Sunday, November 04, 2007


Friday Movie Review (quite late)

Went yesterday to Across the Universe with Kit and thought it was an OK musical even though the songs were not always confined to the believable context of stage performances as they are in the musicals I actually really like (such as in Cabaret, The Commitments and Topsey-Turvey). In short, not every Beatles song is improved by slowing it down and making it a heart-felt ballad, as most of the tunes were. Some Beatles songs have a little verve and energy and that's a good thing. On the other hand, Because was achingly beautiful, and Bono Vox did a great job with I Am The Walrus. Cukoo Cachu indeed. Almost as good was Joe Cocker, in three roles, singing Come Together. The nadir was usually good Eddie Izzard's rendition of The Benefit of Mr. Kite. Painful.

It's a love story spanning the near decade from about 1962 to 1971 which I believe is, coincidentally, the period the Beatles were together and making records. Its politics, as usual, was abysmal, as was its sense of history, at least to my knowledge and memory. That it included the radicals managing to blow themselves up in a New York brownstone (the dumb asses) was an OK inclusion; the ahistorical semi allusions to Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey were just weird. The set and costume details were actually pretty good. Nostalgia in bright colors.

The girl lead, Evan Rachel Woods, whom I have liked since the TV divorce show, Once and Again, a few years ago, was good, as was her lover, a Brit I've never seen before, Jim Sturgess. I didn't like the Princeton dropout, inducted, war wounded brother Max played by Joe Anderson. The mandatory interracial couple, Dana Fuchs and Martin Luther McCoy, both sang pretty well, but Martin Luther was better in my mind, his slow version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps was another musical highlight. There was group dancing in this film, but most of the choreography was cringe inducing. I'm serious, the dancing in the round hospital room was about as awful as it gets. The physical for the Army scene was nearly as bad.

Visually pretty stunning, but with little emotional or intellectual staying power, this flick will probably be remembered as another failed attempt to apotheosize the over hyped late 60s, a task which has defeated far better movies than this. The director was Julie Taymor who is credited with directing a lot of Shakespeare I didn't really care for. So at least I'm consistent with this. This was a pretty girly flick. Oh, a final triumph but perhaps too short, was Jeff Beck's wonderful version of A Day in the Life.

If you don't like the Beatles, run away from this movie.

UPDATE: I corrected my mispelling of Ken Kesey's name. Thanks, Tony.


Ken Kesey
Thanks. It looked a little wrong but I neglected to correct it. Is he still alive?
Taymor has a habit of making things that are visually remarkable but lacking in pace and narrative voice. The screen is all bold colors and grand sets, but the characters and plot all go gray. I kinda sorta wanted to see this one, but was afraid that it would be like her Titus: pretty but not particularly bright.
I think you nailed it, David. Thanks.

He died November 10, 2001.

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