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Ron Reed

Across The Universe

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Across the Universe

Release Date: TBA 2007

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Director: Julie Taymor

Screenwriter: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais

Genre: Musical, Romance

Plot Summary: The love story about a British boy and an American girl is set against the backdrop of the social upheaval of the 1960s. Although not about the Beatles, the musical will use their songs to drive the narrative, with the actors singing and dancing to the classic tunes.

*

And at IMDb, this from a woman who saw an early test screening;

...Taymor's vision as a director seems to borrow from everything. Her story ideally wants to conjure up the not just the frolic, but the frenzy and passion of the 60's.

There is what looks like Jan Svankmajer in a stunning industrial dance scene in a draft board as civilians are turned into soldiers. Another scene has giant puppet pageantry straight out of Peter Schumman's Bread and Puppet Theater and Resurrection Circus. There are joyous location street dancing scenes, and breathtaking Technicolor composites. One such scene is a dreamlike vision done entirely in the psychedelic solarised colors of Richard Avedon's Beatle portraits. Her set designs are at times so clever and colorful, you laugh at the unrestrained joy and daring.

She begins with a glorious reinvention of the fifties musical, and careens into pure psychedelic delirium. The cinematography is rich and varied to the purpose of each scene, and dance sequences explode into place. The film moves from the innocence of small town upper-middle class America, to the nascent hippy scene in the village, to a sort of hallucinatory Garden of Eden (with too much but amusing Bono as a Ken Kesey Merry Prankster guru type). It moves to romance, and onto the dangers and volatility of the anti war 60's. All this is rendered through a constant flow Beatles songs delivered amidst magnificent set designs and video composites.

For the most part the music is respectfully and tastefully rearranged. (and without the Pavlovian shamelessness of the Beatles as they were used in "I Am Sam") A ballad version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" movingly reinvents the song. I don't know if the actors actually sing but you could have fooled me. It is all carefully synched up. Even the drummers and strummers are always in synch. The actors are charming, but once again, as she has done in "Digging To China" to "Down In the Valley", Evan Rachael Wood rivets the film. It would too much to believe she could also sing like the angel - but darn if her throat isn't in sych! The voice is beautiful. At times songs and sounds collide like the Beatles in "Number Nine". The collision of a war protest at Columbia University with Helter Skelter over Dear Prudence is brilliant. Taymor has edginess that matches the sixties zeitgeist, and avoids the vacuous cotton candy fluff of Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge".

...Characters and situations that obviously echo Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, the Weathermen, the Weather Underground, Abbie Hoffmann, Ken Kesey, draft card burning, 60's clubs in the East Village (Caf

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Saw a trailer for this one a few days ago. Looks wild.

- - -

Film Has Two Versions; Only One Is Julie Taymor's

In Hollywood creative differences among moviemakers often make for more interesting results on the screen. But rarely do those battles escalate so much that a studio takes a movie away from an award-winning director. . . . After Ms. Taymor delivered the movie to Joe Roth, the film executive whose production company, Revolution Studios, based at Sony, is making the Beatles musical, he created his own version without her agreement. And last week Mr. Roth tested his cut of the film, which is about a half-hour shorter than Ms. Taymor's 2-hour-8-minute version. Mr. Roth's moves have left Ms. Taymor feeling helpless and considering taking her name off the movie, according to an individual close to the movie who would not be named because of the sensitivity of the situation. Disavowing a film is the most radical step available to a director like Ms. Taymor, who does not have final cut, one that could embarrass the studio and hurt the movie's chances for a successful release in September. . . . Mr. Roth, a former Disney studio chief who proclaimed his '60's-influenced, artist-friendly ethos in 2000 by naming his new company Revolution Studios, is himself a director, of films like "Christmas With the Kranks," "Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise" and "Freedomland." He said that Ms. Taymor was overreacting to a normal Hollywood process of testing different versions of a movie, something he has done many times before, including with Michael Mann's "Last of the Mohicans." He called his version of "Across the Universe" "an experiment." . . . Mr. Roth said he had been working with Ms. Taymor on and off during nine months of editing, and that the problem was merely one of length. Under pressure from Mr. Roth and after test screenings, Ms. Taymor trimmed the film from an initial 2 hours 20 minutes. She told associates she considered the film finished. . . . But it is rare for an executive to step in and cut the movie himself. Ms. Taymor was still making her own final edits to the film when she learned several weeks ago that Mr. Roth had edited another, shorter version. That version was tested last week in Arizona, to a younger audience than the more mixed test group than saw Ms. Taymor's cut in Los Angeles on March 8, according to an individual close to the film. Mr. Roth, who vowed never again to allow a director final cut after the disastrous 2003 Martin Brest movie "Gigli," said that the various versions were testing well, but that he had a responsibility to find the most successful incarnation.

