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Everything Must Go(2010)
When an alcoholic relapses, causing him to lose his wife and his job, he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. A new neighbor might be the key to his return to form.
For more about Everything Must Go and the Everything Must Go Blu-ray release, see Everything Must Go Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on August 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Peņa, Glenn Howerton, Stephen Root, Laura Dern
Director: Dan Rush
» See full cast & crew
Everything Must Go Blu-ray Review
. . .but Will Ferrell is here to stay.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, August 30, 2011
Saturday Night Live has spawned a rather large number of film projects, not to mention a wide variety of comedic movie careers. But who among us would have predicted when we long ago saw Bill Murray as a smarmy lounge singer oozing out a version of John Williams' Star Wars (complete with the most absurd lyric ever) that he would eventually become a dramatic performer of rather profound capabilities? Similarly, few probably would have predicted much dramatic potential for Will Ferrell, another SNL silly man who has defied the odds and branched out into straighter dramatic fare with a great deal of success. His latest entry in a semi-dramatic mode is Everything Must Go, a bittersweet little film that has the same tonal ambiguity that Ferrell's Stranger Than Fiction didwhile neither film is really laugh out loud hilarious, they both have a gentle humor to them, but the underlying foundation is a more questioning, yearning spirit that grounds both films in a surprisingly serious demeanor. If anything, Everything Must Go is a far more sober (no pun intended, considering its hero's incipient alcohol problem) and probing film that looks at a middle life crisis the likes of which has rarely been portrayed on screen. The Great Recession of the last few years has given us a slew of films of good (if sometimes slightly damaged) men (and women) suffering the cruel vagaries of fate, finding their lives upended with job terminations and personal wreck and ruin. But Everything Must Go is rather unexpectedly courageous in giving us a central character who is anything but good. Ferrell portrays Nick Halsey, a not so recovering alcoholic who is fired from his longstanding job and then arrives home to find that his wife has left him, locked him out of his house, and left all of his possessions on the front lawn. While Nick may be sympathetic due to his circumstances if nothing else, the film doesn't shirk from this character's many faults, and that's what gives Everything Must Go its decidedly post-modern edge, a bitter pill of realization that some people bring ruin on themselves through their own mismanagement of their lives.
Everything Must Go is based on a short story by Raymond Carver, the author whose searing miniatures provided Robert Altman with the source material for Short Cuts. Carver specialized in wounded characters, and Nick Halsey most certainly falls into that category. What's interesting about Nick, though, is that he's relatively functional despite his plethora of dysfunctions. He's a successful salesman who has collected a coterie of rules to aid him in his profession, rules he spouts off via voiceover as the film opens. What becomes almost immediately apparent, however, is that Nick is a man with formidable demons, demons he can't quite evade, no matter how much he drinks or how many fracases ensue from his unwise decisions.
In fact it's in this aspect, as well as a couple of others, that Everything Must Go may leave some viewers wanting more. There's little if any backstory given to Nick's travails, aside from a couple of sort of melodramatic references to Nick's alcoholic and abusive father. Virtually no background on Nick's marital troubles is provided, a troubling lack in a film that revolves around the literal and figurative detritus left from that marriage's dissolution. Perhaps just as troubling, if not more so, is a cheat of sorts as the film winds toward its denouement, when an unexpected twist concerning Nick's wife plays out in what seems like a gratuitous appendage to the film's incessant troubles for its hero. The biggest issue many will have with Everything Must Go, however, is Nick's seemingly miraculous step back from the brink of self-immolation, a change which isn't especially well motivated and which just sort of happens, despite its epochal nature for the character.
Where Everything Must Go succeeds, however, is in its small moments of Nick's various interrelationships with a handful of characters, including a semi-abandoned neighborhood kid named Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), an overweight African American boy who bicycles up and down the street where Nick is encamped on his front lawn until Nick finally offers the boy a job as his assistant when Nick decides to hold a yard sale to clear his life of unwanted stuff. Another passerby, albeit one a bit more stationary than the biking Kenny, is new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a pregnant photography teacher who seems to be starting down a marital path with which Nick is all too familiar. Nick is also in a somewhat touchy situation with his AA sponsor, a local police detective named Frank Garcia (Michael Peņa), a guy who wants to mentor Nick despite Nick's disastrous obstinance, but who has a secret of his own. And finally there's a brief interlude with a long ago high school acquaintance of Nick's, a woman named Delilah (Laura Dern) who scrawled a brief homage to Nick in his senior class yearbook all those years ago and to whom Nick now runs, not really understanding why. All of these small moments are played beautifully, with wonderfully understated performances by all of the actors, and it is in these two-handers that Everything Must Go really manages to weave its most potent spell.
Carver was a proponent of minimalism, and that propensity is perhaps contraindicated for a film adaptation. That lack of detail may be the most troubling aspect to Everything Must Go, but even in the general outlines the film does provide, we're given an often incredibly compelling account of a man in crisis, and one whose mode of healing is so unusual that it gives the film a distinctive setting and story arc. If Everything Must Go ends up being a sketch more than a full blown portrait, the good news is it's a sketch with an intriguing interplay of shadow and light, sharp in its general outlines if not filled in with abundant painterly detail.
Everything Must Go Blu-ray, Video Quality
The first moments of Everything Must Go give a good indication of what this Blu-ray's AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1 have to offer. As Ferrell ponders his new uncertain future in his car, we get a side shot of his face, and fine detail is so astounding we can virtually count every pore and seemingly are about to get to the subcutaneous level. This is a film filled with the soft amber hues of Arizona dusks, and that autumnal golden color suffuses the film with gorgeous hues which nonetheless cast a very subtle haze of softness on several sequences. Everything Must Go has an abundance of closep-ups, and those offer abundant fine detail, but even some of the outdoor location shots offer wonderful depth of field and sharp and appealing elements. Colors are good, though fleshtones seem more dependent upon the (apparently) natural lighting sources than in more studio bound films, so you will notice several distinct changes in the color of Ferrell's skin, adding a certain pallor as he moves through different environments. Despite a lot of the film taking place in the twilight or outright darkness, the film boasts excellent shadow detail and solid black levels.
Everything Must Go Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Despite being set on a rather small stage, sonically speaking, with lots of small moments between two characters, Everything Must Go features a surprisingly spacious lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. A lot of this is due to the fact that so much of the film takes place out of doors, where some artfully placed ambient environmental sounds perk up the surround channels. Listen for example to the nice panning of the dastardly automatic sprinkler system which keeps spraying Nick in the morning as he attempts to sleep on his favorite recliner. Though this soundtrack is quite subtle, there are numerous little effects like this which dot the soundfield, and they add up to a very immersive, albeit sometimes quietly immersive, track. Fidelity is excellent and though there's no real dynamic range to speak of, the few bursts of sonic energy when Nick loses his cool are well supported.
Everything Must Go Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Everything Must Go Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This is an actors' piece above all, and the good news is that Everything Must Go is blessed with uniformly excellent work from both seasoned pros and relative newcomers alike. The film itself is a little sketchy, literally, with not enough detail for us to really get underneath Nick's skin (despite the fine detail of the transfer). But this is still a very compelling little film which casts a very unique spell, and it comes Highly recommended.
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• Everything Must Go Blu-ray - June 21, 2011
This September, Lionsgate Films will release the dramedy Everything Must Go on Blu-ray. Director Dan Rush's adaptation of Raymond Carver's short story, "Why Don't You Dance," Everything Must Go features a dramatic performance from Will Ferrell (Anchorman) as Nick ...
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