Taking stock of the first six months of 2022, when we’ve frequently lamented the lack of good films (we’re not alone in those thoughts), we still found plenty that merited a screening. Interesting that 4 are foreign, and 5 are “small.” “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is the one larger film of the bunch.
Getting down to business, here are the 6 we agreed on (with difficulty, being TWO film critics – we tried to have a list of 5 but gave up), in chronological order of our review dates:
“Petite Maman” ★★★1/2
“Drive My Car” ★★★1/2
“A Hero” ★★★
While all appear on many “best” lists, their budgets range from $245,000 (“Mass”) to $25 million (“Everything Everywhere All At Once) and worldwide box offices from $230,000 (again, “Mass”) to $91 million (again, “Everything…).
“Petite Maman” is from French writer and director Céline Sciamma, who also wrote and directed the stunning “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019). Her most recent film has a slightly sci-fi or magical realism quality to it – and it shouldn’t work. But it does. Amazing 8-year-old identical twin actresses. If you like stats, its budget was $2.8 million; worldwide box $2.0 million.
“Drive My Car” got a lot of 2022 Oscar buzz; it was nominated for both Best Picture and Best International Feature – for Japan (it won the latter). Its long and languid pace will deter some (we’re generally all for shorter), but we found it “surprisingly engaging.” Stats: budget – not disclosed; worldwide box $15 million.
“A Hero” (Ghahreman) we said was “not an easy watch” but concluded (with pleasure): “Life is messy. People unknowable. The title, ironic.” From one of Iran’s best directors, Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”). Iran was not about to nominate it for Best International Feature. Stats: budget – not disclosed; worldwide box $2.8 million.
“Happening” (L’Événement), about “the disease that strikes only women…and turns them into housewives,” comes at a propitious time, dealing as it does with the criminalization of abortion. A cautionary tale based on a true story from 1960s France. Stats: budget $5.2 million; worldwide box $1.55 million.
“Mass” is another film reflecting heartbreaking, inexplicable contemporary events. It unfolds slowly and carefully. For that reason, our review does not give away the central plot. We said, “it’s hard to imagine a better, more powerful, more complex, and more daring presentation of ‘the problem.'” Stats: budget $145,000 (that’s right, in the thousands; shot in 14 days, the interior scenes in 4). Worldwide box $230,000 (well, at least it MADE money!).
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is the current social media darling. One of the 2 Film Critics had to be talked into the rating we gave it; it took her some time to get over the excess of martial arts. Once over that she agreed it “rises above the kung fu theatrics and creates the heart—a touch of Hollywood—within this remarkable story.” Performances are great; don’t miss Jamie Lee Curtis, whom we didn’t recognize until the credits rolled. Stats: budget $25 million; worldwide box $91 million.