(Spoiler Free) The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Of ‘Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

It’s times like these that I find myself questioning my sanity. For me to dislike so much of Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (EEAAO) and so many other people love it with a white hot intensity really makes me wonder what could be going on. So, let’s review what I liked, disliked and hated about this movie.

The Good
There’s a lot to like about this movie. I found the acting by Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan outstanding. They really stood out in this otherwise mess of a movie. And I also liked the Michel Gondry magical realism elements of the movie a great deal. I went in thinking this would be a lot like The Science of Sleep and, in its own way, it was.

The Bad
There was just way, way, way too much going on with this movie. It just did not know what it wanted to be. When you have all this dialogue that requires an extended zany kung fu scene to pause and have everyone just stare as it’s said — you have a problem. And I’m fully willing to admit that maybe some of this is I just don’t really have any interest in kung fu. I found that part of this movie a distraction to the part that I wanted to see — character and plot.

The Ugly
I really hated who the villain was. All of that was just horrible. It seemed way too much on the nose for my liking. You mean you couldn’t think of any one else to be the villain but that person? What the what?

Anyway, here’s the movie I would have enjoyed: a middle aged Asian woman saves up the money to gain access to Lacuna-like technology that, rather than erasing your memory, gives you easy access to different realities and different fates you might have gone down. The story would focus on strictly on her relationship to her husband and daughter and there wouldn’t be a the dumb multiverse villain angle and far less need for kung fu. It would be seen as a direct spiritual successor to The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and it would be, in my opinion a good to great movie.

As it is, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once was a severe missed opportunity.

Well, That Happened


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

This is an instance where I don’t know what the fuck is going on. I went into the movie “Everything, Everywhere All At Once” with extremely high hopes. There was white hot buzz about the movie on Tik-Tok and I watched the movie as soon as possible so I could go into it knowing as little as possible about it.

Now that I’ve seen it, I’m very confused.

I won’t say I fucking hated it like I did Booksmart, but I was extremely bored for most of it. It’s not that there wasn’t a lot going on that was interesting — there was — but I didn’t have any emotional attachment to the characters until way, way, way into the movie.

And, even then, it was the elements of the movie that could have been an entire movie until itself. I found the movie very muddled and so peripatetic as to be overwhelming.

There was so much going on that there wasn’t much time to establish characters or to make you — or at least ME — care. There was all this bouncing around going on and just kept rolling my eyes, thinking, “So what?”

Having said all that, I could definitely see how the movie could be very influential and be part of a broader “vibe shift” in American pop culture. But nothing about that movie was so good as to warrant it all the glowing praise on Tik-Tok. Nothing. The movie was not nearly that good.

I’m so annoyed with how bad Tik-Tok is at reviewing movies, I think I’m going to lay off using it for a while. I feel suckered. I struggle to figure out what the Tik-Tok reviewers saw that I didn’t and vis-versa.

There were elements of the third act that were pretty strong. And, like I said, you could have cut those elements out of the movie and made a separate, stronger movie with them. But there was just too much going on with this movie.

Was it a kung-fu movie, a scifi movie, a fantasy movie or a movie about the family bonds of immigrants? If the screenwriter had just picked one or two of those elements, the movie would have been much, much better. There was a great movie lurking somewhere in EEAAO, but what I saw wasn’t it.

It was long and irritating.

But I guess I could see how someone younger than me, who had different expectations, might like it a lot. I guess?

The Popularization of The Multiverse Concept Opens Up A Lot Of Storytelling Possibilities


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

The “multiverse” is having a moment, it seems. I’ve toyed with multiverse concepts my entire life and, as such, I think now that audiences have been exposed to what it all means you could do a lot with it in storytelling.

The chief place to start is a revamping of the time traveler trope. The novel that really got me interested in the multiverse was James Hogan’s “The Prometheus Operation.” It’s all about the butterfly effect, the multiverse and time travel. (It would, come to think of it, make a good movie.)

Anyway, here’s what I’m talking about. To date, almost all time travel stories have a fatal flaw — the basic paradox associated with it all. A few movies, like the Back To The Future sequels actually use the multiverse concept well…but the overall application was kind of meh.

What I would do is make a drama about a man (or woman) who finds themselves sent back in time Back To The Future style, but it’s a different timeline in the multiverse so none of the paradoxes apply. It’s not campy like what we saw in the Back To Future franchise, but far more like Arrival or The Martian. We get a serious depiction of what happens when you have knowledge of the future without having to worry about the paradox.

The movie I want to see goes something like this — somehow, a man gets zapped back in time to, say, VJ Day 1945. We see how he changes history over the course of the decades. The story is something of a mystery and ends with a DNA test that proves the impossible — the man who was our time traveler’s assistant all those years was his father.

Or something like that.

That’s the type of time traveler story I want to see.

Another multiverse and timetravel concept would be “Star Wars meets timetravel.” Instead of your heroes zooming around space, they zoom around time. So, you have all these different eras smash into each other in interesting ways. Or, if you wanted to be a little less complex, there would be no timetravel, just multiverse.

