EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (2022)
I was excited to watch this film when it first came out, but sadly didn't get a chance to. Since then, I've heard how highly this film was praised and renowned, and saw the amount of awards it received. So while a big chunk of me was very happy to finally watch this film, there was also a small portion of me that held doubt that the film would not live up to its expectations. Boy, was I wrong. This film was genuinely excellent in every way possible. The cast was phenomenal, the visuals were amazing, the story was astonishing. I'm running out of words to describe how well this film was put together. One of my favorite aspects of this film is its ability to balance riveting action and hilarious comedy, while still having genuinely emotional lows that hit. Not many films can do this, especially when they're action comedies with this much stylization. A lot of times, the emotional aspect of the story is lost within the rambunctiousness of its plot. However, this film is able to combat that by actually giving each character depth and personality, and making sure that the theme is always central to every scene. Although I am not an Asian immigrant, there was so much that I connected with in this film as a Black woman, especially the relationship between Joy and Evelyn. I think this film speaks a lot about how hardships and generational curses affect the relationships within a family, and eventually how it affects the world around us. I love how this film is able to portray that idea while taking us on a fun and absurd ride through fantasy. This is definitely the best film to come out of 2022, and should be an absolute must watch for everyone- but especially POCs and immigrant children.
I read reviews prior saying how anxiety filled this film was. They were not wrong. For half of the film, my face was stuck in a scrunched up expression, questioning if I myself had something spiked in my drink. This film was not only good at what it was intended, but it was also smart. There was not complete narrative or storyline moving this film further (There really wasn't. The director admitted they took it day by day and basically winged it with only a few pages of script.), instead we got to feel what it is truly like to be on and see others on hardcore drugs, with no way to stop it. Gasper Noé deserves praise alone for the way he approached this film. The cinematography was smart and also amazing. The majority of this film were long shots, meaning that there were rarely any times where action was cut or stopped. That in itself is incredible, both technically and story-wise. This feeling of prolonged agony is so apparent; we never stop hearing the loudness of voices, the screams of both pleasure and pain, the sounds of bodies against the floor. In tandem with the bright neon lights and cluster of events happening at once, it brings the audience into the actual scene. I also want to give praise to the actors for both being able to go along with the crazy parameters surrounding this film, and the amount of dedication I know this took to film. Everyone did an excellent job at remaining in character and amplifying their more "negative" aspects once they became high. The erratic dancing and jagged movements also added to this feeling of confusing and temporal discontinuity. This was a great film in really depicting the mind on drugs and the horror that is associated with that, and I think this is a good watch for people who are interested in that and are more into artsy films.
THE PHOTOGRAPH (2020)
THE LITTLE MERMAID (2023)
The Little Mermaid was my favorite film when I was a child, so when news of this film came out I was excited. What gave me even more excitement was seeing that one of my favorite artists- Halle Bailey - would be featured as Ariel. When I heard this news, I immediately went "I can see it." From her voice to her look to her personality, everything about her screams Disney princess and I thought others would think the same. However, what I saw on the internet was absolute unacceptable. The amount of racism and outrage at a young Black woman playing a fictional role about a mermaid falling in love was disgusting and ridiculous. I could go on a whole rant about that, but instead I want to talk about why this film is important and speak about more positive things. This film means so much to young Black and other POC girls. I've seen so many videos of melanated children being happy to see someone that looks like them on screen, especially since they're in a reality where positive representation is a dime a dozen. This is not only important for young girls, but also for older POC women as well. The feelings I had watching this film filled a part of my heart with nostalgia and made me wonder how scratched this disk would have been if this film came out in the 2000s. I thought about how this film would have made me feel about my skin, about my hair, about myself. Even though not intended, this film acts as a frame of reference for young girls- a film where they can find their confidence, see themselves as beautiful, and give them a princess they can resonate with.
Now to the technical stuff. This was a really good watch. The visuals and set design were absolutely stunning and perfectly captured a Caribbean styled setting. The soundtrack was amazing, as expected from the beautiful vocals from Halle Bailey. The "Under the Sea" sequence was so masterfully done and was so vibrant and fun; I loved everything about it and it was my favorite scene. Performances from everyone was well and a lot better than what I expected; there was a lot of chemistry between Jonah and Halle. I also loved the romance story and how touching it was. I think it was nicely paced and we really got to see a connection build between the characters. I have only a few gripes with the film: 3rd act storytelling and the CGI. There was a lot of exposition from Ursula, but we must remember the target audience for this film, so I just let that slide. The last act of the film - specifically the Ursula fight - definitely felt a little rushed. I think the fight with Ursula could have been elongated a little more and could have ended more dramatically, but I guess they chose to compromise on a longer Act 3 for a chance to build more of a relationship between Ariel and Eric in Act 2 (a choice well decided in my opinion). In terms of the CGI, I don't know if it was just me overanalyzing it but at times the there was a little distortion on Halle's face underwater. It wasn't too distracting, but something to take into account. All in all, this was still an incredible film with a meaning that goes deeper than the creators could have imagined. A must watch for all Disney and fantasy fans!