible, as she’s dying. He captures moments of her in every situation leading up to her final moments, where despite her wishes, Yuta can’t film it and runs away. After her death he turns the footage into a film to show at a school festival, ending with him running away as the hospital explodes in the background.

Almost everyone in the school mocks Yuta, with other students and even a teacher telling him that he’s disrespectful towards his mother. There’s no thought to how he is dealing with his grief and the mocking pushes him to want to kill himself. As he’s about to jump from the hospital roof another student, Eri, stops him and explains that she really enjoyed the film. Eri and Yuta become close friends and start working on a new film to show at the next festival to get revenge on the mocking of the first one.

Goodbye, Eri is a very quick read. The art is great and easy to follow, while also feeling unique with Tatsuki Fujimoto’s style shining through. The story itself if emotional and leaves an impact, even though it’s relatively short compared to a lot of manga. It’s something that will sit with you after you finish it and creep back into your mind time and time again throughout the days after you’ve finished it. It feels very personal and authentic, capturing the grief that Yuta is feeling while also distorting it through the films he makes.

Through his films Yuta is able to filter his memories to only remember what he wants to about his mother and his own past. He’s dealing with his grief in his own way and filters the world around him through his smartphone. Most of the manga is drawn from the perspective of what the camera picks up, with everything else forgotten. We only get to see what Yuta films and there’s a sense that there’s more to the story than what we’re seeing. It feels very heartfelt, raw, and poignant.

Going into spoiler territory, so be warned and don’t read further if you don’t want anything given away, this is a manga that hits you with emotional gut punch after emotional gut punch. There are a few curveball moments in the story, with each one hitting hard. The film that Yuta made about his mother is very edited only showing the positive sides of her. She initially wanted him to film her recovery from the illness to make a documentary before things turned to the worse. Yuta’s father filmed her death in place of Yuta and when he shows Yuta the clip, it’s heart-breaking to read.

Goodbye, Eri is an excellent manga. It’s a very short read, with only 200 pages and a lot of that is light on dialogue. It can be read in about half an hour. Whether you’re a manga veteran or never picked up a volume before, this is really worth checking out. It’s very accessible and emotional. Tatsuki Fujimoto is writing great story after great story and this certainly eases the wait for the second part of Chainsaw Man.

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The Sadness – Film Review

Director: Rob Jabbaz

Writer: Rob Jabbaz

Starring: Berant Zhu, Regina Lei, Tzu-Chiang Wang

Rating: ★★★★

After being released in Taiwan last January and then appearing at international film festivals throughout 2021, Rob Jabbaz’s film The Sadness is now getting released on Shudder. The film is an all-out gore fest that doesn’t hold anything back and is set during a deadly pandemic where infected people lose all inhibitions and turn into essentially fast and violent zombies.

Jim (Berant Zhu) and Kat (Regina Lei) start their day as they normally would, with Jim dropping Kat off at the local train station. On his way back home, Jim goes to a local café, only to see one of the infected people attack the staff, he goes home to discover that the infection is widespread and heads out to find Kat, who at the same time is attacked on the train.

This film is definitely not going to be for everyone. Even some of the most dedicated of horror fans are going to wince and look away at certain points in this film. The gore is on another level. It’s bloody and brutal. Rob Jabbaz pushes everything to the extreme with a film that is very reminiscent of Gath Ennis’s comic series Crossed. Like the comic, every is made that much more horrific knowing that these are just infected people, there’s nothing other worldly or supernatural happening. To give just a little detail without spoiling the most gruesome moments, the film gruesomely shows ripping people’s faces off after pouring hot oil on them, poking out eyes with umbrellas, and a mass stabbing on the train. It also gets a lot worse than that at points, so probably best not to watch this one while eating.  The effects are simply fantastic and very convincing all the way through making everything that much more stomach churning.  

The first ten minutes of this film are stunning. It feels like a slow start, with small hints at what’s going to happen, and then without any warning it ramps everything up with bloody violence and doesn’t really let up until the last twenty minutes or so when the film starts to feel a little too long. The ending is good, but no where near as energetic as the opening. Even though the film focuses on Jim and Kat right from the start, it’s not a film that spends a lot of time building characters. You don’t really know them at all, but it’s still tense as they try to survive the outbreak. There’s just as much time spent with some brief social commentary about how the pandemic has been politicised and no one is listening to experts.

The Sadness is a brutal and sadistic film. If you aren’t put off by gore, then this is something for you. The effects are fantastic and the opening act is absolutely stunning, grabbing your attention straight away and you won’t be able to look away, even when you want to.  

The Sadness is available on Shudder from 12th May 2022

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Look Back in Anger – Film Review

Director: Tony Richardson

Writer: Nigel Kneale

Starring: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Mary Ure, and Edit Evans

Rating: ★★★★½

When John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger first opened in 1956 it received an overwhelmingly negative reception from critics, with very few praising the play. Despite that it was an enormous commercial success and was an early example of a kitchen sink drama as well as marked the start of the angry young men movement in Britain (the term actually came from the Royal Court Theatre’s press officer to promote the play). The play was then adapted by screenwriter Nigel Kneale and director Tony Richardson into a film in 1959.