New York Times, March 20

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I'd like to punch this Roth guy right in the nose.

-s.

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I'd like to punch this Roth guy right in the nose.

-s.

Why? He is just making sure the movies are made for the largest audience possible. He is only making the cut people want to see.

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You seen Titus?

Nobody, but nobody, messes with Julie Taymor.

She wants to make a piece of art. That is what she does. And she does it within the constructs of film.

This guy knows its The Beatles and that he can package it for a new (and old) generation, shorten it up to bite-size appeal and MAKE A LOT OF MONEY.

Christmas With The Kranks? Puleeze.

For the record, in case this ever lands in court, I am not saying I am going to punch this guy in the nose. I am only saying that I'd like to.

-s.

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As long as it's Joe Roth and not Tim Roth you want to punch in the nose...

Didn't Frida get messed with too?

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Didn't Frida get messed with too?

Probably. Which is why it is so inferior to Titus.

-s.

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Why? He is just making sure the movies are made for the largest audience possible. He is only making the cut people want to see.

I just realized that an award needs to be given to Thom for Best Baited Post at A&F. I missed it at first, but clearly, he got me going with this one.

-s.

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I thought Clarence the saxaphonist was the fifth Beatle...

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As a few people have pointed out, it's kinda funny that Taymor would threaten to take her name off the film, since the trailer that's already out there highlights her name in particular.

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As a few people have pointed out, it's kinda funny that Taymor would threaten to take her name off the film, since the trailer that's already out there highlights her name in particular.

I don't see why it should matter. If I wrote a review and then put your name on it, would it matter to you? I could then turn the review into a book, and you would sue to take your name off it, right?

Those were the first scenes I've seen from the film, Peter, thanks for posting. It made me very excited to see this, but if I see it at the cost of one of my favorite film directors being ripped off it will leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

So let's all hope this Roth guy comes to his senses.

-s.

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As a few people have pointed out, it's kinda funny that Taymor would threaten to take her name off the film, since the trailer that's already out there highlights her name in particular.

I don't think it is funny, especially if she stands for artistic integrity and a completeness of vision. Not many of us here would find it acceptable if a painter completed a painting and another painter, who happens to be the curator of the gallery, came in and said, "Hmmm, I think this needs a red line right here." (painting a long broad stroke of red across the canvas)

The trailer was a pretty decent tease. After watching it though I was left wondering which version they were referring to when they said, "The most original, exhilarating, spectacular, motion picture of the year."

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Sorry guys, I meant "funny" more in the sense of "weird" than in the sense of "ha-ha". Though I guess I'd find it kind of amusing, too, if the studio had to suffer the embarrassment of yanking the original trailers because they had messed with the movie and thus pissed off their best asset, marketing-wise.

In other news, Glenn Kenny has posted "an open letter to Joe Roth":

Nonetheless, Mr. Roth, I implore you: Let Taymor Be Taymor.

I will admit right now that I am not speaking with the purest of hearts here...

While I'm not in the habit of forming opinions of movies based on trailers, plot synopses, hearsay, and whatnot, I can't be disingenuous about having gleaned a good deal of data which indicates that Universe could be the most hilariously misbegotten piece of cinematic kitsch to hit screens since, well, 1978's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And if it is, I want to be able to lap up every last drop of it. . . .

