A24 does it again.

It is a rare occurrence for me to see a film at the cinema twice in a short period of time and I am lucky that this film was popular enough to remain showing at the cinema on its first run. I saw this one three months apart and after seeing it earlier in the year in April I knew I had seen one of my favourite films of the year, I wanted to revisit to see if I still felt the same way.

I did. Even moreso, if possible. I have yet to see one that has topped it this year.
In the 3 months between seeing it I had listened to the soundtrack by Son Lux many times and so when watching it for the second time I was very familiar with the music which gave me a deeper experience.

Son Lux is an experimental musical band that was originally the brainchild of Ryan Lott, and transformed into a three piece on their fourth album Bones and now includes Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia. Listening to their soundtrack of this film led me to listening to some of their earlier pieces. They are definitely worth a listen and this soundtrack is brilliant featuring flute playing from Andre 3000 from Outkast and the song This is a Life featuring Mitski and David Byrne being a stand out track. Listen below:

This film crosses genres and manages to defy categorization. What is it?
It is a sci-fi, kung-fu, action film, romantic comedy and a family drama and manages to skate between each with ease and skill. This is no easy feat.

Stephanie Tsu, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan

Written and directed by The Daniels, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, they weave a wonderful tale about a Chinese-American family going through an existential crisis whilst being audited by the tax office and consequently thrust into the multiverse.

Michelle Yeoh is wonderful as usual and here she plays Evelyn Wang and gets to show off many sides to her acting abilities, most notably her comedic skills, Ke Huy Quan plays Waymond Wang (Evelyn’s husband) and he returns to the world of acting after many years (this is a long way from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies), Stephanie Tsu plays their daughter, Joy Wang and gives one of the most enjoyable, entertaining and unhinged performances I have seen for a while, she has a lot of fun with the character, James Wong plays Evelyn’s father Gong Gong, the actor still going strong at 92 years young. Also starring is the wonderful Jamie Leigh-Curtis as the tax auditor assigned to Evelyn Wang’s case and she is brilliant. Her comedy timing is spot on and she shows again why she is one of the most entertaining actors out there. Special mentions go out to Jenny Slate and her dog and Harry Shum Jr and his raccoon.

The film reminds me of the joke;

‘A Buddhist monk, visiting New York City for the first time in twenty years, walked up to a hot dog vendor, handed him a twenty dollar bill, and said,
“Make me one with everything.”
The vendor pocketed the money, and handed the Buddhist monk his hot dog. The monk, after waiting for a moment, asked for his change. The vendor looked at him and said, “Change comes from within.”
With a wistful smile, the monk walked away.’

A film with everything on it if you will but it never feels overloaded. The multiverse aspect is used to the fullest extent and the images and ideas come in thick and fast.

It takes quite a film to affect me in such a way; this film managed to tread un-mined areas.
It was a surprise. There were moments that were unexpected and definitely came out of left-field. This is another reason that I loved it. The film made my eyes leak both times, even more so the second time. It moved me, film should move you, in one way or another, surely that’s the point of it. It is art, after all.

This is a film about limitless possibilities and the idea that the grass is rarely greener.
We are exactly where we are meant to be.
If you don’t like it, change it.

Michelle Yeoh knows Kung Fu

In essence this film is about, love, laundry and taxes with a dash of mental health.
Isn’t everything all about mental health in the end?
It is about hope, acceptance, bagels, family, the infinite possibilities, the choices we make, our dreams and our realities.

A quick note about the production and distribution company A24. Founded in 2012 they have gone from strength to strength and are now a well established company that is, at least for me, a benchmark of quality, they co-produced with HBO, the excellent tv series Euphoria and the also brilliant recent fare, Irma Vep, notable films on their roster include: Enemy, A Most Violent Year, Ex Machina, Amy, Room, The Witch, 20th Century Women, The Florida Project, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Lady Bird, Hereditary, Midsommar, The Lighthouse, Minari, The Green Knight, After Yang, X and recently Alex Garland’s nutty horror film Men. I get excited when I see the logo. It usually means I’m in for a treat and this treat was absolutely delicious.