We learn that there is a “multiverse empire” and a band of “rebels” who bounce around different alternative universes looking for booty.

Anyway, no one listens to me and no one cares. But I find the multiverse endlessly entertaining.

Movie Pitch: A Romcom Based On Digital Telepathy


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I have too much on my plate creatively to do anything with this, but here’s a fragment of a movie idea that someone, somewhere should do something with. The idea has a touch of magical realism to in a vein similar to The Enteral Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Same same, but different.

The idea is that there’s an app that not only can read your mind, but also manipulate you. So, what happens is our hero keeps seeing a woman who is perfect for him, the love of his life, on his For You Page, but she lives in NYC. But he knows if he ever met her in person, they would fall in love — or at least he would.

So, the plot is something like, he studies the young woman, travels to NYC and they meet. He uses what he’s seen from her videos to strike up a relationship with her.

Now, this is the point where I don’t know what happens. I like the idea that the couple realizes that the app (a Tik-Tok clone) really is reading their minds and they have some sort of adventure together to prove this to the rest of the world.

Or something. Something like that.

Back to mulling my five thriller novels.

Movie Pitch: ‘All Clear’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

It is possible that the Russo-Ukrainian War may evoke a rather abrupt “vibe shift” in American popular entertainment. It could be that the next few years will see the rise of War Movies becoming popular again.

We could see movies set during the various wars the United States has been a part of over the years. And, sadly, we might see more than a few movies set in WW3. So, here’s my pitch for a movie like The Day After.

Act 1

A series of people from all walks of life are seen getting onto a plane in NYC for a cross-country trip to LA. In between their farewells (which would establish each character) we hear bits and pieces of an escalating war somewhere off in some distant land.

Inciting Incident: Now, while they’re up in the air, there’s some sort of emergency. They have to make an emergency somewhere in the midwest.

While there on the ground for what is meant to be a short amount of time, WW3 breaks out and everyone across the US EMPs zap electronics. So they’re stuck in, say, Iowa somewhere.
Act 2

So, the first part of the second act would be the different people on the plane making new friends and realizing that suddenly everything is existential. They now have to figure out what to do. A small group, maybe four or five people, are now a group and they head out of the Iowa city they’re in (chaos is beginning to take over.)

Midpoint: they finally find a small town in the middle of nowhere that will take them.

The latter part of the second is about how this diverse group of people begin to deal with their lives are changed forever. This is when one of the people on the plan begins to grow power hungry and becomes a Trump-like demagogy.

The end of the second act is when people start to realize that Nuclear Winter is here for a while and there’s a chance that they’re all going to die. The power hungry fromer passenger begins to kill people and our small group of goodguys from the plane have to figure out what to do.
End
Things appear to get better when American troops from a part of the country that hasn’t been struck by a H-bomb try to come to save the day. But they come too late — some of the passengers we’ve been focused on have been captured and are set to be killed.

The climax is a Zero Dark Thirty type attack on the villian’s lair.

Our core group of people are saved and the move ends with them heading west to safety and the continue struggle of living in post- limited nuclear exchange America.

If I Wasn’t Writing 5 Novels About Trumplandia, I Would Be Writing A Screenplay About Global Climate Change


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Things are going really well with these five novels I’m working on. I’m still struggling with the first novel, ugh, but I do have five solid novel concepts. But in the back of my mind, I have this really, really great screenplay that is about the implications of global climate change.

I have a beginning and an ending, but there’s a huge void where the middle part should be.

And, yet, there is a part of me that always occasionally wants to use this global climate change-themed screenplay as my “second creative track.” Some of the people I’ve told the general story to were rather enthralled by what I’ve come up with.

But I love these five novels too much. Though, I will admit the practical aspects of developing and writing five novels have me stumped at the moment. Should I just focus on the first book and use it as a calling card for the other five novels, or should I make at least an attempt to do one run through through the all five novels on a first-draft basis?

At this point, I just don’t know.

The thing about this screenplay percolating in my mind is so much better than Don’t Look Up. It addresses the implications of Global Climate Change in a way that is far more clean on a storytelling basis. None of the bonkers, scrambled storytelling of Don’t Look Up that I found so grating.

Though, one element that is interesting about the characters I’ve come up with is I like how it kind of switches the gender roles of the Hero With A Thousand Faces trope we’re so used to.

Anyway.

What I think is going to happen is I’m going to really focus on the first book of this five book series, then if I get a literary agent and sell it, I’ll use that foot in the door to sell the other four novels in the series. And, then, maybe, I can figure out a way to sell my far-better interpretation of Don’t Look Up.

My Pitch For a ‘Civil War’ Movie

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Apparently, there is a Civil War movie being produced. Here’s how I would lay out the plot of such a movie.

Act 1
In the background of a conversation between a liberal mom and a conservative son is an announcement that the post-Election Day debate is growing tense.

Inciting Incident: Rather abruptly, things collapse across the United States as there is a huge debate about who POTUS is

The Heroine gets separated from her son in the chaos.
Second Act

Midpoint: the Heroine gets captured by Red forces

We see that tactical nukes have been used across the United States and the lights go out.
Third Act
The chaos of all of this allows her to get out her imprisonment.

