Film reviews: Everything everywhere all at once | Strange Doctor | Vortex | Father Stu

Michelle Yeoh in Anywhere Anywhere PIC: Allyson Riggs

Everything everywhere all at once (15) ****

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (12A)****

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A family drama rendered as a wild, interdimensional martial arts fantasy, Everything everywhere all at once takes the suddenly in-vogue concept of the multiverse and uses it to drag Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Michelle Yeoh through endless versions of her character’s life as she tries to figure out how to fix her dysfunctional relationship with her husband. , her father, and most importantly, her Gen Z daughter. Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, a first-generation Chinese-American immigrant who is living—as one character puts it—the worst version of her life: the laundry business she directs is being audited; her sweet but kind husband (former child star Ke Huy Quan – Short Round of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) tries to work up the courage to divorce her; her gay daughter (Stephanie Hsu) is frustrated at not accepting her as she is, and the disapproving father (James Hong) whom she challenged as a young woman has just arrived from China for a visit.

Setting it all in place in a wonderfully condensed opening salvo that points us to the impending fracture of its middle-aged heroine’s regret-filled existence, the film uses an encounter between Evelyn and her stern tax agent (a twist devious Jamie Lee Curtis) as the mundane catalyst for the arrival of an ally from another dimension convinced that she is the savior of all existing branching universes. What this means for the film is that Evelyn can visit multiple alternate versions of her life to learn the skills necessary to keep the forces of chaos from engulfing everything – a conceit that allows directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as the Daniels) to go crazy as they collide worlds in which the characters become glamorous movie stars, hot dog lovers, crudely sketched cartoons, piñatas and, at one point, a pair of telepathic boulders.

While infinitely more engaging than Daniels’ intensely irritating debut Swiss Army Man, the weirdness factor remains dialed down to 11 throughout. Still, it’s fun to watch them pay zany homage to everything from Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love and Ratatouille to 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, and various Bill & Ted movies. Their style of filmmaking that mixes everything into a cartoonish frenzy is exhilarating – and oddly apt in an age of social media in which it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by a digital world that puts devastating world events, Meaningless celebrity news and our own mundane daydreams on equal footing.

Xochitl Gomez, Benedict Wong and Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness PIC: Marvel Studios

Meanwhile, in another multiverse, Marvel’s wizard Doctor Strange does better than zapping Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home by bringing Maguire’s Spider-Man director Sam Raimi back into the fray of comic strips, 20 years later. help show what a modern superhero movie could be. It’s definitely a great choice from Marvel. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Much of the title delivers on the wildly inventive and entertainingly chaotic visual style that Raimi honed on his slapstick horror trilogy Evil Dead. Indeed, these films provide a fun reference point for what is, in effect, Marvel’s first horror film.

Doctor Strange’s cosmic shenanigans notwithstanding (he’s played once again by Benedict Cumberbatch, deploying his full arsenal of abracadabra hand gestures), the film becomes horribly entertaining when it pits him against Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda as she kisses her alter-ego Scarlett Witch and wreaks havoc on many different worlds in her attempt to travel across the multiverse to find an alternate reality in which she can be the mother of the two boys she dreams of every night. That’s about all that can be leaked without this review becoming as wildly convoluted as the film, but the setting is brimming with so much energy that it’s a joy to get carried away. And who but Raimi would think of giving a big superhero monologue delivered by a zombie with half a face?

With Vortex, Irreversible director Gasper Noé returns with his most human film to date: a bold and formally rigorous drama about dementia following an elderly couple as their lives are torn apart by illness. Noah symbolizes this beginning by literally drawing a line down the center of the frame to separate Liu (played by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento) and Elle (Françoise Lebrun) who has Alzheimer’s as they sleep in their beds. The rest of the film takes place in split-screen as we follow their interactions over several difficult weeks as they wander around their bohemian Parisian apartment. Noé uses the space stuffed with the detritus of the lives they have built together (books, photos, papers, video cassettes) to exteriorize the richness of their inner life at the very moment when Elle’s brain erases all traces of it, an idea it uses to build towards a subtly devastating and moving finale.

In Father Stu, Mark Wahlberg plays an over-the-hill amateur boxer who decides to move to Hollywood to pursue acting, but instead has an encounter with Jesus and decides to pursue the priesthood instead. Based on a true story, the film takes many bizarre turns – including Stu converting to Catholicism for punching a woman he stalked, then abandoning said woman after a near-death motorcycle accident – ​​but never questions any of them, preferring instead to serve. a hokey redemption drama about the value of suffering.

Mark Wahlberg in Father Stu PIC: Karen Ballard/Columbia Pictures

All films in general release