Everything Everywhere All at Once

Michelle Yeoh in kung fu action

Starting with its title and ending at infinity, Everything Everywhere All at Once is a “more is more” kind of movie that looks as if it was designed to be the last word in multiverse sci-fi. The plot is Matrix-shaped – nobody becomes somebody – but instead of a young dumb male as its protagonist, it’s a middle aged smart female, in the shape of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a drudge of a wife, mother, carer for her elderly father who’s just been served with divorce papers by her fairly useless husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). And instead of being hunted by a sleek, black-clad, sunglasses-wearing Agent Smith, Evelyn and family are being … Read more

The Bank Dick

WC Fields has a drink

The Bank Dick is one hour 12 minute of WC Fields doing what WC Fields does – comedy in an erratic, chaotic, incoherent and brilliant way. It’s barely a film at all, more a series of sketches linked together by the familiar Fields character, a dyspeptic layabout and drunk who spends so much time and effort trying to avoid work that it’s a full-time job in itself. Loosely, and this is very loose, the “plot” follows the irascible shirker into and out of his favourite bar and then into and out of two different jobs. In one, he somehow becomes the director of a movie, merely by claiming to some wits-end producer type … Read more


The troops in the First World War foxhole

Seven key players are spun through three different related scenarios in Foxhole, writer/director Jack Fessenden’s experimental-theatre approach to film-making. There’s more than a blank stage and a couple of chairs, but not much. As if to prove that statement nuts, Fessenden opens with an overhead shot of a mass of dead bodies on a battlefield in what, it becomes apparent, is the American Civil War. The fog of war here is literal, the air is thick, visibility is low. The camera comes to rest on a foxhole where a bunch of Union soldiers are digging themselves in and trading the sort of dialogue that soldiers trade in – testing the boundaries of insubordination, … Read more

Hell’s Angels

Planes dogfighting in the sky

Howard Hughes had almost finished his action-packed, stunt-driven epic Hell’s Angels, at vast expense, in 1928 when silent movies were suddenly made obsolete by the vast success of The Jazz Singer. So he did what any mega-rich tycoon who just happened to own a film studio would do – he remade it. Out went his female star in the process. Greta Nissen was Norwegian and had a heavy accent, and so she became one of the first casualties of the talkies, which destroyed many an established career (which is what the plot of Singin’ in the Rain is all about, after all). In came unknown 18-year-old Jean Harlow to fill the gap, while … Read more

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nick Cage makes the palm hold fist salute

Hell yeh – The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is that sort of movie, a brash, fun one-joke affair with a concept strong enough to keep itself motoring until about half an hour from the end. Your mileage may vary. The joke comes in two versions. One is the Larry David one about a person playing a near-facsimile of themselves. Nicolas Cage here plays Nick (note extra “k”) Cage, a mega-acting legend who decides to pack it all in and then ends up in a real-life version of a Nicolas Cage movie – Con Air variety. The second iteration is borrowed from Adaptation (which Cage also starred in) and features a younger Cage double … Read more

Days of Wine and Roses

Jack Lemmon with drink in hand

You might know the title Days of Wine and Roses from Ernest Dowson’s 1896 poem Vitae Summa Brevis – “They are not long, the days of wine and roses/Out of a misty dream/Our path emerges for a while, then closes/Within a dream”. Or you might know it from Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini’s Oscar-winning theme song to this film, made famous by Andy Williams, whose lines replay Dowson’s sentiments. “The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play/Through a meadowland towards a closing door… etc”. If you’ve never actually seen the 1962 film repurposing the phrase, it comes as a shock to discover that the “wine” Dowson and … Read more

Broadcast Signal Intrusion

A black haired figure interrupts a broadcast

Broadcast Signal Intrusion is a horror film set in ye olden tymes when VHS was still standard-issue home-entertainment tech and people stood outside to smoke cigarettes. Before then they smoked inside; after then, they’d mostly given up. So it’s the 1990s. But the film reaches further back, into the mists of the 1980s where, it seems, there were several instances of TV stations being hijacked by a “broadcast signal intrusion”, when pirates would break into shows, terrorist style. An old story that’s reheated by James (Harry Shum Jr), an archivist in a dimly lit TV library who becomes obsessed with these old events and is soon riffling through the shelves looking for more … Read more

Wild Strawberries

Old Isak and young Sara

Ingmar Bergman released both Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal in 1957. So not one but two classics for the ages in one year from the same guy, who wasn’t very well at the time and in fact wrote the screenplay for this film in his hospital bed. Not bad going. Perhaps it’s not surprising that decay and death are the big idea, the story of a lonely old doctor on the way to pick up an honour whose ardently held and rather severe ideas about the way to live his life are challenged, even as he sits in the waiting room to Death. As he travels by car, and prompted by a … Read more


Angela at work

When did Zoë Kravitz get so good? In Kimi she’s not only the star of the film but almost the only person in it, and she has a grip like a tractor beam on the attention. It helps that she’s beautiful, of course, but there’s more going on here than that. She plays Angela, a shut-in with a string of emotional conditions, among them germophobia, ADHD, paranoia, neurosis, which suits her job as a human hired to tweak the algorithm of a Siri-like virtual assistant. When someone shouts, “Kimi, you’re a peckerwood,” she’s the one who later adds definitions for “peckerwood” in Kimi’s onboard dictionary – Kimi is always listening. And the covid pandemic, … Read more

Don’t Follow Me Around

Bruno, Vera and Jo hug

Don’t Follow Me Around (Komm mir nicht nach) is the second of the Dreileben trilogy set in a quaint old German town in the heavily forested state of Thuringia. Goethe, Schiller and Johann Sebastian Bach are all associated with the area, though nowadays it’s got more of a name for what doesn’t happen there rather than what does – it’s slightly left behind. That apartness, a sense of not much going on, pervades Dominik Graf’s story centred on Jo (Jeanette Hain), a criminal psychologist brought in to help the cops in Dreileben, who are struggling with the case of the escaped murderer Molesch (who links all three stories). Having found that her “booked” … Read more