Now my suppositions could very well be wrong, and Across the Universe could well turn out to be a masterpiece, or so says the annoying little man sitting on my shoulder who always tells me to be nicer whenever I'm working up a good head of steam. But if that should indeed be the case, wouldn't we deserve the full-length masterpiece? Landmark work or travesty -- either way, I'll have a good time. Because that's really what all this is about. Me. Having a good time.

So please, Joe Roth, put the director's cut of Across the Universe out there. 'Cause honestly, I don't think it's gonna make any money either way anyhow.

I find it hard to argue with this. They say Roth's cut is more "commercial" than Taymor's. But one look at the trailer -- at the commercial! -- tells me that this isn't a particularly "commercial" film to begin with. (I mean, it piques my interest, but a blockbuster in the making? Only if the word-of-mouth is really good. And I certainly don't trust the man who directed Christmas with the Kranks, of all things, to have a particularly good handle on THAT.)

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Sorry guys, I meant "funny" more in the sense of "weird" than in the sense of "ha-ha". Though I guess I'd find it kind of amusing, too, if the studio had to suffer the embarrassment of yanking the original trailers because they had messed with the movie and thus pissed off their best asset, marketing-wise.

Thanks, Peter. However, I don't think the sense of "funny" matters. It seems both have a place and could be equally legitimate comments. Whichever way we choose to hold this "yanking my name" scenario, I just hope the reason stands up to artistic merit and not a power trip.

I find it hard to argue with this. They say Roth's cut is more "commercial" than Taymor's. But one look at the trailer -- at the commercial! -- tells me that this isn't a particularly "commercial" film to begin with. (I mean, it piques my interest, but a blockbuster in the making? Only if the word-of-mouth is really good. And I certainly don't trust the man who directed Christmas with the Kranks, of all things, to have a particularly good handle on THAT.)

I couldn't agree with you more. This doesn't look like a commercial film, although it does seem to possess the desire to attract a younger audience. My first reaction to the commercial...uh...I mean trailer, was, "Moulin Rouge?"

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Beatles give 'Universe' narrative

A musical set to Beatles tunes that's cast with up-and-coming actors and combines live action, animation and surrealist effects is a film that, it's safe to say, defies neat categorization.

That's not necessarily uncommon for artsy director Julie Taymor, whose previous cinematic efforts "Titus" and "Frida" were, at the very least, unconventional.

But "Across the Universe," which is due Sept. 28 from Revolution Studios and Sony, is Taymor's most experimental film production to date. Marketers are already working overtime trying to figure out how to sell a film to mainstream audiences who prefer their entertainment served up in clearly stated, high-concept loglines, and who've exhibited mixed feelings about musicals. . . .

Variety, April 24

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Horrifying that Julie Taymor may end up sliced and diced by Mr Krank. Simply horrible. ("Nothing's gonna change my film...")

Still, I'll line up September 28 for whatever version they're screening - or sooner, if Chattaway invites me to the advance screening. I'm really stoked.

Check out this cast list; Jude, Martha, Lucy, Max, Sadie, JoJo, Prudence, Mr Kite, Dr Robert (played by Bono!), Desmond and Molly, Bill, Julia, Lil, and even a nurse

Edited by Ron

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Across the Universe Trailers Hint At Extent Of Recut

MTV's Movie Blog is trumpeting two exclusive new trailers for Across the Universe, Julie Taymor's big budget period musical starring a pre-Marilyn Manson Evan Rachel Wood and set to the songs of The Beatles. These trailers are super different from the film's international trailer, which Sony implanted on YouTube a few weeks ago. Where as the international spot seemed to play up the film's non-musical elements (epic scope, romantic and political subplots, Taymor's patented baroque psychedellia), these new trailers seem squarely aimed at the High School Musical crowd. . . .

SpoutBlog, August 13

- - -

FWIW, I saw one of these trailers in the theatre the other day -- not as a short film playing before the main film, but as one of the many ads projected digitally on the screen before the lights went down. Irritatingly, the MTV copies of these trailers are unplayable in Canada -- just like all other videos posted on MTV's website -- due to "copyright" reasons.

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Glenn Kenny:

Where to begin?

