A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 20 – Across the Universe

Across the Universe – March 20, 2010

When Andy and I met we found out we had some key music tastes in common: Pink Floyd and The Beatles. Some of my clearest memories from childhood are of listening to my parents’ Beatles albums (vinyl! they’ve got the punch-out Sgt. Pepper page intact – or rather, I do, as I’ve swiped the album from them) on beautiful summer and spring days with the windows of the house wide open. I love The Beatles. So I was of mixed feelings when Across the Universe came out. On one hand, Beatles music! With a movie built around it! On the other hand, Beatles covers, and no guarantee that the movie’s plot and acting wouldn’t suck with the power of a black hole. And too, musicals are difficult for me. I have a small handful I enjoy and the rest range from meh to bleh for me. So I didn’t see it until one of the very many movie channels we get started playing it in heavy rotation and I flipped past it a few times. The problem is that I’ve always caught almost exactly the same section and never much further. I hadn’t seen the very beginning and I hadn’t seen the end. Just the chunk in the middle with Lucy and Prudence and Jude and Max living in New York and Max getting drafted and then I’d have something I had to do or somewhere to go and that would be that.

So it’s been nice seeing the parts leading up to what I’d already seen. Seeing how all the characters I’d met got to New York and in the same place. On one hand, it’s a little hard to fit so much history into a single movie, but given the time period of the Vietnam War, there was a lot of history fit into a relatively short span of years. On the other hand, it’s not done badly, in my opinion. It doesn’t always hit just right but it hits often enough for me to enjoy it. While the music wasn’t written to follow a single plot, I’m sort of thinking of it as a giant songfic, with pretty pictures. It’s interesting seeing what songs are put into what places, how they’ve been picked out and strung together to tell a story. Some of them are pretty easy, like I Am the Walrus for an acid trip and the more romantic/ballad-type love songs (what with there being a romance at the core of the movie), but others, like Come Together? Not so easy, and let me say that Joe Cocker covering Come Together in this? Fantastic. Also one of my favorites is I Want You/She’s So Heavy done during a scene at an Army induction center.

I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about the acting overall. It’s good enough and no one makes me cringe when they’re on screen. The dialogue is good enough too, though once or twice it’s a wee bit overly referential to Beatles lyrics. Obviously the movie is going to reference The Beatles. That’s a large part of the point. But it comes off as cutesy sometimes and the tone doesn’t always fit the moment. Same for some of the songs, but I’m willing to forgive it. For me, and take this with a grain of salt since I’m ultimately a child of the 80s, the movie shows the time period well. The Beatles are a good band to use to show a wide variety of the moods of the years the movie is set in. It comes off as disjointed at times, but I kind of get the impression that’s not too far from the truth of the time. You might even be able to argue that disjointedness is as fitting as anything else.

Or maybe I’m just trying to justify really really enjoying the movie. More than I think I’m supposed to. But hey, Roger Ebert loved it, so I’m not going to beat myself up over enjoying it as much as I did. Maybe I just like Julie Taymor. Maybe we should do her Titus tomorrow. Or maybe something a little less bloody, since it’ll be a morning viewing.

March 20, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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