I decided to try a test for this weeks review of Across the Universe, the much-anticipated musical featuring reinterpretations of over thirty Beatles songs. As a longtime fan of the Fab Four, I knew that I was probably going to enjoy this film. After all, I learned to play guitar to their songs, featured their music at my wedding, and have a poster of them hanging on the wall of my 3-year-old sons room. What I wanted to know was this: Would someone unfamiliar with The Beatles music be positively affected on an initial hearing, especially given the dramatic delivery? I decided to enlist the help of an 18-year-old self-described music aficionado. He is the son of a close friend and someone who on occasion I have talked music with. His preferences revolve around the indie rock scene, which features bands like All Time Low, Armor For Sleep and Hidden in Plain View. (Dont worry, I havent heard of them either.) My co-reviewer had no idea what he was in store for when I picked him up, but on the way to the theater I unveiled my plan. My first question was, Have you ever listened to The Beatles? His response reinforced my greatest fear: He had heard of them, but knew absolutely nothing about them; he couldnt even name a song. I assured him that this experience this immersion into the world of The Beatles was going to be life changing. I carefully explained that The Beatles were one of the original indie rock bands, playing in dirty pubs until early morning hours, and scraping by with little or no cash. I told him that their style and approach influenced generations and literally rewrote the book on popular music. Admittedly I was trying to get him excited at the prospect of discovering one of historys greatest musical phenomenons. Unfortunately, he seemed completely unimpressed. As we entered the theater he made a final dubious comment: So, is this like, a musical? Just be open-minded, I insisted. Try to let the music envelope you. My young friend remained fairly attentive throughout the picture, but his body language spoke volumes. He slouched in his seat when the haunting Girl opened the film, and seemed unfazed when the melodic grandeur of Something pushed the movie to its climax. I held out hope that he might identify with the ripping guitar and inflamed lyrics of Helter Skelter, but he was busy texting someone on his phone during that scene. When the film ended I casually asked him what he thought. His response of I liked it better when they stopped singing pretty much deemed my experiment a failure. My dream of seeing him overwhelmed with addictive hooks and unending melodies was crushed. There would be no borrowing of my Beatles CDs or further discussion on how they changed the world. Across the Universe was the beginning and the end of his foray into The Beatles musical catalog. On the other hand I absolutely loved Across the Universe. The reinterpreted music seemed fresh and poignant and matched beautifully with the unfolding story. And part of the fun for me or any Beatles fan for that matter was picking out all the subtle references to 1960s culture and people, all intertwined with the lyrics of The Beatles most popular songs. If you have been even remotely moved by the music of The Beatles then I encourage you to see this film. It is a cacophony of sounds, images, and dance and unlike anything since Moulin Rouge. The cast is unique and upbeat and completely convincing in their approach. Moreover, director Julie Taymor should also receive great kudos for crafting such an interesting and creative motion picture. I admit that I left the theater upset that hadnt enlisted a new member into The Beatles fan club, but I was happy that their music had, once again, found a new way to manifest itself. A magnificently magical A- for Across the Universe. Cant decide what to watch?
Check out Doms Video Pick Of The Week
Here is a selection for the true movie aficionado. Directed by the great Federico Fellini, La Strada is the story of a young girl who is sold into the servitude of a traveling showman. While she tries to make the best of the situation, she soon learns that he is nothing more than an abusive womanizer. Things change when she meets a goofy comedian who fills her head with new ideas. La Strada contains two historical roles, one by leading man Anthony Quinn and the other by Italian actress Giulietta Masina. Together these two form an unlikely bond a bond worthy of great analysis. Moreover, Fellini, known for crafting involved plotlines within simple stories, once again shows that he is a master of direction. If youve ever felt confused by the world, then you need to experience the unique interpretations of La Strada.