Back At It

“Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” (in theaters and on Amazon)

The film is a sci fi family drama comedy that ranks among the most bizarre I have ever seen. To enjoy it, you must relax and be willing to be totally confused for much of its running time. Like spy movies, sci fi films are vaguely incomprehensible to me, but this time I decided to just let go and see what happens. And I’m glad I did. Michelle Yeoh, still acrobatic and graceful in her martial arts moves as she was twenty-two years ago in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, returns to the screen as the unhappy owner of a failing Simi Valley laundromat, dissatisfied with her marriage, at odds with her daughter and resentful of her domineering, cold father. Her English isn’t very good and she’s up for an audit. Jamie Lee Curtis is fabulous as the contradictory and rather strange tax collector. When an “interdimensional rupture” empowers Michele Yeoh to enter the multiuniversive it enables her to figure things out. To paraphrase David Mamet: drama isn’t so much about theme but about what the protagonist wants. The film abounds with themes: the most predominant one being the resolution of a mother/daughter conflict. But Mamet is right. What drives the plot(such as it is) is what she wants and how the multiuniverse can lead to her getting what she desires.My recommendation has a couple caveats: I think it’s about 20 or 30 minutes too long, the pace and the fx’s are overwhelming at times, many of you will turn it off after about twenty minutes. If you don’t –and even if you do, send in your comments.

“The Last Movie Stars” (HBO)

One of my mother’s favorite stories was about the time she discussed grapefruits with Paul Newman in a Florida grocery store. (” pretended I didn’t recognize him, but then I blew it because I told him how much I loved his work in The Verdict”) I could give details of their encounter–how handsome, kind, friendly, etc. etc. but I won’t unless you write and beg for the full transcript. In any case, she would have loved this series about Newman and Joanne Woodward–hundreds of clips designed to coincide with the oral history Newman left behind in the form of cassette tapes salvaged from the trash heap. Ethan Hawke has produced a rather unusual documentary about possibly the most loved movie couple ever. Luminaries including George Clooney, Laura Linney, Billy Crudup, Oscar Isaac, Zoe Kazan, Sally Field, Sam Rockwell read parts of the tape. I am enjoying the six part series but can’t really say I’m wild about it. Ethan Hawke bugs me with his Gen X carefully curated slovenliness, but that’s a minor matter and I can only assume that his idolatry of the two iconic figures is sincere.

“A Kiss Before Dying” (1953) Amazon

“The Last Movie Stars” reminded me that there are a number of films from the 50’s and 60’s that I either haven’t seen or forgot I’d seen. Among those was this early Joanne Woodward film. She has a big role in the beginning, but to avoid a spoiler I won’t tell you why she’s not the star of the film. Robert Wagner is in his twenties and wow was he handsome! It’s really a ridiculous technicolor “noir”. I like to think that even in my childhood I was enough of a film snob to avoid watching it. Bt the truth, more likely is that it was much too racy for a child. There’s a recent version of it which I think is also to be avoided.


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