The gaggle of critics I emerged with from Sunday afternoon's screening of Across the Universe were so giddy that anyone who saw us on the street would have thought we were coming from a nitrous oxide party. Director Julie Taymor's gargantuan all-Beatles-songs musical is that rarest of animals, the perfect disaster that fulfills expectations by defying them. Just when you think it can't possibly get more literal, more kitsch-infused, more mortifyingly soft-headed, it does. "It's like watching 'Sesame Street,'" one of my number commented, and he wasn't just talking about the colors. . . .

I should also congratulate Ambrose Martos, who has a small part in this movie as an associate of Timothy Leary-esque acid guru Doctor....wait for it...Robert. (Who's played by Bono, who really must think Taymor's a genius, as he allows her to make him up so he looks like Robin Williams.) . . .

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Saw it this morning with Carolyn Arends and our very own Ron. (If Ron were still writing for CT Movies, and a bomb had dropped on that theatre this morning, CT Movies would have lost all its Vancouver writers.)

Since the film is already on the festival circuit and has already been blogged/reviewed by various critics, there doesn't seem to be an embargo on this one.

I appreciate Glenn Kenny's remarks about the film's tendency to be too "literal" with the music. In a musical, songs are supposed to push the narrative forward, and some of these songs clearly don't; they're just, for example, love ballads that happen to fit where the characters are at, and once the lyrics start we know that the story is basically going to be put on hold for the next two or three minutes. And other songs that DO push/pull the narrative forward tend to be, as Kenny says, a tad "literal" in their approach, putting the famous lyrics in contexts that make you want to laugh at the gimmickiness of the pairing of song and plot, rather than lose yourself in the reality of it all.

That said, there are some fantastic sequences here. What this film does with 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' has to be seen to be believed; rather than go "literal" on us, the film goes boldly surreal. (Or, perhaps rather, it goes boldly surreal and literal at the same time.)

And 'Strawberry Fields Forever' sets up a very interesting contrast between the lyrics and the visuals: while the singer says "Nothing is real", we see footage of the death and destruction in Vietnam, which leads us to wonder (not for the first time, in this film) if the Beatles were more disengaged in the politics of their time than we might have thought they were. ("Nothing's going to change my world", from 'Across the Universe', and "It's gonna be alright", from 'Revolution', also come across as oddly sanguine responses to the political turmoil we see in this film. And then, of course, there is 'Let It Be', which plays over images of inner-city riots and two different funerals.)

Where was I? Oh, right, 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. What makes that sequence even MORE interesting is that it is preceded by a person installing a TV set and saying that television will "bring the war into people's living rooms". But the visuals that accompany the song suggest the opposite -- that the war stayed on the screen, and the people who watched it were safe from the bullets and whatnot, and thus the people who watched the war on TV were still protected from "reality" on some level and allowed to go on thinking that "nothing is real". Or do the visuals affirm what the person says, about television making an impact? Such is the wonderful ambivalence of visual art.

There's a lot more that could be said about this film, but I ain't reviewing it -- just tossing out a couple of favorite bits.

I do wonder, though. Some people have referred to Todd Haynes' I'm Not There as an "in-joke" for Bob Dylan fans, and I wonder if this film will ever be more than an "in-joke" for Beatles fans. Will it find an audience BEYOND that core group?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Karina @ SpoutBlog:

The first hour of Across the Universe was nowhere near as bad as I feared it would be; the remaining hour+ was worse. It's not an experience I would recommend for any obsessive Beatles fan (you'd never be able to stand the fast-food commercial instrumentation), and Taymor's refusal to deal with the dissolution of the counterculture will infuriate hippie cynics.

But I'm absolutely positive that a shorter cut, stripped of some of the forced multiculturalism and contemporary political references, would play like gangbusters in middle schools. . . .

As it is, there's probably decent midnight screening potential in West Hollywood and the Castro, and maybe even a fair shot at certain international markets -- I'm assuming there's still an audience somewhere in the universe that's wiling to slurp revisionist American nostalgia as fast as our studio-backed auteurs can export it. I don't think they ever had a chance with middle-aged male film critics, but if Taymor could just be a little bit less stubborn about the material, she wouldn't need them. I have no doubt that if this movie was cut down to 100 minutes, Sony would have the movie of the year (in fact, of many years) for 13 year old girls. I'm almost angry to think about that opportunity going to waste.

