No two people feel the same exact way about any film. Thus, Team Experience is pairing up to debate the merits of each of the big awards season movies this year. Here’s Abe Friedtanzer and Baby Clyde talking about Everything Everywhere All at Once.
ABE: Baby Clyde, I hope all is well! I’m eager to start talking about a film that I absolutely loved, Everything Everywhere All at Once. I actually am very late to the party on this one. I wasn’t seeing films in theaters yet back when it was originally released. I finally caught it about two months ago in early November and was impressed that it more than lived up to the hype. The performances are all phenomenal, and it’s just drowning in creativity in a way that so few films are these days. But, if I’m to understand correctly, you don’t agree. Before I get in to what else I loved about it, can you tell me what you didn’t?
BABY CLYDE: In a year of Oscar contenders to which I am entirely indifferent it seems odd that the film I’m rooting for is… this. After the soul crushing mundanity of last year’s Best Picture winner, I’m all for an EEAAO triumph for the sheer batshit WTFuckery? A Michelle Yeoh win would be one of the great moments in Oscar history.
But did I enjoy it? Not one bit.
You see, one man’s wildly inventive joy is another man’s complete and utter mess. It will not surprise you to learn I am that other man.
Saw it on the big screen on its opening weekend in London. Went in not sure if it would be my cup of tea but certainly expecting to be entertained. I was on board for the first half hour or so but after that, not a clue. It just goes on and on and on. Kept nodding off but every time I awoke people were still hitting each other with hot dog fingers or cooking with raccoons on their head. I have no idea why. You could attack me with a giant butt plug and I still wouldn’t be able to explain the plot.
I always struggle with anything that involves multi or parallel universes. I like structure. I like to know that the creatives have a plan. In this kind of situation there are no stakes. There’s no tension and no drama in these narratives because in any given situation everything be explained away or changed with an absurdist time jump or Bagel of Doom (There was a Bagel of Doom, right???).
Glad it’s so successful and agree that it has great performances but this was literally Everything Everywhere All at Once and I found it exhausting.
ABE: I will concede that I’m not sure staying awake would have been particularly helpful for understanding what was going on. To me, though, that was what worked about it. If I understood the multiverse, my life would be considerably crazier (or less chaotic?), and so I appreciate what this film is doing. Two hours and twenty minutes is not a lot of time to try to capture the complexities of all that, and I love that this film takes wild swings. There are so many incredible and unbelievable moments that feel quite random, but isn’t that how life is?
I feel like so many films can still be good even if they have predictable pacing, and that’s part of what made this one work so well for me – it doesn’t do that. Each scene might head in any number of directions, and the randomness of activating some other life’s abilities was very cool. There’s also something wonderful and endearing about the idea that the entire fate of the multiverse has to do with one strained relationship between a mother and daughter.
Regarding the quality of the performances — the thing we agree on ! — that leads me to an important question. Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan are certainly headed for Oscar nominations, but how do you watch this film and vote for Jamie Lee Curtis over Stephanie Hsu in the supporting actress race? Curtis is definitely doing something interesting, but Hsu is delivering on so many levels. What’s your take?
BABY CLYDE: My take is that JLC is a much beloved industry veteran who is, for the first time in decades, in a film that is receiving awards attention and voters are jumping at the opportunity to reward her. It’s not happening at the expense of Stephanie Hsu. It is just happening concurrently. There’s nothing to say they won’t both be nominated come Oscar time and if Hsu doesn’t make it, it won’t be Curtis’ fault. As I wrote before Christmas this is the most loaded category in living memory. We have at least a dozen women who could get nominations and none of them would be a surprise. The film is entirely bat shit and couldn’t be less Osar friendly if it tried so it’s a total miracle that it’s even in the conversation for any acting noms and yet people are getting upset that it potentially may not get four acting nominations. Total madness.
I can’t deny that it is drowning in creativity, I just wish bit would have drowned more quickly. 140 minutes is a crazy length for something so confusing and repetitive. It’s never dull exactly, but good grief does it overstay it’s welcome. But then it’s in good company this year – The Fabelmans (151 mins), Babylon (189 mins), Triangle of Sadness (147 mins), Tár (158 mins), Elvis (159 mins), Avatar: The Way of Water (192 mins), RRR (185 mins). What is going on???
If I have to choose a totally bonkers, overlong, international box office sensation then this year’s pick is definitely the one with epic dance routines and tigers.
ABE: While I can agree on enthusiasm for RRR, a film that more than earns its runtime, this is actually a film I wouldn’t have minded being even longer. I rarely say that, but, to me, if you have something good, keep it going for as long as possible! Imagine the many additional worlds and versions of these characters that could have been featured with an extra twenty minutes! I know that would have irritated you even more, but if we’re going to let movies be long enough that you end up paying more for parking at a movie theater than the ticket itself, why not give all of them that chance?
I’d love to hear what you thought of the elements that are on the Oscar shortlists – the score, song, and sound.
BABY CLYDE:Luckily my nearest movie theatre is 5 minutes up the road from my house. I used to have a policy of always staying until the end no matter how much I disliked a film because if I’d stuck it out then I could hate it with authority. Those days are long gone. I left both Elvis and Avatar: The Way of Water around the halfway mark. Life’s too short and I had Ava Gardner films to watch. I’ll finish Elvis one day but can confidently say 83 minutes of blue alien mumbo jumbo was enough for a lifetime.
As far as the shortlist elements go, I really have no idea. I didn’t notice the score. I’m sure the sound design was great, but it didn’t in anyway mitigate the incomprehensible nonsense I was witnessing. As for the song, was it over the credits? I was up and out of my seat the minute they rolled so must have missed it.
But it’s still gonna get double digit Oscar noms and I’m totally down for that. Much as I did not enjoy watching this film, its imagination and daring certainly warrant rewarding over its nearest, dreariest competitors. Something as wild as EEAAO winning Best Picture would be unprecedented and I’ll go for an Oscar Moment over a dull deserved win anytime.
ABE: For someone who allegedly didn’t like this film very much, I’m glad to hear that you’re still rooting for it. I’d be so thrilled to see it win big, especially since – as readers will soon learn – I was not too fond of its main Best Picture competition.