Jamie Leigh-Curtis, Stephanie Tsu, Michelle Yeoh and James Wong

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a truly beautiful film that is funny, moving, surprising and exciting.

Do yourself a favour, go ahead, watch it and be moved.

2 hours and 19 minutes


BROKER (2022)

Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu delivers a beautiful and heart-warming story of what it means to be a family in this stunning tale of a mother, her decision to give her child away and the two Brokers who attempt to make that happen.

I was really looking forward to this as I absolutely loved the director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s last film; the memorable Shoplifters (2019) which is in a way a companion piece to this film as both represent an unconventional family dynamic.

Song Kang-ho is the owner of a laundromat owner and Gang Don-won is a volunteer at a local church and the two of them run an illegal business selling children on the adoption black market, Bae Doona and Lee Joo-young play the detectives hot on their tails and singer Li Ji-eun (also known by her stage name IU) is the mother of the child that is up for adoption, Im Seung-soo humorously plays a child that tags along with the Brokers and the mother on their journey and Kang Gil-woo plays the head of the orphanage. All the cast give stellar performances filled with heart and soul in abundance and like the film never slip into over-sentimentalizing the action on screen.

Song Kang-ho in Broker

I am a huge fan of Song Kang-ho. I would go as far to say that I think he is one of the top 5 screen actors of this age, all over the world.
He is magnificent, the Parasite director Bong Joon-ho said about working with him:

“Even when I am thinking of my shots, when I picture his face, when I write the scenes I am able to really write those scenes with ease because I have the confidence that Song Kang-ho is able to captivate the audience in a way that no other actor I’ve worked with can and when I even think about the most absurd scenes I know that Song Kang-ho can pull them off and that is really reassuring on my part. I always feel safe when he is between me and the audience.”

He is subtle yet always fully in the scene, believable, human and vulnerable and he recently won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for his performance in Broker. He is a joy to watch.

Special mention goes to Kang Gil-woo who makes the most of a small part and plays drunk brilliantly in one scene in particular. He made me laugh out loud several times with his choices.

It’s interesting that Lee Ji-eun is involved, she is very good in the film. I wasn’t aware that she was a singer before I had seen the film but I’m sure this small, lovely intimate film will gain even more of an audience thanks to the inclusion of IU. There is a trend in casting these days that is influenced by the social media numbers of various stars and I usually feel a bit cynical about this but in this case Lee Ji-eun has already proved herself through her previous work as an actor, she was recently lauded in the television show My Mister and her performance in that show is apparently what prompted the director Kore-eda Hirozaku to cast her in this charming film. It’s a smart move as she has a huge following and will bring a great deal of promotion to the film and she’s talented to boot.

Lee Ji-eun AKA IU in Broker

Her performance in Broker is guarded, subtle and heart-breaking.
Watch her interview Song Kang-ho , Gang Don-won and Lee Joo-young in her tv talk show Palette, which also features her music:

Jung Jae-il composed the exquisite soundtrack to this film. He was also responsible for the fantastic soundtracks to Parasite and Squid Game, both absolutely excellent pieces of work. Here, he subtly weaves a tapestry of longing and warmth to create a lovely compliment to the visuals that sits really well and balanced in a cinematic landscape that could easily have been over sentimentalised.
Listen to a piece from the soundtrack below:

This was the Closing Night Film at the 69th Sydney Film Festival on Sunday 19th June 2022 and was the second of only two films that I saw at the festival this year.
The other film I saw being another Cannes winner, Triangle of Sadness, which won the Palme D’Or this year. Both films were excellent.

Broker received a 12 minute standing ovation at Cannes earlier in May this year.
That is no easy feat. It clearly struck a chord.

Watch the trailer for the film below:

This rag-tag thrown-together group finds out what it means to love and be loved on this moving journey about family.

This film is funny, moving and charming, do yourself a favour and look it up when it is released.

129 minutes