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Karina @ SpoutBlog:

...I'm assuming there's still an audience somewhere in the universe that's wiling to slurp revisionist American nostalgia as fast as our studio-backed auteurs can export it. ...

I'm not interested in the opinion of anyone who can't spell "willing."

Just kidding.

Though, of course, I'm little interested in the nay-sayers. I would love the film to have had way more edge and darkness - think TITUS. And Peter's right, lots of the music connections are exceedingly "on the nose." And there's not much in the tour of Late Sixties Big Events that's new (but then again, how could there be? The period has been so micro-examined and mythologized.). Still...

I had a blast at this movie! And will be going again as soon as it opens. This from a guy who's as middle-aged male and as die-hard a Beatles fan as you'll find.

There are lots of faults, and if you care to pick them, the movie is dismissable, falling far short of the uncompromising TITUS and falling a little less short of FRIDA. But I was onside from the first frame, and really wasn't interested in dwelling on the things that could diminish that. There are terrific dance sequences - the first one takes its movement vocabulary from football, it's a blast! The singing, with very few exceptions, is very good - I though so, and Carolyn Arends (a studio perfectionist about such things) confirmed that with pretty much her first comment on the film. I thought the performances were strong, though Evan Rachel was a tad wooden at times - wonderfully cast, though. The story (or the performers) worked to hard to make a few underdeveloped plot points play, but like I said... So what? It was a blast.

As for your qualm, Peter, that some of the songs didn't move the story forward, I must say that's only one of the things that songs do in conventional musicals. Lots of songs move plot forward, but lots of songs are occasions for the character simply to live in the experience of a particular moment in the unfolding story. Every musical has an "I want" song (or three), where the forward momentum completely stops while the character sings about what Stanislavsky called their "super-objective": "All I want is a room somewhere..." etc etc. Another truism (besides the "move the plot forward" one) is that when the emotion is too big for words, you take it into a song. Now, as a word guy, I've never bought that for a minute: Shakespeare didn't need Lear to break into song, the emotion was never too big for his words. But still, that's a principle in musical theatre: the action often stops dead for a love song, or a rumination on the state of things, or the big show-stopper, or... This musical is no exception.

Actually, I think that critics who deride the corniness of some of the musical theatre stuff here aren't catching the fact that Taymor's tongue is affectionately in her cheek. There's an aesthetic frisson between the cliches and the filmmaker's regard of those cliches. Part of Taymor's genius is to take the material and commit to it completely, transcend its weaknesses by glorying in them: "Titus Andronicus" is a hugely problematic script, with gaping holes in its credibility, and of course boggling excesses: Taymor never apologized for those things, played them full out, made them work. So the high school musical cliches of the early part of the film are being ironized as they are being celebrated. Critics who condescends are assuming Taymor is unaware of the corn: the joke is on them. (I'm reminded of Todd Haynes' strategy in FAR FROM HEAVEN: the dialogue is laughable, but 100% intentionally so. It's the tension between that artifice and the serious underlying intent that is the genius of that extraordinary film.)

Taymor could have given us a tougher film, and when I let myself, I wish she had. But mostly I don't let myself: no point diminishing a really fantastic experience by obsessing on how much fantasticker it could have been.

Ron

PS I'm not interested in the opinion of anyone who uses the word "fantasticker."

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And 'Strawberry Fields Forever' sets up a very interesting contrast between the lyrics and the visuals: while the singer says "Nothing is real", we see footage of the death and destruction in Vietnam... Where was I? Oh, right, 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. What makes that sequence even MORE interesting is that it is preceded by a person installing a TV set and saying that television will "bring the war into people's living rooms". But the visuals that accompany the song suggest the opposite -- that the war stayed on the screen, and the people who watched it were safe from the bullets and whatnot, and thus the people who watched the war on TV were still protected from "reality" on some level and allowed to go on thinking that "nothing is real". Or do the visuals affirm what the person says, about television making an impact? Such is the wonderful ambivalence of visual art.

