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Discussion in 'Movies' started by Adam Lenhardt, Feb 12, 2019.
You mean "stronger than dirt!"
Well, that was disappointing.
What a waste of a potentially exciting premise.
Instead of exploring how the world would respond to these songs differently in 2019 than they did in the '60s, or how the world is different because of the lack of the Beatles and their influence, it sidesteps all of the interesting worldbuilding questions. They've made essentially, the romantic comedy version of A Star is Born with Beatles songs minus the drugs and the drinking problem. Except that A Star is Born is far more compelling than this.
There are other things besides the Beatles which got taken away from the world in order for the movie to make jokes about Jack wanting something that's not there. But none of these things actually matter to the plot or the world in any meaningful way.
For example, Jack asks for a Coke, but no one knows what that is, so he has to settle for a Pepsi.
This and other examples amount to, "Hahaha -- this extremely popular thing is suddenly gone!', instead of actually making the world look any different than it would if these things were still intact.
They're going for the idea that the Beatles wrote timeless songs -- which they did, in that people today still appreciate them -- but they were also written in a very specific time and place and culture. If you introduce them to a different time and place and culture, they would inevitably mean something else given the new context into which they are being released. The movie doesn't take that into account. This applies to all the songs, but "Back in the USSR" is especially odd, because obviously that was written at a very specific time, but the movie just shows it being received as a huge hit regardless of the different state of world relations now.
Himesh Patel is very charming as the center of this whole enterprise; he acts well and sings well, but he doesn't have much to play that we haven't seen before, even though the premise would allow for that with better execution. The best parts of it are when he gets to sing the songs, which makes it weird that he doesn't get to sing more of them. A few are sung in their entirety but most of them are excerpted in montages or scenes where he sings or records them that get cut off. As seen in the trailer, his trying to play Let It Be keeps getting interrupted, which is a funny gag -- but we never actually get to hear him sing the whole song. Using portions of songs instead of full songs makes sense because it moves the story along faster, but the problem with that approach is that the story they're telling is never as interesting as the songs are, so you want to hear the songs more than you want to watch the story.
Also, whose idea was it to cast Lily James as "the girl" and give her nothing of substance to do? She's much better than the material she is given to work with here; her only function throughout the movie is to be the unrequited love interest and that's selling her extremely short. She was the best thing in the Mamma Mia! sequel last year, and she has an amazing voice. So why isn't she singing anything? I know the premise is that Hamish's character "writes" the songs, but it should be easy enough to find some reason for her to sing with him. The idea of Lily James belting out Beatles tunes is as appealing as Lily James belting out ABBA tunes, and the two movies have the same studio behind them, so they know she can do this and they didn't take advantage of it. Dumb.
Kate McKinnon chews all the scenery as a one-note evil money-grubbing agent, which I think was intended to be funny but isn't and also sells her talent significantly short.
I love Danny Boyle, I love The Beatles and this cast is fantastic. But the movie is just lame. It's not terrible, but it's just not very good either. There are so many avenues this movie could have taken which would have been really cool and fresh and exciting. It takes none of them. Mostly, I think its problems are due to the pedestrian writing by Richard Curtis.
Without spoilers, I'll also add that the movie cops out on some of the conflicts it presents, and also breaks its own rules late in the game when the plot necessitates it.
But most of my audience (of which I was the youngest person in the theater) seemed to like it. While I was watching the credits, I heard someone above me on the risers tell her friend, "That was so much fun I couldn't move."
Oh well. At least we have Across the Universe.
Thank you, I‘ll wait till it’s on Netflix or Amazon prime.
I'm just going to skip it and play some Beatles records instead.
As with any film, listen to the critics at your own peril...or enlightenment . Taste is, after all, a completely subjective enterprise.
Saw it last night with the family and loved it! A wonderful premise, charming love story, astute observations about the contemporary music industry, thoughtful nods to the Fab Four, and some genuinely touching moments wrapped up in one very entertaining film. An evening well spent indeed! I'm hoping that, just like The Greatest Showman, this film will get its box office legs by word of mouth in defiance of the critics, but we'll see.
Just saw “Yesterday”
Really enjoyed it. There is a scene near the end at a house on a beach that is pure Richard Curtis brilliance. I’m still tearing up from that conversation.
David, I completely agree; it is a very poignant scene.
I saw this yesterday afternoon at a packed Sunday matinee at my local art house theater. The movie definitely wasn't high art, but my parents and I all enjoyed it quite a bit.
Tonight the same theater is showing a Beatles documentary where a musicologist analyzes the first side of Abbey Road.
Geez, this sounds like one of MY reviews!
Should I take that that as a compliment?
So unless I blacked out myself, the movie offers not even the slightest hint of an explanation for what caused the worldwide blackout and why it erased the Beatles from history.
I can't decide if I like this ambiguity or it bugs me. Leaning toward the latter - kinda think it might've been nice to have some idea how this happened. We don't need a perfectly spelled out explanation but some hint would be nice.
Richard Curtis tends to go ambiguous when he plays with sci-fi concepts. I liked “About Time” a lot but the only explanation we ever got was the father saying to the son, “male members of my family have this ability” and that was that.
