Everything Everywhere All at Once and RRR

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (US-Rated R) 

Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis 

Genre: Adventure/Sci-fi

Where to watch: Video-on-demand

Dwight’s Rating:    

Some things just aren’t for everybody.

And sometimes, some folks are able to recognize the greatness of a thing, even if they aren’t particularly enamored with it.

Take the groundbreaking mobster TV series “The Sopranos”. Almost everybody seems to think it was one of the greatest shows of all time.

However, I watched more than a few episodes, and I just couldn’t get into it. I could see the appeal, but it just wasn’t for me.

Of course, after all that success, HBO essentially copied the formula for the show, and plopped it in different scenarios and eras. So, we got the Prohibition-themed “Boardwalk Empire”, which is essentially “The Sopranos” set in the 1920s. And “True Blood”, which was basically vampires and werewolves meets “The Sopranos”. And “Game of Thrones” – the medieval “The Sopranos”.

But I was among the biggest fans for all those other shows. Go figure!

So, even after nearly everyone raved about “Everything Everywhere All at Once” – released way back in March of last year – I am just getting around to seeing it. And I don’t know if I exactly “loved” this movie. I liked it. But there’s something a bit off that I haven’t quite put my finger on as yet. 

Nevertheless, I can say with certainty that it is a fascinating film – highly entertaining, with some brilliant performances, and undeniably creative. 

A middle-aged Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Crazy Rich Asians”) gets unwillingly embroiled in an epic adventure where she must connect different versions of herself in the parallel universe to stop someone who intends to harm the multiverse.

There’s a lot going on here, as we follow the characters as they hop from multiverse to multiverse and back and forth at breakneck speeds. 

Many – probably gamers (and people who think driving at 90mph is a little slow) – will appreciate this out-of-the-box, manic, hyper-frenetic filmmaking. It is daring in every way imaginable. And that cannot be denied.

Shockingly, there are actually some beautiful messages in the story. One hopes those aren’t lost while all the other stuff is happening.

Is there anything to compare it to? Not really! One could say it’s a super techno-modern “The Wizard of Oz”. Or it’s an amusing (and slightly easier to understand) “Cloud Atlas”. But that barely covers it. There’s likely never been anything quite like “Everything Everywhere All at Once”.

And that’s made the film an Oscar frontrunner. Just this week, it garnered a leading 11 nominations. And star Yeoh is likely the only obstacle standing in the way of Cate Blanchett (“Tár”) winning another Academy Award.

Yeoh’s unbelievable energy and vibrancy, and the fact that she still does most of her own stunts, may give her the edge over everyone in the Lead Actress category.

Plus, she’s surrounded by a superb supporting cast, including legendary character actor James Hong, and most notably Ke Huy Quan (“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”), the also legendary Jamie Lee Curtis, and Stephanie Hsu (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), the latter three of whom all earned well-deserved supporting nominations. 

It isn’t hard to see why “Everything Everywhere All at Once” gets people’s attention. But rest assured, you won’t be alone if you don’t exactly lose your mind over it!

“RRR” (US-Rated PG-13) 

Cast: Ram Charan, N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Olivia Morris, Alia Bhatt  

Genre: Action-Adventure

Where to watch: Netflix

Dwight’s Rating:    

Conch salad! Peas Soup! Peas ‘n’ Rice! Guava Duff! All of them, mixed up together and in one big bowl!!

Can you imagine?

You don’t need to. Watch “RRR” (for “Rise Roar Revolt”) to see how that works. And shockingly, it kinda does!

This Indian action-adventure/historical drama/romance/comedy/musical is almost as crazy, zany and ambitious as “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. In fact, I think it really does have everything, everywhere, all at once, and every time, too – at a stout three hours and two minutes in length.

In 1920s India, a fearless revolutionary and an officer in the British force, who once shared a deep bond, decide to join forces and chart out an inspirational path of freedom against their despotic rulers (i.e. The British! Wow!)

They’ve thrown everything possible at the screen, including the Bollywood-ness of many Indian pictures. So, that means there are indeed songs (one, “Naatu Naatu” is nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar), and there’s dancing. But there are also violent action scenes that will make you squirm.

There are tigers and wolves. There are at least three love stories, not including the epic bromance. There are spies and surprises. And of course, the evil British Empire.

If the Brits think Harry and Meghan are a problem, they’ve got to find a way to keep “RRR” from playing anywhere in the Commonwealth of Nations on Commonwealth Day (March 13) or on or near any member country’s Independence Day.

Very few right-minded individuals would support keeping a British Monarch as the head of state after watching this a couple times. It’s intense!

And so, just like with “Everything Everywhere All at Once”, very serious concepts are wrapped up in what appears to be a goofy, fun time.

That certainly takes some real skill. And it comes in a slickly produced and directed epic that thankfully doesn’t quite feel as long as it is.

Unlike with “Everything Everywhere All at Once”, there are quiet(er) times, allowing you to catch your breath for a bit (just a bit).

But of the two films, one suspects “RRR” won’t be the one in a few years or decades that will still be mentioned on lists of most influential or groundbreaking pictures of all time. And likewise, it seems less likely of the two to reveal new treats with repeated viewings.

However, it is quite likely “RRR” will be what sparks greater interest in the pictures coming out of India. It’s clear that producers and directors there, unlike many other filmmakers throughout the world, are not willing to allow themselves to be boxed in by genre limitations, and are prepared to go all in with their productions.

That’s a very tasty proposition!

• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email
dwight@nasguard.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969

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Dwight Strachan

Dwight is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff.

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