Definitely the tension there between "real" war and the way television made the war "real" for people sitting in their living rooms. The tension that most fascinated me in that section, though, was between the two responses to war and other such traumas: the activist, and the artist. It might appear that the activist is actually responding to the war, while the artist is detached, uncaring, uninvolved. But I think that sequence shows how deeply an artist might be being affected by the war, only that it's going on sub-rationally, inchoate responses that eventually break out in artistic expression that's not literal but is in fact deeply felt. I found that one of the truest and most potent moments in the film. Julie Taymor (and her writers?) gets that.

which leads us to wonder (not for the first time, in this film) if the Beatles were more disengaged in the politics of their time than we might have thought they were. ("Nothing's going to change my world", from 'Across the Universe', and "It's gonna be alright", from 'Revolution', also come across as oddly sanguine responses to the political turmoil we see in this film. And then, of course, there is 'Let It Be', which plays over images of inner-city riots and two different funerals.)

In fact, the Beatles were much criticized by the politically active for a lack of engagement with the politics of their time - apart from a certain pro-drug militancy/advocacy, which was probably exaggerated in any case. (Not their usage, only their intention to be political about it.) That tension between engagement and "transcendence" ("tuning in" vs "tuning out") is inherent in the turmoil of the late Sixties. Frankly, I see it as an era when adolescents (and adolescence) held sway, with the culture irrationally focused on the coming-of-age of a whole lot of kids who didn't want to leave childhood behind, but who thought themselves more wise than adults. But that's a whole other conversation. Point being, as went the era, so went the Beatles: as Lennon became truly interested in political things, he was leaving Beatleness behind - and John certainly had deep ambivalence about all this, not sure if he wanted them to count him in or count him out. The other late-era trajectory for the Fabs (besides drugs and a dollop of politics) was in the direction of eastern mysticism: don't engage in the agonies of the world, transcend them. (Interesting, though, that George's more other-worldly path led to a compassion that led to taking action that may have had far more concrete effect on real political tragedy than John's erratic expressions, in the "Concert For Bangladesh.")

But yes, you've put your finger on an element of the film that puts its finger on an ambivalence that ran through not only the Fabs but through the entire era.

Gotta go.

R

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Ron wrote:

: This from a guy who's as middle-aged male and as die-hard a Beatles fan as you'll find.

Heh. 'Dyou know that the Associated Press review begins "You'd have to be a nostalgic boomer, a hopeless romantic or Paul McCartney to fall completely in love with 'Across the Universe' and all its indulgences and idiosyncrasies"? I thought of you when I read that. (Yes, it's true, folks: Ron is Paul. And the walrus. Goo-goo-ka-choo.)

: There are terrific dance sequences - the first one takes its movement vocabulary from football, it's a blast!

"Movement vocabulary" -- I'll have to remember that one!

: As for your qualm, Peter, that some of the songs didn't move the story forward, I must say that's only one of the things that songs do in conventional musicals. Lots of songs move plot forward, but lots of songs are occasions for the character simply to live in the experience of a particular moment in the unfolding story.

True, to a point. Though the effect is undermined here by the facts that [a] these songs were not written for the drama at all, and so there is still some disconnect, and we all know these songs far, far too well, which means [b.a] we may know, and be distracted by thoughts of, the TRUE stories that underlie these songs, and [b.b] at the very least, we know the LYRICS, and we find ourselves waiting for the movie to get to the end of the song before it can resume (unless the visuals do something really bold and arresting to hold our interest, which they sometimes do, but sometimes don't).

One point I forgot to mention in my post above, but which I mentioned to you after the movie, is that I was really struck by the way 'A Day in the Life' was turned into a pure instrumental (that's the song with the lyrics "I read the news today, oh boy," and the instrumental plays over a scene where someone has seen or read some very bad news). I could have used more of that -- putting the songs in the SUBTEXT, rather than the TEXT -- partly because it would not have felt so much like the movie was contriving to find a way to match each lyric to some sort of action onscreen. (I am also reminded of Mychael Danna's score for The Nativity Story, which uses themes from Christmas carols to very good effect; when people discuss the impending arrival of Roman tax collectors, we hear a few notes from 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel', and we are reminded -- if we think about it -- that the unspoken lyrics to that song refer to a "captive Israel" that is in need of "ransoming".)