Look Back in Anger was the first film released from Woodfall Film Productions, which was founded by director Tony Richardson, John Osborne, and producer Harry Saltzman. Woodfall had been set up for the sole purpose of adapting Osborne’s play and would then go on to release a string of now classic and some of the most important films of British cinema.

Jimmy Porter (Richard Burton) is angry at the entire world around him, seeing the injustice that happens on a day-to-day basis. He takes out his anger on his wife, Alison (Mary Ure), by viciously shouting at her at almost every opportunity. He assumes the worst from everything she does, not giving her time to explain her actions. The passion in their relationship has burnt out and they’re essentially just going through the motions. The couple live in a small attic flat in Derby with their friend Cliff Lewis (Gary Raymond), who sees the worst of both of them and tries to stay neutral in the arguments.

Things go from bad to worse when Alison finds out that she’s pregnant and can’t find the right way to tell Jimmy. She invites her friend Helena (Claire Bloom) to stay with them, knowing that Jimmy hates her, but she needs someone to talk to. It leads to one of the most brutal things that Jimmy can say to Alison, not knowing that she’s pregnant but wishing that she will be one day and lose the child so she can feel the pain it would cause. It’s a horrible moment and a turning point in their relationship.

While towards Alison, Jimmy is almost always spiteful, angry, and very bitter towards her middle-class family, he’s not a through-and-through bad person. There’s an interesting sub-plot where he tries to stand up to some racism in the market where he works, and he’s incredibly protective of his mother. Even with Alison there’s hints of what their relationship used to be, with one particular sweet scene early on, where they can pretend to be part of another world. The entire cast is great in their roles, especially Mary Ure and Richard Burton. They play off each other very well, and there is a gritty realism to their relationship. Burton, who was thirty-five at the time, does feel a little old to be playing Jimmy, but it’s a small issue that you get over quickly enough.

The film adaptation doesn’t shy away from the story’s stage roots, being very dialogue heavy and does feel staged. The dialogue is absolutely fantastic, blending a mix of over-dramatic and realism that feels very natural. It’s emotional and really lets you get inside the characters minds. It’s wonderfully written and something that you could come back to time and time again, each time picking up on little pieces you missed before.

On the surface Look Back in Anger is a drama about relationships and beneath that it’s a look a the working-class in the 50s and a world that doesn’t seem fair. The story is over sixty years old but feels just as fresh and relevant now. With fully developed characters and great dialogue, the film is very easy to get into and takes a long time for it to leave your mind.

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Void – Film Review

Director: Vaibhav Gattani

Writers: Vaibhav Gattani and K Kalyanaraman

Starring: Yuvradnyee, Vaibhav Gattani, Sanya Sagar, Apoorv Kumar

Rating: ★★★½

Void is a film about desperation, depression, and the lengths someone will go to get what they want. Yuvradnyee gives a powerful and memorable performance as Rhea, a young woman who dreams of having the perfect family with her husband Abhijeet (Vaibhav Gattani). The couple are struggling to get pregnant, and they turn to unusual methods as a last resort.

Rhea is the main focus of the film, appearing in almost every scene. It starts with her voiceover explaining how she feels sad when other people get pregnant because she isn’t able to, we then get to see a little part of her day-to-day life. Everything about her life feels very cold and distant, there’s a real loneliness when her husband is at work and even when he’s not there’s a distance between them. Abhijeet doesn’t seem to be as bothered about having a child, and there’s a growing rift between them. The house is the main setting, and that also feels very isolating and cold. Everything is shot with muted colours that reflects the darkness Rhea is stuck in.  

The couple turn to a doctor who hypnotises Rhea and finds that she has karmic debts that can be resolved through a Sharman. In pure desperation Rhea goes to the Sharman Blue Skies (Sanya Sagar), who reluctantly agrees to help, knowing how important it is for Rhea. It’s through these moments that the film starts to get a little strange. It really shows how far Rhea is willing to go to live the perfect life that she wants.

One of the main themes of the film is the past and how that haunts people. Everyone seems to have a secret lurking in their past that needs to be reckoned with. A new neighbour moves in, Vivik (Apoorv Kumar), who Rhea starts to become friends with and opens up about what’s happening. At the same time Vivik is haunted by his own past that he must deal with. Everyone is dealing with their own troubles, giving the title has two meanings, one being that Rhea is unable to get pregnant, and that everyone is struggling with an emptiness within.

Overall, Void is a unique and strange film. It’s very cold and detached, and you can really feel the isolation that Rhea is feeling because of that. The characters are interesting and well written and that keeps you engaged throughout.   

Void is available now on Vimeo on Demand.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/567445576

IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt15840296/?ref_=pro_tt_visitcons

Film on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/void

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