I kind of appreciate that he doesn’t want to get bogged down in fictional mechanics but it also feels slightly disrespectful to the audience and the genre to take the ability (or world change, as in Yesterday) without caring for the explanation. Sci-fi without the sci-fi.
I disagree about the no-explanation.
Because if they tried to supply one, it wouldn’t be enough.
And then we’d have to endure dozens and dozens of posts bludgeoning us with why they got it wrong.
It’s a Deus Ex Machina, a Fait Accompli, magic. It’s a Macguffin. It is completely irrelevant to the story they wanted to tell.
I'm listening to the soundtrack (as part of Apple Music subscription, so essentially 'free') and it is FANTASTIC. I love the interpretations.
For the record I haaaaaaated Beatles Love in Las Vegas and was meh on Across the Universe.
I'll probably still wait for a streaming releases.
Yeah, it's not crucial to know why, but I think it's logical for the audience to wonder what caused it.
As I said, I'm not firmly one way or the other. I tend to like ambiguity so I kinda enjoy the fact it happened with no explanation, but it does nag at me that I'd also kinda like to have some hint what led to the events.
It's just such a weird concept that a worldwide blackout erased the Beatles and other major entities from existence, especially since the world seems to have progressed down virtually the same path otherwise.
That's really my toughest leap: to accept that with one comical exception, pop/rock music ended up in exactly the same place despite the absence of the Beatles!
So this one is definitely not for me (or many people I know), as I'd want to know the why and how of the event. If I just wanted to listen to a bunch of Beatles songs, there are other ways to do that.
On our way to see this, this afternoon.
We loved it, especially the scene at the house near the beach. If you have a dry eye during that one , you have a heart of stone. The reason for this story happening needs no explanation at all in our estimation. That would be a different kind of a movie.
You and I agree far more often than we disagree, but we disagree on this one. I just got back from seeing it at the same arthouse theater Wayne mentioned, and I thought it was 3/4ths or even 4/5ths of a great movie.
It wasn't really interested in how the world would respond to the Beatles catalog, though; it was interested in what the Beatles catalog meant to Jack, and how he would respond to being handed basically the greatest musical goldmine ever. How would it change him? How would it not change him? How would he react to it?
I really appreciated that it wasn't just the Beatles that were missing; it's a world that's 90 to 95 percent the same but there are still quite a few other things that are missing or different (for instance, Thursday Night Live instead of Saturday Night Live). The fact that there were no Beatles albums on the shelves, or Internet records, speaks to the fact that it wasn't just a massive global amnesia. This is a different but very similar universe.
I think of it like the Mirror universe in "Star Trek" or the parallel universe on "Fringe", where there is still a thread connecting the two so that even as divergences occur and major events happen differently, there is still a force pulling them along a separate path so that, for instance, the starships of the Terran Empire are largely staffed by the same people despite a divergence decades or even centuries before they were born.
A similar force keeps this universe mostly on the same track, despite the differences. Please Please Me came out in 1963, and some of the other divergences would have happened much earlier. So if the universes weren't semi-connected, there's no way most of these people would even be alive -- too much would have happened differently for those specific sperm to fertilize those specific eggs.
The only motion picture entertainment that I can recall playing out the consequences of diverging timelines as a truly alternate (rather than parallel) universe is "Counterpart", where only the people conceived prior to the point of divergence have an other in the other universe.
This is my one (major) issue with the film. The love story is undercooked, and Ellie's job is to basically be Jack's cheerleader, and then pine for him from afar.
I also really hate big public gestures. They're supposed to be romantic, but they always come across to me as selfish and manipulative; it really puts the other person on the spot, and makes it horrible for them if they don't want to say yes.
Her character is a classic Richard Curtis supporting character. He knows she's not going to have a ton of screentime, so he only has her play one note -- but play it well. She was the personification of the brutal capitalist side of the music industry.
Could you elaborate? I thought its rules were very consistent; it was only Jack's understanding of them that changed.
I love Across the Universe, too. Probably more. But the two movies provide different pleasures, and they're both celebrations of the Beatles in very different ways.
I loved that scene.
The casting -- uncredited but reportedly Robert Carlyle with some assistance from hair and makeup and possibly visual effects -- was eerily effective as a 78-year-old John Lennon. I was moved and fascinated by the idea that Lennon, having been deprived of the fame of being arguably the most famous Beatle -- might have lived a happier and more satisfying life. And it makes perfect sense that a John Lennon who wasn't globally famous wouldn't have been assassinated by Mark David Chapman in 1980.
I agree completely. We only know what Jack knows. There was a global power outage during which he sustained a head injury. When he regained consciousness, he was in a parallel reality very similar in most respects to our own. At least two other people, perhaps having suffered similar head injuries at that crucial moment, remember events as they transpired in the original timeline or the original universe. Most things are the same, a small minority of things are different, including a few big things.
I'm halfway convinced that Himesh Patel was primarily for his often perfect renditions of the various Beatles songs. He does fine with the drama and comedy, but he thrills when he's in front of a microphone. You believe that his covers would make the world fall in love with the music of the Beatles all over again.