At any rate, I SERIOUSLY would like to know how this film plays to someone who is completely unfamiliar with the Beatles' repertoire, and thus has no idea what to expect when each song starts up. But do such people exist?

: Another truism (besides the "move the plot forward" one) is that when the emotion is too big for words, you take it into a song.

Yes, and when it gets too big for the song, you take it into a dance -- the old Rodgers-Hammerstein thing, I think. (Working on a dim recollection of Mark Steyn's remarkably thorough history of Broadway musicals, here.)

Oh, one other point I don't think I mentioned in my above post: I can understand why the studio wanted to cut the film down, and if I were going to trim anything, it would be the subplot involving the Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin clones. We already have a boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, etc. story in the main plot; I don't see that anything is gained by duplicating that narrative arc in a subplot. I can appreciate that the filmmakers wanted to shoehorn "relevant" '60s issues into the story that would not have come up naturally in the main plot, but you know what journalists say about dumping your notebook into your story... And much as I hate to say it (because 'Dear Prudence' is one of my favorite Beatles songs and the film does very well with it), the lesbian subplot could easily be cut from the film without anybody noticing; unless I'm forgetting something, it doesn't really go anywhere, but just sort of vanishes from the movie after a certain point.

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: That tension between engagement and "transcendence" ("tuning in" vs "tuning out") is inherent in the turmoil of the late Sixties.

Yeah, I've sat in on discussions among Christian activists over whether Thomas Merton and the like were doing the right thing by "retreating" into monasticism instead of, y'know, getting out there and vandalizing military airplanes or something.

: (Interesting, though, that George's more other-worldly path led to a compassion that led to taking action that may have had far more concrete effect on real political tragedy than John's erratic expressions, in the "Concert For Bangladesh.")

Definitely interesting!

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Ron wrote:

: This from a guy who's as middle-aged male and as die-hard a Beatles fan as you'll find.

Heh. 'Dyou know that the Associated Press review begins "You'd have to be a nostalgic boomer, a hopeless romantic or Paul McCartney to fall completely in love with 'Across the Universe' and all its indulgences and idiosyncrasies"?

I think he's about right, actually. And the fact is, I (for one) haven't fallen completely in love with the film. We had a swell first date, we plan to keep seeing each other, but it's more of a summer romance thing really. This is a movie you have a crush on, not a movie you're going to settle down and marry.

Fact is, boomer that i undoubtedly am, I'm well past the period of acute nostalgia for my childhood and adolescence which swept over me for several years around the time when I became a dad. You can psychologize that however you like - certainly I have. But while I'm still interested in the occasional book or movie that goes there, the feeling of nostalgia almost never kicks in anymore. And I don't miss it. Been there twice, done that.

And I'm too old to really groove on a love story the way I did in younger years. Couldn't help thinking my daughters will be far more emotionally invested in the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE love story than I was: I bought it, I enjoyed it, but it doesn't hook up with my own yearnings the same way it once would have.

Frankly, the greatest appeal for me in this movie is simply to delight in its inventiveness. Dig those groovy colours, man!

: There are terrific dance sequences - the first one takes its movement vocabulary from football, it's a blast!

"Movement vocabulary" -- I'll have to remember that one!

That MFA has to do me some good!

And much as I hate to say it (because 'Dear Prudence' is one of my favorite Beatles songs and the film does very well with it), the lesbian subplot could easily be cut from the film without anybody noticing; unless I'm forgetting something, it doesn't really go anywhere, but just sort of vanishes from the movie after a certain point.

I agree that it's underdeveloped beyond a certain point. But it is touched on a few times in the latter half of the film, rather than being let drop completely.

I wish we had followed through more with Max in the latter half of the film. I understand why the focus stays on Jude and Lucy, but I really enjoyed Joe Anderson's performance as the charismatic wastrel. (Just like I would love to have followed the spindly gang leader in THIS IS ENGLAND: I don't fault the film for moving him to the sidelines, but man I found him intriguing.)

R

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