The moment of truth is when she’s about to get murdered by Red forces — she’s saved by her son, who is now the leader of Red forces.

My Hot Take On Why ‘Don’t Look Up’ Was A Storytelling Disaster


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I keep ranting about this because, much like Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, I was in the sweetspot for its intended audience. But, as with Booksmart, I bounced just about at the inciting incident. I fucking hate Booksmart for reasons similar to why I feel Don’t Look Up was a real missed opportunity.

While Booksmart was fucking preachy and caused me to feel attacked simply for being a “CIS white male,” Don’t Look Up was so hysterical and frantic in its desire to bang its message over my head that I just could not continue to watch it. This is not to say I won’t try to watch it again. Now that I know what I’m getting into, I may very well give it another go.

But let’s talk about why, despite such a great start, I found myself giving up on Don’t Look Up.

First, the movie seemed like liberal-progressive wish fulfillment. But, at the same time, it tried to hide this by couching everything in extreme bothsiderism. The POTUS in the movie seemed to be the some freakish Frankenstein’s Monster of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This was done in to such a extreme manner as to cause me to first roll my eyes then later grow so frustrated that I gave up watching.

There was just too much going on with Don’t Look Up. It seemed a mish-mash of competing storytelling agendas. Was it supposed to be a political and climate change Mars Attacks or a modern day Network? Was it meant to scare the shit out of us about how we’re not doing anything about global climate change or was it just supposed to be an long SNL skit with better production values.

Here’s how I would have fixed it. I would given the movie a far more serious tone, something on a par with Arrival. I would shock the audience by how blase everyone was behaving about the end of the world until someone flipped out about it Howard Beale style.

Or, put another way, there was a Network-style drama to be had in Don’t Look Up. Not that there wouldn’t be humor in such a different interpretation of the concept, it’s just I would have preferred a mixture of Arrival, a Paul Thomas Anderson movie and, maybe Wes Anderson movie.

Something about how over-the-top and forced Don’t Look up in its humor I found very grating to the nerves. There was also just way too much screaming. I mean, cool it, folks.

Anyway. I’m going to try again to watch this movie. Maybe I can stand it more on a second go.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge As Action Star


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

This seems like something of a gimmie, and up until recently Phoebe Waller-Bridge was set to star in a reboot of Mr. & Mrs. Smith that would have put her in a position where she could do as I’m about to propose: an action star. But she pulled out of the project for some reason, so lulz.

But I think Ms. Waller-Bridge has a lot of potential as a female action star because her comedy is very much Bruce Willis in Moonlighting. He was not the first pick for the lead in Die Hard and I think Ms. Waller-Bridge could be a huge, huge action star under the right conditions. She has the John McClain wise-cracking vibe to her, only with a British spin to it.

Hollywood’s next great action star?

She obviously can make Americans laugh, as shown with Fleabag and I think all she needs is the right vehicle and her career will go to the next level. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out that I think she would make a great Dr. Susan Calvin, robot psychologist.

I could see that being a whole franchise for her — there are oodles of short stories about Dr. Susan Calvin waiting to be adapted. My favorite is “Liar!”

I have no idea if anyone else realizes Ms. Waller-Bridge’s potential as an action star. Only time will tell.

Fixing Star Wars

A lot of ink has been spilled by people complaining about Disney’s handling of the Star Wars franchise. They’re slowly getting better, but that improvement has come largely on the edges. The main franchise continues to be a shit show of half-measures and muddled movies that seem to be just crap put together in a hap-hazarded way.

The last few franchise movies have been so God-awful that I have simply walked out of them. The issue is not Kathleen Kennedy being “woke,” is that apparently Disney on an institutional level is not fans of the franchise and have no idea what to do with them.

For me, Disney has not one, but several existential problems they have to fix with the main franchise of Star Wars. All of these are extremely difficult to fix because of what Star Wars has become as a cultural and, most importantly financial standpoint.

Off the top of my head, the biggest problem of Star Wars is what you might call the “Bloatware Problem” Disney looks at Star Wars and sees dollah bills — selling toys — and also an opportunity to sell the “woke” agenda to a fan base of mostly center-Right men. Disney has done this to the point that the whole thing is unwatchable now.

But it gets worse.

Star Wars has always been camp for little kids. Despite the best efforts of middle-aged fanboys, Star Wars has no internal logic that functions. Things just happen for no fucking reason. They have begun to try to fix this problem by using the rubric “A Star Wars Movie” for some of the darker films, but Disney wants to sell toys, so it’s difficult to have sex or gore in a Star Wars movie.

There are no ready fixes to these problems.

I do think if they just would cool it with do ANY Star Wars movies for a few years, it might help to clear the air. Then I would really lean into using the massive universe that Star Wars has and explore the stories of lesser known characters.

Go to a planet that doesn’t have just one type of climate, for instance. Anyway, whatever. Until Star Wars gets its act together, I’m going to try to make my own interesting worlds for people to play in.