Everything everywhere at once (15, 139 minutes)
Verdict: multiverse of more madness
Father Stu (15, 124 mins)
Verdict: bad pace biopic
Answer Nobel physicists: what do you call a multitude of multiverses? A multi-multiverse? The infinitive?
Whatever the word is, it is what is currently tormenting the multiplexes.
After last week’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, we now have another film about overlapping, parallel universes.
This one is called Everything Everywhere All At Once, presumably because it originated in a universe without commas.
But really, it’s the differences between the two films that stand out, rather than their cosmic similarities.
Michelle Yeoh (pictured) stars in Everything Everywhere All At Once, a multiverse film released by production company A24
The sci-fi action-adventure features Yeoh (center) as a woman who can’t finish her taxes
Everything Everywhere is not the next phase of Marvel’s global supremacy plan.
Instead, it’s the latest release from A24, the New York-based film company behind such inventive, independent dishes as 2019’s Uncut Gems and last year’s The Green Knight.
Plus, Michelle Yeoh stars in Everything Everywhere.
In fact, technically, it stars a lot of Michelle Yeohs. And that is indeed a very good thing.
In the beginning, however, this is not the Yeoh we know: the ballet-like martial artist from films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
Here she plays Evelyn Wang, the owner of a struggling laundromat in Somewheresville, America, whose life is like a prolonged heart attack.
Bills have not been paid. A pathologically gloomy IRS agent (played by an almost unrecognizable and very funny Jamie Lee Curtis) is on her case. Her sad husband (Ke Huy Quan) resigns during a divorce. And will someone – please – bring some food to her grumpy father (James Hong)?
Yeoh (center right) plays Evelyn Wang, the owner of a struggling laundromat in Somewheresville, America
If that sounds stressful, well, it is—for the viewer as well as Wang.
Everything Everywhere is mostly comedy (and sometimes hilarious), but somehow it does the magic trick of making you feel how the characters feel. rushed. stunned. Upset.
Then, after about 20 minutes, comes the excitement.
That’s when an alternate-universe version of Wang’s husband, nicknamed “Alpha Waymond,” invades her reality to inform her that A) is a universal danger, who may or may not be their daughter (played by the brilliant Stephanie Hsu). , spreads through time and space, and B) she’s the only person who can stop it.
Classic Movie on TV: On The Town (1949)
The two stars should be enough: Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, as sailors in New York.
But if you need more convincing, this is exactly what you’re looking for in Kelly and co-director Stanley Donen’s next musical, Singin’ In The Rain.
Sunday, 1.30pm, BBC2
Suddenly the film really shows some of that A24 inventiveness.
There are different universes, different chronologies and even different cinematic styles – curiously, one of the alternate worlds is a dead letter for Wong Kar-wai’s In The Mood For Love (2000).
Still, co-director-writers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert manage to tie it all together.
And Yeoh gets to show off too.
Turns out there’s an alternate universe version of Evelyn Wang who made a few different life choices and ended up being, in fact, Michelle Yeoh – a kung fu superstar.
Wang ‘freak jumps’ (don’t ask) to gain the same skills, and begins to fight his way through a series of increasingly colorful battle scenes.
Followed by more fight scenes. And more fight scenes. And… there’s probably a point where Everything Everywhere lives up to its name and gets too much.
In its quest for meaning, the film can’t decide between about three, so it goes on and on with more fights, more movie references, more childish jokes, and more sentiment.
But still, more Yeoh is more Yeoh. There might be a terrible universe where she’s not one of the most capable, likeable front women in the movie, but thankfully, it’s not this one.
“I don’t like that blue-collar bull****!” wails Mark Wahlberg at the start of Father Stu. What follows is two hours of work… boilerplate might be a better word.
The soundtrack is full of twangy country guitars and Dolly Parton. The men are large and gray. There’s a lot of cussin’ and scrappin’.
But there is also an extraordinary true story behind it.
Mark Wahlberg (pictured) plays Stuart Long, a small-town boxer who became a priest before he was stricken with a degenerative disease, in Father Stu
Father Stu, Wahlberg’s character, is Stuart Long, a small-town boxer who became a priest and then fought 12 rounds with a rare and terrible degenerative disease.
He died, aged 50, almost ten years ago.
The film tells this story all the way through, presumably with some Hollywood embellishment.
For example, I doubt there was a reptilian-looking villain in the real seminary who hissed constantly about Father Stu’s rough and rough ways – but there’s one here.
But in other places, there isn’t enough embellishment – or explanation -.
Mel Gibson stars as Bill Long, Stuart’s beer-drinking, crazy, intolerant father who achieves belated redemption
Compared to the focus on Father Stu’s courtship of a churchgoer (Teresa Ruiz), the film doesn’t give much reason for his true conversion to Christianity later on.
Even his struggle with the disease, the most remarkable part of it, feels like an addendum.
That’s a shame, because the actors, especially Wahlberg, have obviously taken the material seriously. Jacki Weaver is great as Stu’s hard-loving mother.
Mel Gibson is every bit as good as the mad, beer-drinking, intolerant dad who achieves a belated redemption… who looks a bit like Gibson.
In this world of second chances, perhaps Father Stu could expand on that one—if only to know a little about the man who inspired it.
An innocent crackle of emotion
Every now and then a first film comes along that feels perfectly formed – as if its creation were an act of nature.
The quiet girl (12A, 94 min) is one of them. It is the first feature film for the director, Colm Bairéad, and also for the star, Catherine Clinch, a 12-year-old who delivers a performance that is stunningly mature yet full of the innocence of childhood.
The story, told in a mix of the Irish language (subtitled) and English, is straightforward. Clinch’s character, Cáit, is sent to live with relatives in a rural corner of Ireland for the summer, away from her carefree mother and rude father.
But the emotions that mine The Quiet Girl are complex and deep. Through the careful camera work and sparse script, we get to know the everyday cruelties that people can inflict on each other – as well as the immeasurable kindness.
Catherine Clinch (pictured), who is 12, delivers a stunningly mature yet innocent performance in The Quiet Girl
Our father (18, 96 min.) is a documentary that in its own way is also about family.
Or maybe it would be better described as a horror movie. Produced by Blumhouse, the studio best known for creepy series like Paranormal Activity, it’s packed with ominous music and creeping shots through hallways. The style certainly fits the content: this is the case of an American fertility doctor who secretly inseminated his patients for decades.
The bravery of the sons and daughters who exposed both him and their sprawling family tree is astonishing. At the last count there were 94.
Spitfire over Berlin (15, 120 minutes) should come with a disclaimer: it was made for tens of thousands of pounds by a handful of DIY filmmakers.
Without that disclaimer, it’s a clumsy attempt at an aerial World War II film, with dodgy CGI and an even dodgier script. With that, there’s something wonderful about the fact that this movie even exists. Knocks away!
The Quiet Girl hits theaters today (and streaming on Curzon Home Cinema). Our Father is now on Netflix. And Spitfire Over Berlin is hitting select cinemas today.