January 30, 2023

Everything Everywhere All At Once

After hearing about how great this movie was for the last several months from critics I respect, I decided to go to my local Redbox and rent it. I knew very little about this film going in. I knew that it was going to be about multiple universes. I hadn’t even thought about the title and what that might mean in the context of a multi-universe plot. I also knew it was from The Daniels, who also made Swiss Army Man, an incredible cinematic journey. 

Everything Everywhere all at Once is less absurd than Swiss Army Man, but it still extremely absurd. It is also funny, and touching… and completely chaotic. I really enjoyed the ride. I would highly recommend watching it. It isn’t conventional and it isn’t going to hit right for everybody, so consider that my disclaimer. 

I think it is remarkable how this film can morph into different things for different people. There is so much going on that different people will derive a different meaning depending on their perspective. The relationship between mother and daughter is central to the film, but I actually latched onto the dynamics between husband and wife. There are several other key relationships that could define the movie for you. 

For me the movie was about finding the joy in the life you have. It was about appreciating your family and being thankful for your shared history. Those are the feelings that struck me through the narrative. It is entirely possible to have a separate reading based on your own life experience. 

I think we are ready to get into… spoilers

As I saw it, the multiple universes and the chaos going on inside the daughter’s brain is a metaphor for our current world. Our focus and attention are fractured. There are always more inputs to distract us from our current reality. The daughter has cracked under the pressure of expectations. She has become nihilistic. There is no reason to even try anymore. 

Her mother must dive into this world of chaos and find her. While doing so she is confronted with her own daemons. Does she like who she is and what she has become? She also is reintroduced to her husband that allows her to see him in a new light. She realizes that he has also made sacrifices along the way. 

We all get wrapped up in our own selfish nature. We all feel like we are the victims of our own circumstance. It is easy to tell ourselves a story that any negative emotion was the result of something somebody else did. We don’t want to take responsibility for our own situation. 

This movie had depth. There were moments that were touching. It was also completely insane. There are giant dildos and butt plugs. There is a reality where everyone has hot dog fingers that squirt out mustard.  Considering all of the chaos and complexity of the plot, the movie was easy to stay engaged with. I was right there with it all the way. That is an achievement. I often give up trying to keep track of what is going on in time travel and/or multiple universe type movies. Only the good ones keep me right there with it. This one was good. 

I don’t have a ton else to say about the movie. I have thought about it a fair bit since I finished it. I plan to watch it again. I highly recommend it, but understand if you don’t love it as much as I do. 

January 21, 2023

The White Lotuses

The first season was about wealth & privilege. The second season was about love & relationships. Both seasons had some gay sex; a fairly negative view of humanity, and the depressing reality that you should just learn to settle with what you are given.

I watched the first two seasons of the show all in one stretch. It worked well for me. I am glad I didn’t have to wait week-to-week for new episodes, or even a year for the 2nd season to be available. It helped me to compare the themes and see how similar the seasons really were.

This is a slice-of-life show where we get to meet different people and see them navigate life and relationships for a week. This week just happens to be while they are on vacation at a very fancy resort. Most of the people are very wealthy and entitled. I’m not sure exactly what the show was going for, but to me everybody is painted in a fairly negative light. The first season was filled with horrible people. I found characters more relatable in the second season, and therefore liked that season a bit better.

Each season starts with a scene that lets you know somebody has died at The White Lotus. Then the show goes back in time one week and shows you a group of vacationers arriving, with the presumption that one will not return home. All of the chess pieces are set, and then as viewers I guess we are supposed to figure out who is going to kill who. As we get closer to the end there are several scenarios where it is clear we are supposed to think this is the death scene. This feels tedious to me.

While the themes have a lot in common between the two seasons, the characters do not. There is only one element of character continuity and I wasn’t happy when I saw who it was. Jennifer Coolidge’s character was my least favorite from season 1. Her performance of a mentally unstable filthy rich woman was so over-the-top. I expected the worst going into season 2. However, it was a lot better this time around. Maybe I just got used to her performance, but for me the character was way more likable this time around.

I am interested in what people take away from this show. It is fun to watch, but it also seems to want to make statements about society. Most of those statements are not good. There is very little positivity in the show. Both season have couples that reconnect and go home a stronger couple than they came. I suppose that could be considered positive. Both season also have couples where at least one member hates their life but has resigned themselves to living in misery. I suppose this is a commentary on how frequently humanity detaches from their dreams and relies on distraction to get through each day.